Nuuuu! Er, I mean, noooo! Alas, we knew it had to end at some point, so why I am SO DEPRESSED?!
...Er, anyway. Yep, this is it. The last part of a sequel-less fic that seems to be pretty well-liked. I figure some of you might want a sequel, but I have learned my lesson about starting up sequels to please the readers and not having an actual plot. So this is it for the Family universe.
For the very last time here, manymanymany thanks to YourFavoritePlushie, Bar-Ohki, (blank space), tiggeranddash, Houran, extra cheesy, Marie blaze, and Muria for reviewing. Because of you guys, I updated a lot. Thanks for sticking it out and shoving it to almost 200 reviews, and having patience with me when I fell off the cliff and left you guys hanging like three times. It really means a lot to me!
(Cue sappy violin music)
Ah, but anyhow. I won't keep you in suspense any longer. Ladies and gents, our epilogue.
Monday, May 22nd
Riza poked her head in the room. "Phone, Edward. It's Alphonse." She tossed him the cordless, and Edward caught it without looking. He put it to his ear. "Hello?"
"Hi, Brother! How are you doing?"
"Better, a lot better. What about you?"
"Oh, I'm doing great. Everyone at school's asking me about my battle scars, so I made up this story about going to Korea as an undercover agent to--"
"Hold on. You went back to school already?" Edward said, bewildered.
Alphonse chuckled on the other end. "Well, I feel so much better, and I hate to fall behind on my schoolwork. I had to beg Mom for about an hour before she'd agree, though."
"Wow. It means that much to you?"
"Yeah, I guess so. Oh, did Winry call you like she said she would?" Alphonse asked.
Edward blushed. Yes, Winry had indeed called, and they had had a very interesting conversation, which had lasted about four hours. "Um...yeah, she did," he hedged.
"Ohhh, so she DID mention it!"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Edward lied.
Envy snickered, then winced. "Ow."
"Stop laughing," Edward commanded.
"So what did you say?" Alphonse asked.
"To what?" Edward demanded, still pretending nothing had happened.
"Brother, I can tell you're hiding something. I'll find out anyway, so you might as well tell me," Alphonse said reasonably.
Edward slumped in his chair, making a face at the wall.
More snickers from Envy. "Ow. Damn."
"Knock it off," Edward snapped.
"What? Your face is too funny to ignore," Envy teased.
Edward glared. "Shut the hell up before I stab a screwdriver into your eye," he threatened.
Envy stuck his tongue out at his younger brother.
"Brother, are you threatening Envy again?"
"No. Now tell me how school went, since you insisted on going."
"Don't try to change the subject!" Alphonse exclaimed playfully.
The phone beeped. "Hang on a sec, Al, I think someone else is calling." Edward pulled the phone away from his ear and hit the Flash button without a confirmation from his brother. He then put the phone back to his ear. "Hello?"
Edward automatically started to blush. "Hi, Winry," he said.
Envy made the universal gagging motion, using the hand not held in a sling, and Edward flipped him the bird.
"Hey, um, so listen...are you any good at science?"
"Science? Sort of, why?"
"Well I'm not. I was kind of hoping you might be able to help me out?"
"Like a tutor?" Edward asked, absently running a hand through his hair. "I've never tutored anybody before--"
"Oh I know, but none of my friends are free to help, and I'm in serious need. Could you come over tomorrow?" Winry asked.
"Tomorrow? Sure, I guess," Edward said, attempting to sound nonchalant.
"Thanks. I really appreciate it. See you then?"
"Okay." Edward clicked back over. "Al? You still there?"
"Was it Winry?" Al asked.
Edward made a I-can't-believe-he's-asking-me-a-question-like-this face. "If I say it was the tooth fairy, would you believe me?"
"Shut UP!" Edward ordered him.
Tuesday, May 23rd
Riza's eyes opened, and she sat up. Nature was calling. She rolled out of bed, not even disturbing a peacefully snoring Roy, and made her way to the master bathroom.
A moment later, feeling much better, Riza left her and Roy's room and headed to the kitchen for a glass of water. A light caught her eye, and she turned. The light was coming from behind the study door. Riza walked over and opened the door wider, sticking her head in.
The TV had been left on. Riza sighed a little and walked around the couch facing it to turn it off manually. The room jumped into darkness.
"Hey, I was watching that."
Riza turned towards the sofa, seeing nothing in the darkness. "You sound like you just woke up, Envy," she commented.
"A side affect of drugs," Envy said, sleepiness in his voice. The sound of him shifting on the couch reached Riza's ears.
"It's almost two in the morning," Riza said in the general direction of the couch. "Shouldn't you be in bed?"
Envy sighed, then yawned. "I couldn't sleep."
Riza walked carefully to the corner and turned on the unobtrusive floor lamp. Its low-watt bulb gave the room enough light to see, but not enough to startle either of them. Envy had pulled himself into a sitting position on the couch, looking sleepy. His headband was wrapped around his good wrist, and his hair looked as though he had just survived several tornadoes and a roller coaster ride.
Wordlessly, Riza reached towards the TV and picked up the comb lying on top. Just as wordlessly, Envy swung around so his back faced the couch's extra cushion, resting his sling arm on the arm of the couch. Riza sat behind him and started to work the multitude of tangles out of his hair, which had grown even longer.
"Do you have bad dreams like Edward?" Riza asked as a conversation starter.
"No. Edward's were horrible," Envy said, resting his chin on the hand of his good arm. "He'd wake up screaming and crying in the middle of the night. When he didn't wake up, he'd talk in his sleep, saying he was sorry and worthless and all sorts of crap. I'd know, because I was usually there to calm him down." He yawned again. "I just can't fall asleep is all."
"Hmm," was Riza's commentary. After several times, she had developed a specific technique to untangle the jungle known as Envy's hair, and had become quite efficient at it.
They sat in silence for a moment. When Riza was about half finished, Envy spoke again. "You know, it's funny. I was almost certain I was gonna die. Funny how life throws you a curveball."
"Why were you so sure?" Riza asked, not having to ask to know exactly what he was talking about.
"I just...I don't know, intuition? Something just told me that I wouldn't make it. So, I made it my business to make sure you and Edward made it."
Riza tilted her head slightly. "Us? Why?" she asked.
"Because he needs you," Envy yawned. "And you probably need him. You guys are probably like the ultimate mother-son team or some kind of sentimental crap like that. After all those damn years of getting abused by Mother, he needs a real mom. And you probably wanted some kids anyhow."
Riza smiled. "I did. I hadn't expected to receive a full-grown child and a nearly full-grown child, but I did."
Envy glanced at her out of the corner of his eye, but he didn't dispute it.
"You know, you never told me your name," Riza said.
"Oh, didn't I?" Envy said.
The tone of his voice made Riza wonder if she had missed out on some joke. "Have you?" she asked, wondering if he had mentioned it and forgot.
"Ed told you, actually," Envy said. "You've been using it ever since you met me."
Riza paused with the comb's teeth in the middle of working out a knot. "Envy is your real name?" she said, unable to hide her surprise.
"Yep. Envy Sinclair, sans middle name, is what my birth certificate says. From the moment I was born Mother planned for me to be one of the Chosen. I guess it was her way of permanently tying me to the fa--gang," Envy said.
Riza sat silently for a moment before starting to work through the tangles again. "Have you ever considered having it legally changed?" she asked straightforwardly.
"I have," Envy admitted. "But then I decided not to. A name's just a name, you know. I can choose whether or not it screws up my life, and I've already chosen not, so I don't care. Besides, what would I change it to? Cain? Archie? Bradley? Jack? Can you imagine me with some humdrum normal name?"
"Hmm." Riza smiled. "Now that you mention it, you do seem like the type to have an unusual name."
"Exactly," Envy said.
Just as Riza was combing out the final tangles in Envy's hair, an earsplitting scream made them both jump. Envy was on his feet and out the door in a matter of seconds, and Riza quickly followed him. By the time she got to the bottom of the stairs, Envy was at the top and running down the upstairs hall. Riza took the stairs two at a time and just managed to glimpse the tips of Envy's hair as he flashed into Edward's room. She hurried after him.
Edward was sitting bolt upright like someone had stuck a livewire in his back. He gripped his upper arms tightly, his hair covering his face, which was pointed at his knees. Even from the doorway, Riza could see that he was trying to control his shaking.
"What was it?" Envy was asking as Riza went up to the bedside.
Edward just shook his head. Envy's good fist clenched and unclenched, as if he was at a loss for what to do.
"Edward?" Riza said softly.
He didn't move.
Riza sat down next to Edward. She looked up at Envy, who mouthed "Bad dream". Nodding grimly, she reached over and pulled Edward into her arms. At first he didn't even react, as if he didn't notice or didn't care. But after a few moments, he shifted as usual so he could rest his forehead on her shoulder.
Envy sat down on the bed next to Riza. "You want us to hang out with you until you calm down?" he asked.
Edward nodded into Riza's shoulder.
"Then we will," Riza said, rubbing his back. "It's all right, Edward."
"We'll be here," Envy seconded.
"Thank you," Edward mumbled.
Riza and Envy exchanged relieved smiles.
Saturday, October 3rd
"I'm sixteen today," Edward said, shifting a bit on his knees. "And...well, honestly, there were some times I didn't think I was going to make it to sixteen. But I did, so, here I am."
The gravestone stared back at him silently, coldly.
"Listen," Edward said, squeezing the stem of the single tulip he had brought between his hands, "my life's been really crazy since you died. And I've done a lot of stuff I'm not proud of. But the good news is that's all changed now. I found Dad again, and Al, even though I thought he was dead. I'm out of the gang, and they're all either dead or in jail anyway." He paused for a moment, his throat closing in on itself.
Alphonse picked up where his brother had left off. "And now Brother's going to my school," he said. "At first we thought he wasn't going to make it in, because he'd had such a big gap between years, but we convinced the school board that he'd been in homeschool all this time, so they let him in after he passed the admittance test."
"I'm getting a real education," Edward jumped back in. "And it's a nice school."
"A private school," Alphonse added.
Edward smiled slightly and rubbed the back of his hand over his eyes. "And...now me and Envy are living with Riza and Roy. They moved back to the Grand Estates, or Blond Estates, whatever, so that I could be close to Dad and Al."
"So now I get to see all three of my brothers all the time," Alphonse said. "And Miss Juliet comes to visit every once in a while, too."
"You didn't really know Envy, but he's changed too. I mean, he's still a jackass, but he's not committing crimes anymore. He's working to get his GED. But his motivation sucks. I keep having to make him study," Edward said.
Alphonse stifled a laugh. "He likes to pick Brother up and throw him around," he said.
"And then he calls me short!" Edward burst out angrily. "After he slings me into the wall, the bastard!"
Alphonse laughed. "But still, things are working out really well," he went on, getting serious again. "It's kind of strange that between the two of us, we have three or four different groups of people we call family, but at least there are a lot of people who love us. And Brother finally gets to live like a normal teenager. He even has a girlfriend--"
"She's not my girlfriend!" Edward burst out, turning red.
"--and a pet," Alphonse went on, as if his brother hadn't spoken. "And he gets good grades, and he's a really awesome older brother. I'm glad to have him back."
Edward and Alphonse smiled at each other, then turned back to the gravestone. "So, anyway," Edward said, laying the tulip down gently in front of the gravestone, "we thought you just might want to know what's going on with us. As you can see, we're okay now. It took a while to get there, but we're okay."
"We love you, Mom," Alphonse said.
"And we miss you," Edward finished.
The two brothers knelt side by side in front of their mother's grave for a moment. Then, Edward rose to his feet, brushing off his knees. Alphonse soon followed suit. "I'm glad we came, Brother," he said.
"So am I," Edward agreed. "I wanted Mom to see that I hadn't flushed my life completely down the toilet."
"You haven't," Alphonse told him firmly. "You're back where you belong. With your family. The real one, I mean. Things can only go up."
Edward smiled at his brother, then hugged him. "Thanks, Al. I appreciate it." He let go, then stretched. "All right, enough sappy stuff!" he said, striding down the rows of gravestones. Alphonse followed about a pace behind. "It's my birthday, so I want to have fun!"
The last words reached the group waiting for them at the entrance to the Risembool Cemetery. "Fun?" Envy repeated as the two brothers approached. "You're the one who wanted to travel halfway across the damn globe to come to a cemetery."
"Be nice," Riza commanded him.
"Did you tie up your loose ends?" Winry asked Edward.
Edward nodded. "I think Mom's happy for us."
Hohenheim smiled at this statement. "I couldn't agree more," he said, reaching down and squeezing Edward's and Alphonse's shoulders.
"So we can go? I'm freezing," Roy said.
"Roy, you be nice too," Riza commanded.
The group exited the cemetery and went towards where they had parked the rented van. Along the way, Winry squeezed next to Edward and intertwined her fingers with his. "I'm glad you got to come visit your mom," she said to him in a low voice as Roy and Envy started to argue about which one of them was colder and Riza threatened to get her gun out again.
"Me too," Edward said. "But I know Mom wouldn't want me being depressed for my birthday."
"So where do you want to go next?" Winry asked him as Alphonse joined in the argument, loudly telling both complainers that it wasn't nice to fight on Edward's birthday.
"Somewhere with food. I'm starved," Edward said emphatically.
Hohenheim plowed into the argument with a, "I think that no one here is colder than I am because I'm the one without a coat!"
"That's because you're an absentminded idiot," Envy commented.
Roy wholeheartedly agreed with that sentiment, but didn't say so, as Hohenheim was still his boss.
"Guys, can we please not fight?" Alphonse begged. "We should be celebrating Brother's birthday, not arguing about things like the temperature."
"Let them go at it," Edward said to him. "At least they're being themselves."
Alphonse glanced worriedly at Roy and Envy, who were the main instigators, Hohenheim, who kept adding how he was the worst off, and Riza, who could end up being the executioner, judging by the look on her face. "But--"
"Let's go get something to eat," Winry suggested. "That pizza place is still around the corner."
"Great. We'll call them in ten minutes and see if they're done," Edward said decisively.
He and Winry strode down the sidewalk hand-in-hand, as if the matter were settled. "Guys, wait!" Alphonse said, looking between Edward and Winry, and the feuders, before hurrying after the two who weren't yelling about freezing their asses off. "We shouldn't just leave them again! Miss Riza threatened to blow your brains out the last time we did that, Brother!"
"What else is new?" Edward asked.
It was true. Riza had threatened to blow Edward's brains out many times before, but she had to be really angry to actually take out her gun and point it at him. Alphonse sighed and caught up with Edward and Winry. "Okay, I'll come, but just to keep you guys out of trouble!"
"Trouble? Moi? Al, you wound me," Edward said, pretending to be hurt.
Alphonse glared at Edward. "Don't forget I know what you're like now, Brother. I'm sticking with you whether you like it or not."
Edward shrugged, then smiled and looped an arm around his brother's neck. He didn't mind at all. That's the way it was supposed to be. "All right, I'll take you at your word. I hope you mean it."
A smile spread over Alphonse's face as he put his arm around his brother's shoulders. "Of course, Brother. You know I do."
And they mostly lived happily ever after, despite Envy's efforts.
Ah, crud, I'm about to cry…
Anyway, thanks again, and have a nice day/evening/night. Keep reading!