Elysia had gone shopping with her mother. They were looking for a wedding gift for Jol and Elizabeth. Their wedding was in another week and Elysia had not been able to decide what to get them. She hoped having her mother with her would be more useful because Edward had not been. He had offered to make something but Elysia knew he had bad taste so declined his offer.
So Edward was left with Erika, which he didn't mind. Erika was such an easy baby to take care of. She wasn't very loud and easily satisfied once she was changed or had food in her little belly. It was a beautiful sunny day so he thought it would be nice to sit out in the backyard to enjoy the sunshine. Spreading out a blanket he stretched out with little Erika next to him. She had just learned to sit up on her own and was playing with her father's silver pocket watch. Edward had his eyes closed listening to Erika's quiet babbling and the jingling of the chain when he heard soft footsteps on the grass.
"Back so soon," he said thinking Elysia had returned from her shopping trip.
"I thought it'd been longer than that," a man's voice answered.
Edward sat up in stunned disbelief when he recognized the voice. "Van Hohenheim!" He exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to see my granddaughter." He walked over to little Erika and bent down next to her. "She looks like you," he observed looking up at Edward.
"Yeah, she even scowls like me," Edward responded. He wasn't sure how he should respond to his father appearing so suddenly. He couldn't remember the last time he had seen Hohenheim. It was strange having him around but Edward was starting to like it. It was just him and Al. Edward was starting to like the idea of seeing someone else that was family. Even if he was a bastard that left us years ago, Edward thought to himself.
"What?" Edward exclaimed when he noticed Hohenheim was still watching him.
"Your hair is short," Hohenheim noted.
"I've been keeping it short for a long time now."
"I liked it long."
"You would. Stop looking at me like that!"
"I can't help it. You look good. You've turned out very well. I hate to say this but with the way you were going I didn't expect you to live this long."
"It's very comforting to know that my own father had zero confidence in me," Edward said insulted.
"Well, I didn't come here just to tell you that. I've got another reason for the visit."
"What do you mean?" Edward asked curiously figuring his father had only come to see his granddaughter and to irritate him.
"You're a smart man Edward and I know you've probably wondered. How old are you now?"
"Some father you are not knowing."
"Thirty four, why?"
"Don't play dumb Edward. Do you really think you look like you're thirty five? You still look like you're in your early twenties."
Edward was speechless. It was something he had always wondered. Some fleeting thought that came and went because he was always too busy to think about. Or maybe too scared to think about it. He began to wonder even more so after he had married Elysia but didn't dwell on the thought. He had started to dismiss the possibility but here was his father bringing it up.
"So it's possible?" Edward finally asked.
"Not as long as me but if there are no accidents it'll be a very long time before you die of natural causes."
"But I shortened my lifespan," Edward said remembering the fight he had almost twenty years ago with Kimbley, the Crimson Alchemist, and how he had been wounded. He had used his life force to heal himself before he bled to death knowing it would shorten his years.
"But not by much compared to what it would be naturally," Hohenheim said.
Realization dawned on Edward. He understood know why his father had left. But he still didn't completely forgive him for it, especially since Hohenheim knew he would remain unchanging as everyone around him grew old and in time passed away.
"So you came for a visit with bad news? Thanks," Edward said irritably.
"No, I've come to let you know that it doesn't have to be that way," Hohenheim answered.
"What, I can kill myself if I'm tired of watching my family and friends grow old and die before I do?!" Edward exclaimed.
"In a way. There's a way to do so without resorting to anything violent."
"How?" Edward asked intrigued.
"Simple. You return your spirit when you're ready to go."
"Return my spirit?"
"Yes, once you do that the body and mind will not be able to function anymore and so will pass away."
"How would I do that?"
"You're a gifted alchemist. You'll be able to figure it out when the time is right."
"Does Al know about this?"
"Yes. I told him when Little Ed was born."
"How come he didn't tell me?!"
"I told him not to. Like I said, I didn't think you'd live this long and it didn't seem you would settle down to have a family of your own. But now that you do I am telling you so you are aware that you do not have to live to continually watch as your love ones die before you."
Edward could feel tears forming but held them back. He knew that one day he would have to watch Elysia die before him and even his baby girl. It was almost too much for him to take in. But maybe it's best that I grieve for them, he thought. Instead of them having to grieve for me. The thought eased the heartache he was feeling of losing Elysia and Erika but not enough. He looked at his daughter as she sat chewing on the watch chain, blissfully unaware of anything else but that shiny watch. These moments would soon pass and she would grow up, move away and have a family of her own. Now was the time for him to slow down, not to be as rushed and impulsive as he had always been. If he didn't, Erika would be gone before he knew it and he would wish he had taken the time to enjoy these quiet afternoons he had with her.
"It is a burden I placed on you and your brother and I'm sorry for that," Hohenheim said sadly watching his son carefully. "But at the same time I'm not because I have two sons that have done very well for themselves despite having a negligent father. I am proud of you and Alphonse."
"Thanks," Edward said reluctantly. He appreciated his father's compliments but he was still trying to accept what he would have to face in the future.
"I should be going now," Hohenheim announced suddenly as he stood up.
"Wait a minute!" Edward exclaimed annoyed with him. "You come here to depress me and now you're just going to take off."
"Yes, its best I moved on."
"Why don't you stay for dinner?" Edward invited surprising himself. Oh I've really changed if I'm inviting this bastard to dinner, he thought. "I'd like you to meet Elysia."
"No. But thank you for the invitation. I'm sure it was hard for you to ask."
"Well, it was. But you're the only grandfather Erika has. You should drop by once in awhile."
"I might take you up on the offer. Can I hold her?"
"Sure," Edward said picking Erika up and depositing her into the arms of Hohenheim. Edward smiled at the obvious awkwardness Hohenheim was feeling holding his granddaughter.
"She does look like you when you were a baby," Hohenheim noted. "But in a prettier, girly way."
"Good," Edward said. He was proud of his daughter. She was a very beautiful baby with golden eyes like her father but with touches of green that made her eyes sparkle. She had been born bald and Edward was glad to see that a pale, peach fuzz was now sprouting indicating that her hair would be blond like his own. He had always been rather conceited about his blond hair. He had never bothered with his looks when he was a teenager. But in his twenties when he found young ladies attracted to him because of it, he took advantage of his looks and appreciated it. Hohenheim handed Erika back to Edward.
"Well, take care Edward," he said as he turned to leave.
"Yeah, you too," Edward said as he watched his father walk away with mixed emotions. Part of him was glad that his father even came by; another part hated him for being the bearer of bad news, even if it was something Edward had suspected for some time. He didn't know how he should feel. He felt sorry for his father but still resented him for leaving them in the first place. He knew Elysia was right, that his father didn't exactly have it easy. It wasn't Hohenheim's choice to live as long as he had. But Edward felt he could have handled things better. It made Edward determined to not make the same mistakes as his father. He would never abandon his family to fend for themselves. If he could avoid any untimely accidents and restrained himself from being so reckless, then maybe it wouldn't be so bad. He could see to it that even his grandchildren were well cared for. But in the meantime he would take advantage of every minute he had with Elysia and Erika. There was no reason to worry about it or let it spoil the happiness he felt with his wife and daughter. There was still so much more to experience. He still had a whole life to look forward to and enjoy with his family.
"So what do you think of that bastard of a grandfather?" Edward asked looking down at Erika. She waved her little fists around and Edward took hold of her tiny hand and kissed it. "I agree. He's an asshole. But he's the only one you got so you'll have to put up with him."
Edward bent to pick up his pocket watch and the blanket. "Don't tell your mother I cursed in front of you, alright." He said as he walked across the yard to go back inside.
If you found this story first don't forget to read "The Drachman War". It's a prequal that tells Edward's story of the Drachman war and how he came to be the person he is in "Elysia and the General". Also, to see what happens next with Edward and Elysia, there's the sequel "The Black Prince" you should check out as well.
I really appreciated all the reviews. Even if you didn't review but read the story and enjoyed it, that's all that matters. Please keep reading! That's all I can ever ask for. Everyone has been great and very supportive!