Welcome to my fanfic! This is my first FMA chapter fic. It is AU because I changed the ending of episode 51. In this fic, Al does not remain dead and Ed does not go to Germany. Just wanted to clear that up for you.
Disclaimer: I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist -sobs- But I do own a nifty keychain of Al! And I sleep on Ed's face 'cuz he's my pillow case and fuzzy blanket of softness! Do not question me.
Warnings: Umm... language... blood... and... AU. Brother fluff! WEEEEEE!
Me: Squee! -hearts-
-Ed and Al run for it-
Me: Nooo! Come back! -chases-
That was the first thing that managed to register in my mind.
At the first wave of the sharp aches and stings that ran through me, that was the only thing my frantic mind settled on. It hurts so much! I felt nauseous and hot, different liquids were all dripping down my face. I wanted to curl up in a little ball, try to rid myself of this sickness that plagued me. It hurts! Please stop! I couldn't move; everything was so heavy. Stop! I wanted to scream, Stop hurting me! but I didn't know how. Everything was black and soundless. My chest burned with a fierce intensity that only added to the rest of my anguish.
Why does it hurt? I'm not supposed to feel! I'm not! What's wrong with me? It must be a dream! But I can't dream! Stop hurting! Brother!
A sudden change in temperature left me cold and the wetness that engulfed me didn't help any. I wanted to shiver and wrap my arms around me to warm myself, but I couldn't move! The only thing that wasn't freezing was my chest. It hurt so much there, burned me so bad. Why can I feel? I'm not supposed to! Little sounds began to register, I think I heard someone moving. Walking or running, I wasn't sure. I wanted to call out to them, to beg someone to help me. Something was wrong. The armor is supposed to keep me safe, I can't feel from the armor. So why can I feel now?
I think something touched me. I'm scared. I can't see, it's too dark and I'm cold and I want my brother but I can't see him. It hurts. I'm feeling sick again. Dizzy. Hard to think. Something's touching me again. It's saying something. Can't hear it. So tired. Am I dying? I must be… this must be death… I can already feel the pain being replaced with numbness. I can't feel the floor anymore. I'm floating. It's warm here. Warm and soft. I'm still dizzy, my throat is dry. It's sore too. So tired. Let me sleep…
It's not cold anymore. I wasn't sure if I was awake or not since it was still dark, but I was aware of the warm fuzziness that seemed to cover my body. Wait… my body? Not wanting my hopes to escalate just yet, I continued to lie in the darkness feeling very much alone. What happened? I didn't get to ponder that question, I fell asleep again before given the chance.
The next time I was aware of myself, I think I was crying. The pain was back, but not as bad as the first time. I still wasn't used to it though. Something was touching me again, rubbing my back in soothing circles that reminded me of when I was a little kid. I relaxed into the touch and felt the numbness chase away the pain.
Confusion was the next thing I felt when I blinked and the dark went away and the light came back. I was looking up at something… the ceiling I think. It was white paint. I blinked again; the sensation of it was completely foreign to me. As a suit of armor I wasn't supposed to blink. So why now? My throat was raw and dry. It stung, another new feeling. Reminded me of when I would get sick with the flu. There was another nice feeling though, the warm fuzziness. It was a blanket and I was on a bed. My mind was working really slowly, I had no idea how long it took me to figure out these things.
I wanted to sit up, to see where I was, but none of my limbs would move. I swallowed, wincing as it irritated my throat. I could barely move my head. Every time I tried, my head would flop to one side or the other. I wasn't frustrated with this, just confused and curious and a little scared.
It occurred to me that I was alone. A strange pit of dread grew in my stomach. I could feel my breathing pick up and I began to sweat. My new vision started to blur and everything was spinning. Why is it spinning? I felt sick. I was making myself sick over this. I wasn't just scared, I was terrified. My fists clenched in the material of the bed, the only movement I had control over. I felt hot all over. Being able to feel didn't make me feel so good.
My stomach suddenly lurched and I gagged on nothing. Something was supposed to be happening, I knew this from experience as a little kid, but nothing came up. I continued to dry heave. It hurt my chest and my throat. It felt awkward to go through the motions of throwing up while lying on my back, but I couldn't move. I must've made some sort of noise because I heard loud thumps from somewhere. It was somewhere not where I was, which I'm guessing is a bedroom, so it must be a different room. I clamped my eyes shut, maybe stopping the dizziness would help with the gagging.
A loud slam echoed in my throbbing head, I think I made another sound because it hurt to hear something so loud. Two hands grabbed my shoulders firmly. My first reaction was to escape their grip, but I couldn't move so I could only sob in protest through my heaves. I shivered at the touch, it was a big contrast. One hand was ice cold on my bare skin, but the other was warm. I was leaning against something strong and reassuring, comforting words being murmured in my ear. The soft, warm breath made me want to shiver again.
"Shh… It's okay. It's okay, Al. I'm here. It's alright."
Brother. I wanted to cry, I think I was because my face felt wet. It felt wet. I couldn't remember what being wet or dry felt like. The soft hand reached up and brushed away the tears. Brother. I wanted to open my eyes and hug him. I wanted him to hold me like mom would when I was sad. I could remember that. I felt my body being shifted so that I was being cradled and supported in a careful embrace. My eyelids were so heavy, but I wanted to see my brother.
Blinking still felt strange, everything was blurry and bright again. It hurt a little, but I saw him. At first it was just his eyes, golden and shining just like always. Only, now I think there was more worry in those eyes. Then I saw his hair. It was a little messy, but still in a braid and still the brilliant shade of yellow it always was. His skin looked soft, but a little pale and there were dark rings under his eyes. As my eyes got used to being open again, I saw how tired he looked. I could feel my eyes tearing up again. A mixture of happiness that Ed was here and I could see him and feel him, but then sadness too because he looked so worried and tired. All because of me.
Brother. I wanted to call out, but my lips wouldn't move to form the word. My throat was too dry for me to talk anyway.
"Al?" Ed's voice was really quiet, as if he couldn't really believe that I was there or else I'd disappear. "Al… Alphonse…? Are you okay?"
Hearing his question, I managed a weak nod before my head began to loll to the side. Brother managed to turn my head so that it was nestled in the crook of his arm. I was relieved that I didn't have to worry about my neck snapping from the weight every time my head got too heavy.
Brother brushed back some of my hair, combing his fingers through it gently before patting the top of my head lightly. Both his arms were around me again, rocking me back and forth. I got as close as I could to letting out a sigh of contentment. I had almost forgotten this feeling; the warmth and closeness and niceness of another person, more specifically my brother. I think I was crying again.
"Just go back to sleep, little brother. Don't worry. I'll still be here when you wake up, Al. It's okay." his voice was so relaxing, I felt myself immediately calm down and began to feel sleepy again. I'd forgotten what it was like to fall asleep feeling safe.
"I'm really sorry, Al. But you need to eat something, okay?"
Brother's voice was what roused me from another long period of sleep. I tried to focus on him, looming over my bedside with a bowl of something hot in his hands. I watched the steam leave the bowl, still feeling a little out of it. Shivering, I tried to tug the blankets around me more. Ed stopped me and helped to prop me up on the pillows. There was apology in his eyes, he felt bad for waking me up I guess. I didn't mind though. He'd been doing it for a little while now, I think. Never for food though, just to make sure I was still alive I guess.
Holding the bowl in his metal hand, Edward spooned out what I discovered to be broth with the utensil clutched in his flesh hand. He placed the tip of the spoon to my lips, waiting for me to open my mouth. For a few seconds, I felt really silly for requiring my brother to feed me himself, but it faded once the hot broth slipped down my throat. Brother laughed as my eyes grew wide; I had forgotten the taste of food. Even something as simple as broth was overwhelming my taste buds that hadn't been used in four years. I quickly opened my mouth again, eager for another spoonful which brother quickly provided.
As he fed me, brother talked quietly to me, "I wanted to wait until you asked me for food, but I realized that wasn't going to happen any time soon. Your throat still sore?"
I nodded, swallowing more of the broth and licking my lips. Edward wasn't worried too much about my lack of speaking. After he woke me up when I forgot to breath again, I tried to apologize but I had a huge coughing fit after speaking. Plus my voice sounded really hoarse and weird. I didn't like hearing it like that.
"Hmm, I thought so." Brother was continuing, "This should make it feel better. It always did when we were little and got sick." He was right, it was making my throat feel better despite a little burning. "You've been sleeping for four days, did you know that? I'm not mad. You've missed out on four years of sleep so you'll need to catch up. But you need to eat too, or else you won't get stronger. It wouldn't do you any good to have this body and not be able to walk, right? Ah, all done."
He placed the empty bowl and spoon on the nightstand next to my bed as I tried to wiggle my way back down under the covers. Ed then helped tuck me in, reminding me a little of mother, and tousled my hair before straightening up as if to leave.
"Get some more rest, okay Al?" he was saying as he crossed the room to the bed he was using, "I'll wake you up for dinner."
I stared at him from my blanket cocoon, watching as he settled down on his bed and began reading one of his alchemy books. I had always liked watching him read, it was interesting to see how his brow would furrow in deep contemplation or his eyes widen at some sort of discovery or how he smiled subtly when something amused him. Brother was so far away now though, even if it was only across the room. It was lonely over here. Every time I'd fallen asleep so far, he'd been next to me. I guess he was trying to get me used to falling asleep without him next to me or maybe it just slipped his mind.
"B-brother…?" I hated how scratchy my voice was.
I surprised him, Ed jumped a little at the sound of my voice, but when he looked at me his gaze had softened, "What is it Al?"
"C-can you…" I swallowed thickly, trying to moisten my throat so I could speak a little clearer, "Come o-over here to read…? Please?"
He blinked at me for a minute, then sighed and rose from his bed. "Alright Al, but just for today." he was feigning reluctance like always.
I didn't feel like arguing with him. I was too tired. Once he settled down beside me and began reading again, I curled up into his side and nuzzled my face into his chest. I loved how warm and soft brother was even with the auto mail. He also smelled nice, like home and mother and other things that I couldn't remember, but altogether it made it Ed's smell.
Before I began drifting off into sleep, my thoughts caught on the alchemy book. It reminded me of how I got back into this body. Brother had to have performed a human transmutation, so… did he give up anything? Anything important? Or did… did he get a Philosopher's Stone? Did he use the armor? What happened on the night I came back? I couldn't remember. I tried to open my mouth to ask brother, but I couldn't. I was too tired. First thing when I wake up… I'll ask him.
I'm scared. I'm so scared. Where's brother? Why isn't he here? I'm going to die and he's not here! Brother! Oh no… oh no… Dante and Gluttony and Envy and Rose. Why's Rose here again? My head's spinning. I can't think straight. I'm panicking. Wrath's here too. What's wrong with him? What's wrong with me? I'm being eaten! So much blood! But… I don't bleed… Wait, that's not my blood… It's…
My face hurt. I didn't like it. I tried to hide my tears, but I don't think it worked very well. I could feel Ed giving me one of those looks. The ones that say: 'I know everything you do, so don't try hiding it'. He was sorry though.
"Come on, Al! Don't be such a baby." he sounded a little irritated at my behavior, "I said I was sorry. I didn't want to, but you wouldn't wake up!"
Didn't give him any right to slap me so hard. At least it had been with his real hand and not the auto mail. I inwardly cringed thinking of how much that could hurt in comparison with this. I'm sure it didn't hurt that much, but I still wasn't used to pain and harsh contact so it hurt a lot more.
"Shit." I looked up at Ed when he cursed, wondering why he was getting worked up now, "You have a bruise now. Dammit. I didn't hit you that hard, did I?" Now he really looked sorry.
"Uh-uh." I managed out, deciding to start being more vocal to warm up my voice box despite it hoarseness. "Just not used to it."
Edward nodded, then settled back against the pillows. I noticed that he must've been lying down before since I saw no trace of his book and there was a body print next to me. I looked up at the ceiling, it wasn't very white anymore and had a bluish tint to it. It must be night now. Brother must've fallen asleep too. That's why he didn't wake me for dinner. My stomach clenched at the thought of food, my dream coming back to me quite quickly. What happened-?
"So, was it a nightmare?"
I shifted my gaze to brother, "Eh?"
"You were thrashing around in your sleep and moaning and crying and stuff." Edward clarified, rolling onto his side so he could look at me better. "You used to have them a lot when you were little, so I'm not really surprised. You wanna talk about it?"
I frowned, but I wanted to know if what happened in my nightmare was what happened before I changed back to normal, "Y-yeah. Brother? What happened… why did I change back?"
I cringed as I watched Ed's expression contort into one of pain and anger. I regretted asking it right then. I didn't want my older brother to be mad at me.
"Does it matter?" he ended up grumbling, not meeting my gaze, "I got your body back. That's what matters."
I didn't like that answer, "It does matter. I want to know if you had to give up anything to get me back. And I'm curious. And what about the Philosopher's Stone? And the homunculi and Dante? Please tell me what happened."
"No Al. Not right now." he answered, his voice firm and certain.
Ed looked me straight in the eye, "I said no, Al."
Then I was granted with the sight of my brother's back. He rolled off the bed and stood up. As he walked away, he mumbled something about getting dinner. My fists clenched in the blankets, one of my limited motions. I bit my lower lip, gnawing on it gently, but due to my body's frailty it began to bleed. I hadn't meant to make brother mad. I just wanted to know what had happened. I wanted an answer. But… I guess if he didn't want to tell me yet, then I should've been patient and respected his privacy.
The last thing I would ever want would be to push my brother away from me. He was all I had. He was the one I always looked up to and trusted. He wasn't just my older brother, he was also the closest thing to a father figure I would have despite us being only a year apart. I did love mom dearly and I always wanted to make her happy, but I didn't aspire to be like her. She was a girl, I knew that I couldn't be like a girl despite how much I loved mom. But I could be like brother. All I had wanted when I was little was to please him and mother. I didn't want them to be ashamed of me. I didn't want them to leave me. So when mom died… it was just brother and me.
I watched the door for a long time, waiting for brother to come back with dinner. After a while, I realized that he used dinner as an excuse to cool down. Sure, when he'd come back he'd have dinner… it would just take a little longer. Taking in a shaky breath, I began rasping when it occurred to me that I'd forgotten to breath again. It was kind of scary that I could forget such a necessity so easily. After my coughing fit ended, I tried to keep my breathing even. I didn't want to start crying or hyperventilating or something… but it was dark and brother was mad at me so I had every right to be a little anxious.
I'm not sure how long I waited before I fell asleep again.
I don't think I was really awake when I started vomiting up the broth from earlier. It wasn't until the stomach churns and cramps got too much did I wake up to find myself drenched in the very few contents of my stomach. The horrid stench of it made my stomach heave again and I coughed up more bile. I felt disgusting and sick. Groaning a little in irritation, I turned my head to see if I woke up brother. My heart sank when I saw it was still night and brother wasn't back yet. Since I couldn't see the moon from my window anymore it must've been a few hours since he left.
A strange feeling of dread settled over me, I hadn't made brother that mad had I? Fidgeting under my wet sheets, my gaze traveled to the door. No sign of Edward. I felt like a invalid. I wanted to get up and wash myself off, but I couldn't lift my own body up by myself. I doubted that my voice would carry to wherever brother was too. Plus, I didn't like the feeling of isolation that had developed inside me.
I'm alone. Where'd brother go? Is he okay? What happened ? What about the homunculi? I'm scared. Brother? Brother!
I shook my head, trying to clear my head of the fogginess of my previous nightmare. I felt really hot and sweaty, so I managed to get the blankets down so that I could cool down. But as soon as the cold air hit my skin, I was shivering violently and fumbling to yank the blankets back up to me. The severe change in temperature was supposed to mean something, but I couldn't remember what exactly. The relief that I was warm lasted all of two seconds because I was soon sweltering and itchy under the blankets. This was really annoying, but I felt too achy to let it affect me too much.
"Hey, Al. I've got dinner. Sorry it took so long…" I was barely aware of Ed coming back in, but soon I felt a cool hand on my forehead. "Damn, you've got a fever."
Fever. That was the word I was looking for. "Mmm…" instinctively, I nuzzled my head into brother's hand. It felt good against my hot, clammy skin.
"What the…? Al! Did you vomit too?" I heard Ed groan, "Guess it was too good to last for long."
Hearing those words, I panicked. I misinterpreted them for meaning that my new body was bad and that I was going to die. "No…"
"Hey, hey. Relax Al, it's okay. You're just a little sick. That's all." Even with my eyes shut, I could still feel Edward smiling to reassure me. "Ew… but we need to get you cleaned up first. You're covered in chicken broth. Gross."
I mumbled something unintelligible as I felt brother lean down. The mattress shifted beneath me and my body was moved so that he could carry me easily. The cold air bit at my skin, I whimpered and buried my face in brother's neck. For some reason, he felt bigger than I thought he should have. Did brother grow while I was sleeping? Or was it just a contrast to the armor? Letting go of those thoughts, I focused more on how relieved I was that brother wasn't too mad at me still.
Once the cold, tile floor came into contact with my sense deprived skin, I yelped and squirmed around to try and generate heat into my body. We were in the bathroom; I could tell because I heard Edward fumbling with the bathtub faucet. I was slumped against the wall, but my writhing made me slip so brother had to grab me.
"Hey, stop that." Ed sounded annoyed as he tried to keep me still while checking the temperature of the running water. Bad idea brother. I wanted to say to him, but I was shivering too much. Since he needed his flesh hand to test the water for me, the auto mail was what was touching my bare skin. It was metal and it was cold. "Oh, sorry Al." he lifted me up off the floor gently, "Forgot that the auto mail would be really cold." Great. Now I feel bad because brother is sounding guilty. Like it's his fault I'm sick and feverish and cold.
As I felt my body being lowered, a soothing warmth rose up to meet me. I sighed as the warm water lapped at my skin. It felt really good; I'd forgotten what a bath felt like. I relaxed my body considerably, being supported by Ed. My hands twitched and I fumbled around for some soap or shampoo or something to wash myself off with.
"It's okay, Al. I've got it." I heard Ed tell me, the feel of soap against my skin felt entirely foreign.
The touch was gentle and the suds were rubbed in little circles to make sure that every part of me was cleansed thoroughly. Once he finished washing my body, Edward began to shampoo my hair. I could tell it would be difficult for him with only one hand, so I shifted my body so that it was supported by the wall. I must've been falling asleep, because I couldn't make out his words. Something about his auto mail in my hair or hair in his auto mail… I don't know.
When I opened my eyes again, the sun was shining and warm and I was warm and everything was alright again.
For the next few days all I could eat was chicken broth and all I could drink was water. I wasn't complaining, it felt nice to have something taste and smell and settle in my stomach. The medicine, however, was something I could've done without. It was thick and had a nauseating stench to me. I could remember a little of how I hated medicine as a child, this definitely would not pass quickly. I couldn't even defend myself from Edward and his spoon.
"Come on, Al." he was very irritated by this point since I wouldn't open my mouth, "How do you expect to get better if you don't take the medicine?"
I didn't answer as he continued to force the spoon into my mouth, "Drink the damn medicine!"
"No-" down went the disgusting fluid. I coughed, but Ed managed to get me to swallow the entire spoonful. Once it was all gone, he handed me a glass of water which I gulped down fairly quickly. Anything to rid of the nasty taste.
"There, that wasn't so bad." Ed was wearing that stupid, cocky grin of triumph, I wanted to knock it off his face or force him to drink the damn medicine. Seeing as I could do neither, I settled for glaring at him. "Aw, don't look at me like that, Al!"
I sighed, leaning back against the pillows as he collected my bowl and glass. He started rambling on how my fever was gone now and that as soon as he's sure I won't throw up again (I'd thrown up twice more since the first night) he would graduate me to solid foods. I brightened at the perspective, I'd get to eat normal food again! For the first time since… since… the night before we transmuted our mother. I was suddenly aware of the silence between my brother and me. He was looking at me as if waiting for an answer, but I had no idea what he'd just asked.
"Uhh…" I fumbled around for a good answer. "Well… umm…"
Ed smirked, "You weren't listening to a word I said, were you?"
"Heh… well… my mind kind of wandered after the solid food part." I replied sheepishly.
He chuckled, "You pig."
"Hey! Who's the one who ate two meals for every mealtime?"
"What else was I supposed to do? I had to pretend that you ate your food too! I couldn't just dump it into your armor. Besides," he posed with superior stance, "I was a growing boy."
"And still in desperate need of growing." I added.
"WHO'S SO SHORT THAT THEY COULDN'T GET ONTO THIS BED WITHOUT A TEN FOOT LADDER!"
"I didn't say that!"
"I'LL SHOW YOU WHO'S SHORT!" he was in angry-ranting-Ed mode.
I was laughing, "Brother-!"
I didn't know when my laughter faded into gasps for air, but I was well aware that my chest ached after a while and Ed's ranting wasn't funny anymore because nothing's funny when you can't breath. I tried to sit up straight and began pounding on my chest to open my airways. A violent thump on my back got me to start coughing as air returned to me.
After my breathing was even again, I lowered my body back into a lying down position. "Sorry…" I mumbled a hoarse apology, not looking at Ed because I wouldn't be able to stand the guilt that I knew would be in his eyes.
"It's not your fault, Al." forced cheer and nonchalance was in his voice, "Just get some more rest, okay?"
"Mm-hmm…" I nodded, then looked up to see Edward leaving with the bowl and glass, "Ah, brother?"
"Yeah?" he turned his head to face me.
"What was it that you asked me before?"
His smile was shaky, "When you're better, I'm gonna take you to the doctor to make sure everything's alright with you. Is that okay?"
I blinked, "Uh, yeah… it's okay… but why didn't we go before…?"
Ed shrugged, "I didn't want to risk moving you too much. I wanted to wait until you got a little more strength back. I did call a doctor when you were sick and got advice for what medicine to give you and stuff like that. You just had a slight stomach flu. Probably from the lack of food for four years and then suddenly being fed and changes in temperature."
"Oh, okay." I rolled onto my side and offered him a grateful smile. The expression he had… it was so strange… like relief and fear and happiness all together. It wasn't bad… just strange. "Thank you, brother." I told him before attempting to go back to sleep.
I couldn't wait to get caught up on all the sleep I'd lost. All this sleeping was starting make me feel lazy.
My eyes were wide, nearly popping out of my head, at the sight in front of me. I was standing, very shakily I might add, and staring at the mirror in our room. It was me… not the armor me or an older version of me… but the ten year old me, only a lot skinnier and paler. I was surprised; I guess I'd figured that my body would've grown… but it was still almost an exact replica of how I was from before. My hair was still short and a darker shade of gold than brother's. My silverish-olive eyes were drawn to my ribs, they were very prominent and seemed to be poking out of my skin. I frowned at how unhealthy that must be, but I was distracted by my face.
I frowned again, watching how the muscles in my face would move to accommodate the expression. I smiled, fascinated by how my expressions could change again. I opened my mouth so it could form an 'o' then a line and then an 'o' again. Blinking and scowling and smiling was so… I don't know. For four years I could only watch as brother and others could change their expressions. Now that I could too, it felt so nice.
I yelped in surprise, Ed's presence had gone unnoticed by me until he spoke suddenly. "Ah, brother! Look! I'm ten!"
Ed laughed at my giddy exclamation, "Stupid. You're not ten."
"Eh? But I look like I did before…" I was suddenly confused, did my growth stunt too like brother's?
"Yeah, but that doesn't make you ten." he pointed out, "Your mind and soul says you're fourteen, while your body is still ten. But the soul is what counts. So, you're just a very underdeveloped fourteen-year-old."
I pondered this, "I guess you're right… Aha! So that's why you felt so much bigger than I thought you would!"
"I'M NOT A MIDGET!" he suddenly shouted.
"I didn't say you were!" I countered, putting my hands up as a sign of giving in.
Ed fumed and tossed some clothes at me, "Just put these clothes on. I can't drag you around town naked."
I blushed, realizing for the first time since I had gotten my body back that I was in fact naked. I guess it was to make bathing and going to the bathroom easier, since my hands were still clumsy and Ed wouldn't want to waste time dressing and undressing me. My blush deepened when I recalled that Ed had to help me do all these things. Keeping my head down so he wouldn't see me all embarrassed, I examined the shirt in my hands. My mind when blank when I told myself to put it on.
"Umm… brother?" I piped up, still not looking at him.
"What is it?"
"I don't know how to put the shirt on."
After much fumbling around, Ed managed to get my shirt and pants on. The shirt was very big, the neck almost hanging off my narrow, bony shoulders. The pants were big too, dragging on the ground when I tried to walk. I also had to bunch the waist together so that they wouldn't fall off. Judging by how the clothes looked, I figured that they were Ed's. Well of course they're his! I don't have any clothes and where would brother find some clothes without leaving me alone or knowing my size? The underwear was his too, I realized with heat rising to my cheeks again. I hated being so skinny.
"Hold still, Al!" Edward was trying to tighten one of his belts around my waist so the pants wouldn't fall down. "Jeez… I never thought I'd see the day where my clothes were too big for you. The last time my shirts would hang off you like this was when you were like three or something."
"Really?" I tilted my head to the side, "I wore your clothes when I was three?"
He smiled, recollecting the memory, "Yeah. You were constantly going through my clothes and wearing them so you could be 'Just like big brother'. Mom thought it was adorable."
"I didn't know that…" I tried to remember doing something like that, but nothing came to mind.
"Hmm, you were too little to remember. But mom would sometimes make references to that." he told me, finally standing up straight and tugging on the waist of my pants to see if they would fall down.
I could remember mom sometimes saying: 'Al, wear this and you can be like your big brother!' or something. I guess I never really considered why she'd say stuff like that.
"There we go!" Ed grinned, fitting his red coat over my shoulders. "I don't want you too get cold. Then you'd get sick again and you'd have to drink more of that medicine and throw up on me."
I made a face at him, causing him to start laughing again. I smiled to myself, I liked being able to make him happy. It was a rewarding feeling. Ed hoisted me up so that I was riding piggyback. He thought it would be easier on my half-dead legs to carry me this way. I couldn't disagree with him for two reasons. One; my legs weren't very strong yet and had difficulty in supporting my own weight. And two; I liked it when brother carried me.
"You look much better, brother."
Edward was spread out all over his bed, taking up almost the full size of it. Although it probably looked like he was exhausted or sulking, I knew that it was his relieved position. I did notice that he had seemed rather tense on the way to the doctor's. I assumed it was because he had to explain why I was so sickly. It turned out the doctor was a friend of the colonel's and instructed to keep this check up off the records and not ask any questions about my anorexic appearance. Actually, besides the fact that I was malnourished and my muscles and bones were nearly dead, I was perfectly fine. Still, there had to be some reason why Ed had tensed up before seeing the doctor and getting me all checked out.
Ed's voice was muffled, since his face was half-pressed into his pillow, "Hnn? What're you talking about?"
"You looked really stressed earlier." I informed him, sitting up with my back supported by the propped up pillows, "Now you look a lot more at ease. Why?"
A pillow was chucked at my head, "You're really stupid enough to ask me why I was stressed? Because something might've been wrong with you! There were all these 'what ifs' like what if I didn't do the transmutation correctly. Or what if I messed up somewhere. Or what if you were just plain sick. I was worried, idiot."
"Oh…" I didn't know what to say; I couldn't look at my brother, so I simply stared at my bed sheets.
I guess I was so unused to having Ed worry about my physical well-being like that. In the armor… nothing could really be wrong with me. Sure, I'd lose an arm or a leg or my helmet; but Ed could just make new ones with alchemy or just reattach the head. It never hurt. I couldn't feel it. But now… if I were to lose an arm or a leg, like he did, then that would be that. No new arms or legs made of flesh and my head wouldn't be able to be reattached to my body. And it would hurt. I would feel pain. Not only that, but I could get sick. The events of my first few days in my rightful body proved that much. Humans were fragile, seeing Ed get hurt on our journeys proved that much and I had worried about him enough for the both of us. It's only natural for brothers to worry about each other. So… obviously Ed would worry too. Then there's the guilt factor where he thinks that everything is his fault, including anything wrong with my body. I really am an idiot.
Suddenly I found my body being twisted into an embrace. I blinked, having been startled but relaxed as brother tightened his grip on me. Somewhere during my thoughts, he must've gotten up and come over to me. Ed usually didn't show many physical displays of affection, but now I could feel him and he could feel me. I sighed contently, returning the embrace and enjoying his warmth. His face was buried in my shoulder, his mismatched hands gripping the back of the red coat I was still wearing.
"Al…?" he asked softly, not moving his head and making it difficult for me to look at him.
"Yes, brother?" giving up on trying to look him in the face, I rested my chin on his opposite shoulder, letting the stray strands of blonde hair from his braid tickle my nose. I began to play with his hair with one hand as I waited for him to continue.
Ed didn't protest once he regained the ability to speak, "Al, you're… you're really okay, right? You're not hurt or anything? I didn't screw up, did I? Please…"
"I…" my eyes widened and unconsciously my hand tightened on his braid, jerking it slightly and I was granted with a hiss of pain from brother, "Ah! Sorry!" I immediately let go, then went back to contemplating his question. "I'm fine, really, brother. I'm okay. You didn't mess up."
Ed released a shaky breath, now stroking my back as if to reassure himself that I was whole and solid and real. "I was so scared… I thought I'd lost you again…"
He was referring to the night of my transmutation, I think. When I couldn't remember how I got back like this. "Brother… please… please tell me what happened."
Brother suddenly jolted as if trying to get away from me, but I tightened my grip as much as I could. I was now the one burying their head in the other's shoulder. "Please, brother, don't go. Please. Tell me. Please, I-I'm scared." I kept mumbling nonsense into his shoulder, clinging to him with as much strength my body could manage in this state. Ed slowly relaxed; I could imagine his face softening at this pitiful display of mine.
"Al…" he sighed, "Do you really-?"
"Yes." there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to know, "I want to share the burden, brother. Don't I have a right to know?"
"Alright, alright." he gave in, shifting us so that we were both lying down on my bed. Me on my back looking up at him and Ed on his side facing me. He took in a deep breath before starting, "You see Al… you remember what we were doing, right?" I half nodded, a little unsure of why we had been there. "The homunculi and Dante. They had you. I tried to find you, but Dante ended up sending me to the other side of the gate before I could find you. Do you remember me coming back?" I couldn't, so I shook my head. "Well, when I came back… I found you stuck in a transmutation circle, Wrath missing the arm and leg he took from me, Envy, Rose, Gluttony, and Dante. They were all there… they were going to use the Philosopher's Stone…"
Ed swallowed thickly, no longer looking at me, "I… I didn't know what to do. So I just started fighting Envy to buy some time… I was scared, Al. They were going to take you away…" his voice was lowering, "I-I tried to get to you… b-but… I…"
It would've been cruel to make him continue talking. I placed a finger on his lips, silencing him and making him blink at me in surprise. He cast me a questioning look, but I shook my head. I snuggled up to him, not really desiring to know what happened next. I'm sure it would just make me sick. Ed sniffed, trying to keep himself from crying or showing any weakness.
"It's okay, brother. I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere." I reassured him. I hated making him upset.
I couldn't move. My body was trapped within the transmutation circle that Dante had created to keep me from running off. So they could use the stone. They didn't need to worry though, brother wasn't here. Why wasn't he here? I need him. Brother…
Everything seemed to move faster; Gluttony was crazy, he no longer had emotions or attachments. I wonder if it's better to have no feelings when someone close to you dies. Dante destroyed brother's arm and leg that had been taken by Wrath, he was in a crumpled heap on the floor. Rose looked so dazed and sad, I don't think she was really there. Her eyes were empty. I wanted to cry. I really did. But steel can't cry. Steel can't do anything.
The gate opened; brother was there and he looked so sad and lost. Then he got angry, maybe because they were going to transmute me. Envy fought him, taking on different appearances of people who were our friends. Gluttony was coming closer. He was going to eat me. Then Envy… Envy was… I didn't want to look. It was impossible! How could dad do something like that! Why was brother stopping! Move!
So much blood. His blood was everywhere. A spike had gone right through him. He was bleeding too much! He was going to die! Then… he looked at me… His eyes were pleading, begging for forgiveness and mercy. For me… begging for me to help him. But I couldn't! His face was so pale and chalky. The blood was everywhere. His eyes went dead and he fell, tumbled to the cold, unfeeling ground. So similar to myself.
"EDWARD!" Rose screamed out in anguish, coming out of her trance.
I couldn't move. My mind was numb. Only one word resounded in my empty head. No. No. No. No. No. No!
"No… Brother can't die… It's supposed to be me…"
I'm the useless one. I should be dead. This is all my fault. It's my fault. It's my fault! MY FAULT! BROTHER!
"No… no… stop… wait… brother… brother… can't die… my fault…"
"Hey, Al. Wake up, it's okay. Al, wake up." brother's voice reached me in my dream, yanking me from it and bringing me back to reality.
Panting heavily, I was once again staring up at my brother from the bed, "B-brother?"
"I'm right here, Al. See?" he lightly touched the side of my face and I marveled at how I could feel it, could feel the rough skin, yet gentle touch of his hand against my cheek. It suddenly came to me. Then end of dream… what had happened that night in that empty room with the homunculi and the stone and the blood. I knew now… and I hated myself for it.
My lower lip trembled, unbidden tears coming to my eyes. Ed gazed at me with worry, smoothing my hair back to try and comfort me, "Hey, what's wrong?"
"You died!" I suddenly blurted out, startling my brother by my outburst, "You died, so how can you be here? How did you survive? I don't understand, brother! I don't! You died! And it was all my fault!"
I jerked my body, twisting it so that my front was buried in the bed. My hands clenched into the pillow, now in the process of being drenched by my tears and saliva. I sobbed into the material, my chest aching with the effort. I didn't want him to go away. I didn't want him to suddenly be gone upon my new discovery. I wanted brother to stay with me.
"Al…" Ed's voice was thick with his own grief, "Alphonse, look at me."
Reluctantly, I raised my tear-stained face to look at Edward. He appeared pained, so sad and at a loss for what to do. I hiccupped, choking on my own sobs. Gnawing on his lower lip, Ed placed his flesh hand on my shoulder.
"Al, do I look dead to you?" he asked me; his eyes were tired and full of despair, but other than that he looked alive.
Sniffling, I frantically shook my head, "No-o…"
Ed forced a smile to his lips, then opened his arms as an invitation, "Come here."
I flung myself into his arms, clinging to him and bawling like a baby. He didn't care though, brother just cradled me and lowered out bodies into a position that we could fall asleep in. I buried my face into his chest, nuzzling my head under his chin. I could feel him nestling his cheek against the top of my head. Eventually, my crying ceased and my breathing eased into a quiet kind. It was silent, I was then aware that Ed had begun to hum, so softly that I could barely hear him. But he was there. And he was alive.
I was furious and scared and in pain. Emotional pain. Without any rational thought, I began transmuting. I frightened Gluttony away from my armor and stormed past Dante and Envy. My brother needed me. I had to help him. I couldn't, wouldn't be useless to him! He didn't look peaceful like mom had when she died. He looked like he was being consumed with guilt and pain. I couldn't bear it. He deserved to be here and be happy and whole.
"I'm sorry, brother…" For that one moment, I could almost feel tears streaming down my face. "I'm sorry."
A flash of red light, Envy yelling, the gate, brother, the gate took Envy, and brother wasn't dead anymore. But he was foggy and looked distant. "Al?" he called out faintly, eyes desperate.
"Brother! Brother!" I tried to get over to him, but I felt something pulling me away from him.
This is the price you pay. This is the price. Someone whispered, the one dragging me away towards the gate. But I wanted to make sure he'd be okay. I wanted to see brother get back safely. Your life for his. The Philosopher's Stone.
"Al…" brother rasped, I don't think he could see me really, maybe feel my presence.
I felt like I was being torn in two. What was I doing? Brother would be miserable and guilty for the rest of his life if he found out what I'd done for him. But… I'd be miserable and guilty if I didn't do something.
"Alphonse?" his eyes locked onto me, even if we were getting further apart. "Al?" his voice was choked with tears. "Al, say something. Please."
I was suddenly overcome with fury, "No! I won't let you take me! Brother needs me! Let me go back to him! Please!"
"Al…" Brother could hear me, he started walking closer.
I didn't want him to get too close, "Stay back, Ed. The gate will take you away!"
"Al, where are you going? Come back, please. I'm sorry. Don't hate me. Please… don't…" he trailed off, I could hear him crying.
"Brother? Brother, no. Please. Don't cry." I pleaded, trying to fight off those of the gate who were taking me with them. "I love you, brother! I really do!"
Use the stone.
I'm not sure if the gate was speaking to me or Edward, but I watched as he raised his eyes to meet my gaze. Fear and weakness being replaced by determination. He charged forward and I screamed for him to turn around. To go back.
"GIVE ME BACK MY BROTHER!"
Suddenly, I was in front of the gate and brother was gone. I looked around wildly, trying to find him before the doors opened and took him away. Too late. The doors were opening and all those eyes… I gasped, recognizing a pair that also had a face and a body to go with them. Edward was kneeling on the ground, cradling something in his arms.
"Brother! Brother!" he looked up, suddenly fearful, as I tried to get over to him.
He shook his head, "No, Al! Don't come close! They want the stone!"
The eyes were all focused on me, all grinning as their hands reached out to me. "A-ah!" I was torn between helping my brother and listening to him. But I couldn't lose him. I just couldn't. I rushed forward to where Ed was, the hands ripping at my armor. I bent down to his screaming form.
"Take out the seal!" I told him, "Attach it to something else!"
Ed looked at me as if I were crazy, which I probably was by then, "Al-!"
"Just do it, brother!" I ordered, aware that my lower torso was already being consumed.
He looked angry and scared, "But what if I can't reattach it!"
"Just try!" I screamed back, "Please!"
His face contorted into a pained expression, shifting his burden to his flesh arm and using his auto mail to rip out my seal. The seal contained my thoughts and memories and soul, it was what bound me to something. Although I couldn't move or talk or anything, I watched as my armored body was devoured. Brother's hand clenched around the cut out of the armor that was me, then gently placed it on another surface.
"Now…" he whispered, looking at my seal and whatever else was there with such intensity… "I'll bring you back, Alphonse. The way you were supposed to be."
With a clap of his hands, the gate allowed us passage and we were falling. Then Ed was gone and there was a degree of nothingness. Then I was aware. The first thing that registered in my mind was…
End of the first chapter thingie. I hope you enjoyed it! Please review and tell me what you think! It will make me smile. But please, no flames... that means you Roy.
Roy: Dammit... -storms off-
Bye for now!