Disclaimer : I do not own

A month had gone by after that insane day when they had come so close to losing everything and instead gained back everything they'd lost. Since he finally had no other obligations to weigh him down, Ed busied himself looking after Al's needs. His brother's body, though warm and alive and wonderful, was very weak and fragile. And after years of surviving solely by leeching energy from Ed through the blood seal that had somehow bound their life forces together, Al's body was in terrible shape.

Al was suffering from the effects of starvation, severe malnutrition and muscles that were so atrophied that they were next to useless. So Ed had thrown all his energy into looking after his little brother. After all, wasn't that what he'd always done? And once Al was well, that would be it. His contract with the military was up. They could go home to Resembool and no one could argue them out of it. Well, not successfully at any rate, though Ed was pretty sure Mustang would give it his best try. He couldn't wait, actually, because it was damn well going to end with him saying a very satisfying 'No' right to the bastard's face and then making a dramatic exit with his coat tails flying behind him as he strode out.

Days passed and Ed focused his attention on Al up to the point that his little brother had enough and ordered Ed to get out and give him space to breathe. So he pulled on his coat and boots and went out, tramping aimlessly around the city streets. It was when he was passing a proverbial darkened alley that Ed was forcibly shown something he'd completely over-looked.

He saw the attacker coming clear enough, instinctively bringing up his arm to defend himself from the mugger's knife. It was then that he realised Al wasn't the only one who needed to adjust to his body's limitations again.

He'd had an automail arm for four years. Under attack, he'd automatically tried to block the knife with an arm of steel. Except it wasn't steel anymore. It was soft, giving flesh and the knife bit viciously into it. He let out surprised howl of pain and stumbled back. Blood spurted from the deep wound, bright red and sticky. And it hurt. Oh God, did it hurt.

Ed had spent four years searching for a way to restore himself and his brother. Al's body had been top priority of course, but he'd always been eager to restore his own limbs too. Four years of occasional extra surgery and ever increasing back and joint pain had meant he'd regularly dreamt wistfully of having four limbs of light flexible flesh.

But now, as the knife slashed down again and he backed away, desperately trying to staunch the blood flow, Ed realised that in comparison to his strong steel arm, the flesh and blood that he had spent so long trying to restore, was so very, very weak.

If you think you've read this before. . . you probably have. It got deleted and had to be reposted. Review anyway?