They had it. A stone. A red, gleaming philosophers stone. And they used it. Edward wanted Alphonse to have his body back first. How he now wished he had given in to Alphonse insisting that they should first restore his arm and leg. How could he have been so stupid not to remember what had happened when he didn't listen to Alphonse the last time they drew this circle? But he insisted that Alphonse was more important. And Alphonse was more important. Now Alphonse is dead.
The stone, the red, gleaming stone was a fake.
Good enough to pass through as the real thing when they tested it on various transmutations. But when it was set to work in the final, ultimate transmutation to reach their goal, it failed. It failed and brought back a body as deformed and damaged and wrong as their first attempt on human transmutation. The only difference was that Ed didn't have to pay for it with a leg. Though he wished he had to, because he deserved it. He caused Alphonse to die a horrible death and remained unharmed. What sick joke of equivalent exchange was that? He was about to give his other arm, to force Alphonse's soul back in the armour for a second chance, a new hunt for the stone. But the barely living pile of malformed organs in the middle of the transmutationcircle spoke "No."
He stared at it, eyes wide, tears running. "Al, just wait a second and we'll have a second chance, okay, just wait I'll make it good again, just a second...", he started rambling as he made his way to the remnants of the armour that lay next to the mutilated flesh.
"No." A hand without skin closed over his. "No. Let...me..go. I see...mom. Live on..for me."
"But, but, Al, I can't, not without you...It's...I can't...No...Impossible...I..."
"Live. Help people. We'll...wait...for you...to come after...a...long...happy...life...love you."
And the visible lung stopped breathing. And the pulsing heart, Al always had such a big heart, stopped it's beating.
That was the last thing Edward Elric registered before he went numb. He didn't faint, he just went numb. Stopped feeling, stopped realising, stopped responding to the world. Just Numb.