Roy let his head fall back on the couch. His hands, heavy and alien-feeling still, rested in his lap. He knew this sort of thing just took time—years, in fact—but it was hard not to get frustrated.
A hand settled on either side of his head. "So how many glasses did you break today?"
He opened his eye to find Ed leaning over the back of the couch, upside down face smirking knowingly. "Eight," he answered. With gripping either too hard or not hard enough, and the erratic, uncontrolled movements his hands were still prone to, it seemed breaking things was all he did.
But Ed responded with, "That's not bad. I went through the entire cabinet."
"More than once," Winry added from the other room.
"Don't mind her," Ed continued. "They plan on glassware getting broken. It's part of the process." He stepped around the couch and plopped himself down on the cushion opposite. "Here. Hold up your hands."
"Ed—I'm exhausted—" Surely the slight whine could be forgiven.
"I know, I know—this is actually relaxing. Trust me—this was the only way I did relax." He held his own hands up, fingers wiggling invitingly. "C'mon—just match my hands."
With Ed sitting there with an eager grin on his face, how could he say no? Reluctantly, Roy lifted the heavy metal weights and willed his fingers to spread.
"Good." Ed brought his hands close, until their fingertips were almost touching. "Now match my hands. Don't think about it. Don't worry about what your hands are doing. Just watch mine."
For a moment he just sat there with his fingers splayed, giving Roy time to settle into the position. Then he brought his fingers together and fanned them out again, repeating the movement several times. Roy tried to follow along, but his own fingers jerked and twisted and lagged. He grimaced.
"Don't over-think it," Ed reminded him. "Don't think about it at all. Just pay attention to my hands."
He took a deep breath, and nodded.
"I know it's easier said than done," Ed said, echoing Roy's thoughts. "But give it a shot."
Ed's fingers kept moving. Now curling, now pressed flat, now spread. Roy did his best to ignore the erratic movements of his own. It wasn't hard to focus on Ed's; he'd always been fascinated by the young man's hands, and the way he could summon and direct energy just by bringing them together. To him, Ed's hands meant strength and determination. Resolve. Ed whose hands were so beautifully, perfectly balanced despite one being flesh and the other metal.
"That's it!" Ed declared. "Now you're started to get it." He grinned. "See, this isn't about getting it right. It's about the moving. It's letting your body get used to its new parts."
"Huh." Roy was surprised to find that he was relaxing—a small part of the tension that had built up in his arms and shoulders was starting to ease. Something about the rhythm of the movements, and maybe just sitting there with Ed, seemed to be helping. And the more he relaxed it seemed that, just maybe, his hands were starting to cooperate. Just a little.
"I used to do this with Al in the evenings," Ed went on. "It helped him get used to the armor, too. It was the closest I got to taking a break back then."
"From what I understand, you pushed yourself too hard."
Ed's smile took on a self-deprecating edge. "Yeah. I did," he admitted. "I didn't see it that way at the time, though. It was just something I had to get through so I could get on to fixing things."
He smiled. "You never have been one for long-term planning, have you."
"Naaah, where's the fun in that? I want what I want now." He grinned again. "Besides, plans are your thing."
He snorted. "Such as they are. My plans seem to be made to be foiled."
"Maybe." With that enigmatic response Ed took Roy's hands in his own, signaling the end of their session. "How do they feel?"
"Any sharp pain? Shooting pain?"
The question took him aback. "No," he said after a moment of thought. "Not since . . . yesterday? I think?"
"Good! That means your nerves are starting to get used to the wires." He squeezed his hands. These little affectionate gestures Ed had started doing recently were so casual that Roy wondered sometimes if he was conscious of them.
Ed picked up a jar of salve and gently pulled one of Roy's arms toward him. The salve was to ease the irritation around the ports. But with two metal hands he still couldn't use properly, it was yet another thing Roy couldn't do for himself. Having to depend so much on others had been perhaps the biggest adjustment he'd had to make.
"Your scarring shouldn't be as bad as mine," Ed said. "I . . . kinda made it worse. By pushing so hard."
"You didn't give your body enough time to heal."
The reflective look on his face was acknowledgement enough.
The rubbing was starting to ease the cramped muscles of his forearm. He sighed, feeling the limb finally relax as Ed started to knead the flesh.
"Lemme know if it hurts at all. I don't want to make anything worse. I know it's not all healed yet."
"No. It's fine." He let his other arm rest in his lap as Ed worked. The young man had such an endearing look of concentration, he could happily just sit there and watch him.
After a moment Ed cleared his throat. "Still say you're an idiot."
Roy smiled. "Takes one to know one."