Disclaimer- I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist, just borrowing the characters for my own amusement.

A/N- This is a post series, second generation fic and focuses on the journey of Ed and Winry's son. It's AU ignores several things that happened in the anime and the movie. I wrote this fic awhile back and I'm posting it for my best friend lieutenant-taijiya so that she can read it whenever she wants. This is for you Ticia.


CHAPTER ONE - Trip to Central

It was early in the morning and all was quiet in the little village of Resembool. The sun had not yet risen and all of the villagers were fast asleep. All, that is, except for one. A young boy was quietly preparing to leave his house, being very careful not to awaken his parents or his sister in the process.

The boy quietly slipped out from under the covers and grabbed the clothes that he'd left hanging on the edge of the bed. He quickly pulled on his black pants and his black outer shirt over the black shorts and tank top that he already wore. Then he ran his fingers through his long, golden blonde hair a few times before quickly braiding it.

"Now," the boy whispered under his breath, leaning down to pick up his boots. "To get out of the house without anyone waking up."

That task would be easier said than done, however because his father was a very light sleeper. The boy took a deep breath and opened the door of his room. He tiptoed out into the hall, quietly closed the door behind himself, and then paused for a moment, gazing in the direction of his parents' room. He stood there for a few moments, listening for any noise that would alert him to the fact that his parents had awoken.

Hearing no movement from within, the boy continued on his way. As he did, he heaved a silent sigh of relief, grateful that his parents had not awakened. He did not want his plans ruined before they were even fully set in motion. He tiptoed down the hall and then quietly made his way downstairs. Once he was safely downstairs, he could risk making a little more noise so the boy walked into the kitchen and made himself a snack, in case he got hungry during his trip.

Then, having made his snack, the boy made his way to the front door. He opened the door, stepped out onto the porch, and sat down on one of the chairs. He stuck his feet in his boots, then jumped off the porch and began running.

As he ran through the yard, the boy gazed around quickly, searching for any signs of the dog. He knew that, should the dog see him, all of his plans were ruined. Thankfully, however, the large, furry white dog was nowhere to be seen.

The boy ran as fast as he could until he reached the main village. Then, once there, he dropped down into a careful and deliberate walk. It was still dark and most of the occupants of Resembool were still sound asleep, so the boy made it a point to be as quiet as possible, so that none of the villagers would know that he was there.

Making sure to keep quiet, the boy made his way across the village to the train station. Most trains left during daylight hours however, the boy had been secretly studying the train schedules and therefore knew that a freight train bound for Central would be leaving sometime in the next hour. With a quick glance around the area, to make sure no one was around, the boy climbed up into one of the freight cars. He slowly closed the door and then walked to the corner of the car and sat down, hiding himself behind some large crates that were stacked there.

The boy sat huddled in the corner, with his knees drawn up under his chin and his arms draped around them. With the door of the freight car closed, no light could enter and thus the boy found himself surrounded by darkness. The darkness did not concern the boy however; in fact, he was somewhat thankful for it. It provided him with excellent cover and he would be able to see anyone entering the car long before they saw him.

The darkness also allowed him to be completely alone with his thoughts, shut off from his surroundings by a thick veil of black. He thought of the family he was leaving behind and how his departure would affect them. He knew that they would be sad and angry when they discovered that he was missing and this knowledge caused him great pain. Yet he knew that he had to leave, regardless of the pain that his family would suffer. He had vowed to undo the mistake that he had made and he would not break that vow.

The boy was beginning to doze when he heard the train's whistle blow. Then he felt a lurch as the train began to move. Counting his blessings that no one had checked the car before departure, the boy settled in and prepared for the long trip to Central.

As the train traveled down the tracks, on the way to Central, the young boy found himself lost in thoughts of the past. His mind wandered away from the dark confines of the freight car and back to a happier time and place.

(He and the girls had once again wandered away from the house and out into one of the large meadows that separated their home from the rest of the village of Resembool. And as always, they were accompanied by the large, furry dog that was their constant companion. The dog had originally been a gift for the two girls however, it had had other ideas and had bonded with the boy instead.

As the group of children walked through the meadow, the dog wandered away from them. The big, shaggy white dog bounded through the meadow sniffing the air for any scent of rabbit or other small creatures that he could possibly play with.

"Keeva," the boy called out, as the dog wandered farther away.

The boy's call was answered by a whine from the dog as the animal bounded up to his chosen master.

"I wonder why Keeva likes you so much Nick?" one of the girls asked as the boy patted the dog on the head.

"I have no idea Aiya," Nick answered honestly. "He just took to me."

"You stole our dog Nicholas Edward Elric," the other girl said, a slight pout on her lips.

"I didn't steal anything Harmony," Nick said in a slightly irritated voice. "It's not my fault that the dog prefers my company over yours."

"Come on guys," Aiya said, her gaze moving from her twin sister to her older brother. "Let's not fight over this."

"You're right Aiya," Harmony said. "I'm sorry.")

Nick's eyes opened and he gazed straight ahead, even though the car was still dark and he was still unable to see. He had often fought with his sisters and yet the time that the three of them had spent together had been the happiest times of his life. That's why things had changed so drastically on that fateful day.

(The three children had once again left home early in the morning, this time before their parents awakened. They didn't usually leave without their parents' permission however today was different. Today they wanted to travel to a valley outside of the village, where they knew that a hidden cave was located. The children had always wanted to explore the cave; however, their parents had forbidden it, saying that it was too dangerous for the children.

The children rarely disobeyed their parents and yet so great was their desire to explore the cave that they decided to make an exception. They rationalized that they could just sneak down to the cave early in the morning, before their parents awakened, do a bit of exploring and then return to their house. If all went well their parents would know nothing of their disobedience.

However, all did not go as planned. Nick, Aiya and Harmony made it to the cave with little difficulty and there Nick used his alchemy skills to make a torch and the three children entered the cave. The terrain inside the cave was fascinating to the three young children and they wandered further and further into the cave, paying no heed to how much time past or how far into the cave they traveled.

By the time Nick realized just how far they'd traveled and just how long they'd been gone, the siblings were nearing an underground river. They knew this because they could hear the sound of the water rushing past. Deciding that since he was the oldest sibling he should probably take charge, Nick turned to his two sisters.

"I think we should head back home now."

"Aw," Aiya exclaimed. She was enjoying the exploration of the cave and wasn't ready to leave just yet. The young girl turned imploring eyes to her older brother.

"Come on Nick," Harmony chimed in, knowing that her brother was more likely to give in if she and her sister tag teamed him. It was a regular ploy of theirs and it almost always worked. "Don't be like that. Can't we go and see the river? It's not far from here. I can hear the water."

Nick shook his head. "No. I really think that we should go home. If we don't make it back home before Mom and Dad wake up then we'll all be in a lot of trouble. So let's go."

"I don't want to," Harmony said, tossing her long blonde hair behind her back. "I want to see the river."

And with that, the young girl began running in the direction of the river.

"Harmony!" Nick called out, chasing after his little sister. As he ran, he cast a glance back at the other girl, who stood still, uncertain what to do. "Stay there Aiya. We'll be back in a few minutes."

Aiya nodded, showing that she'd heard.

Still running, Nick turned his attention back to Harmony. "Come back here. We're already in trouble. Mom and Dad are surely up by now and they're gonna flip when they discover that we're gone so let's not make it worse."

Harmony completely ignored the shouts of her older brother. She kept on running until she reached a ledge. The ledge halted her progress and she slid to a stop, barely managing to stop in time to avoid falling off the ledge. She stood at the edge, staring down at the water below.

"Alright Harmony, you've seen the water," Nick said as he approached his little sister. "Now let's go home."

Harmony turned around to obey her older brother, but the rocks beneath her feet suddenly gave way and she plunged down the embankment. The young girl's screams pierced the air and her hands reached out in a futile effort to grab hold of the rocks and prevent her fall.

"Harmony!" Nick yelled, diving to grab hold of her hand before it disappeared over the ledge.

Nick wasn't fast enough, however and Harmony fell from the ledge. The young girl continued to scream as she fell but her screams were abruptly silenced. Nick ran over to the edge and peered down, and the sight that met his gaze was almost enough to make him physically ill. His sister lay on a second ledge, several feet below, surrounded by a pool of blood.

"No!" Nick yelled, quickly scratching a few markings in the dirt of the ledge and placing his hands upon them. Blue sparks erupted from the ground and a ladder suddenly appeared. Nick quickly used the ladder to climb down to the second ledge and reach his sister.

He knelt down beside Harmony and called out to her. "Harmony wake up!" Nick gently patted the side of Harmony's face in an effort to rouse her but it was a wasted effort. The young girl remained motionless. Nick gently scooped her up into his arms and then jumped to his feet. He quickly climbed back up the ladder and began to run toward the cave's exit.

When he reached the spot where he'd left Aiya waiting she quickly fell into step behind him and the siblings ran from the cave as fast as their legs would carry them. Even though her legs were shorter than her brother's, Aiya somehow managed to remain within sight of him as they ran toward their home.

As they approached the house, the siblings saw their parents standing out in the yard. "Mom! Dad!" Nick called out as he ran into the yard and up to his parents.

"What happened?"

"We went to the cave." Tears slid down the boy's face as he recalled what had happened to his sister.. "There was an accident and Harmony fell from a ledge. We have to get the doctor. Please help her!"

"Give her to me."

The man took his daughter in his arms and gazed at her limp and lifeless body. He bowed his head, tears forming in his eyes. There would be no need for a doctor. The child could not be saved. Her injuries were simply too severe.

"Edward," the woman whispered, tears forming in her eyes.

The man quickly embraced his wife. "I'm sorry Winry."

The two parents stood and wept, their daughter embraced between them and her twin standing close beside them. Nick stood apart from the rest of his family, feeling completely miserable and blaming himself for the death of his sister.

"It's my fault," the boy thought to himself, tears streaming down his face. "It's all my fault.")

Recalling that day brought fresh tears to Nick's eyes. He still felt the pains of guilt whenever he thought of the accident that had taken away his sister. Had he been a better older brother things wouldn't have turned out the way they did and he wouldn't have been forced to leave home.

However the past could not be changed and Nick knew that forward was where he should be looking, instead of spending so much time dwelling on the past.

"Maybe I can find the answers that I seek in Central. Then I can undo the damage I've caused."

The train ride from Resembool to the capital of Amestris, Central City, took the better part of two days and during that long and grueling trip Nick managed to get a few hours of sleep. However most of his time was spent lost in thought about the life that he had chosen to leave behind. He had regrets, of course but he was also convinced that he'd made the right decision.

Nick stared at the empty crates in the now illuminated baggage car, not really taking in what he was looking at. "I'm sorry Mom and Dad, but I have to do this."

Several hours later Nick once again felt the train lurch. He realized that the train must be slowing and preparing to come to a stop at the station in Central and he knew that he had to somehow get off the train without being seen by anyone. He would be in big trouble if anyone caught him and found out that he had stowed away on the freight train, and the boy had no desire to be shipped home after being caught by the local authorities. That did not in any way fit into his plans. Thus the boy thought about his dilemma for a few moments and decided that the best course of action would be to disembark before the train actually reached the station and as the train slowed, Nick slid the door open and peered out.

The sun had risen, probably several hours ago, and the sudden, bright light made Nick's eyes hurt. The boy shielded his eyes, and as his eyes adjusted to the light, he began looking for a safe spot to land. He knew that he didn't have much time so as soon as the train slowed enough for him to be able to land safely the boy jumped.

As he landed, the boy tucked himself into a ball and rolled. He rolled over and jumped to his feet, somehow managing to avoid serious injury from the jump. Wasting no time, the boy quickly distanced himself from the spot where he had leaped from the train.

As he ran, Nick glanced over his shoulder. "I really hope no one saw that."

Once he was a safe distance away from the train station, Nick abruptly stopped. The boy leaned up against a wall and stared off into the distance. "Well, I made it to Central. Now what?"

Having always been one to act first and think later, Nick had neglected to plan what he should do once he arrived in Central. And now that he was there, he had no idea what to do next.

"Damn it," Nick said, shaking his head in frustration. "I probably should have thought this out more before I ran away from home."

As the boy stood and pondered what to do next, he heard the shouts of several people coming from up the street. Ever the inquisitive soul, Nick ran toward the source of the screams. A few yards up the road Nick found a couple of military officers facing off against a couple of armed men. Both the military men and the other men were armed however the stand off wasn't progressing because the armed civilians had a hostage.

The two men were holding a young woman in front of them, using her as a human shield. The military officers had their weapons pointed at the men but were hesitant to fire, lest a stray bullet strike the young woman.

Hoping that no one had noticed him, Nick backed up against the wall. He gazed around the corner and, seeing that the gunmen had their backs to him, he ran toward them. Running at top speed made it nearly impossible to remain quiet but Nick was banking on the fact that the men were to focused on the soldiers to notice his approach. And his gamble paid off. Running as fast as he could, Nick managed to get behind the men before they noticed him.

The two men jumped when they suddenly realized that someone was behind them but it was too late for them to do anything about it. Nick quickly clasped his hands together and dropped to his knees. The boy placed his hands flat down on the ground and metal bars suddenly surrounded the two men.

In their haste to do something about the new threat behind them, the two men had released their hold on the young woman. The woman had quickly taken full advantage of this fact and ran over and hid behind the two military officers.

The two stunned men dropped their weapons when the metal bars suddenly grew out of nowhere and surrounded them and Nick walked over and picked up the two weapons.

"Now guys, you shouldn't play with things like this." Nick waved the confiscated weapons in front of their former owners, tauntingly. "Someone could get hurt."

One of the military officers walked over to Nick and took the guns out of his hand. The man was tall and had blonde, spiked hair, which was slightly darker in the back than in the front. "That was amazing Chief, and you did it without a transmutation circle. I've only met one other person who could do that."

Nick grinned at the man. He hadn't expected to be complimented for his actions by the military man. In fact, he'd anticipated being yelled at, or at the very least lectured for his recklessness. "Piece of cake."

"Have you ever thought about becoming a State Alchemist?"

That seemed like a stupid question to the young boy, since he was far from old enough to join the State Military, however he chose not to comment about this fact out loud. Instead he replied, "Not really. Why?"

"Because the exam's coming up soon and I think you'd have a shot at it."

"How could I" Nick asked, a perplexed look on his face. "I'm not old enough to join the military. Besides, my parents aren't exactly crazy about the State Military. I think if I became a State Alchemist my dad would probably kill me."

The man smiled, a knowing look in his eyes. "Oh come on Chief, it can't be all that bad. I'm sure if we talk to your parents, they'll give you the okay. And if they say yes then I'll speak to my superiors and see if you can take the exam. After what you did today, I'm sure they'll make a special exception and waive the age limit."

Nick thought for a moment and decided that being a State Alchemist might prove advantageous in his quest, since it would give him access to unlimited research material in the state library not to mention much-needed funds to cover his travel expenses. That in itself would be a tremendous help since Nick didn't relish the thought of having to stow away in the cargo hold of trains anymore. That wasn't exactly a comfortable ride, not to mention the trouble he would be in if he ever got caught. He gazed up at the military officer and nodded. "If you can arrange it, I'll take the exam."

The man smiled and stuck a cigarette in his mouth. "Great. I'll go ask the higher ups and then I'll come tell you their answer." He offered his hand to the young boy. "By the way, I'm Colonel Jean Havoc."

"Pleased to meet you. I'm Nicholas Elric."

Colonel Havoc nodded. He started to walk away but paused after only a few steps. He turned back to Nick. "So, how exactly do I find you once I have the answer?"

A puzzled look appeared on the boy's face. "I have no clue. I hadn't really thought much about where I would stay. This trip to Central was actually a spur of the moment thing."

At that point, the young woman that Nick had rescued spoke up. "You can come and stay with my family."

Nick hesitated but the young woman ran up and grabbed him by the arm. "I insist. It's the least I can do seeing as how you just saved my life and I won't take no for an answer. Come with me.

"You'd better do as she says kid," Colonel Havoc said, a grin appearing on his face. "Elicia is a very determined young lady when she gets an idea in her head so there really is no point in arguing."

Nick gazed down at the young woman's hand, which was still clutching his arm. "Yea, I get that impression too."

"Since you're going to be at Elicia's house I'll just drop by after I speak with my superiors."

"Okay," Nick said with a nod, giving up his protests about staying with the young woman. "There's no way that I can argue with both of you."

"Come on Nick," Elicia said.

Havoc grinned and waved as Elicia led the young boy away by the hand.

Nick waved back to Havoc helplessly as he allowed the young woman to lead him away. She led him up the street to a large, two story house surrounded by a fence.

"Well this is it. Home sweet home."

Nick gazed up at the large house. "This is your house? It's huge."

"Come on. You have to meet my mom."

Elicia led Nick up to the front door, opened the door and pulled him inside. "Mom, I'm home. And I brought a guest."

"A guest?" a voice called out from the hallway. A middle-aged woman stepped into the foyer and stared at Elicia and Nick. She stared at the young boy in disbelief for a few moments before giving him a warm smile. "Hello. I'm Gracia Hughes. It's a pleasure to meet you."

Nick nodded. "Like wise. My name's Nicholas Elric."

"Nick saved my life Mom," Elicia chimed in.

Gracia's face paled. "Elicia, what happened?"

"I was on my way home when all of a sudden two men ran up to me. One of the men grabbed me by the arm and placed a gun against my neck. That's when I noticed that Mr. Havoc and another military officer were pursuing the men. The men used me as a hostage so that Mr. Havoc and the other man couldn't shoot or apprehend them. I was sure they were going to shoot me but then this kid showed up. He used alchemy and made a prison cell appear out of nowhere. Isn't that amazing?"

Gracia nodded.

"And get this," Elicia went on. "After he captured the bad guys, Mr. Havoc asked the kid if he wanted to take the State Alchemist certification exam. He should be by later to tell Nick whether or not he has special permission to take the test."

Gracia stared at the young boy, a strange look in her eyes. "Aren't you a bit young to be taking the State Alchemist certification exam Nicholas?"

Nick held a thoughtful expression on his face for a few minutes, as though pondering Gracia's question.

"Maybe," Nick said, finally. "However, it's highly unlikely that the military higher ups will allow me to take the exam. And if by some miracle his superiors okay this plan, that still leaves my dad to contend with. And there's no way that he's gonna okay it. And, even discounting all that, there's still the fact that even if none of those things get in the way, I'll probably still fail it and then that, as they say, will be that."

"You won't fail." Elicia chimed in, in a confident tone. The young woman's voice was filled with a certainty that Nick didn't feel. "After what I just saw, they'd be stupid not to choose you. Your dad, on the other hand, I don't know about. But surely he wouldn't say no if it's truly what you want to do."

Nick rolled his eyes but chose not to comment. Instead, he stared thoughtfully into space, contemplating how becoming a State Alchemist could help his quest.

Nick was deep in thought when he was suddenly jarred back to reality by a knock on the door.

Gracia walked over to the door, opened it and there stood Havoc. "Welcome Colonel. Come in."

Havoc nodded his thanks and walked into the foyer.

"Elicia and Nicholas are in the den," Gracia informed him.

"Thanks Mrs. Hughes."

Havoc followed Gracia down the hallway and into the living room, where the others were waiting. Havoc sat down in a chair across from Nick. As he looked over at the boy, a wide grin appeared on the colonel's face. "Okay Chief, you're in."

Nick's jaw dropped. He could hardly believe that the military man was telling the truth. The man must surely be toying with him, having some fun before he gave him the bad news. The news that the State Military had no use for a kid. "You're kidding?!"

Havoc shook his head. "Nope. I told my superiors about what happened today and that your alchemy skills saved Elicia's life and they agreed that the circumstances warranted a reward. You have permission from the state to take the alchemy exam. And when I had gained their permission, I spoke to your dad about it and he said that it was your choice and no one could make it for you."

"I don't know who you spoke to but it wasn't my dad," Nick said, shaking his head in disbelief. (The shock of the situation was such that the boy didn't even think to ask how the colonel had known who his father was or for that matter, how to reach him.) "Unless he's possessed or something. "

"Possessed or not that's what he said," Havoc said. "And that means that in eleven days you'll take the State Alchemist Certification Exam."

Nick's eyes widened in horror. "Eleven days! You're psycho! I can't be prepared for something like that in eleven days."

"You're going to have to be," Havoc said. "After all the trouble I went through in order to arrange for you to even take the test there's no way I'm gonna allow you to back out now."

"Excuse me." Nick stood, bowed to Havoc and Gracia and turned toward the door. "I have to go study now," the boy said, in a hollow sort of voice. "Maybe if I study twenty-four seven until the test I won't humiliate myself too badly."

And with that, Nick left the room.

"Nice attitude chief," Havoc called out after the boy, a wide grin appearing on his face. "You can't fail with a positive view like that."

"Elicia." Gracia turned to face her daughter. "Why don't you go and make some tea for your guest? And keep an eye on him. After what Colonel Havoc just said, and the way he took the news, he may try to hang himself."

"Okay Mom." Elicia jumped to her feet and running out of the room.

"So Colonel," Gracia said turning to face Havoc, with a knowing look. "Did you really speak to Edward, because I have a hard time believing that he agreed to this? Did he really say that it was alright?"

"Uh," Havoc said, nervously scratching the back of his head. "Maybe. I couldn't really be sure because I had to hold the phone like three feet from my ear. But that could've been what he said."

"Now Colonel," she said in a motherly tone, shaking her head ever so slightly. "How long have you known Edward? Do you really think that's what he was saying?"

"I can hope," Havoc said, with a nervous laugh. "Besides, with any luck the kid will already be a State Alchemist before I ever have to find out and then Ed will be the Fuhrer's problem and not mine."

"You don't really believe that do you?" Gracia said. "You've instigated this whole thing and when Edward finds out what you've done not even the Fuhrer himself will be able to save you."

Havoc shook his head. "No. Fullmetal may be good but he hasn't used his alchemy in a fight in a really long time. He's gotta be rusty by now. There's simply no way he could avoid it."

"If you say so," Gracia said, not sounding at all convinced. "We'll find out."

Havoc stood up and bowed. "Well, since we're going to find out I think I'll go and get my affairs in order just in case things don't turn out well."

There was a joking grin on the colonel's face however his eyes held just a hint of worry. Even though the tone of his voice was confident enough, the look in his eyes hinted of his slight dread of the upcoming confrontation with Nick's father.

A/N- And thus ends the first chapter of Nick's story. Sorry if the plot seems too similar to the storyline of FMA but that's just the way it is. Feel free to leave feedback and tell me what you thought.