Series: Brotherhood/the manga
Word Count: 999
Characters: Ed, Al
Summary: A cup that is too full will always run over.
Warnings: spoilers for the ending of Brotherhood/the manga, fluffy brotherly love.
Notes: These are glimpses of Ed’s and Al’s stay in the hospital after the final battle. It ties into the prompt at the end—you’ll see what I mean. I went for ‘cute and emotionally-stirring’. XD I hope you guys enjoy the read. I love writing about the bond between the brothers. Written for fma_fic_contest. Won 2nd place for Prompt 73: Symbolic/Symbolism
Al’s voice is both familiar and unfamiliar—momentarily unsettling and yet overwhelmingly comforting. Edward still hasn’t quite adjusted to the fact that when his little brother speaks to him now, there is no hollow quality to be heard. He supposes that he’d gotten used to hearing Al’s voice emanate from within an empty suit of armor.
“You’re awake?” Edward asks softly, gently, peering over at Alphonse in the darkness. His brother is illuminated by the moonlight streaming in through the window, its eerie glow making Alphonse look even paler than he actually is.
He’s definitely improved since they were first hospitalized, but Al still has a long way to go: he’s remained puny and sickly-looking, all skin and bones and weak smiles, and they’re still having to give him IV fluids to keep him hydrated (if he drinks or eats much, he can’t keep it down).
But Edward has to focus on the positives; Alphonse is here, safe and sound and returned to his human body again, and that is what’s most important. That alone means more to Edward than anything else.
“Can’t sleep,” Alphonse finally answers, moving over in bed and adjusting his covers (Edward notes that he is careful with his right hand, which is where his IV is). “Kind of ironic, huh? Come sit with me for a little while?”
Edward climbs out of bed and crosses the space between them automatically. He doesn’t have to be careful with anything except for his stitches; he’s lucky enough to not need IV fluids, though he supposes the other side of the coin is that he’s unlucky enough to require routine shots of antibiotics, which sting like hell (Al’s no stranger to this, either).
He slips into bed beside his brother, a small smirk playing on his lips. “I can remember when we were little and you’d climb into my bed when you got scared.” Which was pretty often, he thinks, but doesn’t say—Al’s weak and tired and trying to recover, and there’s really no point in ruining his pride, is there?
“I can remember when you’d climb into mine, too,” Alphonse replies, nudging at him with a bony shoulder.
Edward makes a face; he’s very close to protesting but he relents, because it’s all right to let his little brother bask in victory and have the last word (so to speak) every now and again. “Yeah, yeah.” He waves at the empty air, as if shooing away Al’s reminder. “I know I used to make you give up half of your bed some nights, too.”
They lapse into silence for a few moments, and then Al’s head is nestled against his shoulder. Ed is almost afraid to hold onto him too tightly—it feels as if Al’s bones might snap under the weight of his awkward, one-armed embrace.
“Not gonna break, Brother,” Alphonse informs him, and then tells him a moment later: “You’re warm.”
The words strike some chord deep within Edward, and he closes his eyes, daring to hold onto Alphonse just a little tighter. He could say something overly-sentimental, but he doesn’t. Instead, he says, “You know, Al, you need to get a haircut. And get one of those pretty nurses to wash it for you. It stinks.”
Alphonse snickers. “Shut up.”
Within five minutes, both boys are yawning.
Within ten, both of them are asleep.
A nurse comes in later to check on Al’s IV line and to give Edward another dose of his antibiotics. He cringes when the shot is administered, but then he places an index finger over his lips, indicating for the nurse to be as quite as possible; his little brother is finally sleeping peacefully—he doesn’t want Al to be woken up until it’s absolutely necessary.
The nurse smiles and exits the room quietly, and Al doesn’t stir.
Edward closes his eyes again.
A few days later, Al is a bit over-enthusiastic while celebrating after beating Ed at cards four times in a row, and he manages to knock his IV out of place. Of course, both of them get a lecture, but the good news is that Al is eating and drinking better, and the IV can be removed entirely. It gives Alphonse a bit more freedom, at any rate, though he decides it best – for the time being – to make brief trips up and down the hallways, and even briefer trips outside, when medical personnel will let him.
One of the little kids across the hall gives Alphonse paper and crayons, and that’s when Al starts drawing pictures.
He looks like the epitome of innocence, sitting there and doodling on the paper with his crayons. Their nurse for the day has asked Al to draw something very important to him, and Al is obviously intent on finishing his task.
Ed’s noticed something strange, though. “Why’re you only using red?”
“Hmm?” Al asks, not looking up from his drawing.
“You’re only using the red crayon,” Ed elaborates. “Why?”
“You’ll see.” Al’s smile is secretive.
When Alphonse finally finishes his picture, he proudly shows it to Edward. Ed’s eyes widen.
It’s the bloodseal.
“You did that for me,” Alphonse tells him. “I won’t ever forget it, Brother.”
It’s a symbol of their sacrifices—of their defeats and of their triumphs… but most importantly, of their bond.
And suddenly, Edward feels very much like a cup that is overflowing and can’t hold its contents anymore; he’s wiping at the tears before he even realizes it. “Look at me, spilling everywhere, huh?”
Alphonse smiles. “It’s all right. Mom always told us that spills are easy enough to clean.”
When Edward hugs his brother this time, he doesn’t worry so much about refraining from holding onto him tightly. “Yeah, Al. You’re right.”
He lets the rest of his tears fall into and get lost within the strands of his brother’s golden hair.
(Which, by the way, still needs washing and cutting, but Ed doesn’t tell him so—not this time.)