After a stormy night, Ed must accept the consequences.
When I finally, really woke up, the illusion didn't last long. It took me a minute to recognize the spare room in Winry's house. I hadn't been there since we left. I tried to sit up. Only one arm pushed against the bed. I looked down at the bandages, then, and at the awkward indentation where my shoulder ended. I dry-heaved, gulping for air as the memories threatened to drown me.
I dropped back against the sheets, trying to remember how to breathe. I thought maybe I could go back to sleep, and make this all be a dream. Just a nightmare. Please, let it be a nightmare. But when I closed my eyes, all I could see was black hands and mocking eyes. All I could hear was Al screaming.
I opened my eyes again.
There was a bit of a clatter in the hallway, and the creak of the door opening. Even remembering what had happened, drawing the sigils on my father's armor with blood from puddles on the floor, it was a shock to see it moving, ducking sheepishly into the room.
"Onii-san?" His voice was hollow. It sounded like he was talking through an intercom.
I pushed myself up again, then leaned forward. It took me a minute to balance in a sitting position before I let my hand fall in my lap. It seemed lonely. My eyes trailed along the my shape of my leg under the sheets, opposite it, and then fixated on the flat space where my other leg should be.
It probably wasn't, but it seemed like the first time in my life that I looked up at my little brother. I'd always been in charge. I was always the one who knew what I was doing. Now I had no idea.
"Are you... how does it feel?" I asked him.
The armor - Al - shrugged. "Like I'm far away, watching." I nodded slowly. I was the lucky one, so I had to be strong. No feeling sorry for myself. It was like when Mom died. I still had my body - most of my body, anyway. How many things did you really need both hands to do, anyway? I could brush my teeth with one hand, and eat, and wash myself. And there was even less to wash! Maybe this wasn't as bad as it looked.
I started to push myself off the bed so I could go wash up. My muscles were still weak, and pushing with one arm was slower than I'd expected. I kicked around with my good leg, but it didn't help much. It only made me feel like a fish out of water.
Al was watching. I told myself to be calm. If I couldn't push, then I'd roll. Fine. It wasn't a wide bed. I laid back and twisted my shoulders to roll. For a second I didn't think I'd make it over, but I pushed with my arm and rolled just fine.
Until I found myself falling. I'd forgotten to pay attention to the edge of the bed. The sound of metal clanking, and Al asking if I was alright. I pushed myself up on one knee.
"Fine. I'm... fine."
"No, you're not," came another voice from across the room. Winry's grandmother. I started to punch the floor in frustration, but lost my balance and had to spread my fingers and catch myself.
"Let him help you up," she ordered. Al moved forward, and the cold metal arms pressed against the skin of my chest, lifting me off the ground. It felt like admitting defeat. I swallowed hard.
"Help Edward dress," she said forcefully, "and bring him to breakfast, and we'll talk about... things." There was a little bit of sadness in her voice, but I tried not to think about it.
"You heard her, Al," I forced myself to smile. "Think you can manage taking care of your big brother for a change?"
"Ye-yes!" he answered, and I thought he was smiling despite the armor.