(Previous chapters...Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 , and Part 6
Word count: 4991
Pairing: Ed/Al if you can count it as such
Rating: PG-13 to R depending on the chapter
Warnings: OMG the last chapter is beta'd! Thank you, awillowweeping Character death (for real, this time)
Summary: AU after episode 50. With Al's body freshly restored, the Elrics now must face each other's sins and hopefully survive their own trial by fire. After Edward is buried alive, he must recover and eventually learn to forgive himself for the past.
We're on the run, I can see it in your eyes.
It wasn't unusual for Al to be up before Ed in the mornings. It
wasn't because he had gotten enough sleep, though. Most days, he
would try to stay awake for as long as possible before passing out from
sheer exhaustion. That way the nightmares wouldn't come right away.
There hadn't been a night where he hadn't felt the cold inky grasp of
the Gate or heard the wails of souls demanding to be avenged. Some
nights he would awake and wonder what was worse, the guilt of
knowing you had nearly killed your brother or the guilt of knowing
you sacrificed countless souls with no future to save your
brother. In the end, Al would curl up against Ed's side and wind his
arms around automail as if it were a cherished stuffed animal. There
were hands of flesh in the Gate, but not of metal. He knew then when he felt Ed's false
limbs surround him that he was alive and out of that terrifying place.
Edward was Alphonse's sanity.
Al would never be able to exist and be the same on his own. He was
certain of it. Ed's cocky smirk chased away the demons that
whispered in his ear, a simple touch reminded him that he was no
longer trapped un unfeeling, senseless armor. The mark on his back
was a brand that proved Edward made him who and what he was, and Al
regretted none of it. He accepted all the good and bad without
question, for he was no one without his brother beside him.
On more than one occasion, Alphonse thought it to be unnatural, that
brothers shouldn't behave this way towards one another. What would
their friends think, even worse, what would their mother have thought
if she saw them together, so close that they were easily mistaken for
twins, too alike to be mistaken for simple lovers. It was wrong for
siblings to be like this, Al knew. But after so much that's happened
between them, was it so wrong to find a bit of comfort and solace in
each other's arms? Al didn't think so.
Especially when cool fingers or a warm, moist tongue traced the seal
of bonded blood between his shoulder blades.
Yet for all of Edward's selflessness, Al had yet to find contentment
in it. Too long Ed sacrificed everything for the sake of his
brother, and even now Al felt inadequate compared to the sheer
strength his brother showed. He could pour his heart and soul into
his brother, yet metal limbs would not become flesh, nor could
missing pieces of one's soul ever be restored.
Each night when it was quiet and still outside, Alphonse pressed his
hands together for that crackle of energy and the familiar Alchemic
burn course through him and for a little while, eased whatever silent
horrors Edward faced alone.
He sought out the lines in that vibrating array, smoothing out the
frayed strings with his hands as if he were repairing a tattered
blanket. If it was an array on paper, then it'd be a piece of cake
for any Alchemist to do. But this array was the very thing that
bound body to soul, that made a human a human, and to the Elrics'
summation, Alphonse was the only known person in existence to be able
to manipulate the human soul like a transmutation circle. Human
Alchemy that was more refined than what anyone understood, thus far.
If they knew at all.
It was the Elrics' greatest secret, even greater than the fact they'd
tried to play God at the tender ages of nine and ten. The ability to
perform Soul Alchemy on a living human and be successful at it. That
was a sin to top all others. If human alchemy was forbidden, then
soul Alchemy was unspeakable.
It was soothing, it was beautiful, and it forged a link between them
that there were no words to express the severity of it. During those
times Alphonse vowed to protect his brother, to make certain his life
was not completely riddled with horrors and nightmares. They were
one. No one could understand that. They'd been bound together
through loss and gain and in the end, Alchemy sealed their fates, and
Not a perfect future, but they would be content with what they had.
They never really had anything more than each other. And they never
got less than that. Alphonse watched his brother sleep, noting how
slack and young looking his elder brother's face seemed. When the trials of
their lives didn't plague his mind, Edward looked like a seventeen year
old boy. Well, he was seventeen, just one with the experiences
of a forty year old man.
His thoughts drifted to what memories he had…of course he remembered
the time before their mother died, but the journey from that failed
transmutation to where his brother was curled up on cold
concrete was patchy at best. He didn't remember everything that
happened when he was in the armor. And maybe he'd never retrieve it
all. That was most unfortunate, considering all that seemed to
overtake him were the wails of souls ripped away from their bodies,
blaming him for their deaths.
Alphonse turned back to the window to try to gauge what time it was.
It didn't feel like dawn, but the sky had that red overcast like the
sun was just starting to make it's way across the sky. Red sun in
morning, the day will be warming… or something like that. It was
going to be to be hot, that's all he knew. A hot blast of air came
through the open window, rustling the curtain and bringing the scent
of burning tinder to Alphonse's nose.
Tinder? Why in the world would someone be burning a fire in late
summer? He glanced over to Edward and carefully peeled himself away
from that body to stretch and pad over to the window. He pulled the
curtain aside and his face froze into something of abject horror.
Someone hadn't lit a fire, the whole of the city was on fire.
Al gaped in a state of shock when the sound of gun fire and
people screaming finally registered in his ears. Central was under
attack? By whom? Why? How?
"Brother!" The answers could wait as he swerved to face the bed.
They needed to get out of here. "Brother? Ed! Get up!"
Normally, a blasted train whistle didn't so much as make Ed twitch in
his sleep, but the frantic stress in Alphonse's voice brought him to
full alert like a cold pipe pressed against his belly. Ed sat up
with all sleep gone from his eyes and fear gripped him. "What is it?"
"The city…under attack--"
"What?" Edward flew from the bed with is boxers riding low on his
hips as he rushed to stand beside his brother. Golden eyes gaped at
the growing carnage. "Shit. Where's Falman and the others?"
"I…I don't know, Brother. I haven't heard them--"
"We got to get out of here," He looked at his brother for a moment
before rushing to grab his pants and a shirt. "Come on, Al! It's
Alphonse followed Ed without thought, just instinct. He dressed as
quickly as he could and clambered down the stairs behind the elder
'We got nowhere to go and no home that's left'
Al was a little confused as he searched for his brother at the bottom
of the stairs. "Brother?" There was a strange whistling noise
coming from outside. He spotted Edward a moment later, running from
the study with a journal tucked under his arm. "Al! We've got to
go!" Alphonse squeaked a little as he was dragged through the living
room and out the door.
It all happened in slow motion. The last memories of Roy's home were
like still pictures. Al saw the open door to the study with books
and papers strewn on the floor, the living room with freshly waxed
floors and the tall houseplant he'd managed to revive during the past
few months here. Then he was thrust out into the blood red sky and
they were running for their lives as the whistling grew louder. He
was deafened briefly and the next thing Alphonse knew was that he was
flying through the air. He landed hard on top of his brother and
then found himself rolled beneath Ed with a stinging pain in his left
Edward ignored his brother's cry as he covered both their heads with
his automail arm. Glass that had once been windows shattered and
shot at them like bomb shrapnel. He panted harshly against Al's ear
as he waited out the explosion. In a matter of seconds, Mustang's
quaint apartment disinigrated into cinders. He didn't see any of
Falman's men inside, so he hoped they got out okay. When the dust settled
and he was mostly certain they wouldn't be shred to ribbons, Ed
moved, his eyes constantly roaming around them as he muttered. "You
all right, there, Alphonse?"
His little brother whimpered softly and Ed sat up, taking shelter
behind one burned out tree. He winced when he saw the giant shard
sticking out of the thick muscle of Al's upper arm. "Shit." Al's coffee
colored eyes stared into Ed's as he tried to keep his arm still. If he
moved the muscle, he would only shred it more. Ed tore the sleeve
off his right arm and chewed on his slip. "Needs to come out, Al."
"I know." He's no stranger to pain, but he still wasn't fond of it.
Al gripped his forearm and closed his eyes. He winced when he felt
the bite of the glass as it pulled away and cried out. Ed tossed it
aside and bound the gash tightly as a gout of red doused his hands.
"There. That's going to have to do until we get that stitched up."
Ed double knotted the tie and gave his brother an apologetic look
when Al whimpered. He tucked the small book into the waistband of
his trousers and rose to his feet. The familiar streets and houses
were nothing but rubble and war zone as he tried to gather his
bearings. Was the city under attack? How could Central be under
"What do you think is happening, brother?" Al's voice was soft, but
it carried through the gunfire. "You think the people found out
about your trial next week?"
Part of his answer was a wry look. "If the people are dumb enough to
riot because of me…they should riot against how they're treated, not
because some supposed hero's going to trial."
"Does it matter if they're still uprising against the government?"
Both boys crouched down because of another nearby explosion and Al
went for Ed's hand. He always felt safer and calmer when he was
touching his brother. Edward's hand squeezed his brother's briefly
before looking at him. "We got to make it to Headquarters. If
there's a Headquarters left."
"Right, Brother." Al's arm still ached, but he wasn't going to let
that slow him down. He still had two good legs, and he was going to
use them. They needed to get to some semblance of safety. The only
logical place was the main building for the military.
Traveling there proved to be more dangerous than Edward thought. No
longer was the public aware what was going on. They didn't care who
was in the way anymore, as long as anyone wearing blue was gunned
down, they were happy. Ed and Al dodged countless bullets and they'd
hide out in gutted, looted buildings when the fire fight was too
heavy. It was slow work, but they made steady progress.
Central had become the worst war zone the boys or much of any
civilian has seen ever. No one knew whose side was winning or if
there were sides. Civilian clothed people attacked uniformed
soldiers and blue unformed men shot at the very people they were
supposed to protect. Some soldiers simply laid down their weapons
and allowed themselves to be beaten to death. This was too close to
being Ishval again. They would not kill for no reason. Other
Military, the ones too young to remember the massacre, shot and
stabbed with the blood lust that had been instilled by their Fuhrer,
the King. They only saw targets and not the country they were
Headquarters was in an even worse state of chaos, if there could be
any worse than the rest of the city. Alphonse bore witness to hand-
to-hand combat, trained soldiers pummeling and shooting civilians
that had a desperate anger flashing brightly in their eyes. Even
though city folk weren't trained in combat, their sheer numbers were
slowly overwhelming the Blues. It was a horror that blurred past Al,
his brain refusing to process it. That is, until he slipped and fell
hard on his side.
He screamed when his still bleeding arm hit the ground and Al could
only curl into a ball against the pain. Alphonse heard gunfire,
people shouting and screaming all around him. The ground was
becoming slick and red with blood, so much like his nightmares when
he's bathed in the blood of those bodiless souls, all of them
screaming for a reprieve from their nightmares.
He heard someone cut through the jumble of words and scents and
sounds--God, the scent of blood seemed to always be with him, now.
He would never get over that stench. He forced his eyes to open and
met the face of a child. A little girl with an almost fixed gaze in
one eye, clutching a teddy bear with a blood spattered hand. She was
missing half her face, having it replaced with red and gray and
highlighted in bone white streaks. Pretty blond hair was now clumped
and strewn around both of them.
Her hand twitched
Alphonse was yanked upright before he could do anything with Edward's
words now taking front stage in his clouded mind. "She's dead,
Alphonse! Come on, let's go!"
"No, she's not!" This time, Al struggled. He could do something.
He had to do something. She was alive.
"Yeah, she is! You can't deal with an injury like that!" Ed's voice
was turning desperate. He hadn't missed the hand movements either,
but if Al tried to help her, he would be too drained to go on, and
with half her brain missing, it wouldn't be worth it. A living
vegetable. "Those injuries--Alphonse!"
Ed jerked Alphonse's arm roughly in attempts to shake some sense into
him. "We're going to get killed out here!"
Al's eyes swerved to his brother. There was such a look of stark
horror on that too innocent face that Ed was frozen for a moment.
"Like her, Brother? How can we matter so much that we can live and a
little girl like that has to die!"
Ed wasn't certain what was going on through Al's head, but he pulled
him close in a tight embrace, ignoring the gunfire and muttering in
Al's ear. "No. Not like her. Never like her. But we've got to
keep alive so we can stop this, so more don't end up like her. Okay?"
Alphonse half hid in his brother's arms with a shudder and half
peeked over to the girl. She was dead now, the light had slipped
past her eyes as quietly as it happened with their mother. He sank
in surrender into Ed's chest when he numbed himself to the sight of
the dead girl and the spreading pool of blood.
"Okay. . ." He followed quietly and complacently then, once again as
hollow and stoic of the suit of armor he existed as for so long. It
was the only way he could keep his mind in one piece. He kept hold
of Ed's hand because his vision was too blurry to see well enough to
navigate on his own.
'The walls are shaking, I hear the sound of the alarm'
The klaxon call blared through the corridors of HQ. The lights were
out but the flicker of fire illuminated the halls as Edward and his
brother tried to pass through. So far, they'd made it with little
confrontation from either side. Now that they were actually in the
building, Edward was at a loss for what to do next. They needed to
find Mustang, but he wasn't the kind of man to sit in his office
while people were killed or injured.
Fire was glowing brighter and hotter in some sections of the building
to the point where it was nearly impossible to breathe. Ed
trudged on with is hand clinging to his brother's. They would start
the search in Mustang's office and continue on from there.
They didn't hear the explosion, really, but they did feel it. It was
like some giant wave force that rippled through the corridor and all
the windows on their right sides shattered with the impact. Ed
slammed both of them back into the wall as he tried to avoid the
glass. He stared at Al, his eyes wide and face a frighteningly
readable mix of terror and determination. "Hey…I love you, Brother."
If those were the last meaningful words he said to Alphonse, then he
was proud to say them.
Al's eyes softened for a moment as he nodded. "Always yours, Brother."
Then they were skittering over broken glass and dodging bodies and
rubble through what was once their Head Quarters. Ed didn't know
what his hopes were after all this. He didn't want a civil war
started because of him, and he most certainly detested the idea of
one of the other countries finally putting Amestris back in its
place. But he did wonder if the Fuhrer was still here. And if he
Would that be such a bad thing to hope for?
The young Alchemist made it to Mustang's office with Al in tow. His
stomach dropped when he saw the door partially ajar and felt the
searing heat from within. Ed peeked further and he then felt the
bile start to rise in his throat. The General's office had a view to
outside before this 'war.' Now, half the office was the
outside. The last explosion must have made a direct hit, for
Mustang's desk and leather couch were gone. All that was left was
left were the two desks closest to the door and a melting pile of slag.
Alphonse pushed past Ed and cringed against the heat. He could
barely register Edward falling to his knees while he searched every
corner of what was left of the room to make certain no one had been
caught in the blast. Or, no one was still alive and suffering, at
the very least. What a terrible thing it would be to burn to death
in some office.
Movement beside the fallen support beams caught the boy's attention
and he rushed forward, his only focus was that shifting form. Not
even his brother's screams could stop him as he felt the heat sear
his scalp and hair. Whatever moved, it wasn't the shifting,
melting, fiery inanimate things. This thing moved with intent, with
purpose. It was alive.
It was Mustang.
"Brother! It's him!" Al clapped his hands once, letting the
equation rush through his head and pour out through his hands. There
was enough ash to put out the fire from the fire itself. He shifted
closer to Edward when he finally moved to stand beside him, his hands
also in that familiar prayer position to snuff out the flames so they
could reach their General. They scrambled together as one towards
the burnt uniform with Ed clapping again and slapping his automail
hand onto the slag, slowing the molecular vibration down so the metal
grew cold and stiff. He heaved enough of it off to the side so that
Al could pull Mustang free.
The man was alive, but it seemed to be the only thing going well for
him. The slag burned away his clothes and ate through his skin.
Half of Roy's face was missing under blood and burns and Al had to
turn away to keep from retching. "He alive?" Ed's hurried question
brought Al out of his wave of illness.
The boy's fingers tried to find a pulse in an unburned portion of
Roy's flesh, but his hand was trembling. He was having a hard time
trying not to be fully immersed in this chaos. Al opened his mouth
to say something, but his stomach caught him by surprise and he
turned away to heave his empty stomach onto the ashen floor.
Ed dropped to his knees and put one hand on Al's back as he stared at
the half melted General. "On 'yer feet, soldier! Ain't no time to
take a nap here! Get on yer feet and start hot footing it, Captain
Sparky!" Ed couldn't be bothered to hide his grin of relief when Roy
twitched and struggled to obey military conditioning.
"Atta boy, General! Al, you okay? Can you..." He hesitated a
moment. "Do you think you can stabilize him so we can get out of
here?" He nudged his brother slightly once Ed heard gunfire start up
again. They were closer to them now, and not coming from outside.
Al swallowed hard, wishing there was water or something to wash his
mouth out with. He looked back at Mustang, focusing on the man's
chest and not his face for the time being. "I-I think so."
There was no thinking of it, really. He knew he could do it, it was
just a matter of convincing himself that in emergency situations, one
had permission to help if the victim could not ask for it. He
clapped his hands and placed them on a Mustang's shoulders, feeling
the horrid rips and tears of the older man's being.
He gasped as his mind reeled in shock at the sensation, trying to
focus on the immediate problem, stabilizing the man's pulse and
respiratory system. It was a matter of finding the correct lines in
the array and strengthening them, using his own as temporary
components to keep them from further deterioration.
Al shifted again and turned to Ed with a small nod. Mustang could be
moved now. Edward proceeded to haul the General to his feet,
screaming at him like an Academy Instructor to get the man to move.
Alphonse was on Mustang's opposite side, trying to be supportive as
they slowly made their way out of the office to leave HQ. But the
bombs and gunfire and the serious lack of soldiers moving about in
the building were making Ed uneasy. They might not make it out
alive, after all. And if they did, where would they go from here?
Ed's attention was drawn away from the blood dripping through the
crack fissures of Mustang's face to the heavy smoke before him.
There was someone coming their way. Maybe several some bodies. Ed
snarled and clapped his hands together, ready to defend them all if
need be from what could be the enemy. Then the deep booming voice
nearly made him collapse out of relief.
"Here, Major!" Out of the smoke and ashes loomed the Strong Arm
Alchemist with two of his officers covering him. "Major! It's
Mustang, he's been injured!"
The moustache on the towering man drooped even more when Armstrong
frowned, his muscular arms easily bearing the weight of the General
as he slung Mustang over his shoulder. "Is he still alive?"
With the weight of the General lifted from him, Alphonse nearly
collapsed were it not for his brother catching him. The wound on his
arm continued to seep blood, and he was starting to get dizzy.
"Yeah, barely." Al didn't mention the fact that it was him
keeping the General alive, though; only Edward knew that.
"This way, young Elrics!" The alchemist turned and headed for the
exit. "We're going to a safe place!"
Ed was hard pressed to ask what that safe place was, but he kept
silent and busied himself with trying to keep Al standing and moving.
"I've got you, Al…"
'And if all we got is what no one can break
The place had been empty for a very long time. Going on thirteen,
fourteen years, maybe, Riza wasn't certain. She'd left here shortly
after Roy did, after her father dropped dead in his study. She never
looked back. She hadn't bothered to sell her parents' estate,
either, but preferred to keep it in her possession, dreaming of the
day of peace and it filled with laughter an the running of children
through its halls.
Now, it was filled with the clicking of boot heels and wary eyes as
they covered each room and made certain it was secure. Mustang had
been placed into the master bedroom under the watchful eyes of the
Elrics while the remaining officers scoured the house and the
property for potential squatters and other 'surprises'. Once
everything was in the clear, Riza immediately returned to her
Ed was doing what he could to care for both Alphonse and Roy. He'd
managed to cut away most of the burnt clothing and now was trying to
soak off what had melted into the wounds. A cool wet cloth was
placed over the scorched side of Mustang's face; the only sign of his
injury was that the white of the fabric was slowly turning pink.
Al sat slumped in a daze in one of the two available chairs. He was
shirtless and the gash was a nasty lightning mark on his bicep,
showing muscle and bone. At least it had finally stopped bleeding.
Ed knew the basics of healing Alchemy, but he was no healer. Just
enough field knowledge to keep someone from bleeding to death and
that was about it. More needed to be done for the burns and the
sliced muscle and skin needed to be sewn, but all they could raid at
the local hospital were supplies, and no doctors would come to their
Riza seriously wished that Hughes was around. Then she prayed
silently to whatever gods that may be listening that his wife and
daughter were safe. Though they were part of the family, she hated
to admit that right now, Mustang had to be protected at all costs.
The Fuhrer was dead.
It was a blessing in disguise that Lieutenant Hawkeye had her
parents' old place. We were hurting then, thinking that there was no
way we could recover from such devastation, both as a military team
and as a country. The core of us may have survived, but countless
others had died, and the Military State of Amestris was in utter
chaos. The Fuhrer had been killed in the attack and leadership
befell to a bunch of Generals who were even more corrupt than the
King ever was.
So we couldn't return to the Military. We would have been labeled as
traitors for trying to save our General. He's the one who should be
in charge of this country. And we will get him there.
I could go on to say how Al fared with his arm getting stitched up
(he fainted) or how long Mustang was unconscious for (weeks.) Why I
had that small travel journal and what was so important that I had to
go into the study for it. Those are shorter stories for another time.
And there weren't many of us. Just the main group with the exception
of Hughes and Falman. Hughes was murdered uncovering a conspiracy.
And Falman? Well, I'd like to thing Vato's out there, somewhere.
Maybe he's in hiding like the rest of us, waiting for us to find
him. But then I look at Al's face and I remember I'm only kidding
myself. It's a childish thing, I know, but sometimes…
The General's recovery took months. At first, he was always
sleeping, and Hawkeye always sat with him, humming something under
her breath as she changed his dressings. Manny and Jean played chess
a lot. Jean's even worse with chess than he is getting a date! And
that says a LOT.
Kain and Armstrong kept watch over the estate even though it was
quiet the entire time we were there, till the end, that is. Just
rolling hills and birds singing in the trees. So much like home.
Al and l busied ourselves in what was left of the library. Riza told
us that her father destroyed everything pertaining to Flame Alchemy.
Which is fine by me, really. Don't need to learn any of that when
your boss is the Flame Alchemist.
When Mustang did finally wake up, it was like we were one big
family. Did a lot of singing and entertaining Roy to pass the time,
to help him heal. He still doesn't remember what happened that day,
and none of this know what caused it to begin with. All we know that
it's a new world out there, and for now, it's not a good one.
We're still biding our time, waiting for the proper moment where we
can liberate the people of Amestris and give them hope for a brighter
future. I still want Winry to be able to sleep at night and not be
plagued by nightmares.
What you've read, it happened over the course of a couple years. But
a story like this wouldn't be interesting if I actually wrote out
every little detail now, would it? Just be content in the fact that
I shared it with you.
More people need to know the truth about what happened to my brother
Don't forget Oct. 3. Never.
~~Edward Elric The Fullmetal Alchemist
This chapter was greatly inspired by Mat Kearney's, All I Need
Here it comes it’s all blowing in tonight
I woke up this morning to a blood red sky
They’re burning on the bridge turning off the lights
We’re on the run I can see it in your eyes
If nothing is safe then I don’t understand
You call me your boy but I’m trying to be the man
One more day and it’s all slipping with the sand
You touch my lips and grab the back of my hand
The back of my hand
Guess we both know we’re in over our heads
We got nowhere to go and no home that’s left
The water is rising on a river turning red
It all might be ok or we might be dead
If everything we’ve got is slipping away
I meant what I said when I said until my dying day
I’m holding on to you, holding onto me
Maybe it’s all gone black but you’re all I see
You’re all I see
The walls are shaking, I hear them sound the alarm
Glass is breaking so don’t let go of my arm
Grab your bags and a picture of where we met
All that we’ll leave behind and all that’s left
If everything we’ve got is blowing away
We’ve got a rock and a rock till our dying day
I’m holding on to you, holding on to me
Maybe it’s all we got but it’s all I need
You’re all I need
And if all we’ve got is what no one can break
I know I love you
If that’s all we can take
The tears are coming down
They’re mixing with the rain
I know I love you, if that’s all we can take
A pool is running for miles on the concrete ground
We’re eight feet deep and the rain is still coming down
The TV’s playing it all out of town
We’re grabbing at the fray for something that won’t drown