Healthy Competition

Author – D M Evans

Disclaimer – so not mine

Rating – FRT

Characters – Alphonse

Timeline/Spoilers – set during their time under Izumi's tutelage. No spoilers

Summary – No matter what Teacher said, it was a competition.

Word Count - 542

Author's Note –This was written for fma fic contest on livejournal. this struck me as I was prepping a lecture for today. Thanks to S J Smith for the beta. She accused me of watching the Tom Lehrer episode of NCIS that reran the other day. Actually I learned the periodic table when I was getting my chem. Degree using Lehrer's song and that's where the idea came from (and yes I did just see that NCIS eppy again. ) And if you want to hear Lehrer's Element song it's all over the net.

* * *

Iron, magnesium, silicon, aluminum. No, that wasn't right. It was oxides of both the silicon and aluminum; there, that was better, but finding the right order didn't make Alphonse smile. Teacher continuously told both Ed and him that there was no rush and learning wasn't a competition. Izumi often punctuated her point with a light tap to the back of the head.

Teacher knew a lot of things but even she could be wrong. Al knew it was a competition. It was forever a competition between the brothers. Ed always thought he had to do things first because he was the oldest and Al had never agreed with that. What was one year, after all? He and Ed were fierce competitors. It was always a rush to learn things, even if it was something boring like Teacher's demands that they learn the composition of soils, like the clay around town. Who cared? Soil was as dull as well…dirt. When she asked tomorrow about what made up clay, that spirited nature of theirs would come out.

Their rivalry went far beyond just alchemy. They argued over who was the best fighter; Al knew he was. They fought over who would be taller; Al was pretty confident he'd overtake Ed any day now. And the biggest fights of all were over who would marry Winry. Al could picture her as his wife since she told him that she could never marry a short guy and while that had bruised his young heart at the time, he knew one day, he'd be tall. Of course, as much as they squabbled at each other, they would defend the other ferociously against anyone else who picked a fight with either of them.

"That's a pretty big pout for such a little guy."

At the sound of the feminine voice, Al startled out of his revere. He looked up into the face of one of the Curtises' best customers, Mrs. Walker. He smiled up at her. "Just trying to memorize something that's long and complicated for…class." Teacher was so adamant she was just a 'housewife' that Al wasn't sure if she wanted the town to know she was teaching them, though they probably did. Small towns had no secrets.

Mrs. Walker hummed a little tune at him and, at his confused look, said, "When I taught the little ones – I had a one room school, you know – anyhow, when I taught, I had them make up a little ditty to help them memorize things. Music is a great teacher. You don't have to think of new music. Just put the words or numbers you're trying to learn to the tune of one of your favorite songs and you'll be surprised at how much more quickly you learn it and retain it. I still have former students with kids of their own who can still sing their lessons."

Al scratched his chin, considering it. "That sounds fun."

"Good luck," Mrs. Walker said, heading into the butcher shop.

Al hummed a tune. It wouldn't be easy to work in elements and compounds into the song but he could do it. His grin threatened to split his head in two. Ed wouldn't get the better of him this time.