Title: Collect Call
Characters: Edward, Alphonse.
Genre: Attempted Humor n_nU
Beta:dreamer1789 and tasha_o
Summary: A phone call between the brothers featuring a desperate!Al and crazy!Ed
Warnings:SPOILERS for chapter 108. Post-series manga verse.
Thus God created first this invisible fire and endowed it with an unerring Instinct and a Capacity to manifest itself in 3 Principles.
He read as he comfortably sat in his studio while gently turning the pages of his new copy of The Golden Chain of Homer. A basic yet pleasing alchemic lecture he had once enjoyed as a boy.
1. In its Original most Universal state it is perfectly invisible, immaterial, cold and occupies no space, in this tranquil state it is of no use to us, yet in this unmoved state it is omnipresent.
The phone, located at the hallway just outside the room he was in, started ringing. Although many would have found the sound irritating enough to discourage any attempts at reading; to Edward’s wonderful concentration, it was nothing.
2. In its second state it is manifested by motion or agitation into light. In this state it was separated out of the Chaos, when God said, "Let there be…”
“EDWARD! CAN YOU GET THE PHONE PLEASE? MY HANDS ARE FULL DOWN HERE!” Contrary to the phone’s ringing, Winry’s voice was enough to block Edward’s unbelievable focusing powers forcing the former alchemist to stop reading and do as he was told.With a sigh he closed the book and said:
“Yeah, I’ll get it!”
He made his way towards the hall and picked up the noisy device.
Although it was speaking in quick whispers he instantly recognized the voice that answered him:
“Brother, good. Quick, I don’t have much time. I need you to immediately go to a train station and buy a ticket to Xing, specifically to the Sichuan province.”
“Alphonse?” Edward asked, a little bit shocked at the information previously tossed at him. “Is that really you?”
“Yes, brother,” Alphonse answered. “I really don’t have time so listen carefully: Once you get to the Sichuan province a man called Chao will be waiting for you at the train station. He is a short middle aged man with a very long white beard. He is a translator and will guide you to the Chang province. It is extremely important that you…
It took a few seconds to Alphonse to be able to answer to such an angry interruption. “I’m sorry?”
“How dare you call after completely forgetting about our existence? Not only that but you’re ordering me around as if you were my boss or something!
“What? Forgetting about you?” The quick whispering was apparently forgotten and replaced by a normal tone voice. “What do you mean?”
“You know what I mean. It’s been… What? Three months since we last heard from you?”
Alphonse sighed. “Ok. I’m sorry, brother, but it’s just been so crazy here that I lost track of time and…”
“My point exactly!” Edward interrupted for a second time and kept going. “You put your research or whatever the hell you are doing before us!”
“It is OUR research isn’t it?”
“Yeah right, I don’t even know what the hell you are doing now!”
Alphonse remained quiet. It was obvious his brother had been holding on to these accusations for a while and now that he was finally able to let them all out, there was no way of stopping him. It was better to let his brother speak and interfere later, once Edward had calmed down.
“Your room has become so dusty that we keep it locked in order to avoid the children to catch any kind of lung disease!”
Lung disease? Alphonse thought. That was such an exaggeration. So typical of Ed. (Besides, Sophie’s lungs where the strongest pair he had ever heard.) He rolled his eyes and let his brother rant a little bit more until he remembered the reason of his call.
“Look, Brother. I really think you are overreacting. But we’ll have to talk about this at some other time because…”
“Again with the bossing!”
“What I’m trying to say is urgent…”
“I actually began thinking that I was an only brother now!”
“WILL YOU LISTEN?” Now it was Alphonse’s turn to raise his voice. “I REALLY NEED YOU TO SHUT UP AND UNDERSTAND BECAUSE MY CURRENT SITUATION IS DESPERATE.”
“What do you mean desperate?” Edward finally asked in a calmer tone.
“I need you to come to Xing and…”
“I already understood that. Why the hell do you need me to go there?”
“Brother,” Alphonse said reluctantly. “I don’t have much time.”
“Explain,” Edward said. “Now.”
Alphonse once again kept silent for a while before asking his brother:
“Do you remember Jian Chao Chang?”
“He is Mei’s grandfather, the current Chang clan’s leader.”
“Never heard of him.”
“I talked to you about him on Winry’s birthday!” Alphonse closed his eyes in exasperation. Sometimes talking to a log and talking to Edward was the same thing.
“Well then I forgot. Must be a family thing, right,Al?”
Alphonse ignored the last comment and continued with his explanation: “As a clan leader he only answers to the emperor, which makes him is a powerful man, which means that if he doesn’t like you, you are doomed.” He then added: “He doesn’t like me, brother.”
“Why not?” Edward knew Alphonse was popular among the Xingese. Hell, they must even treat him like a king. Probably that’s why he liked it over there so much.
“I offended his house, his family, and his clan.” Alphonse breathed heavily before saying his next words. “Therefore I must be punished.”
This set off the big brother alarms in Edward’s head making his heart beat a little faster : “What?! You mean they are going to... Kill you?!”
Alphonse sighed covering his face with one hand. “Worse.”
“What is it?!” Edward impatiently waited for his baby brother’s answer. What could be worse than death?
“They are going to castrate me.” Alphonse finally said.
As the information hit him; Edward felt his jaw fall. “What?”
“It means they are going to remove my testicles.”
“I know what castrate means, dammit!” Edward let the breath he had been holding in out. “Ok, so it is not so terrible.”
“Excuse me?!” Alphonse’s extremely offended voiced raised. “I don’t know about you, brother, but I happen to like my testicles very much. In fact, I actually love having them.”
“It’s not so terrible compared to death I mean! But why are they going to do that to you, Al?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
Alphonse closed his eyes as he said: “Punishments here are proportional to the crime committed. You steal, they cut your hand. You…well you do you know what and they cut your testicles.”
“But what the hell did you do Al?”
”What do YOU think I did brother?” Alphonse felt his face turn red in embarrassment and he hated his brother for making him talk about this kind of stuff.
Punishment proportional to the crime, castration, offended the Chang clan... Edward’s eyes widened when he understood the situation.
“With the bean girl.”
“Yes.” Alphonse hid his face under his bangs in shame as if his brother could see him. Edward’s answer, however, was something he wasn’t prepared to hear.
“That’s why you didn’t come to William’s birthday party? You horny bastard!”
“WHAT?!” What the hell was wrong with Edward?
“You heard me! Did you know that my poor kid was wondering if he had made his uncle angry? ”
“Ok first of all, I apologized to Will, and I even bought him a pretty expensive gift. Second, I also explained to you that the train I was on experienced mechanical problems delaying my arrival.”
“But nothing! Both Winry and you accepted my apologies and you have no right to rub this to my face right now.” Alphonse took a breath before adding: “I already told you we can talk about this later; perhaps when my manhood is not experiencing any kind of threat or danger.”
“Fine.” Edward answered
“Fine then.” Alphonse replied.
“Wait, if you are like a prisoner or something how the hell were you able to call?”
“I have friends here.”
“Oh yeah? And why can’t those friends help you?” Edward asked in a jealous tone, frowning.
“It’s too risky. If they get caught they will get the death penalty for sure. I begged them not to interfere.”
So you rather put your brother at such a risk? Edward thought before asking:
“Where are your bodyguards anyway?” He frowned. “With the chimera abilities they have, one would think they are useful in some kind of way.”
“They are being held as well. I don’t know what is going to be done to them, but we’ll have to get them out as well.”
Ok, so this was becoming a little bit too much. Edward sat down on the chair standing right beside the telephone. Then he asked:
“There is also one thing that doesn’t make sense.” He rested his head on the wall behind him “How the hell did they find out? You and the princess sleeping together is not really shocking news. We all suspected it anyways. I bet they also knew.”
Alphonse felt again his face turn red in embarrassment. Really? They ALL suspected it? Winry? Teacher? Even Mustang? Was he really so obvious?
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah. Even I knew…” Which was saying a lot. And Alphonse knew it.
“Perhaps they already knew, brother.” He said in an extremely miserable voice. “But they needed…Proof.
“So what was it? They caught you with your hand between her legs?” Edward couldn’t help but smile at the thought of that.
“OK! I’M SORRY.” Edward chuckled “I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. So? What proof did they get?”
“Oh. That’s… Another thing I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Perhaps at some other occasion?”
A few moments passed before Alphonse –as if saying a secret- answered his brother in a very quiet whisper.
“Mei´s …Going to have a baby.”
Edward rose from his chair with such speed that if it wasn’t for the wall behind it, said chair would have ended up in the floor for sure. He stood there for a few seconds until his brother’s voice was heard from the phone.
But Edward Elric was speechless.
“Yes, well…” Alphonse cleared his throat a couple of times. “As I was telling you, once you meet up with Chao he will guide you to the Chang province. In order to avoid any kind of suspicion you shall keep your nationality as a secret. Remember it is…”
“I’m going to be an uncle?” Edward was sitting on his chair again; now with one hand in his forehead.
“I guess so… I mean, you are my brother.”
“Please brother, stop interrupting me.” Alphonse’s voice sounded worried, almost desperate. “The punishment will take place tomorrow at dusk. It is going to be a public display and…”
“Who else knows about the baby?”
“PUBLIC, BROTHER. Me, nude, people watching, and some monster destroying my life with a gigantic sword…”
“Ah… what does it matter?”
“Well OBVIOSULY the whole Chang clan knows about it and Zampano and Jerso are aware of it too.”
“Ok, so I’m like the last person to know it. Alphonse, when Winry told me she was expecting Will do you know who was the first person I told about it?”
“Oh, come on!” The last person? Seriously? Since when was his brother such a drama queen.
“It was you! I ran like an idiot to the phone to tell you!”
“I EVEN PAYED FOR THE CALL! I BET YOU ARE NOT PAYING FOR THIS CALL!”
“OUR SITUATIONS ARE TOTALLY DIFFERENT!”
“I’M ABOUT TO BE MUTILATED!”
“DAMMIT, ALPHONSE, CAN YOU STOP THINKING ABOUT YOUR BALLS FOR JUST A SECOND?!”
“IF IT WAS YOU IN THIS SITUATION…”
“IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, IF IT WEREN’T FOR YOUR BALLS YOU WOULDN’T BE IN THIS SITUATION AT ALL!”
A low click indicating that someone had picked up the kitchen phone was heard, followed by a young yet confident voice:
“Uncle Al? Is that you?”
“ Hello, Will.” Alphonse said with a smile.
“Thought I heard daddy talking to you.”
“You’ve got pretty good ears Will.” The truth was that Alphonse thought that thanks to Edward’s screaming the whole town of Rizenbull already knew he was talking to him.
“I also heard him call you a bad word. Sorry, daddy, but I’m going to have to tell mommy, ok?”
“Can I ask you something?”
“Sophie told me to tell ya to please come to the corn festival next week.”
Alphonse felt his smile grow wider. Sophie only knew four things: Sleeping, eating, crying, and pooping. It was obvious the kid felt ashamed to simply ask and used his baby sister as an excuse. Oh, the joy of brotherhood.
“Only if you promise me you’ll be my partner at the wagon race. Deal?”
“Deal! I’m going to tell Sophie uncle Al!”
“Sure, Will. See you next week?”
“Yes! Bye, Uncle Al!”
And he hung up the phone.
“You better keep up that promise, Al. That kid freaking loves you”.
“I love him too, Edward.”
“Yes.” Edward continued unaffected by his brother´s last comment. “I mean, they told him at school to draw the person they admire the most in the whole world.”
“No way. He drew me?”
“No. He drew his grandma. But I’m pretty sure that if you had come to his birthday party, he would have drawn you.”
“Anyway how are you going to name him?”
“The baby, Al, how are you going to name your kid?”
He was doing it again, changing the subject. Alphonse really wanted to hit his brother. “I haven’t thought of that yet brother…”
“It is one of the most important things ever!” Alphonse’s early symptoms of a bad parenthood were really starting to worry Edward.
Alphonse rolled his eyes. “Mei likes Cao Meng.”
“Cow Man? What the hell?! I know you two are really into animals but this is ridiculous. Does she even know what it means?”
“Do you really think we are that stupid?” Alphonse frowned “Not C-O-W but C-A-O and not M-A-N but M-E-NG.”
“Cao Meng? It sounds like food!”
“You think so?”
“Not just food but BAD food. Bad and EXPENSIVE food, which is the worst combination ever.”
“You know I’m right!”
“It actually means grasshopper.” Alphonse proudly stated.
“HOW IS THAT BETTER?”
“Alphonse listen to me. You DON’T name your kid grasshopper, you just don’t.”
“The grasshopper is sacred here at Xing,” He carefully explained, “it would actually be an honor to be named after such a special creature.”
“I just know one thing Alphonse: if I were a ten year old bully I would definitely go after the kid who is named like a bug.”
He was not going to admit it, but Alphonse thought Edward was right. The whole sacred thing he had just said was the exact same thing Mei had said when she had told him about the baby. Alphonse hadn’t told Mei then but he didn’t like Cao Meng at all. Although he enjoyed almost every Xingese costume, naming your son like an insect was just weird.
“He is going to grow up to be a traumatized punk, Alphonse.”
Edward’s words snapped Alphonse back to reality and he realized that if he wanted his brother to drop the subject and shut up he would have to convince Edward the kid was going to have a decent name.
“I think you are right.”
“Of course I’m right! I’m an experienced father.”
“In fact, if it is a boy I will name him after you. He is going to be Edward Elric the second. How’s that?”
That silenced Edward for a few moments until he asked:
“Umm wow. I mean, uh… Thanks.” Edward said in such a genuine way that Alphonse almost began to think that yes, Edward was a good name indeed.
“Sure.” A comfortable silence finally fell between the brothers and when Alphonse felt it right he said:
“So, umm, I think you are also going to have to save Mei. I haven’t seen her since yesterday so I don’t really know where she is and...”
“What if it is a girl?”
“My girl has a great name. Sophia means wisdom. Yours should have a great name as well. ”
“Wasn’t I the one who suggested Sophia?”
“What do you think of Aelfredathia?” Edward interrupted. “At first, I wanted to call Sophie like that.”
“I think I’m glad Winry was there to stop you.”
“IT MEANS STRENGHT!”
“FINE, call her moth or termite or whatever the hell you want.” Edward glared at the phone.
“Mei wants to name her after her mother.”
“I rather name her after a bug. She is not going to be named after Mei’s mother. I never really liked her, and she has always hated me. In fact, I think it was her the one who suggested my punishment.”
“You are right, don’t call her like that.”
“In-laws can be bitches.”
“You don’t even have in-laws...”
“Forget it.” Alphonse looked through the window and saw in horror that the night had begun to fall. The night shift was about to begin. That meant a different guard was going to custody him.
At that very moment the door opened and Wu-his guard- entered the room. “Alphonse? Are you done? The night shift will start in ten minutes. I have to take the phone so that we don’t get caught.”
“Just give me five more minutes please.”
After thinking for a moment Wu nodded and left the room.
Alphonse turned and said to the phone in a quiet voice:
“My time is almost over Edward. I’m being held at the Chang head house. Most of the guards won’t interfere with you, but there are still some who will fight you. Be careful they are good, but I think you are better. Also…”
“OH FUCK, ALPHONSE, A HORRIBLE THOUGHT JUST OCURRED TO ME!”
“What is it?! Do you think there will be no tickets?!”
“About your baby.”
Crap Alphonse thought.
“I know how people say William is identical to me but sometimes he reminds me so much of you. He loves cats and has a girly voice among other things…”
“At that age is perfectly normal to have a girly voice!”
“And I was thinking that of course he is like you sometimes, because you are my brother so…”
“Edward I literally have only minutes to talk to you and…”
“… it is a possibility that grasshopper resembles Ling Yao, right?”
Alphonse remained quiet.
“Are you serious?”
“Just think about it Al. Ling and Mei are like brothers right?”
“Brother…” Anger started to grow inside Alphonse.
“Can you imagine having that jerk living under your same roof? Eating and fainting all the time…”
“Edward…” A strong headache started to cloud his thoughts.
“…taking advantage of his poor innocent cousins. What if he tries to steal Will’s girlfriend in the future?”
Until it became too much…
“What if he fancies Sophie? I heard incest is common in Xing and…”
“SHUT UP! SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP!” Alphonse finally screamed shocking his brother enough to keep him quiet. “YOU KNOW WHAT? FORGET IT OK? DON’T COME TO XING. DON’T DO ANYTHING I TOLD YOUTO DO. CLEARLY YOU DON’T WANT TO DO IT.” As he kept yelling at his brother Alphonse started to slam his fist into the wall. “I’LL DO IT ON MY OWN! AND YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE? ”
“I’M NOT NAMING HIM EDWARD!” And with those final words the line went dead indicating that Alphonse had hung up.
Edward was left standing with the phone between his ear and his hand until he put it back on its place.
After a few seconds he walked towards his and Winry’s bedroom and grabbed some money. He also put on some traveling clothes and a pair of white gloves because it was custom.
When he went downstairs dinner was already served and Winry was putting Sophie in her cradle next to the table. Pinako was telling William that she would show him how to smoke from a pipe if he promised her to wait until he was sixteen. When Winry saw him dressed in his traveling clothes she asked:
“And where are you going?”
He answered her in a slightly irritated voice:
“To save my brother’s nuts and our grasshopper nephew!”
“Ok…” She said “Call me when you get there.”
Edward was resting his head on one of the station’s benches with a ticket to Xing in his left hand and a sandwich from Winry in his other hand. He closed his eyes and tried to rest a little, at least until the train arrived. Suddenly, a grasshopper jumped and landed on his knee. The tiny animal started to sing, making Edward notice it’s existence. They stared at each other for a while until Edward frowned at it and said.
“Sacred my ass.”
With a quick hand movement Edward scared the bug and the grasshopper jumped away.
If he had to take extreme measures to avoid the kid’s life to get ruined by his parents then so be it.
“Don’t worry, kid. After this is over, if he doesn’t change his mind, ” He said to himself. “ I’ll make him think that getting his balls cut was not the worst thing that could happen. I’m the one on your side kid…”
He thought about what he had just said for a few moments and added:
“Even if you turn out to be like Ling.”
While reading the epilogue I looked at the Elric family picture at the end and analyzed Edward’s face and thought “Damn he sure looks happy as hell”. HE IS THE FAMILY MAN
And Alphonse loves his testicles very much. You all know he does.
Thank you to my beautiful betas! THANK YOU SO MUCH
-Cao Meng actually do means grasshopper
-Aelfredathia also means strength. I would like to apologize if someone is actually named like that. XD
-Sichuan is a real Chinese province. I don’t like inventing things…
-The paragraph Edward is reading at the beginning is real and was taken from the Golden Chain of Homer right here: http://www.levity.com/alchemy/catena1.html
-I love the name of William, very much. Almost as much as I love “Edward”. They are both classic, elegant and also the short version “Will” is as cute as “Ed”…So there. Sophie is nice too, but is more the meaning of the name than anything else n_n
Thank you for reading!