Disclaimer: I should write a disclaimer jingle. I think it would be catchy. III dooon't oooown.

A/N: Okay, the thing about this story is that I'm trying a whole different style of writing. And I like writing like this. I wanted to jump from situations and provide things in blunt descriptions and factual explanations… I think. It's also very… Well, it takes a long time. Because I don't know many factual things about random items, I mean, maybe a little bit, but I go on about doorknobs in the beginning of this chapter and I definitely don't know anything about doorknobs. Do you see what I mean by… Well, you'll see. I actually have to make sure I research about things and get things right in all aspects. It's actually cool learning weird little tidbits about things too. Anyway, if you read, pleeeeease pleeeeease review this, because I really want to know what you think about it!

Okay, so the timeline for this… Let's say… It's post-anime, but there's no Conqueror of Shamballa happening, and it's not going to, I mean, it didn't. It starts off with Ed returning home after being gone for three years. And yes, he still did get sent to our world. But what happened to him there and how he got back is different. Yes? I make a reference to an American rifle used during World War II, and that's not related to Amestris in any way, nor am I attempting to relate it to Amestris in any way. Alrighty? I'm just making mention of World War II because that's going to be important later.

Enjoy. (please) haha.



The Truth told me I would be allowed to keep living and the next thing I know I'm thinking, oh god, what did it do to me?

I'm staring down this shining silver door handle as if this is some sort of contest.

The average doorknob is 2.25 inches in diameter. Circular shaped doorknobs are the most common, even though they are considered the hardest to turn. Those easy to turn egg shaped ones aren't pretty enough for our doorways. The basic components of a doorknob are a knob rose, shank, spindle, and knob top. All complicated parts that lead to a twist of the wrist and an unlocking of a latch. Brass doorknobs are typically forged, that's molten metal poured into a mold. Forging makes 250% stronger doorknobs than metal casting does.

Imagine you're standing on a porch, nervous and anxious, and now you're going through what you know about doorknobs in your head. Is it making you feel any better?

Well? Is it?

And you're pretty sure that the metal casting of the silver knob rose, shank, spindle, knob top, 2.25 inch sphere in front of you just won the contest.

The Truth told me I would be allowed to keep living, and then there was mush and shit-covered silk and wispy pink sea creatures and Toxic Mega colon super-villains.

And doorknobs that were round and 250% less strong and maybe if this one was egg-shaped it would be easier to turn.

Brass has to be at around 1700 degrees Fahrenheit to melt. Imagine the kinds of burns you might get with your mouth as a mold.

My throat stung, raw with unspoken words. A person can go mute or deaf or blind because of some sort of extreme trauma in their lifetime.

I knocked on the door.

There's a moment between every moment when the world stops and lets the person stuck there have a good long taste of what it truly feels like to be in a nerve-wracking situation. Now take that, and multiply it by 3 years of being MIA and by the square root of self-doubt and the worst luck in the world. Welcome to my in between moments moment. Make yourself at home. Sorry there are no comfy chairs here. This moment ends, however, and another begins. Like a stage crew member working the lights and waiting for their next cue so they can change the stage from light to black. Light travels faster than sound.

"E-… Ed? B-Brother?"

I wasn't ready for the cue.

Next, the moment comes in which your whole world will either come crashing around you in a puddle of grief and regret, or you'll find out you were stressing out over this moment much too much. Sometimes it's somewhere in between.

There's jellyfish and lies and 3 years and 1700 degrees of temperature balled up in a lump at the top of my throat. I can't find it in me to make anything close to an intelligent noise. I imagine pigs grunting and wonder if that's what would come out of my mouth if I would have made an attempt to talk. I'm comparing myself to a pig again and the Truth is telling me that I'm allowed to keep living, and I'm still thinking, oh god, what did it to do to me?

I look at my brother's face and the first thing I see is his gray eyes looking straight into mine. I'm overwhelmed. Have you ever been overwhelmed? And the second thing I notice is that I'm looking down and he still has a baby face and I'm taller than him. And I haven't seen my baby brother in so long but still he shouldn't be this small, shouldn't be this young looking. Then I see his expression and it's confused and thoughtful and not at all what I would expect it to be. I should see judgment, anger. I deserted him after all. Sometimes soldiers in the war would be shot for desertion, sometimes even put up in front of a firing squad made up of men from their own regiments. He takes another moment to look at me and I'm still not able to make any kind of a noise, and then he puts up one too-small finger and says, "Wait a second."

Then the door shuts and I think about desertion again.

"Back," and the door opens and Alphonse is standing at the door with a M1941 Johnson Rifle, one of those American short-recoil operated semi-automatic ones. Designed by Melvin Johnson before the war even started. The recoil on those guns are less perceived than some of the others, because it uses the initial recoil to shoot. But I'm getting off topic.

Then, he shoots me. Like a soldier. For desertion.

"There," he says, gray eyes flashing, "that's what you get."

Except that doesn't happen, and I'm staring at that 2.25 inch, 250% less strong, definitely not egg shaped doorknob with the silver casting again. And it wants a rematch.

I wouldn't be surprised if he did open the door with a gun. I mean, that doesn't seem like Al, but I did desert him. It takes me a moment to realize that that's not what I'm expecting him to do, that's what I want him to do. People need closure, right? I'd say he deserved his. Who knows how much pain I really caused him. A person can go mute of deaf or blind because of some sort of extreme trauma in their lifetime. I think it would be okay if Alphonse killed me. I think I'd be okay with that. The only reason I keep trying so hard to stay alive is for him. So if he killed me, I don't think I'd put up a fight.

A single pig can consume two pounds of uncooked human flesh every minute.

16 pigs can go through a 200 pound man in about eight.

Of course you have to starve the pigs first, so that the flesh looks really tasty to them. They go through bone like butter you know.

Now I'm comparing myself to a pig again.

Pigs have a full set of 44 teeth, and they never stop growing. They just grind and sharpen on each other as they keep going. If pigs become very distressed, they can eat their own young.

Pigs are actually very close to humans. Sometimes their skin is used to help burn patients. They raise the pigs in really clean areas, and then they take their skin and stitch it to some human who can say for the rest of their life that they have real pig skin attached to their body. Except they probably won't because that's gross. Isn't it? Who cares if it saved their life. That's gross. Isn't it?

Their organs are similar to a human too.

I think this is funny. All of it. Maybe a pig is more like a human than I am.

But I don't have any more time to think about me and pigs and humanity, because Alphonse is opening the door for real this time. And I don't think I already know what he's going to say, but I want to. So I listen.

The ear has three main parts. The outer, middle, and inner ear. Whoever came up with those names deserves some sort of reward. The outer ear opens up into the ear canal, the eardrum separates the outer ear from the middle, and small bones in the middle ear help to transfer sound to the inner ear. In the inner ear is the auditory nerve, that one leads straight to your brain.

So let's pretend, your brain sends this message, and it's saying "Listen,". So you're sitting on a porch, nervous and anxious, and going through what you know about ears. Is it making you feel any better?

Well? Is it?

You sit there waiting for your brother to make some sort of sound. Any source of sound and there's vibrations and sound waves going into your ear. These little things funnel down through that canal in your outer ear and strike your eardrum, making that vibrate too. The vibrations pass through those tiny bones in your middle ear, which transmit them to the auditory nerve in your inner ear. These vibrations, here, become nerve impulses, that go all the way to your brain, and get conceived as sound. So none of this is really getting heard. Well it is, but.

We're all just speaking in vibrations.

So now you can see yourself, straining forward, nervous and anxious, waiting for some sort of vibration, and all that happens is your gray-eyed, too-young little brother you haven't seen in three years that should be beyond pissed at you drops this piece of paper he had in his hand and steps onto the porch into the night to give you a bone-crushing hug. And he starts laughing.

Now I could go into laughing too. It's a whole other process. But the end result is still the same, little vibrations spinning through the air and ending up falling down into that canal that leads to your eardrum, and hitting it like a hammer. Sending millions of different reactions that keep on going until your brain finally gets what its been waiting quite patiently for since it told you to "Listen," and now you're hearing the sound of your baby brother's laugh and it's been three years and you love him so much and you're so, so, so relieved he isn't mad at you. And you almost feel like you have to take a deep breath because of all these thoughts going through your head all at once and it's almost like sitting and talking, and talking, and talking in some sort of run-on sentence that just never stops. Except there's a period there. So this hug has to end eventually right?

Let's stop pretending. I hate pretending.

I let go of Alphonse when he tries to pull away and I watch him wipe a tear from his face and it's a happy tear and that makes me happy too. Suddenly I realize that my own cheeks are wet and I touch my cheek hesitantly with my right arm, I try to be gentle, because I can't really feel it.

Look, a happy tear of my own.

How cute.

He's laughing still and I'm looking down at the piece of paper that he dropped before he hugged me and it's a picture.

There's me and big-suit-of-armor Al, standing in a desert, smiling up a storm.

I look at not-in-a-suit-of-armor Al and I'm smiling up a storm. Because there's jellyfish and shit covered silk and golden rods and gods and lies and 3 years and arms and the Truth and pain and horror and Toxic Mega Colon super-villains stuck somewhere around here. But none of that stuff matters right now, we'll get to that later. Right now, it's just me and Al.

Let's pretend again.

Lots of stuff happened, and you're so terribly scared about telling any ounce of it to anyone, but you know you will, and you're so terribly scared about what they're gonna think, and you know they will. You know, think. And you're so terribly, terribly scared.

And he told you he liked your eyes. And then there were needles and blood and death.

A person can go mute or deaf or blind because of some sort of extreme trauma in their lifetime. Imagine not being able to hear these little vibrations anymore.

And the Truth told you you would be allowed to live and then you were thinking, oh god, what did it do to me.

But that's okay right now, because here's your gray-eyed, too-young, baby brother, not-in-a-suit-of-armor Alphonse in front of you and there's no doorknob with silver casting staring you down. It's just you and him.

And all that can come later.

You can be scared later, and you can be scared before, but not right now.

Right now.

It's just you and him.

Let's stop pretending. I hate pretending.

It's just me and him.

Me and Al.