The world explodes in cyclone of light and shadow and every color man can never name. He blinks (he has eyelids, and they work, they work) as the blur slowly conforms into shapes.

And like shifting murk to reveal the gold below, Ed comes into focus; smiling like he never has before.



Carefully arranged in a crate, the armor rides with them in trunk. He counted the pieces before it was packed, making sure they collected all of it. He wants to save it, if only to remember.

The plates bear the loaded stench of iron and oil, a mix of his father's polish and Winry's favorite formula. He can distinguish dirt and soot, and a few spots of gunsmoke.

The body plate reeks of blood.

He wrinkles his nose (it's so unconscious he almost laughs when he notices).

"Did you guys ever wash me?"



Lieutenent Hawkeye could be quite loud if she wanted to; at his count, she had chewed out everyone in her platoon at least twice, her nurses four times, her doctor seven, and he had lost the tally sheet for the Colonel. Breda was shouting at Falman to quit talking to himself, and Fuery was claiming both of them were worsening his headache.

He sensed that the hospital was beginning to regret placing them all in adjoining rooms.

Somewhere in the fray Ed hears the word tiny and has an outright tantrum, while Winry scolds him for being too sensitive. After ten minutes May roars, "Alphonse is trying to sleep!" and everyone shuts up, but breaks into furious whispers before long.

The cacophony echoes in his ears and rings in his head, and makes his pulse thump above his left eye (his blood rushing, a miracle in itself).

It's beautiful.



When he is sure the doctor is gone, he dives his hands into Winry's basket and crams as much as he can into his mouth.

He counts the apple slices with his tongue. He coats his teeth in syrup. He licks the sugar off every bit of crust. When his fingers begin to taste like skin again, he goes back for more.

Winry slaps the back of his head when he gags. "You moron, give yourself time to breathe!" (Oh, right, he has to breathe again.)

They check off "Mrs. Hughes' apple pie" on the list.



The rain is cold and wet and slithering through his hair. He lets it pool in his hands, wriggles his feet in the grass, and doesn't blink when it falls into his eyes.

(He's alive.)