Hoho! Wot's this? A surprise from the ever-so Sedentary Wordsmith! And in a brand new genre, too! Bet you weren't expecting that. Anyway, for those of you who know about the no reading, writing, reviewing fanfiction curse of mine, the curse is still in effect. This is just a little reprieve from it. I still won't be able to reply to any reviews I may get, but know that I do read them all and love them dearly. So, thank you so much in advance. Not to sound pretentious that I'm going to get loads of wonderful reviews or anything like that…I'm not that delusional.
TWT. Good old brotherly luff ahead, not yaoi. Please, enjoy.
To Close Our Eyes
The first day, Alphonse cannot breathe. The kind nurses have scrubbed the blood off his hands, and someone—he cannot remember whom, but it must have been a friend, he thinks—has brought a clean shirt from his home and changed him into it from the red one he had been wearing.
All around him is a rush of movement, people scurrying about desperately, but he finds that he cannot move or think for the redness of his brother's blood, rising to choke him in his throat.
The second day, Alphonse has cleared the blood from his throat and mind, though he can still taste it on his tongue. He sits on a hard wooden chair by a white hospital bed and watches the still body of his deeply, deeply asleep only older brother.
Mustang and Hawkeye and Havoc and Ross and many others have come to check on them, have stayed for a while, and he's told that word has been sent to Winry—whoever that is—but eventually at some time or other they all leave him alone to keep the vigil at his brother's bedside, alone. And, oh, he just wishes that Ed would wake, just for a little while, to assure him that he is fine, not having bled out half his life at least on the pavement.
The third day, the doctor makes noises that Alphonse cannot interpret as the man checks on Ed and makes notes on his chart, and Al finds the worry and fear creeping up his throat to choke him just as he felt his brother's blood had. He sleeps with Ed's flesh hand clasped between both of his own, his forehead resting on top of it, praying silently in his dreams all night long that his brother will just wake up.
The fourth day, Al wakes at dawn to the feeling of a heavy hand on his head, the tingly warmth of it burning through his scalp. He sits up with wide eyes to find Ed's own bright golden eyes staring back at him, crinkled with a grin. "It's about time you woke up, sleepyhead," his big brother tells him. "I've been waiting here for hours."
And Al thinks that maybe, just this once, his brother is wrong, because surely there must be a God in heaven.
Everyone else is overjoyed, as well, to discover Ed has finally finally awoken (which can only be a good sign, really!) and Edward laughs and talks at length with them all, and even manages to sit up a little against the pillows, even though Al knows he must be terribly tired and in pain.
Finally, after all the visitors and well-wishers have gone or been told that visiting hours are over and it's time to leave—except for Al, of course, because they're the only family the other has, and they refuse to be separated—the doctor looks over Ed again and hmms and clicks, and Al still doesn't know what those sounds mean.
And he is scared, even though his brother is awake and talking to him, because the bandage around his entire middle was still too red the last time they changed it, and his face is still too pale—matching the bed sheets around it—, and the light in his eyes is a little too dim, and his voice is a little too loud, his laughter a little too forced as he speaks with his comrades.
Al is afraid to think that maybe this is what he's heard the war-experienced old soldiers call "all the grace of a dying man" before.
Surely, his brother knows something is wrong. When they are finally alone again, Ed raises unwilling flesh fingers to gently tilt his brother's chin to face him. "Hey now, hey now. What are those about?" he asks so softly, and then Al can feel the tears welling up.
"I was so worried," he chokes, not adding that he still very much is, "about you. You scared me, Brother."
"Ohh, I'm sorry, Al. I didn't mean to." Of course not. Who would mean to— "But I'm alright now. You don't have to worry any more."
Al would like to think that it's not a lie, but his tears betray him. Ed gently reaches forward and pulls him into his arms, cradling his head against his chest and softly shushing him. Al tries to pull away, but Ed does not let him, even when he can feel a wetness growing and spreading between them.
"I'll be fine soon, you'll see," Ed is telling him, and he tries to listen. "It'll be alright soon. No hospital or doctors or whatever can keep me down for long. I'll be all better by tomorrow, just you wait and see. I promise."
Al shakily nods against his big brother's chest, ignoring the sticky wetness beneath his own. This time Ed lets him pull away, and tugs the blanket up to his neck, over his colored bandage.
"Just you sleep now. It will be…better in the morning." Despite his words, Ed's eyelids are closed before his brother's.
Al grasps Ed's flesh hand between both of his own, resting his forehead on it, and manages to swallow back the fear that has been choking his throat. Because Brother has promised him that it will be all right tomorrow, and if Brother says it, then it is true.
He falls asleep to the reassuring sound of Ed's hitching breaths.
The fifth day, he wakes at dawn to the deafening sound of silence and the feeling of a heavy hand on his head, the icy chill of it burning through his scalp. More tears trickle out as he squeezes his eyelids shut. He does not raise his head to whisper angrily to the sheets. "You promised. You promised, and you lied to me, Brother. You said that it would be alright…and you lied to me…" And he can never forgive him for that—never, never, never, never, never.