Disclaimer: I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist or anything related to it. I'm just borrowing it.
Summary: "Al runs his fingers over the engraved metal, wondering what happened on 3 Oct. 10, and why it must not be forgotten." Post-series drabble.
Notes: Originally published July 1st at one in the morning, but when I went back and read through it the afternoon of July 1st, I had to go back and correct some sleep-deprivation-induced typoes. Heh.
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.
(Oh yeah, and I named Rose's baby. Nowhere in the series do they give him a name, so I did it myself.)
At breakfast Winry gave Al a task. There would be a veritable army to feed tonight – besides the now-permanent guests of Rose-san and her son Adam, there would be Sensei, Sig-san, and Mason-san. They would be arriving from Dublith this afternoon. Therefore they needed extra food, and so Winry sent Al fishing.
Now he reaches the creek that flows through the outskirts of Rizembool; and he is happy. It's true he doesn't know where Niisan is; and he is a little afraid that he might never find him. But when Sensei comes, she will fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle. They already have Rose-san's story, and the story of the boys named Russell and Fletcher, who said they remembered Al though he couldn't remember them.
He is excited to see Sensei; he is certain she will help. After all, Sensei knows a lot. She even knows more than Niisan – but she doesn't know quite as much as Mom did. Nobody knew more than Mom.
Al settles down and dangles his fishing rod in the water. Baiting the hook still made him a bit uncomfortable, but it was like Sensei had taught them – "All is one, one is all." It was all part of the flow of life.
He hasn't seen Sensei in a while, and that is probably why he's so excited to see her. In the back of his mind, he longs to see her because she will still be Sensei; she will not have changed as Winry has changed in the four years that never happened for Al.
He sighs; he still hasn't even seen a fish. He takes off his shoes and dips his feet in the cool clear water, slowly, so as not to scare any unseen fish that might be approaching. It feels good, the water lapping up against his ankles. Al has always been the more patient of the brothers, but fishing really does take an extraordinary amount of the virtue. He sighs again and exhales sharply.
And suddenly something sparkling and silver catches his eye. He sets down his fishing rod and stands up, wading over. As Al gets closer, he realizes it's a pocket watch, lying there in the bed of the stream. He dislodges it, disturbing the silt, and lifts it from the water.
It's a very nice pocket watch, he decides, as he turns it over in his hands. Of course it doesn't work anymore; perhaps he'll fix it alchemically when he gets home.
On the front is the crest of Amestris, so Al wonders if the watch is affiliated with the military. Strangely enough, it feels warm in his hands, even after being submerged in the chilly creek for who-knows-how-long.
He goes back over to the bank of the creek and sits down, still examining his new treasure. On the inside of the cover is something strange. It looks as though there's something etched on it, but it's covered in mud and hard to make out. Al purses his lips and cleans the watch as best he can with his bare hands and the water, and finds that there is indeed an etching on the cover.
"Don't forget" it reads, and directly beneath those two cryptic words is a date: "3 Oct. 10".
October third, 1910. The last date Al can remember is March twenty-second, 1910; that was the day he and Niisan...He swallows. That was the day he and Niisan were going to resurrect Mom, but then there's a gap and suddenly he woke up lying in some charred wood, some charred wood that used to be part of his house.
It is another tangible reminder, this watch; another reminder that the world is four years ahead of Alphonse. Al runs his fingers over the engraved metal, wondering what happened on 3 Oct. 10, and why it must not be forgotten. And for a moment he fancies that there is a figure with golden hair, clad in red, getting angry, crying, laughing, fighting...dying... all for the sake of... of what?
Al has been told that he and Niisan did try to bring back Mom, and it didn't work... Winry has told him the past four years were spent trying to fix what happened. She has not told Al any of the details of those four years. She says that she doesn't think she can talk about it all just yet, but she promises that she will. And Al is burning to know, but Winry looks so sad that he doesn't press the matter further.
But he wants to know, terribly. Russell and Fletcher were the first to come to the Rockbells with information about Niisan; apparently Winry had used a lady she knew in the military to start a search for Niisan after Al woke up in the remains of his house, and Russell and Fletcher caught wind of it. Those two told Al and Winry and Obaachan that they went to the place where Niisan probably was last, and there was blood all over the floor, lots and lots of blood. They said it could be Niisan's blood, and if it was then Niisan was certainly dead.
Winry cried and Al cried and he was so confused; so frustrated because he just didn't understand how...how he had woken up where he did; how he was ten when he should be fourteen, going on fifteen; how Niisan could have possibly died...
Not knowing was probably worse than knowing, Al decided.
He picks up his fishing rod and begins fishing again. 'I'm sorry, Niisan,' he thinks, blinking away tears because Niisan would tell him to quit crying. 'I'm sorry I don't remember.'
He is not quite as happy as before, and he wants to get back to the people he still has as soon as possible.
When he returns to Winry's house (he still thinks of it as Winry's house, even though it is his home as well, now) he gives her his catches and he shows her the pocket watch. Her breath catches in her throat as she takes it with trembling hands, and when she looks at the words carved into the inside a sad, sad look comes over her. She gives Al a sudden hug, thanks him for the fish, and tells everyone she's suddenly a little bit dizzy and wants to lie down. And she retreats up to her room for a while, still holding the pocket watch, leaving Al standing in the kitchen. He wonders what he did wrong.
When Sensei, Sig-san, and Mason-san approach the house that afternoon, everyone (including Winry) is in the backyard. Al sees the trio first and runs to them; Sensei responds by seizing Al and flipping him over her shoulder.
He is surprised but not really surprised, and a shock travels through his spine when he hits the ground, but he doesn't really mind because this means that Sensei has not changed a bit.
But then as he gets up she reaches over and pulls him into a fierce hug, and it is then that Al notices that her eyes are a lot more tired and a lot sadder than he remembers.
He is still burning to know; but he waits and is rewarded for his patience when Winry and Sensei sit him down at the kitchen table while dinner is cooking. Winry and Al recount what Rose-san has told them about what happened the last time she saw the brothers and Sensei listens with serious dark eyes. When they are done she nods and sits in the silence for a moment, then she turns to Winry, who nods, then she turns to Al and tells him that there is something called the Gate.
When it is all over it is time for dinner, and they all come to the table, the big noisy lot of them. Al looks down at Den, who's resting his head on Al's knee, hoping for some scraps. He looks over at little Adam, giggling and laughing and playing on his mother's lap. He looks over at Winry, remembering how they held each other the night they learned Niisan "died", remembering how he could taste the salt in his tears and smell the faint scent of oil and shampoo, clinging to Winry.
He now knows there was a time when he could not smell, or taste, or even feel. He cannot imagine for the life of him living in such a way, but he knows it happened all the same.
He looks at all the people he loves and swallows. He knows what he must ask of Sensei now.
Because now that he knows, he does not want to forget.
Notes: Umm...wow, I don't know. Other than I'm really tired and should probably be in bed right about now... Very short drabble, this one was; practically wrote itself.
Now then, about the watch – here's the way I remember it: before Ed went to Lior, Archer took his pocket watch. When Al was going to go to Lior to find Ed, Riza gave Al the watch to give to Ed, but with all the excitement of...y'know, Al turning into a Philosopher's Stone, he forgets. When they run back to Rizembool, on the run from the military, Riza mentions the watch, and Al's embarrassed because he's lost it. And, well, things just start to happen really fast after that, and the watch is forgotten again.
Also, Ed and Al and company were at a creek, and also in the fourth ending sequence (which I only watch to see the breakdancing-Envy) there is a shot of Ed's watch sitting in what looks like a creek. So I put two and two together and that's how I got the location of the watch.
But like I said, that's just the way I remember it.
And when I said that the watch felt warm to Al, that's because I recall them saying once that the pocket watches amplify alchemical reactions, and that's one of the reasons State Alchemists wear them, besides the fact that they identify the State Alchemists and just simply look cool. XD So anyway, I figured that Al, being fairly skilled in alchemy, and created from alchemy, would have a bit of a reaction to the watch. Yes.
...And now for Cheesecake's Random Thought of the Day – superstition says that if you sneeze three times in a row, someone's thinking about you and/or talking about you behind your back. That being said... post-series-Ed-and-Al must sneeze a lot, huh?
Yeeeah, I should probably just go to bed before I hurt myself. V.v