Title: Gilded
Prompt: Zenith
Rating: K+
Summary: In which there is speculation on the future.
Warnings: SPOILERS through to the end of the manga/Brotherhood.
Disclaimer: Fullmetal Alchemist and all associated characters, settings, etc., belong to Hiromu Arakawa-san. The only profit I make from this work of fiction is my own satisfaction and, possibly, the enjoyment of others.
Author's Notes: See first chapter. This is the last chapter, everyone! Thank you to everyone who has read or reviewed these past few months – this story has easily been my most popular, with over ten thousand (!) hits as well as being added to almost fifty people's favorite lists. I am deeply honored. Special thanks to Fuocoso, Akira Elric, hawkeyeflame1921, FullmetalFan16, Harryswoman, Ricorum Scaevola, and silverymoon19 for reviewing.

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Part 26 – Zenith

"Brother?" Al asks into the quiet of their hospital room. It is three in the morning and by all rights Ed should be asleep – and so should Al be, but his body isn't used to a normal sleep cycle yet. Yesterday he was asleep from ten in the morning to almost midnight – a long time, but everyone says if he sleeps that long it's because his body needs it. And sleep is so exciting, anyway – slightly terrifying, if you've been awake for more than four years, but also terribly exhilarating.


Ed had probably been asleep – he needed it as much as Al did – but his brother has always managed to know when Al needed him.

"When we get better, we're going back to Risembool, right?"

Al can't see Ed's smile in the darkness, but he can hear it in his voice and feel it on his skin. "Yeah. We're going home as soon as they let us."

"When will that be?" slips out before Al can stop it. Ed snickers, which is only fair after all the times Al laughed at his eagerness to get out of a hospital. Al supposes he must have inherited at least some of the infamous Elric impatience after all.

"Prob'ly whenever people can't count your ribs from thirty yards away."

Al huffs, thumping the covers with a fist that feels oddly small – and yet so much more solid than he's used to. There's another quiet chuckle from Ed's side of the room, then some shuffling and the odd clankpat that are his brother's mismatched footsteps. One side of Al's bed dips and there's the warmth of another body next to him. Al turns to it instinctively, smiling as he burrows his face into the front of Ed's shirt. Ed pats his hair, awkward but as affectionate as he's able to be, and Al shakes with silent amusement.

"What?" Ed asks suspiciously, and Al can tell he's thisclose to getting offended.

"Brother," Al says, avoiding the question, "I think… I think everything's going to be all right."

Ed is quiet for a few moments and Al nestles his head contentedly onto his makeshift pillow, waiting unwearyingly for a response. Then Ed barks a laugh, letting his arm come to rest around his little brother. "Yeah," he says, smiling too much for his gruff tone to be genuine. "Yeah, I think so too."