This is not a drill. It's the actual final chapter.


Chapter 44: Into a Blue Sky

Alfons swore to himself that after this day, he wasn't going to set foot in a court again for the rest of his life. Moreover, he might just arrange to have this one bombed in the war that was surely inevitable, if only for the satisfaction of knowing it didn't exist anymore. He was tired of its dark wooden paneling, tired of the seat he had spent so many days on that it wore down to fit his behind, tired of the dais above them all where the judges sat aloof. He knew his position in the courtroom by heart, had memorized the steps leading up to it, and could have drawn from memory the network of scratches that marred the wooden back of the seat in front of him.

The garden that had once been in front of the courthouse was a trampled mess that showed no signs of recovering with spring, and the stairs leading up to the great double doors were no longer clean and new, but dulled with mud and dirt. Only the throngs outside gave the illusion of newness: people who had gone home, bored of waiting outside a silent courthouse for days when details weren't shared with the public, now returned full force to hear the verdict.

The crowds had given him a moment of panic, before he remembered that they had planned for them, though he couldn't remember now who was in charge of transmuting the bridge that would take them to the Main Street runway. It didn't matter; it wasn't his job.

Ed was his job.

Edward, who looked miserable on his seat behind the wooden barrier – did he really think they would let him die? Had he been hurt, during those two weeks they weren't allowed to see him? Did he look thinner, paler than he had?

Would he be ready, willing to run?

Mustang seemed to think there was a question about that. Alfons didn't. If it was towards him, he knew, Edward would run. They had come too far to back down now.

He kept trying to catch Ed's eye, to give him a hint of what was coming, or support, or maybe to have Ed support him because when he forgot to push the thoughts away, Alfons remembered that the idea of being shot again did not appeal to him in the least. But Edward wasn't looking. He was dressed in his Fullmetal-esque outfit of black on black, his automail gleamed and his hair was braided, and the slump of his shoulders mostly read as resignation.

What outcome did Ed want? It should have been obvious, but nothing about Edward these days was. Alfons focused his attention on this puzzle, rather than think of what was coming.

That morning, he'd woken up in a confusingly blissful state of serenity, and had concluded that after the tense excitement of waking up to the day he was going to open up a portal to the fourth dimension, clearly he was now immune to worry. Nothing could beat that day.

An hour later had proved him woefully wrong; he was excited alright. He was excited and terrified and so keyed up he had to sit on his hands to keep them from twitching. The breakfast he'd lost left his stomach empty, but he was too queasy to even consider eating anything. Even now, he had to resist the urge to chew on his fingernails or tap his feet.

Next to him, Winry slid her hand into his, and gave a squeeze. Grateful, he squeezed back, perhaps a little too hard.

Think of Edward. What did he want? No outcome was particularly positive at the moment. He would probably be happiest if all the problems just went away, and the two of them could go back to Resembool or something and—

Well, that's what everything ran up against, didn't it? There wasn't much the two of them could do there. Maybe he should let Edward drag him back; he'd be bored out of his skull within two weeks, and ready to cause trouble again.

Not that they'd be going back, because there was going to be a war.

The final stragglers trailed into the courtroom and the doors swung shut with a loud, final thunk that made Alfons jump a bit. Somebody would take care of the doors, he reminded himself. Doors were no obstacle to an alchemist. Somebody would also take care of the soldiers guarding said doors, and the policemen, and—

He had to force himself not to squeeze the life out of Winry's fingers.

"We're going to be fine," Winry whispered fiercely.

"How do you know?" Alfons' mouth was almost too dry for words.

From beyond Winry, Al snorted. "After everything you've been through, this worries you?"

Alfons sighed. It should be true, what Al was saying. This should be nothing to fear. But if he'd learned anything at all during his time with Edward it was that life wasn't static. Every change brought with it a host of smaller changes, created waves that broke in unexpected ways. A lifetime could only be capped with "happy ending" once it was over.

But they'd weathered a lot together, he told himself. They would weather this as well.

Then everybody scrambled to their feet – or at least Alfons scrambled, some other people might have risen more gracefully – as the judges entered and took their seats. They didn't need to ask for silence, which fell immediately.

Justice Tsamis, as the eldest, spoke. "Before we begin," he said, "I would like to remind everyone to maintain calm. This court will not tolerate mayhem."

Alfons exchanged a slightly hysterical glance with Winry. Oh, there would be mayhem all right. They let go of each other's hands in preparation for action. Alfons' heart thrummed so hard he felt like he was buzzing.

"After deliberation on the case of Edward Elric, the former Fullmetal Alchemist, this court has decided that for the crime of Human Transmutation, in light of the evidence presented—"

Tension flickered through the room. This was it, everything was going to change again

"—the defendant will serve no further sentence than what he has already suffered."


Alfons couldn't move, couldn't breathe.


"As in," the judge continued with a hint of a smile why was he smiling what was happening here, "we wash our hands of this. This case is closed. You are free-"

The rest of the sentence was drowned out by the entirety of the court bursting into an explosion of noise.


Alfons was on his feet, clinging to Winry who was hugging Al one-handed, all of them screaming. A roar from outside shook the building had a war started? and the police were helplessly waving their arms and trying to retrieve silence.

Justice Tsamis' mouth still moved, but nobody could hear what he was saying at this point.

And Alfons – his eyes found Ed, who had gotten to his feet as well and was staring around in disbelieving shock, while Harris had him by the shoulders and was shouting at him, too.

Then Edward brought his hands together in a clap that somehow reverberated, and melted his handcuffs off in a miniature lightstorm, and the noise in the courtroom reached a hysterical pitch. Alfons ignored everything – the guards gripping their weapons uncertainly, the roiling throngs – and tore away from Winry to run to the front of the room.

Ed met his eyes, wide confused gold, and mouthed his name. Alfons was screaming Edward, but couldn't even hear himself over the pandemonium. Al beat him at the last minute, leaping past him to descend upon Edward in a hug, but at the moment Alfons didn't care. He jumped at Edward as well, throwing his arms around the two brothers, and for once Al didn't shove him away.

With no clear sense of transition, half-blinded by flashbulbs, Alfons found himself on the front steps of the courthouse, hazily registering loud masses of people. Mustang stood next to them, smiling and waving, but Alfons felt that he must look about as dazed as Edward. On the other side, Al had regained his composure, enough to eye the crowds with a grim look, as if warning anybody who might be considering funny business.

Because he kept his eyes on Edward rather than the crowd, Alfons didn't see what happened – only the signs of a scuffle, and then Mustang and his soldiers had gathered around, and were herding them off the steps.

"Get moving, get moving," someone said, and Alfons saw just a hint of belligerence in Ed's eyes, so he grabbed his arm and pulled him along. Flashbulbs punctuated every step. To Alfons, it hardly seemed like they could get away from the crowd, though Mustang's people did their best to clear a path for them.

Then, out of nowhere, people began to scatter, and a hulking metal form came rolling down the street.

"What's going on?" Edward demanded, nearly digging in his heels.

Alfons had no idea; they were off the script now, and he had no idea what the aeroplane was for. He exchanged a harried look with Al, who looked angry – his go-to expression for when he didn't want people to see him confused.

"Get on!" Mustang bawled, waving his arms in a swooping motion that nearly clipped Alfons on the ear.

Given the situation, Alfons decided to cooperate, and the flow of soldiers around them made it easier to roll with it. He kept one hand clamped on Edward's arm, just in case he decided to do something stupid.

"Where are we going?" Edward yelled.

"Away!" Mustang shouted back. "Now get on!"

They piled up the stairs, together with half a dozen soldiers, and Riza yanked the door shut behind them and cycled the lock. The rumble of engines replaced the roar of the crowd as the aeroplane started to taxi, and everyone around suddenly looked tense. Alfons couldn't understand until he saw them relax slightly when they were safely in the air, and realized that some of these people had never been in an aeroplane before.

Come to think of it, he couldn't remember the last time he'd been in one, if ever. Fishing for memories distracted him enough that he didn't notice that Al had gone back to glaring at him, eyeing where Alfons still clung to Ed's arm. It probably didn't help that Ed seemed quite satisfied with the situation, and showed no inclination to shake him off. He also looked completely stunned, staring around at all of them as if trying to make it make sense.

Alfons decided, upon consideration, to try and ignore Al, and the uncomfortable feeling of guilt Al seemed capable of evoking in him with just a look.

Mustang spoke to the other soldiers. "Calm down," he said. "This is just like training. No aerofons has crashed yet."

"No what has what?" Edward demanded, shocked awake from his stupor.

"Aerofons," piped up one of the soldiers helpfully, eyes wide and excited, possibly starstruck. "That's what this vehicle is called."

"That's ridiculous," Edward began, then looked at Alfons, who turned red immediately. "You knew about this?"

"It's too late to change it," Alfons mumbled. "I tried."

"Aerofons," Edward said, then grinned, a bit hysterically. "Okay."

"You're not supposed to agree," Alfons said, "tell them—"

"No, no, aerofons is fine." Clearly, Edward would be no help at all.

They fell into silence, then. Alfons because he didn't know what to say to Edward now that they were together, and Edward for some reason known only to him, but which knitted his brows.

Al didn't speak, but his fierce, unflagging expression said that if anybody tried to hurt Ed, there would be trouble.

They landed shortly, in the middle of nowhere, and exited the plane with some confusion.

"What was the point of this?" Al grumbled.

"I should be asking that," said Ed. "What's going on?"

"We'll be picked up by trucks shortly," said Riza, coming up to them. "They'll take us back to Mustang's base in Central." She smiled briefly, just a little watery. "It's good to have you with us again, Ed."

"I… yeah," Edward replied, looking weirdly uncomfortable.

"Then why'd we come out here?" Al demanded. "Just so you could show off the aerofons?"

"Well, yes," said Mustang. "Drachma will be far less interested in starting a war over the verdict, now. They can't compete with aerial weapons yet."

"Drachma is starting a war?" Ed sounded strangled.

Enough of this. Alfons tugged on Edward's arm until his reluctant boyfriend came along, then led him away from the crowd of people next to the aeroplane and pushed him down on a grassy hummock.

"We're going to sit here and hold hands," said Alfons grimly, joining him, though he didn't relish the thought of doing it in public.

"Okay," Edward agreed, suspiciously docile. "But Alfons, why would Drachma—"

"I don't know what Drachma is," Alfons said. "Shush."

"Yes you do! I even told you about—"

"Not a clue, but I'm trying to look at you."

"That doesn't have anything to do with anything," said Edward, but subsided with a weird, slightly conflicted expression. They sat for a bit, as the voices around them faded, and the sweet spring wind ruffled their hair. For a moment, Alfons could almost pretend that they were back in America, under a huge blue sky with nobody around for miles.

Then Al showed up and sat down on the other side, which made Edward look even more conflicted. Al didn't say anything about the handholding, and Alfons didn't try to get him to leave.

After the noise in the courtroom, this seemed like a dream, and none of them spoke, which left Alfons free to worry.

What would they do?

He'd forged a kind of truce with Al, but a truce was by nature temporary. When he confronted the issue honestly, Alfons knew that he didn't want to live with Al. But would Edward agree? What if Al insisted? What if it came down to an ultimatum? Any conflict would leave Ed feeling torn and miserable.

And yet, why did Alfons have to do all the thinking and planning on his own? Why did the only options in any direction involve misery?

"Hey," Edward said, calling Alfons' attention. "You okay? I thought you'd be, I dunno, happier."

Alfons squeezed the hand in his, and felt a smile break through his worries. "I'm so happy," he reassured. Really, why waste his time worrying, when he could just be admiring Edward, who was right here? He leaned in to peck Ed on the cheek, though he'd quite like to do more.

"Ew," said Al.

And then they fell silent again, all three of them, until the trucks arrived.

Mustang wanted a celebration. Riza said no. Mustang wanted to parade Edward in front of the many people who had helped him. Winry said no.

Mustang pointed out that they all had to show some gratitude and one little display would do a lot for the people who had supported all of them. Alfons said an uncomfortable maybe.

"Don't I get a say in this?" Ed grumbled.

"Have it, then," Mustang said.

Put on the spot, Edward looked around at all of them for support, found conflicting opinions, then slumped. "Whatever," he said meekly.

So they brought Ed out onto a podium in front of Mustang's headquarters, with a bevy of guards, snipers, and alchemists around for security. They stood there in a phalanx: Edward at the front, somewhat shocked by the huge crowd, Alfons and Al behind him for support, and Mustang grudgingly relegated to the third row (but still clearly present, his public face on).

Nobody seemed to know what to expect. If the stories about the Fullmetal Alchemist were to be believed, he'd once reveled in this kind of attention, but Alfons had never known him to behave that way.

Edward stepped forward to the microphone.

"Hi," he said.

In an odd moment of vertigo, Alfons found himself surprised that Edward was speaking Amestrian instead of German.

"Thanks for coming," he continued, a little hesitant. "Thanks for – for helping me. Even though it's more than I deserve. Thank you for forgiving me."

Luckily for him, a loud cheer cut him off and precluded any attempt to continue. Eventually, Ed just bowed to the audience (who'd started chanting 'Fullmetal! Fullmetal!' with great enthusiasm), and retreated back inside. Alfons saw the stoic tightness to his jaw that meant that Ed would hold it together no matter the cost, so he decided to jump in with his own suggestion.

"We should go to Gracia's," he said. "I bet Edward could use sleep in a good bed." The look of gratitude he received warmed him, enough to make him ignore the slight tension on Al's face at the word 'bed'. He really needed to stop checking for Al's expressions constantly. Maybe he'd get over it, someday.

So they packed off to Gracia's, shaking hands with people and fielding congratulations all the way down to the cars. The group included him, Ed, Al, Winry, and some guards, which was a few people more than Alfons would have liked. He just really wanted some time alone with Edward, and scolded himself for being selfish. This was it; the trial was over. They'd won. Alfons would be able to spend as much time with Ed as he wanted, and nobody would stop them anymore. The thought brought him back to the excitement of victory, and he traded a grin with Winry in the crowded car.

They arrived at Gracia's to a generous round of hugs from her, then Rose, then Pinako, and then got hustled over to a well-laden table for dinner. Though Alfons had initially thought himself too nervy to eat, once he saw the casseroles laid out temptingly he realized they'd never really had any lunch, and the sky had already darkened. So they all sat and talked (mostly around Edward, who nobody really expected to participate), and managed to work their way through a respectable chunk of food.

"Why don't you go rest," Gracia said to Ed kindly, when he seemed to have slowed down. "Alicia, honey, go show him where his and Alfons' room is."

Alfons would have gotten up too, but Gracia asked him to help her with the dishes, and there was no way to politely refuse. He tried to stack the dishes carefully despite his hurry, because it wouldn't do to chip anything, and curbed his annoyance as he waited to be handed things to dry.

"How are you holding up?" Gracia asked gently, though she kept her eyes on the soapy water.


"Yes, you. You don't have so many people here to ask that, do you?"

Alfons swallowed a lump, and busied himself with drying. "I'm okay," he said, when his voice steadied. "It'll work out, now that Edward's back. We need to just talk and… figure stuff out." The concept of a future was nearly overwhelming.

Gracia chuckled. "Well, take some advice from a lady who's been through a thing or two," she said. "Whatever you boys decide, remember that it's not permanent."

Alfons didn't like the sound of that at all.

"Wait, that didn't come out right. I mean that you can change your minds," she amended. "Whatever you choose to do, wherever you choose to live, everything. You're allowed to make decisions for now and not forever."

Now Alfons was listening.

"That's a relationship, you know? Sometimes things you think will work don't, and things you don't think will work do. Be flexible. Be open. Figure it out together." She turned to Alfons with a smile, and took the plate out of his hands. "Okay. I'm done dispensing wisdom for now. Why don't you go upstairs for a bit?"

"Thanks," Alfons said, too grateful to bother refusing. He handed the towel over, and backed out of the kitchen buoyed by Gracia's words. They could be free, he thought. They didn't have to make a final decision now, maybe not ever, because wasn't that the point of life? Growing, changing?

Sadly, he had to go through the living room on his way upstairs, where he threaded his way past an active conversation about the day's events. Newpapers flapped at him from every direction, and his footsteps slowed.

Edward would still be there in five minutes, he thought. Edward would be there forever.

"Look at this picture!" Winry howled. "This one's the best. Al looks like he's going to murder everyone, Alfons is about to cry, and Mustang blinked!"

Alfons cringed, but couldn't resist a glance. Her assessment of the image was depressingly accurate.

"There's partying all over town," one of Mustang's soldiers said mournfully.

"There's a party right here," Pinako retorted.

"I think he means beer," said Alfons, who realized just then that he could really use one, too. Or maybe five.

"Can I have beer, since it's a celebration?" Elicia asked.

"Nice try, honey," Gracia responded, unflapped, as she entered carrying a bottle. "I'm not much of a beer person, but how do you all feel about whiskey?"

Alfons, who had been wavering, finally sat down at that. Pinako demanded to see the bottle, then nodded approval at its quality. They passed around shot glasses over Elicia's inquisitive head and shared out the contents of the bottle. Smooth, but with unexpected notes, and sweeter than he expected. Like Edward, he thought, and snorted at himself. Still, he admired the amber liquid, thought of Edward's eyes, and teased himself with the idea of going up.

Al drank too, the whiskey matching his hair rather than his eyes. Nobody told him he was too young for it, and Elicia clearly noticed. She'd probably bother Gracia about it later.

Amestrian blurred around him for a bit, as his brain decided to stop decoding for a while. He still missed Germany. He probably always would, but that was a thought to dwell on some other time. He'd made his decisions, they'd done the impossible, and now Edward was free. They would have a happy future. He'd make sure of it.

Tired, he stood up and set his shot glass on the coffee table.

"I'm going to sleep," he said, and received a chorus of 'goodnight's, along with a few knowing glances. Everybody knew he was going up to Edward, and they probably had ideas about what their reunion night would be like. Alfons kept his eyes away and tried not to hurry.

Edward was probably fast asleep, he didn't know what these people thought would be happening. To be fair, Alfons himself didn't know what he'd do aside from sit on a bed and watch Edward sleep, but hey. It had been a long, long time since they'd been able to do that without bars on the window.

Careful to stay quiet, Alfons eased the door open and tiptoed in, only to find Edward awake, sitting up in bed. Edward looked at him, a bit helpless, and still reminded him of whiskey.

"You're up?" Alfons asked inanely as he shut the door.

"I didn't really want to sleep alone," Edward said in German, toying with the end of his freshly-washed hair.

"You should have come down," Alfons said, a bit guiltily, as he went over.

Edward shrugged, and gave him a lopsided smile. "I wanted some time with you."

Alfons felt a jolt of warmth, both from the words and the familiar language. He kicked off his shoes and sat down on the bed. Almost against his will, he found his arms wrapping around Ed, thinking that finally the too-thin body would be fattened up again, reveling in the smell of him, the warm forehead against his neck.

"Alfons," Edward said softly, and Alfons tightened his arms in response.

But then Edward was pulling away. "Fuck," he said. "Fuck, I can't do this."

"Do what?" A stab of fear, yet somehow fused with resignation. Of course nothing could be this easy.

Edward hung his head. "I didn't want to tell you," he said. "I promised myself that I'd keep it a secret."

"Tell me what?" Alfons nearly snapped, and had to resist the urge to shake the slumped shoulders.

"I'm so pathetic," Edward raised his head. "I didn't even last one day outside the prison."

"Tell me what."

Edward hunched back down and fisted both hands on his knees, flesh and metal.


"I'm not Edward," he blurted.


"I'm not Edward Elric," he repeated miserably. "I'm sorry, Alfons. I didn't mean to lie to you."

"What are you talking about?" Alfons said. His heart had gone into overdrive, but he didn't even know what to do with this bizarre information. "Who are you, then?" he asked, feeling like he was missing something.

"I'm…" Edward swallowed. "I'm a homunculus," he whispered.

"That's ridiculous," said Alfons.

"The doctors, when they did the testing," Edward forced out. "The cells, here," he put a hand on his chest, where the awful scar was. "They're not the same as the rest of me. They're not… human."

"So…" Alfons prompted, because he really didn't know what else to say, and he figured that was better than 'what the hell'.

"So I finally figured out what happened. When I—when Edward died, he went into the Gate. What Al resurrected—me—was a homunculus. That's why the scar looks like an eye. But because there was so much of my—of his—original body, most of my body now is human. And I… I never ate any Philosopher's Stones, so I guess that matters. And the brain kept the memories, so I…"

He finally looked up at Alfons in anguish.

"I thought I was real," he said. "I'm sorry."

"It's okay," said Alfons, mind spinning. "I mean, does it matter? You're the same person as when I first met you."

"I don't have a soul," Edward spit. "I'm… I'm a monster."

Honestly… Alfons wasn't really sure he had enough energy to care about it much right now. Too much had happened today. No matter how he looked at it, Edward seemed like the same man, and he looked human enough.

What he really wanted to say was, 'can't we just forget about this and move on', but a look at Edward's face showed that no, they couldn't. Edward couldn't.

A homunculus, though? One of the monsters from Edward's stories?

"I still love you," Alfons tried, a little plaintive.

"I love you, too," said Edward hollowly. "I'm sure the real Edward Elric also would have."

Going from the idea that maybe he wouldn't be stuck living with Al forever in a horrible threesome to this. Alfons didn't know what to do with himself anymore. He didn't know how to make a relationship happen in the face of something like this, and just when they'd finally overcome the last crisis. No wonder Edward had been weird for a while, if he'd been keeping this to himself the whole time.

Alfons tried to feel, but nothing came. Maybe he should go back down and get the rest of the whiskey. He couldn't even tell Edward that he accepted him like he was, even if he was a homunculus or whatever, because if Edward didn't accept himself, then what was the point, even?

But then, a small voice inside him piped up, Alfons had accepted being a homosexual sinner, hadn't he? Couldn't Edward just… do the same? And then they could have their happily-ever-after, build some rockets together? Have happy evenings with friends? Could the ghost of the past stop popping up to haunt them like the world's most tenacious poltergeist?

"Can you just… walk me through this again?" he asked helplessly. Maybe Edward would realize that there was no point in it and they could go to sleep and pretend this hadn't happened.

Edward sighed, and his voice regained some of that annoying, ironic cadence that he'd used to have in Germany, that Alfons really hadn't missed. "Envy stabbed me, right? And I died. Then Al brought me back, but it wasn't me, it was a messed-up body, and I used it to make a new one for Al—but my old body, me, wasn't me anymore. It's a homunculus body made when the things in the Gate took me, and still contains the memories that weren't destroyed by brain-death yet." He trailed off at the end into silence, unable to continue.

But this wasn't Germany, because Alfons believed him. How strange that what would have once seemed like gibberish now made perfect sense.

"But if the only reason you remember being Edward is because of memories preserved in the brain," Alfons said slowly, "how do you remember Al bringing you back?"

"What?" Now it was Edward's turn to be confused.

"You said it was a new body, right? A new brain? So if your soul didn't go back to your old body, how would you remember it?" Alfons couldn't believe what was actually coming out of his mouth. Going through the Fourth Dimension had made more sense than this.

But Edward was staring at him like he was an angel descended from above.

"You mean… I'm still me?" He gaped at Alfons in beautiful hope.

"Yes." Alfons wrapped his hands around one of Edward's, almost collapsing with relief that the latest crisis seemed to be aborting itself.

"I'm human," Edward nearly sobbed. "God, I'm such a fucking idiot. I should have talked to you before." But his expression faded again. "But that means… that means that even if I'm human, I still have Gate-things living inside me," he said, mouth twisting in disgust. "They still plugged me up."

"And a good job they did of it," Alfons agreed.

Edward snatched his hand away. "You don't understand!" he said desperately. "They're… living inside me," he pressed a hand to his chest, over the hidden scar. "Disgusting little—"

"Yes," Alfons nearly snapped. "I can't imagine what it's like to have disgusting parasites living inside you."

"That's not the same," Edward began, but Alfons cut him off.

"Of course it's not!" he said. "Mine are worse! You've got some metaphysical whatevers that saved your life, I have worms in my lungs!"


"They make me cough up blood," Alfons bellowed. "I have worm eggs in my spit! I'll trade you any day!" Somehow, he found laughter bubbling up.

"But," Edward began, only to start laughing as well. "Alfons it's not," he tried to talk. "They're these black things with arms—"

"Worms," Alfons wheezed, breath starting to come short. "You keep this up Edward, I'm going to cough up blood all over you, just to show you."

Edward tried to say something else, but couldn't talk over the hysterics, and finally he and Alfons collapsed onto the bed together, face to face. Their laughter slowly died, and Alfons was left looking at Edward's features – so tired, so worn, but lighter than they'd been a few short minutes ago. He raised a hand and stroked Edward's hair away from his face, traced his features.

"What's going to happen now?" Edward asked softly.

"Mustang is going to make both of us go to a lot of annoying meetings," Alfons replied. "Probably fancy dinners. And crazy people are probably going to make trouble in the streets, and there'll be voting, and I bet Mustang gets voted. And everybody's going to bother you about everything and probably make horrible jokes about us having sex." He paused. "Unless you want to have another crisis right now?"

Edward shook his head and looked appropriately guilty. He spoke again, a bit hesitant. "Do you think everything will be okay?"

"It had better be," Alfons complained. "I've had enough excitement to last me a lifetime. Is your world always like this?"

"Well…" Edward said, just a bit playfully. Alfons shoved him in the shoulder.

"Too much more of this," Alfons groused, "and I'm getting on an aeroplane and going to live on a tropical island."

Edward snorted.

"One thing at a time," Alfons said. "We can make it through anything at this point."

They lay there, watching each other, and Alfons could see that sleep was beginning to overtake Edward. He shifted closer. Edward's eyes flickered open again, intense on his, and a smile twitched his lips.

"You mean aerofons," Edward whispered.


Author's note: So probably most of you (or anybody still reading...) thought that this would never actually be completed. I admit that part of me never thought so either. And in a way, it's not quite what I had wanted the last chapter to be; I ended up not really giving a whole huge dramatic wrap up to all the little things... but I think it's okay. My writing style has changed a lot, and I'm not in the FMA fandom anymore.

But it's done. And what's more, this is actually the originally planned ending (and the whole thing with the scar and the 'homunculus', that's been planned since like... chapter 2). I'm proud of myself that I managed to write this whole monstrosity without getting derailed or muffing up the plot.

And yes, Ed and Alfons get their happy ending. And things will be okay.

My life has changed a lot since I started this fic. At the time, I was doing a Bachelor's degree. Now I'm finishing up my Ph.D. I've gone places and done things and made friends and lost others. I'm not in contact with anybody from this fandom anymore. But if even one of you guys reads the ending of this and is happy, I'm happy.

I want to thank everyone who read this, who commented, who encouraged. I want to thank you for reading this, and I'm happy if I managed to bring you joy.

This fic taught me how to write. Nowadays, I'm finishing up another (novel-length) FFVII fic, but also writing a book of my own. I will always be grateful to Ed, who inspired me, who made me want to put in all this effort to create. I will always be grateful to you, the fandom, for being here, for allowing me to be part of something so beautiful and exciting.

Thank you.