A fic by Kuja's Little Mage
Tags: Shounen-ai, PWP
Fandom: Full Metal Alchemist
Pairings: Ed x Al, Ed + Heiderich
Disclaimer: None of the characters in this story are mine. This fic is only for entertainment purposes and is not meant for money or distribution.
Author's Notes: Watchers! Show of hands! Who thought I was dead?
Well, you're half-right.
See, it's this little thing called school... and then there's another thing called my FMA obsession.
So here's a little something that got my brain jogging. Hopefully, enough to work on my other fics, mayhaps?
Frankly, I hate what they did with Heiderich's name. They spelled it the same way as Alphonse Elric's, officially - but that just confuses the shit out of me, so, in my world, Heiderich's name is spelled Alfons. Just to establish a nominal difference. Makes things much less confusing to write for me. Agreed?
Germany in the 1920's had a lot of things that Edward Elric wasn't used to. Petty things, really. Laws. Technology. Names. Places. Faces. Things that seemed eerily similar, and yet stood on their own, entirely different. That same odd feeling in his gut that was always there, ever present, reminding him of the near-poisonous mixture of his mind's placement and his body's. While Ed would often still drift to thoughts of Risembool and Central, of Mustang, Winry, Sciezka, Al...he always realized in the end that this reality was nowhere near his own. A taste of bitterness would always fill his mouth at the thought; a cruel, dreamy irony that seemed to laugh in his face each day he awoke.
One thing that Edward Elric would not, could not, get used to, was the weather. Again the haunting familiarity of a winter chill, one that he both loved and hated as a child.
Childhood. Hundreds of good memories lay in his childhood, Edward realized, that were often stamped out. One mistake. One deadly, mortifying mistake, and suddenly he wished to remember nothing more than that. He sapped his own happiness, turned it to bitter self-loathing for ignoring the laws—laws he had idolized and studied since those very same years.
Poor Edward paced fervently back and forth in his and Heiderich's tiny rented apartment, his thoughts sharply curving from woeful younger memories to the biting freeze that slid through the cracks in the walls. Ed ground his teeth together in the chill to keep them from chattering, drawing in a shuddering breath, rubbing his white-gloved palms together in a vain attempt to conjur heat. He brought them to his face, covered his mouth and parted his lips to spread his hot breath over his fingertips. It worked no better than the rubbing. Though these gloves were made for winter, they were apparently not guarding very well against the cold that sank in through the fabric. Resisting the urge to snarl at nothing, Edward stuffed his hands under his arms, wearing his favorite Munich coat, and stamped his feet whenever he wasn't pacing.
What was it that he and Al had always done in times like this? Of course—they'd snatch each other up, find the sunniest spot possible, and huddle there together, curled up with their bodies molded against each other. Body heat and sunlight. The best combination for keeping warm. If Alphonse had ever agreed for unspoken reasons, they remained unspoken. They had always shared the same passion for science and logic. Still, in those days, Al had a habit of unconditionally following whatever his niisan told him. Not that Edward minded. The shadow of his brother always standing behind him had been a constant comfort; a safe haven from his own twisted web of fears.
Sometimes we didn't pick the best of spots, Ed recalled. One time during the winter season, it had been a particularly bone-chilling day—Edward remembered vividly that the cold back then had seemed to soak through even to the marrow. So what did he do?
"Alphonse, I'm cold," he'd complained, taking his little brother by the hand as he donned his winter coat. "Let's find a sunny spot."
Alphonse had, as always, agreed without precedence, so without another spoken word, the two brothers wandered out into the Risembool countryside. It was all open space in Risembool, practically. Any spot in the sunlight would have sufficed. But Alphonse and Edward had always made a game out of it, demanding the "warmest" spot they could find.
"Niisan, let's huddle here," Alphonse suggested. Ed's face crinkled to the contrary.
"No, too shady."
"Shady?" Alphonse frowned and stared at the melting patch of snow. "There's no shadows. How is it shady?"
"It's not warm enough!" Edward snapped, childishly thrusting his hands out over the spot. "See? My fingers are red. Too shady."
Alphonse frowned. "Your fingers are red because you're cold, niisan."
Edward pouted, leering at his little brother from the corners of his eyes, cursing him as most young children do when a clever mind has spotted their juvenile tricks. After a moment's pause, the golden-eyed boy grabbed his younger sibling's hand and dragged him off down the country road.
"Too shady!" He insisted. "Let's find another."
"Niisan, I wanted to pick the good spot this time!" Alphonse complained. "You always say you pick the best spots."
Edward stuck his tongue out. "That's right. Because I'm older."
"Can I pick it anyway?" asked the silver-eyed boy, stamping his feet as a guard against the cold. Edward crossed his arms, mocking a thoughtful pose, humming loudly as he seemed to consider the thought for longer than Alphonse appreciated.
"Eeeed!" He added as a mark for pity, "I'm getting cold."
"Okay, okay, okay," Ed finally acquiesced, "Hurry up and pick a spot, Al."
His little brother's face lit up, and Alphonse burst into a run, forcing Ed to keep up with him. They laughed the whole way, the usual quips about poor Ed's height being made.
"You might be older, but I'm taller!"
"WHO ARE YOU CALLING SMALLER THAN A SNOWFLAKE?!"
"I never said that, niisan!"
"Yes you did! I heard it!"
"Did too, did too!"
Al ignored his brother's silly insistencies, coming to a halt in front of another melting patch of snow—snow reflected the sun's light, so not only would the sun above them be warm, but the ground would be warmer, too. Al thought it was a little strange, since the ground always felt cold anyway—but science was science, and science was never wrong.
"This spot is good," he said.
Panting as he came up beside him, Ed complained, "That's the same place as before!"
"It is not!"
"It is too!"
"Niisan, stop trying to get your way," Alphonse scolded.
"You're not my mom!" grumbled Ed.
Once more Al ignored the comment, getting them back on track with the subject at hand. He stomped on the spot a couple of times. "This spot is good," he declared. "Let's huddle here."
Edward sighed, pouting still. "Fine, let's."
So it was then that Ed went right up to his little brother, wrapped his arms around him, and pulled him down to the ground. They lay there next to each other, arms around each other's bodies. Edward pressing his cheek to Alphonse's coat, Alphonse's face buried in streaks of sun-yellow hair. They lay there huddled up for several minutes, listening to nothing but the howling winter wind and the sounds of their own breathing.
"Are you warm yet?" Alphonse asked.
"No," Ed replied quickly, squeezing Alphonse tighter in his arms. "Let's huddle longer."
A small frown formed on Al's cherubic face. "We're going to get yelled at if we huddle any longer, niisan."
"No we won't," insisted the stubborn older brother. "We're not doing anything wrong."
Al pursed his lips, and licked them. "I guess so."
"Don't lick your lips," Edward scolded, "you'll make them get chapped."
"I hate chapped lips," Al agreed.
When they had been curled up for warmth like that, as they often did, for a long time, an old man passed them by and stopped to give them an odd glance. Even back then, Ed hadn't missed the quiver of disapproval in the old timer's eyes. "What are you two doing?" He asked them. They explained.
With a shake of his head, the old man grumbled, "Brothers shouldn't do such things."
"What does he mean, niisan?" Alphonse asked innocently.
"I dunno." Ed replied, "Let's ask mom." So that's what they did.
Mom, Ed thought, presently rubbing his hands together again before stuffing them back under his arms in his jacket. He knew it was a trick of his mind, but every now and then, he could still smell her. A lingering scent. Not strong on the nostrils, but strong in his mind; a soft smell. A mother's smell.
He couldn't remember the name of her perfume, and he always felt terrible for forgetting it. How could he not know the name of his mother's favorite perfume? So one day in this time period, on a day when Hohenheim had decided not to abandon him at sight of first dawn, Edward asked him what the name of that scent was that mom always wore.
Hohenheim had replied, with a tired smile on his face, "Chamomile. Trisha's perfume smelled like chamomile."
It was no wonder. Ed had always thought it was lavender.
He stopped pacing, stopped moving, stopped dancing back and forth on his feet to fight off the frigid chill. And as Edward stood there, motionless, a slightly frustrated frown crossed his features.
The bitter truth again reminded him that no matter how much his memories would warm him on the inside, his body would remain cold. He was kindling a spiritual fire that did nothing to heat him up physically, and another cold shudder rippled down his spine to enforce the facts.
Two thundering cracks of sound rumbled through the house, the sound of a door opening and closing to shatter the thick silence that swaddled the place in its blanketed grip.
"Edward! I'm home!"
Ed grumbled grumpily, "It's about time," and stomped down the stairs with his hands still thrust under his arms to keep his fingers from falling off. Arms full of groceries—the ones he could afford, anyway—Heiderich met the sight with a wry chuckle.
"Poor Ed. Are you cold?"
"Freezing," quipped the fellow blond, shrugging his shoulders up to his ears. Alfons Heiderich chuckled again.
"Well, you can help me put away the groceries," he said. "That'll keep you warm enough."
Ed just nodded, helping Alfons with the groceries, mostly having to put canned foods in the pantry.
He couldn't summarize Heiderich into words. But he could summarize him in thought.
If only Al had grown up...
Edward sometimes wasn't sure if he was waking up to his own Alphonse or this world's Heiderich. His mind liked to make him think that it was sometimes his brother he was running into in the mornings, that it was his brother who was standing there making the morning pot of coffee for him that he would refuse in uniform fashion before fixing a cup of Gracia's tea instead. Coffee was for grown-ups. Ed was seventeen years old, and he still thought like that.
"You won't be a kid forever, Full Metal," echoed Roy's voice in his head. "So don't waste your childhood trying to be an adult."
"Something wrong?" Alfons wondered, noting the distant look in Ed's eyes. But Ed simply shook his head, adjusting his hairtie.
"Nothing," he responded, tugging his ponytail tight and rubbing his hands together. Heiderich smirked.
"It's almost time for the first snowfall," he mentioned. "Imagine, in a few months, it'll have been almost a year since we've been working together."
Ed nodded his head, humming absently as he rubbed his hands up and down his arms. His eyes gravitated towards the nearby window, and he stared longingly out its glass panes, onto the bustling streets of Munich, Germany. Alfons watched him, and persisted in a smile, but it faded after some seconds.
As far as he understood it, he only knew that he looked like Ed's late brother. When Ed was sober, it seemed he acknowledged Alfons only when he had to, or when he wanted to tell his silly stories. When he was drunk (which happened on occasion), Alfons would come home to a shockingly different side of the boy. One flesh arm and one fake arm would wrap around his waist in a warm hug, and Ed would nuzzle his face into his chest, mumbling slurred words of affection. Usually, the frequent line was, "Alphonse, your niisan loves you."
The name was the same, but he knew Ed wasn't thinking of "this world's" Alfons. He scowled a little. The way Edward worded it, sometimes Alfons wondered if the other thought nothing more of him than a ghost floating in his space.
And yet, some part of him liked to entertain the ideas that Ed talked about. Alfons knew it was crazy, but...he just couldn't completely accept someone like Ed being one of the crazy types. He was too smart...too logical. An enigma—that was what Edward was. Sometimes Alfons would smile to himself, and think that in some ways, Edward's intellect combined with his oddities made him almost akin to Albert Einstein.
"What are you remembering this time?" Alfons asked, a hand on Ed's shoulder. Golden eyes blinked up at him, before returning to the window.
"The Colonel," he said quietly.
Ahh. A lot of the stories Edward shared talked about this "Colonel". Although these days, Ed would more often refer to him as "The General". It appeared to Alfons that Edward's imaginary Colonel—if it even was imaginary, which Alfons was quite sure of—had gotten a promotion.
"What about the Colonel?"
Ed frowned, shaking his head. "No, sorry; not Colonel. General."
There it was again.
"You keep calling him 'Colonel', and then you correct yourself."
A wistful smile. "He was promoted...just before I...left." Alfons recognized the hesitance. "I keep forgetting."
"He was a good soldier, wasn't he?"
Ed bobbed his head in a nod, a scoff escaping him. "Yeah. And a damn good alchemist."
Alfons tried to stop the conversation there, letting out a sigh, a heave of his broad shoulders. Alchemy. He thought. Ridiculous. Everyone knew that alchemy didn't exist. Eclipsed by Newton's Laws and other theories of modern science. And yet, Edward talked about it like it were still in existence—that it could actually be used.
It was ridiculous...
And there his mind was cut, by a sudden tightness in his chest and the eruption of a coughing fit. Alfons covered his mouth with a fist, eyes cast down to the floor as his other hand covered his chest, the cavity feeling constricted as he rode out the coughs. Edward became clearly concerned, looking up at him with worried eyes.
"Alfons? Are you okay?"
Heiderich gave a carefree smile, clearing his throat.
"I'm okay. Just a mild cold. I should start wearing a heavier jacket."
Ed frowned. A cold? He's had a cold for two months. Heiderich was a good liar, if you were the type to fall for his expressions, maybe. But Ed was the same way; he could spot a lie when he saw one. There was a reason why he didn't go to many of the meetings they had surrounded by all those rockets—a reason why he usually left when they were going to launch it.
He and Alfons were then wrapped in the blanket of silence again, finding neither warmth nor comfort. Edward gazed into Alfons' eyes for a while, and Alfons began to grow uncomfortable with it. No surprise. Ed learned quickly that eye contact with strangers was considered rude in this country. He and Alfons weren't strangers, but apparently, they weren't friends yet, either.
Suddenly Alfons would find his hand being grabbed by Ed's right one, mechanical but still feeling incredibly real, tugging him along. He blinked his bright blue hues owlishly, clearing his throat to force back another coughing fit.
"Let's find a sunny spot."
Heiderich's face was, needless to say, one of awkward wonder. "Huh?"
Taking Alfons up the stairs, Edward looked over his shoulder at him. "I'm cold, you're cold. So, let's find a sunny spot."
Alfons creased his brow. "Ed, I don't see how finding a spot with sunlight will—"
"Alfons." Ed suddenly pivoted on his heels to face the taller man, looking up at him. The look was different than the one of concern from before. This was one of those expressions Alfons had gotten used to. The one that was swathed in memories that Alfons was sure were fabricated. The one that said, as Ed said now, a simple "Please."
He was usually reluctant to partake in these moments, because they normally meant involving him in something that Ed was remembering about his brother. And again, Ed made him feel like a ghost. Heiderich wondered, silently, if the day would ever come that Ed would notice him.
Edward led Heiderich upstairs, through the halls, into the bedroom they shared that had two separate beds. It was small, barely enough room for them, but it was all they had. He scanned over the room, before he pulled Alfons towards one of the windows, where the sunlight streamed in and made a warm patch on the wood floor.
The next part, Alfons wasn't expecting, and he was quite startled when Ed suddenly wound his arms around his waist, and nestled too snug against him for comfort.
"E-E-E-Edward!" Alfons stammered, his cheeks turning admittedly flush. "Wh-What in God's name are you—!"
"Sunlight and body heat," Ed replied calmly. "Best way to get warm."
Alfons was reeling. "Y-Yes, I know that, but you're—"
"Alfons." There was that tone again. "Please."
A moment of silence, Alfons standing there, rigid and uncomfortable in Edward's arms. But after that moment, he finally sighed, regrettably giving in to Ed's desires and allowing himself to be held. This will do nothing for the cold, he thought. Why am I even doing this?
He lost track of how long he let Ed hold him there like that, but in the end, Alfons got used to it. Being used again for Ed's memories. He wasn't surprised that it upset him; after all, who would like being played with like this?
"Alfons," Edward murmured. Alfons sighed. Was it his name, or the brother's?
Suddenly, Alfons hardly minded the situation at all.
For once, between him and the brother, Edward had chosen him. He'd been acknowledged. Thanked, even.
He smiled, ruffling Ed's hair a little under his hand. Alfons replied with a gentle voice, looking into a set of sun-colored eyes, "You're welcome."