In Risembool, a young girl and a hulking armour talk...
Pinako left them for their own devices most of time, she trusted her grandaughter and felt that the severely saddened Al needed her optimism. Ed was too intense for comfort and company, at the moment. As much as he wanted to get their bodies back, some things were simply painful to see.
There was also Ed to look after. Blood lost, two limbs disappeared into... Pinako's lips pursed, into somewhere and slowly but steadily recovering from automail surgery.
So when Winry yelled to her that Al and her were going for a walk, she merely nodded her head and bent over the twitching and sweating Ed, who in the midst of a fever needed her attention.
The wind was blowing gently, stirring her hair. Winry paused, tucking a couple strands behind her ear. She slowly turned to Al, who revolved around to face her.
They stared like that, Winry trying to find some sort of face, some emotion in this armour that held the soul of Al while drifted away into her blue eyes, lost.
"What's it like..." She whispers, her voice soft, almost afraid, "What does it feel like? In there, I mean." Winry brought her head sharply downwards, clenching her fists into her lap.
"Feel like?" Al asks, slowly. "It's like being enclosed in some place where you can't see or hear or touch yet know every movement and sound without ever feeling them yourself."
"Oh... That's doesn't sound very nice." It comes out triter than she expects and Winry shuts her eyes tightly, not wanting to see in any hurt, or this new Al at all, in the mask.
He pauses, "It's hard to explain. It's an isolation, here everything is so scientific." Al turns the metal around to face her, she hears the metal twist and Winry can't help but jerk her head and look. "I don't feel pain. I don't feel anything at all. It's the remotest place you be."
"The breeze, can you feel the wind blow against you, Al? Do you?" The wind picks up, causing long blonde hair to fly about as Winry tries to hold back tears.
"No, Winry. I can see it, know it is there but... when I try to close my eyes, I don't see anything, I don't have eyes. I don't have skin, I can't feel." His hand touches hers briefly and she gasps, in shock not in pain but he brings his hand away quickly.
"I - " She begins to say, but stops. "Is it that awful?"
Al doesn't answer for a while, and Winry thinks that he may not answer at all. It's so hard to read the impassive face, so head to visualise Alphonse as this block of twisted metal. In some ways Winry refused to see this as Alphonse.
"I don't know, Winry, it's hasn't been that long." His voice is dead.
"But Ed will get your body back! He promised!" Winry pleads, smiling brightly.
"That's what he said, Winry and I believe him. I could... I don't think I could ever not believe in Edward. He's my brother, Winry, " Al ends simply.
"He's always been brilliant at Alchemy. You too Al," she adds when she feels a change in the air. "If anyone can do it, he can. He, Ed is the best at what he wants."
"Yes," Al sounds, in some way, unsure.
Winry swallows, "He cares for you Al. He loves you and so do - I care for you Al, very much."
"Me too Winry." He still sounds so young, you wouldn't expect it from a huge, hulking armour but it sounds as if he never left his body. As if he is still breathing, living and -
"Oh, Al!" Winry sobs, not caring, just launches herself into Al's arms. She doesn't care that this metal is hard and poke into her skin, that it feels cold and is so alien from human that -
She doesn't care. Winry knows that this still Al and she loves him because of who he is. Know what he has become.
A large hand strokes through her hair, knowing that he can't really feel it makes her attempt to stop crying, to stop whining, even harder.
"It's okay, Winry, Brother is going to get back his body and then he's going to get back mine. It'll be all right. You'll hardly notice it, the time will fly by and - "
"You're leaving, aren't you? You're going to take that dog's call. You're going to enlist! You'll just be another dog in the military. They die - " She stops speaking and looks away.
"We're not going to die, Winry." Al says, clenching a metal fist.
"That's," she swallows, "That's what mum and dad said, but they did. They were doctors, they were helping people, not hurting them!"
"I'm sorry."Al says, helplessly, his thoughts going back to that dreadful day where the news of Winry's parent's came to the small village of Risembool.
"It's not your fault Al. It's the military!" Her voice is intense with anger, "I don't want to see you end up like them. I remember the people coming home. They all had dead eyes. Why do you think business is so good?" She shakes her head.
She stands, "Please..." She begs. "Don't become a dog of the military. Please..."
Al looks away. "We have to. Winry, I have to do this for Brother."
Winry gulps down more tears and nods, "I - I know." Her head bows, "But I just... hate it so much!"
Brother is lying there, his face red and twitching, on the clean sheets. The automail leers out, and Al tries not to stare. It's Winry's best work, and Al remembers her proud face when she told Ed this.
It doesn't look right of Brother. It's doesn't look right on Ed.
No matter how perfect it look, no matter how well it works. It doesn't right on the young boy.
"I promise you Brother, first thing, we'll return your limbs to you... Ed, you deserve it."
At the door, Winry lowers her head, vowing to do what she can for the Elric brothers.