Moving Forward

author: carla, aka cali-chan
rating: PG-13, because of some swearing... Can't be helped, since there will be people calling Ed "short" once in a while. Rating might go up to R, though, depending on my mood when writing later chapters.
genre: AU, romance, a bit drama, really cheap humor ;;;
canon: manga ONLY!
pairings: EdxWin, RoyxAi. Hughes will definitely be gushing about his wife a lot...
summary: AU, chaptered, high-school themed, but not your usual sweet-valley high school fanfic. Edward Elric has to become the best track runner there is, for his mother, for his brother, and for everyone else in his life. But will triumph come at a high cost?

Chapter 1: Not nearly enough

Winry Rockbell sighed, loosening her uniform's tie as she looked down at the track. Then she pulled her earrings out of her pocket, carefully putting them on, trying not to look down at the track. "He's trying too hard. Again."

The boy that was sitting beside her looked up from the stopwatch he had in his hand. "That's Brother for you," he said, smiling a little.

Winry frowned at Alphonse. "Yeah. Pigheaded shrimp," she muttered. "It's getting late, and if he goes on he's gonna hurt himself!"

Al chuckled. "Winry-chan, we do this every night, I can't believe you still complain about it..."

"Well, if he's being stubborn, I can be, too," the girl replied. Just a second after she finished the sentence, the boy that was running down at the track crossed the finish line. Al stopped the watch and they picked their things up to go and meet him. "Do you need help?" Winry asked him, noticing that it was taking some time for him to get up.

"No, I'm good, thank you," he answered her, finally putting his backpack on. He took a breath and stood up, making sure to put most of the weight on his walking crutch. Winry stepped up to grab him by the arm, even if he had told her not to. Together, they made it down the stands, and to the runner.

He gasped for breath and passed a hand through his bangs, that were sticking to his forehead because of the sweat. "So?" he asked them as soon as they were within hearing range.

"Mm-mm. Leg up, I need to check it before we say anything," Winry interrupted him, in a bossy tone.

He rolled his eyes but complied, muttering something about health freaks and their never knowing when not to butt in other people's business. He looked up at his little brother, though, as Winry examined his knee. "How was it, then?"

"One second less than your record, Brother," the young caramel-colored boy explained to him. "And still a good three seconds below my best."

"Stop twitching so much, Ed," Winry warned him, as Al handed him a towel to dry off. He swore under his breath. He'd been practicing like crazy and he wasn't getting any better...

"Exhaustion never helped anyone get better," Winry chastised him, finally giving his leg a positive diagnosis. "Well, there is a bit of swelling, but it doesn't seem like it's going to bruise today."

"It's not gonna break everytime I walk, you know," Edward snapped at her, with a frown.

"Yeah, but you weren't exactly walking! You have to give it a rest or you won't be able to run again!" she exclaimed, knowing full well that it was a sensitive topic for the two brothers, but wanting both of them to know the consequences of their actions. "You aren't made of metal, Ed. One of these days, your leg's simply going to give out."

Like mine, Al thought, and he knew his brother was thinking the same thing. But that only spurred him on. Winry had said so herself, his older brother was just too stubborn. "No, it won't, not until I surpass Al's record. I have to keep on practicing. In fact, I'm gonna go again--"

"No, you're not, Edward Elric!" Winry pulled him by the sleeve of his t-shirt before he could run off to the start line again. "Granny called me a while ago. She said she's had dinner ready since an hour ago, and if we don't go back home right now, we'll have to go by without eating."

"Ah, Brother--"

"And of course you cannot do that, you need to eat, after all you're growing boys!" an amused voice boomed from behind them. The three turned to see their Student Advisor walking towards them. "Or at least Al is..."

The ticking Edward Elric time bomb suddenly exploded. "WHO ARE YOU CALLING SO SMALL THAT HE NEEDS TO BE SEEN WITH A MICROSCOPE!" he yelled at the older man, not minding that he was a member of the school staff and therefore was supposed to be respected.

"Mr. Hughes!" Winry smiled at him, still holding a fuming Ed by the sleeve. "How are you?"

"I'm doing good, thank you," he smiled back at her. "Elysia's been asking about you, you know," he continued, his eyes going all googly as they did whenever he spoke about his family.

"I'll try to visit her this weekend," Winry replied, sweatdropping.

"Good, good. Winry, those piercings..." he went back to his normal, tranquil expression.

She sweatdropped even more. What a drastic change of topic! "It's after school hours, sir. I'm allowed to wear whatever I want at this hour."

"Yes, you're right. Now, about Elysia..." he whipped what seemed like a ton of pictures from his pocket (How did that huge pile fit in there?, Al wondered), and shoved them in the faces of the three teenagers. "Have I told you how much she has grown recently?" The googly-eyed face was back with a vengeance.

Now Al was sweatdropping, too. "That's great, Mr. Hughes... and... what are you doing still here, it's late?" he managed to let out, trying not to be asphixiated by the avalanche of photographic paper. And how can he be so obsessed with his family if he's a workaholic?, he wondered further.

Ed twitched, face full of papercuts. "Was there a point to this conversation?" he roared, now itching to go home, for some reason.

Mr. Hughes went back to normal again, not without taking back all the pictures and putting them back in his pants' pocket (Was it like the same principle of a black hole?, Al continued his wonderings). "Ah, yes. I came to tell you, Edward, that I recently talked to a friend of mine from back in college. He's a sports talent scout. He specializes in track running and other such sports. He's working on putting together this county's track team for the World All-Sports Championship. I told him about you and he seemed interested in coming to Leizenburg to see you perform."

All three teens gasped. "Wow. The World All-Sports Championship! Brother, this could be it!" Al wanted to jump in joy. But he couldn't for obvious reasons.

Ed took a look at his brother's walking stick, and then looked back at the Student Counselor. "When would he come?"

Mr. Hughes laughed out loud. "Oh, I don't know. He didn't give me a date. And of course, you never know with Roy Mustang... he just pops out of nowhere at the most unexpected times..."

Edward frowned and both Al and Winry looked at him, confused. "Thanks, Mr. Hughes. It was very nice of you to do this." Hughes smiled at him and put a hand on his shoulder. "It was nothing, Edward. You are a brilliant runner, after all." He smiled at all three of them then, eyes shining. "I have to go now, my family is waiting for me. I'll see you all on Monday!" And with a wave, he turned and left towards the parking garage. The three teenagers turned towards their home as well, as they did every day.

When they were about halfway there, the silence got a little too heavy. "So what are you thinking, Brother?" Al asked his brother, wanting him to express a reaction to the news.

"Yeah, Ed, I thought you'd be happy about it," their blond-haired best friend added, wondering why Ed kept frowning. He was going to be discovered! Why wasn't he all excited about it?

"A brilliant runner..." Ed muttered, head bent down so his bangs covered his eyes. "No... not nearly. My record isn't going to get me anywhere near the Championship. I have to do better."

"I'm sure you will, Brother," Al assured him, not wanting him to feel anymore pressure. It was enough that he was pushing himself so hard because of the promise he'd made to him after the accident. He wanted Ed to do this because he wanted to, not because he felt obligated to.

Winry kept her comments to herself. She would support him in whatever he wanted to do. She just hoped he didn't hurt himself in his attempts.

author's notes-- so yeah, anything you don't understand will be explained later on. feel free to ask, though. i'll answer if i can.