"Childhood"

Disclaimer: I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist, nor am I affiliated in any way with the copyright owners of Fullmetal Alchemist. Fullmetal Alchemist's story line and characters are copyrighted to Hiromu Arakawa and the various companies who produced the manga, anime and merchandise. Furthermore, I do not own the song used in this fic. Childhood belongs to Michael Jackson.

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A/N: Even though I am a fan of Elricest, I meant for this story to be more "brotherly love" than "Elricest." But you can take it as you like it, I don't mind. This songfic was inspired by a conversation between a friend (Joss!) and I (Alima!) about Michael Jackson (Michael Jackson!). This song was mentioned, and inspiration hit me like a ton of bricks. I don't really feel that the story fits the song... or is it the song doesn't suit the story? There's also a monstrous pothole in this story, but I hope you will all be kind enough to overlook it. Oh well. I hope you like it anyway. Please, read and review. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.

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Pairing: EdAl (Brotherly Fluff! Brotherly Angst!)

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Have you seen my Childhood?
I'm searching for the world that I come from...

Edward looked out the broken window again, frowning at the fierce downpour outside as he transmuted the moisture from his clothes once again before twisting his braid in his hands, feeling the cold water squeezing through his fingers. "Why does this always happen to us when we're in the middle of nowhere?" he growled. This storm would set them back at least a day. The Elric brothers had been en route to Central to report into Colonel Mustang and receive the Fullmetal Alchemist's latest orders when the sudden blow began.

The boys had to move quickly to get to the first available shelter so Alphonse, and his blood seal, could get out of the wetness. They were told in the last town that, because of an accident on the line, the next train wasn't due for two more days. Edward, in his infinite impatience, decided to hoof it to the next town. They had already gotten too far from the train station to turn back and in their rush, they hadn't been able to call headquarters to notify the colonel of their delay. The blond grumbled incoherently as he sat back down next to his brother. They had been looking forward to the storm's end for the past couple hours. However, this last time Edward dared to poke his head out the doorway in his impatience to see the storm's status, he saw that the clouds were still heavy and dark, covering the sky from horizon to horizon, and showing no signs of letting up. In fact, he didn't know if the sun had set or if the clouds were just that thick, nor did he know what time it was since he never bothered winding his silver pocket watch.

"What do you mean, Brother? At least we were able to find somewhere mostly dry to wait out the rain." Alphonse stopped wringing out his loincloth and shifted his position to 'look' at his brother. He didn't actually need to turn his head to see, since he had no eyes, but he liked to do so for others. And for himself. It made him feel... human... to do something so courteous as pretending to face at the person he was speaking with.

"It hurts..." the older blond mumbled pitifully as he drew his knees up to his chest.

"Brother?"

"The rain... my arm and leg!" he bellowed, not meaning to be so testy, but being in pain always put him on edge. "It hurts, damn it!"

'Cause I've been looking around
In the lost and found of my heart...
No one understands me
They view it as such strange eccentricities...
'Cause I keep kidding around
Like a child, but pardon me...

The adolescent armor nervously fiddled with his loincloth, trying to make it as flat as he could while waiting for his obviously exhausted brother to continue.

"It's all my fault, Al. We're both like this because of me. I'm so sorry," he began again, speaking much more quietly this time.

"..." Alphonse didn't know what to say to his brother when he was in these kinds of moods, and the forced calmness was rather eerie. For now, he decided to accept the apology silently. 'It's not just your limbs that hurt, is it, Brother?' No. He couldn't ask that right now without causing Edward to yell again.

"I'll keep this pain. It's for you. It reminds me of my promise. You can't feel pain. And I'm not sure whether that is a blessing or a curse. I'm sorry. I took everything away from us... from you... I will restore you to your rightful body someday Al. I swear."

The younger Elric leaned over and grabbed the elder's arms, shaking the older blond gently to snap him out of his current funk. "Brother. Stop it. Right now. I don't like watching you tear yourself apart over this. We're both to blame. It's not just you. It's me, too."

People say I'm not okay
'Cause I love such elementary things...
It's been my fate to compensate,
for the Childhood
I've never known...

Edward chuckled sourly. "But, Al... because of me, you weren't able to live or have a normal childhood. Much less an adolescence. Perhaps you can be glad for that. At least you don't have to go through puberty."

"Brother?" Al cooed softly.

"Yes, Al?" Edward's head snapped up and he gazed at the spot on the helmet where his younger brother's eyes should be.

The armor... sighed... if you could call it that. In reality, the sound was a soft scraping of metal on metal as he shifted to get a better grip on slender shoulders. His older brother seemed so... small... when he took in the contrast of his large leather hands against Edward's lithe form. "Brother. Shut the hell up." It was almost a whisper, nearly drowned out by the sound of the summer thunderstorm this southern area was well known for raging outside.

"Al...phonse...? What?" Edward's delicate mouth fell open and his liquid eyes widened in surprise at hearing his baby brother swear, his eyebrows arching finely.

Have you seen my Childhood?
I'm searching for that wonder in my youth
Like pirates and adventurous dreams,
Of conquest and kings on the throne...

In Alphonse's mind, the expression on the blond's gentle face made his older sibling appear to be the fifteen-year-old he truly was, rather than the adult he forced himself to be, and he realized how much Edward had grown since that horrible night they tried to bring their mother back to life. However, he knew that the man-child he held had been wounded emotionally very badly before, and would tend to hurt others before they had the chance to hurt him. He carefully pulled the startled teen into his lap.

"Don't be so selfish. You always try to take all the blame. I'm not innocent, you know. I was there. I helped. I'm as much to blame as you are. So. Stop. Beating. Yourself. Up. Talk to me. Let me know how you feel about things. I want you to know I'm a safe target for you to vent at, but sometimes I get so sad when I see you suffering like this, when you don't need to. Just talk to me sometimes about what you're feeling. I want to know. I want to help. I love you, Brother. I'm here for you. I'll always be here. No matter what."

Edward struggled against the hollow metal arms. Al was quite strong for someone who didn't have a body. He mentally kicked himself. What a cruel thought. "Al, I... I think I hate myself, sometimes... for taking away what was left of your childhood. And sometimes I try to trick myself into thinking it was equivalence on my part when I willingly gave up my childhood and joined the military for a chance to return you to normal," he stopped to take a deep breath before continuing, but was stopped by the rough leather of Al's finger pressing itself to his lips, effectively silencing him.

"I don't want to hear you talk like that anymore," he saw the timid nod and wide eyes of the small shivering body he held against his breastplate. He wanted his body back so badly, just so he could hold his brother and let him know how much he loved him, despite everything. "To be honest, I had something I wanted to ask you, too. But I was afraid of how you might react."

"This conversation sounds a little familiar..." Edward muttered as well as he could with the digit on his lips, thinking back to the time he and Al had fought on the hospital roof over the validity of Al's memories before becoming an animated suit of armor, a rueful smile adorning his features. "I don't hate you, Al..."

Before you judge me, try hard to love me,
Look within your heart then ask,
Have you seen my Childhood?

"That's not it. Would you be mad if I said I wouldn't change anything that's happened?"

"What?" Ed spoke, his word still muffled. The digit felt scratchy against his mouth, and he could taste and smell the still moist leather as it lay there. 'Al... He still loves me...' he sighed happily around his brother's hand. He could feel the tears pricking the corners of his eyes, threatening to fall.

"I'm not saying I don't want my body back, but I like things the way they are now. At least we're still together," Al let his finger slowly slide away from the pouting lips.

"Yeah..." it came out as a breath, rather than a word. "We've still got us. Can't argue with that."

Edward was fighting the urge to yawn by now. It had been a long, hard run to get to the run down hovel they were currently occupying. The door hung poorly and swayed in the harsh wind. Several of the windowpanes were missing their glass and there were still a few cracks in the roof that allowed water to leak inside. The shack had probably been a way station or depot at one point in its history, but now its only inhabitants were various insects, rodents, and two damp brothers.

When they first entered the building and saw how damaged it was, they had used their alchemy to transmute some of the furniture into the walls to strengthen the structural integrity. This helped to fill in many, but not all, of the cracks in the walls and ceiling. They tried to transmute the door shut, but the available materials were so old and weak that the wind had quickly undone their work and blown it open again a few minutes after their attempt.

The remaining furniture was covered with a thick layer of dust, and as much as he wanted something softer than Al's metal lap to sleep in, he didn't trust anything in the room. "I'm sorry Al. I don't think I can stay awake much longer," he spoke through another stifled yawn.

"It's okay, Brother. You need your rest," Al whispered as he leaned against the wall and altered the position of his legs to give Edward more room to move in. "Remember, you're sleeping for the both of us."

"I don't like sleeping... Al... I always feel like... I'm abandoning you, somehow. Even though we're still... in the same... room... together."

People say I'm strange that way
'Cause I love such elementary things,
It's been my fate to compensate,
for the Childhood I've never known...

"Edward... you've never left me alone. Not once in my whole life. There were times we would fight when we were kids, but you always came back for me. And you always looked for me when I ran away," the metal Ed had his ear against vibrated gently as Al spoke.

"Because Mom... always made me go," the blond teen murmured sleepily, his golden eyes slipping shut against his will.

"But we both know you can't be truly made to do anything. Part of you honestly wanted to search for me."

Have you seen my Childhood?
I'm searching for that wonder in my youth
Like fantastical stories to share
The dreams I would dare, watch me fly...

"I guess so. I don't... think... I could live without you. You're all I have left. We need each other. We're the only ones who... understand what we've gone though... I love you, Al. Never leave me. Please..." Edward tried in vain to open his eyes and sit up to continue the conversation, but Al gently pushed him back down.

"Sleep, Edward. I don't want you getting sick from a lack of sleep combined with the bad weather," the younger brother admonished mildly.

"Al," the troubled teen whispered as he stopped struggling and settled into a more comfortable position, taking hold of the large leather hand, much like a child with a favorite stuffed toy, and closing his eyes to let the darkness of slumber claim him.

Before you judge me, try hard to love me
The painful youth I've had...

The rain had let up hours ago, but the brothers stayed huddled together, lost in the sanctuary of each other. Edward had fallen asleep sometime during the night, wrapped in his jacket as he lay in the makeshift cradle of Al's lap, snoring softly. This was the only escape he had from the pain, which obviously still haunted his dreams, judging from the whimpers he would emit every so often. This was also the only time Edward would allow himself to cry. That way he could honestly say he didn't remember his tears.

As Alphonse studied the sleeping form in his lap, he realized that one did not need a body made of flesh to have a broken heart, and with clumsy leather hands, he wiped away the physical manifestation of Edward's sorrow.

Have you seen my Childhood...

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