I don't own Fma.
The candle in Alphonse's hand caused a glow to illuminate his form. He walked with his other hand curved around the light on the tip of the wick. The flooring beneath him creaked slightly as he made his way down the hall, down one flight of stairs, through the living room, down another hallway, and at the end of the hallway sat a closed door. Light streamed from underneath the shut door.
It informed Al that his brother was still awake.
Alphonse stared at the door for a few minutes. He had come downstairs with a purpose, but, he was already beginning to forget his reasoning. Damn.
'Send me back'…
Alphonse shook his head to help clear it. So, was he supposed to knock? Did he call out to him? What was he supposed to do?
Alphonse was surprised when a voice called out instead. "Just come in."
His nerves suddenly leapt on fire. Why had he come downstairs again?
The iron knob felt cold in his grasp as he turned it and pushed the door open. Light invaded his vision as he took his first step into the room.
Alphonse was surprised to find Edward out of bed. He stood by the window, his eyes taking in the outside world. His long white sleeves had been rolled up to the elbow. His long blonde hair cascaded down his back, reaching near the waste. Edward had his arms folded.
"I had been expecting you."
That shocked Alphonse slightly. Alphonse blew out the candle he had been holding before he took a few steps into the bedroom. He placed the candle onto a desk that sat near the door.
"How did you know I was going to come?"
Edward smirked as he turned fully around to face his little brother. "You forget that the floors creak. You might not hear it well upstairs, but down here it's as plain as day. Besides, I know you to well."
Alphonse felt his face heat up slightly, and he thought he was being sneaky…
Edward motioned for Alphonse to come closer to him. Alphonse found himself rather surprised by how more loose and friendly Edward was acting. He felt happy by this fact.
Both brothers now stood right in front of the other. Edward almost gasped at the revelation that he now had to look down at Al. That caused him to frown. Edward had grown, but very little. He knew with in a few years his brother's height would tower over him. "Granny told me what happened. Alphonse…I'm sorry." His last words were almost a whisper.
Alphonse couldn't help but smile. Edward was sounding more human then he had before. Maybe Granny was right, maybe Edward was just so bewildered before that he was disoriented. He needed time to figure things out.
"It wasn't your fault."
"I never thought that when I did the transmutation it would bring you back to your original form, quite literally. I never realized you would lose your memories of so many years. You don't remember anything that happened, not at all?" A small sense of hope had crept into Edwards voice.
Alphonse shook his head. "I only know what the others have told me." Alphonse did not hold anything against his brother for what had happened. He had heard the story's, he knew the truth. When they had transmuted their mother they had done it together, Al could never blame Ed for losing so many years.
Edward took a couple steps away from Al and sat on the frame of his bed. He wasn't sure how to feel about his brothers loss of memory.
Alphonse noted that Edward still had that blank stare in his eyes. He wasn't sure if anyone could rid him of the hallow look.
Edward looked towards the floor, unsure how to start this conversation. "I had sacrificed myself to give you your body back. I don't understand."
Alphonse walked over and sat by his brother. He looked up at him curiously. "What don't you understand?"
"What sacrifice did you give to bring me back?"
Alphonse's eyebrows shot up. Oh boy, this was a question he had hoped no one would ask him. His eyes darted around nervously for a moment. How was he to explain himself without getting in trouble?
"I uhh- well, do you remember Master Izumi telling us about impulses? She once told us that-"
"-as an Alchemist we sometimes feel impulses on certain transmutations. You go by fact, not by feel. Yes, I remember her telling us that."
Alphonse felt his mouth suddenly go dry. He just hoped Edward didn't yell at him. "Well, I went by feel rather than by fact."
Edward's eyes bore into Al's. He was starting to get rather suspicious of what Al was going to tell him. However, he was not one to lecture his brother on using impulses in alchemy. He was one who had done it on many occasions. "So, what are you telling me?"
"When we brought back mom… do you remember that when we prepared to do the transmutation we had cut our fingers and allowed our blood to mix for the sake to give her a soul? Well, I came to a theory that it was possible during the transmutation we became one because we transmuted our blood together. We are blood brothers. I just knew if I sacrificed some of my blood and gave all my faith I could bring you ba-"
Edward's hand suddenly flew in the air, demanding Alphonse to go silent. Alphonse followed the gesture and did as told. He stared at his brother not sure what was going to happen. Edward pushed himself from his sitting position and stood in front of Alphonse. He placed his hands on Al's shoulders.
His voice was threatening. "What you did was foolish."
Al shook his head. "How can you say that, I brought you back!"
Edward's fingers curled into the palms of his hand. "That is not what brought me back! You are lucky, if the circumstances had been different at the time the gate would had taken you as a sacrifice. It wouldn't have been worth it!"
That stopped Alphonse. He did not fully understand what Edward was telling him. What did he mean if circumstances had been different?
Edward's anger drained away as realization took place. He was being rather hypocritical. "But, I can't blame you for following your emotions. When I sacrificed myself for you, it was solely on emotions. I will never regret giving my life so you could continue on."
Alphonse looked up at Edward. For a moment he saw his brothers eyes become gentle, for a moment he saw life flood its way back into those hallow depths. Alphonse suddenly jumped forward, grabbing Edward into a hug. He wanted life to stay into those eyes. He hated that hallow look Edward constantly seemed to carry.
Edward sighed as he felt his little brother's arms surround him. He wanted to scream at Alphonse for doing such a foolish thing. His brother could have lost his life to the gate. He, himself, just wasn't worth that type of sacrifice.
Al buried his face into his brothers chest.
Looking down, Edward took in the young boy before him. That was what he was, he was just a boy. He frowned, his brother was not who he remembered. It used to be Al always being the one scolding, not the other way around. The child before him did not understand Ed on the level he was used to, Al did not understand what they had gone through. If only he knew...
Edward was hesitant at first, but finally he gave in. His hands found their way around his little brother. Al felt warm to the touch. He felt alive…he was alive.
He closed his eyes tight as he felt that warmth.
"All you two ever had was each other. Now that he's out of your reach, do you think that gives you justification to just give up!" Hohenheim had looked at his son. He was angry at the boy who sat on the floor.
"How will I ever find him? How will I ever find home…" His voice was a raspy whisper. Edward had looked up, desperation reeked from his words.
Hohenheim had sighed. He wanted to yell at his sons reckless behavior, but he just couldn't. He knelt down to the battered boy on the floor. "I don't know, but you have always been able to find a way. You never gave up on the impossible before."
Edwards eyes had fallen to the floor. "Yes, and look where it has gotten me."
"It has given you a second chance."
Father… Edward took in a deep breath.
"Ed?" Alphonse glanced up as he felt Edward's arm's suddenly tighten around him.
Edward's voice was hoarse. "It really is you Al… isn't it?"
Al looked confused for a moment, but nodded.
Edward placed his forehead on Al's shoulder. Al never questioned the droplet of water that had soaked through his shirt.
Dominic pulled his jacket tighter around himself. Cold weather was never a favorite of his. He also disliked the idea of winter coming considering the usual decline in customers, but that concern could wait till later.
Dominic smiled as a few kids ran past him while tossing a ball back and forth. Leaves crunched beneath the children's feet as their small legs carried them away. The children made a turn down the road, leaving his sight. He sighed as he placed his black gloved hands into his side pockets and continued on his way.
His auto-mail shop laid hidden behind the various others. He was known as one of the best auto-mail mechanics, but if you ever planned to use Dominic for business you truly better deserve it. And, in his opinion, if you felt yourself worthy enough for his services you were going to have to seek the man out. In Rush Valley every auto-mail shop looked the same. Since his was well hidden in the far depths of the booming town, it made his shop almost impossible to find. It was just the way he liked it.
Dominic pulled out his right hand from the comfort of his cozy jackets pocket. In his hand he held a silver tarnished key. The key slipped easily into the lock of the door, it clicked informing him he had unlocked it.
He pushed the door open with his finger tips. He noticed how badly the green paint that decorated the front of his business was beginning to chip. With his other hand he flicked one of the chips off the frame of the door and eyed the rotting wood that it revealed.
The door opened the rest of the way. Dominic carelessly flipped on the light which illumined his surroundings. He closed the door securely behind him and began to remove the heavy articles of clothing he had surrounded himself with. His hat and coat were placed on a stool.
Dominic's eyes quickly roamed around the front area of his shop. Tools were scattered everywhere like usual. Some papers sat in a pile on his desk, screws laid beside them. Oil stained the floor, walls, and tables. It had been awhile since he last entered his shop. It felt like a life time.
"Damn-it, Paninya hasn't been cleaning like she promised." Dominic's voice cut through the silence of the shop. Paninya had promised that she would look after his shop while he was gone. Obviously the young girl had not kept her half of the deal. He would have to scold her later.
Dominic walked over to the papers that sat on his desk. Quickly he began to skim through the various notes and such that had been left for him. None of the information on the papers held any significance to him; it was mostly possible future client's numbers and the like.
Dominic could feel a groan threatening to form.
He placed the papers back onto the table. He could consider the various business options later; there were more important things for him to be worrying about. He walked across the room and headed towards the phone that sat on the front counter. He picked it up and was about to dial when something on the floor caught his attention. There was a small envelope that laid carelessly by the door, the ivory color seeming not important, but like usual Dominic's heart thumped loudly with hope.
The phone was placed back onto the receiver. He headed towards the front door and stopped short. He bent over and picked up the small piece of mail. He turned it over to the side that held the tiny scribbled writing on it.
His eyes opened wide for a moment, but a frown graced his lips as he read the full name.
"I don't know."
Al's sleeves were rolled up as he stood by the kitchen stove. His hair was pulled into a high ponytail while his morning attire hung loosely around his form. The sizzling sounds of the morning breakfast entertained his hungry thoughts.
Granny stood in front of the open fridge digging through the contents. "Well then, you should go see if he's awake."
Alphonse used a specula to flip an egg. "I will once I finish this."
The steam rising up from the stove heated Alphonse's face. He yawned as he flipped the egg once more. He heard Granny begin to pour some juices into the glass cups set on the table. He gave a quick glance behind him.
"We spent the night talking."
Granny didn't act surprised as she filled another one of the glass's. "This house has thin walls." She gave a small smirk.
Alphonse rolled his eyes as he turned back to the preparations of the morning meal. He got the feeling that privacy was an issue in this house. He was about to flip the egg once more, but stopped when a thought flooded his mind. He gave a deep sigh. "Granny, a lot has changed, hasn't it?"
Granny gave a "hmm" for a response.
Al continued. "Why do you think he seems so sad?" He flipped the egg.
"What makes you think he's sad?"
"It's as if he isn't whole. Does that make any sense? When I talked to him it's like brother isn't totally content or something along those lines."
Granny pulled out a seat and sat down on it. "You forget your brothers circumstances and the situation he is in."
Al glanced over his shoulder. "That's just it. I don't know the full circumstances and the whole situation my brother is in." He frowned. "I don't know much at all."
Al flipped the egg onto one of the plates. He grabbed the three plates which sat on the counter and brought them over to the kitchen table. He placed a plate at each table setting. "Granny, what happened to him?"
Granny narrowed her eyes with disapproval. "That is your brothers personal affairs, not my own. And don't presume I know much myself."
Al sighed. "But didn't you talk to him? You have to know something."
"I know as much as you. But, I admit, even if I did know something I would not share your brothers business. That is something you two must discuss yourselves."
Alphonse frowned, he figured as much. He had questioned Edward on many things, but Edward had barely given him any answers. He mostly had shook his head without a word to say.
But, there was something else that was truly nagging at Alphonse. Something he had not told anyone about thus far, something that he found complex and confusing. It was something he found even difficult to inquire his brother about. When Edward had returned, Alphonse had become his care taker when it came to changing his brother and washing him. He had seen a marking, a red colored print on his brothers back. He had never seen anything like it and it almost looked like a tattoo. However, even though much time had past between them, his brother never seemed nor sounded like the type to be interested in tattooing his body. Could it be a clue to where his brother had gone? It was something Alphonse was interested in personally researching, maybe it was the answer to many questions he sought out for.
Alphonse blinked as he looked up at Granny. "Huh?"
"I said, go see if your brother is awake before breakfast gets cold. You said earlier that you two had plans for the morning, I'm sure you don't want to fall behind schedule. "
Things were still odd and rather uncomfortable for the two brothers, but this was something they both felt would be appropriate to do together. They both agreed it might be a good way to begin spending time with each other. It was a way to remind both brothers they were both finally home, they were both finally together again.
To Edward, this went much deeper then simply paying respect. Al didn't know yet what he had done. He did not know what had happened after they brought their mother back, the horrible reunion of the family. He did not know that he had killed-
The remains of shriveled up roses sat on the grave. The roses had been tied with a blue ribbon. The ribbon was now stained with the mud from the earth, but it still held together the dead bit's of flower.
Alphonse bent over and placed the small carnation of flowers he and his brother had created together. Wind suddenly enveloped the boys as they stood on the top of the hill where their mother had been buried long ago. Alphonse closed his eyes as he heard the hallowing sounds in his ears. Sometimes he dreamed that those sounds were his mothers gentle whispers of comfort. It was a nice dream.
To Alphonse it felt like his mother only died about three years ago rather than eight. He was tempted to ask Edward if the pain hurt any less as time went on, but looking at the expression on Edward's face, he realized the pain was never going to go away. It actually seemed like it got worse. Even though he hated to see such sorrow on his older brothers features, he had to admit it was refreshing to see his brother showing more emotion.
Edward knelt down on one of his knees, a gloved hand stretched out as his fingers slowly ran over the engravings that spelled out his mothers name. The cold stone was smooth to the touch. His fingers traced the etched lettering, his mind collecting and memorizing what the stone said. The wording had been simple. It stated her name, birth, and mentioned her being a loving mother with two son's. She would be dearly missed.
"I killed her." His eyes were hidden by his hair, his lips trembled ever so slightly. He used the wooden door frame to support his weight. This was something he had been having a hard time admitting to himself, it was something that haunted him.
They had been arguing, she had been brought up. His father hadn't known the truth.
Hohenheim stared at his son with disbelief. "Trisha…" Saying her name took effort, it weighed heavily on his heart.
"Alphonse and I…" Edward swallowed, he didn't know how to say it. He didn't know how to find the words.
Edward suddenly lifted his eyes towards his father. "I killed her. I had created her…we had created her." Edward suddenly found it hard to breath. He had killed her because she was a homunculus. She was their sin.
He had justified everything because he saw her as a monster, not their mother.
"Edward…" Hohenheim could easily see his sons silent struggle.
Edwards hand reached behind his back. His fingers ran over the dark red permanent marking.
Shame… he was so ashamed.
He ran as fast as he could from the room.
Edward suddenly stood. He did his best to control his breathing. "It's beginning to get colder."
Alphonse's nodded as he stared down. "They say winter will be coming early."
Edward looked over at his brother. He noticed his brothers nose had turned a light shade of pink. A small smile crept its way onto his face. "We used to always play in the snow."
Alphonse couldn't help but form a grin. "Yea we did, didn't we? Did we play when I was-"
"-Yes, all the time."
Alphonse frowned slightly, but not enough for Edward to notice. Edward didn't seem to like talking much about the time when he was a suit of armor. Alphonse had long since accepted that fact, he heard so many stories about that period of his life. However, it seemed Edward just wanted to black those times out.
"Everyone tells me that we were so serious during those days. They say that we never acted like children."
"But we were children." Edward grabbed his jacket and pulled it closer to himself. "We played when ever we had spare time. Those times were rare, but we still had them."
A chuckle erupted from between Alphonse's lips. "Roy once told me that you got the military to cover boxes of toys, comic books, and a whole swoon full of junk food during one of your hospital stays. It is still a joke which is shared throughout the military about you."
Edward's hand suddenly fell onto Alphonse's shoulder. It caused Alphonse to halt his laughing and to look up. Edward's eyes held a hint of surprise. "You still talk to the Colonel?"
"Well of course, but he's not Colonel anymore. He calls every so often to see how I am doing."
Edward's hand slipped away as his eyes fell towards his shoes. Roy Mustang, a name he hadn't thought of for years. It seemed like a life time ago since he last saw that mans face. "He doesn't know I have returned, correct?"
Alphonse shook his head. "No one does really."
"I want to keep it that way."
Hiding. His brother was now going to hide from the rest of the world.
"If it's what you want." Alphonse turned away from his brother and gazed back at the headstone before him. The flowers were bright against the browning grass.
The wind blew again, and this time Alphonse was sure he had heard words that the wind picked up.
In hushed words filled with tears and agony, came the subtle words: "Mother, please be forever in peace."
The sounds of rubber soles hitting dirt came from Edward as he turned and began to descend down the hill.
Alphonse blinked as he watched his brother leave.
Grease and oils mixed on her finger tips as she worked away on the port of Edwards shoulder.
"The arm was made from scrap, but the leg was a spare Winry had left behind. I simply had to do some adjustments. It wont compare to your old auto-mail, but until Winry returns it will suffice. Maybe you can convince her to give you a new model of hers. She has come a long way. "
Edward looked at the auto-mail arm Granny planned to connect to him. The arm resembled the same design his past one was. He touched one of the silver fingers of the steel limb. The finger bent with easy, the hinges seemed perfect.
Across from the steel arm and leg laid the old limbs he had been carrying. The arm he had been using resembled an ivory skin tone, it was much smaller and skinner then the metallic limb. It never worked well, all it really did was fool others to think he was mildly normal.
"Where is she?"
Granny looked at Edward. His eyes remained on the fake limbs that sat on the work table. "Winry for the past few years was training in Rush Valley. A year ago her trainer, Dominic, sent her out to travel around to secluded areas that were in need of an auto-mail mechanic. He felt it was the best way for her to finish her training."
"Oh." Was Edward's only reply. He had not seen his blonde female friend for such a long time. He was curious to how much she had changed, or generally in her case, how much she remained the same.
Granny grabbed a screw driver as she began to tinker with a screw. "We haven't heard from her for awhile now. It's been roughly two months since I last had contact with the child, but hopefully Dominic can contact her soon so she can return home. I sent him a letter delivering the news. I'm sure she would like to see you."
Edward glanced at Granny with a raised eyebrow, however little emotion played behind his golden orbs. "Does she usually go so long without contact?" Two months seemed deeply out of character of Winry. The young girl loved her Grandmother, he found it hard to believe she would not even send a letter in that time.
Granny sighed as she began to twist two wires together. The wires internally tickled Ed, but he ignored it.
"All of you are aging. She is becoming slowly more independent. I admit two months is the longest time that Winry has gone without any contact, but generally she goes between three weeks to a month and a half. You forget she is a young woman now, she is mature enough to take care of herself." Granny offered a small smirk. "Just like yourself."
Edward frowned. "When did you message Dominic?"
"A few days ago. He hasn't sent a reply yet, but Dominic is a busy man."
Granny suddenly stood as she wiped her hands against her apron. She turned and yelled towards the open door. "Alphonse, your assistance will be needed!"
She turned back to Edward. "It's time."
Al sat on the floor with a book open in his lap. He pointed at one of the arrays drawn in the book. "Izumi doesn't feel that this one is appropriate. But, considering the density of the material I would think this array would be perfect."
Edward glanced down at the page. "Izumi is right, you are going to want the array with the double hexagon. The octagon is good when considering density, but don't forget the necessary calculations that need to take place. It just wouldn't work properly."
The words of alchemy seemed so foreign to Edward, yet he remembered the methods like remembering how to bend one of his metal fingers. Besides, he had to admit, he much preferred the talking of alchemy rather then the questioning of the past. He was not ready to talk about things, he had so much to sort out.
Edward suddenly looked at his hands. One was metal, the other was human. Curiously he wondered if he could still do alchemy. He had not tried yet…
Al sighed. So he was wrong after all about the array. Al was no fool, he knew he was a brilliant alchemist, but still he did not compare to his two biggest rivals. His teacher and brother.
"Are you sure? I mean, it would still work right?"
Edward slowly shook his head. "It just wont. You could partial create what you're after, but it simply wont work correctly."
With disappointment Al shut the book and placed it on the table next the couch. He watched his brother as he laid on the cushions. They had reconnected his brothers arm and leg, but surprisingly his brother was recovering extremely quickly. In actuality, he had never seen anyone handle the recounting of the nerves so well. His brother didn't even really react harshly when they had done so, he had bitten his lip and grumbled a few curse words.
Al watched as Edward's eyes slowly fell closed. His brothers hair was undone and laid down the sides of his shoulders. It was a long mane that was the color of the sun. His brothers face had thinned out, his skin was a pale white, much paler then their childhood days. Even though his brother slept, he had heavy dark bags that seemed permanent under his eyes. His nose was small and round, it fit his face well. He had always had long eyelashes, a feminine feature that was given to the both of them. His brother had grown so much older then he last remembered. He had seen pictures of him, but never believed that was what he had truly looked like. However, here he was laying before him… the pictures had not lied.
Alphonse sighed as he placed his head against the side of the couch. He frowned as the words 'Send me back' haunted him once more. He kept wanting to inquire his brother about those three words. Why did he want to go back? Wasn't home where he would want to be?
Al looked up to find Edward's eyes looking down at him. Edward looked slightly curious, but that was the extent of emotion that could be found on the boys features.
Alphonse took a deep breath. Maybe he was being selfish not asking his brother what he truly wanted. Maybe…"Are you mad I brought you back? Do you…do you want to go back?"
A look of surprise blossomed on the blondes features. It was then he recalled the words of him telling his brother to send him back. It was something Edward did not want to explain. There was such deep rooted reasoning's to why he said that…
He turned and looked up, seeing the eyes of the man who had cared for him. The palms of the mans hands were pressed against the tiny glass window. The mans eyes mirrored the horror he saw below.
The boy looking up formed his last word. "Father."
The booming sound of gunshots rang out.
"Alphonse, you are misunderstanding me. I am not mad at you for bringing me back. I just…" He stopped, unable to continue.
His brother looked up at him, begging him to just finish what he was about to say.
Edward suddenly sat up. The pain was nothing but a dull reminder now. He groaned slightly as he forced his auto-mail fingers to move one by one. He had recovered quicker than he had ever before, but Edward did not find that surprising. Internally it killed him to know that fact, but he pushed those emotions aside.
He stood on his own feet, being reunited with the feeling of auto-mail once again. He was careful as he stretched his body and popped a few bones. Alphonse simply sat on the floor as he stared up at his brother.
Edward turned his back away from Al. He didn't want to see those questioning eyes. "Al…" Edward took a deep breath. Why was it so hard to speak to his little brother? He used to tell Alphonse everything…
But things had happened, the world had changed, so much was not the same.
"You aren't going to tell me, are you?"
Edward's head fell forward, his long hair swayed with his movements. "I simply don't know how to say it."
How was he supposed to tell him about himself. How was he to tell Al the horrors of the past, like the death of their mother. How was he to tell Al about…
The boys were in the other room while Granny sat in the dining room smoking her pipe. Her eyes were closed as her thoughts ran deep.
Her thoughts toyed with many things. They went from that nights dinner, to Al, to Edward…
But mostly they surrounded her Granddaughter. She missed the company of the young girl, but she had long since accepted the fact that it was time for her to let Winry go. She was at the age that she needed to follow her own path in life. However, she found it disappointing that her Granddaughter had not even bothered to send her a letter recently. She silently hoped that she wasn't following the same trend that the brothers did. She remembered how it had felt years ago to never receive a phone call or a letter from those boys. They had worried her so.
She took a deep puff from her pipe. Her nose flared as the smoke left her nostrils.
Was her Granddaughter safe?
And as if an angel had read her thoughts, the phone rang.