Sacrifice

Change Of Plans

(Alphonse's POV)

Even as I watched Alex snuggle into Edward's shirt pillow for the second time today, I could still remember her hand on my armor. Even though it was a small gesture, it still meant a lot to me. It showed that unlike just about everyone else, she didn't see me as a soul attached to a suit of armor. She saw me as a teenage boy who she thought needed comfort (which I guess I did). A peer. A human. And I liked and respected her for seeing past my fearsome appearance. Not many people did. And while she realized that my brother was the state alchemist and not I, she still appeared to give us the same amount of respect. I thought that was really cool.

“Poor girl. She must really be tired to want to go to sleep at seven.” My brother smiled at Alex. “So, Al, how are you doing?” He turned to face me. “She seems to like you a lot…” Edward laughed quietly.

“Yeah. I guess she does.” I said, turning just the slightest bit pink. To be honest, I liked her a lot as well. In what way… I didn’t know. I just was certain that I was attracted to her. I sighed. That didn’t matter. She seemed to have already been drawn to Ed. I was fine with that, of course. I was happy for her and Edward. Hopefully I wasn’t jumping to conclusions.

“She put her hand on you.” My brother said, interrupting my thoughts.

"She put her hand on me..." I echoed him quietly. quietly, looking at the ground.

Ed looked at me. "Yeah. She did. She cares about you." He responded.

“I think she cares about you more, brother.” I said. I was pretty sure that Alex had a crush on Edward.

He blushed. “What do you mean by that?” Ed asked, being sure to keep his voice down.

“Nothing really. I just think that… Never mind.” I didn’t think Alex would want me planting any ideas (real or fake) in Edward’s head.

“What?” My brother looked at me, interested.

“Nothing.” I looked at Alex, regretting saying anything about her possible attraction to Edward.

“Come on, Al. Spill.” Ed smirked and elbowed me in the chest. I couldn’t take it anymore. I told him what was on my mind.

“I just think that she’s got feelings for you.” I said, looking down at the ground.

Ed blinked, surprised. I doubted he’d been expecting to hear what I had told him. “What… What makes you say that?” He asked, looking at peacefully sleeping Alex again.

“I don’t know… Just the way she acts when she talks to you… How she… I just know.” I said.

“Well. I’ll keep that in mind. But I – or you, for that matter – won’t say a word to her about it. Or anybody. This stays between us.” The cloak fell off of Alex’s legs again, and Edward gingerly draped it over her again. “To be honest, I think she likes you more. She hasn’t touched me at all. You got her hand on your leg.” He continued.

I nodded. "She treated me like a teenage boy, Ed."

"That's what you are, Al. Other people just don't seem to be able to see that. Alex is a unique girl." Edward said, resting his body against me.

I said the first thing that popped into my mind. "I like Alex, Ed. I really like her. I'm happy that I'll get to spend time with her."

"I am too, Al, trust me. I think we'll all be great friends." My brother said.

I nodded. "I hope so."

Ed looked at Alex and smiled. “I’m really glad that we met her. She’s a nice girl. She needed a little bit of company.”

“Yeah. The poor girl must be starved for attention.” I told him, looking at Alex.

“Yeah. I can’t believe that she’s been alone for that entire time. How did she manage to pull that off?” Ed asked.

“I don’t know. I would have gone crazy without you, brother.” I said.

“I agree, Al. She could use people like us in her life.” Ed looked at me.

“She could use a man in her life.” I said, laughing. My brother whirled around and glared at me.

“WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN? I DON’T EVEN KNOW HER THAT WELL!” He shouted, picking up his suitcase and preparing to whack me with it.

Alex stirred. We froze. Ed silently put his suitcase down, picked up the edge of his cloak, and draped it over her legs. “It keeps falling.” He whispered, then turned to me. “We should be quieter. We almost woke her up.”

“You’re the one who was screaming! I was just joking.” I said.

Edward sighed and turned to look at Alex. “I’m worried about her, Al.” He smiled gently as she snuggled deeper into his shirt pillow.

“Why, brother?” I asked. She seemed to be doing alright, in my opinion.

“What will happen when we have to leave her behind? She can’t travel with us, you know.” Ed glanced at the ground.

“I don’t know. We don’t have to leave her, Ed. She can travel with us. I mean, another alchemic prodigy? Colonel Mustang would be ecstatic!” I realized how far-fetched my words were. Even I knew that the military probably wouldn’t be too fond of another teen hanging around.

“Al, as much as I want her to stay with us, we both know that won’t happen.” Edward said. “Trust me. I would love to have her company, but we can’t.” He looked at Alex with a hopeless expression on his face. “I just have this feeling that she needs us. I…” He sighed.

“What’s wrong, brother?” I asked.

“I want her to stay. I don’t know why, but I really want her to stay.” He said, sounding a bit confused.

“Maybe you have feelings for her.” I said without thinking. Great. Now Ed was going to get mad, scream and hit me with his suitcase, and wake up Alex. I prepared for the chaos that was sure to ensue.

Ed got a dark expression on his face and opened his mouth, but he took one look at Alex sleeping peacefully and calmed down. “No.” He said simply, looking out of the window. “I don’t.”

I decided to stop teasing him, in case his temper finally got the best of him. The last thing I wanted to happen right now was for Alex to wake up. She had seemed tired, and I wanted her to get some rest in preparation for tomorrow. So I quietly picked up my brother’s suitcase and set it on the other side of me. That way, if he did eventually lose his cool, he wouldn’t be able to reach it.

“What are we going to do in Resembool, Ed?” I asked my brother. I pretty much already knew that we were going to visit Winry, but I wanted to steer the conversation away from Alex. For some reason, Edward seemed to be a bit touchy when he was talking about her. Maybe because he did have a crush on the girl.

“You know what our plans are, Al. We’re visiting Winry.” He said, looking at Alex. “I hope she won’t mind meeting her.”

“I don’t think she’ll care. I mean, Winry could use another friend, right?” I told Ed, turning to face him.

“I guess. But I just don’t want to force anything. What if they don’t like each other?” My brother asked.

“They will. I think they’ll get along very well.” I responded.

Ed stopped smiling at Alex, who had nuzzled her cheek against his cloak, and face palmed. "Oh, DANG!"

"What's wrong, brother?" I asked him.

"I forgot! That hotel in Resembool closed down! We're going to have to stay at Winry's house!" He said, frowning.

Oh, yeah. I had forgotten too. We didn’t normally bunk at the hotel, but we weren’t planning on staying with Alex at Winry’s house. Oh, well. "Why's that a problem, Ed?"

“You, Alex, and I are going to be staying at Winry’s house! How is Winry going to react to having a complete stranger live with her for a few days?” He looked down.

He had a point. But I didn’t believe anything would go wrong. “I think everything will work out fine.” I said optimistically.

"Still, I would have liked to give her more warning..." Edward looked at Alex. She had rolled over to face us. “Do you think Alex will mind our change of plans?” He asked.

“I doubt it. She seems like an easygoing girl.” I responded.

“I should still talk to Winry…” My brother said.

“I know. You can call her when we get to the Resembool train station.” I told him.

Ed yawned. “Yeah, I will. But right now, I’m gonna get some sleep. Night, Al. Night, Alex.” After he had once again pulled his cloak over Alex’s legs, he leaned against me and closed his eyes.

“Goodnight, brother.” I responded. I looked out the train window, wondering what tomorrow would bring.

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