Alphonse awoke with a start, jolting up in bed. No trace of a dream, not even a cold sweat, just a drumming heart, pulsing veins, and a gasp for breath. He surveyed the bedroom, half expecting something to be different, but his ajar window let the sunlight leak through as always, and his door still stood shut the way he left it, and his book lay on his nightstand, marker sandwiched between its pages. As he shifted under the sheets, his still-weakened muscles ached from yesterday’s daily routines, but he merely winced, barely noticing this anymore; there were stranger matters on his mind.
Sleep slowly cleared from his head and vision, his other senses beginning to stir. His ears picked up two loud, tangled voices squabbling over who knew what—Winry and Edward at it again. Rolling his eyes, he stripped himself of the covers, pulled himself out of bed, and pressed his ear to the door.
“…perfectly capable of helping himself, Winry! Give it a rest already. You’ve been slowly killing him for the past month.”
“Killing him? I’m helping him! And you know he can’t go out to town on his own!”
“I already told you—“
Al sighed, feeling like he had two parents fighting his battles for him. But whenever he intervened, he was pushed to the side as his family continued to bicker over what was best for him, and he couldn’t help but feel like they had forgotten about whose say was most important—his. Wondering what to do this time, he let his back slide against the door until his body hit the ground with a small thunk. And he couldn’t shake it. Not this again, he thought, clenching his fists and burying his head in his knees. A sneaky, creepy feeling slinked around in his head. Maybe I should start intervenining again, he found himself thinking, the thoughts spilling into him, infiltrating his mind. Maybe I should stop wasting my time sitting here and do something about it. Give them a piece of my mind. It was soft at first, like a nudging whisper, but over the past few weeks, these thoughts had grown louder and louder until he found them too strong to bare. I could even just sneak to town on my own, he began to consider. Sometimes felt at war with himself. What’s wrong with me? he thought, trying to fight away the urges. What’s going on?