Ooooh, I'm a ghost! No, I'm kidding. Actually, I'm still alive. Life has just thrown me a curveball. Luckily, I have an fmaexchange fic right here, and I hope you enjoy!
Edward Elric remembers a time when he could play in the snow whenever he wanted, taking delight in it. Snow graced the rural town of Resembool seasonably, covering the ground in a fluffy, white blanket. He recalls his mother, bundling him and his little brother Alphonse in about five layers of clothes, a thick pair of gloves, a warm, wooly scarf wrapped loosely around his neck, and a home-knitted hat perched atop his blond head. He can almost feel the icy sting of winter wind on his cheeks, painting them bright red. When he closes his eyes, he can see the snowman he had made with Alphonse and his friend, Winry, the girl next door. He sees the world in a sparkling white, the sky sprinkling large snowflakes on the earth, and they land delicately in his hair, eyelashes, and on his clothes. If he thinks hard enough about the memories of those distant days, he can feel the warmth of his house, and the lovely look of his mother's smile. Ecstatic, fantastic memories. Too bad that Edward Elric doesn't exist anymore.
In his place is Major Edward Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist, battle-hardened veteran, dog of the military, hero of the people. Instead of playing with his brother, he tromps through Central city with burdens no sixteen-year-old should have to bear. The young soldier's reputation spread like wildfire, children embracing the empowering thought of mere boy of twelve passing the State Alchemy Exam. Parents tell stories about the Fullmetal Alchemist at bedtime, about equivalent exchange and working hard and oh, if you give something, you always get something in return. Truth of the world was something people strived to find, and Edward's stories gave them some sense in the arbitrary universe. But being a childhood hero and slave to the state had worn Edward down, grinding him to his last nerve. His tolerance for time-consuming duties had been expunged. That is why, when Ed hears about his next assignment, he is dismissed muttering and cursing about snow. Because Ed hates thesnow now.
That pesky ice just comes falling from the sky, accumulating on roads and cars and railroad tracks. Snow was just a nuisance to the already irked teenager. Besides, snow always landed on his metal, prosthetic arm, and it piles up, and freezes, and rusts, and he has to scrape it all off, and every time he looks at his false limbs it reminds him of…
Damn it all!
Edward stamps his automail leg, making a heavy, metallic sound, and sending a paralyzing cramp shooting up his thigh. He is already earning the stares of several uniform-clad military officials, one accidentally dropping a hefty stack of papers to the ground and cursing under his breath. Edward doesn't bother to kneel down and help, or even to apologize. His mind is already a million miles away, back in Resembool, with his friends, his brother, and the snow.
Colonel Roy Mustang is skimming a petition, his onyx eyes in conflict between an expression of exasperation and amusement. His deep obsidian eyes finally come across section five, paragraph twenty-three, and they widen slightly. Then, amusement dominating exasperation, Mustang crumples the document, pitches it into a metal ashtray on his desk, and pulls on a white pair of gloves labeled with a unique pattern on the back of them. With a single snap of his fingers, the now-wrinkled petition bursts into flames, the bright, spirited tongues of orange dancing around and crackling merrily until the fire dies, the pile of ashes now reducing itself to a smoldering heap of coal-black. Looking satisfied, Mustang runs his hand through his dark, neatly combed hair, and promptly snaps off his gloves, when he hears a sharp rap on the door to his office. The knock is hard and sounds like a clang of metal. Roy clears his throat and calls, "Enter."
The pouting, blonde teenager saunters in the room, his golden eyes filled with sheer and utter annoyance. Roy feels a smirk tug at his lips and laughter bubble in his throat, but if he dared to laugh now, all hell would break loose. Instead, he swallows his mirth and leans back in the office chair behind his wooden desk. "Ah, Fullmetal. What a pleasure it is to see you on this fine day." Edward absolutely glowers at his superior officer, making Roy's entertainment level grow. Allowing himself to chuckle lightly, he tilts forward again to rest his elbows on his desk. "Well, I suppose you've been informed that you and I are being sent on a mission together." Ed grimaces and nods, acting as if he is in pain.
"The official orders are here," Roy responds casually, handing a thick packet engraved with the Amestrian crest to his young subordinate. Ed halfheartedly accepts the packet and opens to the front page. "I'll just summarize it for you now…the two of us are to inspect the new railroad transit leading deeper into northern Briggs."
Edward raises his head and speaks for the first time since he entered the office. "And why are they sending us State Alchemists up to Briggs?" Already, he has even more the aggravation revealing itself in his features.
"You are an alchemist," Roy responds slowly, as if spelling it out for the boy. "And an alchemist is able to transmute things into more useful material, should we get stranded or have a wreck. I am the Flame Alchemist, so if we are stuck in the mountains, we have a source of heat." Edward looks confused for half a second, before the familiar scowl dominates his face. He crosses his arms tightly at his chest.
"That makes no sense," he grunts, his voice bothered and annoyed. Roy sighs and closes his eyes for a brief moment.
"Would you rather be on the battlefield?" he asks solemnly. Ed looks up as Roy opens his eyes, the latter's gaze piercing through him like a knife. Of course, Roy had always had a point about everything…
"Fine. I'll show up, and just tell Al I'm taking a vacation to arctic tundra," he hisses through clenched teeth and leafs through his packet, his eyes scanning the small print.
"Of course you will," Roy answers serenely, averting his hard, obsidian glare. Edward sighs a heaving, dramatic huff, and gets on his feet, readying to leave. "Oh, and Fullmetal? Don't forget to bring a coat this time." Roy thinks he hears something muttered that sounds suspiciously like "bastard". "What was that?" Roy inquires suspiciously. But Edward has already left, cursing and stomping and leaving total destruction behind him.
A long, moaning yawn escapes Edward's throat, as he heaves his body forward, feeling a dangerous combination of drained and irritated. If he sees Mustang around, a meeting would be sure to take place, and he is determined to let the colonel know how he feels. After all, the idiot told Ed to bring a coat; the weather in the city of Central is perfect- seventy degrees- and still rising. The sun is just managing to peak out from the crevices of the world, the light so meager that the city is painted black and white; like the old photos of his family, his mother and Alphonse, that hung so proudly above the fireplace mantle. And then there are the pictures of that man, who dared to leave them alone. The man who was supposed to be Ed's father. The pictures of his father matched the older man's personality…black and white, seeing the world through stoic, logical eyes. The old bastard had always made Ed want to rant for hours and hours without taking a breath…
Raising a gloved hand to his head, Ed reels himself back to the present. Stupid, stupid Mustang. At five thirty in the morning, Ed's mind tended to run askew, connecting the random thoughts and musings of his overcrowded mind with a thin thread.
Ed is walking absently through the herd of parked trains, looking for the smaller transport set to deliver the Colonel and himself to Briggs, hopefully safely, but with no guarantees. At least, that's what Mustang thinks. Ed is jerked awake by the sight of a small band of soldiers clustered together. Heaving his coat over his right shoulder, Ed steps closer to the curious assembly of men.
The first face Ed recognizes is that of Mustang's, than annoying, smug smirk etched upon his handsome features. The higher-up squeezes through the caucus of soldiers and materializes in front of his subordinate, his own coat draped across his shoulders. "Glad you decided to show up five minutes before the train left, Edward," he greets, amusement once again traceable in his voice.
"Shut up," Ed snaps wearily. "I'm tired and I don't feel like dealing with any of this crap today. So don't push it."
Mustang's gaze hardens and his voice becomes stern. "Hey now, Fullmetal. Don't talk that way to your superiors," he scolds. Ed snorts at the sudden, austere mood swing, but remains silent as he follows Mustang back through the maze of people. The colonel steps lightly into the tiny train compartment, and Edward sticks close behind him.
There are only a few seats in the train, arranged in two neat rows, with about five benches in each. Ed plops down on the seat nearest to the door, his arms and back sagging in exhaustion, and his feet drooping to the bottom of the next seat in front of him. To the teenager's dismay, Mustang sits in the next row across from him, and props open a small, black leather-bound book, his onyx eyes moving across the old, crinkled pages that had tinted themselves yellow. Ed lets out a small groan in displeasure.
Roy stares daggers at Ed before returning to the aged volume. Ed doesn't pay attention. His mind feels like the slushy ice, lying useless and unwanted, on the side of the road. He takes a deep breath, lessening his frustration very slightly. In a few minutes, he could just stare out the window and watch the world pass by. He opts for moving away from Mustang, but his body is too weary to do so. He stifles a yawn, and closes his eyes, the thought of sleep quickly becoming an irresistible temptation. The last thing he hears before succumbing to the sweet darkness is the faint puffing of an engine, light and soothing. The seat vibrates heavily, massaging his aching back and legs, and thoughts of the photographs cross his mind one last time.
The state's youngest alchemist is dozing peacefully on the seat across from Roy, his back draped in a cloak of crimson, chest rising and falling soothingly and evenly. His forehead is pressed against the window, making the cool glass mist up from his comforting body heat. His knees are somehow drawn to his body in his sleep, and he is curled in a small, vulnerable ball. Despite the steadily dropping temperature, his fur-trimmed coat is hanging on the straight back of the bench. He still looks like the essence of warmth and comfort, as if he doesn't often get to sleep like this.
Roy sighs and gently lays his book down opposite of its spine, to keep track of his page number. He feels his gaze fall back on to the sleeping boy beside him. Edward looks like a small child when he sleeps. Even when Roy can only see his back, he looks so small, and sometimes, so lost. When it came to a fully conscious, awake Edward Elric, small and lost were two words that could describe anyone but himself.
It is starting to get cooler…perhaps the trip to Briggs will be shorter than Roy thought. He feels goose bumps prick and poke his skin, and pulls the sleeves of his coat over his arms. He shivers slightly and burrows his hands in his pockets, when he feels a stiff, sharp edge of film poke into the middle of his finger. Roy carefully pulls the smooth yet aged photograph out, willing it not to bend or become marked with fingerprints.
The edges of the picture are worn, but the image is clearly visible. In the black and white realm of the print, a man, a woman, and two children are all smiling merrily. The man is wearing a large set of spectacles, and his long hair is gathered into a ponytail. The woman is slightly shorter and modestly beautiful, her smile proud and peaceful. She is holding a small baby in her arms, and the man is resting his hands on an older boy's shoulders. The older boy looks about one or two, his wide smile stretching from ear to ear. Roy sighs as, in the feature universe, fourteen years later, he watches the teenage counterpart of the two-year-old sleep like a rock.
Roy received the tattered photograph years before, alongside a frantic letter, begging for help on finding Hohenheim Elric. He remembers it all…the shaky handwriting, the overuse of formality, but most of all, the name Edward Elric scrawled messily at the bottom. He had read many last-minute reports from the teenager, but never had the name been written with so much desperation as in that letter.
But the strangest thing was that Edward absolutely loathed his father, even in his childhood. So why would he go out of his way to find someone whom he never cared about?
Roy absently tucks the picture back into his coat pocket, his musings coming to an abrupt halt. The temperature was decreasing more and more rapidly, and his breath begins to form a small cloud of mist as he exhales. He casts a worrying glance at Ed, who is unconsciously drawing his body closer to the bed in an attempt to regain body heat. As quietly as he can, Roy swiftly creeps over to Ed's seat, removes Ed's coat from its position on the back of the seat, and drapes it over the boy's sallow shoulders like a blanket. Ed snuggles in the coat before letting out a contented sigh.
Roy sits back down, feeling a bit more satisfied.
When he is awakened by the sounds, the first thing Ed notices is how cold it has gotten. His breath mists as he blows out, and his hand feels clammy. His coat is draped over him, but that doesn't stop him from noticing the unfathomable temperature decline. Quickly, he slips into the fur-lined coat, crossing his arms and shivering in a vain attempt to gain some warmth. The second thing he notices is the darkness all around him. Had he slept all day, or was the sky simply layered in clouds? He can still vaguely see the benches in front of him, but the colors are faded in tones ranging from frosty blue to inky indigo. The third thing he notices is the howling blizzard outside of the window. Snow is blowing horizontally, slapping the panes.
The train jerks wildly, desperately clinging to the icy tracks and shooting itself upwards when it hits large clumps of ice. Ed can hear Mustang snort sleepily and yawn, awakened by the racket outside. The car gives a violent lurch, and Mustang awakens completely, looking confused and shocked. Ed shivers when he makes his first deduction; he and Mustang were frightfully screwed.
Damn it, damn it. What the hell is going on? Ed shivers and pulls his coat tightly against his cold body. "Mm…Ed? What's goin' on? You okay?" Mustang calls sleepily from his roost across the train. Ed tries to answer coherently, but his teeth are chattering so hard, he can't control his words. He tries to make a noise from his throat, but it classifies as a small whimper. He leans his head against the hard, freezing seat, nestling father into the folds of his jacket.
Ed hears a heavy set of footsteps near him, and he senses a presence by him. Concern floods the air, and Ed's only guess is that Mustang had come over to check on him. "You okay, kid?" the Colonel asks quietly, his voice sounding like an accompaniment to the roaring wind outside. Ed nods, feeling his neck quivering more vigorously as it departs from the warmth of his body.
Bump. Bang. Crash!
Mustang is sliding down to sit next to Edward, but Edward is too cold to care. He can almost feel his flesh fingers turning blue, and his automail ports are starting to ache dully. He shivers, pressing his body to the end of the bench.
Ed can't help it; he grabs Roy's arm and clenches it tightly. The engine chokes, struggling to come back to life, but it splutters wildly and dies. The train glides too fast, nearly emanating sparks. "Ed, hold on!" Mustang yells, and Ed can see the colonel gripping the edge of his seat tightly. Ed releases the older man's arm and clings to the freezing bench for dear life as the train jolts forward. A bump practically throws Ed into the air as ice stalls on the metal tracks. "Hold on!" Mustang yells again, his voice more faint from the deafening roar of the storm and the train.
The roar begins to dull, the train hitting and cracking the ice, rather than flying over it. The momentum dies down. Ed's eyes are still squeezed shut, but he dares to open them. The train screeches to a halt with a crunch of a heavy coat of ice. Ed tries not to move, deathly afraid of causing the vehicle to jolt again. The blizzard rages out the window, rattling the train very slightly with a horribly strong wind. Then, Ed notices something that makes his heart jump to his throat again. He sees that Mustang isn't there.
"Mustang?" Ed squeaks. "M-Mustang?" Idiot, Ed scolds himself. There is no way that Mustang can hear him. He can hardly hear his own voice over the indignantly screeching wind. Ed shivers, watching the snow white out the rest of the world. The train shudders and Ed lets out a small gasp in fright. Managing to find his voice, he calls out, "Colonel!"
A rough hand seizes his shoulder, and he gasps in fear again, reeling around to confront the person behind him. "Relax, Fullmetal!" a comfortingly familiar voice snaps. Ed breathes a sigh of relief (his breath freezes in a cloud again, much to his own aggravation), and inhales deeply, trying to calm himself and stop the rapid chattering of his teeth and pulsing of his heart.
"W-what the h-hell happened?" Ed asks, shivering and drawing himself to the back of his bench, where his body heat had gathered during his sleep. Mustang sighs and sinks down next to Ed, crossing his arms and vigorously shivering himself.
"The engine died when the train skidded over the ice on the tracks," the colonel answers. His voice is calm and even, unlike Ed's embarrassingly shaky tones. "The conductor's out cold…he hit his head on something up in the control panel room. He'll be fine, though…I didn't see any life-threatening injuries." Mustang heaves something large on to the floor and pulls on a white glove. With a snap of his fingers, the pile of spare material catches on fire. Mustang lowers himself on the ground and uses his hand to feel under the seat, and withdraws a large, wool blanket. Ed shivers, watching the higher-up rub his hands together in hopes for friction to warm them.
Mustang smirks up at the boy from the aisle floor. "Coming down?" he asks.
Ed sniffs as if considering accepting the invitation.
The radio lying on Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye's desk buzzes to life in a ferocious burst of static. The blonde gunwoman reaches for the receiver.
"…tenant…keye…can…hear me?" The woman's amber eyes widen as she yells into the receiver as if the person on the other end of the line was someone hard of hearing.
"Colonel Mustang! What are you doing?" A small feeling of dread pierces her chest like a cold knife. "Did something happen?"
"We had a minor breakdown on the railroad to Briggs." Roy's voice is coming in clearly now, his words audible enough for her to understand perfectly. "Nobody is injured, but the conductor of the train has a small head injury… nothing too serious. Approximate coordinates are seventy miles north, five miles east."
Riza is reminded of how cold the temperature is up north and sighs before answering. "Yes, sir. I will send the rescue party down right away." The colonel says something on the other end of the connection, but she can hardly understand him over the loud, crackling sound of static. She quickly places the receiver down and prepares to gather up her subordinates.
They are heading up north.
Roy stares at the ancient receiver before placing it back on the ground and pushing it back under the seat. He shoots a glance at Edward, who is shivering and hugging his knees to his chest, perched on the other side of the fire. His teeth are chattering, and his face is an alarming shade of pasty white. Roy sighs and moves over a bit, holding the other end of the large blanket, currently wrapped around his shoulders, out to the side invitingly. "Come on," he says quietly, scooting over a bit. "You're freezing. Get in."
Roy cannot see the boy's face in the meager light of the fire, but Ed moves over to the other end of the blanket and curls up as Roy throws the thick material over him. Ed sighs in slight contentment, slight exasperation, as he curls up to warm himself. Roy feels something icy collide with his arm. Immediately, a rare dash of worry crosses his mind. "How's your automail?" he asks, remembering the fact that automail ports could get sore from exposure to cold.
"Fine," Edward mutters nonchalantly. Roy is not convinced by the act and still feels a little worried…and a little confused. Did Ed always have to shoulder his burdens himself? He pulls the blanket more securely over Edward's side.
"You sure? I only called for help just now." Roy leans up against the frosty legs of the bench, stretching slightly, and closing his eyes. Ed just shakes his head and stares at the fire, the tongues of flame shimmering and reflecting against his hollow eyes.
Master Sergeant Kain Fuery is absolutely freezing his ass off in the small rescue car. The thick, metal walls of the tough vehicle did little for insulation, and Lieutenant Hawkeye was saving the gas for the ride home, when the colonel and Ed would need heat the most. Fuery can hardly manage to keep warm. He can't dream of trying to keep warm in an old, abandoned train…but still!
Lieutenant Jean Havoc finally voices everyone's thoughts when he asks, "How much longer until we get there?" His voice sounds identical to that of a whiny little kid on a long road trip.
Lieutenant Hawkeye is skillfully maneuvering the large steering wheel, gliding effortlessly through the layers of snow that began to coat the hard ground more and more swiftly. "We'll be there soon." She focuses on the small windshield laid out in front of her steering wheel, biting her lip when the snow swirls and whites out everything. Breda sighs loudly, drawing his coat up closer to his large stomach, and rocks back in his seat and onto the floor. He accidentally collides with Havoc.
"Hey!" Havoc gives Breda a blue-eyed, endless glare, before turning to the front, where his eyes can focus on the velocity of the story as if hypnotized. He quickly grows bored and stares at the pink tips of his cuticles, before yawning dramatically and stretching, feeling the annoying frigid temperature shoot needles across his once-warm body. Before he can resist, he asks the dreaded question again. "Are we there yet?"
Riza heaves a flustered, exasperated sigh. "Don't bother me when I'm trying to drive," she snaps severely, and then answers again. "Soon." Unsatisfied with this unspecific answer, Havoc is tempted more than ever to light a cigarette, but he knows Hawkeye would kill him. Darn and darn. Driving through Briggs was certainly not an enjoyable experience.
Havoc's bad luck comes to a climax when he feels a warm weight hit his shoulder. Daring himself to turn around, he sees Fuery's head loll absently on his arm. The sergeant's eyes are closed, his glasses lopsided, and his mouth is hanging open dumbly. Havoc is slightly repulsed, but doesn't have the heart to knock the young man out of his sleep. Instead, he turns to Hawkeye, grins innocently, and asks the same overused question:
"Are we there yet?"
Great, purple orbs glow at him in agony, cursing renewed life and wondering what they did to deserve this…when he looks to see his leg, all he sees is a puddle of crimson blood, warm and stick and gushing freely from a small stump…but what did it matter? All that remains of his brother is a shirt and a pair of pants, abandoned and streaked with mud and grime… The pile of flesh on the floor bubbles and contracts, blood-filled sacs about to burst… the thing releases an inhuman scream, one that makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand up… tiny, groping hands tug greedily at his right arm, until the strands finally tear and the limb is torn off…
And then he sees his mother, on her deathbed, eyes glazed, a spark of warmth ready to burn out and die inside of her… her hand's grip on his slackens and the flesh becomes so eerily cold, so cold that it is no longer natural. Her eyes are wide open, but they cannot see, nor will they ever again…and then the door to his house comes into view. The light from outside pours in brightly, blinding him. But the worst thing is the towering figure looming at the doorway. He can't see its expression shrouded in darkness…No, no, no, he was leaving!
"Edward! Wake up!"
He cracks an eye open, blearily, and lets out a small, strangled cry when his arm's automail port sears with pain. He realizes that he is being shaken gruffly by the shoulder. Then he shakes like a leaf…it is cold. Too cold, far too cold. He sees a frosty, dark train car laid out all around him. His arm and leg are aching from the frigid air, both dully throbbing in time with each other. The last thing he sees is Mustang's face, his dark eyes laden with what looked like worry, but his regular, calm expression was expertly laced over top of it. He can see his own breath materializing in a misty puff of fog. It's so, so cold…
Ed tries to sit up, but he is seized by another spasm of pain from his automail ports, and with a small grunt of pain, falls dully back on to the icy floor. "You okay, kid?" Mustang mutters. Ed tries to get up, but his brow furrows again, and his regular body jerks. Damn, why was he so weak? Sure, automail was difficult on the body, especially in the cold, but it hadn't ever hurt like this. Ed turns his head and finds that their makeshift fire was reduced to smoldering ashes. Again, he attempts to raise his chest from the floor, but his joints are so dull and aching, and he falls back to the floor.
He moans in irritation when one hand gently slides under his head, the other beneath his back. "Need some help with that?" Mustang's voice asks with a dash of a smile. Ed is lifted off the ground, and his head, to his great embarrassment, rests against the colonel's shoulder. The slight scent of aftershave tickles his nostrils, and a thick blanket is spread warmly across his shoulders and pulled snuggly around him. The same pair of hands massages his sore automail port. Ed groans again, in exasperation.
"Stop it," he grumbles, even though is own body is actually pushing itself more securely into the warmth Mustang is supplying.
"Oh, please. You're freezing to death," the older man retorts. Ed's automail port in his arm begins to loosen up and relax. The muscle doesn't twitch or ache, which he is rather grateful for. Maybe Mustang's massage was beginning to work. Maybe.
"Were you having a nightmare?" the colonel questions, his tone purely light and simply curious. Ed groans a little and shifts.
"No." What a horrible lie, he reprimands himself again. It was obvious by the way he was clammy and squirming and wriggling. What a lie. What a joke.
Mustang smirks triumphantly and continues to knead Ed's motionless, sore joints, his hands working gently around the frozen metal protruding from Edward's arm. "Ah, I see. Then, can you explain why you were yelling, 'don't leave, don't leave?" The colonel drawls, knowing he has won the battle. Ed stiffens, like he is going to move away from the warmth, but has second thoughts when an inch of his left arm is exposed to the cold air, cold enough to be considered absolute zero for him. Mustang doesn't understand, he has no right to pretend that he does…
To his surprise, the colonel dulls his voice so it is quiet and gentle. "Ed, don't you ever show weakness? Don't you ever regret anything?" Ed feels confusion dominate his mind, engulfing him. Why would Mustang care anyway? It wasn't like he could do anything about it. Ed pouts for a second, and Mustang gives his shoulder a small pat.
"You don't show weakness? Not even in front of your own father?" Ed feels a shock go into his mind, paralyzing him just as effectively as electricity. Every time he thinks of his father, he feels betrayal, loneliness, and anger well up in him, a myriad of rotten emotions landing in a pit in his stomach…
"Bastard left us right after Al was born. He didn't give a damn about us," Ed mutters, hoping the answer will appease Mustang. He feels self-pity well up inside him, shrouding his heart, but he tries to ignore it. His teeth are still chattering, but it is not from the cold.
Mustang doesn't seem to notice. The older man sighs, looking weary and a little tired, but continuing to rub his subordinate's automail port, in hopes that the cold metal wouldn't hurt him. Then he stops suddenly, and Ed shoots a confused look upward. But Mustang can't see. The colonel is rummaging through his breast pocket, as if looking for something. He draws out a small piece of paper that looks similar to a card. Then, he takes Ed's hand in his and opens it. Ed's eyes are wider than golden doubloons as Roy presses the paper into his hand.
Recognition fills Ed as he sets his eyes upon the portrait. It is a photo, a very old photo, of his family. He can see his mother, a beautiful woman, holding Alphonse, who was just a baby at the time. He sees himself, grinning a goofy, toddler smile. And he sees a man above him, a man with a long, golden ponytail. The man is resting his hands on the one-year-old Ed's shoulders, and smiling at the camera. His smile is intelligent and thoughtful, and his spectacles catch some of the light of the rural sun.
A thousand emotions, a thousand words, a thousand thoughts, race through Ed's mind as he stares at the picture, and he is knocked speechless, even though he wants to say so much to Mustang. Luckily, Mustang speaks, saving Ed from having to talk with the lump forming in his throat. "Ed. You can't just think that your father hated you. Look…he was perfectly happy in this picture with you and your mother and your brother." Ed looks at Mustang again, his eyes even wider than before, his lip quivering pathetically.
"I'm sure that he didn't leave you because he hated you, Ed. I'm sure that wherever he is, he still appreciates you. You can't just assume things. You said it yourself…to find your own answers," the colonel speaks quietly, smoothly.
Ed manages to fight the overwhelming onslaught of speechlessness by handing Mustang the photo. He feels so ashamed for his display of emotions, but he can't help it. He is too overcome to feel; yet somewhere, he feels a strange mixture of hope and sadness. Mustang offers a small, sad smile.
Ed wipes his eyes, which are burning and almost spilling, and manages to choke out a small, gruff, "Thank you." Mustang nods and leans farther back, so his spine is perfectly straight against the legs of the chair.
Strange. Ed always thought that he never cared about his father's opinions. Wrong, wrong, wrong. He was so wrong. He can feel Mustang's warm hand pat his head, as if sensing the distress in the air, and Ed eventually slinks down lower, burying himself in the blanket again. After several minutes, he finds his breathing slowing, and his eyelids getting droopy. He finally feels warm enough to sleep, and gratefully falls into the dark abyss of unconsciousness.
Havoc stifles a chuckle at the sight in front of him. Sure, it's cold as hell frozen over, covered in frost, and the creepy train compartment squeaks in protest against the wind. But Havoc fixates on the vision of Colonel Mustang and Fullmetal, all bundled together, sleeping in the same blanket. If Maes Hughes were there, he would be snapping pictures like crazed paparazzi.
Havoc's smile widens at the thought, and he stoops by Mustang and gives his shoulder a rough jerk, immediately arousing the man.
Mustang opens a tired, bleary, dark eye and mumbles, "Thank God. I honestly thought I was going to freeze my ass off out here." Havoc's grin widens, and Edward grunts and rises like a zombie, slowly and unsurely. Havoc can't help but notice the way Mustang's eyes soften with brotherly fondness as he turns to face the teenager. "Come on, Fullmetal. Let's get the hell out of here."
Roy's nerves are positively glowing in relief as he steps into the slightly warmer car, Edward at his side. He is barraged by an onslaught of hands, his subordinate's hands, slapping him on the back and clapping him on the shoulder. Ed looks rather taken aback at all the attention, and Roy can't help but chuckle at the boy's bewilderment. He turns to flash one last, charming smile at his coworkers, and then takes a seat by Edward. And it doesn't take long for him to realize that Ed is still gaping at the picture of his father. Roy's expression softens as Ed looks up, a thin blush creeping up the fleshiest part of his cheeks. Then Ed looks down, and his voice is toned so only Roy can hear.
"Thank you…" Edward mutters. "For what you said…the way you said it sounded like you were more sure…Thanks..."
"Well, I have been prided for the inflection of my voice," Roy teases, making Ed shoot another glare at him playfully, and makes a move to hand the picture back to Roy, but Roy shakes his head. "Keep it. You need to remember." For a moment, a look of inexpressible gratitude crosses Ed's face and Roy gives him a clap on the shoulder.
Ecstatic, fantastic memories. The old Edward Elric is still alive.
Not much to say...love the nonyaoi, I think it's a bit of parental and friendship. Don't forget to press the review button on your way out!