[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] Broke this chapter in half, so forgive where I left off. If this is really bad, I'm sorry. Work's been kicking the tar out of me all week.
Al awoke in degrees. It was warming up in the room, it should have been uncomfortable to be this close to someone with the humidity. The window was open, and the crickets were chirping still, which meant the sun was just rising and they were in for a scorching day of humidity and heat following the rain they had had last night.
Someone was stroking fingers tenderly through his hair and he couldn’t bring himself to move. To open his eyes. There was the familiar smell of warm skin, soap and wind and freshly cut grass and sweat.
He had to be dreaming, yesterday had to have been a dream. He was loath to open his eyes, but he wanted to know the truth. As he did so, the room came back into focus. A room that wasn’t his…and there was fathomlessly deep gold staring back at him, eyes soft, adoring, worshipful.
“Ed?” Al croaked softly.
The fingers through his hair stopped, but the gaze never left his.
“I’m here.” Ed whispered back, voice deep with sleep.
Al couldn’t stop staring, taking in every tiny detail of what was in front of him. Ed lying awkward beside him in his prosthetics, tangled in the sheets and boneless with sleep. Hair more golden than Alphonse’s spilled out across the stark white of the pillows. Ed’s tanned skin almost ruddy in the dawn light.
“Is this real?” He asked quietly.
Ed smiled then hesitantly.
“Yeah. I’m pretty damn sure this is as real as it gets.”
Al nodded, humming to himself just before he rolled over and shuddered.
His body was responding in an all too familiar way, and to /this/ situation. He took a moment to ask himself ‘why now?’ This had never happened before next to his brother. He had never felt like this, shivering and warm and perfect and…hungry?
Ed had been watching him, and he felt a familiar hand on his back.
“Al?” That voice was worried.
He curled in on himself further, embarrassed.
“I’m okay Brother.” He whispered, closing his eyes against the humiliation.
He remembered his first real wet dream very well.
He had been quite alarmed by it, not sure if he had peed the bed or not. He understood these sort of things because he read books, but that didn’t stop him from panicking when it had finally happened to him.
Morning erections were new too, years ago, and had made being near Winry first thing in the morning all the more of a challenge before he learned to deal with them. He had understood dully what was going on, and yet, it had been humiliating to Al who was so in control of himself at all times to know that he too, like any young man, felt these things and they were fairly beyond his control. Sometimes…the feelings were delicious. He had learned to touch himself, that he could control his urges simply by finding time alone.
But even now, his body was something so foreign to him, exotic, and sometimes painful.
Painful like it was now because he had liked waking up next to Ed stroking his hair, and nearest he could tell that was not normal. Having wet dreams about his brother was not normal. Wanting to thrust into the cool tangle of sheets around him was not normal. Wanting to have Ed touch him…there…was not normal.
He shivered and curled his hands over the top of the blankets, trying to hide himself even further from view.
“Al?” Ed asked again, gently rubbing now at Al’s back.
Al whimpered in response.
“N…no…” He stuttered in reply.
Ed was curling up against Al’s back then, draping his good arm over Al’s waist and holding him tightly, whispering against the back of his neck: “What is it?”
Al could feel Ed then, feel Ed tucked up hot and hard against the back of his thigh.
Ed didn’t seem ashamed.
It hit him then, and like a blow between the eyes. He didn’t have to be feel guilty about his body. It was true Ed knew no shame, but no other man in the world would take this misbehavior of his body as an insult or a problem. As long as he didn’t let anything slip to Ed, everything would be fine. Later he could sort this all out.
“I’m…” Al began meekly, still covering himself with his hands.
“Oh, is that it?” Ed asked, finally sleepily noticing Al’s…problem…as he leaned over Al further.
Al immediately turned beet red.
“Do you…understand why that happens?” Ed asked as he stretched the hand that had been around Al’s waist and instead laid it gently over Al’s hands.
Just like his brother to understand and protect.
It also made Al turn practically purple.
“I’m not sure!” Al whispered softly.
“So is that a yes or a no?” Ed asked softly, patting Al’s hands and making him whimper.
And to be a complete jackass.
“Yes, I understand /why/ it happens…but…”
“But what?” Ed asked, sounding just a bit guilty to Al.
Al shook his head, suddenly too afraid to speak.
“Is it…” Ed asked softly. “Because I’m here…?”
Ed just shook his head and tugged Al’s hands away.
“You don’t have to hide it.” Ed whispered gently. “Now just relax, it’ll go away on its own, you know that.” Ed soothed before mussing up his little brother’s hair with great enthusiasm and love.
“Hey!” Al protested, wincing as Ed got too close to the bandage on his head.
“I get first shower.” Ed said smugly as he sat up.
Al was only embarrassed for a few moments more before what Ed had said sunk in.
“Oh the hell you do! You will hog all the hot water just like you always do.”
“You need a cold shower more than me.” Ed countered.
“I will transmute you to the bed you pigheaded…”
Ed whapped Al in the chest with a pillow before bolting.
Al was clutching the pillow still as he then mused with a rather stupid smile, that he didn’t actually /get/ a shower, now that he thought about it. He wasn’t supposed to get his stitches wet. Just like his brother to distract him enough that he forgot these things.
Ed had had a bath last night, and Al had not. Therefore, Al was marching into that bathroom and demanding he got first dibs on water.
Or at least, that had been the, for once, poorly thought out plan.
Al again forgot to consider the consequences of his body.
He marched into the bathroom like he owned it, throwing the door open.
Ed was naked, and glanced up with a startled yelp. He hadn’t expected Al to be so aggressive obviously. Had not expected Al to follow him.
“I have to have a bath because of my stitches.” He said, suddenly feeling brasher than he should have, all things considered. “And you get to help me since you are already naked and it doesn’t matter if you get wet.”
He then stood there blinking, realizing what he had just done. Had he done what he thought he had? Was he…was this? Why was he doing this? He then went from self assured to insecure, suddenly averting his eyes. Ed was blinking at him in surprise too. Good, so Al wasn’t the only one.
“Sure Al…no problem.” Ed said hesitantly.
Oh god what had he gotten himself into?
Ed was suddenly standing closer in front of Al; his prosthetic limbs looked awkward compared to the way Al was used to seeing him with his automail. They weren’t helping much, all things considered. Because Ed was still beautiful. His shoulders had widened, his chest broadened. His hair was nearly waist length. His hips were a bit wider, and the muscle of his good leg and thigh much more pronounced. Muscle all over was light but lean, perfect. Ed wasn’t much more than a few inches taller, but he had gotten broader, heavier. Just perfect as far as Al was concerned. He could only dream of matching his brother’s musculature. He was a bit taller, but so what?
Ed was suddenly looking down, following Al’s gaze.
“Al…is it…that bad?” The younger man asked, both hands falling to his sides.
Al shook his head.
“No…it’s just…not you without proper automail. It looks strange to me because I am so used to the automail, that’s all. Ed…”
Al was swallowing hard, trembling a little bit as he clenched his hands into fists.
“You look amazing.” Al said honestly to the tiled floor.
“Amazing?” Ed asked, tasting the words as if he had never quite felt them across his tongue before.
“Al…” Ed began.
“It’s nothing, nevermind…I’ll just wait in the hall.” Al said, backing toward the door.
“It’s…okay. I’m fine. I’ll just skip a bath…” Al said, forcing a smile for his brother just before he turned and left, quietly closing the door behind himself.
He returned to the bedroom, and perched on the edge of the bed, staring at his hands.
What had he been thinking, what was he doing? Why had he just done this now?
He had gone in there very specifically, mainly, because he had wanted Ed’s touch more than anything else in the world and it wasn’t…it wasn’t…was it?
Sure, he loved Ed, more than anything else ever, but did he /love/ Ed?
Just thinking about Ed naked made his need twitch sleepily back to life.
Oh sweet goddess of Ishbal he /couldn’t/.
He didn’t just like his brother…he loved his brother. Like…wanted him the way most men wanted women. What was wrong with him? He must be crazy. That was it. For half a moment, he debated asking Roy or Hoenheim if he was as off the tracks as he thought he was. He quickly vetoed that idea.
He closed his eyes and buried his head in his hands.
No…this was too wrong. Ed didn’t need this, his dad didn’t need this. No one needed Al’s teenage angst. If this was all about hormones, he was seriously going to kill himself.
His head was throbbing and his arm hurt. He was bleeding through the bandages on it.
He ignored that for a moment though, and began rummaging through the clothes Auntie had bought him and located a pair of baggy shorts and a clean tank top.
He was changing the bandages on his arm when Ed came back, clean, wet hair dripping onto the towel that was over his shoulders.
“Al?” He asked softly.
Al swallowed the pain in his chest, and forced himself to remember, to be glad, to savor the fact that he /could/ hurt like this, and summoned a big smile for his brother.
“It’s okay Ed, I guess I’ve changed since I got my body back, I’m kind of grumpy in the mornings. I must have embarrassed you. I didn’t mean to!” Al said as he sobered with his apology.
“Oh.” Ed said, looking a little disappointment.
“Sorry.” Al said, tucking the last of the bandage in.
“Al…I think we might…need to talk.” Ed said gently.
Al flinched at those words and something angry, defensive coiled in the pit of his stomach. Ed wanted to talk, but not about what Al wanted to talk about. And that wasn’t fair.
“About what? Perhaps where you have been?”
“Maybe in a bit…Al…you?”
Al drew a bit of wounded pride up to protect himself like a cloak.
“Just ignore what I want and let’s talk about what you want.” Al said levelly, a touch of annoyance in his tone.
“Al…no…that’s not it.”
“It isn’t? Oh really?!”
Al removed the bandage from his head, and finger combed his hair irritably. His brother wanted to know why he was acting like this. Ishbala, /Al/ wanted to know why he was acting like this. What was his problem. He was being so ungrateful and yet…all of this pain he had faced with no one at his side…it made him want to ask Ed why he dared complain that Al had changed, had become…/this/.
“Al…you’re…angry…that’s…not like you.”
No. No it wasn’t. He didn’t get angry very often, or at least, not really. Not this sort of angry. This slow simmering resentment and pain that was practically sentient under his ribs. Al tried to take a few calming breaths. He shouldn’t be mean to his brother just because he hurt…
“I don’t know /what’s/ wrong with me!” Al said then, throwing his arms in the air in despair.
“Al…slow down…it’s okay.” Ed said, voice a bit nervous.
“No!” Al said, letting his arms fall back to his sides with a smack. “No…it’s not okay…I’m sorry.” He whispered just before he backed out of the room.
Al ignored his brother and he made his way through the house with sure and knowing strides, as he rounded the corner he nearly impacted Hoenheim.
“Al, good morning! Did you sleep well?” That cheerful and slightly apologetically clueless smile lit that handsome face.
“Wonderful.” Al said, dodging his father.
“Where are you going Alphonse?” Hoenheim called, as if he hadn’t been rebuffed.
“Out!” Was Al’s brief reply.
Hoenheim took a deep breath, as if to call to Al again, but Roy glided up next to the man.
“Let him go.”
Hoenheim blinked at Roy.
“I have had had a hand in raising both of your sons now. Believe me when I tell you that Alphonse is now just as bull headed as his brother. If you hold the reins too tight, he will simply take the bit and run.”
“But.” Hoenheim began.
“But nothing, come have some coffee. They will work this out between themselves.”
“They?” Hoenheim asked softly as Ed skidded around the corner, nearly taking out Hoenheim /and/ Roy.
“That way.” Roy said helpfully pointing towards the front door.
Ed nodded, limping off.
“They.” Hoenheim concluded with a sigh.
Al ran as hard and as fast as he could. His body was still very weary from all the abuse he had put it through, so he didn’t make it any further than the back gardens. The humidity and the hot morning sun made it hard to breathe. He managed to make it out of sight and into the small hedge maze on the far side of the property before he collapsed to the grass, heaving for air.
He was hurt, betrayed, lonely. Hurt because he was treated like a kid when he so obviously was not within himself. He was hurt because no one would tell him what was going on. He felt betrayed because he was lonely, and he was lonely because he was in love with his brother who unless he was incredibly stupid, (Which Ed was not.) had to know this by now. Probably knew it long before Al did because Al never thought about emotional things until it was simply too late. When it came to what Ed and other’s felt, he was there all the way. Himself? It was another matter. He couldn’t help but feel like he was betraying himself, betraying his brother, betraying…everyone and everything that had ever mattered to him.
Things were still screwed up. Bringing Ed (And his father.) back had not been the panacea he had hoped for. Maybe he had just made things worse…
He was shaky. So strung out. He even tried to reach out for his alchemy, to touch it, that tingling infallible warmth inside of him that had been his only comfort when he had been a suit of armor.
It was barely there. Alchemy burn…this must be part of it, the exhaustion and sickness…he was /hungry/ and tired like he had never been before. His head still ached, and his arm was reduced to a stinging itch.
He focused on that instead of the anger. He focused on what he could feel instead of what he shouldn’t, what he wasn’t allowing himself to.
Instead he stared up at the clouds while the insects droned around his head and the sunshine sank into his bones through his shirt, tingling and hot.
He sighed and stretched.
He only looked up when a by now familiar and limping gait came to a halt by him. He was half relieved Ed had come after him, the other half of him was still sulking. He didn’t open his eyes because he didn’t know what to feel.
He made sure they were closed, so that he didn’t have to look. His eyes would betray him. They always did. He could hide nothing from Ed with his eyes.
He could hear the creaking of prosthetics as Ed lowered himself to the ground.
“Al.” Ed began softly.
“Go to hell.” Al said lowly.
“No thanks, I just left and I don’t care to go back for a second tour of duty.”
“Don’t make light of me! Don’t make fun of me!” Al growled, sitting up brusquely and pulling his arm back as if to roll over on Ed and fight.
He had lost the battle with feeling, and he was angry. Angry enough to not show hurt with his eyes, eyes that were now locked with a surprised but unflinching Ed’s.
Ed glowered but did not cringe away from Al’s near strike.
“I’m not making fun of you.” He said.
“It’s not funny that I’m angry!” Al snapped. “I have a right to be angry, I have a right to feel.” Al narrowed his eyes.
“And I have a right to tell you when I think you are acting like a sulking teenager.”
“I /am/ a sulking teenager, and I’m sulking for a perfectly good reason!” Al hissed.
“There is no reason to act like this!” Ed snapped.
“Like you can talk!” Al finally bantered back, watching the gleam of temper rising in his brother’s eyes.
“Yeah, big brothers have a right to feel too you know.” Ed growled.
“But they sure can’t listen.” Al said lowly.
“I keep trying to listen, but all you do is push me away!” Ed barked in frustration.
Al was caught there for a moment, and he found his eyes filling with tears. He forced himself to sit back down on the warm green grass, to take slower breaths in the humid air, to calm his hurt, his low trembling of rage.
He wasn’t mad at Ed. Not really. He was mad at the situation and Ed happened to be a convenient excuse. Ed was right.
Al sat there, his eyes closed again. Trying so hard not to show emotion. He didn’t want to admit that Ed was right. He didn’t want to admit that he was partially being unreasonable. Wasn’t the saying “you hurt the ones you love?”
He was half sick with the hot/cold frustration that drew a low sound from him.
“Al…it’s okay.” Ed said softly, something akin to understanding in his tone. “You don’t have to say it.” Ed said. “I understand, okay?”
Al didn’t know what to do, so he just sat there. He sat there and he felt Ed slowly encompassing him, pulling him between his legs and to his chest. He felt the automail and flesh arm both wrap around him tightly, and he made a low and keening noise.
“It hurts!” Al whispered.
Ed nodded against the top of his head, kissing his tangled hair.
“I know.” Ed replied tenderly.
Al was still trembling as hot tears made their way to the surface, as he caved into a pain numbed calm.
“You don’t have to say it, and you don’t have to apologize.”
“No... Listen.” Al began softly. “Just listen.”
Ed compliantly said nothing. He could smell the warmth of that skin, feel the familiar body heat as Ed collapsed back to the grass, taking Al with him. Al fisted his hands in Ed’s shirt, nuzzling close and listening to the tiny sighs that went along with Edward luxuriating in the grass (Like he always did). It was the last real pleasant thought Al had before plunging backwards through memories. Doing it by way of an apology.
“When I woke up, I was lying in the ashes of our house. I was naked, and cold, and scared. I walked all the way to Auntie’s house in the dark and pulled a sheet off the clothesline and wrapped myself up. I knew something terrible had happened, something beyond what had happened with Mom, but I couldn’t tell anyone what it was. Everyone was so happy to see me, but as soon as they figured out that you weren’t coming back…that’s when they got sad. And then they stayed sad. Every time they saw me, the conversation would die.
And then I began to realize, that even if I couldn’t remember you, I was obvious incomplete without you.”
Ed made a soft sound, but remembered to muzzle himself just in time.
“It was awkward. I forgot to eat when I was hungry, to swallow or breathe. I peed the bed. My pants, all sorts of things that were very humiliating. I didn’t know what to do, how to adjust to the feelings in my body.
It took time, and in that time, I also realized something. I realized how much I missed you, how much I hurt without you. I wanted nothing more than your touch, even before I knew it was you I was missing…”
Ed was strangely still under Al, but Al could hear his heart, feel it beating steadily against his cheek.
“I went to train again with Master, hoping to learn something more. Hoping to get my memories back. I would dream, remember everything in my dreams, but then awake and forget. It was maddening, always being on the edge of knowing and not able to reach out and grasp the truth.
When Master died, that night…holding her hand, I remembered everything. I told no one, because it was my secret, because I didn’t want anyone to tell what they thought I should know. It was my truth, my reality, and the only way back to you. I hung on to it.”
Ed looked like he was going to say something, but Al held up his hand, and Ed sunk back down to the grass.
“Sig died of a broken heart seven days before my fifteenth birthday. Ed…he just laid down and went to sleep, perfectly healthy, and never woke back up.”
Al swallowed hard.
“I knew then, that it wouldn’t be long for me, if I did not find a way to your side. I…became obsessed. I studied and studied. Barely eating, barely sleeping, not leaving my room at Auntie’s…until…one night.”
Al was sitting up now, and facing Ed squarely while sitting cross legged. Eyes narrowed and hair tossed irritably over his shoulder. Ed was sitting a bit awkwardly with his prosthetics.
“YOU TRIED TO GO THROUGH THE GATE TO GET TO ME AND IT NEARLY SUCKED THE LIFE OUT OF YOU?! I’M GOING TO KICK YOUR FUCKING ASS!” Ed yelled, fists stiff in front of his flesh leg and pressed tightly to the dirt.
It was like there was an invisible barrier between them, and the only way they dared to cross it was to lean slightly forward.
“Oh like /you/ can talk Mr. I-Transmuted-My-Brother-and-Sacrificed-M
“That was a totally different situation!”
“What did you expect me to do?! Leave you to die?!”
Gold clashed hotly with copper.
“How did you expect me to live without you Ed, I /love/ you!” Al shouted.
There was a moment of stunned silence from Ed.
Al sat up and away from Ed, and Ed blinked at Al.
Al wouldn’t even make eye contact.
“Uh…” Al began eloquently. “I think I need to go throw myself off a cliff now.” He said frighteningly reasonably.
Al finally glanced up at Ed, tears in his eyes, and Ed rested his prosthetic hand against Al’s chest while the other he held up as Al just had.
“Listen.” Ed began softly.
Al took a shuddering breath and bit his lip, but he was still. He stared at Ed’s collar bone rather than anywhere else. Equivalent exchange.
“Yeah, being on the other side of the gate sucked. It didn’t take long for me to bust my automail, and dad and I had to rig this up.”
Ed flexed his prosthetic.
“It was the best we could do. Do you know anything about the other side of the gate?”
Al shook his head.
“Well, to begin with, we were trapped in a world without alchemy. Alchemy won’t work over there unless there is someone helping you out from the other side of the gate.”
“So that’s why you couldn’t fix your automail.”
“Yes, but listen.”
Al swallowed hard and nodded.
“We found ways around the no alchemy thing…and we even had one experiment go wrong that jumped both Dad and I ahead in time on the other side. Right into the middle of a war. We were trying to get home…but it didn’t work out. We were kind of racing against the clock anyways. Because…look Al…remember Dante? Why she changed bodies?”
“Dad has the same problem.”
Al suddenly felt like his chest was constricting.
“The same problem?” He asked, horrified.
“Al, Dad is over four hundred years old. Dante was his lover before Mom. Envy was their child, it wasn’t a lie.”
Al could barely breathe, feeling suddenly betrayed again, and somehow resentful that Ed would only tell him the truth when he felt obliged to. And then he put the rest of the concept together.
“Is Dad’s body…falling apart?”
Ed nodded slowly.
Al took an unsteady and shuddering breath.
“Would you please hug me again?”
Go Back To:
Cross posted to: yaoicest fma_yaoi fm_alchemist elricest