Disclaimer: I do NOT own Fullmetal alchemist or it's characters...I'm just playing with them.
I've tried to make this fiction mirror real events as much as possible. With the help of Wikipedia and other websites I have presented you with the facts as I have found them on the web. I will place the links I used in my profile.
This fiction takes place 2 years after the movie, Ed and Al are on the hunt for the Uranium bomb and are currently travailing through a politically unstable Italy. As near as I figure it Ed's 20 and Al's 16. The year is 1925.
(1) Ed regained his arm at the end of the series, and then lost it when he came to Earth.
(2) I have a link on my profile to an interesting site that has pictures of prosthetic limbs from various times in history, worth checking out.
(3) Seniore - major who commanded a cohort (battalion)
(4) Capomanipolo - First Lieutenant
(5) Benito Mussolini – Please see my profile for further reading on this man.
Version 2.0—Edited for punctuation, and sentence structure. No plot points have changed, but hopefully it flows better XD. If you feel up to it, let me know how it reads!
Edward Elric was not happy, and it was all because of his little brother. Al had been getting on his nerves the whole trip, bugging him about everything and anything that crossed his mind until he wanted to punch him out. He was stubbornly trying to resist that urge, grinding his teeth, and pointedly ignoring Al, hoping that he would get the hint, but it didn't seem to be working. The fact that Ed hadn't responded for the last hour didn't seem to deter Al in the slightest.
They still had a long way to go, and if he didn't stop this now, Al might never quit. That made him really worried. He knew that Al was only concerned, but this was going a bit too far in his opinion. It was getting harder and harder to block him out, and he was sure that his eyebrow was going to twitch like that forever if something didn't give soon.
"Al..." Tired of it all, Ed tried to interrupt Al's flowing full blown rant.
"—And what about Noa? Is it really okay for us to just leave her like that? I mean she's your best friend isn't she? We should have been more persistent in asking her to come with us. You would have liked her to come, right? I mean, will those people, will they treat her kindly? It's not like they—"
"AL! Dammit! Enough already!" Ed jumped to his feet trying to tower over Al in order to get his attention. "It's too late to change that now. We're not even in the same country anymore! Okay?"
The vein in Ed's temple throbbed horribly, and he could feel the start of a wicked headache forming behind his temple. Cracking his knuckles on his flesh hand, Ed made sure Al got the hint that he was serious about obtaining some peace and quiet as he glared down at his younger brother.
"Sorry..." murmured Al, closing his mouth on what he wanted to say next. He sunk back into his seat, staring up through his bangs, looking very contrite.
All the tension in Ed's shoulders vanished, and he sagged. "THANK you!" he snipped, flopping back into his padded seat across from Al. Ed stared moodily out the train window and began massaging his temples; the gloves on his hands adding welcome distraction from the throbbing headache.
Dammit, Al, I know all that, Ed thought. But it can't be helped. We finally have a lead on the stupid uranium bomb. I won't put her in danger. Ed glanced at his brother who was sulking on the bench across from him. If I could help it you wouldn't be here either.
The landscape was changing quickly now from the lush green fields of France to the more rocky, rugged landscape of Italy. Travailing by train was convenient but it was slow too slow for Edward, as their lead was already several months old, he wanted to be there as soon as possible, but this was the best they could do with their limited resources. He wished that he could have gotten his hands on a plane, but their patron wasn't biting.
Although, it was lucky that Al had insisted we get a sleeper cabin for this trip, Ed mused. Not that he would ever admit that to Al; at least, not right now while he was still peeved at him.
Ed was loathe to spend their money when he was sure they could tough it out in the couch car. With inflation the way it was these days, every penny had to be spent wisely. The economy was really taking a hit from the Great War, and now that things had started to turn uncertain the value of their money could bottom out at any time, which only made Al argue hard about getting the sleeper cabin.
But, Al had pointed out that the added privacy would help them be more comfortable, and Ed wouldn't have to be so cautious about his auto-mail being seen. It seemed that the people of this world became quite fearful of things they didn't understand. He'd had a some strange reactions on the few occasions that he'd been careless enough to show his arm or leg. Enough to make him want to be very careful in the future, who he allowed to see his auto-mail.
Now that Al had finally shut up, a wave of tiredness swept over Ed. "I'm taking a nap," he informed Al.
"What, AL?" a slight sound of annoyance marking his response. He glared across the small space separating them.
"Is your auto-mail bothering you again?"
Ed stood, and began to set up the sleeper cot above his seat, not bothering to answer. When was it not bothering him? Ever since returning this world it had begun to hurt him. He was starting to think that Winry had done this to him on purpose, or maybe there was something wrong with this auto-mail. Taking off his trench coat, he threw it on his seat and heaved himself onto the cot. Situating himself with his back facing the cabin, he closed his eyes.
Maybe he should get Al to take a look at it. Not long after returning with him to this world, Al had mentioned that Winry had taught him a lot about auto-mail to be a back-up mechanic for her. He claimed that he was really good too. But it didn't seem right for anyone but Winry to touch his auto-mail. Well, it was that or nothing.
Letting his eyes close, Ed drifted off into an uneasy sleep.
Slumping in his seat, Al watched his brother's still form and continued to fret. Ed was getting more and more irritable as they made their way further south. He had been trying to sort out what was bothering his brother, but still couldn't come up with anything. Ed wouldn't even talk to him about it, which seemed strange. They always used to talk.
Plus, Ed didn't like to speak about his time here before Al was able to join him, so that didn't help him narrow it down any. He had originally thought that Noa's decision to leave Germany might have something to do with it, but Ed insisted that it wasn't anything like that. 'Not like there's anything wrong with me in the first place', Ed would complain in response to Al's constant digging.
Al was starting to doubt if he knew his brother as well as he thought he did. Sure they had spent three years in parallel worlds with very different experiences, but could they be so changed? Al had gotten his memories back when he crossed though the gate, so he remembered how they used to be. He was sure that Ed couldn't have had it that bad off in this world. He was able to live with father after all. Ed tossed on the cot, seemingly as agitated as he felt.
Now that he thought about it, maybe Ed didn't have a problem after all, maybe it was him that had a problem. He never really got a chance to know their father in Rizembool, having only spent one night together, and he couldn't even remember him from his childhood.
Could he be taking it out on Ed? Was he jealous of the time he'd been able to spend with their father? A startling thought, but it seemed to ring true. Glancing out at the world flashing by, Al brooded.
Truth be told, he was really jealous of the time Ed and father spent together. They had lived as a family, making dinner, going out to see plays, or to the library to do research, doing chores, just being a family. All of that was what Al had wanted even for a little while. While he was able to live with Winry and Aunt Pinako, it just wasn't the same, they weren't blood.
Sinking further down in his seat, Al chewed on his lip. Running a hand through his short, sandy hair, he sighed.
Then Ed had moved in with Alfonse Heiderich, and he wasn't too sure what to make of that. His double from this world had died attempting to send Ed back to him in Central, but why would he risk his life like that for Ed? How close where they? Did something happen between them?
He also knew that Ed didn't share his admiration of the female body, but he didn't think that meant that he didn't want anything to do with them. While Ed never talked about it, Al still managed to pick up on his unease. Could that be why he didn't want Noa to come with them? There were really too many things that could be bothering Ed that he couldn't decide what really was bothering him.
"Al, would you quit it! I'm trying to sleep here."
"Hm?" Al looked up to see Ed staring down at him. His braid was starting to unravel, the stray hair framing his face, making it look messy and unkempt. Al liked it best when it was loose, but he couldn't get Ed to leave it that way and well…it wasn't really practical anyway. He thought it kinda made Ed look taller with it down, but Ed would only yell at him if he said that out loud.
It was now so long that leaving it in a pony tail wasn't really going to keep it very neat. He would have to re-braid it later and he was sure there would be lots of tangles in it from Ed's restless tossing and turning. Frowning, Al thought about the way Ed would get all whiny when he would begin to work out the tangles.
Chewing on his lip, Al wondered why he couldn't just trim it a little bit; the split ends were starting to get really bad now. Maybe he should try again to convince his brother to let him trim a good two inches off the bottom—
"Oi, what's wrong with you? I told you to stop," Ed snapped.
"Stop chewing on your lip! I can hear your spit moving 'round your mouth from way the 'frig up here. It's annoying."
"Oh, sorry." Al took his hand away from his lips, placing both of them in his lap. He continued to regard Ed's face, making the older brother fidget. With a snort of annoyance, Ed flopped back down to try and resume his nap.
Sighing, Al stretched out on the bench seat as best he could with his head pillowed in his hands, letting his legs hang off the side. From his reclined view all he could see was the blue sky and an occasional cloud. Slowly, Al's mind drifted and soon he was in a light sleep.
Sometime later, Al awoke to hear his brother mumbling in his sleep. Looking over, he saw that Ed was shivering and twitching. Sighing, Al got up and grabbed a blanket, and threw it over the huddled form, tucking in the corners just like mom used to. That seemed to make the sleeping man happy, and Ed settled. Sighing again, Al lay back down and almost immediately went back to sleep.
"Ugh...ah-urrgghh!" groaned Ed. Pain wracked through his body as he fought to regain consciousness. Something was holding him down, making it difficult to move. He tossed and struggled, fighting to the surface. The next wave of pain brought him fully awake.
With a strangled groan, Ed sat bolt upright. Clutching at his auto-mail arm, Ed tried to dispel the sleep muddled-ness of his brain. He was pretty sure that auto-mail didn't feel these types of sensations; it was good but not that good. A layer of sweat coated his body, and he could feel drops of it running down his back. Looking down, he noticed a blanket tangled up in his legs.
Al... he thought, shaking his head. Kicking it aside, he swung his legs over the side of the cot and hopped down. The jolt of the landing sending fresh pain through his body.
His little brother was still asleep on the bench, blissfully unaware of Ed's discomfort. Grimacing with another wave of sharp pain, Ed left the cabin in search of the restroom. He staggered down the corridor, sometimes bumping into the walls. The other passengers stared curiously out at him, but he couldn't care less about that right now. All that mattered was the pain, and getting rid of it.
Finally he reached the end of the narrow corridor, and turned the corner only to find the bathroom occupied. Groaning, he leaned up against the opposite wall then sunk down to the floor. Tired and sweaty, he silently commanded whoever was in there to hurry the hell up. The pain, not as sharp as before, seemed to settle on a constant throbbing.
The door creaked open making Ed look up. He was surprised to see an older man in his late 40's staring curiously back at him, making him blink in shock.
"Dr. Marcoh?" Ed croaked, thoroughly taken aback to see a familiar face that he blurted the man's name.
"Why...yes, that's me...but I don't believe I know who you are, son. Are you okay?" the man asked, concerned. Ed shook his head. "Well, let's get you up." Dr. Marcoh came around his left side and hauled him upright. With a steadying hand on his elbow, he guided Ed into the bathroom and sat him down on the covered toilet.
"So how exactly do we know each other?" the doctor asked, grabbing a towel and wetting it he turned around and regarded his new charge.
"Name's Edward and—uhhg—I know of your work," Ed said, hoping that he was right in thinking that this Dr. Marcoh was much the same as the one from his world. Ed let out a painful breath and leaned into the wall, hoping the pressure on his auto-mail port would make his arm feel better. It didn't.
"Oh? You're pretty young to know about my field of study..." the doctor said cautiously.
"Well, actually, I'm a scientist myself so I know a little about a lot of things," replied Ed, hoping it would be enough.
Dr. Marcoh sized up this...man, he supposed, although he looked too young to be called that. For him to know about his research... The blond slumped further down on the toilet seat, the pain twisting his face as fresh beads of sweat appeared on his face.
Dismissing his misgivings for now, Dr. Marcoh decided to figure out what was troubling this enigma of a boy. "So, what seems to be troubling you?"
Sighing, Ed said, "I'm not sure. I feel as though my right arm's on fire, but I lost it three years ago (1) so I don't understand why it's hurting now!" Ed rubbed his auto-mail, more a comfort to himself then any real relief the gesture could have caused.
"Ah, I see, sounds like you have phantom pains." Placing the wet cloth on Ed's forehead; he held it there as he continued. "Is it your right arm then?" Ed nodded again. Dr. Marcoh rubbed his index finger under his nose. "There are a few treatments I could tell you about. The most common one would be drugs to dull the pain. Actually, I might have something in my bag I could give you for the interim."
Ed looked up from under the towel, hopeful. "Th—that would be really helpful. Thank you Dr. Marcoh."
"Do you think you can make it back to my cabin? It's just a few doors down." Another shake of the head. "Well, then you'll just have to wait here until I get back. Just hold this here until I return," instructed Dr. Marcoh. The doctor exited the small bathroom, closing the door behind him.
Left alone, Ed removed the towel from his forehead. So, it was phantom pains. Not something he had expected. The doctor said that it was quiet common so, maybe it was something to do with this world, or maybe he was just lucky up until now. Either way it was a bitch to deal with.
A few moments later Dr. Marcoh was back with his black bag dangling from his right hand. "So, how much did your doctor tell you about phantom pains?" asked Dr. Marcoh.
Shrugging his good shoulder Ed said, "Nothing."
"What!" Marcoh looked incredulous at Ed. "You mean the doctor who took your arm never talked to you about it? I can't believe that." Tsk-ing the kook of a doctor who would mis-lead a patient like that; he rummaged about in his bag until he found the bottle he was looking for. Uncorking it, he shook out two pills onto his palm.
"Yeah, well there were extenuating circumstances." Ed took the pills offered to him and swallowed them dry. Marcoh raised his eyebrows at that, but didn't comment.
"Well, phantom pain occurs when the missing limb causes discomfort such as warmth, coldness, itching, squeezing and burning," explained the doctor, rattling off the symptoms.
"Hmm," grimaced Ed. "I see, what causes it to manifest?"
"Stress and anxiety will cause the symptoms to appear more readily, and even the weather can affect it. Those pills should kick in pretty quickly."
"Hn." I knew it, thought Ed. This is Al's fault. Stressing me out like that. The weather already bothers me, so that's no surprise.
"So, are you traveling alone? Anyone I can fetch for you?" Edward was already looking much better; the skin around his eyes was relaxing and his overall posture was less tense. Good, thought Tim. Even his color's coming back.
"Well I'm travailing with my younger brother, but I don't want him to know about this. It would just worry him unnecessarily. Besides, I can take care of it on my own. It just surprised me is all." Ed gestured with his gloved auto-mail hand taking in his appearance and general state of messiness.
The movement of Edward's right hand caught Tim's attention. The fluid gesture totally at odds with all of what Tim knew about prosthetics. Prosthetic limbs were rigid (2) and fixed in place by the user with no free range of motion like that of this young man. Ed was moving his arm at will. And the way his fingers moved; so like a real hand, it was amazing. It was too, normal.
"Doctor? Doctor...did you hear me?"
"Eh?" Startled, Tim ripped his gaze from the fascinating hand up to Edward's face. "Sorr--" Was all he managed before the train gave a sickening lurch, throwing them both scrambling for something to grab onto before the could crash into each other. The screeching of the breaks echoed along the cabin cars and continued until it seamed that their ears would burst from the sound.
Al woke with a start. His heart was beating fast; panic and confusion whirled across his face as he fought to understand the situation. The horrible screeching noise that had woken him increased in pitch, and he was thrown from the seat to the floor knocking his head against the foot board of the bench opposite him with a resounding smack.
The train crawled to a stop, giving one last lurch as its forward momentum ceased. Propping himself up on one elbow, Al took stock of his injury. He winched at the throbbing pain from the back of his skull. Reaching up, he gently touched his lump looking for broken skin. He pulled his hand back in front of his face, and thankfully his fingertips were clean.
Pulling his feet beneath him, Al looked up to the cot to see how his brother made out. Before he could stand up more then half way, bright spots swam before his eyes, and the blood pounded behind his eyes. His legs collapsed, and he fell back to the cabin floor. Breathing fast, he willed the sudden blood rush to subside. He must have knocked his head harder then he thought.
When the attack subsided, he slowly straightened and leaned into the cabin wall. Satisfied after a few moments passed with nothing, Al raised his head and looked again at the cot. Ed was gone making Al frown. The blanket he put over his brother earlier that afternoon was on the floor, and the cabin door was open.
Al peered into the hallway. Nothing. Other passengers were also looking out to see what was amiss. Looking out the far side of the train, Al caught glimpses of soldiers as they surrounded the train cars. They were wearing khaki pants with a black shirt and ties, fully armed and very pissed off. The political environment in Italy wasn't the best for travailing, Al remembered. Or for tourists. He hoped that Ed would stay out of trouble so they could continue on their way uninterrupted.
Several soldiers boarded the car from the far end, forcing the scared passengers back into their cabins. As more soldiers piled in, Al closed the door to his own cabin and sat down on the bench, watching as the men filed past.
A few minutes passed before shouting broke out towards the front of the car. Pressing his face to the window, he saw a solider drag a woman from a cabin, yelling at her. When that didn't seem to work, the soldier back handed her viciously. Sobbing, she clasped, holding her cheek with both hands and quieted. Another solider was dragging out an old man by the hair, yelling and gesturing.
A piercing whistle blew outside, and the soldiers forced the woman and old man off the train. More soldiers entered from the back, Al turned to watch them board. Doors were thrown open and the occupants forcibly removed. Grabbing their one suitcase and Ed's coat, Al waited for the solider to get to his cabin. Fear ate at his stomach. It was times like this that he wish he could speak Italian.
When it was his turn, he went without protest and followed the rest of the passengers. He hoped that Ed would be close by. He scanned the crowed looking for long blond hair but within all the chaos of milling passengers and soldiers, it was hard to spot him.
A large troop carrier was positioned off to the side; another behind. The commanding officer was addressing the crowd. He held up a badge with a symbol marked on it that from his position, Al couldn't really see. Gesturing to it, the man pointed at the passengers. When he got no response, he barked an order and the soldiers leveled their guns at them.
Al's eyes went wide. Frantic, he searched the crowed anew, but he still couldn't spot Ed. The murmuring rose and shouts were heard further down the line as a few of the passengers began to protest loudly. Soldiers rushed forward with their guns leveled at the instigators and passed out of Al's line of sight.
A gun shot cracked the air.
All sound stopped for a painful, shock filled moment before a feeble wailing started down the far end. The crowd shuffled nervously but remained silent, watching the soldiers warily. Al could feel the hair on the back of his neck rise in response to the heightened tension, and he began to sweat. Where had Ed gotten off too?
The Seniore (3) spoke to the crowd; again brandishing the badge then he pointed towards the wailing. Al couldn't bring himself to look. Now he wished they hadn't decided to come through Italy. They could have gone further south before crossing the Mediterranean. Al shifted his weight imperceptibility from one foot to the other. If he kept his head down, maybe they'd get out of this unscathed.
The capomanipolo (4) walked down the line viewing the passengers sometimes stopping to peer into someone's face, almost touching noses in his study. Sometimes grabbing a passenger, and motioning for a soldier to search them while he continued with his inspection. Al glanced out of the corner of his eyes, against his will, each time this happened, wondering if anyone one of those people might be Ed.
The capomanipolo stopped again motioning for another soldier to search a passenger. A scuffle broke out and the soldier grunted a curse. The second-in-command gave an order that was quickly carried out and a young man was dragged out of the line up and made to stand in front of the commander in full view of the assembled passengers. Drawing in a sharp breath, Al felt his stomach sink when he recognized his brother. "Ed..." he whispered. Butterflies ate at his stomach, making him feel sick.
Al could see the Seniore ask something of his brother. Ed just shook his head and replied in English, but Al was too far away to hear exactly what was said. The Seniore must not have liked Ed's tone because he stepped aside, signaling. A hulking giant of a man walked forward to take his place. Ed looked up and seemed to say something else.
A brutal backhand slap landed on Ed's jaw, causing him to stagger, and stumble to keep upright. A small ripple went through the passengers making the soldiers hasten to contain them. When Ed stood upright again, facing the hulking man, there was blood flowing freely from his split bottom lip. Spiting out a gob of blood on the ground between them, Ed glared at him which earned him an upper cut to the stomach. The rush of breath leaving Ed's body could be heard through out the clearing.
Ed crumbled to the ground, resting on his knees he clutched at his ribs, panting and coughing weakly. The hulking man walked around the huddled form and grabbed a fist full of hair, pulling his head back to expose Ed's throat. Looming over him, the Seniore asked again but Ed couldn't or wouldn't respond. The Seniore reached out and fingered a lock of his loose hair.
A man in the crowd spoke up; his voice heightening the tension of the last few moments. Coming forward he talked with the capomanipolo before he was permitted to approach the Seniore. When he walked towards the Seniore and Ed, Al was quite shocked to recognize that the man was Dr. Marcoh's double. They conferred for a few moments, then he knelt down besides Ed. They exchanged some words, and then the double relayed something to the Seniore.
"Alphonse Elric, please step forward," the double said. Standing, Dr. Marcoh scanned the crowd. Shaking like a leaf, Al took a few steps forward, and then stopped, waiting for further instructions. The double motioned Al to approach them. "I believe that you are in possession of your brother's travel documents."
"Yeah..." Al placed their suitcase on the ground and reached into his coat. He hesitated and shot a questioning glance at Ed. His brother nodded, painfully, at him to continue. Al could see that his brother wasn't in a position to argue right now, and he didn't want to cause anymore trouble, so he quickly complied with their demands. Pulling the papers out he started rummaging through them to find Ed's documents when both his and Ed's papers were snatched from his grasp by a soldier that had come up behind him unawares.
The soldier handed them to the Seniore and then came back to take up a position behind Al. He glanced over his shoulder at the man behind him, and then returned his attention to the man standing over Ed. The commander reviewed their papers very carefully.
The minutes ticked by, so that Al was beginning to think maybe they were alright and the soldiers hadn't found anything wrong with their documents. But then the commander addressed Ed. The tone of his voice didn't bode well. The commander motioned to the papers and seemed to be demanding something further. Ed looked to Dr. Marcoh for an explanation as to what was wrong now.
Al noticed that the doctor seemed to look a little pale as he turned to Ed. "He says that your documents have been stamped in the incorrect place and they are, therefore, fakes." Ed frowned at that. So did Al. How could they be fakes? "He also believes that you two are spies sent from America to undermine their fascist government. As this would be unacceptable to the people of Italy, and to the great Benito Mussolini (5), you are here by remanded into their custody until further notice. I'm sorry boys." He glanced at Al. "If I could do anything I would. This is beyond me."
Al looked at the Seniore, studying his face. The man was in his early 40's with slicked back, shiny hair starting to gray at his temples. A long scar ran down his left side of his face, starting at his forehead and dropping straight down to his jaw, missing his eye entirely, only adding to the menacing quality to him. His wary frame, oozed confidence and power. He smirked at Al, sending fresh butterflies rushing through Al's stomach. Al hastily looked at his feet.
The hulking man who had assaulted Ed let go of his hair, pushing his head towards the dirt, and instead grabbed the back of his shirt. Lifting Ed high in the air as if he weighed nothing, to drop him hard on his feet. A stiffed gasp worked its way from his brother's throat. Al wanted to run to Ed's side, and fend off the giant man from dealing any more damage to his brother, but the officer standing behind him grabbed his arm in a vice-like grip, and began to lead him away.
"Ed! EDWARD!" Al twisted in the soldier's arms trying to see his brother. Ed just looked at him grimly as he was half dragged, half walked away in a different direction while the capomanipolo continued his inspection of the remaining passengers.
--To be Continued—