I don't know where the idea for this came from, but I love it!
Disclaimer for the whole story: I do not own Fullmetal alchemist.
The Theory of Alchemy
Year 1928, the Central University of Mathematics
In the middle of Central stood an old, enormous classic mansion with high, grand brick walls surrounding it and its paved courtyard and park. Massive, classy iron entrance gates were wide open, but no one was going in or out. The whole building seemed to be deserted but inside hundreds of young teens were sitting on lessons, chatting in the hallways, eating their lunch, picking up on freshmen… Only the long-term alchemy classes stood still, because the old professor had died at the age of 64 to a heart attack. (University does not comment on the cause.) And now, finding a new professor for the job was the fault of headmaster Richard Lyon's distress. Of course, he would never be the one to look for new candidates. He thought himself too important. Such things fell on the vice-headmaster's shoulders.
"It has been four weeks, and you're telling me that you found only four pathetic execuses for alchemists?!" Lyon growled trough gritted teeth, his face turning red from anger. The vice-headmaster didn't seem to be affected in any way. "If you want a former state alchemist for the job, those are all I can offer. Of course, there is still Edward El-" "DON'T START AGAIN! I will NOT hire a kid, prodigy or not!" The vice-headmaster's eyebrow twitched, but he continued in a calm tone. "He is already 29 years old, and-" "GET OUT, and start looking seriously!" Paul Stones turned around and stepped outside, but before he shut the door behind him, he looked back inside and gave Lyon a dull look. "It's either one of the four of them, or Edward Elric. Of course, Edward Elric has everything that they don't." With that he closed the door just in time to avoid a dart that got stuck in to the holey wooden door instead of the vice-headmasters skull. It obviously wasn't the first time Lyon sacrificed a part of his oak door's surface in the hopes of hitting the vice-headmaster even once.
On the other side of the door Paul sighed and massaged his temples. How he hated these conversations with the headmaster. They had been working together for years, but Lyon stood him as much as in the beginning.
"I'll call Elric anyways and tell him to come here. Maybe Lyon changes his mind when he meets him", he muttered under his breath and with a one last glance at the door with 'Headmaster' written in golden letters, he turned towards his own office.
Resembool had changed a great deal after Amestris had turned into a democracy. Now that the military and the police wasn't breathing on everybody's necks, they felt free to travel around their country and Resembool drew people like a magnet because of its beautiful four seasons, peaceful landscape and colourful history. Of course everyone also wanted to visit the former Fullmetal Alchemist's hometown! Resembool become a bustling city, especially in the summers, when people all over the country, even from neighbouring countries, came to experience the summer of Resembool. People moved in, and before the residents of Resembool even realized it, Resembool was second in size only to Central.
Winry and Alphonse Elric would never have believed what had happened to their hometown, if they hadn't seen it with their own eyes, but they weren't offended. There had been two choices for Resembool; either diminish or grow. This was absolutely the better option. But next you want to ask; "what do you mean by Winry Elric?!" Winry and Al are married! At the age of 21, Al dropped down to one knee and proposed to Winry. Pinako had cried and said that she was overjoyed to live long enough to see her granddaughter get married, because there was no denying that she was slowly withering away. The smoking was finally taking its toll, and shortly after Al and Winry's marriage Pinako passed away quite peacefully.
But what had happened to Ed? As you might have figured, Al had his body back and that meant that all the "Promised day crap" – as Ed liked to call it – was over. But everything didn't go as planned. Ed couldn't leave the military for years, because Mustang needed his help, and Al had to stay behind in Resembool to recover his strength. Winry had had enough of waiting and while Ed was away, she found new feelings towards Al. When Amestris' government was finally stable enough and Ed could leave at the age of 21, he found out that Al had stolen his woman. He lived in the Rockbell residence for a depressing year, but after Winry and Al's marriage he built a house on top of the old remains of his childhood home and moved in. No one could stop him, because after Trisha and Hohenheim had died he inherited the site. Now, at the age of 29, he had isolated himself from everyone else and thought that there was no future for him. He felt exhausted after all the things that had happened to him, and didn't find the energy to catch up with the outside world. No one visited him, except Al and Winry and their daughter Nina, who seemed to be scared of her uncle.
It had took some time for Ed to accept that his little brother handled life better than him and could survive without him. He missed traveling with his brother. He had always needed something to keep him occupied, and sitting all day long inside didn't help. Once again Ed was swelling in self pity when the phone rang. He eyed the phone dangerously and growled, waiting for it to stop ringing. It didn't. Grudginly he stood up from his worn out couch and reached for the receiver. Just a second he stared at his right arm that gleamed in the dimm light before picking up and answering: "Elric".
"Ah, Edward Elric, I assume? This is Paul Stones. I hope you can share a little moment with me, because I'm offering you a job."
"What kind of job?" Ed wasn't able to hide his interest, because he really needed one. Fixing people's stuff with alchemy kept him alive, but he missed having some extra cash. State alchemist's funding had been awesome…
"I am the vice-headmaster of the Central University of Mathematics, and we're missing an alchemy professor…" Ed snorted and dropped the receiver, leaving it hanging from its cord. 'Like I will teach some snotty brats.' He rolled his eyes and sat back to his couch.
"Mr. Elric? Are you still there? Please answer me."
Ed couldn't stop glancing at the hanging receiver and growling he went to change his clothes. In five minutes he left his house, his bristle unshaved and hair in a messy ponytail, but he didn't care as he started jogging down the path to the woods. He never put back the receiver and missed three persons walking towards his house.
"Brother, are you home?" Al opened the unlocked door and stepped inside, Winry and Nina following suit.
"He's not home, can we go now?" Nina whined, and tugged her mother from the sleeve towards the door. Winry sighed and glanced at Alphonse, who was staring at the hanging receiver.
"Somebody must've called, and brother went to the woods again", Al said while picking up the receiver. "Let's go, he probably won't come soon." They were already closing the door when the phone rang. Al stopped and stared at the phone.
"Ed's phone calls are none of our business", Winry said, guessing Al's thoughts.
"But I know that the message actually reaches Ed if I answer it. You know that he doesn't always pick up." With a few long strides Al was beside the phone and he brought the receiver to his ear.
"Alphonse Elric", Al said carefully.
"Ah, the Edward Elric's younger brother! My name is Paul Stones. Is your brother around? I called him earlier, but it seems that the line doesn't work properly."
Al wanted to chuckle for Stones' naivety. "Brother isn't here at the moment, but I could pass the message."
"Well, I was offering him a job, but I really wanted to talk to him, so I'll just call another time."
"Wait, a job? Can I ask what kind of job offer it was?" Al glanced at Winry, who looked surprised. They both knew how important this could be for Ed, and it was so like Ed for him not to understand it.
"Well, I am the vice-headmaster of the Central University of Mathematics, and we're short on one alchemy professor…" Al was stunned. Ed had got an offer from the best-known school in Amestris?
"I will talk to him. Thank you", Al hung up and stared at Winry. "The Central University of Mathematics wants Ed to be their alchemy professor." Winry's mouth hung open as she raised her eyebrows in disbelief.
"Mommy, what's a Central uni-something?"
"It's a school, dear", Winry said, but didn't look down.
"You go back home, I will wait for Ed", Al said, and sat on Ed's couch to emphasize his words. Winry nodded and guided Nina out of the house, leaving Al alone in the messy house.
"This place could do with a clean", Al thought aloud and shrugged. Why not? Ed wouldn't like him messing around in his house, but he wasn't messing, only cleaning. It was just hard to decide where to start. Everything was chaotic. Al grabbed the dirty clothes on the couch and searched the house for more, before piling them all to one spot. He opened every window and let the draught change the stale air with the fresh scent of August while wiping the dust off from Ed's shelves and tables. The carpets really needed a good dusting, but Al figured he didn't have time for that and went to the kitchen. Dishes were all over the floor and table, and Al shook his head. This would take a while.
When Ed came back, all sweaty and out of breath, he frowned at the sight of his every window being wide open. He didn't suspect burglars for long, because he didn't have anything worth stealing, and guessed it was just Al.
He didn't feel like greeting his brother, so he just stepped inside, stared at the pile of clothes on his floor for a second and pulled his sweaty one over his head and tossing it on top of the pile.
"Hi brother", Al said as Ed entered the kitchen and leaned to the wall with his arm, giving Al a questioning look.
"We decided to drop by, but when you weren't here, Winry and Nina left. I decided to do something about this mess", Al shrugged, being a little anxious for Ed to say something.
"What are you, my wife?" Ed said and rolled his eyes at his kitchen that was actually clean for once.
"No, but now when you mention it, you really seem to need one", Al said and got a nasty look from Ed. He didn't like the direction their conversation was going and quickly changed the subject to the most important issue at hand.
"I answered your phone call, and this Paul Stones guy told me that he had offered you a job." Ed's face hardened and his brows knitted together in an annoyed manner.
"You really should take that job. It's the leading university in Amestris and they'll pay well." Ed shook his head and walked to the table, sitting on it.
"I won't teach some snotty brats that think they can do anything. And it's in Central."
"You know that's not true. And it really isn't that much of trouble for you to move to Central, is it?" Ed didn't look Al in the eye, and Al sighed. Even after all these years, he still could read his brother like a book.
"You've just given up." He stated, blame evident in his voice.
"I have not!" Ed's eyes flared and Al saw some of that old Ed he missed, but it was gone as fast as it had appeared.
"Take that job and prove me wrong, then!" Al said and threw the rag he had been holding to the floor.
"Winry and I have been so worried over you, and when you finally could get a good job, you don't even see the possibilities!" Al shook his head in disappointment and stormed out of the apartment, leaving stunned Ed behind. Sighing, Ed picked the rag up and threw it to the sink. He stared it for a moment, before taking support from the sink with his both hands and bowed his head. You could almost hear his teeth grit together and silent curse words escape from his lips. Again, Al was right. His automail hand creaked, when it left dents to the sink and Ed stared it in disgust. He had let Al and Winry down more than once. He hadn't even been able to get his arm and leg back. And he didn't like the thought of leaving. Al and Winry were here... His closest family.
The next day Winry, Al and Nina were back again, and this time Winry had baked her infamous apple pie for Ed. He always said that he didn't need it or want it, but Winry and Al knew better. To their surprise Ed opened the door for them when they approached, instead of them entering and looking for him. A hide and seek that none of them enjoyed. Especially Nina.
"Hi", he grunted and eyed the pie with one raised eyebrow before turning around and walking to the kitchen. "You know you didn't need to bake for me." They ate in silence, but Winry and Al exchanged knowing looks when they both noticed how Ed tried not to swallow his piece whole.
"So, brother, what are you going to do about that offer?" Al started carefully, examining his brother's facial expressions, because he didn't want Ed to swear in front of his daughter. Ed's shoulders tensed at the question, but he let himself relax with a loud sigh before meeting Al's golden eyes.
"Maybe I could give it a chance." Winry and Al smiled happily, but when Ed started feeling uneasy under their gaze, Winry stood up and clapped her hands.
"Well, you can't go there looking like that! I'll give you a tune-up à la Winry!"
"No thank you", Ed grumbled, a bit scared of Winry's enthusiasm, and turned his head away when Winry gave him a nasty look, which made Winry even more annoyed.
"Just look at yourself, Ed! You look horrible!" Ed only sneered. "That made me feel so much better, thank you."
"Brother, she's just trying to help", Al's tone was scolding, but Ed still acted stubborn and refused to look at them. It sure was a beautiful day today… Al and Winry exchanged glances again, before Al stood up and was already guiding his family outside, when Ed suddenly said: "I don't even have any money to buy a suit for myself." Winry shook her head and laughed. "Don't worry. When you've got that job, you will have more than enough money to pay us back. It will be expensive, though", Winry's trademark smirk spread to her lips, which meant business. Al shook his head and opened the door.
"I'll leave you two alone." And with that Al and Nina was gone. But he really hated shopping…
"At first, take a shower, shave your bristle and brush your hair. Then we can get going", Ed was halfway to the shower when Winry finished her sentence. "And don't take too long!" Ed grimaced and pulled the door shut violently. "If I didn't know better, I would say that I have two wives", he grumbled under his breath when he turned the shower on.
In meantime, Al had made a call to the university.
"Hello, this is Alphonse Elric. I just want to tell you that my brother will accept the job. When will he start?"
"Oh, that's great! There's still one thing, though. He has to survive the questioning of the headmaster before he will be accepted." Stones sounded sorry and Al sighed, praying to himself that Ed would for once behave.
"Okay. I will tell him that. When will the headmaster be ready to meet him?"
"As soon as possible. Could he come the day after tomorrow? Or is it too soon?" Stones seemed a bit uneasy with Al's question, and he guessed that he didn't tell him everything.
"No, it's fine. Brother's used to leaving in a hurry. I or brother will call you again to tell when the train arrives at Central."
"Good. Tell your brother that I can't wait to meet him. Goodbye."
"I will. Goodbye." Al put the receiver down and stared in the distance. How was his brother going to survive from the questioning?
Next time: The questioning! I can't wait to write about the lessons... Ed won't be the easiest teacher. :D Please review.