[Author] Mara D
[Series] Fullmetal Alchemist
[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] Al is moody. Again. This is because he feels very insecure and sick. He straightens out a bit at the end of the chapter. Good luck, and Goddesspeed.
Al was surprised when he felt his brother’s arms slide around him compliantly, even thought that was what he asked for. Ed didn’t usually do as he was asked in any situation. But there was this pain now between them, even fresher than that of Al’s past.
“Is that…is that why…he left Mom?” Al asked then softly. “Because he was dying? Was it to /save his own skin/ or was it to save us the pain of watching his health decline?”
Al knew all about watching someone die, how hard it was to bear.
Ed was silent.
“I think it was a little of both, honestly. He wanted to live, to be with us for at least one more lifetime. I think he also didn’t want Mom to see…to ask questions he couldn’t answer.”
“So that was why he left without so much as a goodbye?!” Al railed against Ed, growling into the fabric of his shirt.
“That was because he was a coward.” Ed said softly. “I’ll not give him that much, he’s a coward when it comes to his heart. It was too hard for him to say goodbye, so he didn’t. I know he regrets not spending time with us, for always having his nose in a book. I know he thinks like I do sometimes, like he didn’t do a good enough job being a dad, so he had no right to be…to complicate our lives.”
“And he didn’t even bother to tell me himself? Again?! I can forgive once…” Al said lowly. “But not twice.”
Ed shook his head.
“I’d never thought I would be the one to say this, but , Al…give him some credit. He’s trying really hard, and he does care.”
“How do you know that?!” Al asked, taking an almost panicked breath. “He’s just one step away from being a homunculus. How can we trust him? He obviously abandoned Dante, how can we know he won’t just screw us over again the opportunity comes along!?” Al barked, eyes filling with betrayed tears, sitting back from Ed’s shoulder, getting unsteadily to his feet.
“Al, you know I’m the last one to defend Dad, but you aren’t thinking straight because you’re hurt…I’ve been there…but if you try to come at him with that logic, he will point out that you were a suit of armor for five years, no better than him. Al…that doesn’t mean you can’t trust him.”
Al stood there, hands clenched into fists and struggling again for air, his arm was a screaming pain, and his head was pounding. His knees felt weak and his whole body ached.
“How could you say that?” Al asked lowly.
Ed suddenly looked frantic, staggering to his feet.
“Al.” Ed said lowly, looking a bit shocked at what he had just said himself.
“I can’t believe I trusted you.” Al whispered then, standing a bit taller, self righteous and angry.
“I can’t believe I trusted you…that I told you all of this. I can’t believe how stupid I am.” Al whispered, feeling a strange numbness working from his head to his toes.
“Al!” Ed said lowly.
“Go back to hell.” Was all Al said, turning on his heel.
The weight of the knowledge Ed had just imparted felt like a lead weight in his stomach.
He headed back for the house, Ed calling after him.
He had best walk away now, or he would hit Ed. And two wrongs never made a right.
He marched in through the breezeway, and to the guest hall.
He heard Ed make the doorway, but he knew his brother wouldn’t have the first clue where he had gone. He found that strangely satisfying. So there were some things his brother didn’t know…
He found his room, and began packing.
He felt so betrayed, deeper than that of family, it was as if…as if he had been abandoned by a lover as well.
He was still crying, his tears wetting his collar as he made sure that everything that he needed was in the suitcase. He shut it then, with a final click, and found himself remembering Ed’s hands, his warm touch and his beautiful smile. Remembered waking next to him this morning.
Why was he being this ungrateful? Why was he this broken and weary? Didn’t he have everything he had ever needed?
He laid Ed’s coat out on the bed.
He wouldn’t be taking that with him.
He had fully planned to leave, to go find a hotel somewhere, to get out of this echoing mansion and go somewhere quiet where he could sort himself out. He had his hand on the doorknob when a large and heavy hand fell to his shoulder.
He squeaked through his tears, and found himself staring up at Hoenheim.
“Roy told me not to get involved, but I think it is time now.” The big man said wisely.
“Don’t touch me.” Al said lowly, a bit panicky.
“Alphonse…you are of the age, I am afraid. For a young man as sensitive as yourself, it is a particularly hard time. Come…I would like to speak with you.”
“Why should I trust anything you say?!”
“I take it your brother has told you?” Hoenheim sighed tiredly.
Al’s only answer was a clenched jaw.
“Set your suitcase down. Running away won’t make it any better.”
Al couldn’t help himself.
“It never stopped you!” Al spit.
“And it didn’t make anything better, did it?” Hoenheim parried.
Al had never wanted to hit anyone so badly in his life for telling the truth. Instead, the suitcase fell from his nerveless hand to the floor.
“Don’t make the same mistakes I did Son…you will regret them.” Hoenheim comforted.
Al was frozen, wanting to relent, and wanting to be independent. Wanting to run, and needing to stay.
He trembled in indecision, refusing to look, to blink, shutting off his tears, his feelings. Making himself numb. It was all he could do when there was no real decision he could make. He jumped when Hoenheim grasped his forearm and dragged him off towards one of the libraries.
The windows were open, making the heat more bearable for Al. The shade of the mansion was refreshing after having been outside. He didn’t realize how weak he was feeling until his father guided him down to the couch where his knees gave out on him halfway down.
“You should be resting, not exerting yourself.” The big man said, tucking a lock of hair back behind Al’s ear. Al did not object, though inside he was still aching and seething despite his attempt at feeling nothing.
“I suppose it probably frightens you, to find yourself moody. Ed has mentioned this. I will tell you this freely, so that you understand that I have been where you have been. Every time I switch bodies, I experience moodiness. Especially the younger my form is. It is a complex series of chemicals that causes this, though it is no excuse for you to hurt those around you.”
Al blinked at Hoenheim, wondering briefly what is point was.
“What I am getting at is that you spent five years as a suit of armor, and the whole time you were trapped within, you had the benefit of clear thinking, thinking free from emotions that were volatile as they often are for men going through their teenage years. I suppose everything came as more of a shock for you, with no one to turn to.
The fact that you have been terribly depressed does not help, nor does the fact that you have alchemy burn, which is more than enough to make an alchemist moody. I know you are experiencing more and more powerful emotions. And I want you to know that it will even out.”
Al gaped at his father. “Who told you?!”
“It’s obvious, that and Roy pointed out the condition in which he received you. It has been a strange last few years for you, and no one blames you for feeling like you do. Just try not to abuse us too badly.”
“Why should I believe you?!”
“Because I have no reason to lie to you.”
“How do I know that? Al snapped even as he found himself weaving, barely able to sit upright as he touched his hand to his forehead.
“Calm down Alphonse. You are aggravating the sickness…you are bleeding through your bandages as well.”
Al was shocked as he struggled to stay upright. How did his father know?!
“It has been a lot to take.” Hoenheim said levelly.
“I’m sorry.” Al whispered, taking an unsteady breath.
“Don’t be. I am here for you if you need me. So is Ed. You think he hasn’t been through this?”
“Dad…I feel so fucked up.”
“Sorry. But it’s true.”
“Lie down, you should not be up. Rest now, relax and eat. It will do wonders for how you feel.”
“You grew up twice without anyone you can really rely on other than your brother. It is normal at sixteen to be caught between wanting to remain a child, and wanting to be treated like a man. You will learn much about yourself, and you will keep learning. As you do, the path will smooth out. There is something else bothering you, but you are a smart boy, and you will come to understand it.” Hoenheim reassured.
“Dad, how could you just leave us?! How could you do that?!” Al inadvertently switched the topic then, making his father smile at him strangely after he asked the question.
“I didn’t want you boys and your mother to watch me die if I made a mistake. You held Izumi’s hand as she died…your mother’s hand…would you have liked to add me to the list?”
“But you /aren’t/ dead. It hasn’t killed you yet!”
“It would have if I had stayed…I’ve found a way to slow the process but…”
Al felt his heart drop to his toes. What was he thinking? His father was /dying./
“Al?” Hoenheim said as he reached out to steady his son.
Al pounced the older man then, finally understanding what was bothering him so deeply. He was afraid of being hurt, abandoned. He hugged Hoenheim fiercely, possessively until the bigger man hugged him back.
“Daddy…please don’t leave me again. Please don’t leave me all alone.”
“So that is it?” Hoenheim asked gently.
“I get why I’m so…angry. I’m pushing you all away so that I don’t have to lose you.” Al said lowly, humbly. “I’m sorry.”
“Wise beyond your years my boy.” Hoenheim said tenderly. “Wise beyond your years.”
“Lie down and rest now.” Hoenheim said, gently prying Al away.
“I can’t, I have to apologize to Brother…”
“I will tell him, you just take a nap. I will take care of your suitcase. We will both be here when you awaken, and when you do, we will talk again. Rest.”
Al let his father settle him, let him cover him with a blanket off the back of the couch. How the older man remembered that no matter the heat, Al loved the weight of something on him while he slept, Al would never know. But he was grateful, he couldn’t even doze without something over him.
He would have objected, but as his father helped him lay down, he found himself quickly losing the battle with his eyelids.
“Alchemy burn is painful, and exhausting. When you feel better, things won’t seem quite so bad.” Was the last thing he heard his father say.
Did he feel bad? Yeah, he kind of guessed he did.
When he woke again it was dark and he was in his bed. Someone was sleeping beside him, head on his shoulder.
“Ed?” Al asked, sitting up and feeling very disoriented. He had just been dozing on the couch…
Ed sat up blearily, considering his pillow had just squirmed out from underneath him.
“Oh…hey Al!” Ed yawned. “Welcome back to the land of the living. Feeling any better?”
Al took stock. He felt, calmer. He thought back hard to what he had been doing before he fell asleep. He remembered what he had been told, but now he only felt accepting about it. He couldn’t change it, he could only do his best to forgive and forget. Ed and Hoenheim were both family, and he couldn’t treat them badly just because he was upset. The funny thing was, he didn’t feel upset anymore. Just hungry.
He glanced down and realized he was in his pajamas. Someone had changed his clothes, put clean bandages on his arm.
“What time is it?” Al asked sleepily.
Ed reached beside the bed for something…and came up with Al’s state alchemist watch.
“Oh crap…I slept all day?” Al moaned.
“No.” Ed said lowly. “Try for like the last two days.”
“Two days?! Ishbala above!”
“I bet you’re starving. Dad said you’d sleep it off, eat, and feel a whole lot better. He debated that being that close to the gate for that long had some serious spiritual effects. Especially for someone like you.” Ed said gently.
“God, I was being an ass…wasn’t I?” He whined in disbelief as he thought about everything.
“Everybody has bad days.”
“Yeah…but Ed…I…I was…being so…cruel to you and just…flying off the handle…”
Ed grunted, giving Al a smirk.
“And how many days did I treat you like that when I was sixteen? They happen Al, don’t worry about it.”
“Ed…” Al said softly. “I don’t know who I am anymore…I don’t think”.
“Obviously, if you let Mustang talk you into becoming a state alchemist.”
“Well…it really isn’t a good choice, but it was the best one I had at the time. And maybe, maybe now I can find some way to help Dad, since I can get into the bigger libraries and you can’t.”
“Oh bullshit.” Ed said levelly.
“No, really Ed, you’re dead. As far as the military is concerned, they buried you.”
“No goddamn way!”
“Seriously Ed…and…” Al’s stomach grumbled.
Ed snorted. “I won’t get a word in edgewise.” Ed said lowly. “If we don’t feed you. Let’s say we raid Mustang’s fridge.”
“I’m still sorry.”
“Oh shut the hell up.” Ed said, grinning that famous brash grin as he helped Al up from the bed. “Were you really going to leave?” Ed asked as they headed off down the hall.
“Oh shut up…everything’s okay now, okay?”
Al could not get food in his mouth fast enough.
Anything that Ed produced from the refrigerator went into his mouth faster than he could think about it. He ate an entire container of cottage cheese, and he hated cottage cheese.
He actually sort of hoped that Ed was screening for mold, because he wasn’t bothering to smell or taste the leftovers. They just went straight down.
“Jeez Al, slow down before you choke.”
“So hungry.” Al whimpered.
“Uh okay, but if you get a stomach ache, don’t blame me.”
He had eaten four sandwiches, three slightly soft carrots, an entire container of cottage cheese, a jar of maraschino cherries, and a can of tuna fish by the time he was done with his rampage. He finished the last of the jug of orange juice, and was now enthusiastically picking at a bowl of cold rice. And he was almost full.
“Dad said you would have an appetite, but I think he forgot to take into account that you were his son.”
“Why’s that?!” Al asked around a mouthful of rice.
“I don’t even eat that much at one sitting.”
“Oh shut up, I was hungry.”
Al picked the last few grains of rice out of the bowl.
“And now I’m all sleepy again.”
“Maybe you should have waited for morning when it was sunny, then you could digest your food properly…”
“Are you suggesting I am a reptile?!”
“No, I’m suggesting that watching you eat was like watching a snake ingest a rat.”
“Oh like you can talk, I once had to thump you on the back at a restaurant because you thought Roy Mustang was going to try and steal your burger so you stuffed the whole thing in your mouth!”
“A man has to protect his food!”
“It really wasn’t necessary that you poked Havoc in the hand with your chopsticks because he was “too close” to the lettuce you weren’t going to eat anyways.”
“Fuck you Al.”
Al just giggled.
Al snuggled back into bed, and was completely surprised when Ed joined him again.
“Why are you staying?” Al asked softly.
“You don’t want me to stay? I kinda thought you did.” Ed replied, moving as if to sit up.
“No…Ed…I don’t want you to go.” Al whispered. “That’s exactly what I’m afraid of. I’m afraid that if I turn around, you will be gone…that I will wake up in the morning and this will all be a dream, and I can’t shake that.”
Ed froze, giving Al a stricken look.
Al gazed up at him, pleading with his eyes.
Ed grunted, and then slowly laid back down, curling up next to Al.
“Al…I’m not going anywhere. This is…right where I want to be. Need to be. I’m just scared that I’m going to fuck this up.”
“How?” Al asked softly.
Ed glanced at Al, a tiny bit of a blush painting his cheeks.
“Don’t worry about it…”
“Ed, I’m not…”
“A child, I know.” Ed finished. “But please…I…I don’t feel right…like this. I’m afraid I might do something that would tear us apart, and I promised you I wouldn’t ever leave you alone again. If you kick me out of your life, I can’t keep that promise.”
Ed gave Al an easy smile, and ruffled his brother’s hair almost regretfully.
“What is it Ed, you can tell me anything?” Al encouraged.
“Don’t worry about it tonight little brother, just…just get some sleep. I can’t sleep in the same bed as you anymore after tonight.”
Al bit his lip, giving his brother a hurt look. He must have done something to offend Ed after all.
“It’s okay.” Al said softly, and then resolved to stay awake all night long so he wouldn’t forget. And then he did fall asleep, despite his best efforts.
When he woke in the morning. Ed was gone.
Go Back To:
((Chapter Seven: Part One))
Cross posted to: yaoicest fma_yaoi fm_alchemist elricest