[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] I don't remember who the Hoenheim belonged to that barked at Ed about his language, but whoever it was, I want them to know that mine does it too. Believe me, he didn't ask my permission to act like Henry Jones Sr. VWL is right...it's kind of scary. Also, please don't hold Al's moodyness against him. He's sixteen and feeling a bit...angsty. That and he feels utter crap. ^_^
When he stirred again, it was to the sound of sirens. He was laying in someone’s lap, his head ached, and his arm hurt.
He blinked copper colored eyes open slowly to meet worried gold behind a pair of square, wire rimmed glasses.
Al blinked and moaned softly. “Daddy?!” He asked dazedly, trying to sit up and then immediately having to lie back down.
“Be still Al, I’m here.” That familiar and gentle voice soothed, strong arms supporting him back down. “There is a medic coming soon to see to your wounds. Just be still.”
Al stared up at Hoenheim in awe like he was the most amazing thing he had ever seen, copper eyes wide and full of tears.
“Don’t cry Alphonse.”
“I’m sorry. I keep thinking…this is a dream, isn’t it? I’m dreaming!” Al cried softly, looking confused.
Hoenheim’s broad palm came to rest on Al’s forehead comfortingly.
“No son…you brought us back from the other side of the gate…quite an accomplishment, but you hit your head, and you’ve lost a bit of blood, so try to be still.”
“ ‘Us’?! Ed too?!”
Al tried to sit up again and was duly pressed back down.
He barely remembered Hoenheim. Just a voice from his childhood, and hazy memory from when he had been inside of the armor. This did not stop the tears though, tears from a childhood spent longing for, defending this moment now.
“Ed is here as well; he is outside, helping Roy calm the neighbors and the police down. I believe he and Ed will also mend the attic that we…rather…crashed through…”
Al shook his head, trembling now as tears tracked down his face.
“This is a dream…I’m going to wake up and everything is going to be the way it was and this will be a lie. I don’t want it to be!” Al murmured quietly, his voice softer, childlike as that strong hand soothed through his hair and he began to whimper.
When he looked up again, those golden eyes were looming close to his, and looking a bit flummoxed and powerless. The man obviously wanted to soothe his son, and was completely helpless as to how he could.
“Alphonse, this is not a dream, I swear it to you.”
Al glared up at his father then, suddenly irrationally angry.
Hoenheim shrugged, and then grasped the skin of Al’s upper arm through the thin fabric of the dress shirt. And twisted.
“Ouch!” Al yelped in outrage before he understood what his father had done and why.
“You’re perfectly awake…see now?”
Al glared at his father for a few more moments, caught between a dozen different emotions.
“Really?” He asked, the low whimper in his throat dying down to silence.
“Really.” Hoenheim reassured.
Al tried to sit up again, and this time, Hoenheim helped him.
Al moaned and swayed, feeling suddenly nauseous.
“What’s wrong with me?” Al whispered.
Hoenheim had procured a cloth from somewhere beside the couch and was now dabbing at the back of Al’s neck carefully.
“Alchemy burn.” The big man replied, pushing his glasses back up his nose with a forefinger.
“Alchemy burn?” Al echoed quietly. He had heard of the concept but…
“You overdid yourself. No doubt you are dizzy, nauseous, weak and very hungry. You actually started to pull from your own life force trying to slow down time to allow us both back through the gate.”
“I…really managed that?” Al asked incredulously.
“Yes.” Hoenheim said gently, rubbing lightly at his son’s shoulders. “And I have never been prouder of you. You have surpassed me already in raw power alone. I know I have missed out, on so much of your life…but if you would let me, I would like to be involved in it again now.”
Al had no trouble combating the part of him that was suddenly and irrationally angry at Hoenheim. He turned from where he was sitting and threw his arms around his father’s neck, burying his face into that sweater, into the scent of cologne and wool that was familiar, even from when he had been so small that his mother had carried him everywhere.
“Daddy.” Al murmured again, resting his cheek against that strong shoulder, hugging tightly while ignoring the burning pain in his arm and the pounding ache in his head.
Hoenheim didn’t respond at first, but a few moments later Al felt strong arms wrap hesitantly around his shoulders, holding him closer.
“Someone might think this is a little odd Al.” Hoenheim said ruefully, but the gesture had not lessened in intensity.
“They can go to hell. I’ve missed you so much.” Al whispered. “I need this, and the rest of the world can fuck off.”
“Mind your language Alphonse.”
Al’s heart leapt in his chest. All his life, he had longed for this. At this point, he was even excited to get a scolding.
The medic found them without any real trouble, and the whole time Alphonse received stitches, it had been obvious to father and son sitting on the sofa that Roy and Ed were doing /something/ to fix the attic. There was a lot of noise to say the least.
The police officers were gone, the investigations officer from Central had disappeared, and the firemen who had been sitting around just in case Roy spontaneously combusted were now miles away doing whatever it was that firemen did.
“Ow!” Al whined, trying to wriggle out of Hoenheim’s grip. “That hurts!” He whimpered.
“You are getting sutures in your arm Alphonse, it is not supposed to feel good!”
“I’m not used to…anything. I’m still not…please…ow…just…stop.”
“Almost done.” The medic soothed, doing his level best with a moving target.
“SIT!” Hoenheim grunted.
Al sat. And did not move a single muscle other than to roll his eyes submissively towards the source of the booming voice behind him.
“You are so much easier to deal with than your brother. I only had to raise my voice to you…Ed, well, that’s another story.” Hoenheim murmured wistfully.
Al didn’t find that little tidbit particularly amusing.
The medic was done, had given Al a few quick shots in the butt, and then had left.
Al would just die happy if he never saw a needled again.
“There…that wasn’t so bad, now was it?” Hoenheim said cheerfully as he adjusted the bandage on Al’s forehead and double checked the ones on his forearm surprisingly tenderly.
“If you say so.” Al murmured.
Al was accustomed to pain, the sting of fighting, the pain of abuse. He remembered that well from his youth and his training with Izumi, but since he had gotten his body back, he was still agonizingly sensitive to everything. It of course had lessened in the last few years, but some things still set him off, overloaded his senses.
Apparently sutures were one of those things.
That was something he was going to eventually explain to his poor father, or at least, the root behind some of his quirkier behavior. He wondered if Ed had already done the job for him. Ed…Ed…he was bursting with curiosity and desperation to see his brother again.
He was about to ask about his sibling again when the door burst open and Ed made one of his very characteristic entrances. That meant kicking the door practically off of its hinges.
Roy was right behind him, and both of them were soaked.
Al just stared at his brother, frozen in shock.
Ed hadn’t noticed him yet because it was hard to see into the living room from the breezeway.
Al watched Ed hang up his long brown coat, and step out of his boots onto the fancy hardwood.
“Nice place you have here, Colonel Shit.”
“That’s General Shit to you Fullmetal.”
“Yeah yeah…so what the hell did you do with Al?”
Al noticed every tiny detail of /Ed/ from the limp, to the clothes, to the strange way he kept his arm at his side. The younger Elric’s mouth hung open a bit, enrapt.
He watched the beads of rainwater dripping off the back of his brother’s long ponytail to soak the dress shirt he was wearing even further. He watched the familiar cheerful expression and the golden eyes that were almost all pupil in the dimness of the hallway. Mysterious, unfathomable, Edward.
Al wanted to call out to him, but all he could do was sit there frozen. Even as Roy lead Ed into the room. Ed looked around curiously, whistled lowly once, and then his gaze settled on Al’s.
“Al?” Ed asked softly, his voice vulnerable and sweet, just a tiny bit lower than Al remembered it.
Ed was taller. Broader. His jaw a bit squarer.
Ed took two half running, half limping steps toward his brother before standing over him, staring down in real and obvious joy.
Al still couldn’t move, couldn’t speak.
“Al?” Ed asked quietly as Al managed to shut his mouth, but then he couldn’t help the tears that wet his cheeks.
“Ed?” Al managed to croak weakly.
Ed was just as suddenly hugging Al, and Al was burying his face into Ed’s chest. Oh god it was /Ed/ it was /Ed/ it even /smelled/ like Ed and was familiar and warm. How long since he had been able to do this? How long, how long…
Rain soaked fabric wet the front of Al’s shirt, and Al didn’t care. He didn’t care that the broken metal of Ed’s automail felt strange and hard, or that the flesh arm was more heavily muscled than he remembered. He didn’t care because it was Ed.
“Ed!” Al cried out again, choking on a wordless sound. Oh god it was /Ed/ it was /Ed./
“It’s okay Al…just look at you…everything’s fine.”
“Everything’s /not/ fine!” Al whimpered. “You left me and I was so alone and you did this on purpose you /asshole/!” Al sobbed, his free hand beating Ed’s shoulder.
Ed sighed then, low and sad and moved to cradling Al more tightly, rocking him imperceptibly and ignoring the slight pounding he was taking.
“Shhh…Al….it’s all right. It’s all right.” Ed tried as he buried his face against the top of Al’s bandaged head. “Oh, you grew your hair out Al…Mom would have liked that…” Ed whispered.
“I hate you!” Al sobbed weakly, nuzzling tighter against Ed.
“I love you too Al.” Ed said, as if Al had never even said the word ‘hate’.
Al had never been so grateful that Ed understood him as well as he did. There were a thousand questions hanging between them, who knew how many hours of tears and suffering, and all he could do, all he wanted to do was to hold on to Ed.
Hoenheim and Roy said nothing, though Roy eventually escorted Hoenheim upstairs, presumably to find him a pair of cleaner clothes. Transmutation made the alteration of clothing to borrow relatively simple...
That and Al suspected they had all sorts of nefarious things to talk about. Alchemists and their secrets…he would have scoffed into Ed’s sweater, but he thought better of the gesture mainly because that might make his head hurt more.
After a moment Ed sat down beside him, a bit awkward on his bad leg, and so Al did his level best to support his brother.
When he could finally calm himself and emerged from Ed’s sweater, he found his brother in tears as well.
“Ed?” Al asked softly.
Ed was suddenly reaching out, cupping Al’s jaw in his good hand, sliding it down his brother’s neck to his shoulders, touching there…just above his heart.
Al practically giggled.
“I’m fine Ed…I’m all here, I promise.”
Ed gave him a serious and worried glance.
“Are you sure?” That voice was a tiny bit lower, but still the same. Still Ed.
“I’m serious brother, I’m just perfect. All the way to my toes.” Al gave his sock clad feet a wiggle for emphasis. “Not that you can see through my socks.”
Ed just shook his head then, angrily dashing at the tears on his cheeks.
“I was worried that everything had all been for nothing.” Ed said lowly, face fallen as though he were at a funeral.
“I’m fine Brother, but I am mad at you.” Al said lowly.
“Oh shut the hell up.” Ed groused without any real enthusiasm.
“No.” Al said quietly. “You transmuted me back, and when you did it you made sure I came back without any memories of my travels, so that I could not bring you back. You forced me to live without half of my memories, and without you. You are /so selfish/!” The last two words made Al ball his fists up and made his good forearm tense.
“Al…you lost your memories?” Ed asked, suddenly sounding abashed.
And Al felt like a really big asshole when he realized that Ed had not know that it would happen after all…
“I didn’t have them for four years…I came back, nine years old again. I vaguely remembered the transmutation with Mom…but after that, everything was a blur. I went to stay with Izumi again…to study with her. I didn’t remember anything except for tiny bits and pieces…until she died.”
“Al? She…d…why?!” Ed was suddenly staring at Al with aghast eyes.
“Ed…her body finally failed her.” Al said lowly.
“Why are you here and not with Sig?!” Ed asked, suddenly shocked.
“Sig died a little under two years after Izumi.” Al said lowly.
Ed looked shocked.
“They…they…they…” He kept trying to say something, but it wouldn’t come out.
Al averted his eyes, and then quietly leaned closer again, resting his head over Ed’s heart.
“I’m sorry.” Al whispered gently, and meant it, tried to show it with every nuance of his body language.
Ed hugged Al back to himself weakly, resting his head in the tangled mess of his brother’s hair.
Al sighed. Sighed at the sensation of the warm breath against the top of his head. Sighed at the heat of Ed’s touch. Sighed at the heartbeat, strong and steady under his cheek.
“Don’t worry…about it right now Ed…you have more important stuff to fret about. You need to go back to Auntie’s and have your automail fixed…it looks like it anyways.”
Ed was shaking a bit, and Al could hear him swallowing hard.
“You’re right Al!” Ed said in a painfully cheerful voice. “No sense in dwelling on things I can’t change…I /can/ have Auntie fix my automail, huh?”
“Mhh.” Al said, nodding sagely but refusing to sit back. He wasn’t letting go of Ed just yet, and the rest of the world could stuff it. “Tell me…what happened?”
“When I came back, or when I left?”
“All of it.” Al said dreamily, patiently.
“Al, if you don’t mind…I’m all wet and cold? Maybe Roy would let me take a bath? And I’m pretty damn tired.”
Al wasn’t sure if he was being avoided, or if Ed was really being honest. If it was this hard to tell with his brother, maybe it was something in between.
“Oh…okay.” Al said, still not letting go of Ed.
“You have to let go.”
“You still aren’t letting go.”
Roy had been a spectacular host, making sure that everyone was warm, dry, and well fed. He soothed over the few minor shows of temper on Al’s part, and had sat them down for a group discussion in front of the fireplace.
Al sat between Hoenheim and Ed, looking very much like a happy puppy at a tennis match. He couldn’t get enough of either of them, and was gleefully leeching up the attention.
Even Roy was surprisingly indulgent of Al’s behavior, after all, this was a very extraordinary experience.
“Ed and I were looking very hard for a way back…when someone was kind enough to open up the gate. You can see it from the other side, it is a rather spectacular show…
Well, it just happens we were running from some very unhappy men from the Thule Society when we …noticed that they had a spare plane around…”
“That flying machine?!” Alphonse asked in awe, and was seconded by a curious nod from Roy.
“Yes, the flying machine…obviously, we…borrowed it, and had to hope that it would allow us to reach the gate. It of course, did, but it was a struggle considering our lack of knowledge concerning such a piece of equipment…and well...Al held the gate open long enough for us to get through, so…” he shrugged nonchalantly “Here we are.”
“I understand what Ed was doing on the other side of the gate.” Al said levelly as he turned to look at his father. “But why were /you/ there?” He asked the question in all innocence.
Roy and Hoenheim shot each other a look that was shared with Ed a moment later.
“It…is a long story.” The elder Elric said wearily.
Al looked like he was about to leap to his feet in outrage, but Ed seat-belted him back to the sofa with a strong arm around his waist.
“What is it that you know that you aren’t telling me, I’m not a kid!” Al hissed, suddenly off put by the exclusion.
Hoenheim gave Al’s angry expression a soothing smile. “Alphonse, it isn’t that I don’t think you can handle the truth…it’s that I don’t think I can tell you right now. Please, believe me when I say I will tell you, just…give me time.”
“Oh, and you can tell the General and you can’t tell me?!”
“I had to find out if my problems were in his…field of expertise. Why worry you if I can take care of the problem on my own?”
“You are /just like Ed/!” Al spat. “So selfish! You just think you can do everything your way, and if you had just asked for help from your family instead of being so goddamn stubborn you wouldn’t get yourself into half the messes that you do!”
“Pot and kettle Alphonse.” Roy called diplomatically.
“Roll over and /die/ shit General!” All hissed as he glared at Roy evilly out of the corner of his eye. Then he realized what had come out of his mouth.
“Language Alphonse!” Hoenheim said serenely, even thought his eyes told another tale all together. Al’s words had hit home.
Ed was blinking almost audibly.
“With you around Al, I don’t think I’ll ever have to insult Mustang again.”
“Shut up.” Al bit back.
Al leaned into Ed a bit shakily. He wasn’t used to these sort of aggressive feelings, it had to be the whole hormone thing that everyone had warned him about. Oh who was he kidding. He had a legitimate reason to be angry and he just felt terribly enough to be cross.
Ed was massaging his forearm imperceptibly, and Al found it surprisingly soothing. Ed didn’t seem to be taking his mood personally.
And still, he had to fight the urge to scream long and loud.
Roy managed to rescue the situation, by going over the last few years with Hoenheim and Ed, which immediately put the situation into neutral territory. Roy’s.
Roy fortunately glossed over Al’s difficulties of the last few months, figuring that might be a bit too emotionally volatile.
It was midnight when the conversation exhausted itself, when Hoenheim and Ed retreated to the rest of the guest rooms, and Roy had limped off to bed.
That left Al in his pajamas lying in bed and too exhausted to sleep.
He was also terrified. Afraid that if he closed his eyes, this would all be a dream. A horrible wonderful awful dream and he would have held his father, Ed, only in his fondest wishes.
He laid there trembling, the world closing in on him and the thunder rolling. The room was sizeable, but somehow it seemed much too small suddenly.
The bed was huge, and that was frightening. It was too big. It was too empty. He wasn’t used to being alone in bed, he never had been. There had always been Ed, always. Always been Sig snoring, Izumi talking in her sleep. Winry breathing next door.
He was alone, and he couldn’t sleep and he couldn’t do anything but think about his brother.
That grin, fake or not, that silky golden hair and comforting heartbeat. How many times, even as a suit of armor, had he watched Ed sleep, sprawled in the sheets and so beautiful it made him ache to touch him, worse simply because when he was armor he couldn’t. Of course he could /touch/ him, but not how he had wanted to. No matter how close he had held him to that empty steel body, he could not so much as feel Ed’s heartbeat. Maybe a bit of warmth if he concentrated…
He sat up suddenly. He could not. He would not lie here anymore and wish he were somewhere else. He had earned the right to, he deserved to, go sleep next to his brother. He threw the covers back resolutely, got to his feet, wincing at the ache in his arm and head and the weary protest of his body, and then stalked down the hall.
He stood in front of the door of his brother’s room, and felt his will dissolve.
He raised his hand to knock, and then paused.
He felt ridiculous.
He must have stood there for a good ten minutes, his sutured arm throbbing, his head aching, and his good hand poised to knock.
It never happened and instead he found himself sinking to the floor next to the door, choking on something inside of himself. He wanted to cry, but he was too tired even for that…all he could do was make tiny little hiccupping sounds into his knees that he wrapped his arms around for comfort.
He was there for another good ten minutes when the door opened outwards, smacking him in the butt and scooting him across the floor while a groggy looking Ed peered down and around the edge of the door blearily.
“Al?” Ed asked softly.
Al jumped to his feet with a squeak, looking around for some quick and reasonable excuse and found none.
“You didn’t want to be alone, did you?” Ed asked softly.
Al looked at Ed contritely, nodding barely perceptibly.
“It’s okay. I was just coming to see you, actually, I can’t sleep…without you.” Ed said, looking a little bit embarrassed himself.
“So…can I come in?” Al asked, being as gutsy as he could be.
“Shit little brother, come in. Either that or I’m going to sit by your door and whine to be let in.”
“Was I whining?” Al asked, suddenly abashed.
“Maybe a little, but hell, I want to do that when I’m away from you too…”
Ed steered Al into the room, and then shut the door behind himself.
He crawled into bed, and then lifted the edge of the blankets invitingly towards Al.
Al wasted no time scooting in.
He was nervous for a moment, in this body, he had never been so close to his brother, and he wasn’t sure how it would feel to be back, to be allowed this. It turned out that as he settled in to Ed’s arms, curling up against that warm chest and sharing that pillow, hiding under Ed’s chin, that he had had nothing to worry about at all.
This, he decided, had to be the nicest feeling in the entirety of the world. Ed was shivering a little bit, the house was cold at night despite the July heat, and so Al cuddled closer, and Ed tightened the arm around his waist appreciatively.
“I was afraid…if I fell asleep…that this would just be a dream.” Al murmured against he hollow of Ed’s throat.
“Same.” Ed grunted, yawning against Al’s hair.
“I like this…I missed this.” Al murmured softly.
“Was it okay…getting your body back?”
Al laughed quietly, voice rough with exhaustion.
“I’m still getting used to feeling again…everything feels…so good…so new. It’s a gift Brother, no matter how mad I got at you for making me do this all by myself.”
Ed rumbled then, pressing a soft kiss to the top of Al’s head.
“Good. Get some sleep Al, you’ve had a hell of a day. I still don’t know how you did…this…without the stone.”
“I did it, because I had to.” Al replied softly. “There was no other option.”
Ed shook his head sleepily.
“Always another way…”
“Like you believe that.” Al muttered into the silence once he realized from the pattern of Ed’s breathing that the other man was soundly asleep.
He tried to savor this moment as much as possibly, but Ed’s rhythmic breathing and heartbeat lulled his exhausted body into the deepest of slumbers before he was aware of it.
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Cross posted to: yaoicest fma_yaoi fm_alchemist elricest