Promises

They would be leaving Asbeck come morning, breaking up and going separate ways until the time came to meet again. Mei would be taking Envy to back to Xing with her, Scar and Dr. Marcoh would be going their own way, and he, along with Winry, the two chimeras, and Yoki were going to head on to Liore; which wasn't to say he wanted to go to Liore, exactly. He had only chosen to go there because it was the right thing to do.

What Al wantedwas to go back to Baschool. He wanted to find his brother. But they were in enough danger as it was being off the radar. Putting him and the others back on it—especially Winry—would make things substantially more dangerous for everyone, and that wouldn't be fair. It would be a total disregard to his foremost obligations: protecting Winry and progressing towards their goal. That was most important. It was what Ed would want him to do; Al had to keep reminding himself.

("I decided to get back my body no matter what, but if people have to die for me because of that—")

His sentiment still stood, especially now, terrifyingly so. What if his body was dependent on Ed's well-being? Were those lapses to the Gate just coincidence, or was it his body's survival mode kicking in? Logically he should have been more concerned about what was happening to him, but with Envy's revelation…

They had started this journey together. That was the only way they could really finish it.

If, indeed there was that sort of connection between them, at least there was some solace in the fact that he was still alive here, as opposed to the ether. But that alone didn't exactly guarantee something bad hadn't happened to his brother, though, just because he wasn't dead. Neither was it too late for that to happen, either.

Al wasn't so selfish to think he was the only one worried inside out about Ed. Watching Winry shift again on the floor next to him, finally giving up in feigning sleep in favor of sitting with her legs folded to her chest, chin nestled between her knees, and blanket cinched together where she was holding it in place around her—thinking about how she felt made him feel worse. Was this something of what it was like for her, waiting at home for a word from them, not knowing where another day had taken them or gotten them into, of whether they were still okay or not? Only recently had he come to respect that role she held—shortly after finding out about Mr. Hughes, when neither he nor Ed were sure what to do anymore—but now even that was being recognized from a completely different perspective. He could empathize, and he hated it. He hated feeling so helpless.

He always knew she was a strong person at heart. It was humbling to finally realize exactly how much, though.

"Al…"

Winry wasn't looking at him, rather watching the burning embers helping keep the shack somewhat warmer. That didn't mean he couldn't see the glimmer in her eyes or hear the hesitance in her voice. It looked like she wanted to cry, even though he knew she wouldn't...for the same reason he wasn't going back. But for a moment it made Al wonder if maybe being helpless and in the middle of everything was worse than just not knowing. At least then you could pretend, right?

"Yeah, Winry?"

A sharp intake of breath, as though she were second-guessing what she had wanted to say. "How—" She pulled the blanket tighter. "How are you not going back?" The question was curious and quiet, tight and accented with anxiety, but above all, seeking reassurance.

"Brother never breaks his promises."

Winry nodded her head as if that were something she'd been thinking all along and for a moment buries her face inside her blanket, wiping at her eyes and reappearing with a wistful "yeah" and then "okay." She leaned her head against his arm and silently continued to watch the fire with him; once the night was over, those promises were the last hope they had.

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A.N. Sorry, I've been…distracted, busy, whatnot. I had a chapter I was going to post before this, but this was already done and I'm still figuring out how to re-finish the other one. Whenever it is finished, there will be another update. After that, it's up in the air. Like I said, I've been distracted by…another anime (you may note the new icon pic for proof). Aaaannnyway…

This chapter went through a few rewrites. Originally I was insisting this be written from Winry's point of view (1st person, 2nd person) but it just wasn't giving me what I wanted. I wanted to see her worried, but I also wanted to see what Al was thinking about this whole situation. I was pleasantly surprised once I figured out to write this from his perspective. It was actually kind of heart wrenching. I can only hope I got some of that across to you. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoyed.

Until next time…whenever that may be. ;)