Disclaimer: Although it would be any fanfiction author's wet dream to have both J.K. Rowling and Arakawa-sensei collaborate on something, I am neither, and certainly not both. --; I own none of the characters you recognize, and in fact, I wasn't the first person to even think up the idea of a restarted, child!Alphonse. To give credit where credit is due, I was inspired by "Only Family" by Mikkeneko. To read, go to my favorites list (I have a lot of good ficcage over there, if you like crossovers, A/Us, etc.) or direct link here (delete spaces): http://w ww.scimit arrsmile.c om/alch emy/01fic tion/01mikk enof.ph p?titleOn ly20Fa mily&a utho rMikk enek o&li st01mi kken
Prologue : events of Upper Central and Lower Central
Beneath the capital of Amestris lies a forgotten city: a shadow of Central above. The buildings are crumbling. Its' architecture contains nothing newer than what were common sights four hundred years prior. The cobblestone streets are as empty on this day as they have been for centuries.
However, dust has been disturbed; not all of the structures continue to lie empty. It is no longer quiet. Two tiny voices cry out into the silence.
"Rose, what happens now?" A third voice.
"He's hungry. Probably. Or he could just be cold." Another.
"Ha!" It was the uncertain chuckle of someone who hasn't had reason to laugh for a while. "First time in a long time, isn't it?" Now, a strained smile, false cheer.
The speakers pause. The first, the smaller, was a boy – a young man, really – awkwardly holding a naked and squalling infant in one arm. He was uncertain, and for good reason. He was a scientist, a soldier – not cut out for such business as holding young children.
The second was also holding a baby. This woman – a child, really – was wearing a dressed that matched the setting in this ancient city. "Is … is it really Al?" she asked quietly, barely heard over the combined cries of both infants. The woman leant over to peer at the red sigil on the chest of the blond child.
"If the Gate didn't screw us both over again." The boy swallowed, keeping his rising hysteria from his tone of voice. He really didn't know what to do. It had happened all too quickly; Rose, dancing – then Dante and the child – London and his father – dying and returning – Al and the Stone – the sudden appearance of the Gate, demanding payment – the Stone, gone, the homunculi, gone, Dante, gone, Al's armor, gone – all into the gaping maw of The Gate… Until there were just two souls, two brothers, standing before the Gate, staring, reaching. "My body!", "Al's body!" they cried in return for their toll, repeating until it blended together into one entreaty that demanded an answer: "Body!". And with a perverse group of grins, from the darkness of the door's gap reached hundreds of groping hands accompanied by the ringing giggle of a hundred lost children. Both boys were consumed.
And what was left was one boy and one newborn with a sickeningly familiar red circle drawn upon his tiny chest. His red face, mouth impossibly large and wide, was a not-so-silent testimony to his displeasure at his current situation.
"Ed – we need to leave. There's nothing here."
The older brother lifted his head from the child in his arms for the first time. His golden eyes were tired. "Where can we go, Rose? I mean, if I – " he broke off, then continued with more conviction. "If we actually succeeded, then … we… " They had worked so hard, for so many years to attain this goal, but had never contemplated as to what they would do after…The boy paced, eyes panicky, putting his one free hand to his head. "The military's got to be everywhere – human transmutation's illegal, the seal's right there, on his chest, anybody could figure it out when they realize Alphonse is- is missing, and – and – "
"Edward!" The woman said sharply. "We need to think up a plan! A good explanation that doesn't include the philosopher's stone!"
"I'm no good at plans!" He snapped, causing both infants to increase the volume of their screams in the way that only infants can, defying the small capacity of their lungs. "I've been making it up as I go!"
Her eyes softened. "Then we should start by getting something for the kids to eat. Small steps."
"What the hell do babies eat?!" Yes, a definite note of hysteria there. "I don't know anything about parenting!" He looked around wildly, as if the answer could be read on the floor, on the half-burnt transmutation circles on the walls and ceiling.
"You can learn." Rose said patiently. "I did. Walk forward. You still have two –"
"Yes, yes, I know!" Ed interrupted, scowling. "Two good legs. But Alphonse can't even walk, he's helpless and I don't—" 'know what I'm doing.'
He looked down at his brother – he hoped. The infant had no Ouroboros tatoo, and certainly looked, felt and sounded like a human child. And he did resemble some of their baby photos – but Al had been a quiet baby, according to his mother, and who knows if this really was the vessel for his little brother's soul?
Ed blinked when the cries petered off into loud hitching sobs, then quiet gasps. The baby's face was still red and quite wet, but it didn't seem so large with his mouth closed.
"He's tired." Rose said quietly. Her child, too, had become quiet, except for the occasional gurgle.
Ed nodded dumbly, still staring at "Al".
"You know, they can't excecute you if you're already dead."
Ed's head whipped up. "What?"
"I mean, if you have no reason to be in the miltary anymore, you could… leave. And leave something behind… to convice anybody who looks that you both died. Then they wouldn't come after you anymore, would they?"
"I…" He took his hand from his head. "That just might work."
It was amazing how quick men become with information gathering when in the prescence of hysterical women and bawling children. Rose wasn't entirely sure how the police officer understood her story in between her wailings and incoherent exclamations. "And then he screamed 'my brother's life or none!' and he dissapeared in a ball of light!". Insert watery eyes and dramatic hair pulling. "Alchemy is the work of the devil! May Leto forgive his soul!" More tears, hands clasped in prayer. The baby strapped to her back increased it's crying to a fevered pitch.
"Calm down ma'am, I just need a little bit more infor—"
He was interrupted by another wail, rising in pitch in such a way as to make a soprano opera singer jealous.
"I'll all be okay, ma'am." The officer droned. "Now, could you just tell me –"
"Wh-wh-wwwhyyyyy?" Sob sob. Uncomfortable shifting on the part of the male officer. The baby wailed in a more sincere echo of his mother's tears. "What's the point? He's gone!"
Finally, after many false starts and fits of weeping, the officer concluded his questions, determining by eyewitness account that one Edward Elric had committed suicide upon the death of his younger brother, Alphonse Elric. There would be investigations, of course, but how can one identify the corpse of someone who has been consumed by alchemy? Better to leave it for the State Alchemists. The policeman shuffled awkwardly away from the still weeping woman, getting into his vehicle and shutting the door with finality. He slowly drove away, leaving the woman and her child sitting on a piece of rubble not far away from the old church that was the entrance to the hidden city. The woman rubbed her child's back in a comforting manner as his wails slowed to loud hiccups and finally a simple raspy breathing.
Rose's own face relaxed. The tears dried.
It really was pathetically easy to sneak out of Central city, even with the military checkpoints. He really would have to speak with his superior officer about it… if, well, he was to go back. Which he wasn't, Ed assured himself, adjusting the sling on his back that contained the sleeping baby. Of course, it did help that he could simply melt through any wall, out of sight. 'Damn, alchemy is useful', he thought, not for the first time.
He waited for Rose in the woods in the outskirts of Central for several hours. In the time since they'd separated, Edward had discovered the first of many things about babies he hadn't previously been aware of.
First and foremost: babies were terrifying. They began crying at the most inopportune moments (such as when he was trying to slip over a guarded fence). Ed had nearly had a heart attack the first time that had happened. The first time Al had nearly slid out of the sling and onto the ground, too, had scared the crap out of him – babies were fragile, and this one could barely hold up his head, let alone know how to fall properly (both brothers had had hitting the ground down to an art after Izumi-sensei's training). Since then, except for the swift movements he made when transmuting, Ed had kept one hand perpetually resting on the cloth-wrapped bundle, keeping it balanced and reassuring himself that Al was, indeed, still there.
Once Rose arrived, Ed had learnt yet another baby-related tidbit of knowledge; what exactly breasts were used for. Sure, he had known, intellectually, what they were for. He even had known how they went about their function, anatomically, having run across such information while researching the female body in the hopes of fabricating one for their mother. But never before had he seen them put to use.
Al had been crying again, and Ed had had no idea what to do. Most alarmingly, the baby had been screaming so much it was growing more hoarse…quieter. When Rose had come along, she'd promptly plucked Al from his arms, replaced him with her own sleeping Cain, pulled down the collar of her dress a ways, and proceeded to… nurse. Ed had watched in horrified fascination as Al's red cheeks faded to a more healthy light pink, and began making happy little noises, a little bit of white milk escaping the corner of his mouth, dribbling down onto Rose's chest…. And Ed's own face had abruptly turned red, and he swiftly averted his gaze to the baby in his own arms. Rose was… secreting … fluids … to feed his brother. Breast milk, his mind supplied. Milk, as in opaque fatty liquid secreted by mammals to feed their young. Eeew….
When Rose finally lifted his brother from her… bosom… Al was no longer upset. In fact, Al had the good grace to look almost… embarrassed. Now that was an odd look for an infant to have…
Rose interrupted his musings with a curt, "Ed, find something we can use as a diaper." She looked him in the eye. "Quickly." The baby in her arms flushed red. Definitely embarrassed. Definitely… possibly? Alphonse. Ed shoved the thought to the side as he sought some material he could transmute into a baby's… waste receptacle.
But the lingering doubt remained. Was the baby's body the host his brother's soul?
The fear wasn't dispersed until several months later upon hearing the baby's first word: "Nii-san."
Author's Note: Why hello there!:D
I love reading fanfiction and writing long reviews – especially for well-written A/Us and crossovers (so if anybody has any recommendations… ;) ). If you want evidence (or just a good recommendation), check out my massive favorites list on my profile! In any case, I figure it's probably about time that I write my own (decent, I hope) crossover to add to the mix for others to enjoy!
And please, if something doesn't make sense or doesn't seem to be working (or even if you spot a typo, or an awkwardly phrased sentence), please review and tell me so! I like constructive criticism (…and compliments, but don't we all? ;) ), because I really do want to improve my writing style. There's always room for improvement!
I would also like to say that I chose to post this today for a reason: to celebrate Canada Day! I'm a proud Canadian citizen, you see. :) Also, I'd like to mention that I do have more of this fic written, but there won't be very quick updates unless I'm pushed. I'm a notoriously slow writer, and while I have BITS of chapters written, I actually have only one other completed chapter - and that's chapter three. So... as you can imagine, it may be a few weeks before I get the next chapter up. Sorry!
Oh, and I would like everyone to know that I do not approve of throwing in random Japanese words into fanfiction, except in the cases of honorifics (such as "-san") and the names of certain attacks (in other fandoms, I mean). However, I do believe that Alphonse should call his brother "nii-san", not "brother", because, well… It makes them sound like monks in English. - -; (You know, "You're late for matins, brother Elric.", and "Let us sit down and pray, brother.") I promise that such things will be kept to a minimum.