Author - cornerofmadness
Disclaimer - not mine, all characters belong to Hiromu Arakawa et al, Square Enix and funimition. I don't make a profit
Pairing – none, mentions of Ed/Win, Roy/Riza, Al/OC, Hohenheim/OC
Rating – PG-13
Time Line – manga based, no real spoilers set in the future, so future speculation included
Summary – Al thinks back over his life
Author's Note – Al started whispering this and wouldn't shut up. Thanks to SJ Smith for the beta and title suggestion
The smoky fire of whiskey slid past his tongue, tumbling down his throat. Setting the glass down with a clink, Al wondered just how many times he had been in hotel during his lifetime. He knew it was probably impossible to count.
In the patterned mirror behind the bartender, Al took stock of his appearance, something he had admittedly always been a bit vain about. Tired gold eyes stared back at him. His short dark blond hair stuck up at odd angles, as was the current style. He still barely looked a day over twenty. Pale, too pale, Al decided. Maybe I should get some sun
Finishing his whiskey, Al trundled upstairs to change before going outside. Diving into the pool, he swam a few laps before hauling himself up onto a lounge to bake himself for a while. An airplane screamed overhead, taking off.
"This hotel is too close to the airport, isn't it, bro…" Al bit the word off. Would he never get out of the habit of asking for Edward's input? Being all but welded to his brother's hip in his formative years had taken a toll. A century had passed since Al had regained his body and for the last fifty years, Ed had been gone.
Al let a pent up breath trickle past his lips, shutting his eyes against the brightness of the sun. A hundred damn years and he was still the boy that had been brought back. He could remember it like yesterday: Trying to stop 'Father' and his homunculi and cronies, like Kimbley, there had been an unexpected twist of alchemy. A shudder ran through Al's damp body at the remembrance of such raw power coming to bear; he and Edward, joined by the alchemy of their father as well as Mustang, Marcoah, Armstrong, Mei and even Izumi. First his metal frame had glowed a vibrant rubicund but they managed it - he had gone from being the Philosopher's Stone to a frail, starved teenaged boy, naked as the day he had been born. For years, Winry had insisted on celebrating that day as Al's second birthday as a way to, not only welcome him back to the world, but to remember those who had been lost. Mei, Scar and Marcoah had all died in the battle.
Eyes still shut against sun and time, Al ran a hand over his ribs, half expecting to be able to feel each and every one still instead of the trim muscle he had developed later. For a while, life had been almost normal. Marriages happened and then children. He would never forget Ed turning into another Maes Hughes the moment his first son was born, much to Winry's chagrin. Al knew he had fared little better when his own first little one came. The children grew but Al hadn't aged. He and his brother realized one thing; Al had become just like their father. The alchemic blast had changed them all at some level but Al most profoundly. It made sense. He had been a stone, however briefly, and one of the things a Philosopher Stone could convey was immortality. The thought had chilled Al then and had him shivering in the hot sun now.
As if it had just happened here pool-side, Al could recall Ed's predictable ire when his beautiful, golden-haired, golden-eyed daughter announced she would be marrying a boy with smoky eyes, a young alchemist bearing the surname, Mustang. Roy, naturally, had just egged Ed on into one volcanic explosion after another. Both men wept like infants at the wedding. Al remembered the look in Winry and Ed's eyes when they became grandparents, the joy in his own heart when his eldest daughter had her first child. Even now his throat closed over thinking about the fateful day when a plane – an invention Winry had just adored – crashed, taking both his brother and Winry from him. His only consolation was they went together. Al could still hear Mustang's heartbroken cries of heart-rending grief when Riza passed before he did. Al remembered the torture of trying to explain to his wife, Lea, why he wasn't aging, harder yet to put her in the ground.
Now, he was alone with all their offspring, beautiful reminders of that which was gone. Al knew one day all of his own children would die. Only the two youngest were left, their strange blood, a parental gift, keeping them around this long. All of his own family members, Mustang's as well, knew about him. His condition was rumored at the alchemic universities that had cropped up under the guidance of an Elric-Mustang-Armstrong alliance but Al changed with the times. He tried his best to blend in, changing his name as he moved about, forever unaging.
The one thing Al couldn't bear was to let it all fade into obscurity. He had written down what he and his brother had done and that first tumultuous year of recovery living with the Rockbells. His granddaughter told him to publish it. Al had tried, expecting nothing. He became famous instead. Now, his and Ed's adevntures were all documented, even if some thought it was historical fiction. He remembered his bemusement when a movie producer had wanted to do a serial picture about the Elric story and being totally stunned when it was declared an instant classic. The story had moved from the big screen to in-house Flickers. Everyone had a Flicker box in their home nowadays and the weekly format allowed him to explore his history more completely for the audience instead of the much-abridged movie version.
That's what had brought him to this hotel in Central; his fans. He was expected to sign his newest book, this one actually fiction. He was going by the name Al Magnus, which had only been meant as something to put on the books but it was serving him well. Al peeled open an eye, remembering why he didn't sunbathe often. His mind wandered when he was bored and now his moonstone skin was bright pink. He headed back to his room to change before returning to the bar, where he could at least lose himself in the noise of other people.
X X X
It wasn't an effort to put on a happy face for his fans. Al was happy by nature, even with the occasional jaunt into his sad memories. There was no way the ghosts trailing after him could get through the pile of books on the table, even if the fans had no problem reaching him.
"Who shall I make it out to?" Al asked before even lifting his eyes to see the latest in a sea of faces. His eyes widened before he smiled. Obviously Hohenheim hadn't taken his advice to alter his appearance. He still wore his signature ponytail and somewhat frightening beard.
"It's me, son." Worry flittered in Hohenheim's eyes as if he thought Al had become addled with age.
Al laughed. "I know that. Sorry. I didn't expect you here." He cast a nervous glance behind his father, not sure what Hohenheim might say or what the crowd would do if it got delayed.
"Can we talk when you're done?"
"Of course," Al said, then inscribed the book dangerously to 'my father.'
Hohenheim accepted the book with a smile then pointed off to the distance. "I want you to meet someone." He waved at that someone but Al couldn't really pick out who it might be in the throng of people still waiting for him to sign their books.
"Sure." He nodded at the crowd. "But I won't be done here for some time."
"No rush." Hohenheim waved the book at his son then disappeared back into the crowd, leaving Al with hours to kill and curiosity eating at him.
X X X
Al had gotten his father's message to meet him in the park two blocks away. He covertly slipped past his fans and was surprised to find his father at a picnic table with a young lady with tanned skin. She looked at him with garnet eyes and a wide smile.
"Alphonse, I wanted you to meet Pushpa." The pride and love with which Hohenheim felt for the pretty woman shone evidently in his broadly planed face.
For a moment, Ed's irritated rant when he realized he looked so much like their father flitted through Al's mind, looking at the man. And Ed really had come to resemble Hohenheim, only more slender and shorter. He turned his gaze to the woman, smiling warmly as he stuck out his hand. "It's nice to meet you, Pushpa."
"We've been waiting so long to see you, Alphonse." Her handshake was quick, her hands darting out of sight to something resting on the bench, blocked from his view by the table. She came back up with a blanket-wrapped bundle.
Al felt the ground shift under him as he realized what had to be in the bundle. His mouth cottoned, a fine tremor overtaking him. "Hohenheim?"
"I wanted you to meet your baby sister, Al." Hohenheim slapped Al's back. "Don't worry. Pushpa knows about us."
"Sister?" Al managed to stammer out, not able to wrap his head around the idea he had a baby sister some one hundred years younger than him.
"Her name is Edwina," Hohenheim steered Al nearer to the mother and child.
Al's throat tightened as Pushpa laid the little girl in Al's arms. Dark eyes, red with sunny rings stared up at him. Edwina, a whisper of golden hair haloing her head, grinned up at him. A plump little hand quested for his face and Al leaned in so the baby could touch him. She was so beautiful. "She has a name for my brother and my best friend," Al whispered, letting Edwina grab his finger. She popped it into her toothless mouth.
"I never thought of that," Hohenheim admitted.
Pushpa put a hand on Al's arm. "We've been looking for you for a while. I suppose it wasn't really hard to find you once we got back to Amestris. I didn't want to keep this a secret from you."
Al wondered if she thought Hohenheim had told him that he had a new lover. He hadn't heard from his father in several years and now he knew why. His father had left the country. That might be his own choice once he was done with telling Edward's story, maybe go see Xing once more. "It's all right, Pushpa. She is such a beautiful little girl."
"She could use a big brother." Pushpa smiled at him.
"Oh, she'll have that." Al couldn't help the thrill racing through him at the thought of getting to be a big brother. It was silly. He was a great grandfather, after all. "Dad, what are we going to tell Edwina when she gets older?" he asked when what he wanted to ask was, 'are you going to stay around this time or are you going to run off like you did to me and Ed?' Did he even want to know the answer to that? Why did he see himself helping Pushpa raise this child when Hohenheim panicked and fled?
"The truth," Hohenheim said, almost surprising Al. "You and I, son, are different. There is no one like us in the world. You should start another family of your own."
Al shook his head. "Not ready for that." It had been some forty years since he had buried his wife. At the end, everyone thought she was his mother. Most of his children had aged and died. He was not ready for that kind of pain again. "Were there children before Ed and me?"
Hohenheim's eyes dimmed. "Not that I know."
Al put his sister back in her mother's arms. "She is so lovely." He tickled under Edwina's chin and she gurgled at him. "Maybe I'll write her some children's stories."
"That would be wonderful." Pushpa smiled.
Al knew this was the beginning of something big. He just wished he knew what but until he did, he'd let himself be happy. Being a big brother could be fun.
X X X
Al trimmed the grass away from the headstones, Ed's, Winry's and Mom's. He had counted himself lucky that they had been able to retrieve his brother's and Winry's bodies from the wreck, so they could be laid to rest back in Resembool with Mom and Granny. He thought they would want that. He planted the flowers he had brought then sat back on the soft grass.
"Brother, just wait until you hear my news…"