[Author] Mara D
[Series] Fullmetal Alchemist
[Pairing] EdxAl (No real mention of it yet, but it’s coming.)
[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 HATE THIS CHAPTER. IT SUCKS SO MUCH. ^_^
The train ride back was much more pleasant. This time, Ed was dozing wearily on his shoulder. His brother was having to get used to the raw energy drain of automail again and it was showing. Ed had lost several pounds in the last few days. Winry and Auntie had assured him that that was perfectly normal, but that didn’t make Al worry any less.
Ed was still in a great deal of pain, not that Al was surprised by that either. The port bolts had to be screwed into bone, and bone took a great deal of time to heal over the steel. That of course meant that the automail would be unstable for a while, fragile, as it were. Ed was fragile too.
Al sheltered Ed protectively, even on the train.
There were going to be problems soon.
Problems with Hoenheim, with the military. There was the thought that maybe, somehow, Al could find a way to get Ed his flesh and blood limbs back. That he could alleviate this pain for his brother…the man he loved more than anything else in the world. Pain. Who had been there for his brother? Before he had understood this. Apparently, Ed had felt this way for Al quite a while…whom had his older brother turned to tell his secrets, whom else could he trust if he couldn’t trust…
He wondered then too…whom had been Ed’s lover. Ed had known what he was doing when he had kissed Al. Someone had been with Ed, he could tell by the way Ed touched him…could it be? He had a sneaking suspicion.
Ed was drowsy, so maybe this would work. One way to find out, right?
“Mhh?” Ed replied sleepily.
“Were you and Roy…more than friends? He really seemed to take you being gone…hard.”
Ed choked on his tongue and came bolt upright, giving Al a look of outrage that quickly turned to guilt.
“I see.” Al said then, facing his brother far more calmly than he felt.
“You will want to be going back to him then? He waited for you…all this time.” Al said, picking at a wrinkle in his shorts.
Ed exploded, as was classic for his brother, especially when he did not feel well.
“Why the hell Al?! I told you I wanted to be with you, why would I go back to that bastard now!?” Ed shouted, pumping both fists in the air enthusiastically.
“So you admit it?” Al asked, staring at the carpet, feeling strange and light. Like he wasn’t himself. Like this wasn’t his body. It wasn’t the first time he had ever felt this way, and it probably wouldn’t be the last, he didn’t think.
Ed stopped mid flail to slump to his seat, looking at Al guiltily.
“It’s not like I care…it isn’t a big deal…if it made you happy. But I want to know why you didn’t tell me.” Al took an unsteady breath, “I know you had secrets, guilt and pain you couldn’t confide in me because you worried about me.” Al said gently. “But why…” He stuttered. “But why couldn’t you have told me that much! All those nights you told me you were at the library and I knew you weren’t…why can’t you just tell me the truth?! Why can’t you tell me where you’ve been?! Why can’t you tell me anything anymore?! Did I do something wrong?!” Al’s voice had risen almost a complete octave as he spoke, making him sound more and more childlike as he felt his resolve to not get emotional breaking.
Ed was just looking at him like he had grown horns, expression slightly wounded, mouth hanging open as if wanting to reply.
“Don’t blow me off.” Al said as Ed started trying to make noises again that might eventually coalesce into words. “And don’t lie to me.” Al didn’t remember being angry, but he was hurt and vulnerable and he had /started/ this what more did he want from Ed anyway? What was wrong with him. “Oh god…forget it…just forget it! I’m sorry!” Al said, shaking badly as he stood. “Just forget it.” He repeated to a shocked into silence Edward (A state that did not occur very often.).
He stormed out of the private box, stormed off of the car, and he kept going until he reached the caboose of the train where he leaned against the railing, taking huge gulps of hot summer air and the smoke and steel scent that rolled off of the train.
He was blowing things out of proportion. Ed would tell him when Ed was ready to tell him. However Roy Mustang figured into this newborn thing between he and Edward, it would work out for the best, even if that wasn’t for Al’s best. All that mattered, all that had ever mattered, was that Ed was happy.
There was a quiet clink behind him, and a strange ticking sound, which he ignored completely as the sun making the metal roof of the train contract and expand.
And then…a shout.
A few more shouts.
Al whipped around and found himself staring down the gaping maw of the strangest chimera he had ever seen.
Now, Al was familiar with chimera, but looking at this animal…it just seemed so natural, the shape it was in, that Al couldn’t even begin to guess what it might have been. It almost seemed like some sort of new species. He had time to wonder this over the course of two heartbeats. It was one of those moments when time slows down and you have forever to make a decision, to observe.
It was gray, the color of its fur matching that of a possums except it was, for lack of a better word, feline. It had long pricked ears, and a snout that, while was covered with fur, might have been better suited to a crocodile. It had a long furless tail, much like a rat’s, and it definitely had talons. Five dug through the steel of the roof, and a sixth claw high up on the insides of all four feet.
It was…practically a perfect predator, and it was roughly the size of Roy’s car.
He didn’t have much more time to think as it opened its mouth and made an eerie mewling cry. It sounded hungry, pained, and impatient.
Its yowl blew Al’s bangs back away from his forehead, and Al had an even briefer moment to contemplate that there was blood on those fangs, and that the thing’s breath was fetid. Poison? Al wondered if the teeth or saliva contained some sort of neurotoxin.
When it took a swipe at Al’s head and Al ducked, he clapped his hands together. When he came back up, he smiled sweetly at the monster, quirked an eyebrow, and then slammed his hands against the railing, sending a cascade of electricity through the metal.
The chimera was literally stuck to the roof, claws and body spasming as Al continued to cheerfully barbecue it.
When it started to smell like burnt flesh, Al stopped the flow of energy.
The creature fell to the roof of the train car with a crash as its entire body went limp, and then an overhead hanging pole caught it, yanking it from the roof with a dull thud of bone and muscle impacting unyielding wood.
There were screams further down the train, and he felt the crackle of energy that was uniquely Ed’s. Oh god the passengers! What the hell was going on!?
A scene of utter carnage greeted Al as he ran through the cars. There were multiple holes smashed in the roof, letting in wind and sunshine. Passengers were huddling under their seats, some around eviscerated corpses.
Al tried not to be sick. He was used to death, but in his old body, he had not been able to smell or feel the visceral response that the human body had to death and danger. He kept moving, trying to ignore that he was leaving blood footprints on the carpet.
A few women tried to crawl out from under their seats.
“I’m a state alchemist…stay put!” Al shouted over the roar of the wind in the car.
He made it through the first three cars between he and his brother without any problem, but as he came to the fourth, he found the door would not budge.
Al stood between cars, hand on the door and was about to transmute the door when it flew open and he came face to face with Ed, and a heartbeat behind Ed was another angry Chimera.
Al flattened himself to the narrow gangplank as Ed fell backwards on top of him. He knew what Ed was doing then, felt that lean back pressed to his and the roar of bearings from Ed’s automail. Heard the screech of frustration from the thwarted animal as it flew over their heads, where Ed had kicked it.
Al took the opportunity as the creature sailed by, and clapped his hands together. He aimed the attack at its stomach, crackling energy and blue light and sent a powerful jolt.
It changed the animal’s course, and sent it not flying into the next car as it might have, but crashing through the flimsy walls of the between-car platform.
It was sizzling slightly as it clawed for purchase further against the wall with its front feet while the other half hung out over the tracks precariously.
Its claws and weight were just shredding the wall away further, and it flailed, trying to come after Ed and Al who were by now, both on their feet again.
It hissed a bit, making seething and beady eye contact with both of the alchemists. Ed raised his hands as if to clap, but something made Al still Ed’s attack.
“You!” It began.
“You have not won…we are not…the last!” It hissed just before the side of the train gave way and it flew into space off of the train. It hit the tracks in a splash of bright red blood and a howl, quickly cut short by wind and circumstance.
“Did it?!” Ed asked.
“Yeah, let’s sweep the train and make sure they were the last.” Al said, wanting to think more about the situation, and knowing they didn’t have time.
“How bad is it?” Al asked calmly, lowly.
“The front cars are fucking wrecked, and there are…casualties, they…those chimera… just, let themselves in.” Ed said lowly. “I didn’t know anything was wrong until they were in my car and I figured out what all the hubbub was about.”
Ed shook his head.
“Like we always do?” Ed asked, staring upwards.
“Like always.” Al said. “You take the high road, I’ll take the low.”
“Let’s keep pace and go car by car?”
“Yeah, the back cars are clear.”
When they reached the conductor’s car and the engine room, they knew they had a problem. Ed dropped down through another hole in the roof, and Al met him as he sneaked between cars, giving him a steadying hand on his shoulder as Ed gasped.
The conductor was face down on the controls, his innards had become…outtards…somewhere around the steam room. There was blood everywhere.
Ed looked like he might be sick. Al steadied him, knowing exactly what he was thinking, that this looked too much like that night they had…
“Ed…we have dozens of injured on this train, and at least fifteen dead, the conductor among them. I don’t suppose you know how to drive, or more accurately, stop a train?”
Ed glanced up at Al just before he puked into a nearby empty water bucket.
“That’s what I figured.” Al said with a tired sigh.
“Ed…go…help the wounded. Get some of the men and gather the dead, take them to the back of the train and cover them, then get the survivors to the more intact cars and treat the wounded?”
Al would not be sick. He would not be. People needed he and Ed to stay calm.
Ed glanced up at him, spitting into the bucket to clear his mouth.
“Okay, but what about you?!” Ed asked worriedly.
“This doesn’t…bother me as much…I will…stay here, and try to get someone on the radio that can tell me how to stop this train. We aren’t more than half an hour from central.” Al said softly.
Ed shook his head furiously.
“You shouldn’t have to do this, I can…”
“Ed!” Al all but shouted. “Go!”
/Before I change my mind./
Al frantically began trying to tune the radio in between leaning over the conductors corpse and becoming sporadically sick into the same bucket his brother had used. It was actually, as he was doing so for the third time in the last five minutes, then that he hailed someone.
“Hello?! Engine five? This is Central Station. Do you copy?”
Al was helpless through his last few heaves before he grabbed the handset and depressed the button, wiping his mouth on the back of his sleeve as he answered.
“Central…this is…uh…engine five, we have an emergency. Over.”
“You aren’t Bruce!”
“No, this is Alphonse Elric, I am a State Alchemist under the command of Roy Mustang. The situation is now under control…for the most part, but we were attacked outside of the city by chimera. We estimate fifteen dead and dozens wounded. Please tell me how to stop this train. Over.”
There was a moment of dead air, and when he got a reply, he could hear frantic paper waving and shouting in the background.
“Okay Mr. Elric, let’s go over this, it’s fairly simple. When the flags come into sight, you have to…”
Ed came panting back into the main engine room.
“It’s as good as it’s gonna get.” Ed said softly.
“Okay!” Al grit as he clung to the break like his life depended on it. If he overshot the station, they were in trouble.
“Can I help?” Ed asked wearily.
“Yes!” Al all but shouted, his calm cracking around the edges. “You can grab that lever over there and depress it in about five…four…three…”
They pulled into the station amid sirens, fire engines, and a crowd of military officers deployed no doubt, from Central. They were all heavily armed. The conductor’s blood was all over his hands from where he had been gripping the controls. He sunk to his knees for a moment, struggling to breathe. Ed was in a similar state. They had stopped the train.
“We should go help with the passengers.” Ed encouraged gently as he struggled to his feet, helping Al up as well.
Al helped several of the elderly men and women off of the train, managing to ignore how he felt. He handed them off to soldiers and medics who comforted, soothed, and just made the general masses feel a whole lot better by standing around with bulky muscles and guns.
Everything was fine for all, or at least, pretty much, until Roy Mustang showed up with the Fuhrer in tow.
“Alphonse, what happened here?!” Roy asked.
The Fuhrer was looking at him expectantly too.
And Al froze.
Standing there with blood on his hands and clothes and reeking of death and vomit, Al just stare at Roy while his brain tried to process what he had told it.
“It…” Al began.
Roy quirked an eyebrow.
“It…I need to sit down.” He told Roy as his knees gave out and he slumped to the ground numbly.
“Alphonse!? Are you all right?!” Roy asked as consternation went to worry.
“I don’t feel so good.” Al murmured.
“Are you wounded?” Roy asked as he knelt next to Al, grasping his upper arms supportively.
“No…feel funny…c…c…cold.” Al said softly staring at Roy unfocusedly.
“He’s going into shock.” The Fuhrer said as he slid out of his dress coat and slid it over Al’s shoulder.
Roy nodded then, looking as though he felt a bit stupid. He had seen this before many times in his men.
“Stay with him, you are his commanding officer. I will look over the train with Lieutenants Havoc and Fuery.”
“W…where is Ed?” Al asked meekly as Roy chafed the fabric of the Fuhrer’s great coat over Al’s shoulders.
“He’s helping us, go sit in my car, let Colonel Hawkeye clean you up, I’ll send Ed along.” Roy said. “I would go myself, but I am needed here.” Roy soothed as best he could.
It was a hot and sticky day in Central, and Alphonse Elric was freezing. Riza Hawkeye had come to see him to the back of Roy’s car, a bit startled as she recognized the Fuehrer’s jacket. She said nothing though, using a canteen full of water to wash off Al’s hands and then clean his face.
“You are not injured?” The colonel asked softly.
“No.” Al said ashamedly. “I just got dizzy, I…still don’t feel very well.”
“Alphonse, I know you are very traumatized by what happened on this train. Can you tell me, why, for any reason, someone would want you dead? Your brother, I fully understand…the Fuhrer is meeting with him now. He could be in a great deal of trouble, you both could be if this does not work out. Roy and I will do our absolute best to help you…but…there is nothing we can do to make this better for you both right now.”
“Brother?! What do you mean that…”
“Alphonse, all those men know who the Fullmetal is, what he looks like. He was helping people off of the train. He is also considered AWOL. The general was trying to get to him before the Fuhrer did, but the problem was that the man gave him a direct order to take care of you.
He passed you off to me, but I don’t know if Roy intercepted in time before…”
Roy was striding back towards the car now, face unreadable, but there was crinkle between his brows that spoke of temper. Sweat was soaking his shirt at the collar, all the way through to his dress jacket in the heat, and somewhere, from far away, Al could hear a familiar voice yelling indignantly.
“Where is Ed?” Al asked as soon as he was within whispering distance of Roy.
“There is nothing I can do for now Alphonse.” Roy said wearily. “I did my best but…”
“Where is /Brother/!” Al raised his voice hysterically, all but climbing over Riza to get out of the car.
“He will…he is…unharmed. But…they…the Fuhrer had him arrested.”
“What!?” Al shouted, eyes narrowing as he glowered at Roy. “How could you just /let/ them?! All those people on the train would be dead without Ed!”
“And that is why he was not shot on sight. Alphonse, stay calm, we will work this out, believe in me!” Roy said lowly.
“I can’t believe you. I’m going with him then!” Al said, trying to scramble out of the car again. Roy shoved Al back in, helping Riza restrain Al.
“You can’t keep me here…I’m going to my brother!” Al shouted.
“Alphonse!” Roy barked sharply, drawing Al’s hysterical attention back to him for a moment. “You won’t help your brother right now, you won’t help me /help/ your brother unless you calm down. Your father needs you right now. I am taking you to him.”
Al understood, but that didn’t mean he had to like what was happening.
He sat for the car ride home in sullen silence, arms across his stomach and finally, his anger warmed him out of his trauma enough that he could shrug out of the Fuhrer’s jacket. It was a matter of pride anyways that he didn’t want it.
Riza walked Al to the door, handing him off to a worried looking Hoenheim.
“Believe in us Alphonse, we will help your brother.”
“How, it’s not like he can explain where he has been!” Al shot back, a bit shaky on his feet.
“There are ways around this now…”
Al wanted, very irrationally, to choke Riza as she patted him on the shoulder understandingly, and his father slid strong arms around Al’s middle, supporting him just before his knees threatened to buckle again.
“Where is Edward.” Hoenheim asked lowly, looking at Riza with the eyes of a frightened father.
“In jail.” Riza said softly. “General Mustang is working on it.”
“In jail, what on earth for?!” Hoenheim asked, eyes worried and intense on Riza’s face.
“He was absent without leave for quite some time.”
Hoenheim took a shaky breath.
“I see. Is there anything, I might be able to do to help him?”
Al leaned back against his father a bit harder, feeling lost and frightened and completely out of control of the situation. He hadn’t felt like this since his mother died.
“No, just wait, believe in the General. We will work this out.”
With that, Riza turned smartly on her heel and headed back to the car where Roy was staring resolutely ahead, as if he could somehow will Hoenheim and Al away so he could deal with this all unscathed emotionally.
As they pulled away, his father pulled them both inside and shut the door.
Al irrationally wanted to hit his father as the man turned him, gripping his shoulders reassuringly.
“What happened?” The bigger man asked his son.
Al finally lost control, crumpling to his father’s chest and holding himself tightly to that broad chest, cheek tucked over that strongly beating heart.
“Dad!” Al whispered exhaustedly.
Hoenheim had held him tight and close, listening, making low and sympathetic noises against his son’s hair.
“I don’t understand!” Al cried out lowly. “Were they after me? Ed? The train? Why were they there!? Why is brother in jail!? I want…Ed…I want…”
Hoenheim stroked his son’s back gently.
“I trust Roy Mustang, and you have to know that Ed is giving them all the hell he possibly can. He will make them regret jailing him, and hopefully he won’t get himself shot in the process.”
Al laughed brokenly. It shouldn’t have been funny, but it really was.
“I assure you.” Hoenheim continued. “That he did not get his precociousness from me.”
“Oh?” Al asked, drying his eyes on his dirty and bloody sleeve.
“No. He definitely got it from your mother.”
Al finally relaxed a little bit, allowing his father to instill some calm and good humor into his spirit. He was weary. He could feel his father relaxing a bit more as Al relaxed. He had been worried for his son. That made Al feel…inexplicably good.
“Tell me now, if you would…what these chimera looked like?”
“I knew a man named Lex Dumere. He was not a state alchemist. Actually, he hated the dogs of the military with a passion. He did research into chimera creation, and his goal was to create a chimera with both loyalty and intelligence. He only took one student, and I believe, if what Edward tells me is correct, you met Tucker.”
Al could hardly breathe as Hoenheim continued.
“I met Tucker, yes.”
“Well, you must know that…Tucker and his master separated on poor terms when Tucker became a state alchemist. Dumere was trying to breed chimeras with intellect and constancy, and to do it far ahead of the military in case they managed to manufacture chimera as weapons of war. He wanted the people to have a counter, in case the military ever got out of hand.”
“He was an extremist?” Al asked, feeling something icy stir in his stomach.
“Something like that.”
“I guess I understand, but why would he hate the government so much?”
“He had a daughter. She was a state alchemist and she was killed in the battle for Ishbal.”
“He blamed the military?”
“He was brilliant…but his hate twisted him.”
“But why would he want to kill me and brother?”
“Let Mustang research that. He is surrounded by loyal and brilliant men and women. You have no proof they were after you. Do not stress yourself until there is good reason. You look like you could use something to eat, come now.”
“Dad…how do you…know all of this?” Al asked, eyes suddenly very worried.
“Because I recognize the description of his chimera…he is fairly consistent in making his creations…seamless…”
Al let Hoenheim ply some leftovers into him as well as a glass of juice. He began to feel a bit better. Part of him was absolutely inconsolable about Ed, but his father was right, right now, he couldn’t help Ed. Ed was not going to be hurt. Not yet. If it came to that, there would be drastic action if need be, but for now, Al just had to pay attention, keep his ear to the ground, and do some serious research on chimera studies.
“I don’t understand why they killed all those passengers…Dad…they could /talk/. They were /smart/.”
“Because sometimes, a thing can only be what it is by nature. Nowhere is the past, present or future written. You can only observe the world around you, and use that that to draw conclusions on what the truth is. Once you have eliminated the impossible, then the truth will be found.”
Al blinked at his father who was munching on a cold ham sandwich, and couldn’t help but think the setting was far too mundane for something as profound as that. But then again, maybe it was just right.
Al asked softly, playing with the crumbs on his plate with a fingertip.
“I don’t know any way other…than to be honest with you. Forgive me if I…upset you.”
Al watched Hoenheim mentally brace himself for whatever Al might say with that apologetic and slightly stupid smile. It was sweet, but it did not instill confidence.
“Dad…you’re dying…aren’t you?”
Hoenheim had been tipping his chair just slightly, and nearly managed to tilt the thing completely over.
“What makes you think tha…”
“Save it.” Al said lowly, cutting his father off as the man gave him a look like a deer in the headlights.
“Ed told me the truth.”
Hoenheim swallowed hard, and was standing now.
“I think…I need to tell you…the whole truth…don’t I?”
Al snorted. “It would be nice.”
Al sat there, stunned as he ran his fingers over Hoenheim’s shoulder, tracing around the outside edges of the wound.
“Does it hurt?” Al asked softly.
“Some.” The bigger man answered gently.
Al drew his hand back with worry.
“Did I hurt you…just now?”
“No Son. It didn’t hurt.”
“So this…stopped…when you went to the other world?”
“Yes, when I returned…it began again.”
“I see.” Al said softly. “Is there any way to…?”
“Not that I know of yet…but that hasn’t stopped me from trying. I will not take another life…another body…” The big man said softly.
Al gave him a gentle look.
“Dad, it’s okay. People make mistakes, and…as much as what you did was wrong, in the end, it might have been the right thing. Ed has done so much good…where would people be without him? If you had faded from existence, then what? Knowledge can be good or Evil. Some of it is a mix. You have seen it all. Your wisdom has helped more than it has harmed…”
“I don’t really care…to go on…without….”
Al shook his head.
“You and she are not the only people in the world. You had children, or did you both forget?!” Al asked, feeling a bit grumpy. “You are so full of self pity I am tempted to hit you just like Brother did. You and Mom, always mourning for each other, but sometimes you forgot you had us. Well I am sorry. But I will not sit back and let you die because you feel pity for yourself. I may not be able to give you another life, but I am sure if I study hard enough I can give you what is left of this one.” Al said lowly.
“Don’t you tell me what I can and cannot do, I have surpassed you and Brother both through blood, sweat and tears and I will not be told there is a limit. There is no top, only what we tell ourselves there is. I am going to eliminate things one at a time Dad…until I find the truth.”
Hoenheim stared at Al as he stood up and determinedly rinsed his dish.
“Al…you shouldn’t be so proud…”
Al spun on Hoenheim, eyes narrowed.
“I am not being proud. I don’t think I’m a god, I don’t think I am better than you or Ed, not in wisdom, but in ability, I have passed you both, and I know it now that I can do anything I put my mind to. I don’t do a thing for myself Dad, I never have. Only for you, or Mom, or Ed. I am doomed to be a shadow for the rest of my life but it is a /privilege/. I will right my wrongs. I am not proud…but I don’t run away from my past either. When you can say the same, then you are free to lecture me.”
Hoenheim looked like he might say something, but Al gave him a look that clearly stated “I am sixteen and I am finally slightly significant to me, don’t push your luck.”
Hoenheim didn’t push.
Al stormed out of the kitchen to the living room. He opened the piano bench and pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter before stomping out of the mansion and into the gardens.
He was relieved to know his father was not following him, he even waited a moment to be sure. He then made his way to the pond, and sitting down on the dock he irritably lit a cigarette.
He nearly killed the thing in one drag, making him cough and gag. When he looked back up, wiping the tears from the corners of his eyes, he realized something terrible. His father was there, standing at the end of the dock beside him, glowering disapprovingly at the cigarette in his hand.
“Only once in a while.” Al said softly.
He expected his father to yank it from his hands, but the bigger man said nothing, just sat down next to him, and leaned against Al’s shoulder.
It was companionable.
“You shouldn’t.” Hoenheim said softly.
“Drinking didn’t help.”
“Alphonse…that isn’t the answer…to pain.”
“And running away is?”
Hoenheim sighed deeply. “If I quit running away…then you have to quit smoking.”
Al blinked, taking a last drag.
“Deal.” He said, putting it out on the end of the dock.
Hoenheim didn’t seem to quite believe it.
“That was my last one. No you have to stop running away.”
The older man nodded.
“Very well then. I think it is about time you know the whole truth, from me. Not your brother. It is you I need to explain things to. And for Ed’s sake, perhaps. He would never talk of the pain the other world caused him.”
So the other world only had very weak alchemy? They had been trying to find a way home only to catapult themselves through time? Hoenheim had helped design Ed’s prosthetics? They had been searching for relics on the other side in order to gather things with enough alchemical energy to send themselves home?
And that was not all. The truth about Hoenheim himself, from the very source. The truth about Dante, the truth about their mother. The truth about his father’s…illness…
When his father was done speaking, Al felt empty. Felt hopeless heartache, not just for his Dad, but for his brother, for his mother, even for Dante…
“Can you accept this?” The man asked him gently.
Al nodded slowly.
“Good, because there is one last thing you need to know. Well, first, answer me this. Do you ever feel like the body you are in is not yours?”
Al’s head snapped up as he looked at his father.
“I knew the minute I held you, but I didn’t want to believe it. Ed should be the one to tell you this, but perhaps, it will be simpler from me.”
Al’s heart practically stopped in his chest, and he found himself staring at hands that were not quite steady, and didn’t really feel like his.
“Your body had ceased inside of the gate. Edward had nothing to work with. But Envy was there, coming after me. Edward tore Envy’s consciousness from that body, took it apart, and reshaped it in his memory of you. His last one being of you before the incident with transmutation. You are made from the raw materials of Envy’s body. Your soul is yours…you will naturally age, but the base material your body is made from…”
Al swallowed hard, praying to himself that he would not get sick.
“No Alphonse. You are a gift. You are made from your half brother’s body, and your blood brother’s fondest memories. Your body is a gift. Don’t forget that. You are still Alphonse, not a suit of armor, but in a real flesh and blood body. Ed loved you enough to commit one of the worst crimes that can be done to give you your life back.”
Al was trembling again, shifting back and forth between becoming furious, and just crying piteously. He didn’t move for the longest time, going catatonic a few times until his father managed to rouse him with a shake.
He settled for the latter a moment later, crawling back into Hoenheim’s lap, holding on to that sweater like it was the last sane thing in the world.
“Ed…I want Ed!” Al sobbed even as he buried his face in his father’s shoulder.
“Easy.” That deep voice crooned, he was being held comforted, rocked just slightly.
“No! You don’t understand!” Al simpered. “I want to kill him.”
He was trying his best for humor but it was falling flat.
“No you don’t. I know this is hard. I know you are still discovering who “Alphonse” is, and that makes this ten times scarier, but I assure you, you are still yourself. All of your memories are still yours. Your soul is yours. Everything is real, you are just in a different vessel.”
“All that blood…it made me sick…I can’t get used to these feelings, these emotions, this…”
“Hurt?” The senior Elric asked.
“This hurt.” Al whispered.
“You aren’t alone.”
“Then why does it feel like it?”
“Because while you demand that people let /you/ in, you are so busy shutting them out that they couldn’t let you help if they wanted to.”
It was a long night. His father was sleeping just down the hall, and all Al could do was think about Ed in prison. He wasn’t mad at Ed, not really, and certainly not mad enough to think Ed deserved to be in any jail anywhere overnight.
Roy had come home looking drawn and weary, but had mentioned that something was in the works. Al didn’t know what that was, but as grim as Roy had looked he was almost terrified enough to guess that his brother might choose to hang or spend life in jail.
The summer wind blew in through his window, stirring his hair where it fell like a curtain around his face. He was staring at his hands, the way the moonlight lit the skin, making them a strange shady of navy blue with silver highlights.
He studied the lines in them, the tiny whorls of unique identity that were his fingerprints. Ed had remembered this. All of this.
Ed who couldn’t remember to change his socks, had remembered every tiny nuance of Al.
He bent them then, steepling them back and forth and studied the creases there. Every single tiny detail. From Al’s hair color to eye color. Perfect. It was all perfect.
He traced the tiny hairs on his forearms…perfect.
He started to cry again silently, muffling any sound that might come out by pulling his legs to his chest.
He didn’t want to be alone like this.
He didn’t want to wake up alone in the morning. So despite how tired he was, how he just wanted to lay down and fall into the nothingness of sleep. He stayed awake. He cried until his face and hands were numb, until he was aching and sore from sitting so scrunched in on himself. Until he was cold because the early morning dew had fallen, chilling the air.
He wasn’t thinking, he wasn’t moving. He didn’t even tell himself to breathe. He just stared.
There were things to do, he had research to do to help his dad, to help Ed get his arm and leg back.
He had a mystery to solve involving sentient chimera and fifteen dead civilians. Roy had not asked Al to be involved. Had not asked for Al to do a thing, but it was personal somehow. He couldn’t shake the feeling that more people would die the longer he sat here and felt sorry for himself.
The problem was that he could not stop.
He felt foreign and cold and broken. He had had some truth to stand on, but not any more. Who was he?
It was probably something he should find out for himself, but he would honestly rather ask his brother. Who was he?
He fished out his watch, and he held it straight out in front of him, watching the moonlight scintillate off the surface as it lazily twined and untwined on its chain.
A state alchemist. A dog of the military. A pawn. It hadn’t occurred to him until they had arrested Ed that he could just as easily be gotten rid of. It made him want to toss the watch as far away as humanly possible.
Had Roy lied to him? He had been almost convinced by the dark haired man that he would still be a human being. Civilian consultant…please. No one really got the luxury. He should have known just by watching what Tucker was driven to…
He didn’t tell himself to throw the watch, it just sort of happened.
He did not mean to look away as it fell two stories to the dirt of the garden below.
He wrapped his arms around his stomach, rocking himself was the only means of comfort that he had, and so he did.
He would have rather it had been Ed’s arms rocking him. That warm mouth closing over him, teasing relief and love and feeling through his body until he cried out in sheer pleasure. Instead they sat, probably less that ten miles apart, in rooms that were as starkly different as night and day, and probably feeling the same thing.
Al wished he cold be there to soothe Ed. He knew how Ed hated being caged, how small places he could not leave made him nervous. His brother needed him, and he couldn’t go to him or risk making things worse.
He wanted to give comfort as much as give it, but still…he was the one that should be in that jail cell. It was his fault that Ed had transmuted him back in the first place. His fault really that he himself was the way he was.
He couldn’t prove it, but he knew it to be true.
It was his fault somehow, it always was. It was his fault that his mother was dead, it was his fault that they were they way they were. If he had objected, Ed wouldn’t have done what he did, if Al hadn’t gone along with it…
“Dammit!” He hissed as he uncurled from himself, finding that rocking did little or no good anymore.
He started to pace furiously. Thirty paces from one end of the room to the other, the pain inside him eating at him slowly but steadily.
The harder he tried not to think about it, the louder the little voice inside his head became. Nagging and insistent. This was Al’s fault…all Al’s…
By the time the sun rose just above the horizon, Al was a tormented and sweat soaked mess. He had been walking almost constantly. He was so tired he could just vomit on the floor, but he kept moving restlessly. Even when he heard his father get up, go take a shower, he was pacing.
He kept at it until his knees buckled, and all he could do was sit on the floor, staring at his lengthening shadow and trembling. It was a hot day, the cicadas were singing before the sun was even thinking about becoming a fiery ball above the horizon. He wrapped his arms around his middle in a self comforting hug, and finally hung his head. He couldn’t bear the morning sunlight on his face. He much preferred moonlight. The moonlight didn’t make him feel exposed, like he had been torn open and exposed for everyone to see.
The lie that was Alphonse Elric.
Go Back To:
((Chapter Seven - Part One ))
((Chapter Seven - Part Two))
Cross posted to: yaoicest fma_yaoi fm_alchemist elricest