Word Count: 2,932
Warning: Angst. Blood.
Edit: Spoilers for episode 51. I'm sorry. I forgot to say.
Thanks to my betas: Fury, Duckie and Koikiri.
Credit to: Uninformed for helping me fix some scenes.
A/N: Song lyrics are from the song "Somewhere Out
There" by Our Lady Peace.
Somewhere Out There
Alphonse Elric was traveling again. He found he loved the feeling of traveling, even though his brother couldn’t be with him. Some time ago, when he was restored, or at least he was told that was what happened, his brother had disappeared from Amestris. No matter how high or low Alphonse looked, Edward was nowhere to be seen. It didn’t matter if Alphonse was in Dublith, Youswell, Central City or Rizenbul; the Fullmetal Alchemist had disappeared off the face of the planet, without any explanation.
He was thankful to Izumi; she had explained the gate in great detail at his insistence since the theory was that Edward had been swallowed up by the monstrous, vicious contraption. Although this gate had the power to rip someone apart piece by piece and destroy their existence, Alphonse was one hundred percent sure that that had not happened to his brother. Ed was too strong for that, he thought.
Ever since he lost his memory, he was struggling to remember what his brother might have looked like, what they might have done together. Some of it came back to him in pieces, Edward’s gentle hands and meticulous care even though Alphonse couldn’t feel him. His brother had never treated him as less than human, and he was thankful that his brother loved him so much.
Alphonse found himself longing to reach out to Edward, to touch him, hug him and feel him until a lifetime had passed and he’d memorized everything he could about the one who cared so deeply for him. He’d heard every tale that Winry and Izumi knew about Edward and about the people they’d known over the past five years while he was locked inside the armour. It was remarkable just how brave Edward had been – was, rather. Alphonse was sure he wouldn’t have changed in that amount of time, not his brother. His brother was stubborn, brave and loud and there wasn’t a single thing Al would change about him. His heart swelled with pride when he heard his brother had saved a town of people, and some of the things he had done for the mysterious girl Rose, who now lived with Winry.
Most of all, he longed to tell Edward just how proud he was.
Last time I talked to you,
You were lonely and out of place.
Alphonse remembered his past vividly however. He remembered every moment that had passed with their mother, her joyful smile encouraging them and keeping them moving forward after their father had left. Alphonse remembered missing Hoenheim Elric so much and he never did understand Edward’s animosity towards the man. He remembered how his mother’s hand felt as she faded from this world, and Edward’s desperate vow to bring her back.
Most of all, he remembered the warmth of Edward's smile, his boyish aversion to work, the efforts he made to play and laugh. He remembered the soft skin that smelled of soap and mud most of the time, and the bony arms wrapped around his waist as they lay there in the night, afraid from nightmares and not wanting to disturb their sick mother.
Alphonse remembered Edward taking care of him.
After Trisha had died, they had launched themselves into studies. Even with Izumi, Edward always put himself on the line, much more than he ever did. His brother was brave and looked after him every moment of every day.
A loud train whistle interrupted his thoughts as the train pulled into Central station. People shuffled past him, some glancing twice at the red coat adorning Al’s shoulders, a coat he had borrowed from Edward. Yes, borrowed, Alphonse reminded himself that he would need to return it when Edward came home. He would come home, he always did. Alphonse was sure of it.
The people walked by and trickled out of the door and without missing a beat, another group of people filed on the train. A woman with blonde hair as fair as Edward’s and wine coloured eyes caught his gaze and moved towards him. Something was nagging at Alphonse, the feeling that he should know this woman, but he didn’t. He looked her over again, her blue military uniform pressed perfectly, everything immaculate as though she had a lot of experience with it. He felt his lips tugging back into a small, friendly smile when the woman sat down across from him. Her eyes were locked firmly upon his own for a full minute, before the gaze moved about Alphonse’s hair, clothes and finally the red coat.
“Alphonse.” She sounded as though she had just decided that would be his name, regardless of what he said, as opposed to asking him if that’s who he was.
“That’s right.” Alphonse smiled a little wider and looked at her curiously. “I feel like I should know you but I don’t…then again I am an amnesiac…”
The woman frowned a bit at that, but the frown morphed into a smile quickly enough. “Riza Hawkeye.” She offered her hand to the young man and looked pleased when he took it.
Alphonse shook the hand and smiled kindly at the woman she seemed friendly enough. Her eyes were locked on his, curious. He squirmed slightly in his seat. "I don't remember anything from when we..." He let the words hang in the air.
Riza did not press the matter. She nodded and accepted the explanation. Alphonse smiled gratefully before asking her a question. "What...what was Ed like when he...when he left?"
"The last time I saw him..." She trailed off a moment, collecting her thoughts. She seemed a little sad, but took care not to let Alphonse know how deeply Edward's disappearance had touched them. "He...was everything he always was. Only...he'd changed his mind. He was giving up on his goal of..." She gestured to Alphonse. "He said it was better for the world if the thing was just destroyed instead of putting you through that risk. He wanted to save the world from pain and he...he fully believed he could."
Alphonse felt his breath hitch. Somehow the thought that Edward had wanted to save the world from pain over restoring him was comforting. It meant that Edward still had morals. Sometimes he'd wondered, with all the stories he'd heard about him. Alphonse smiled after a moment. "Edward sounds like a fantastic person."
"Yes, he was."
The use of the past tense made his stomach clench and his chest hurt. His eyes drifted to his feet and then out the window. The train car suddenly felt too stuffy. With his eyes closed, he mumbled an apology and told her he wasn't feeling very well. Alphonse didn't really think she would buy that story, but he was secretly relieved when the woman didn’t attempt to force the conversation. He just wasn’t in the mood to talk anymore.
I’m waiting for this sky to fall,
I’m waiting for a sign.
It was dark when Alphonse opened his eyes. He hadn’t realized he’d fallen asleep, which had been incredibly rude, considering he had company. The blonde had gone though, disappeared as though she’d never been there. A piece of Edward’s past, yet another one that had faded away when his back was turned. A sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach made him feel nauseous. Hawkeye had disappeared as easily as his brother had. It was disconcerting to know that people could come and go in his life without him noticing. He began to wonder if she had been a dream. But her words came crashing down upon his mind once more and he shook his head. No, not a dream, he decided.
His eyes drifted to the pane of glass that sheltered him from the cool night. The dark sky mocked him with stars that were shining brightly, as though they had every right to do so when Al was in a bad mood. He leaned forward, his forehead gently resting upon the cool glass. He could tell winter would be coming soon. Winter was the worst time because that’s when his brother’s birthday was. Every time his birthday came around and they were separated, Alphonse felt physically ill and resolved to find him before the next one.
Now the third one was coming and there was nothing Alphonse could do about it. He was headed for the Ishbal camp, for he had heard there were some rare texts among the Ishbalites that might explain the connection between wherever he was and wherever his brother was.
All he needed was a sign; something to tell him where Edward was and Alphonse would run there on his own two legs if he had to.
The sun began peeking over the horizon, startling Alphonse out of his thoughts once more. The bright yellow orb was moving higher and higher, heat bearing down on the window, warming the pane of glass beneath Al’s forehead. The pane shifted from icy to cool, cool to warm and warm to unbearably hot, which forced Al to sit up at last. A glance around the train carriage revealed that he was alone. The squeal of the breaks, the whistle of the train and the stop in motion signified that they had arrived. Alphonse grabbed his suitcase from the rack overhead and hopped off the train into the warming desert sun.
I know you’re out there…
Somewhere out there…
It had taken a lot of luck, and the pull of his past friends, but by the evening sunset, Alphonse was situated in a small building filled with records and books, most of which were damaged. Someone had taken great care to save these, and as a favour to the elder Al had assisted in Central, he was allowed to read the books he wished.
He had no trouble following the complicated descriptions of the process to open the gate. He made notes, numerous notes on the procedure. Alphonse took his time and was finished no earlier than four in the morning, where he was immediately escorted from the building by a young security guard.
At last, Alphonse had what he needed to pull his brother back to him. That was all that mattered. Who cared about what it cost him? He'd be able to hold Edward in his arms again and that meant the world to him.
I know you'll come back someday,
On a bed of nails, I'll wait.
There were blisters on his knees. His hands were raw and sore. He felt the effects through his shoulders, back and hips, the pain from sketching out an enormous array on his own. But he couldn't get anyone to help him. It wasn't right. He needed to do this alone.
Alphonse looked around the unused warehouse located in Central. Sweat dripped from his hairline onto his nose and trailed a path across his lips and chin to escape onto his shirt. He was nervous, hot and moody. This place wasn't as abandoned as he liked, however, it was all he could get his hands on in short notice. Every step he took around the empty space brought up clouds of dust that made him want to sneeze. That dust mixed with the smell of white chalk was almost enough to drive him insane.
Just a little longer, he thought. A little longer, and Edward will be by my side, just like he never left. He wasn't sure about the sacrifice. The poor animal he'd tied to the centre of the array let out pitiful moans and cries, begging to be released. But Alphonse was sure he'd need a life. He loved animals, but he just loved Edward more, and he needed his brother. His lips moved as he whispered a few apologies to the dog, God and anyone else who would listen. It was a comfort that the dog was old and would have had to be put down anyway within a week. Enough to make it forgivable...as long as it brought Edward back to him.
He shuffled his feet and moved out of the array. It was time, time before anyone caught sight of what was going on and time to be reunited with Edward. Alphonse closed his eyes, lowered his fingers to the array and pushed his power into it, watching the golden glow from behind his eyelids.
I hope you remember me.
Time stopped. Alphonse opened his eyes. The world around him had disappeared into a soft dull yellow glow. The dog was long gone, turned to dust while he hadn't been looking. Even the dust and the dank smell of the room Alphonse had been standing in had disappeared from the teen's vision.
In contrast to the pale plane that surrounded his vision, stood a large, unfamiliar edifice. The mahogany doors were closed, a creepy eye etched into the surface by some unlucky artist. The trim appeared to be stone, the arch filled with intricate designs, perfect for warding off the foolish and keeping the horrors trapped within the multidimensional purgatory.
Alphonse didn't remember this gate, this gate that defied the principals of equivalent trade and took more than its due. All he knew was that this gate held his older brother - his life - hostage.
Alphonse stepped up to the heavy doors and pounded. "Give me back my brother! Bring Edward Elric back to me, back home!"
A voice, taunting and laughing childishly rang out in exchange. He's dead. He can't come back.
"He is NOT dead!" Alphonse screamed, fists becoming red and sore, but he ignored the pain in favour of pounding on the unyielding doors. It was worth it. "Please! Please bring him back to me!"
What can I have in return? The childish tone had returned, giggling and mocking his efforts to break down the gate doors.
"Anything! Please! Just a moment with my brother!" Alphonse knew he was begging, but he didn't care. He couldn't help it. He needed Edward and loved only Edward. He'd give anything to have his brother, to touch him anywhere he could, to memorize his body.
There was a childish laugh and then nothing. Silence. In this strange place, Al's voice and hearing had disappeared. Without the gate talking to him - was he losing his mind? - There was nothing Alphonse could hear. When the silence persisted, he started screaming and pounding on the doors before him again.
As his voice grew hoarse and useless, soft trickles of blood slid down his beaten arms, the gate moved. Startled out of his frantic pace, Al jumped back. Inch by inch, the doors spread open. Darkness lay within until eyes, millions of eyes opened. The purple eyes were watching him, watching Alphonse squirm and there was nothing he could do about it. It was horrifying.
And then he saw them, the tiny black hands that stretched out like tentacles. The sight initially made him scream. A few of these black hands pushed a bewildered Edward out of the gate. His clothes were very different and his hair was longer than anything Alphonse remembered about him. The brown colours he wore didn't suit him, didn't bring out his gold eyes.
Alphonse felt his legs moving on their own, bringing him closer to this monstrosity, closer to Edward.
"Al?" Edward's groggy voice interrupted his thoughts. It was deeper than Al remembered, and he wondered vaguely if the blond had been fast asleep when the gate snatched him from his new world. Before Alphonse could utter a word, the tentacle creatures came back out and in a glorious display of blood, the centre of Edward's abdomen exploded from behind. The elder Elric crumpled to the ground, as fatally wounded as he was the last time he was in Alphonse's presence.
The scream that tore out of Alphonse's throat was excruciating. Not this, not now. Why? Why had the gate done this? Wet salty tears poured from his tear ducts like small rivers and he fell to his knees in shock. He didn't trust his legs to carry him, so he crawled on hands and knees to his brother. "Edward? Ed? Talk to me? Talk to me!"
The elder didn't answer, eyes glazing over. It looked like death was rearing its ugly head again. Alphonse panicked. "No! No!" He screamed and cried over his brother before clasping his hands to Edward's cheeks and locking lips. He kissed with his heart and soul, as hard as he could, just to make sure Edward felt it. He kissed like a starved man attacks a buffet.
Alphonse was distracted when they came, the tendrils wrapping around his legs and thighs, and higher up to inappropriate places. Alphonse held on though, he held onto his brother, lips locked onto the fading warmth.
The tendrils pulled him back, his legs came off the ground, followed by his abdomen and chest suspended in the air. Then he knew, the moment he had told the gate what it could have, the moment he said those words, their fates had been sealed. Even his hands disappeared before his lips finally broke the kiss as he was being slowly pulled away, into the gates of hell. He felt bad for bruising Edward's lips like he had, but he knew there was nothing he could do now. He stared at the bloody corpse of his brother, his love, as he was pulled away slowly and the gates turned inward. Foot by foot, inch by inch, centimetre by centimetre until Alphonse's vision faded to the darkness of hell.
And a dark haired man opened the door to the warehouse.
You're falling out of reach,
I pray you don't burn out,Or fade away.