redrose999 (redrose999) wrote in fm_alchemist,
redrose999
redrose999
fm_alchemist

Fanfiction

Title: To be Human
Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist
Warnings: Movie Spoilers, violence, Slash, implied molestation, angst
Rating: Pg-R
Type: Adventure, Angst, and Fluff
Pairing: Al/Wrath
Characters: Al, Wrath and Dante

Summery: Al and Wrath explore what it is to be human.

“I’m sorry, teacher.” Alphonse Elric began, looking down at the gray
stone. He dropped to his knees and ran his fingers over its surface,
feeling the bumps and lines of the name and date carved in its
face. IZUMI CURTIS. It was smooth, carved in polished gray and pink
granite with a picture of a dove etched on its face. A bouquet of
roses sat at its base, and the earth around it was freshly sown with
grass.

He would miss her. Trembling a breath, the boy stood. A breeze whipped
across the cemetery, rustling the tall dry grass and strong oaks
ringing the property. Alphonse turned his face to the air, feeling its
delicate fingers play against his features and dry the tears trickling
down his cheeks. Clumsily, he wiped his face with his black
shirtsleeve and sniffled.

“I have to find him, it’s time.”

A slender shadow fell over the stone and Al felt a slight chill sweep
him. “Alphonse Elric.” A child’s voice said. “Find who?”

“My brother.” Alphonse turned his attention to the black haired boy
standing behind him. He was pale, wearing black tight shorts and a
half T-shirt. His eyes were cold, and deep violet; like the void of
space on a starless night.

“Your brother?” The boy asked, glaring at Al. “Oh, I see. A short,
loud, blond haired guy? A real jerk if you ask me. Not worth finding.”

“Why do you say that?” Al shoved his hands in the pockets of his
jacket and wrinkled his brow. The boy’s description of Edward was
accurate for the most part. From what he recalled, his brother did
have a way to rub others rather badly. “I’ve seen you before.”

“The old lady's.” The boy said. He flexed an automail arm. “She and
the girl gave me my arm and leg.” He stomped his foot on the ground,
and smiled, showing white teeth. “I saw you there once. I hear you
have no memory.”

Yes, he had seen him at the Rockbells’ but there was another time,
too. Al shook his head, and rubbed his neck. “None.” He heard the
twitter and flutter of birds in the oak tree over head. “I’ve heard
them talk about you.” Al said softly. “You’re a homunculus.”

The boy tilted his head, features wicked with mischief. “Are you
afraid?”

Al shrugged. “No. Why are you here?”

The boy looked puzzled; he walked around Al, studying him. He poked at
Al’s red coat with the serpent on a cross symbol on the back. “That
belongs to your brother, doesn’t it?”

Al pulled the coat around him, a little self-conscious. The uniform he
had adopted was based on pictures he had seen of his brother. “Yes. If
I wear it, I might remember him better.” His explanation sounded weak,
but it was all he could think of. In truth, dressing like Edward made
him feel closer to him.

The dark haired boy laughed, a cruel, child’s laugh. He stopped
walking and tugged at the ponytail at the back of Al’s head. “Trying
to look like him too, I see. I don’t know why. He was such a big jerk.
I’ll never forgive him for killing my mother.”

Brother, killing this boy’s mother? Somehow, Al found it hard to
believe. And if Brother did do such a cruel thing, Al knew it was for
a reason. Al frowned. Homunculus didn’t have mothers, they didn’t even
have souls. They were heartless dolls raised by rogue Alchemists with
forbidden Alchemy. Al pulled his hair from the child’s hand and let it
drop heavily against his back. There was something tragic and
familiar about this boy. Was he the figure Alphonse had seen now and
then skulking about the Curtis property, watching them? Those cold
dark eyes were filled with grief once.

Al squinted, it was just for a moment, and he had seen the boy the
night Izumi died. Like a lost kitten, he looked though the window
watching despite the stormy weather and never once asked permission to
enter the house. Al’s gut tightened as he studied the face, aware he
saw something other than an empty mocking doll looking at him. In
fact, underneath that angry, hate filled smile was a vast ocean of
anguish. This creature wasn’t a heartless monster at all, but a real
child, with feelings of pain and confusion.

“Your mother?" He asked in a gentle voice. “You had a mother?” He
looked to Teacher’s grave and felt his heart lurch. She was always
very reserved and avoided discussing the past with him. In fact, she
almost never talked about Brother and when Al asked about the
mysterious child, she refused to discuss it. “Was it Teacher?”

“It was another homunculus. Not a human.” The boy said, folding his
arms, and casting his gaze down. His bare foot nudged the earth around
the grave. “But… I…didn’t need her… She wanted to kill me.”

“Than why are you here?" Al asked. He picked up the battered leather
suitcase at his feet, and started to walk to the stone and iron gate.
He planned on catching a train to Central, and talking with the
soldiers who worked with his brother.

The boy followed, folding the arms behind his head as he walked. “To
show her I’m still here and that she failed.”

His words held very little conviction. Al glanced over his shoulder.
“I think you wished to have changed things. That’s why you were there
that night… You wanted her to be your mother.”

The boy gulped, and anger flared in his gaze. With abnormal strength,
he grabbed Al, and pulled him toward him. “You think you’re so
special, Alphonse Elric. They coddle you, and protect you from the
truth. You’re no different than I am. I saw the day HE made you!”

The boy was trying to hurt him. Alphonse felt the pale fingers
tighten around the collar of his shirt and dark angry eyes bore into
his. “I am sorry you are sad. And I am sorry when our paths crossed we
hurt you.”

“You don’t mean that because you wanted nothing more than to hurt me!
To take away my body and give it to him!” The boy shook him, the fires
of rage engulfing his young face. “You phony human bastard! Why could
they accept and love you, when you are just as fake as I am?”

He could do Alchemy, so he had to have a human soul. Alphonse’s
fingers curled around the boy’s hand and squeezed it. He understood
his hurt, he was lost and unwanted. Alphonse must have felt that way
walking around as an empty suit of armor. He must have been in pain
when people looked him. And in many ways, not knowing who he was, and
living in a world that had moved beyond him, was just as painful.
Because on occasion, he, Alphonse Elric had to question if he was
real, and not some monster created by his brother with alchemy. “I
don’t know.” He said honestly. “I don’t remember who you are… What you
are, doesn’t matter to me. Maybe they would have accepted you, if
you'd let them.” He looked at the arm and leg. Winry would not have
given them to the boy if she had seen him as a monster.

The hold on his shirt loosened and the boy let him go. “Maybe. But it
is too late now. The only person that really mattered chose you over
me and died.” Bitterness coated his words as he walked past Alphonse.
“My name is Wrath. If you want to try to like me, you can call me that.”

Al adjusted his collar and joined the boy. He held out a hand. “Nice
to meet you, Wrath. You can call me Al.”

Wrath glanced at Al’s out stretched hand, and hesitated. “But I tried
to take your mom.”

He didn’t remember. Al wrinkled his brow. If it was true, he was sure
he’d been very angry about it at the time. But it was over, he
couldn’t change the past, and this boy KNEW the past. Taking the pale
hand into his own, Al squeezed Wrath’s fingers. “You will tell me all
about this, won’t you?”

“You’re not angry?” Wrath looked puzzled.

“Of course I am angry, and I’m sure I was angry then. But Winry helped
you, so I am sure I would have forgiven you.” Al tilted his head, and
offered the strange boy a large smile. “Ok?”

“You’re very strange.” Wrath pulled his cold fingers from Al’s.

Together, the boys started to walk. Al was grateful for the company,
even though a part of him wondered why Wrath was there. Homonculi
didn’t do things without reason. But something inside of him told
him Wrath’s reasons were that of a child, not of a monster. “What
happened to her, your mother?”

“She worked for that Dante lady.” Wrath said. “She was going to give
us souls and me a human body, but that was a lie.” He paused, looking
down at his automail. “She just wanted us to do things for her, so
she could get immortality. She never wanted to give us anything.”

“I’m sorry.’ It was all he could think of saying. “So my brother….”

“Was looking for the thing Dante wanted." Wrath explained. “My mommy
was sent to get it and you and your brother killed her.” Broken pain
hissed from his voice and he wrapped his arms about himself. “Dante
wouldn’t bring her back. She punished me…”

“Sounds like Dante used you.” Al tried to sound comforting. “I’ve only
heard her name once, from Rose. She was evil. You don’t have to be
like her, Wrath. You have a choice.”

He shrugged. “I guess I do. I didn’t think I did. Not until that blond
girl, Winry offered to help me. Than I realized what I really wanted
was… Her, Mrs. Curtis to be my mommy. But she saw me as a monster, so
I just watched and pretended I was you.”

Al watched the boy hug himself, and close his eyes. Tears trickled
down his sad marble features. How long had he watched Izumi and him?
He had been with her a year and a half, training and taking care of
her, when Seig needed help. They had become a family. Alphonse Elric
felt his own eyes fill with tears. He dropped his suitcase, and
embraced the boy, pressing his face into the child’s tangled dark
mane. Deep down in his heart he knew what Wrath wanted was to be loved
and believed it was impossible. “Did Dante tell you no one would
accept you? That no one could love you? Was it because of her you
never tried to talk to her?”

“Envy.” Wrath’s mouth twisted around the name, breathing hatred as he
spoke. “I’m a monster, and I should enjoy being one. I should make the
ones who made me pay.”

In his heart he knew who made the Homunculus in his arms, but did he
need to know any more? Al stroked the boy’s back. “What do you think now?”

“I’m to tired to be angry.” Wrath replied. He pulled away, brow
furrowed. “Why did you do that?”

“Because it is what she would have done.” Al simply said. He picked up
his luggage and started to walk again. “My mother and Izumi, and they
would want to hug you.”

“You really think so?” Wrath jogged up to him. “That they’d want to
hold me?”

“Yes.” They reached the churchyard gate, and Al stepped out on to the
sidewalk. “Wrath, have you ever seen yourself as a child, not a monster?”

“No. Never.” Wrath’s voice stumbled over the words. ‘Why?”

“When I woke up as the armor, I’m sure I had to make that choice.
Whether I wanted to be a child or… Empty monster in a shell. I chose
to be a child.”

“You had a soul.” Wrath snapped. “You had that choice.”

Anguish echoed in his words and Al felt pity for the child. He shook
his head, pondering Wrath’s words. “What is a soul?” He asked. “And
why is it so special?”

“It makes you mortal.” Wrath replied with longing. “And lets you go to
heaven. And my mommy is there.”

The boy’s voice dropped, barely a whisper as if he were ashamed of his
feelings. He couldn’t help it, Al felt very sorry for the boy. “You
can come with me, if you want.” He said, “You don’t have to be alone.”

“You mean take the place of your missing brother?” Wrath sounded
almost amused. He arched a brow, and folded his arms. “I can’t do
that, I may not like him, but I don’t think I can ever…. Fill that
hole in your life.”

“I’m not asking you to be my brother.” Al explained, feeling his face
warm. “Come with me as a friend, be yourself, no one else. No one
should be alone, Wrath. No one.” He wasn’t sure why it was so
important he have the boy as a companion, but a part of him didn’t
want to be alone. It needed someone close, to spend time with, and to
talk to.

Wrath seemed to struggle with the decision. He shifted from foot to
foot, pale face wrinkling as he considered the proposition. “Where
will you be going?”

“Central.” Al said. They walked down the sidewalk, past several glass
windowed shops. Everything from fresh smelling baked goods to cheese
and sausages were advertised. Across the cobblestone street were
merchant booths selling all sorts of farm fresh goods. Al loved the
farmers market, he and Izumi frequented it for groceries on the week
end. He’d miss it when he was gone. Whatever information Central had
for him, he was sure it would keep him for some time. He planned on
becoming a state Alchemist there and using their libraries for
research and to discover exactly what happened to Brother Edward.

Wrath jogged up to his side, nose twitching as they passed by a pastry
shop. “Why Central?” He asked. “And do you have to leave so soon? You
know, I don’t think it is a good idea. You going to Central. You and
your brother did a lot here, too. Leaving here, you just might miss
important clues to what happened.”

“But I want to become a State Alchemist, like my brother.” Al replied.

Something soft and cold curled about his hand, and pulled him to a
stop. “No you don’t.” Violet eyes held his. There was a flicker of
fear there. “And they’d want to kill me, Al. I’m not… normal.’

Al looked down at his companion. The sweet sugary sent of cinnamon
buns and cake drifted from the shop before him. Thoughtful, Al let his
gaze shift to the window and the display of glazed donuts, and stuffed
pastries. They looked awfully good, and he’d have time to buy one if
he didn’t catch his train.

Wrath did have a point. They would kill the homunculus in central, and
it wouldn’t be fair for the boy to drag him there. Furthermore, Al
hadn’t had a chance to explore the places Izumi refused to take him
to, like Yock Island, and other places mentioned in his brother’s
alchemical journal. Certainly if Wrath and he didn’t take the train
to Central they could explore all sorts of places in Brother’s journal.

The idea got better by the moment, and, Al found himself dragging
Wrath into the pastry shop. “All right, Wrath. On one condition!” Al
said stopping in front of the big display case in front of the register.

“Two large cinnamon buns please.”

The pretty blond girl behind the counter smiled kindly at the two of
them. She reached into the case and wrapped two buns up in waxed paper
and handed them to Al. “5 Xenars.” She told him.

They were expensive, but by the confused and wide eyed expression on
Wrath’s face, it was worth every penny. Al paid the girl and handed
Wrath a bun.

“This is for me?” The homunculus turned the bun over in his hands,
white sugar frosting sticking to his fingers.

“Of course it is for you.” Al said taking him by the arm and leading
him out. “You’ll love it. Teacher used to take me here to get sweets.
These were my favorite.” The bun was still warm, and its sweet fresh
baked scent made Al’s mouth water. The boy bit into it. It was
delicious, and melted luxuriously in his mouth. He tasted raisins
inside of the sweet rolled egg bread.

Wrath licked his fingers, brow furrowed. “Raisins?”

“They taste good.” Al told him taking another larger bite. “When was
the last time you ate?

Gingerly shoving the entire confection in his mouth, with razor sharp
teeth Wrath started to chew. “I don’t know” he muffled, spraying out
bits of dough and sugar. “A day or so?” His eyes brightened and he
gulped it down. “This is good!”

Al never imagined the boy having a mouth that big. He cocked his head,
a weak smile pinching his young features. “I’m… glad you liked it… But
next time, if you want to taste the sweet more, eat it real slow.” He
peeled back the wrapper on the bottom of his bun and took another
bite. “I like it best that way.”

Glittering violet eyes shifted to the shop window. Wrath nodded. “If
you get me another one I will.” He folded his hands behind his back
and bounced to foot to foot as if he had more energy to spend. “So,
what’s your condition?”

Finishing his bun, Al returned to the shop and purchased another bun.
It wouldn’t hurt, and it was teaching Wrath how to enjoy things. This
time the boy took his time, savoring each but of the bun. It made Al
happy to watch. “My condition.” He returned to the subject at hand.
“You show me around. Teacher wouldn’t show me places, places I’m sure
you know, because brother mentions you, briefly in his journal. I want
to see them and try to remember.”

Sucking on his fingers, Wrath looked up to the sky. He looked
troubled. “Don’t know. It’s not exactly good for me, how much you
remember, you know.” He spun around to face Al, and trotter backward.
“But I guess if you promise me you’ll tell me everything you can
about my mothers, I won’t mind.”

“I can do that.” Grabbing a hanky from his pocket, Al reached out, and
dabbed the bits of bun off Wrath’s face. He was glad the boy enjoyed
the sweet and suddenly felt ecstatic. How many new things could he
show the boy? Being human was no easy task and there were so many
things he could teach the homunculus. It was rather sweet actually,
Wrath was an eager learner, too, so as long as he was willing, Al
would try. Al gave Wrath a devilish grin, and took the boy’s hand and
dragged him down the street toward a clothing store. “Great! Than we
have a deal! But first, we need to get you a few things if we are
going to travel together!”
*&*&*&*
“Is this helping your memories?” Wrath asked as they walked along a
country road toward the wood. He was looking at the bags in his hand,
with a puzzled expression. He was now dressed in a pair of baggy
shorts and green T-shirt with a cap on his head. He looked more like a
boy than a homunculus, and was dreadfully puzzled at Al’s sudden
insistence in purchasing clothing and books and things at the many
stores in town.

“No, Equivalent Exchange, Wrath.” Al said, smiling. “I realized I need
to give you something more in return. You wanted to know about my
mother and Izumi, but that is because you know very little about being
a kid. I’m going to give you both, ok?” Al gestured to the bags. “The
things I got you are things kids have. You need to find yourself.”

“But I am not lost!” Wrath protested. “I’m not a kid, I’m a
homunculus!” He took the cap off his head and waved it. “I don’t need
to know what being a kid is like, ok? I’m not human, only humans need
to be children!”

Al stopped walking, features softening he dropped his hands on Wrath’s
shoulders. “Why? Why can’t Homunculus try to be children? I was a suit
of armor from what I understand, and I felt I had to be a child, or
so, it is what I was told. You couldn’t call me human then, could you?”

The homunculus pouted and looked away. “I am a monster, remember. Not
a human. Dante said…”

“Dante only said things because she wanted you to do what she wanted.”
Al informed him firmly.

“You have no memory.” Wrath snapped. How would you know!”?

“I know she was evil, and selfish.” Al removed his hands. “You told me
that much.”

Wrath folded his arms stubbornly. “Yeah, guess I did. I don’t need to
be human nor do I want to.”

Exhaling, Al shook his head, noting Wrath had not tossed away any of
his things. He turned toward the woods and started to walk. “I’m sorry
if I offended you.”

Hurrying to catch up, Wrath trotted to Al’s side. “You didn’t offend
me.” He quickly explained. “Maybe my identity is as a homunculus.”

It was one thing to develop you own self-image by living. It was
another to be told what your self-image should be. Al peered into
Wrath’s eyes. Certainly this Dante must have told him what he should
be. No sane human being would look at Wrath and tell him to be a
monster. “Does t hurt to try and give being a kid a chance?” He asked.
“I mean, I’m supposed to be a grown up for the most part and I want to
be a kid instead.”

“You do?" Wrath sounded skeptical. “Than why do you have to find your
brother? That's a grown-up thing to do, if you ask me.”

Weighing the question, Al tried to find an answer he could explain.
Finding Edward was more than locating and helping his brother, which
indeed was a very grown up thing to do. It was finding a bit of
himself he was sure was lost. From the day Rose took him home from
the underground city, Alphonse Elric had felt an important part of his
heart and soul was missing, and he knew in the end he was unable to
live without it. Edward Elric was more than a brother; they shared in
their own identity.

He must have looked lost, because Wrath touched his arms, large violet
eyes trembling, with the slightest hint of concern. “Hey, I didn’t
mean to upset you.”

“You didn’t. I need to find Brother because I love him, and I am empty
without his love, I think.” Al simply replied, he offered a weak laugh. “So I suppose, Wrath, we both need to find ourselves, don’t we?”

Grabbing the red jacket’s sleeve, Wrath smirked. “You’re the one with
the identity problem, not me. I know what I am. And it is not going to
change anytime soon.”

It was a simple fact, and Al went to argue, but stayed his words,
knowing if one never knew what they were missing, then they’d never
really understand. Like Al did. It was why he needed to get his
memories back, so he could find who he was, without overshadowing
himself with thoughts of Edward and how lost he was.
*&*&*&*
They traveled around for a few days, getting to know each other at
first. Wrath even dressed in the clothing Al had picked up for
him and carried a backpack with his things in it. Though he would
vehemently deny he was doing it as an attempt to be human and would
insist he was doing it so he’d understand Al’s need to be a child.

Still, it made Al happy, and he often found himself smiling at Wrath’s
childish joy at hearing him read stories at the campfire and playing
silly games like jacks and cards.

The land surrounding Dublith was wooded, and was home to scattered
small villages and lakes. Yock Island was their first stop, and Wrath
made an effort to be a decent guide.

Al knew he was hiding things as they spent the next several days
exploring and enjoying each other’s company. The venture failed to
stimulate any memories, and by the time they left, Al was feeling a
little discouraged. It seemed the black wall in his mind would never
crack and allow him to even have a peek at the past he so longed for.

“That stone circle was strange.’ Al was saying as they set up camp
near the beach. He stood staring across the lake to the island
standing in its center. “But you say you fought Brother and I there,
and Teacher.”

“I told you, we’re not discussing the circle.” Wrath snapped for the
millionth time. “It has nothing to do with your memories. It's about me, and…” The homunculus drew his knees up, staring at the flickering
embers of the campfire they'd set. “And I don’t want to talk about it!”

The dark haired boy had been in a foul mood of late, ever since they
found the circle on the island, and Al was very worried. He wondered
if he had offended the other boy?

He sat down in front of the fire, looking at the wild, anger-dark eyes
staring across at him. It was more than anger, Al thought. It was
hurt. He hugged himself, feeling a wash of sadness. Why was Wrath so
upset about the circle? It was alchemical, and Al recognized it as one
of the many circles Ed studied when they were researching human
transmutation.

Across from him, Wrath hugged his legs tighter and dropped his chin so
his hair covered his face.

“It’s ok.” Al said softly feeling a wash of shame. Was it possible the
stone circle was where Izumi made Wrath, and he was ashamed of it? “I
understand.”

“You don’t understand a damn thing.” Wrath told him, one violet eye
peering though a stringy black veil.

“You were born there.” Al whispered. “It’s not a bad thing, being born.”

“That has nothing to do with it.” Wrath snapped, he abruptly came to
his feet. “You know nothing, Al. You’re just a stupid human after all.
So there is no way you can understand.” In a huff, he kicked the sand
and turned, stomping off toward the woods.

He should have followed, but Alphonse sat frozen. The boy stopped in
front of a grove of trees and kicked the ground, and small stones.
There he stomped for about ten minutes before exasperated he grabbed a
tree branch, broke it and twisted it into little pieces.

Alphonse caught his breath, blowing air from between his teeth.
Wrath’s words hurt, but sometimes, people needed to blow off steam,
and they said things they didn’t mean. And since he was a homunculus,
Wrath had even less understanding of how powerful and hurtful words
could be, Al reflected, watching the boy. He wiped the tears trickling
down his cheeks, suddenly aware he was crying. How could he be so
selfish? It was Wrath who was hurt and he had done something that
upset him. The boy looked to the lake and at the sun as it melted into
the landscape bleeding out brilliant reds, yellows and oranges. Maybe
Wrath was right. He was human. How could he comprehend what was going
on in the mind of a being created by Alchemy?

It was cruel really, they were alike, save for the simple difference of a soul. Al trembled a breath, rubbing his arms. People who really cared for them created both him and Wrath out of love. They were both artificial in a way except for the unfair reality that Al had a soul because his soul was attached to a philosopher’s stone. Wrath wasn’t as fortunate and was bound to the sin that made him, anger. Why was it, two beings, so very much alike, were so different?

Wrath was now digging into the ground with the stick, pain and
frustration wrinkling his pale brow. After a moment, he dropped the
stick and turned toward the woods.

What if he was going to leave him? Al felt a twinge of panic. Al found
his legs, and slowly walked up to the boy. Certainly, he’d never
understand Wrath, but there was that chance, he would be able to
comfort him. “I’m sorry.” He said, hands sliding around Wrath’s waist.
“You are right, I don’t know. But I want to help, Wrath.”

Startled, Wrath stiffened, he didn’t struggle as Al pulled him close
and held him.

“Help, how can you help?” Wrath asked bitterly. He looked down at the
hands around his waist. “Alchemist, you can’t turn back the tides of
time.”

“No. No, I can’t do that.” Al pressed his face into Wrath’s hair and
inhaled his musty earth sent. “But I can see you are hurting, and I
can say it is ok to hurt and to be angry, and that I am here if you
want to talk about how much it hurts.”

“Talking won’t bring her back.” Wrath said, agonized. His nose
twitched and his eyes filled up with tears. He heaved in a pained
breath. “And it won’t stop me from feeling stupid for letting Envy
convince me I didn’t need to have her… That I was a monster.”

“Izumi?” Al asked, hearing the boy drag in a sob.

“Yes. There in that circle, I could have become her child, She would
have accepted me if I didn’t try to be a monster.” The body in Al’s
arms shuttered, and Wrath turned, tear streaked face contorted with
grief. He shivered, arms flinging about Al’s neck and sagged, weeping
in drawn out, agonized cries that drove spikes of pity and
helplessness though Al.

There was nothing to say. After long agonizing moments, together, Al
and Wrath sank to the sand, Al gathering the homunculus in his arms
and rocking him as he cried. “I’m sorry.” Al whispered. He wished he
remembered, but he knew, if he did, his feelings for the person in his
arms might have changed and Wrath didn’t need anger or hurt, he needed
forgiveness.

Tear streaked cheeks lifted from his shoulder and Wrath stared at Al.
“Don’t you get it? I need to be a monster, Ok? I have to be a monster
because if I am, what I did to her wasn’t for nothing. I can’t let it
be some stupid misguided mistake made by a silly angry boy!”

“Forgive yourself, Wrath, I know it is hard, but you need to do that.
I know she has already forgiven you.” Al said, brushing the matted
hair from the boy’s face. Edward was gone because of their sins, and
even though Sensei and the others tried to protect him from the truth,
Al felt the pain deep down in his heart. A pain that would never leave
him because Brother was gone and he was still a child, because of
their sins. “We all make stupid mistakes. Some of them, we can’t forgive.”

The boy’s eyes shimmered, and Wrath leaned into him, “You would know
that, I guess. So she forgave me?”

“ Yes.“ Al replied. “I’m sure she did, because she always had regret
on her face as if she was longing for something, and I think that
something, even though she could never say it, was for you.” His own
tears trickled down his cheeks and Al heard his voice tremble. He
hunched his shoulders, now understanding why Teacher was so sad. “And
I do understand mistakes, in a big way.” Al said, closing his eyes
against his own tears. “We all have monsters in us, Wrath. It’s a part
of being human. You’re not special because you’re a homunculus. “

“Guess not. I can’t avoid it can I? Being human?” Wrath nuzzled into
his neck.

“No you can’t “ Al smiled sadly. He touched the boy’s face and kissed
his forehead. “I can’t make the pain go away, but I can be here to
hold you when you feel it. Just like my mom held me.”

“Yes, that is what mothers are supposed to do.” Wrath agreed. He
didn’t struggle, when Al lifted him and carried him over to the fire.
In silence they sat there, huddled in each other’s arms, and drawing
on to each other’s strength. “Read to me tonight.” Wrath asked
quietly. “The story about the duckling. I like that one.”

The ugly duckling, Al reached into Wrath’s backpack and pulled out the
book. Al guessed Wrath liked it because the duckling reminded him of
himself. As a child, Al liked it too. Smiling fondly, Alphonse opened
the book; he looked down at the glassy eyed boy in his arms, and ran
his fingers though Wrath’s hair. The anger was draining away now, and
only hurt and the need for comfort remained. Comfort Al wanted to
provide. Taking a breath he started to read, content with Wrath’s
weight in his arms. He was sure, in his heart; Wrath, like the duckling was a swan already.
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