inspired by wordswithout's fandom

Sewing Life

"You're no different than I am! You thought you could do it, so you did!"

Edward Elric sat on the roof in the cold, reluctantly dripping rain. Voices echoed in his head, counterpoint to the cold metal rooftop and…

"So…that's why you're called the Fullmetal Alchemist."

He could not forget showing his soul to that man. Shou Tucker, the all too human monster. Oh for home. Oh for what Ed and Al barely remembered; innocent childhood. He shook his head and rain droplets flew.

He wondered what it had been like for her. He had woken up with metal limbs. She…

Nina Tucker woke up each morning and ate her cereal and hugged her father after she hugged the dog. Alexander was life to her. The bearlike fluffy mutt was mother, teddy bear and bodyguard combined. She could not articulate it as such, but Alexander enabled her to ignore her father's disappearances into the basement full of creatures and books or the speeches about money.

One morning some guests came. They were exciting, new brothers—she had no aversion problem with meeting new people by asking for piggyback rides. Alexander participated with enthusiasm.

Ed did not want to see the expression on his face then, the mix of smile and grimace at the memory of Alexander soaring easily over his head like a massive cloud.

In Ed's head Al said "Let's play again tomorrow."

"Daddy, what's an assessment?"

"Unless I do something great this year, I won't be a state alchemist anymore."

The last time Ed saw her, they played. They ran around in the yard until the Fullmetal Alchemist fell over and the little girl had enough breath to giggle like there was no end to breath or mirth. What was the last time she saw herself?

Her father would have invited her into his study. She looked around at the sleeping animals, and her own eyes drifted shut. It was past her bedtime, and she wanting to sleep, but there was something so exciting about the city darkness outside the high windows.

"Look at this, Nina," said Tucker.

Her father had been drawing with chalk on the ground. She looked for what she liked to draw; happy faces atop the impossible bodies of stick people, rainbows, floppy-eared dogs. He had drawn oddly appealing but very confusing symbols; runes, curlicues, angles and circles.

He had drawn them all over the floor, too. She looked around in confusion and wonder. Chalk dust shifted from her shoes. She had walked over some lines and scuffed them, though others were untouched. Alexander trotted out of the shadows and Nina squeaked with joy. She stepped toward the dog. His tongue lolled out in an idiot smile.

Her father clapped his hands.

Light flashed.

She woke up gently, contentedly, with a slight feeling of hunger. Like a child she rose first to her hands and knees and crawled. She was not in her bed, though. The ground was hard but not cold. She looked around with dull eyes. Confusion did not come to her. Her memory now was too simple to compare things; she only reacted.

What would it have been like, Ed thought, to wake up with those long-fingered hand-paws on either side of you and to know they were yours? For your hair to fall scraggly around your too-long face? She would have waited there, head too heavy, frightened to move because her limbs and spine now felt so different beneath her flesh.

Then her father came and praised her like never before. She did not understand all the words, but she liked how she smelled. She smiled with her eyes and her tongue. She had forgotten her name.

He showed her off. "Look, it's my newest creation." He spoke proudly. Then he bent down to her. "Watch this. This person is Edward. Understand?"

She did understand. The boy in the long jacket was not quite recognizable—where she had liked his golden eyes before, now she wanted to explore his scent. He smelled of oil, hard metal, dusty human skin. She said, her flat teeth feeling too large for her mouth, "Ed…ward?"

Her father patted her between the ears. "That's right. Very good."

Speaking felt like both a challenge and a great achievement to her. "Vehreegood?" she tried.

The two from outside spoke some more and Nina remembered Ed some more. The one who…smelled like metal and nothing else…had called him the same thing she had adopted. "Big…bruhther."

As the humans talked more sadness fell upon her. She could not move. Her muscles twitched and she could not name them. Her hands would not serve to run on the ground or to color with chalk. She hung her head, feeling disembodied. Part of her was a frighteningly insistent plea for food and something fast to chase. One of the little animals in the cages would be fun.

When the humans fought she closed her eyes and tried to shuffle backwards, maneuvering over her own bulk and thin, limp tail. She closed her eyes again and time went away.

The little brother put his metal hand on her chin. She thought she shivered, but it did not quite translate to her new body and his hand stayed steady. "I'm sorry. We don't have the skill to turn you back to normal. I'm sorry…I'm so sorry."

She tried to look around for Ed. "Wan…na…play." He would be fun. He would not spout this echoing English she barely understood.

Ed did not know what happened after that. He had turned away, thoughts beginning to speak in his head. He remembered the cat-lizard chimera in Cornello's office. He had thought of it as nothing more than a beast, but…everything could be more than it seemed. Alchemy itself was turning as dark as the sky the rain fell from.

"I did it just to prove I can do it. Science allows me to," said Shou

That had not been Ed and Al's mindset when they drew the array to reanimate their mother. It had not.

But alchemy was not the magic he had signed up for, either. It was a heavy weapon he carried, a sword which could be also sterilized, shined, and used to heal. Everyone chose their way—or did not, and were carried off by the way of morals. If a god watched the thoughts of the people, were the thoughts of the Alchemists clearer, more obscure, or different entirely from those of common folk?

Ed realized he was muttered to himself under his breath as he thought and stopped, glancing around in case anyone had heard him.

He imagined himself as a cyborg chimera, loping across the desert in pursuit of a stone, a bone, he could not remember.

Alphonse stomped up the stairs. "Big brother!"

"Al."

"Colonel Mustang wants to talk to you."

"Okay." Ed stood up, hopped from foot to foot, and slapped his hands against his legs like a cold but enthusiastic child. He needed to get some feeling back to walk down the stairs."Coming."