Hello friends of new and old! Ah…my first FMA fic. I'm hoping to go far with this thing. As you have probably noticed, this will be Elricest in the future, but right now it's just good old fashioned brotherly love, from Ed's POV. A LOT of flashbacks, much fluff, I warn you. But it will be Al's POV the rest of the story, I think. This definitely won't follow the normal series storyline since I haven't seen the whole ending yet…may Saturday come ever quicker!
One more thing: "Verboten" means "forbidden." So you don't have to look it up.
Very much hope you enjoy!
Or maybe more like a memory.
A memory of loneliness. A memory of fear. A memory of love lost, and then found.
A memory of two children living in a house too big to fill up by themselves.
A memory of a small boy standing timidly in the dark next to the only thing left he had to love.
Yes, these are truly the memories worth having...
For these are the ones that bound their hearts together.
"Are you awake Brother?"
"I am now..."
"Hn. What's wrong Al? Did you have a bad dream or something?"
"No, but, well… it's just so dark in my room, and cold, I got scared. And since mom's not here anymore..."
"Okay, fine. You can sleep with me tonight. Just stay on your side of the bed, and don't hog the covers!"
"Ugh, you're welcome! Now go to sleep!"
"Here you go, ah, Mr. Elric. Two one way tickets to Central. Mr. Elric?"
"Eh?" I snapped out of my daze. "Oh, thanks. Come on Al."
The ticket salesman gave me a strange look as we departed, but I pretended not to notice. I had gotten used to "strange looks" a looong time ago, this one was no different. I had already answered a million "Why are you wearing gloves in the middle of summer?" and "Who's that guy in the big metal armor?" So on and so forth. I wish people would mind their own business.
Anyway, it was the same old same old with us, Al and me. Head back to Central on a bumpy uncomfortable train ride, listen to one of Mustang's long annoying lectures, head off again on foot, and then look for that blasted stone. This was starting to become routine. I had actually memorized how many seconds, exactly, it took to get from each town to Central. I had actually calculated how many words Mustang speaks per minute, and then correlated that figure to what kind of mood he was in (he spoke much quicker when he was pissed.) I was that bored. Sometimes I almost wished a chimera or Homunculi would pop up once in a while, just to keep life interesting. Then at least I would have something to beat up.
On the other more positive hand, it was also kinda pleasant, just me and Al traveling together, not being in constant peril or "certain death" situations for a change. No mad priests, no seductive thieves, no crazoid terrorist, no butchers trying to chop my head off, no getting auto-mail trashed, no getting a nasty wrench bruise for said auto-mail trash…
The good life is a boring life, I guess.
Al was Al. There was no way I could've gotten through all those binds without him. He was like my big, metal anchor keeping me firmly down in this crazy world. I'm supposed to be the one protecting him, that is one of the expectations of the elder brother, but Al saves my life in so many ways he'll never know. He's all I've got left. He's…my everything.
After all, we are brothers.
"Are you okay?"
"Hm?" I came down from the thoughts, again…
"You were daydreaming again, weren't you? You've been doing that a lot lately. Is there something on your mind?"
"No no, it's nothing. Let's just hurry up and get on the train before it leaves, k?"
I've always thought nostalgia makes the heart weak.
Memories of happier times are nice, everyone has them. But that's all they are. Memories. Electricity stored among the brain's trillions of synapses, if you want to be specific. Some people get so lost in the past they don't even realize they're in the present, then they wonder where all their lost time went.
I keep telling myself this, but sometimes I even wander back into the dark corners of my head, and just remember...
"It's going to be a pretty long trip Brother, so why don't you get some sleep? Maybe a good nap will help clear your head."
"Ah, you're probably right. I've been pulling so many hours studying I been living off six hours of sleep for two days."
I used the suitcase as a makeshift pillow and pulled my red cloak over my shoulders.
"'Night Al. Wake me up if something interesting happens."
"Okay. Sweet dreams."
Even though I try to forget sometimes, I have a lot of memories from my childhood. I remember things like Mom and Al, of course, of Winry, and Aunt Pinako, of our house, and of…him. My father. Although I do my best to block those out.
Al doesn't remember him too well, even when he still had his real body. He was very little, barely few days old, when dad left and didn't come back. He bugs me a lot to tell him about it, but I still refuse stubbornly. What Al doesn't know, is that if I could, I would completely erase Hohenheim Elric from my head.
I can't remember a whole lot before Al was born of course, but who can when they're only a year old? I've pieced together a combination of broken flashes of what I think are memories, and those together with Mom's stories of us…that makes for a fairly accurate portrait of when I was little. I think.
I remember one story she told me once, about a night in late June when a summer storm was raging outside our door. It was a furious, violent rain, and with every blow I thought the roof was going to fly off of our house.
I was sitting in my crib, scared to pieces by the flashes and noises. It was my first storm though. I started crying, but Mom hurried in and picked me up, cradled me in her embrace. She took me back into her room and wrapped her thick blanket over both of us. She must have been reading for the light was still on. Dad wasn't there.
She smiled gently as she held me to her, stomach bulging against my chest. "Did my poor boy get scared?" she soothed, stroking my hair.
I shuddered into her breast.
"There there, here, let me read to you a while. Try to go back to sleep..."
I quietly listened to her warm, honey voice tell me tales of adventure and love and miracles. I was wary of her stomach all the while, swollen with a baby, for I had already learned it could kick.
Al. It was my Al inside there. Even before my little brother was born, on some subconscious level in my head, I knew he was something I would cherish. And that story…it is the most peaceful setting I have to recall. The three of us huddling together in each other's comfort and warmth…through that summer storm that could never get inside.
There was a soft tap on the door.
"Ed? Are you in here?"
"Yeah, come in Al."
"What are you doing in here? At this hour?"
"Brother, it's almost midnight. We should get some sleep."
"You can go ahead. I'm not tired."
"Oh…but…are you afraid your going to have another nightmare? You've have some nasty dreams the past three nights, huh?"
"I don't have bad dreams when you're there…"
"All right, here, why don't you come help me study? And I promise I'll get to bed soon."
Al sat down and leaned over the book Ed had his nose in.
"What exactly are you studying brother?"
From the moment I first laid eyes on that tiny, quintessence of innocence, I knew my life was going to be different, even though my small head couldn't quite comprehend it yet.
My Alphonse... That was my little bundle of a brother held snugly in my mother's arms.
I remember starring at him for a long time, unsure of how to react.
After a while mom, tiredly, said, "Come here Edward, sit next to mommy and meet your little brother."
I obediently flopped down beside her and continued to stare.
"His name is Alphonse," she said, "Can you say Al-phonse?"
I contented myself with munching on my fingers.
She just smiled. "Alphonse is going to be a part of our family now, okay? You're going to be his big brother."
A big brother? That sounded important.
"Would you like to touch him?" she asked.
My face brightened and I nodded my head.
She led my fingers over to Al's sleeping face and brushed them up and down his cheek.
"He's soft, isn't he?" she said. I nodded.
There was a knock at the door. "Mrs. Elric?" A kindly plump nurse-lady poked her head in the door. "I'm sorry to disturb you, but I'm afraid I need to borrow Alphonse for some more tests. The doctor wants to make sure we send you home with a completely healthy baby boy."
Mom nodded. "Yes, of course."
The nurse smiled at me and scoped Al up. I was scared all of a sudden that this stranger was going to take my new brother away from me. I whimpered and pulled at mom's arm, still unable to verbally state my protest.
"Oh, don't worry honey, the nice lady is going to bring Al right back. Sh, don't worry."
I still didn't like it.
Mom looked a little sad as well for a split second, but then she returned to her smiling self and her attention came back to me.
"Al's just going bye bye for a while. Ed, can you say "Bye bye Alphonse?"
I stood up and waved madly to the nurse's retreating back. "Buh bi Allfonsssse!"
My mother laughed and hugged my tightly.
"Don't call your older brother an idiot!"
"You know that's forbidden! If you get caught…"
"I won't get caught! Besides, I haven't tried anything yet!"
"I know you're going to use it to try and bring back mom! I thought you were over that crazy idea!"
"You think I'd forgotten? No way! Al, don't you want her back?"
"Of course I do! But…"
"But nothing! This can work! I know it will! You have two choices Al: help me or leave me alone."
"Oh…why do you always do this to me? I'll help if it means I can keep an eye on you so you don't kill yourself."
"Pah, I doubt that. I'm glad you're going to help though. This work seems kinda endless when you're the only one doing it."
"Yeah…what can I do?"
Ed handed him the book he was reading. "I can't make heads or tails of this. Maybe a fresh pair of eyes would have better luck."
They both read in silence for a while.
"I still think you're an idiot."
For the next seven years, Al clung to me like glue. When he was a baby, I was his own personal jungle gym. He simply loved to interrupt whatever I was doing and plop in my lap, demanding my attention. He developed a fascination with my hair and found it fun to see how much of it he could stuff in his mouth. And when he started teething he substituted my hair for whatever new toy I had come to possess.
Of course, I played the role of the typical older sibling and whined and cried and stamped my foot because Al could do whatever he wanted and I couldn't. I ended up spending a lot of extra time in the corner for my latest tantrum.
But when it came down to it…
Let me share this example. A while later, Al and I were playing outside one summery day while Mom was inside making dinner. I was off wandering around, far away from Al, despite the fact mom told me to keep an eye on him. Al, still a bit wobbly on his legs, toddled about chasing the breeze. I'm not quite sure what happened, but all of a sudden I heard a loud thump. I spun around and saw Al was on the ground, crying, and clutching his knee.
My first instinct was to ignore him and continue my private adventure. Mom would hear him soon; she would take care of it. I didn't need to interrupt my life just because my annoying little brother was crying.
But…I guess my heart wouldn't let me.
I quickly hurried over and knelt down next to him.
"You okay Al?"
He just continued to blubber.
"Aw Al, it's just a little boo-boo, see? Mom will make it allll better. I'll hold your hand 'till she gets here, k?"
Using my three and half year old lungs, I belted out, "MOM!Al fell down and got a boo-boo!"
It did the trick. Mom came dashing out of the house, the dish towel still slung around her shoulder and a vegetable still grasped in her hand. She ran to where we both were and picked Al up.
"Oh, there there, ohhh, did my poor little baby fall down? Let's take you inside, mommy will fix it."
I pouted a bit. I had expected to be rewarded with a kiss or hug or praise or something.
I watched as Al turned around and weakly waved at me, a small grin on his tear-stained face. I brightened a bit.
Later that night, Mom told me what a good thing I had done, what a good big brother I was. But really, that smile was all I needed.
Al was up and kicking in no time, he was tough like his brother after all. But now, whenever we went outside on one of our grand escapades, I always held onto his hand.
Just in case.
"You ready Al?"
Al's hesitation is evident, but he still nods.
They both flinch slightly as the knife cuts into their skin. The air around them seems heavier than normal.
They both place their hands on the white chalk circle. The blue light glows brilliantly, and fireworks seems to shoot around the room.
"Ah! Al its working!"
Al wasn't comforted by this. There was still an ominous cloud hanging in his chest.
"Brother there's something wrong!"
The sparks turned violent, the light grew red. The horrible black hands shoot up like tangled vines, grasping everything.
"Something's wrong! Ah…AH! BROTHER!"
Besides Winry and a few others, there weren't very many kids who lived nearby. So Al and I grew up doing everything together. We played tag, hide-and-go-seek, cops and robbers, we climbed every tree we spotted, we explored all around our tiny town of Rizenbul, never drifting out of the boundary of the calling distance of mom, of course.
I think Al and I had a much stronger bond than most siblings had. Sure, we fought a lot about silly things, but what family didn't?
Al admired me because I was older, smarter, bigger, (until a few years later, damnit) and overly "cooler" than him. Since we didn't have a dad either, I was pretty much the only "fatherly figure" he had.
I admired Al because he was kind and sweet and was still nice to me even when I bossed him around. I didn't like it when people made fun of him or teased him, I took it very personally. Once, I got in a fist fight with an older kid down the road who called Al "stupid" because he accidentally stepped on one of his toys. I suffered a black eye, severely bruised knuckles, and a harsh spanking (followed by lecture) by way of mom, but I never once apologized and wore my scars with pride. Al hugged me and told me I was his hero.
A few years later, Al and I started dabbling in alchemy. I was a little better than him because I was older, but Al still amazed me with how quickly he learned himself.
A little while after that, our mother died. Al suddenly became the only real family I had left.
And a little while after that…
The hands grabbed at him, tripped him, dragged him away from the light. No matter how much Al fought, their grip was total.
" AL NO! Let go of my little brother!"
"I'm coming Al!"
He begins to fade.
"NO! Don't take him away!"
"BROTHER HELP ME PLEASE!"
"Brother? Hey, wake up!"
I sprung awake and started babbling like an idiot. "Wha wha, what happened? What did I miss?"
"Nothing. The train just pulled into Central, that's all."
"Really? Wow, I must've slept pretty long."
"You did," he leaned in a little closer, "Were you having a dream? You made all sorts of funny noises while you slept."
I sighed. "Yeah, you could say that. I just had a dream..." More like a nightmare.
"Wanna talk about it?"
"Oh," he said, "Okay…"
I narrowed my eyes. "Now you're acting weird! Is there something you wanna tell me?"
He twiddled his leather thumbs. "Well, it's just, I don't really dream anymore. I miss it."
"Oh…I'm sorry Al…I keep forgetting you can't sleep…"
"It's okay. But…um…there's actually something else that's been bothering me more."
"I…I don't think I can remember what mom looks like anymore…"
I was shocked. "You can't? But…you used to! I mean, when did you notice that you couldn't?"
"I think it's been…progressive. One day I had to sit and think really hard just to remember what color her eyes were. Then the color of her hair began to fade, then her smell, then her smile, and then…nothing."
I knew that if he had eyes, he'd be crying right now. It killed me to have him suffer so and barely be able to do a thing about it. I was able to protect him all my life, and now when he needs me the most I can't! It was…so frustrating!
"I just…really want to have everything right again. I want to be able to remember."
I leaned against his shoulder and twined my hand with his. I knew he couldn't really feel it, but the gesture was good enough.
"Don't worry Al…I know I've told you this a thousand time, but once more I'm going to say it. I will get you back to normal, just the way you were, memories and all. Then…hey how about this, we'll settle down for a while, okay? Just you and me. Maybe we can buy a house somewhere, and we can live normal lives. You'd like that wouldn't you?"
"Yeah…" he sounded a bit happier. Good.
"We just need to keep going forward, right brother?"
"Yeah!" I said cheerfully.
Just keep going…
What did you think? Reviews, comments, grammar corrections, constructive criticism, all very much welcome. Sorry if the layout confused you a bit. Basically, the parts on the train are normal time, the italics is the dream Ed has while he's sleeping, and the Ed musings are just his random collection of thoughts at one point or another. Make sense? Ne…
Oh! And as a note to Yuhiru (if you're reading this) my AIM is "FlareAngelS," although I warn you I'm not on too much. Ah…
Hopefully ch 2 will be up quickly!