Al watches Ed sleep.
I don't blame Brother. He wanted to bring Mother back more than I did, but I wasn't an unwilling participant. I knew we would be okay without Mother; after all, I had Brother to look after me. Ed needed Mother. He wasn't ready to grow up. Well, ready or not, we both grew up.
The moonlight reflects off Brother's watch, his badge of honor from the military. We were supposed to both become State Alchemists. I was going to help him find the Philosopher's Stone. I want Brother to be whole again. I want my body back too, but I see Brother staring at his arm sometimes with a sad expression on his face. He doesn't think I notice him staring at the Automail before he sleeps, but I do. I feel like crying for him, but I can't, not anymore.
I stare at my huge hands. This is who I am now, just a suit of armor. All that remains of me is a disembodied voice and emotions. I should feel sad, but I have trouble remembering what it was like to have a body. I don't remember what the sun felt like or the grass under me as Brother and I stared at the sky. The feel of skin and the taste of food are lost to me too. Forever, I fear.
Brother stirs and I remain quiet. The armor is loud and seems to creak every time I move. I don't want to wake him; this is the first time he's slept in a bed in weeks. Most of the time, he falls asleep at his desk, books spread out before him.
The Philosopher's Stone has become our quest. Brother reads book after book, committing names and arrays to memory and sometimes I hear him mutter those names or see him trace the arrays in the air as he sleeps. He's become obsessed with trying to get our bodies back, to get Mother back.
I want to have my body back more than anything, but not if Brother sacrifices his health and happiness. We haven't seen Winry in a very long time and I miss her. She never stares at me funny like everyone else seems to. I tried telling Brother once that we should visit Winry and her grandmother again, but he said he had a lead on the Stone. I haven't brought up the subject again.
Brother has always been stubborn and I wonder if he was like our father. Mother wasn't stubborn-she was kind and gentle and compromising. Nonexistent tears spring to my nonexistent eyes. I still cling to her memories, afraid to let them go. They are my most precious treasure I still have.
Mother was Brother's most precious treasure too. He wanted to bring her back more than anything and I wanted to stop him, I knew it was taboo, but I wanted to see her again. I could have stopped him and yet I know I couldn't have. When Brother sets his mind to something, it's nearly impossible to change it. He insisted on getting Automail and becoming a State Alchemist even though I know it must have hurt beyond words. He spends long nights reading and studying arrays; some of what he reads is even beyond my comprehension. I've seen him read the same book a dozen times until he understood every word.
"Al? Are you all right?"
Surprised, I look up. Brother was sitting up, watching me. He was worried about me. He was always worried about me. I wanted to tell him to stop, tell him that I could take care of myself. I wanted to become a State Alchemist and find the Stone to take care of him.
I heard myself saying, "I'm all right. I hope I didn't wake you."
He smiled, rubbing the back of his head. "Nah. I couldn't sleep anyway."
He lay back down. "Tell you what. In the morning, we'll go back to the library and look at more books."
"Okay." He fell asleep again. I had missed another chance to tell him to slow down and not to worry so much. I wanted to sigh. I knew that if I had said that, Brother would have brushed it off. He would have told me he enjoyed looking through so many dusty old books and that we were really close, so we should just keep looking.
I hoped we would find the Stone soon so Brother would stop obsessing. I'd like to have him back.