Zilo: Oh my my! Hi guys!
Shi/Revo: MERRY ALMOST CHRISTMAS!!
Zilo: Indeedy! I wanted to post this closer to the big day, but we're having family come to visit, and I don't want to lose a minute with them! Therefore, anyone reading this who reads my other stories, there will be just a bit of a delay in the next chapters!
Shi: But don't fear! They'll be back on track!
Zilo: Anyway, to tide you over, here's an AU 1-shot set in Christmastime! Yayz!
Disclaimer:Either you're a big dummy who doesn't understand that a FAN writing FAN FICTION on a FAN FICTION WEBSITE doesn't own the series, or...okay, that's the only option. Moo!
Warning:Some language. Envy's thoughts are disturbing. But that's about it. Also FRIENDSHIP EnvyEd (get your minds out de gutter! Edo's like five in this fic!!)
"it's that time of year again. So whip out those lights, cookies and presents, and prepare to have a holly-jolly time on Christmas! The big day is only five days away, so it's recommended you try to limit shopping for anything but groceries, as being trampled for the holidays is no fun!"
A snowflake landed on my nose. I irritably brushed it away, wishing I wasn't watching this stupid broadcast, but not being able to look away.
"Now we'll go to our man on the streets, Hohenheim Elric. Hohenheim?"
I felt my lip curl.
"Thank you, Carlita. As you can see, the scene behind me at Bullseye is almost pure madness, as the last-minute shoppers scramble to give gifts for their loved ones." On the screen, Hohenheim looked like anyone's cuddly old dad, smiling and squinting through his glasses. The breeze stirred the few strands of his hair not pulled back as he continued to comment on last-minute shopping and people coming to blows over the last PS3 or whatever.
I snorted, sending a small cloud of steam away from my face, and turned and stalked away from the window of the electronics store. Hohenheim Elric. Cuddly reporter. Gentleman. Family man. Bread winner. He was none of this to me.
That was better.
The wind started to pull my black scarf away from my neck. I absently reached up and re-wrapped it, ignoring the stares people gave me. So what if I was in all black? So what if I had green hair? So what if my stomach was out?
Screw you all.
I paused in front of another storefront, seeing myself reflected in it. I admit, it did look kind of strange for everything to be covered but my head and my stomach, while it was snowing, but I didn't mind. I peered a little closer at my face, ignoring the features that belonged to him, and focused on my violet eyes. I had gotten those from my mom. She was probably at her second job by now. She thought I was at mine. I don't have a job, but I tell her that so she doesn't question where the money comes from.
My mother. She was another one who got screwed over by that bastard's deceptive kindness and crap. They used to be an item, back in the day. Mom told me that they had even been engaged. Then she got pregnant with me, and the bastard dropped her like a hot potato. Like it wasn't partially his fault. He left her soon after I was born, and she was forced to raise me by herself.
When I was ten, I asked her about my dad, and she told me the story. I decided it was my job to hunt him down and make him come back and help us. Back then I had actually assumed he had some sort of base of morals, that he would actually do the right thing and help, or at least send child support.
When I was fourteen I finally tracked him down. I was excited, not only to meet my long-lost father, but because I thought Mom and I wouldn't have to struggle to pay bills anymore. I thought he would be the kind of man to step up to help the family he created.
Oh, but jee, I didn't know what a silly thought that was.
I bet you're wondering how it went down, huh? Well, let me show you. This here's the word-for-word account of my very first meeting of my dad, back when my hair was still its original black and I didn't dress goth.
"Hohenheim Elric?" He looked up at me with that dopey I'm-a-nice-dad look on his face. "Yes?" he said. "How can I help you, my boy?" "I--" I stopped when I noticed his companion sitting at the outdoor café table with him. A woman. A pretty, smiling woman with a ring on her finger and a large stomach. "Is...is this your wife?" I said almost in disbelief. "I knew it. The ring's too big," he joked with his wife. She smiled at me. "We've been married ten years tomorrow." "But--" I took a step back. "What about Mom?" "Hmm? Who's your mother?" he asked. "Dante," I choked out, starting to feel anger come over me. The dopey dad look flew off his face, and I saw an intensity I'd never seen before. "Trisha," he said to her without looking from me, "I'll be right back. I'm going to talk to this young man for a moment." "Don't be long, dear," Trisha said, fondly rubbing her belly. Hohenheim led me away, and as soon as we were out of his precious wife's earshot, I turned on him. "What the hell? Do you know how long I've been looking for you? And you've been off making ANOTHER family?" He looked frustrated. "I don't understand. I thought she said she would give up the bab--" "What, me? No, Dad, I'm right here. So what about Mom?" He sighed heavily and grabbed my arm with a huge hand. "Listen to me. Your mother and I had a relationship a long time ago, when we were young and foolish. We both agreed it did us no good, and we broke up." "Liar!" I yelled. "She told me you left her!" "We left each other," he said firmly. "Now, I'm sorry, but I'm happy with my family now, and I don't want to upset my wife with this. So I'd be very appreciative if you would go ahead and leave us be." He opened his wallet as I stared at him, dumbstruck at what I had just heard. "Here, I'll give you money for a cab. How far do you live from here?" He was just pulling out a few bills when I punched him in the face. I caught him unaware and he fell heavily on his seat. I stood over him, shaking with fury. "I don't want your money, you lying bastard," I spat, not caring that his precious wife Trisha had noticed and was getting up. "I wanted your help. How could you just abandon us when my being here is your fault too? What kind of man does that, huh?" I didn't receive a reply. He simply rubbed his reddened cheek as he looked up at me with this sympathetic look that made my blood boil. "Fine," I growled. "You want me gone? I'm gone. But you'll regret this, you bastard. You hear me? You just remember how you rejected the woman who loved you and the son who just wanted to know you. I HATE YOU, YOU BASTARD!" I spun on my heel and ran, pushing aside a few people who had stopped to watch and running headlong past Trisha, who I thought I saw glance at me.
He looked up at me with that dopey I'm-a-nice-dad look on his face. "Yes?" he said. "How can I help you, my boy?"
"I--" I stopped when I noticed his companion sitting at the outdoor café table with him. A woman. A pretty, smiling woman with a ring on her finger and a large stomach.
"Is...is this your wife?" I said almost in disbelief.
"I knew it. The ring's too big," he joked with his wife.
She smiled at me. "We've been married ten years tomorrow."
"But--" I took a step back. "What about Mom?"
"Hmm? Who's your mother?" he asked.
"Dante," I choked out, starting to feel anger come over me.
The dopey dad look flew off his face, and I saw an intensity I'd never seen before. "Trisha," he said to her without looking from me, "I'll be right back. I'm going to talk to this young man for a moment."
"Don't be long, dear," Trisha said, fondly rubbing her belly.
Hohenheim led me away, and as soon as we were out of his precious wife's earshot, I turned on him. "What the hell? Do you know how long I've been looking for you? And you've been off making ANOTHER family?"
He looked frustrated. "I don't understand. I thought she said she would give up the bab--"
"What, me? No, Dad, I'm right here. So what about Mom?"
He sighed heavily and grabbed my arm with a huge hand. "Listen to me. Your mother and I had a relationship a long time ago, when we were young and foolish. We both agreed it did us no good, and we broke up."
"Liar!" I yelled. "She told me you left her!"
"We left each other," he said firmly. "Now, I'm sorry, but I'm happy with my family now, and I don't want to upset my wife with this. So I'd be very appreciative if you would go ahead and leave us be." He opened his wallet as I stared at him, dumbstruck at what I had just heard. "Here, I'll give you money for a cab. How far do you live from here?"
He was just pulling out a few bills when I punched him in the face. I caught him unaware and he fell heavily on his seat. I stood over him, shaking with fury. "I don't want your money, you lying bastard," I spat, not caring that his precious wife Trisha had noticed and was getting up. "I wanted your help. How could you just abandon us when my being here is your fault too? What kind of man does that, huh?"
I didn't receive a reply. He simply rubbed his reddened cheek as he looked up at me with this sympathetic look that made my blood boil.
"Fine," I growled. "You want me gone? I'm gone. But you'll regret this, you bastard. You hear me? You just remember how you rejected the woman who loved you and the son who just wanted to know you. I HATE YOU, YOU BASTARD!" I spun on my heel and ran, pushing aside a few people who had stopped to watch and running headlong past Trisha, who I thought I saw glance at me.
So there's the story in all its glory. See why I hate the bastard? And that was just five years ago.
I'll never forget seeing that woman wearing the ring that should have been on my mom's finger. What was worse was he had married her, and she was pregnant and he was staying with her. Why couldn't he do that with my mother? It wasn't fair.
I wasn't going to put up with it anymore.
Slowly, I turned from the window I was looking at my reflection in and trudged down the street, my boots collecting snow as I walked.
I woke up at 5:30 AM on Christmas Day. Mom was already gone to work. She wouldn't be back until about 10:00 PM. That gave me enough time to do everything I wanted and be back before she was. It was perfect.
Once again, I smuggled myself onto a train headed to Risembool. It only took about an hour to get there, and once I did I followed the directions I had printed up online.
If that bastard was so intent on destroying my family, then I would be just as intent on destroying his. It was poetic justice. And there was no better time to strike than during the Christmas season, a time all about family and happiness and all that crap. Hohenheim would regret what he did to us every time Christmas rolled around. He and his precious wife Trisha would never get to be happier than us.
When I arrived at the Elric household, I stopped to admire it for a moment. Even in the weakest sunlight it was still pretty cute. Two stories, some light color, a nice rolling green lawn, flowers around the side. There was probably an adorable cocker spaniel sleeping on the doorstep, and 2.6 children upstairs dreaming of cookies and presents and Santa.
How sweet. My lip curled.
A window on the second floor was slightly ajar, I guess to let air in. I swiftly climbed a tree near the window and peered in. The sight made me grin. I had hit the jackpot.
It was obviously a kid's room. I could tell that from the mess I could see on the floor through the open blinds. It looked like two tornadoes and an earthquake had hit the place. Toys, clothes, shoes, you name it, were sprawled all over the floor and every available surface. A bed was pushed up against the left wall, near the middle of the room. In the middle of the bed, two small figures were sleeping, turned towards each other.
I leaned as close to the window as I dared to check out the figures. It was two little boys, apparently bundled together for body heat, which raised the question as to why the window was open. The bronze-haired one was clutching a plush toy that looked like it was supposed to be a suit of armor. The blond one had his thumb in his mouth. They looked so adorable that for a moment I wanted to scrap my plan and go home. They were just kids, right? But then that bastard's face showed up in my mind, and I steeled myself. They weren't just kids. They were his kids, and they were getting all the love and affection that I deserved.
One of them stirred, and I retreated back a little farther into the tree so he couldn't see me. The blond haired one opened his eyes and blinked sleepily, then a look of joy came over his face. He shook the other kid, who mumbled something in his sleep and smacked him.
The blond said something I couldn't hear, but the bronze-haired kid suddenly jerked upright. They climbed on top of their bed and started jumping up and down, yelling, "Christmas! Christmas!" Then they jumped off and barreled out the door, somehow not tripping over anything. I figured they were on their way to their parents' room to wake them up so they could mow through Christmas breakfast and open presents.
I waited until they were gone to climb down the tree. I kept close to the ground as I searched for a window to look into, in case anyone was looking. I found a window with no blinds at all, perfect to peer through.
So I had an excellent seat to watch the boys drag their mother, Trisha, and a certain bastard down the stairs. They started ripping open presents before you could blink, and their screaming overreactions to getting their presents was rather annoying. I tried not to blow my top and wait patiently for them to come outside. Every once in a while I glared a few daggers at Hohenheim, but mostly I sized up the kids, trying to decide which one I wanted to go after.
It seemed the bronze-haired one was younger, as he acted younger and was carrying around that plush toy. He was pretty cute, and he looked a lot like his mommy. When they had finished tearing up gifts he had snuggled into her arms.
The other one, the blond kid, was full of energy and kept bouncing around, so I figured eventually they'd have to bring him outside to spend it. It struck me how much he looked like Hohenheim, and it made my blood boil. The younger kid would probably be easier to snatch, but I wanted the blond one. It would wrench the bastard's heart more to lose his look-alike.
So I waited as patiently as I could as they opened presents, and I tried to ignore how every time Trisha or the bastard opened a gift from the other, they just had to kiss. Then they all crowded into the adjacent dining room, which was fortunately straight through so I could see into it, and made and ate Christmas breakfast while I stood out in the cold and glared at them all.
Finally when I thought I would freeze my face off, a movement near the front door caught my attention, and I carefully checked it out. A short old lady and a little girl were at the front door, and the girl had just knocked. I watched from the side as the front door opened, and the little girl chirped, "Hi, Mrs. Elric! Can Ed and Al come out and play?"
Ed and Al. So that was their names.
Ed. No doubt short for Edward.
How dare he, the bastard. I sorely hoped the blond kid was Ed, which would make it all even worse, since Hohenheim apparently still loved the name.
I had been so caught up in my thoughts that by the time I came back to the present, all the kids were outside in coats and boots, starting to fool around in the snow that lightly powdered the yard. Trisha and the old lady carried on some conversation I couldn't hear and didn't care about. My eyes were watching the bastard, who seemed to watch his blond son the most.
"Edward," he called in that oh-so-familiar voice.
I watched as the blond boy, dressed in a hooded red coat, jeans, and black boots and gloves, stopped hurling snowballs at his brother and the girl and turned. So I was right on both counts. Excellent.
"Don't be mean," the bastard said. "I saw you put rocks in your snowballs."
Little Edward pouted, but he didn't deny it. The bronze-haired kid blinked, and then shrunk into his coat.
"I knew it!" the little girl yelled, her voice annoying me. "Ed, you're such a cheater!"
Edward stomped off down the yard, obviously upset. I saw my chance quickly skirted the other side of the house. I came around just in time to see him sitting down next to a doghouse, knees pulled up to his chest. I darted behind trees and bushes, steadily getting closer. When I made it to a tree about five feet away from him, I heard him talking.
"...Winry's so mean," he was mumbling into his knees, absently poking at a small pile of mixed dirt and snow. "Those weren't even my rocks. Al did that. I get blamed for everything."
Interesting. For a moment, I considered just leaving him here afterwards, but changed my mind. It would be better to make the bastard agonize, wondering if there's a chance for his son, and eventually finding him and losing all hope. That would be better.
At the worst possible moment in history, I shifted, and a branch above me broke under the weight of a tiny bit of snow. Edward looked up and saw me before I could duck behind the tree. Damn. I wondered if he had been taught the "don't talk to strangers" lesson yet.
"Hi," Edward said, standing up. "I'm Ed."
Obviously not. "Who're you?" he went on.
Think fast, think fast. Definitely don't mention your real name. "Me? I'm..." I stalled as I worked to come up with an identity. Maybe just Bob or something. But, ugh, Bob sucked. I envied this kid for not having to be mad at his name every time he woke up. In fact, I supposed I envied everything about this kid's life. He had everything I had wanted: the love, the family, the happiness, the bastard. How unfair was that?
"...I'm Envy," I finally said.
"Hi, Envy," Ed said. "I'm mad at my daddy."
"How come?" I asked, pretending I didn't know.
"I got blamed for something Al did again. I'm always the one who gets in trouble. It's not fair."
"That's too bad," I said, trying to figure out how I could grab this kid and make a break for it before he started screaming. Then it suddenly occurred to me, maybe I didn't have to.
I crouched down so I could be eye-to-eye with Ed. "You know, I'm mad at my dad too."
"Really?" Ed looked excited to meet someone else who was mad at their dad. "Did he blame you for something you didn't do?"
"Nah. He just left me," I said. "He's never around."
"Meanie," Ed commented vehemently.
"You know what I do when I get mad at my dad?" I said.
Ed shook his head.
"I take a really long walk. I mean, a really, really long one. By the time I come back, I'm not mad anymore," I lied.
Edward looked fascinated. "Do you think that would work?" he asked.
Ed nodded. I held back a smirk and stuck out my hand. This was way too easy.
"Should I tell Mommy where I'm going?" Ed wondered aloud. "She doesn't like it when I wander off."
"I already told her," I lied, improvising quickly. "Come on, let's go. The longer the walk, the better."
"Hokay." Ed grabbed my hand and hauled himself up. "Where'll we go?"
I wanted to get him out of here fast, before anyone noticed he had been gone for a while and came looking for him. "I have an idea," I lied again, tugging him in the direction of a back road that disappeared behind some trees after a short distance. I finally got the kid moving, and we started down the dirt road.
"So what's your daddy like?" Ed asked.
"What?" I looked down at him as if I had forgotten he could speak. We had been walking at a good enough pace for about half an hour, and were just about out of Risembool. I knew that by now, the scene back at his house had to be an uproar. Certainly they were frightened for their son's safety. Or maybe they thought he had just wandered off in his anger and weren't as afraid. Either way, as the day wore on and he didn't return, they'd get upset. That bastard would worry.
Of course, eventually, the bastard's worries would be put to rest when he finally found his son. Or at least, what remained of his son. Then his life would be destroyed forever, just like mine.
I had been thinking along these lines so intensely that Edward's speaking had startled me.
"I said, what's your daddy like?" Ed repeated. "The one you don't like?"
As if there was one I liked. "He's a bastard," I replied.
Ed's little nose wrinkled. "A...what?"
It occurred to me that this kid was probably so young he didn't know many swear words, of if he did, the meaning behind him. "A bastard," I repeated, feeling a little surge of glee at corrupting the kid. "Something you call a man who's a jerk for any reason."
"Oh." Ed seemed to consider. "Mommy said it's not nice to call people names."
"It's fine to call them names if you're mad at them."
More silence as we walked along. "Am I un-mad at my daddy yet?"
I squinted into the distance, sort of ignoring the question. The next town over would be showing up soon, I figured. I'd find some place to dump his body there.
"What?" I said, a little irritated.
"Why aren't you at home celebrating Christmas?"
I stiffened and stopped walking. What an excellent question. Why wasn't I? Because no one was there. My mother was working on Christmas day, and the bastard father who should have been there was stuffing his bastard face with Christmas breakfast in another home. "No one's there to celebrate with," I growled, tightening my grip on Ed's hand as I started walking again.
"Blame my bastard father."
We walked in more silence as I simmered in my anger at the bastard.
"Well, then why don't we celebrate together?"
I stopped again and stared down at Ed, who was smiling up at me. "Since you don't have anybody, I'll be a step-in."
"You mean stand-in," my mouth said, as the rest of me tried to recover from what I just heard. "Why would you want to hang out with me?" I demanded.
"Why not?" Ed countered incredibly logically.
I stared down at the kid's round face, the golden eyes and hair so much like a certain bastard's, only turned in a kind, not-dismissing way towards me. If only that bastard had ever bothered to look at me like that...
Mentally I shook my thoughts away. I couldn't forget the plan. I had to make Hohenheim's life miserable.
...However, I had never really enjoyed many holidays. Mom had tried, but her round-the-clock schedule usually had her working. I always had to celebrate alone, which wasn't much of a celebration.
"Come on, let's go," Ed said, suddenly taking the lead and pulling me forward. The town loomed ahead. "I've been to this town before. There's lots of cool stuff we can do!"
I suddenly found myself out-of-control of the situation, and for some reason I didn't fight to get back in control. Well, I reasoned, no point in not having a good time for once. He'll still be dead at the end of the day, the bastard will still have his family destroyed, and I'll still get my revenge. I nodded. It would be fine.
"Merry Christmas!" the cashier yelled happily at us.
I grimaced, but Ed grinned back. "Merry Christmas!" he shouted back.
"Welcome to Colonel's Cones! What can I get you today?" the cashier went on. "We're having a Christmas special: Buy one cone, get one free!"
"Why are you even open on Christmas?" I demanded.
The cashier, whose nametag read Maria, would not be deterred from her Christmas cheer. "So families like you can have a place outside of home to hang out!" she enthused.
"Can I get one chocolate cone and one...Envy what do you want?"
I sighed heavily at the stupidity of the situation. What was I doing in an ice cream parlor, about to buy something for a child I planned to kill? My eyes flitted boredly over the menu, and I felt my lip curl at all the disgusting stuff they had to offer. Bubble-gum ice cream? Orange and pineapple sundaes? And what the heck was a brick shake?
"I don't want any--"
A certain section of the menu was devoted to parfaits. I quickly scanned the limited options, nearly hurling at the gross combinations. Vanilla and cranberry? Mac and cheese? Christmas turkey? Whatever happened to things like strawberry?
However, the parfait menu did have redemption, in the form of chocolate.
"A chocolate parfait," I said definitively.
Maria smilingly rang up our orders. "Will that be all?" she asked.
"Yeah," I sighed.
Six freaking dollars? These people were making out like bandits. I pulled a twenty from my pocket and dropped it on the counter. Maria gave me a receipt and the wrong amount of change, but I said nothing.
"Let's sit by the window!" Ed said, already pulling me there. He climbed into the seat of a window booth, and I begrudgingly sat across from him as he unzipped his coat and took off his gloves.
"The last time we came here, Daddy had a cold and kept sneezing on stuff," Ed started monologuing. "Mommy kept making her fingers into a cross at him. And then Al threw up his sundae because the banana was kinda rotten. Daddy threatened to sue, whatever that means."
"How interesting," I lied, staring out the window.
"But it was still fun!" Ed went on. "Daddy says this place is really special to him, because this was where he had his first date with Trisha."
Oh joy. I had to come to the one place that stood for what I was completely against. I sighed heavily.
"What about you?"
"What?" I looked up and saw that our desserts had magically appeared. The chocolate parfait looked delicious.
"What's your family like?"
I shoved a spoonful of parfait into my mouth to avoid the question. The parfait tasted as delicious as it looked. Ed was already halfway through his cone, and it was almost as big as his head.
"You've got a mommy, right?"
I ate some more, glaring at the window.
"Are you mad at her, too?"
"No!" I replied. "I love my mother. She's all I've got."
"But you looked so mad when I said something about her."
"Because my bastard father ruined her life."
I glared at Ed. "Why do you want to know?"
"Because, that's wrong," Ed said vehemently, with chocolate all around his mouth. "Daddies should never be mean to mommies."
I snorted. I already knew that.
"Did you ever ask your daddy to play with you sometimes?"
I let out a humorless laugh at the absurdity of the question. "Once I did."
"He said no. Told me to go away and never come back."
I heard a sound like something hitting the table and turned away from the window. Ed had slammed his palms on the table and stood in his chair, his cone only a memory now. His little chocolate-covered face was angry. "Then that's no dad at all," he said with a fierceness I had no idea a five-year-old could possess. "Anyone who tells their son to go away and never come back shouldn't be called a daddy!"
I blinked in surprise at his conviction. "I hope you told him that made you sad," Ed said to me.
"Of course I did. He didn't care," I replied, still a little stunned by Ed.
"Then you shoulda told him again!" Ed replied hotly. "And keep bugging him until he gives in and plays with you!"
I stared at Ed, all indignant in his chair, informing me with all the knowledge he possessed of how I should have handled the situation. A laugh bubbled up in my throat, and before I knew it, I was laughing. Real, something's-funny laughter, something I hadn't done in almost a year. I grabbed a napkin off the table and wiped Ed's face.
"What? What did I say?" Ed asked, confused.
"Nothing, nothing," I said, composing myself. "Come on, it's time to go."
"Ooh! Can we go to the candy store?" Ed asked eagerly, back to happy-hyper mode.
I stood up, and Ed jumped out of the chair. "The candy store's probably closed," I pointed out.
"Well, something's gotta be open," Ed replied, not about to be discouraged. He attempted to tug his gloves on, but he kept putting his fingers in all the wrong places. I waited for him to finish, but when he showed no signs of getting any closer to completing the task, I knelt down and did it for him. "You're doing it all wrong, pipsqueak." The name slipped out of my mouth before I could think or blink, and I was surprised at myself.
"Mommy usually does it," Ed said.
"No wonder then. Come on, let's go." I held out my hand to him, and he took it and followed me to the door.
We were halfway down the block when what had just happened crashed down on me. What was I doing? Stupid bonding with the kid I was going to kill! I had even given him a pet name, though accidentally. I was losing it. I had to stay back on track. Revenge was waiting to be carried out.
"The skating rink's open! Yay!"
Revenge did not include skating.
"Pipsqueak--" there I went again, damn it "--we're not going skating."
"Sure we are!" Ed replied, dragging me down the sidewalk towards the entrance of the skating rink. "You've got enough money for both of us, right?"
I did, but that was besides the point. Another outing with this kid, and I just might lose my nerve entirely. I needed to stop dragging this out and get it over with.
But Ed was surprisingly strong. And surprisingly loud. "Merry Christmas!" he said again, to a passing couple. They smiled and repeated the greeting, and I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.
"Merry Christmas!" Ed shouted to a woman standing at the edge of the sidewalk.
"Says you," the woman muttered, but I think Ed didn't hear it.
A car was coming by, and I found myself turning to watch the dark-haired woman, dressed in a dark green turtleneck, jeans, and spike-heeled boots under a knee-length fur-trimmed coat. She teetered a bit on the edge of the sidewalk, and just as the car was coming by, she completely tipped her weight forward and stumbled out into the street.
"Oh, hell!" I exclaimed. Instinctively I jumped forward, releasing Ed's hand. The horn of the car blared as they tried to slam on brakes, but it was too late. They would hit the woman before they could come to a stop.
I dashed a few steps into the street and grabbed the back of the woman's coat. Hauling with all my strength, I yanked backwards. She tried to fight me, but I had already thrown my weight back towards the sidewalk, and I caught her by surprise. We fell heavily on the sidewalk, her landing on my stomach, and the car screeched by, its driver apparently eager to get out of there.
"Envy! Are you okay?" Ed exclaimed, hurrying over to me.
"Yeah, just peachy," I growled, shoving the woman off. "What the hell's your deal? You can't wait until after Christmas to jump in front of cars?"
The woman stayed where I had pushed her, hugging herself. Her long, wavy hair fell on either side of her pale face.
"Why'd you do that?" Ed asked her. "You could've gotten hurt."
"That's the point, pipsqueak," I said, mentally cursing myself as the nickname slipped out again. I stood up, brushing off the back of my coat and rubbing my sore bottom.
"Aren't you having a merry Christmas?" Ed asked the woman.
She shook her head. "How can I? There's nothing to live for anymore."
"That's pretty morbid," I commented.
"My life is morbid," the woman said. Now that she was out of danger, the people that had stopped to watch had now moved on. "The only person I ever loved is gone. I don't have anyone else."
"Your daddy?" Ed guessed.
"My husband. He left me. On Christmas!" The woman put her face in her gloved hands.
"Yet another bastard," I found myself saying.
"We're mad at our daddies," Ed told her. "I'm Ed, and this is Envy. We're celebrating Christmas together because Envy doesn't have anyone to celebrate with."
"I'm Lust," the woman mumbled.
I raised an eye. Did she say Lust?
"Hi, Lucy," Ed said, clearing the name up for me. "You wanna come skating with us?"
"We're not--" I started, but gave up. Ed was on a roll. And this Lust/Lucy woman was pathetic.
Lucy lifted her face from her hands and looked up at Ed, who was smiling brightly. Her eyes were violet as well, just a warmer shade than mine. She glanced at me, and I was probably scowling. "Well...I-I don't know how to skate," she said uncertainly.
"That's okay, I'll teach you!" Ed said. "Envy, you've got enough money for all three of us, right?"
I did, but that was besides the point. "You're spending an awful lot of my money today," I commented.
"Come on! Lucy deserves a happy Christmas, just like you and me!" Ed argued with me.
I sighed. "All right, all right, no need to argue me down," I said, striding towards the entrance. "Come on pipsqueak, woman."
"Come on, Lucy!" Ed said. I gave them a quick glance and saw that Ed was dragging Lucy behind me by the hand.
"I don't think I can do this," Lucy said, standing awkwardly at the edge of the wooden rink in her skates.
"It's easy! Like walking without lifting your feet!" Ed told her. "Envy, come on!"
"I'll pass," I commented, sitting on a bench near the rink, arms and legs crossed. The skates that had been forced on me sat next to everyone's coats and shoes.
Ed stepped down easily into the sparsely populated rink, and held out his hands for Lucy. She hesitantly took them and stepped down in the rink like it was filled with broken glass. Ed started saying something to her that I couldn't hear over the disco music, and they slowly started around the rink.
I sighed. How had I let myself be roped into this? I needed to get back on track, yet again, and go ahead and kill Ed. I could already feel my resolve slipping. He was a cute kid who loved his family and seemed to like making people happy. That, and he had sympathized with me about our bastard father abandoning me. He was--
A thought stopped me cold, something I hadn't even considered all day. We had the same father. That made Ed my half brother.
Could I truly kill my own brother?
My thirst for revenge was now being battled by my desire for family. He did make a cute little brother. He was cheerful and pretty funny, and I was reluctantly enjoying the time I was spending with him.
But it wasn't as if I would ever get to spend time with him. The bastard wanted to forget me and my mother existed. He would never let us hang out together. It was better to kill Ed and tear out Hohenheim's heart.
"See! ...like that!" Snatches of Ed coaching and cheering Lucy as she slowly picked up speed drifted over to me. She still gripped Ed's hands tightly, but she had a frightened little smile on her face.
But was it really better? And once I had killed Ed, what would I do? Visit the Elrics and watch them grieve? Even if Ed did die, eventually his family would learn to live with it. It might take them years, but in time they could probably regain most of the happiness they had now. And where would Mom and I be? Still working around the clock to pay bills and live. Still unhappy and tired. My revenge wouldn't make life any easier.
No! Don't you dare waver! You're just trying to talk yourself out of it. You've got to pull through.
No! Don't you dare waver! You're just trying to talk yourself out of it. You've got to pull through.
But so what if I pulled through? What if I made some kind of mistake, and the police were able to trace the murder to me? It would destroy my mother if I were arrested and put in jail. Then what of my revenge? It wouldn't help her at all.
I hadn't realized I had put my face in my hands. I looked up to see Ed in front of me, looking concerned. Out in the rink, Lucy was trying to skate on her own, moving about as fast as a snail with arthritis. "Are you okay? You look sad."
"I'm fine, pipsqueak," I said, finding myself ruffling his blond hair.
"Then come skate!" Ed said. "We can all do it together!"
"Okay, okay, don't beg." I threw on the tacky beige skates and stepped down into the rink. Almost immediately one skate flew out from under me, and I fell on my rear, half in and half out of the rink.
Lucy arthritis-snail-tipped over to me, and Ed hurried to my side. "Are you okay?" Ed asked worriedly, grabbing my arm to help me up.
"Are you hurt?" Lucy asked, grabbing my other arm.
"I'm fine," I ground out, mentally moaning over my twice-injured butt. Somehow I righted myself, then wobbled and had to grab Lucy's shoulder for support. She nearly fell, and Ed reached out and caught both our hands. "Come on, you guys, hold my hands so you don't fall," he said authoritatively.
So that was how we circled the rink, in slow motion, Ed between us holding our hands tightly and instructing us like we were the kids. We circled and circled until we all finally got the hang of it, and I broke away from the chain to skate on my own. I picked up speed and soon was moving along at a fairly good pace. The wind I created made my hair stream behind me, and I bent forward a little to pick up more speed.
Before I knew it, Ed was matching my speed, making faces at me. I smirked, recognizing the challenge, and started going even faster. Ed easily kept up and then started to pass me.
Oh, no you don't, pipsqueak. I skated faster and faster, having to slow a bit at corners so I didn't go flying into the wall. Ed never got more than two strides ahead of me, but he was winning.
All of a sudden, Lucy appeared out of nowhere, matching us both. Her long, wavy hair fluttered in the collective wind as she passed me. She looked scared but also excited. I was determined not to be outdone and poured on the speed. Lucy had almost caught up with Ed when I pulled up beside her again. We were about half a stride behind Ed.
Suddenly Lucy tripped. Her arms flailed out, and one caught me in the stomach, making me lose my balance. Her other arm knocked into Ed's back, and he stumbled and tripped. We all ended up in a heap at the edge of the rink.
"Ow, dammit!" I groaned.
"My butt hurts," Ed mumbled.
"I'm sorry," Lucy said.
We tried to untangle ourselves from each other, but weren't having the best of luck. Ed, the smallest of us three, managed to squeeze out, then laughed at Lucy and me as we tried futilely to untangle our limbs.
"I think your skate's caught in my hair," Lucy pointed out.
It was true. Several strands were wrapped around my wheels. "How the hell did that happen?" I grumbled as I reached down to unhook them.
Somehow we managed to get clear, with Ed's shouted suggestions not really helping. Lucy's cheeks were pink, but she was smiling as we went back to the bench where our coats lay. "Um, I'd better go," she said. "It's getting late."
I glanced at my watch, and my jaw nearly dropped. It was almost six in the evening. Where had the time gone?
"Promise not to jump in front of cars anymore?" Ed asked.
"I promise, Ed," Lucy said. "I'll-I'll try to find a reason to live."
"There's plenty," I commented, unlacing my skates and taking my feet out of them. "You've just got to look, stupid."
"You can come visit me sometimes!" Ed told her. "I'll make you keep living!"
Lucy smiled warmly. "I appreciate that," she said.
"I'll give you my phone number! Envy, do you have a pen?"
I did, but that was besides the point.
"Can we go eat dinner?" Ed asked.
It was just after six. Lucy had left for home, after Ed had written his number on her hand. We had left the skating rink as well, to find the sun going down. To Ed, setting sun equaled dinner.
I sighed. "Didn't you eat twenty bucks' worth of junk at the skating rink?" I pointed out.
"Well, yeah, but I'm still hungry," Ed said completely reasonably. "Please?" He tugged on my arm.
"All right, all right," I grumbled. To be honest, I was kind of hungry myself. I hadn't eaten anything since the chocolate parfait late this morning.
Ed dragged me to a small restaurant, and somehow he found another window seat. This place had more business, but in a few minutes a waitress had come to our table. "Hi, I'm Roze, and I'll be you waitress tonight," she said, smiling as she handed us menus.
"Hi, Roze! I'm Ed!" Ed said. "Merry Christmas!"
"Well, aren't you cute! Merry Christmas!" Roze said cheerfully.
I scanned the menu, gawking at the insane prices. Seven bucks for a plate of fries? Ten for a bowl of soup? Twelve for a stinking shrimp plate? This was ridiculous.
"Can I get a shrimp plate?" Ed asked.
"That's the freaking second most expensive thing on the menu!" I exclaimed.
"Shrimp is tasty!" was Ed's counter argument.
I sighed. When Roze came back, I ordered a shrimp plate for us to share, water for Ed, and beer for me. I flashed my ID at Roze before she could ask for it, and she nodded and left with the menus.
"What's beer?" Ed asked me.
"Something you can't have until you turn eighteen," I told him.
Ed's brow furrowed, and he laboriously started to count on his fingers. "Um, I'm five, so...six...seven...eight...nine..."
"You've got thirteen years to go," I told him.
"That'll be forever!" Ed said dramatically.
I poked his nose. "You probably won't want it then, anyway. Beer is nasty. So are drugs. Stay away from them, okay?"
Ed nodded. "Okay."
Why am I telling him this? He won't live to see this time tomorrow. What kind of advice would he need?
Why am I telling him this? He won't live to see this time tomorrow. What kind of advice would he need?
Even as I asked myself the question, I knew the answer: I was telling him this because I was still wavering about killing him. As the day wore on, I became less and less convinced that killing Ed was the way to go. Sure, I was still mad as hell at the bastard, and sure, I wanted him to realize how much I was suffering, but to go through Edward?
Ed was a cute kid, and funny and relatively smart. He had so much of his life ahead of him. Just because my life had been destroyed, did that mean I should take his away? Keep him from ever going to school, interacting with girls, going to college, getting a job, dating, marrying, starting a family? Growing old? Dying of natural causes?
I looked at Edward, who was busy trying to stand the fork up. He could make a great father, I thought. Much better than the bastard. Did I really want to take this kind of kid away from his future wife?
"Here's your order!"
I started as Roze plunked down the biggest plate I'd ever seen, filled with shrimp. In the middle was a glass bowl of some kind of red sauce. Roze put down our drinks next. "Enjoy!" she said, leaving to tend to another table.
Ed started in on his shrimp with gusto, and I managed to eat a few, but I was too busy battling with my thoughts. Kill him, don't kill him, kill him, don't kill him, kill him, don't kill him.
I watched Ed eat another shrimp. Kill him.
And another. Don't kill him.
I ate some more, and so did Ed. Kill him, don't kill him, kill him, don't kill him.
We silently ate, slowly clearing the plate. Somewhere along the line, Ed had made his water disappear. I hadn't touched my beer.
I ate the second-to-last shrimp.
Ed eagerly grabbed the last one, scooped up the last of the sauce, and ate it.
Don't kill him.
Don't kill him.
I couldn't do it. I couldn't kill Edward.
I realized I was drifting off again and focused back on Ed. "You look sad again," he said.
"Just thinking," I replied, giving a fake smile.
"About your bastard father?"
"Yeah, sorta. And don't say that word, okay? It's a bad word. Listen to your mommy."
I checked my watch. 7:49. The sun was down, and the streetlights were on. Roze came back with the check, and I paid and led Ed out. Down the street, I could hear faint Christmas music.
Ed yawned. "Sleepy?" I asked.
"Yeah. I get sleepy after I eat a lot." And he had indeed packed it away.
"Come on," I said, crouching down. "Get on my back; I'll give you a ride."
Ed easily scrambled up on my back, wrapping his arms around my neck and straddling my waist. I linked my fingers under him as a makeshift seat and started down the street. "'m I going home now?" he asked, a yawn in his voice.
This is your last chance. You can still do this.
This is your last chance. You can still do this.
"Yeah," I said, shutting up the voice in my head.
"I had a really, really good time, Envy. It was so much fun doing stuff with you. Will you come back next Christmas so we can do it again?"
For some reason a lump formed in my throat. I swallowed hard to force it down. "Maybe," I said, not pledging anything.
"And you were right. I'm not mad at Daddy anymore."
I didn't reply.
"Are you un-mad at your daddy now too?"
I heaved a sigh. "Nah. I guess it didn't work this time."
"I'm sorry. I hope you can go on lots of walks in the future so you'll get un-mad at him. Hey, do you want my daddy to talk to him? My daddy can talk people into doing stuff. He can talk your daddy into playing with you."
"Somehow, I don't think that'll work."
"Is your voice okay? It sounds like you broke it."
"It's fine," I lied.
Ed shifted his position a little. "Well, I know you think your daddy's mean, but it is Christmas. Maybe you should talk to him again and see if he'll say sorry."
"He wouldn't. He's a bastard."
"Maybe he changed? Christmas makes people get different. Maybe he'll want to play with you now because he misses you."
I stopped and slid Ed down on a bus stop bench. "Envy?" he said, not understanding why I had stopped.
"He doesn't miss me, Ed. He doesn't want to see me. He told me so himself. He wants to forget I existed because he thinks I'm a mistake. He wants me and my mom to leave him alone for the rest of his life. He's got a new family now, and he'd rather be with them than me."
There was silence. I glared at the sky, my eyes stinging strangely.
"Well, then, do you want to come to my family?"
I turned and stared at Ed, who looked at me hopefully.
"You and your mommy can come be with us. Then you can have my daddy, and be my big brother! Wouldn't that be nice?"
I was shocked at this kid's sincerity. For some reason, I had expected Ed to be a brat, annoying, whiny. In other words, easy to kill. Instead I got this kid who was almost determined to see me get happy. He seemed to care that my family was messed up, and kept trying to come up with ways to fix it. It made me wonder if I would have turned out anything like him, had the bastard bothered to stay and raise me. But then it occurred to me, if he had, Ed probably wouldn't exist.
"Envy, what's wrong? Why are you crying?"
"What?" My hand flew to my face to find cold tears. I was indeed crying. Ed hopped off the bench and walked over to me, hugging my waist. "Don't cry, Envy," he said. "My family'll take you and your mommy!"
"It's not that simple," I said, my voice betraying me and breaking. I knelt down to explain to him that everything wasn't as simple as his five-year-old mind seemed to think, but so close to his face I saw the bastard's, and I broke down. Mentally punching myself in the face, I covered my face in my hands. "I just can't have my dad back, okay?" I told him through tears. "And I can't have yours."
Ed shifted so his arms were around my neck. "Well, fine, don't have a daddy," he said. "Just hang out with me. I'll be a step-in!"
Stand-in, pipsqueak. Stand in.
Stand-in, pipsqueak. Stand in.
I remained where I was, Ed's little arms around me, until I had finally gotten a hold of myself. "Ready to go home?" I asked, wiping away the last traces of my breakdown and standing up.
Ed nodded. "Okay. Just promise you'll try to be happy, even if you don't come hang out with me, all right?"
"Yeah, yeah," I said, unable to keep a smile off my face.
By the time we got back to the vicinity of Ed's house, it was almost ten o'clock. The porch light was on, but the house itself was dark. On the porch, Trisha Elric sat in a chair, bundled in a heavy coat, a phone in her lap. Even from twenty feet away, I could see the pain and exhaustion on her face.
"Well, see you around, kid," I lied, stopping at the line between the trees and the Elric yard.
"You sure you don't wanna come with my family?" Ed asked me. "We'd love you, promise."
"I know. But I'm not interested in taking your family, pipsqueak," I said, ruffling his hair. "Just enjoy it yourself, okay?"
Ed tried to put his hair back in place. "Okay," he sighed. "But don't just disappear forever, okay? Come back sometime."
"Sure, whatever." I pushed him in the direction of the porch. Ed took a couple of steps, then stopped and turned. "Envy?"
"Is Envy your real name? 'Cause it's a funny name."
I sighed. This kid asked so many questions. But in that moment, I didn't see much harm in him knowing the truth. "No, Envy's not my real name."
"What is it?"
"Edward. Just like you."
Ed gasped excitedly. "Really? Wow! That's--"
"Ed, your mommy, remember?"
"Oh!" Ed turned, then turned back. "Bye Bigger Edward!"
I waved with a sigh as Edward finally turned and raced for the porch. Trisha had been staring dully at the phone, but at the sound of footsteps she looked up. She gasped, and her hands flew to her face as she saw Ed. Immediately she stood, knocking the forgotten phone to the floor, and flew down the steps. She grabbed Ed in a hug, tears streaming down her face. "My little man, my little man," she said in a trembling voice.
"Hi, Mommy," Ed said.
"Where were you? What happened? We were so worried."
"I know. I was spending Christmas with Bigger Edward! He didn't have anyone to spend Christmas with."
I slapped my hand to my forehead, now seeing the danger in telling Ed my name.
"Don't ever disappear like that again," Trisha sobbed, still kneeling in the dirt and snow. "Never."
"It's okay, Mommy. But everyone should have a good Christmas, right?"
I kept my eyes on the back of Ed's red coat as I backed away into the woods.
At eleven-forty that night, Mom came home, exhausted. "Merry Christmas, honey," she said as she closed the door behind her. "I hope you enjoyed yourself somewhat."
I nodded from where I lay on the couch. "It was more interesting than I had thought it would be."
Mom smiled tiredly. "Well, good. If you don't mind, I'm going to bed, okay? Overtime really takes it out of me."
Mom headed down the hall, and I returned to staring at the wall.
Had I enjoyed Christmas. What a question that was.
The phone rang, and I glanced over the sofa arm at it. Nobody called us. I picked up the extension. "Hello?" I said.
I stiffened. I'd know that voice anywhere.
"It's your father."
"Yeah, I know," I snapped. "What do you want? How did you even get this number?"
"Do you know anything about what happened to my son tonight?"
"Nope. You being a bad parent or something?"
"He mentioned spending Christmas with someone named 'Bigger Edward'."
"So? There's probably six thousand Edwards in the state. What's your point?"
Silence. I was poised to slam down the phone when I heard, "I'm sorry."
I nearly dropped the phone at that. I stared at it for a moment, then put it to my ear. "For what?"
"I haven't been a very good father to you. No, scratch that--I've been a terrible father."
"A bastard," I supplied.
"What I'm trying to say is, will you give me a chance to make it up to you?"
"Didn't you wait a little late, Dad? I'm nineteen now," I reminded him.
"I know. But after what Edward told me, I realized just how much I've hurt you. I'm sorry for pushing you and your mother away. It was very wrong of me. You didn't deserve it at all. Please, give me a chance to fix things."
"How about apologizing to Mom, and sending her some money so we don't have to live in a craphole?" I suggested acidly. "Oh, and maybe not denying our existence to your precious wife. And maybe some back child support too? You ready to do all that?"
More silence. "If that's what it takes," he finally said. "Will you give it a chance?"
"I'll think about it after the check arrives," I replied, slamming the phone. The bastard. Nineteen years of nothing, and now he thinks an apology by phone and some promises of money will fix it all? Please.
I crossed my arms and slumped against the couch again. Some of the bastard's words came back to mind. "After what Edward told me". So Ed had spoken to him after all? The kid was darn persistent, I'd give him that. The memory of him hugging me in the street also surfaced, and I couldn't help a little smile.
Maybe, after the check came and we moved. If Mom forgave him. If he really changed.