The Waiting Game

A/N: On popular request, here is the sequel to The Promises That Dreamers Keep and End of the Bargain.

"It is strange... that the years teach us patience; that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting."

-Elizabeth Taylor

She waits.

There is nothing else to do - and it's what she does best, after all, she reminds herself bitterly. Just sit down at that table, watch the path out the window - though when with a customer, of course, she devotes her full attention to them, to her craft, to what she loves most…

But all the while, keep one eye on the door.

Waiting is what she does best, after all.

Ed and Al's father left yesterday. He had waited with them for the better part of a month, filling the Rockbell house with an almost homey air, but finally Van Hohenheim took up his suitcase, came down the stairs and told them it was time.

Alphonse had protested fervently - he always does - but the tall man ruffled his hair gently and gave him a one-armed embrace, effectively silencing him.

"He doesn't want to see me anyway," he said, with a smile.

Yet as he good-naturedly bid them farewell, exchanging last jokes with Pinako, and promising to come back soon, Winry remembers thinking that Van Hohenheim looked awfully sad.

It is a slow day.

Winry falls asleep against the wooden table, head pillowed against her arms. She dreams strange dreams, about fire, about flying through water, about huge butterflies, about dancing freely under the stars - and about other things, things that in real life she really knows nothing of.

But it's okay, because they are always there. Both of them.


When she wakes up to the sound of the door creaking softly, Winry doesn't remember anything from her dreams.

Just lots and lots of yellow.

But then even that recollection is gone, because her brain suddenly stops working when she raises her head and sees him, there on the doorstep, taking off his coat and putting down his suitcase and looking about him as if he was ever so glad to be home.

She's still frozen when his gaze lands on her. He doesn't jump in surprise – he isn't the excitable fifteen-year-old anymore - but it registers in his eyes.

They stare at each other for a moment before Ed smiles, looking genuinely happy to see her.

It weirds her out. She looks down.

"Hi Winry," he says, sounding oddly fond as he drapes his coat over the chair in front of her. Over the past three years Edward had stilled his restless feet, somehow content to stay where he was, but he still always needs to be doing something.

There is only a scant hesitation before he walks over to the sink and grabs two glasses. "Want some water?"

She finds her voice, brittle and sharp. "Your dad's gone."

"Oh," he says only, and apparently takes her answer for a yes because he starts pouring her a glass.

"He waited for you," she continues, accusingly.

He stops moving for a scant second, then shrugs and sets her glass in front of her. "What do you want me to say? I didn't know he would be gone already, Winry."

She slaps the table and the glass threatens to spill as it rattles against the wood of the table. "Don't give me that, you knew very well when he was coming – you only left the day before!"

Something flashes in his eyes. "I had business to take care of."

"You didn't tell any of us you were going! You just left!"

He looks in her direction, but somehow Winry can tell that Ed is seeing something else instead. "Something just… came up last-minute," he says finally, with a stroke of bitter humor that Winry doesn't understand. "I had to hurry."

"What was it?" she narrows her eyes.

"None of your business," he says lightly.

It angers her. In the three years they'd lived together, Ed has never hidden anything from her, and to hear him be so dismissive… it hurts.

"Do you have any idea how worried all of us were?" her voice rises with every word, high and shrill. Winry doesn't like it – she's never particularly liked her voice, actually, but it serves Edward right. He can't just pull off things like this. He can't. "We had no idea where you went, you selfish jerk!"

He seems to sober, at this, and he steps close enough (too close) to fill her field of vision, forcing her to be caught in his eyes. "I'm sorry I made you worry, Winry," he says very seriously, and Winry thinks to herself that maybe this isn't Ed, maybe it's an illusion or some sort of impostor, because the Ed she knows can't apologize, doesn't apologize. "It won't happen again," and he chucks her chin gently with his flesh hand, "I promise."

A snort gets caught in her throat, and Winry squeezes her eyes shut because she knows very well how transparent she is and she doesn't want Ed to see whatever her eyes could tell him.

(Some things should be left unsaid.)

"Don't make promises you can't keep."

Winry feels him freeze, and she opens her eyes to see him look like a deer in headlights, yellow eyes wide.

She shakes her head and almost smiles. He is such an idiot. "Of course you'll make me worry again, Ed," she says softly. Her world is blurry for some reason. "It's my job, and… and that's what you do, isn't it?"

He visibly relaxes, taking back his hand. "As long as you don't cry," he says, and her heart clenches.

"Where have you been?" a quiet voice asks from behind them, and they both turn to see Alphonse in the middle of the stairs.

"Hi, Al." Winry glances at Ed, and sees a strange, strange expression on his face. It passes through him like a ghost, and then it's gone, replaced by a content half-smile.

"Where have you been, Brother?" Al repeats, one foot still on the last stair, the other one on the floor.

His brother looks down at his glass of water. He looks happy to be here with them.

…For some reason, Winry can't help but think it's wrong.

"Central," he answers simply. "I was at Central."

Al frowns in curiosity, although the information wasn't all that new to them, truth be told; Hawkeye had called to tell them about Ed's presence in Central a week after he left Rizembul, explaining that Edward hadn't let it slip that he was in the city without Al and Winry's knowledge until the day before.

"But you haven't been to Central in three years," he argues in puzzlement.

Ed takes up his suitcase from the floor, grabs the coat from the chair, grins carelessly. "All the more reason to go then, isn't it?"

"But you said you never wanted to go back!"

Ed gestures airily. "I was young and naive, Al, don't hold it against me."

He attempts to walk past Al to the stairs, but his little brother glowers down at him (Ed's nearly a head shorter even without the stair between them), shifts his position and blocks his passage.

"Why didn't you tell me? I could have gone with you!"

"But then you'd have missed Dad coming," he points out.

Alphonse bites his lip, because it's true. And even after three years, Alphonse still loves to spend time with the man, still can't help but regard each time like it's the last. "You still could have told me," he mumbles, finally.

His older brother chuckles and ruffles his hair as he finally slips past him. "Don't be such a mother hen, Al. Besides, you know I don't think things through," he laughs, and disappears upstairs.

"Because you don't think to begin with," Al mutters under his breath, glaring after him. He looks at Winry. "Can you believe him?"

"Something's weird," she says, half to herself.

He sighs, a bit of humor coloring his voice. "Something's always weird with Brother."

"He worries me," she tells Al honestly, troubled more than she can admit.

"That's not exactly new, either," he says, though his eyes tell her he takes her admission seriously.

The girl looks up at the second floor where Edward disappeared to.

"...You gonna leave it at that?" she asks finally.

When she looks down again, Winry is once again alone in the kitchen.


Ed has just started unpacking when his brother literally bursts through his bedroom door.

"I'm sorry for acting like that, Brother," Alphonse says in a rush. "I'm glad you went to Central, I really am, it's just that …" he looks away, bites his lip, "we've always traveled together before, always done everything together, and I didn't… I don't want that to change."

It's long been known to Edward – and indeed, anyone who knew Alphonse – that if Al was irresistibly sweet as a suit of armor, he was doubly so in his real body, as he could focus his puppy eyes and pout to his advantage much more effectively.

Like always, his brother is defenseless against it. Edward has a repentant look on his face as he pauses in the middle of putting his shirts away and turns to face his brother.

"Nothing's going to –" he stops, takes back his words. "Sorry, Al. It won't happen again. I'm not going anywhere, promise."

Al throws his arms up in frustration. "You're missing the point! I want you to travel and go places. I just want to come with you next time!"

"Al, I…" And again Edward stops. "Sure," he says quietly, and Al will wonder for a long time what his older brother had been about to say.

The three of them sit together for dinner. Den settles comfortably on the floor next to Winry's leg, his tail wagging lightly against the table every time one of the brothers slips him some of their dinner. Which doesn't happen as often as it could have, admittedly – Winry is a better cook than her grandmother had ever been, and even if the Elrics are no longer growing boys, they still don't exactly pick at their food. But it is a ritual steeped in tradition, from when Ed and Al had lived in the house up the hill and came down for dinner every night, and so every once in a while a hand slips under the table and waggles a piece of chicken.

...Den certainly doesn't seem to mind.

"So who did you see in Central, Brother?" Alphonse says as he puts some salad on his plate.

"Oh, everyone," his brother replies, stuffing his face full of pasta. "They say hi."

Winry and Al roll their eyes at one another. Ed was never much for volunteering details.

"Did you see Lieutenant Hawkeye?" Winry prods.

"Yeah." He swallows his food, adds, "Oh, and she says to tell you to come visit in the winter, there's an automail museum that's going to open up in Central."

She almost drops her fork as she squeaks in delight. "What?! That's so exciting! Of course I'll come!"

Ed and Al grin at each other – same old Winry – and Ed sniggers. "Automail freak…"

For lack of available wrenches, Winry uses a spoon.

"Ow! Winry, that was my head!"

"Oh sorry, I forgot it wasn't made out of automail."


"How're the Hughes?"

"Fine. They want to visit when school lets out."

"Oh really?"

"That's the plan, anyway. Oh and Al, I think Elysia has a thing for you, she kept asking me when you were going to come play house with her."

"Aw, how cute! Al, you better treat her like she deserves or I won't let you come near her."

"Winry, She's eleven years younger than I am!"

"You're saying you're going to break her little heart?"

"…Well no, but… Brother, help!"

"Just be gentle, Al. She is a minor, after all."



"Did you get a chance to see the Furher?"

Slurp. "Yup."


"…And what?"

Sigh. "Never mind."

Alphonse wakes up in the middle of the night needing to pee.

He feels his way to the bathroom blindly, hair flying every which way, eyes bloodshot, and all in all he probably wasn't too dissimilar from those zombies he'd read about when he was little.

The bathroom light is on, glints from the slit on the floor to strike Al in the eye.

He staggers back, and eyes the evil door sulkily. "I need bathroom," he tells it sluggishly.

He hears a crash and a familiar voice emits a curse which immediately turns to some coughing. His brother had probably jumped and hit his head on the cupboard. Edward Elric isn't exactly the epitome of graceful when he's not pummeling some creep to the ground.

When the coughing doesn't abate, however, Alphonse's fuzzy head starts to clear a bit (albeit reluctantly) and he becomes a little worried. "Brother?"

"Just a second, Al." There are shuffling noises and some soft clattering before Al hears a flush.

His brother comes out, and Alphonse puts a hand over his sensitive eyes. "What happened?"

Ed notices and turns off the bright light. In the dim moonlight, he smiles sheepishly, one hand applying pressure to the back of his head. "Hit my head on the cupboard again."

Al rolls his eyes tiredly. "Are you hurt?"

"Give me a break, Al."

Alphonse has to grin a little. "Okay, okay. Can I go now?"

"Bathroom's all yours."

"Sweet." Al weaves his way past his brother and closes the door, not bothering to turn on the light.

If he had, maybe he would have noticed the bloody towel Edward had missed throwing into the trash.

Alphonse is washing the dishes left over from breakfast when the phone rings.

He glances away from his wet, soapy hands to the device taunting him from the living room table, torn between picking the phone up and pretending like the call never happened. On the one hand, Alphonse hates leaving a chore undone… on the other hand, it's not like they get calls very often.

The phone is on its sixth ring when Al leaps something like two meters to pick it up, soapy hands and all.

"He-hello?" he answers breathlessly, placing the handset into the nook between his head and his shoulder and wiping his wet hands on his pant legs, wishing heartily for a towel.

"Alphonse? This is Roy Mustang."

Al's hazel eyes widen, and he hastily grabs the phone with his somewhat-drier hands. "Col- I mean, Furher! It's been so long! I'm sorry I didn't call to congratulate you about… everything, but I think Winry and I sent flowers – and Brother of course -" he lies quickly, "so really it's not like we forgot-"

There's a chuckle on the other end, and it cuts off Al's babbling. "Please, Al, relax. I would like to believe I am not so petty as to keep a list of who bothers to personally congratulate me or not. Although the violets were a nice touch, I'll admit. Thank you."

"…Oh." He sighs in relief (because to tell the truth, he wouldn't have put it past Mustang to have kept such a list),although he makes sure to make it quiet so as to not insult his brother's former boss. "So, um, what is it you wanted, Furher?"

"Is your brother there?"

Al blinks and sends a glance around the room before he remembers that Ed and Winry had gone shopping in town – Rizenbul was slowly but surely becoming industrialized, and they still have a ridiculous amount of cash from the automail shop and Ed's funds from his Fullmetal days. "You just missed him," he answers, wondering why Roy Mustang would bother asking after his brother when they hadn't talked for who knows how long now. Surely he's heard that Alphonse's brother never picks up the phone, or that he avoids everyone from the old days like the plague.

…Except, and now Alphonse frowns to himself, Ed had visited Central not so long ago, so that just might have changed. Edward hadn't exactly given them a blow-by-blow account of his visit, but perhaps they had settled their differences then?

So it might be rather too optimistic, but Al wants to hope for the moment. Truthfully, having Ed be so tightlipped about Central – and Mustang in particular - had never quite sat well with Alphonse. Sure, they had their differences, but the two alchemists were very similar underneath it all, and Al had thought it horribly disappointing when they had abruptly stopped all contact and parted ways. He'd always thought the two of them had a better connection with each other than they let on, and seeing it break so suddenly, so easily… it was wrong.

But maybe that changed. Maybe now things can finally come back to normal.

…Meanwhile, there is a silence on the other end of the line, but Alphonse is so deep in thought and surprise that he only notices when it breaks.

"How is he?"

Even though Al knows perfectly well that Mustang had never been the villain his brother made him out to be, coming from 'Colonel Bastard' the question is simply surreal. It takes him a moment to find his tongue.

"…Fine. Same as usual."

"Really?" Mustang almost blurts out the word, and the honest surprise in the familiar voice causes Al's stomach to jitter strangely. "I mean," and suddenly Mustang sounds entirely normal and composed, "that's good to hear."

"Why wouldn't he be?" he asks, clutching the phone tighter against his ear. "Did Brother tell you something?"

There is an awkward pause, but it isn't until the Furher answers that Alphonse thinks he understands the reason. "Considering the fact that I saw him a month ago for the first time in three years," Mustang's tone is wryly amused just like it should be, but there's something off about it, "I have some doubts as to whether Edward sees in me someone to confide in."

"Oh," Alphonse says, relaxing a little. For a moment, he'd forgotten. "…Sorry."

"Don't worry about it." Al hears a creak across the line, and figures that the man must be sitting back in his chair. "But why so jumpy, Alphonse? Is something going on with Fullmetal?"

Al blinks, chuckles ruefully. "Aside from the past three years, you mean?"

"The past three years?"

He bites his lip. "Brother's just… different, that's all. You saw him, you know what I mean. It's not bad, just…"

"…Different," Mustang finishes for him.


"What do you mean by that, exactly?" Mustang asks, voice unreadable.

"It's not important," Alphonse replies hurriedly, suddenly remembering he's on the line with the Furher of Amestris. "Um, I have dishes to wash, and you probably have things to do, so-"

"You know you can tell me anything, Al. What's the matter?"

It's so good to finally talk to someone – to Mustang – about this, Alphonse doesn't stop to think about whether it was wise to be so forthright with someone he hasn't even seen since getting his body back. He'd talked to his father about Ed, sure, but even though Al sometimes thinks Hohenheim knows Edward inside and out (which is weird considering that his interactions with his grown son are so sporadic and few), Hohenheim still doesn't know Ed. Not like Mustang did, with shared experiences and arguments and tears and banter.

Once, Mustang had been Al's confidant with any matters pertaining to the young national alchemist, when Ed was busy or being worrisome or just plain annoying.

It is easy to slip back into the habit.

Al throws up his hands (not forgetting the phone) and paces as he speaks. "I don't even know! Brother is the same as ever, loud and stubborn and making Winry throw wrenches at him all the time. His company is actually pleasant to be around, and I like that we have more time to ourselves, just for us. But…" he bites his lip, keeps going, "it feels like something is missing. It isn't natural for Brother to stay home, he isn't supposed to be content with the way things are. He's supposed to get restless and impatient and read books until he forgets to eat, not stay at home and come to dinner without me even reminding him. Every dinner, Mustang!"

"Maybe he's finally grown up," the man replies noncommittally. "Stranger things have happened."

"Not like this!" Al cries. "He's supposed to complain and get frustrated with me at least sometimes, not…" His voice lowers, his eyes shut, and the words come out of his mouth despite how desperately he wishes them to stay inside, "…not look at me like I'm going to disappear."


"I know we've been through a lot, but after three years, you'd really think he'd stop being so worried."

There is a silence on the other line, and Alphonse realizes he might have said too much, after all.

He forces out a chuckle. "I'm sorry. I don't really have a reason to complain. You must think I'm terrible, not liking my brother being happy."

"That's not it at all," Mustang says seriously. "If anyone could tell something is wrong, it would be you."

The words give him a tingly feeling of déjà vu, but he pushes it aside. "What should I do?"

The Furher's voice sounds forced, restrained, almost pained, and Al wonders at it. "I believe the only options you have are to wait… or," does he sound guilty? "confront your brother directly."

Whatever's the matter with the man, he did manage to make Alphonse feel better. "Thanks, Mustang."

"Don't mention it. Now, I have to go, but if you ever need anything, Al, don't hesitate to reach me. I mean it."

"Okay. Say hi to everyone for me."

"I will. Oh, and Al?"


"Don't tell Edward I called."

Al is ready when Ed and Winry finally come back from shopping.

"Brother," he says loudly, prepared, "I want to -"

He breaks off quickly, because for the first time in ages, Edward looks livid. He drops the shopping bags in his hands on the kitchen counter with a loud defiant clatter, then stalks off toward the stairs without a single word.

Gold hair brushes past Al as Winry threads her way toward the staircase and bellows after the older Elric. "…And stay there!"

Alphonse's brother doesn't say a word, which tells Al precisely how serious the situation must be.

Edward is always loud when he's angry.

"And when I come up you'd better be in bed and under the covers, or so help me Edward, I will kick your butt so hard you'll fly into next Sunday! I'll take off your automail if that's what it takes!"

"Go to hell!" the shouted reply echoes from upstairs.

"Go to bed!" she screams back.

Al and Winry stare at the staircase and listen breathlessly for a response, but none come.

After several seconds of total dead silence, Alphonse jolts out of his stupor. "What happened?"

His childhood friend turns, and for the first time he notices that she'd been crying.

Alphonse opens his arms wordlessly.

Winry flies into them, sobbing, and he raises his eyes again to the stairwell as he wonders what Edward could have possibly done this time. It has been so long since he'd seen his childhood friend cry, though, and even longer since he'd been able to comfort her with flesh arms, that he doesn't say anything until she calms down a little.

…It takes a long time.

He holds her close for one more minute, then loosens his arms. "Winry?"

She sniffs into his shoulder, and Al has the sudden suspicion that his shirt has been reduced to handkerchief status. He doesn't mind, though, much more concerned with whatever has caused Winry to become so upset.

Namely, his brother. "What's going on?"

The girl raises her head to look him in the face, her blue eyes swollen and red and wet. They are beautiful in their sadness, he finds, but quickly pushes the thought from his head.

Her words are composed, though her voice is trembling still. "Ed passed out on our way back home, Al. Passed out cold. It took me so long to get him awake, Alphonse. And we... we had to wait twenty minutes before he could even get up on his feet again."

...He doesn't get it. This is what had the two people he loved most furious with each other? "What, was he dehydrated or something?"

"No, Al. he just… fainted."

It sounds weird. Girls in stories faint, high-strung men like Ling faint. Edward doesn't faint. He's too… Al tries to think of the word (stubborn?) but fails.

"Is that why he's so angry?" Ed has never liked showing weakness, after all. Especially in front of Winry.

"No, that's because…" she swallows. "He didn't want me to tell you."

"Tell me what? That he fainted?"

She holds his face in both her hands, tears starting to make new tracks of salt down her cheeks so steadily that Al wonders whether her lacrimal glands are non-exhaustible. He lets her do it – whatever makes her feel better.

Alphonse has never pretended to understand girls.

"Al… Ed is sick."

The words don't quite register as they should. "He has a cold?"

His question pains her, it shows in her eyes, but he really doesn't get it. "No, Al."

"Then what does he have, Winry?" he asks patiently.

Her grip on his head is tight. "I think… I mean, I don't know for sure, but…" she gulps down more tears. "…I think Ed has what your mother had, Al."

And for the second time in his life, Al's world shatters.


Alphonse Elric remembers his mother.

He remembers her pies, her stories, her hugs.

He remembers her smile, her laughter. Her tears.

He doesn't quite recall her face, but there are crystal clear memories of sneaking with Ed into her bed at night, racing with her on the way home. He remembers how alchemy used to make her happy, how she used to love it when they brought her flowers, that faraway look in her eyes each time she looked at the horizon.

He remembers helping her with laundry.

("…I think Ed has what your mother had, Al.")

…He doesn't remember screaming when he and Ed found her on the kitchen floor.


"...No." The word gets out before he even realizes he'd spoken. "You're lying."


"You're wrong!" he struggles to get his head away from Winry's surprisingly strong grip. "I would have known! He would have told me!"

"He didn't want you to worry."

"You're lying," Alphonse says again, because honestly, it all fits. He tries halfheartedly to push her off him. "Brother's fine! He's just… had a bad day, that's all. He's not sick! He isn't dying!"

"I know, Al. I'm angry with him too." Her expression is so understanding, so fucking kind, that Al has no choice but to surrender.

… No fricking choice.

He falls to his knees numbly, taking the girl down with him.

And then, it's Winry's turn to hold Al.

Edward hears the shouts from downstairs and allows the wince to show on his face, there being no one else around to see him. He kicks the wall with his nonmetal foot – though it still comes close to breaking – and flumps down on the bed, sullenly watching the cracks in the ceiling. Out of rebelliousness, he refuses to wrap himself in a blanket, but cold as it is he curls up on it, burrowing into it like a winter hare in the snow.

He'd known this moment would come, he thinks dully. He should have prepared for it, expected it.

Instead he had attempted to hold the signs off for as long as possible.

Nothing had triggered the episode this time. He'd just been on the walk home, chatting pleasantly with Winry (as pleasantly as their conversations could get, anyhow), when all of a sudden he'd felt tremendously weak, the ground flying up to catch him.

'It's almost time, Edward.'

The next thing Ed remembers seeing is Winry's face, wet and red and splotchy with tears, shaking with relief as he finally fluttered his eyes open and asked hoarsely if she was okay, hands making as if to transform his automail into a blade.

But Winry had grabbed hold of his arms, rendered them still. "Ed, you idiot, you're the one lying on the ground."


Edward remembers waiting for his mother to die. Maybe that's why all his life, Edward has been running. To something, from something… he could never find it in himself to stay still. Staying still, being helpless… it was the worst feeling in the world.

Edward hates waiting.

But even more than waiting itself, Edward hates making people wait. Which is why he didn't want Al and Winry finding out. Because there was nothing they could do, really, except wait with him, and just what was the point of that?


He tried to pass it off to Winry as nothing. Okay, so he'd passed out. No big deal. He probably just hadn't eaten enough at breakfast or something.

"You were unconscious for fifteen minutes, Ed! And even now, you can barely stand!"

He refused to answer any of Winry's questions, but the girl was smart and quickly came to her own conclusions. At least they were the conclusions he'd preferred for her to make, but they still came too close and a lot sooner than he'd liked. So he'd tried to get Winry to cover for him at least, to give him time to figure out how to breach this to Al. It was his health, damn it, he should be able to tell Al when he was good and ready!

…Except, left to his own devices, Ed knows he would have never found the right time. After all, he'd been thinking of telling Al for the past year, and nothing has come out of it yet… and even now, isn't he half-contemplating going downstairs and telling Al that it's all just one big joke, one big mistake, Winry was just PMSing and worrying too damn much?

But Winry must have known this too, which is probably why she refused and told him that if he didn't tell Al, she would. And when he'd tried to call her bluff… chickened out, if truth be told… well, she isn't downstairs talking to Al about the right way to stuff a turkey, now is she?

Lying there and listening to his brother's sobs come through the floor, Edward wishes.

He wishes that he wasn't really dying. He wishes that asshole had stayed in Rizenbul, even if his mere presence pisses Ed off – because then Hohenheim could be the scapegoat, then he wouldn't be alone… Although that isn't true, he reminds himself bitterly, because Hohenheim would most likely join them. Or nag him about why he didn't tell Al the truth. The stupid asshole.

His vision gets blurry.


He almost wishes Mustang was here. Mustang would understand. Best of all, he somehow always knows exactly what to say.

...Maybe he'd know what to say to make Al and Winry not hate him anymore.

Because who knows if Al will come to forgive him before the end? Who knows whether Winry will ever again be able to look him in the face without crying? Death is so close Ed can almost touch it, and he... he doesn't know if there's enough time for those kinds of things.

It's both far too soon... and much too late.


Edward wishes things could be different. He wishes Winry hadn't been so damn stubborn, that she didn't always know the right thing to do and then have the guts to go ahead and do it.

But most of all, he wishes Al would come up already. He wants to get the yelling over with - wants Al to forgive him, wants Al there.

The cracks in the ceiling fade as Edward continues staring upwards. A cool sensation overtakes his body, and he finds it odd but not necessarily uncomfortable. His shoulders relax, his fists loosen, but his frown stays on his face like a permanent stamp.

So do his tears.

...It's lonely up here. Edward hates waiting -

A/N: I tried something different with this one. I don't know if it worked. I don't even know if I particularly liked this effort... for all I know it was a big waste of my time. Hope you guys enjoyed it somewhat though.

I'm not sure if there will be a sequel to this one... probably not. It was difficult to churn this one out - the ending still bothers me - and a universe without Ed is kind of depressing to think about. Writing about angsty! in pain! Ed is one thing, but writing about no Ed is quite another...