[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 it should not be that obvious.
[Chatter] Al…you are a dumbass…but I love you. Let me reiterate…WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?! Much love. -Mara
Alphonse washed his face, settled his things, and decided he was too tired for anything more than that. He slid out of his ratty clothes, tossing them over a chair by the bedside table and slid into bed in just his undershirt and boxers. The sheets were cold, but the fireplace was sumptuously warm, was filling the room quickly with a bone blazing heat that was soothing.
The bed was divine.
Al wasn’t sure he would be able to find the kitchen in the morning, or anything else for that matter. But right now, he was too tired to care. Mustang had lead him here, settled him in, and had assured him that the meeting in the morning with the new Fuhrer would not be as frightening as Al seemed so certain it would be.
Al stared around at the curtains for a moment, noting the way the swags were perfectly aligned, how thick golden velvet trailed down to tasteful and plush oatmeal colored carpeting. The room was done in tans and gold. Roy swore it was his favorite of the guest rooms, and that Alphonse would like it best. He had also sworn a tour in the morning. Al was actually looking forward to that.
For a moment, he was tempted to get out one of his books, to pick up where he had left off reading last…to use the desk in the corner and its hefty candles and begin to work on his array again…
But Roy was right.
He had to get some sleep or he would continue to be useless.
When he awoke mid morning, it was to someone knocking at his door. He sat up with a stiff groan. He had slept in one position all night, he didn’t even remember dreaming…
It took him a while to fully remember where he was, and then he winced.
Oh god he had simply destroyed all of his carefully laid plans last night, hadn’t he?
He slid out of bed, his feet touching the thick carpeting.
He ignored the continued knock and dug his toes into the carpet with a tiny self satisfied giggle. It was so soft…and squishy…
“Alphonse?!” The call through the door sounded slightly aggravated and very familiar.
“Oh, General Mustang, I am sorry, I must have overslept!”
As if he had done anything else. A perfunctory glance out the large windows in the guest room proved that the sun was shining over crisp and unbroken snow, and was high enough in the sky to put it easily at ten in the morning.
“I will now have to give you a tour later as we are already satisfactorily late for a day at the office, but if you would care to take a shower and get dressed, we should go soon.”
Al leapt to his feet, throwing his suitcase open and found a pair of crisp black dress pants and a white dress shirt. A clean pair of socks, boxers, and an undershirt later, and he threw the door open.
“I uh!” Al began, feeling a bit frantic.
“You forgot where the guest bathroom is.”
“Yeah.” Al said sheepishly to an already spotlessly dressed General in full uniform.
“Don’t worry too much Alphonse, the only man higher ranking than me at the moment is the Fuhrer, and he won’t mind. I don’t do much other than sit around and sign things. Over, and over…and over…”
“Sir, I do realize that now….but uh…”
“But you are standing in the hallway in your boxers?”
Al nodded sheepishly.
“Are you any good at braiding?” Al asked quietly as he waved his bandaged hand plaintively.
Roy froze mid sip of coffee, and then smiling set it down on the kitchen counter.
“Here.” Roy said, handing the mug to Alphonse who cradled it in his good hand. “You need this more than I do…tie?”
“On the brush handle.”
Roy smiled, not that Al could see it as he removed his gloves and then tangled them through Al’s hair once.
“You can /do/ those? Even Winry can’t do that.”
“I’ve had a lot of girlfriends Alphonse.”
“I’ll bet.” Al snorted, but was perfectly still other than tilting the mug of coffee up to his lips.
Ooh. It was hazelnut flavored. Roy always had impeccable taste.
Roy waited until Al was done with the sip before separating the strands.
They arrived just past eleven. Al had been taken out for breakfast, otherwise pampered, and then plied nervously from Roy’s car.
He was fairly certain he had left fingernail marks in the soft part of the armrest, not that he was telling Roy.
As soon as they had entered the building, a wave of memories had washed over him, strong enough that Roy had gently guided him to one of the chairs at the front desk, and asked him if he was all right.
The secretary had looked a bit startled, but then again, a man half fainting when entering the building was always interesting. The fact that said man was very handsome was always a bonus. Especially when the most eligible, second most powerful, and most completely unattainable bachelor in Amestris was the one to help him to said chair.
Roy gave the secretary a rakish and winning smile that she returned hastily, all the while looking as though she might want to fan herself.
“I’m fine…just…a memory…that’s all.” Al said a bit breathlessly, but he was clinging to Roy’s shoulder. “We should go, it’s late. We’re late…its my fault we stopped for lunch.”
“Ahh, the legendary Elric appetite.”
Al snorted. “I’m nothing, believe me.”
“I do believe you. You are the least among the Elric eating machines.”
Al stood then. “Sorry to interrupt your morning.” He said contritely to the secretary as he stood up.
He had been expecting a lot of things, but being flying tackled by Maria Ross was not one of them. He didn’t even know that the woman would recognize him.
“Alphonse!” She cheered as hugged him enthusiastically and Denny bristled wolfishly before realizing exactly who it was that she was hugging.
“Is it…really?” He asked as he stepped forward, awe written all over his face.
“Hello Miss Ross.” Al said softly, steadying her with strong arms around her waist and blushing fiercely.
He was taller than her now for real and she barely came up to his shoulder.
Inside he preened, mainly because he had found some way to escape the curse of “Elric Son Shortness” that had plagued his older sibling.
Before he knew it, Denny was enthusiastically thumping him on the back, and he had one way or another, found himself at the center stage of Central’s offices.
“Uhm…hi?” Al offered shyly.
When Al could breathe again and had won a second or two of calm, he looked up to find that Roy was gone.
He sat in front of the Fuhrer’s desk and was too terrified to breathe as he tried vainly over and over again to remember how to spell his name on the form he had to complete. The one to sign up to sit the state alchemists exam.
The Fuhrer watched him impassively.
He was a powerful man, tall and broad and proper and…so very impersonable.
He reminded Al so much of Bradley that he briefly wanted to cry and hide under his chair. Oh wait, he still wanted to cry and hide under his chair. Because he couldn’t spell his own name and that would look wonderful.
“So, the brother of the Fullmetal Alchemist. Perhaps you can tell me what I need to know.” The big man leaned conspiratorially over the desk.
“Wh…wha…what might that be sir?” Al asked innocently. Roy had made him promise to tell the man nothing. Well, if he could keep his cool, and he didn’t get too nervous, he could play this game.
“How do you…feel…” The man asked quietly.
Al blinked fretfully.
“In what regard?” Al asked nervously.
“You are the first recorded successful human transmutation in Amestris history. Are there any odd…side effects?”
Al did feel a bit stunned at the directness, so he didn’t have to try very hard to look shocked.
“Really sir…my memory has been a bit off. If there were any odd symptoms, I might not even remember to tell you…how do you spell Alphonse?”
He left the room on knees that wobbled, and found his way back unerringly to Roy’s new office. On the same floor as the Fuhrer’s. It was simple enough to find. Three doors down and to the right.
He was grateful to find only Riza and Roy in the office as he entered, as he sat down on the heavy leather of the couch and tried not to look like he was sweat soaked. (His shirt was stuck to his back, and now thusly the couch, but he tried so hard not to look as hysterical as he still felt.)
“How did it go?” Roy asked from behind a mountainous stack of papers.
“I forgot how to spell my name.” Al blurted out, his hands still shaking.
“What did you do?” Roy asked curiously, raising an eyebrow.
“I asked Fuhrer Jamison how to spell it.”
“Yes, oh /god/ I’m the biggest idiot ever!” Al wailed, still not completely believing he had made such a complete and total ass of himself in front of the man he should have been trying to impress.
Oh well, maybe it was a sign that he wasn’t supposed to try out for the state alchemist exam. He full expected to get the form back from Roy in the morning with a “rejected” stamp on it.
“I think the Fuhrer understands about nerves.” Roy said blandly, instead of laughing hysterically like he had the sudden urge to do.
“What do you mean?”
“I remember standing next to him as he took office. He was shaking so badly he couldn’t set his notes on the podium.”
Al made a sympathetic noise in the back of his throat.
“He doesn’t think I’m an idiot?”
Al sat there, clasping his hands in his lap and trying innocently, desperately not to laugh at himself now. Roy was right.
He didn’t know why this was suddenly so important to him. Just a day ago he had been certain this was the last thing on earth he had wanted to do. The next day? He was signing up to be the one thing his master and brother had both ever wanted him to be.
A state alchemist.
“Mhh?” Roy asked, looking up from a paper he was signing, practically at gunpoint.
“Am I doing the right thing?”
“Personal motives aside?”
“Personal motives aside.”
“I really think so Alphonse. It’s not like you cannot resign.”
“I know Alphonse. I know. Why don’t you go with Colonel Hawkeye to the mess hall, I will finish these papers up shortly and be along. Besides, I don’t think I have enough pocket book money left after this mornings feast to take us out to breakfast.”
“Oh, whatever!” Al snapped as he stood, making an unattractive peeling sound as he stood up shakily from the couch.
He was sitting at a table that should only have seated four people at the most. There had been planning involved in this, as he wished to eat by himself for a moment. Instead, people were crowded around him, some even sitting with their trays in their laps. Someone else had pushed another table up to make it even longer, and still people were sitting two deep.
This was the last thing he wanted, but he did his best to embarrassedly answer questions, trying to dodge the ones that were sticky while being polite to everyone. Inside he wanted to hiss and spit and sulk. But for now? These were his friends, and he had missed them horribly.
By the time he crawled into Roy Mustang’s car at the end of the day, he was exhausted. Completely and utterly. He leaned his head against the passenger window, enjoying the blasting of the heater and the cool contrast of the glass against his cheek.
Roy said nothing, just smiled reassuringly at him once at a traffic light.
Al enjoyed the tour of the mansion that he received about as much as he was awed by it. He couldn’t believe that Roy had just been /given/ the place. Well, the General before him that it had belonged to had been hanged for crimes against the state. He would have thought that of all people, that might make Roy Mustang nervous, but it really didn’t seem to. Being the leader of a quite successful coup could have come out much worse than it obviously had.
They shared an evening that was mostly Alphonse jumping anxiously at shadows and Roy soothing him as best he could.
It was finally however, a cup of hot chocolate with a shot of brandy in it that got him to unwind.
Roy was surprisingly good company, even when he was not entertaining anyone, and somewhere around eleven, Al dozed off on the couch. When he awoke again, he was in the guest bedroom, the scent of Roy’s cologne heavy on his skin. Roy had put him to bed.
Al didn’t know whether to be insulted, or to honestly be grateful. He decided on the latter as he found himself suddenly awake and going over the notes in his head. He was worrying. Worrying about the state alchemist exam even though he had taken it before. He was worrying about Roy, and Ed…worrying about his father…worrying because he knew how to bring Ed back…everything was perfect in the array except for inner circle of spirit…that was a jumble…he thought he had been close before but now with some rest under his belt, he was certain he was going wrong…how? There was no way to triumph over the gate…was there?
Well, he had some time now. He was slotted to stay with Roy Mustang, his sponsor, for the rest of the time that he was here in Central. So he had a place to stay, food to eat…he had some things to study for…a reason to study, which meant while he was at it, he could find a way to get Ed back, with resources he might not otherwise have available.
His biggest problem was the gate really. There was no one sound theory to overcoming the gate other than by becoming spirit in order to pass over. And he didn’t have the first clue how to send himself there other than to die, which defeated the purpose…
He worried himself back to sleep an hour later.
It came to him somewhere around three in the morning when he awoke again. What if he didn’t bring Ed to him. What if he went to Ed?
That would make the most sense. He simply had to find a way to physically pass the gate, and the way he had managed to do that last time had been to try and transmute their mother.
Of course! It was so simple…so frighteningly simple that it tore the air from his lungs in a huff of excitement. He just need to use the array he and his brother had used, and activate it with /himself/ in the center. If he failed, physically died, he still might succeed, able to cross the gate in spirit if nothing else…
Spirit. Though, the nearest he could tell, the calling of spirits could only be done with an alchemist on both sides of the gate, an alchemist to call you, an alchemist to send you…and if Ed didn’t sense him, didn’t know that Al was trying to get to him, no one would call him.
If he failed…he failed.
But he wouldn’t fail this time.
Briefly, he debated asking Roy Mustang for help, and just as quickly vetoed the idea. He had done this by himself up until now, and he would continue to do it by himself. It just made the most sense.
He got out of bed stiffly, and padded his way over to the crate of his books.
He upended the whole container on the desk, and then used a quick array, etched onto the candles with a fingernail, to bring light to the room.
By morning, he had the idea perfected. He was weary, his arm was throbbing, and he had a dozen different pieces of paper filled with diagrams and arrays.
It was as absolutely straightforward as he had imagined it to be. He didn’t need Roy, or anyone else. And if this went wrong, he never would.
Speaking of Roy Mustang…he could hear footsteps from down the hall…so he quickly stifled a yawn, while snuffing the candles out, then stacked his books, and quickly dressed. It wouldn’t do to be caught staying up all night. He would catch a scolding and he just didn’t want to put up with one right about now.
He folded his notes up in his pocket, as well as grabbing a piece of string and chalk from the tiny bag that was resting on the corner of the desk.
He just had to bullshit his way through the morning, wait for Roy to go to work, and then he would be free to do what he had to do.
He was so excited he was practically quivering during breakfast, doing all he could to pretend like he had no hope, he didn’t care, and that the morning held no appeal for him, which was his real opinion on mornings in normal circumstances.
If Roy noticed, anything different about Al, it was only in passing, and he probably interpreted it as plain relief that Al hadn’t been taken apart and stuck under a microscope by the Fuhrer.
Roy made him promise to eat, to rest, and to study, all of which Al had made a show of grudgingly agreeing to while finishing his coffee.
Roy said that Al didn’t look like he was sleeping well. Al had just shrugged it off, because Roy hadn’t the first clue.
It was all he could do not to caper in glee when he watched that sleek black automobile pull away from the curb.
He waited half an hour for good measure. Besides, the cook had made breakfast, and he was hungry. He made a point to eat while he could, when he could. He would need all the energy he could get.
He ventured out into the frosty air, assuring the staff he was going to walk to town and go clothes shopping. They had of course agreed because he obviously needed something other than what he was wearing.
Al could only wear this outfit so many more times before he tore out the seat of the pants completely and the pant legs utterly shredded.
The sleeves of the sweater unraveling also was starting to seem like a possibility. Maybe, he should actually go shopping first? No. He would need time to draw and time to accomplish…this.
He shoved his hands into his pockets, watching his breath stain the air silver as he shivered unconsciously. It was a cold day, and the sun was alarmingly bright.
He took in the neighborhood calmly, feeling a bit light and almost…cheerful. One way or another, he would get an answer today. Soon.
He walked to town, through town, and kept going. Central was a large city, but Roy’s house, and the complex of Central’s military were on the outskirts. It didn’t take Al long to wander into the rocky and snow covered hills just outside of the city.
It took him only another hour to find an area of bare rock on some abandoned farm land, the snow melting away from the stone on the ground and revealing a relatively smooth surface. Perfect for an array.
He pulled found a stick on the ground, and pulled out his chalk and string. Only a matter of a few more minutes…
He pulled out his notes, and then very carefully, under the harsh chill of winter snows and biting winds began to draw the perimeter of the circle.
He was trembling with nerves now, looking over the circle. For only a moment, he wondered if it wasn’t too late to turn back, that he could do this and not make a mistake, if he could do this without Edward at his side. He quickly shut off that bit of the old Alphonse, the old Alphonse that needed someone, needed Edward. He had to be strong for his brother.
If he wasn’t, Al would never see Ed again.
So instead, he steeled himself, set his jaw, and walked into the middle of the circle. He didn’t dare clap, that could go badly, too much power with this reaction and he might wind up dead before he even reached the gate. Instead he only brushed his hands together, concentrated on the power that he wanted, and knelt, touching the inside of the circle where he stood.
He thought about nothing but his brother. About going to his brother, finding his brother, and he closed his eyes against the blinding gold of the beginning of the transmutation. Something was happening, his skin was tingling, felt like it was stretched too tight over his bones. He was cold, and the air suddenly tasted strange, earthy, heavy.
He felt like someone had dragged him backwards through a knothole, and he was shivering with something that felt vaguely like shock.
When he opened his eyes again, it was black, heavy and silent. He turned to his left, to his right. His footsteps echoed, but there was nothing, seemed to be nothing. He was not in the farm fields outside of Central, and he was not dead, at least…not yet. This was nothing like both times he had given himself up to the gate…this was different, colder.
Well, when you could do nothing else, you went forward. That was all he could ever hope for, was one of the many and foremost things his brother had had taught him.
He took a slow and difficult breath, and stepped forward.
The ground lit up under his feet, gold flashing across his vision as the all too familiar and hulking form of the gate appeared before him. He was cold, and the closer he got to the gate, he got even colder. Yes, he remembered this place. But this time he really did not belong.
The gates did not open for him, not even when he placed his hands flat against the frigid metal and pleaded for them to open for him.
As terrified as he was, he would face this, he would face this horror for the third time in his life, and he would do it head on. For his brother.
He grasped the metal in his hands, and then he pulled as hard as he could.
The gate stayed shut a moment longer, long enough that Al wondered if he would even succeed, but then they yielded rather suddenly.
With a heavy moan the steel gave.
The blackness vaporized for a moment in a blaze of white so brilliant that it made Al cover his eyes with his hand. When the color died down, when the brightness settled, Al found himself gazing into more blackness, this time inside the gate.
“Brother?!” Al shouted, having more than a little trouble breathing. He tried again. “Brotherrrrrrr?!”
It was the second time that he called that something stirred awake inside of the gate.
A pair of eyes opened. And then another. And another.
Al took an involuntary step backwards. The eyes were like stars winking awake across the heavens at twilight. He remembered…oh god…not this…not again…he couldn’t get past this, they would tear him to shreds. They would tear him apart, body and soul and he would never reach his brother.
This was impossible. It had to be. Not through this!
He packed away, a low keening sound in his throat. He reached for the door, trying to shut the gate again but a tentacle had him around the leg, was dragging him inside. He screamed then, or at least, he tried to as all sound was ripped from his lungs.
He was being dragged towards the door, into the blackness, and his leg hurt. Something…a voice…someone was calling him. He dug his fingernails into the non existent ground, and struggled towards the voice. There was a gout of flame, and the tendril around his leg let go, disappearing back inside the gate with an unearthly and ear splitting squeal of pain.
The doors to the gate slammed shut.
He was cold, shaking, everything was so bright.
“Alphonse, breath dammit, please breathe!”
There was a warm mouth on his, forcing air into his lungs. He couldn’t help it when he started to cough, to struggle and gag for air. It felt like someone had slammed him in the gut with a chair. He couldn’t get enough air, and he flipped himself over, clawing at the ground as he wheezed and shuddered.
“Get him into the car, get him away from here.”
“I broke the array like you asked sir.”
“Good, help me carry him.”
Strong arms were around his arms and legs, and then someone was plying him somewhere soft and warm and small.
When he could see straight again, he realized he was in the passenger seat of Roy Mustang’s car, and that the owner of said car was holding him tight to his chest, aiming the vents of the car onto him. The heat felt delicious.
“Roy…oh god…Roy…Roy…please…help me…” Al found himself pleading, shaking. Maybe this had all been a nightmare.
“I have a flask on me. Give him some whiskey.” A familiar voice suggested from the back seat.
“Easy Alphonse, easy…have a drink…you are safe now, everything is fine.”
Al was clawing his way into Roy’s uniform jacket underneath the ever present black trench while Roy held something cool to his lips. Al took a drink, and the alcohol burned all the way down to his toes.
“That’s it…breathe now, nothing is going to hurt you anymore…” Roy was soothing, rocking Al slowly while chafing his ribs and back.
“Chief…that was creepy…where did that black wisp come from, and how come it had the little Boss?”
“I will explain it later Havoc, not now.” Roy said softly. “Colonel Hawkeye…take us back to my home.”
Go Back to:
Cross Posted to: fma_yaoi jadedsilk elricest