While waiting for the second episode of the English dub of Brotherhood to premiere, my friend Evie and I had this whole plotbunny attack about what would happen if Ed and Al never tried to bring their mother back. We came up with this. This'll probably be a collection of one-shots in the same universe, but I've marked it as complete anyway, since I've really no idea if Evie and I are going to write more of this.


Normality

Edward was in the study when he heard someone knocking on the front door.

He sighed; if it was Winry, she'd come in eventually (even if she might beam him in the head with a wrench), and if it was someone else… well, Al had two legs, too, didn't he?

The knocking persisted, however, and there was no yelling – so it wasn't Winry. The door was never locked, so it wasn't Al…

"Hey, Al! Get the door, will you?"

There was a muffled reply. Ed frowned.

"What?"

"I said, 'I'm in the shower!'"

Ed groaned. "Great. I guess I'll just go answer it myself."

He rolled his eyes and stormed to the front door, throwing it open.

Standing there was a man who looked to be in his mid-thirties. He had golden hair – like him – and gold eyes – like him.

"Er. Hello."

"Hello," Ed replied suspiciously.

"Is… Trisha home, by any chance?"

"Trisha? Trisha Elric?"

"Yes. Is she here?"

"Uh. No?"

"When will she be back?"

Ed slammed the door in the man's face.

"Did I say something?"

Ed opened the door. "Trisha's dead. She died eleven years ago."

He then went to slam the door, but with amazing reflexes, the man stopped him.

"Eleven years ago?"

"Yes."

"What year is it?"

Was this man stupid? "It's 1915."

"…I've been gone for twelve years?"

"Who the hell are you, anyway?"

"Oh. Sorry. I'm Van Hohenheim."

Ed slammed the door on him, this time succeeding.

"Er… Brother…?"

Ed turned around to see Alphonse standing awkwardly nearby.

"Yes?"

"Who was that?"

"No one."

"It didn't sound like no one. Did you and Winry get into a fight again?"

"Wha-? No. It wasn't Winry."

"Then who was it?"

"I told you, it was no one." Ed sighed and began massaging his temples. "I'll be in the study. Don't let him in. I mean it."

"Er… all right, Brother."

Once Ed was completely out of earshot, Al opened the door slowly.

The man was still standing there. He looked like he was off in his own little world.

"What did my brother do to you?"

"Huh?"

The man scrutinised Alphonse. "…Edward?"

"Uh… no. I'm his younger brother, Alphonse."

"But… you're taller than him. Alphonse is younger than Edward."

"Who are you?"

"I'm Van Hohenheim."

"…You're our father?" Al was reminded of Ed's behaviour earlier. "Well… that certainly explains why Ed acted the way he did."

"What do you mean?"

"He blames you for everything that's gone wrong with our lives," Al shrugged noncommittally.

"What? Why would he blame me?"

"Well… you haven't exactly been here for most of our lives. He thinks that if you had stayed, Mom might have lived. He doesn't realise that you might have died, too…"

"Er… yes… I might have."

"Liar," a small voice announced.

Al furrowed his eyebrows. "Er… did you say something?"

"No, that was… my… er… my cat."

Al's eyes lit up. "Cat? Where?"

"I ate him."

"Wha-? But… but you just said that he talked!"

"I lied. I ate him."

"Then who just called you a liar?"

"Really, are you that ashamed of me, Van Hohenheim? You did help to create me… I suppose that one could say that you are my father."

Al faltered. "Er… I think I head Ed calling me. You should probably go. I'm fairly certain that he'll try to er… hurt you if you were to stay. It was nice meeting you."

With that Al shut the door, wishing that he'd listened to Edward.

"You answered the door, didn't you?" Ed asked when Al entered the study.

"He said that he ate his cat, Brother. He ate his cat!"

Ed sighed. "He was probably lying. Think about it. What kind of bastard leaves his kids like that, huh?"

"Maybe he had a reason…"

"What kind of reason could he possibly have to leave us? And Mom?"

"Maybe…"

"He didn't even come home for her funeral, Al! We're much better off without him!"

"If you say so…" Al muttered, wanting more than anything to avoid a fight.

Al grabbed an alchemy book at random and sat down in one of the chairs, trying to read.

Not five minutes later, someone was banging on the front door.

"Don't get it," Ed muttered.

After it became apparent that no one was going to answer, the banging stopped. A few seconds later, there was a sound like someone stomping up the stairs.

"Uh-oh," Al muttered, sinking lower into his chair. He was glad that the spot he'd chosen was not immediately visible upon entering the room.

"Edward Elric!"

There was a thud, and Ed fell out of his chair.

"WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT FOR!?"

"Why didn't you answer the door? Why didn't you come over for dinner? We made stew, and I made apple pie!"

Apple pie? Al thought.

"We had an issue earlier!"

"Is this about your father coming back?!"

"You knew?"

"He came over to our house! He said that you threw him out!"

"It's impossible to throw someone out if you never let them inside."

"Ah, young love."

Ed and Winry looked at the flask in Winry's hands.

"Love!?"

Al couldn't repress a snicker, thus giving away his hiding place.

"You think it's funny, Al?"

"Well, it's true."

"It's – it's – s-shut up, Al!" Ed ordered.

Al snickered, then noticed the flask. "What is that?"

"Oh. Your father asked me to have you put this somewhere safe."

"I'm your brother!" the flask exclaimed.

Ed and Al exchanged glances.

"Can we smash it?" Ed asked. "I don't like it."

"No, you can't smash it. Your father would be furious."

"That's the point."

Al surreptitiously left the room, though he could still hear Ed's yelps of pain, which he knew were Winry-inflicted.