[Author] Mara D
[Series] Fullmetal Alchemist
[Pairing] EdxAl (No real mention of it yet, but it’s coming.)
[Rating] R so far.
[Spoilers?] Yes. AU. Picks up after the series ends. The movie can bite my butt because it doesn't exist as far as I am concerned. I am also Taking a few tiny liberties with series facts, but should not be that obvious.
[Chatter] This is an experiment. It could go wildly wrong, or I could love it to pieces. Hard to tell which yet. Angsty Alphonse warning. This is a little plot bunny of mine, wondering just how much I can push Alphonse until he becomes like his brother in behavior and temperament. My Al is going a little off the deep end, but that’s okay. I think that once he sees Ed again and punches him in the eye, everything should be okay. ^_^
Alphonse studied the hand resting in his; it was slack now. It was her right hand, her wedding band glinting gold against her pale skin. Sig had sobbed for nearly an hour before stumbling from the room. And now Al was sitting here, unmoving. He hadn’t cried. He hadn’t blinked. It was some time after midnight that she had drawn her last breath and he felt hollow. Hollow because her hand in his had made him remember. Remember the last time he had held a hand so much like this. Except her hand had been hot with fever…sweaty, rougher because she worked in the gardens.
It always seemed he was holding onto someone’s hand when they died. Even if he had been…if he had been just a massive suit of empty armor. Touching his brother’s face in a hand so much bigger than it ever had any right to be. Alphonse’s hand, but not. Leather and steel and incapable of feeling, though not incapable of gentleness.
He had just remembered.
For the last four years, he had known nothing but the dreams, waking up feeling as if he were just on the edge of grasping something important, painful. Grasping onto the hurt that made the faces of those around him pinch just a bit, made their shoulders sag and their hands clench whenever he mentioned his “brother.”
They told him something had happened. Something with alchemy. That was why his brother was gone. That was why Alphonse was alone, had lost so many years. That was why that radiant smile and acid tongue that he knew so well was no longer around. Edward was gone. Gone because he had transmuted his brother. Given him back his life, his body, in exchange for his own.
Edward was dead and he had made damn sure that Alphonse came back without any memories of their travels together so that he would not /know/ how to transmute himself again, to bring Edward back.
Alphonse was angry.
Angry because he had grown up without his brother and he had needed him. Still needed him. Angry because no one had told him, had done their best to shield him from what was happening to him this day.
At two AM on a Tuesday morning. Alphonse Elric at the age of thirteen, holding his dead master’s hand in his, had remembered everything. Not just trying to transmute their mother, Trisha Elric, but every tiny detail. Every pain and loss and triumph that had finally lead to what they had fought so hard against, his brother and him. One of them had to give up everything for the other’s happiness.
Was this happiness?
He didn’t know.
He was trembling, but he could not cry. It was too much, too fast. He had lost two of the people he cared the most about in rapid succession and all he could feel was cold.
/I have taught you everything there is to know from me, Alphonse. Twice. The last part of the wisdom of Alchemy the world has to impart on you. It already has, actually, it is just a matter of tapping into what you know in your heart. You already are a great alchemist…and you will be even more powerful than your brother if you can remember to keep control. You know this. Do not cry…promise me, no tears. This is a natural part of life, and it cannot be avoided. Remember my sin. Remember that when you meddle in the realms of creation you will only lose part of yourself. Far worse than your body. Your soul. Forever. My decisions cost me this time with my husband, cost me this future I could have had. Never forget Alphonse…/NEVER/./
She had grasped his forearm fiercely as she gurgled on her own blood, falling back to the bed, tiny beads of sweat on her forehead as she moaned.
Al had thought her terrible, formidable, invincible since he had come to train with her again. Found himself thinking of her in ways that he had never before when he was younger.
Pain. All Alchemy caused was pain, and he briefly wondered why he was an alchemist as he took her hand in his, holding it while Sig clasped the other and she moaned weakly. All of the Alchemy in the world and he was not able to prevent this, to fix this. To even ease her ache as she died. There was no mercy in science. There was no mercy in God. There was no mercy in the world.
As he stood in the rain, digging her grave by hand, Sig at his side, he felt himself numbing. There was no forgiveness. There was no place for a gentle soul in this world. There was no room for anything but anger and sarcasm. Self defense. He had not said a word since yesterday, and Sig did not press him. He did not want to talk because he was angry. Angry at life, angry at alchemy, angry at his brother, angry at Izumi for abandoning him. He was angry because he was starving to death inside for something, anything at all warm.
But there was nothing warm. Just the rhythmic smack of shovels against the muddy ground, the water filling the hole they were digging. It was lapping icily around his ankles and making his body pleasantly numb. It was a strange anger. A passive fury that he was shutting away again and again until he had nothing left to feel. Nothing but the rain. He felt like the rain. Like he was pouring out his soul into the earth, into this grave. The second grave he had had a hand in the last year.
The last grave he had thrown a handful of earth into, he had thrown it against an empty casket. His brother’s. The military had declared Edward dead. Missing in action and dead…A man named Roy Mustang, Edward’s commanding officer at the time, had given him a gift.
The man with an eye patch and a heavy soul had handed him a tattered old scarlet coat, bloodstained. Master’s Flamel emblazoned onto the back of it. It had been hooked over the man’s arm, and it had seemed to pain the General to hand it over to Alphonse. He had stared at him wistfully as he did so. Roy had been keeping it, meaning to give it back to it’s owner. Since Edward had not returned…
“So like your father.” He had said. “Come see me if you ever want to become a state alchemist, not that you will want to.” He had said, chuckling a bit bitterly, and turning on his heel to go before Al could even ask questions.
He had stared down at the fabric, hugging it to his chest like he might a wounded kitten, cradling it in wonder and fear and…reverence. It was his brother’s. For the first time in four years he was holding part of something that was part of his brother.
It was Edward’s coat.
He held it to his cheek, smelling sweat, a tiny metallic tang of old dried blood, and just…Edward. His skin scent had never changed in all this time. It hadn’t faded from the fabric. Al had held it then until everyone had left.
He had sat beside Edward’s grave until the sun came down. Until Winry came to get him. Until Auntie had sympathetically patted his hand, pressing a cup of sake into his hands. The two of them had drank until morning, until neither could sit up anymore. He still hadn’t cried. He hadn’t cried that day. And he wouldn’t cry ever again, he was fairly certain.
When they laid her to rest, he laid part of himself too.
He sat in the shade as he watched the green trees beginning. It was always so green in Rizenbul, and the closer he got to the place, the more verdant it became. The train was groaning now, the steel clicking, ticking and popping as it warmed under the sun. Alphonse had long ago taken off his sweater. It was fast becoming hot. Dublith had been under a foot of snow when he had gotten onto the train by himself. Now it was sunny and blue and full of life, as Rizenbul always was. They were perhaps an hour or two from the station.
He was expressionless, his long hair falling over his shoulder from where it had escaped it’s tie where he had been slumped, sleeping. It came down to the middle of his back when it wasn’t mussed up. (He had started growing it out when Izumi died…)
He thought very carefully again about what had happened. About what he felt, or more accurately, still didn’t feel.
It was time for his fourteenth birthday in two days. Sig had died a week ago.
He had stayed a few months short of two more years with Sig. The man had declined after Izumi died. It was strange. The man had eaten, slept, done everything as he should, and yet he had lost more and more weight, muscle mass. Energy. Until at last, one day he had told Alphonse that he was feeling weary, and had laid down to take a nap and never awoken.
Alphonse knew why he had died, even though the doctors did not. A broken heart. He was lonely without Izumi, and no matter how Alphonse tried to cheer him up, it had done no good.
Alphonse knew it was probably only a matter of time for him too. He still had not cried. Not even when he had burned down Izumi’s house, his suitcase in his hand, and then headed for the train station.
There was nothing for him in Dublith. Not even in memories.
There was no place for him, he realized glumly. His brother had sacrificed himself for this? For him to hurt like this? Edward had found the good in everything, had been so strong, not weak like Alphonse was. Not gentle and cold and dead inside. Edward deserved to live.
He was heading for Rizenbul for one thing. He was headed back to study. He had all the books he needed from Izumi’s library, they were riding along in a crate under his seat. He needed a place where he would not be bothered, where it would not be suspicious for him to go.
He did not plan on telling anyone what he was up to, because they would try and stop him.
He was going to get his brother back, and he fully intended to sacrifice himself completely to do it if he had to. Actually, he was sort of hoping on it.
He flipped through the book again in the candlelight, pausing to scribble something down, only to flip back to the page again to make sure he had read it right. He scribbled a practice array on the sheet of paper, drawing it a few more times in different ways before tacking it to the wall with a sigh.
He kicked back from the desk to stand wearily.
He couldn’t remember when he had slept last. When he had eaten or showered. From time to time Winry would come beat down the door and let herself in, clicking her tongue in disapproval and smacking a wrench threatening against the flat of her palm and Al would have no choice but to go.
She hadn’t bothered in a few days.
He looked around the room.
Dirty laundry was overflowing the basket. A basket of clean laundry say wrinkled on his bed, unfolded. It might actually be dirty again considering Al had been sleeping on it. There were socks lost in amongst his sheets, a few pairs of boxers and an undershirt or two as well.
It smelled musty in the room, like sweat and old books and candle wax, even with the window open and the breeze wafting in.
A few dirty coffee cups sat on the window ledge, and on the floor around them were dirty plates. He just…didn’t leave the room often enough to tend his dishes. His hair was hanging in thick and tangled clumps. He hadn’t bothered with showering, and with his color of mouse blond he couldn’t get away with it without looking dirty.
It didn’t matter. No one saw him very often anyways. If Granny wanted anything done, Al would do it by moonlight when everyone else was sleeping. He didn’t have to talk that way. No one harassed him. No one harassing him until he wanted to scream.
He loved them, he still did, but he had to keep them at arm’s length. They would all die too, and leave him to hold their hands, to dig their graves.
For the first time since he had arrived, he found himself unable to stand this room any longer. The walls were starting to close in, the air was too thick. Perhaps there was a thunderstorm on the horizon, something that was making it too hot to think, to move.
He stripped out of his dress shirt and pants until he was down to his under shirt and his boxers.
He padded barefoot out into the hall, ignoring all the boards that squeaked on the stairs until he was in the living room. He twisted his hair up on top of his head, taking a pen out from behind his ear and using it to hold it there.
It was hot.
He began to pace the living room. From the sofa, to the window, to the door, and back again. Lightning flashed on the horizon as the rain began like someone had thrown a switch. The trees groaned in anticipation of the coming storm, their leaves rustling.
Lightning crashed, and Al jumped, feeling the brush of blond hair that did not belong to him against his bare skin. He gasped and whipped around.
It was Edward, standing proud and tall in front of the window, golden eyes brilliant, smiling mockingly at Al. Al tried to say something as he stared, but it had been so long since he had used his voice that the words came out as a choked gasp.
And then lightning crashed again, and Ed was gone.
“Bi…g…Brother?!” Al cried out, suddenly horrified. Wasn’t it just like Ed to leave him alone again. “Brother?! Ed?!”
He ran for the door, throwing it open as he dodged out of the house into the driving rain. The wind was blowing so hard, Al could hardly stand up, and the rain soaked him through instantly.
“Ed?!” He shouted as he stumbled, sliding to his knees in the mud. He must have dreamed it. He was so tired he was dreaming while he was awake.
Another flash of lightning illuminated the horizon as Al crouched on hands and knees, the rain striking splatters of mud up onto his bare skin.
“Edward!” He screamed into the dirt and under the wind, his voice choking off in his throat with pain. “Edwaaaaaarddd!” He shouted, his voice twisting with pain that managed to escape from where it was chained deep down, spilling out into a sound that was part shriek of pain and part fear.
“How could you! How could you leave me! How could you make me face this alone you goddamn coward! How dare you! How dare you!” He screamed as he pounded his fist into the dirt.
All it did was splash rain water into his face, coating him more thoroughly into mud. He was angry now, the cold igniting into something that burned so much hotter. He staggered to his feet, half running, half falling until he reached the fence line.
He screamed while he slammed his fist into two foot thick post that held one of the gates. He hit his fist over and over into the wood, until the wood splintered and broke off, jamming into his hand, until the post groaned audibly over the thunder, pouring rain and whipping wind.
He wanted that gatepost to pay.
“You always controlled me! You always made it so that I had to do things your way! You did that and you left me here and didn’t ask me! You never could respect anyone you bullheaded bastard! I HATE YOU.” He screamed as he called the power, as he concentrated on his rage and desperation just before he clapped his hands together.
Power crawled down from the sky, twisting around and over him like a snake, a bolt directly from the sky. He watched in surprise and horrified satisfaction as it exploded the gatepost, melted the steel gate, and continued down the line of posts, twisting and charring in only the way that lightning could.
His knees buckled then, and wind and mud took over sending him crashing flat on his back. Unable to break his fall he collapsed, heaving for air and shaking.
“Brother.” He whispered as he stared up into the rain. “And despite it all…I still love you…and I miss you. Life isn’t fair, and I know that. But that doesn’t mean I can accept it.”
He kept wincing as the water droplets hit his eyelashes, wincing because they burned where they touched his body. All there was for the longest time was his ragged breathing, the stink of ozone and quickly quelled fire. Smoke and ash and hot rain turning to cold. When he lost consciousness, he wasn’t even really aware that it was going to happen.
That was why when he woke again, he was expecting to be lying in the rain still.
fma_yaoi jadedsilk elricest