Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Disclaimer: Ed, Al, and company belong to their respective owners.

Summary: Ed, Al, Winry, and Izumi deal with the aftermath of Ed's first kill. Spoilers for the Greed episodes of the anime.

Opening notes: Title is because... Well, I had this plotbunny running around my brain during school towards the end of the year. Was brainstorming it while at a talent-show-type-thing and one of the girls sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and I was all, "Dude! I just got a title!"

Anyway, I just totally love Izumi and had to write something about her. XD Except it ended up being severely fleshed out to include a lot of Ed, Al, and Winry, too.

Just so nobody's confused: "sensei" basically means "teacher, master" and it's what Ed and Al call Izumi. "Niisan" is an expression for "big brother" and what Al calls Ed. "-san" is your all-purpose, handy-dandy, respect-denoting honorific.

-o-o-o-o-

It was days like this that Edward Elric woke up and wondered why he was alive, and asked himself if there was a point in getting out of bed.

He'd awoken in an unknown bedroom; for a moment he'd been confused until he remembered he, his brother, and Winry were staying with the Curtises. He was lying in the guestroom, he realized, with his black jacket and red overcoat folded neatly on the end of the cot, black boots waiting for him on the floor.

This room... This was where he and Al had slept while Izumi had been training them.

Now he remembered last night. Had sensei carried him in here? He must've walked in himself, though he couldn't remember it.

He could hear voices from the kitchen, and he could pick out Al's among them. So Al was back, then, and safe.

It was true; Al couldn't be injured physically, but somehow Ed worried about him anyway. It was an instinct to worry about his little brother, he supposed.

Ed rubbed his eyes, suddenly remembering why he was alive, and recalling the reason he had to get out of bed.

He got up and left the bedroom, yawning and scratching the back of his neck. Ed was not a morning person – never had been, never would be. On more than one occasion, his mother had been forced to rip the covers off in order to get him to school on time.

"Niisan, you're up!" Al remarked when Ed walked in the kitchen.

"And you're back, Al," Ed replied, grinning, despite last night.

"Ed," Izumi spoke up suddenly. "Do you remember what we have to do today?"

Ed sobered and looked at her. "Yeah," he answered without hesitation. "Let's go."

They left less than five minutes later, puzzling the others. But they didn't know what had transpired between master and student the night before.

-o-o-o-o-

(The night before)

Izumi wondered, not for the first time, why her students had to be so stupid. This time Al had gotten kidnapped, of all things, and who knew what sort of reckless things Ed was trying to get him back.

She was sitting at the front counter of the butcher shop when the clock struck two a.m. She sighed and rested her cheek in her hand, wondering, not for the first time, where the heck Ed and Al were.

Sig and Winry had been trying to stay up as well, but sleep had claimed them a while ago. They were dozing in the back room, and Izumi was waiting by herself.

There was a constant gnawing in her stomach, but it was hard to tell if it was being caused by her illness or her worry over the Elrics.

She got up and stretched, noting with satisfaction that this time there were no dizzy spells. It figured – she relapsed into poor health at the most inconvenient times. If it hadn't been for Sig and Ed insisting she go home and rest after the three of them managed to escape detainment by the army...

But her apprentices could take care of themselves, couldn't they...?

A shadow outside caught her eye, and Izumi tensed, listening. There was the dull thud of a body hitting the ground outside, and she crept to the door.

The bell above the door gave a weak chime as she opened the door slowly and quietly... A figure in black had collapsed on her doorstep. But she didn't worry that this person was a prowler, no, because this figure was abnormally short with golden hair.

"Ed," she mumbled urgently, crouching next to him. His eyes were open but had a disconcerting, glazed look to them. There was no blood; in fact, as far as she could tell from just looking at him there were no injuries to speak of.

But he was unresponsive nonetheless.

"Edward," she said, her voice holding a note of urgency. She placed a hand on his shoulder to shake him into answering, but paused when she felt his body trembling underneath her touch. "Ed," she said again. "Ed, look at me."

Slowly he turned his head to face her. "Sensei..."

"That's right," she said, hiding the relief that he recognized her. "And you are in for so much troub-" He sat up and she paused, noticing the tearstains on his face. "Ed," she said. "What happened?"

"I...I killed him, sensei," he choked. "I killed someone." He shuddered involuntarily, sitting up but refusing to meet her eyes.

"Who? Greed?"

He gave a weak nod, staring at the ground with his bangs in front of his eyes.

"But he was... one of them, wasn't he?" Izumi couldn't quite see why this was upsetting Ed so much.

"I killed him, sensei!" Ed cried suddenly. "See?" He thrust his gloved hands towards Izumi's face; the gloves, once white, were now stained a deep crimson.

"...I see," Izumi said softly, peeling off the offending gloves and pulling Ed to her, tucking his head under her chin. "I see."

"I-I didn't mean to do it, sensei," he said, sobs threatening to drown out the rest of his words. "I wasn't trying to kill him. I only wanted... I only wanted to know where Al is, sensei!"

"I know, Ed. I understand what you were trying to do." She wasn't sure what she was talking about now – Greed's murder or the Elric brothers' failed attempt to resurrect their mother.

She paused. "Where is your brother, Ed? Where's Al?"

"I d-dunno," he said weakly. "G-Greed said he let Al go, so..."

"Then Al will be home before we know it," Izumi said firmly. She was going to get up and then tell Ed to do the same, but somehow she found her legs were too heavy, so she just sat for a while and held him.

Izumi considered herself a rational person. So she couldn't understand why she'd felt so guilty and angry with herself when she learned of what Ed and Al tried to do that rainy night four years ago.

...Shouldn't she have known? Shouldn't it have been obvious they wanted to learn alchemy to attempt a human transmutation?

She had them for about a year and a half; during that time she learned the little things about Ed and Al that made them Ed and Al.

Like how Ed wouldn't touch milk, Al detested broccoli, and neither cared for mathematics. Ed preferred fiction; Al enjoyed the nonfiction volumes that Izumi employed as a cure for insomnia. Al liked to draw and was pretty good at it, even though he had only been nine at the time. Drawing and the like bored Ed, though. And on mornings after thunderstorms their cots would be pushed together. Sometimes Ed would kick Al or Ed would end up sleeping with his head near Al's feet, but neither seemed to mind.

When that year and a half was up she declared them graduated, and they were ecstatic. So she sent them back to Rizembool and heard nothing about them. She pretended that it didn't bother her, but at some point Izumi grudgingly realized she was experiencing something akin to empty-nest-syndrome. Oh, well. As the saying goes, no news is good news.

But then she heard those rumors about the youngest State Alchemist, Edward Elric... At first she had no idea where the name "Fullmetal" came from, but she certainly knew now.

Only this afternoon Dante had said that suffering would come to them in their quest for the Philosopher's Stone. Izumi looked down at the shattered Ed and wondered what more he and his brother would have to endure.

If she had known that this would be the result of her teachings, would she have taken them on as her apprentices? She liked to think the answer to that question was no, but Izumi wasn't sure she could be that unselfish.

She didn't know anything about their mother, but she sincerely hoped that the anonymous Mrs. Elric, whoever she was, didn't mind sharing her sons with this alchemically skilled housewife. After all, they were both mothers who wanted only to protect their children, weren't they?

"It's getting cold, Ed," she pointed out suddenly. "You're gonna get sick."

He was silent for a moment. "I don't get sick, sensei... remember?"

Well, that was true, she supposed. Both of the boys were healthy and Izumi didn't remember having to deal with them being sick, except for that one cold Al got...

"Yes, well... You're half-asleep, and I say we're going in," Izumi decided, getting to her feet and pulling Ed up with her.

"I just left them there..." Ed mumbled, unconsciously leaning against Izumi.

"We'll take care of it in the morning," she said firmly. Ed was silent for once, too exhausted to protest.

When Ed woke up the next morning, he and Izumi left for Dante's house, where they buried Greed and Dante.

-o-o-o-o-

When Ed and Izumi arrived home a few hours later, Ed abruptly announced that he, Al, and Winry would head off that afternoon.

Winry packed her things. Ed was supposed to pack his clothes as well, but he somehow ended up in the backyard sparring with Al.

So Izumi found Winry packing Ed's suitcase for him. He probably wouldn't thank Winry for it later, but it was all right, because she knew he appreciated it all the same, even if he didn't say so out loud. That was just how Ed was.

Izumi stood in the doorway and raised an eyebrow at the blonde mechanic folding pairs of black pants and white tank tops. "Shouldn't Ed be doing this...?"

Winry shrugged. "He's got too much on his mind right now; he'd probably just mess it up somehow." She smiled. "It's just folding, and it's one less thing for them to worry about, right?"

Izumi blinked. "Do you always travel with Ed and Al?" She doubted this, having now seen some of the dangers Ed and Al faced firsthand.

"Nope," Winry answered. "A lot of the times they come to us, because Ed's an idiot and he gets his automail broken all the time." She rolled her eyes.

"You're the one who fitted him with that stuff?" Izumi asked.

Winry nodded. "Well, my grandmother and I did it." She was idly folding shirts now, her eyes taking on a faraway look. "It was... very frightening, the first time, on that night... I remember it was storming, and Al came to the door, and he was carrying Ed... And Ed, well... he was bleeding all over the place... I couldn't understand what was happening, other than Al...wasn't really Al anymore, and Ed might die right then and there..." She looked down. "Ed got very sick... He kept crying in his sleep, and asking Al to forgive him... And Al was so silent all the time, I'd worry that he was gone..."

She looked up and shook her head slightly, as if to clear the memories from her mind. "It's not like things could have ever been the same after that, but... I never thought it would be so hard on them."

Izumi was silent for a moment, and when Winry looked over the older woman had her eyes shut tight and her hands clenched. "If I had known...If I had known my teaching them alchemy would come to this, I..."

Winry smiled and snapped the suitcase shut. "They probably still would've found some sort of way. They're like that. Once they have their minds set on something, nothing's going to stop them. So there's not really much the rest of us can do, except wait and be there when things go wrong and pray that it all works out in the end."

Winry picked up the suitcase. "'Scuse me, Izumi-san," she said, scooting past Izumi and out the bedroom door, leaving the teacher wondering who had been the teacher this time, and who the student.

-o-o-o-o-

Ed flopped back on the grass, breathing heavily and wiping the sweat off his forehead.

"You're too tired for this, niisan," Al said in a maternal sort-of voice, easing out of the fighting stance he'd been in.

Ed opened an eye to look up at him. "Nah," he said. "I'm fine."

"I bet you hardly got any sleep last night," Al continued.

Ed paused. "Al... last night..." He swallowed.

Al sat down cross-legged on the grass next to Ed, and the blond shut his eyes and simply listened to the familiar clank of Al's armor.

"'Sokay, niisan," Al said finally. "I know what happened last night."

Ed said nothing, keeping his eyes closed. "It's one less homunculus to deal with, right, Al? So why do I...?" He sighed and trailed off.

"He told me what a homunculus's weakness is," Ed continued, opening his eyes.

"H-huh? What is it?"

"In the presence of the remains of the person they were supposed to be, they become paralyzed," Ed said. "I think... He told me that because he wants me to kill all the homunculi. He believes I can do it, but... I don't think I can, Al..."

"...I could help you, niisan..."

"No, Al," Ed snapped.

Al made a noise halfway between surprise, hurt, and disappointment. Armor clanked as he shifted.

Ed sighed again. "No, Al," he said again, calmer this time. "I...don't want you to kill..."

"Niisan..."

Ed sat up and stretched, grinning. "Besides, it's the older brother who always gets stuck doing the dirty work, right, Al?"

Al saw right through that façade. "Don't worry too much about beating all the homunculi, niisan," he said quietly, and Ed looked at him. "We'll just... take things as they come, okay? That's what we've always done before, isn't it? Not to mention... You're not too good at planning things out, niisan."

"Don't be so cruel, Al," Ed smiled, more genuine this time.

Just then Winry came out, to inform they were packed and ready to go. Ed and Al stood up and just glanced at each other, in one of those moments where words weren't needed to get the meaning across.

-o-o-o-o-

Ed, Al, and Winry left a little while later, with the promise of visiting again sometime soon.

Izumi watched them disappear into the horizon and fought back a dizzy spell. Her idiot apprentices would be back again, she told herself.

She couldn't lose them too.

-o-o-o-o-

Ending notes: Reopened this one last night and wondered why it had been just sitting on my hard drive when it appeared to be finished, but then I remembered I'd been planning to flesh it out with some of Al's reactions to everything, too. So that's how I ended up with the scene between Ed and Al. I dunno, I really liked how that part came out.

Reviews, please? I think I did alright with keeping Izumi in character, but you might have another opinion...