Alphonse wiped the back of his hand over tired eyes. It felt as though time had deserted him and logic was taking a vacation. His thoughts were fuzzy, chasing the bizarre events of that last day around in meaningless circles. So many drastic, life changing things had happened in such a short period of time that it felt like a whirlwind had swept him off of his feet and had only just set him down in the midst of something he could yet fathom. He couldn't seem to wrap his mind around where he was, nor could he bring himself to let go of his big brother's sleeve. Again, he was six years old, the world was too large around him and he was hanging desperately to the one solid aspect that was offered.
He wasn't exactly sure what had just happened, he knew that his jaw hurt and was beginning to swell beneath his fingers, and that Alphonse had fallen to his knees before him. "You're so stupid, brother!" He cried, scuffing his dirty sleeve over heavily leaking eyes. Alphonse had definitely punched him, that scrawny little fist really hurt, too. Edward blinked rapidly; he'd barely had time to shut the door before he'd been hit.
"Alphonse, what's the matter?" He hated seeing Al cry, his eyes bright red and looking as though the world had failed him.
"We've been doing everything we can just to stay together for years and you were going to throw that all away! You were going to leave me and come back here, alone, again!" Edward ran a hand back through his bangs, breathing out harshly.
"Al…" There really was nothing he could say, nothing that could make that possibility up to him. "I'm-I'm sorry, can you forgive me?" Alphonse nodded, knuckling his eyes again.
Alphonse tried to scrub the sleep from his eyes and get them adjusted to the dark. Maybe if he could simply make out the shapes in the night he could go back to his own room and his own bed, instead of standing over Edward's like a frightened child. But he couldn't shake the dream, trapped once more in shell of unfeeling metal, back to that hell Ed had worked so hard to free him from and he wanted to touch, to feel, if only to make sure that his body was not the actual dream. Only he couldn't, it seemed wrong to wake his brother over a nightmare and he turned to leave. "Alphonse…" he heard Ed whisper sleepily, and spun quickly back around.
"I'm sorry, brother, I didn't mean to wake you up. I was just going to go, okay?" Edward laughed hoarsely and reached slowly from beneath the blankets, pulling Al onto the mattress with him.
"Don't be silly."
Edward was a genius, certifiably insane on occasion, but no one that knew him could state otherwise. Yet, he was allowing himself to be put in his place by a pan of stewed animal juice. The stock was left over from something Al had made a few days before and had been heating on the stovetop for fifteen or so minutes but there was something wrong with it. When Ed tasted it the flavor was weak and the liquid watery, nothing like the thick, rich broth Alphonse brought him when he wasn't feeling well. Ed had never been very good at doing nice things, but for Al it seemed such a little gesture to take care of him and Edward took a deep, steadying breath. He would not allow cooking to beat him, and later when Alphonse threw up he would simply have to blame the flu.
There was glass splintered all over the floor before the fireplace, a framed photo had fallen onto the cobbled stone work and shattered to hundreds of tiny little slivers. Alphonse dropped to his knees beside the mess, feeling slightly guilty that he'd broken the photograph of Edward's friend, the one that looked just like him. He pulled the cracked frame and picture from the mess and began examining the photo itself just as Ed rushed from the kitchen. "Alphonse! Are you alright, I heard something break?" Casting his eyes to the floor, Al held the image out to his brother.
"I'm so sorry; I bumped into it when I went to get a fire going." He said quietly but instead of taking what was offered Edward grabbed his wrist and pulled him into a rough embrace, giving the photo only a quick, lost look.
"Don't be sorry, I'm just glad you're alright." Ed whispered harshly into Al's hair.
Alfonse Heiderich's photograph was refitted with a frame and placed back on the mantel a week later.
The station was very busy, full of bustling men and women, screaming children and one particular Elric that was very easily swept away with the current of the crowd. Ed knew he probably shouldn't treat Alphonse like a child but he did so often allow himself to simply be pulled along, so much so that merely waiting for their train to arrive Ed had lost him twice. So when the whistle shrieked over the din of the room he reached behind him to grab his little brother's hand and though he'd meant it to only be something of a lifeline he didn't mind that Al's fingers threaded lovingly through his own.
If it weren't for him, Al was sure his brother would have drowned long ago. It wasn't that he minded watching out for Edward, actually he loved being able to keep him safe, but it was a little bit of an aggravation to have to check on Ed if he spent too long in the bathtub, just to make sure he hadn't fallen asleep. He did look adorable, hair plastered to his forehead and snoring like a jigsaw as Alphonse shook his shoulder. "Go 'way," he mumbled sleepily, reaching to swat at Al's hand.
"Brother, you're going to drown if you don't wake up," Alphonse told him matter-of-factly. And, when surprised by the realization he was surrounded by water, Edward accidentally pulled him headfirst into the room-temperature bath Al realized he actually smiled at being soaking wet, it seemed only natural to lean in and press his lips flush against Ed's.
"Hey, Al," Edward said suddenly, setting his book down on the empty seat next to him, making his little brother look up from his own.
"Wanna make out?" He asked, licking his lips as he watched Alphonse turn a delicious shade of red.
"Don't be ridiculous, Ed!" Alphonse gasped, talking embarrassedly beneath his breath, his eyes darting around at the many other passengers aboard the train. "What about all of these people?" Ed glanced around too, but simply shrugged it off.
"Nobody's gonna care, Al," he said matter-of-factly, "they might not even notice."
"Yeah, but what if they do?" Ed was already nonchalantly pulling the book from Al's lax grip, smiling predatorily.
"We'll think of something."
Alphonse was terribly addicted to the positively pathetic noises Edward was making above him; such sweet, needy sounds. He pulled back to switch which elbow he leaned on and to push his hair back out of the way for the umpteenth time and Ed whined. "Fuck, Alphonse! Just suck me off already!" He shouted voice hoarse and desperate. Al glanced up at him blinking innocently, still wondering just how Ed had allowed himself to be tricked into the handcuffs and shook his head at the cursing. But he did lean down and give his brother's cock, empurpled and straining for some proper attention, and teasingly languid lick.
"This is only payback for that stunt you pulled on the train," he said a little devilishness leaking into his tone, and rolled off of the bed having every intention of finishing the book he'd been so rudely –if rather pleasantly- interrupted during.
Edward tugged Al towards him, hooking his hands behind the younger man's back and grinning wildly. "So, here we are," he said, brimming with excitement as he looked around to see the shinning lady of liberty out on the water. Germany was again becoming engulfed in its seemingly never ending internal war, and neither Ed nor Al wanted to become involved again and risk a repeat of what had happened before.
"Yeah, here we are," Alphonse buried his face briefly in Ed's shoulder before pulling back to smile up at him. "Are we ready to start all over again, again?" He asked. Edward breathed deep.
"As long as I can start over with you," he whispered leaning to gently press his lips to Al. Another new chance, and this time he would make it last, for Al's sake.