(Montana 8 months later)

Spring had come to the countryside. After a bitter winter with ice and thick snow, the milder weather was finally taking hold, pleasant days and cool evenings making for very comfortable living. The sun played hide and seek repeatedly with the white puffy clouds in the sky, the beautiful light blue in their background, the soft breezes carrying the scent of newly sprung flowers. The bird song in the surrounding trees of the woodland was blissful, the trickling of the water as it kissed the shore of the lake, the soft rustle of the plush green leaves in the branches of the trees. It was all so perfect. All so peaceful. Dragonflies floated about at the waters edge, seeking their food in the warm sunshine, the light twinkling off their delicate wings. Butterflies flitted about from flower to flower collecting nectar, their vibrant colors like a moving rainbow, as they silently went about their tasks. Bumble bees buzzed in their midst, also on the mission of collecting nectar and inadvertently collecting pollen, transferring it to other flowers and furthering the growth of the sweet blossoms.

The cabin by the lake was looking better than it had in a long time, with fresh coat of weather proof varnish on the wood, even the rails on the porch had been refreshed. A small vegetable garden had been created beside the cabin with a cute little fence around it and lots of plants growing from tomatoes to beans to carrots even herbs too. A few feet from that a newly built workshop was attached to a larger structure that housed the garage. Though it was never used to store cars in it, unless they were being worked on, the Dodge had a permanent place in front of the cabin. Just behind the vegetable garden were four posts with line connected to them in a perfect square adorned with laundry. Along one line was bed linen, large white sheets gently dancing in the breeze, as well as pillow cases out to dry. On another were pants of varying sizes, the next held shirts in multiple colors, the last had unmentionables along it. The garage doors were wide open to allow as much of the sweet breeze in as possible. The sound of the radio playing within, some relaxing eighties music playing, the current song on was Heart's Alone.

Out in the yard close to where the tree line was, a chopping block was situated, where fire wood could be cut for the winter. Up against the workshop was a medium pile of already chopped logs, most of which had been used during the harsh winter, to keep the inside of the cabin toasty and the bitter cold out. Along with the soft music playing, the air was filled with the loud thud and crack of wood being cut up, the heavy blade of the axe making short work of the supple logs. Edward was the one currently doing this menial task, but he found it therapeutic in some odd way, it was nice to do something so normal and not have to worry for his life. The warm weather had meant his shirt was hot and cumbersome, so he had ditched it in favor of going topless, allowing the warm sunshine to tan his skin while he worked with his hair up in it's usual ponytail..though it did stick a little to his moistened back along with his bangs to his face...none the less it was sight to behold. Being away from more populated areas also meant he could be comfortable in shorts, having his automail on show wasn't an issue here, as all who lived in the cabin already knew about it. There really wasn't any rush for the wood, the summer was coming and they wouldn't need to heat the house with the fire, but he thought it best to be fully stocked for the following winter. Besides he wanted to do something to stave off the boredom. Lifting the axe high over his head, he brought it down with a mighty force, the innocent log never standing a chance against it. The pile beside him was growing slowly as he took his time to enjoy being outside with his thoughts and not having a single worry on his mind either. It had been so long since he had known such peacefulness.

Jessica meanwhile was in the garage working on a car, she had been splitting her time between that and another more personal project, that meant she was mostly in either the workshop or the garage. But the car she worked on wasn't a hobby project, that she had put on the back burner for a while, in favor of earning a living with her skills. At that moment she was working to fix the leaking radiator of a customers Ford Taurus. The car hood was up and she was leant over into the engine compartment, her hair all put back in a long braid and she wore overalls, that the upper half of was tied about her waist due to it being too warm to wear fully. Beneath her overalls she wore a strappy tank top and denim shorts with her protective steel toe capped boots she always wore when doing this kind of work. She hummed and sang along to the tunes on the radio, finding it helped her concentrate on her work, as she got grease all over her hands and forearms. The garage was fairly neat, along one wall was all her tools and workbenches, while on the opposite wall were diagrams of various car engines along with a post it board listing any new jobs that came in. Behind the Ford stood an odd contraption, tall with an A frame and chains hanging down from the upper bar, while the whole thing was on wheels. This item was used for extracting and adding of whole engine blocks to vehicles. Jessica had insisted on having it so she could do any jobs no matter how big or small they were. It was all very efficient.

"Hm?" Jessica's stomach decided it was time to eat and growled nastily at her, making her laugh a little "Okay, okay I get the message..time for lunch." she muttered to herself.

She put down her tools and grabbed a cloth from her pocket, wiping off the worst of the grease as she turned to walk out of the garage, her head down as she put the cloth away and then called out to Edward who was across the yard.

"Hey Ed! You feeling hungry yet? It's about lunch time..." Jessica said as she walked towards where he was, then looked up to see him working shirtless in the sunshine, the light glinting off his automail and sparkling off his sweat slicked torso as his muscles rippled with every swing of the axe "..I was...thinking...offff...hoooo...daaaammmnnn... " her voice trailed off at the sight of him.

"Huh?" Edward cut one more piece and let the axe stay stuck in the chopping block as he looked up at her, left hand on his waist, right hand still loosely holding the axe handle "Something wrong Jess?" he blinked at her.

"Nu uh...not wrong..just.." Jessica was spell bound by the vision before her, she bit her bottom lip a bit, before continuing towards him "..I wasn't expecting...what I'm seeing.."

"What your...seeing?" Edward puzzled, looking around at his immediate area "Did I do wrong to cut some wood?"

"Hehe, you really can be dense on occasion.." Jessica giggled, reaching him and kissing his cheek softly, while her left hand grazed lightly down his chest "I meant..you. It's not often I see you shirtless Ed and to have you doing such a...task as this...it's almost like a girls dream."

"What? I'm not dense...Jess that's not fair if I..." Edward began to argue back, that is till her hand left that trail of fire behind it, making him shudder a little "...ohhhhh...I think I get it now. Heh, why didn't ya just say ya think I look good doing this?" he chuckled, wrapping his left arm around her waist to pull her against his side.

"Hmm..now where would the fun be in just telling you straight out? I gotta keep you on your toes right?" Jessica replied, letting him pull her close and giggling, slipping her arms around his neck loosely "Hehe, so what would my strong lumber jack like for lunch?"

"Hm, lets see now..." Edward thought for a moment and then grinned at her "I think maybe I'll start...with you.." he captured her lips heatedly for a minute, then pulled back to hover his lips against hers "..then for seconds I'll have a bacon sandwich.."

"Uh me?" Jessica said a little surprised, then that kiss and her subsequent moan "..ohhhhh Ed..." she giggled "...hehehe..I think I can handle those requests.."

"Good..cause I'm starved.." Edward chuckled again, letting his right hand drop from the axe handle and slip around her waist too, lacing his fingers at the small of her back "Shall we go wash up for lunch then?"

"Yeah, we should.." Jessica pressed herself against him a bit more "But first...I'd like another kiss..Please?" she asked, leaning her lips closer to his.

"Hehe, anything for my girl.." Edward replied with a grin, meeting her lips and closing his eyes "Mmm..."

Life didn't get any better in his view.

Here he was in this strange world that was not his own, in a time where vehicles and technology were far advanced from the 1920's he had become accustomed to, so much for him to learn about this place he now lived in. But putting all that aside and looking at what he had...a home, his brother and his father, his health, no one to trying to kill him any longer and no dangerous missions to have to complete, peace and quiet...and the most important thing, the love of a girl. He did miss his home world, missed those he left behind and would never see again, but what he had gained was equally as important to him now. It seemed for once...equivalence had bestowed him with gifts he truly wanted...and he wasn't about to let them go.

After a very long and loving kiss, Jessica and Edward parted enough to walk to the cabin, heading inside to clean up and make some lunch. Although they were much closer physically now than they had been at first, they still had not gone 'all the way' as Jessica would put it, but Edward was happy with their relationship. He wasn't going to pressure her into anything. That wasn't the type of guy he was and he wanted her to feel absolutely ready before they went to that level together. One thing he did know, their love had grown in leaps and bounds in the past nine months, almost loosing the one you love does help that along. They washed up, made and ate lunch together on the porch, before heading back inside and engaging in some heated making out on the couch.

Indeed...life didn't get any better than this...

00000000000

Along the main street of the town just a couple miles from the cabin, were situated small stores from butchers to grocers and hardware stores too, with coffee shops and cafes dotted in between. It was a good two hour drive to get to the main mall in the nearby city, with it's movie theatre and bars, clubs and other larger retail outlets. But for what was there the community rarely needed to go all that way for amenities. It was all very relaxed and people went about their usual daily business, heading to the bank and the cleaners, cars carefully negotiating the parking spaces along the edge of the street. Toddlers in their buggies, their mothers talking away with each other, as they congregated on the sidewalk. Store owners stood on their front steps, talking about the weather and how business was going, while they waited for more customers to enter their shops.

The idyllic view of a country town...cliche but so nice.

Hohenhiem was just leaving work for the day, he had gotten himself a job in the town library, something he found both rewarding and pleasant. Books were one of the interests he and his sons shared, so it seemed only natural he would become a librarian, the pay wasn't much but it suited him. It was better than staying at the cabin all day long and not having a thing to do. A couple of months after they had settled in at the cabin, Hohenhiem had voiced a desire to work, being outside of town he had needed a car of his own. Jessica had located a nice Station Wagon and though it needed work on it, she had lovingly restored it for him, giving him added freedom to do errands and get to his new job. One of these errands now, was to collect Jennifer and Alphonse from school, just on the other side of town from the library. He walked down the small amount of steps that led down to the car park, stopping to breath in the warm sweet air and the watch the petals from the blossoms float free of the tree branches, before continuing on to the car and getting in. He started the engine and reversed out of the spot, turning the car to face towards the downtown area, he pulled onto the street and carefully made his way.

As he drove though the town and along the main street, many of the new friends he had made waved to him, he returned their waves with a kindly one of his own. Many of the store owners knew him and his sons, thanks mostly to the girls introducing them, most of the towns people already knew the girls from their many trips with their parents. Those friendly people had been shocked and saddened to hear about Tom's death, their condolences being poured out to the girls, who were polite and thanked each person for their kind words about their father. Now though it was like Hohenhiem and his sons had been a part of the community for years, the towns folk making them feel welcomed since day one, helping them to settle in their new home. He reached the school zone where many cars lined up behind the long yellow buses, parents waiting to collect their children as the mass of teenagers filed out of the school building, he pulled up at the back of the line and shut of the engine to wait.

As the front lawn of the school grounds quickly filled up with teenagers, many gathering in large groups and chatting loudly, some filtered onto the buses and into a few of the waiting cars. As the line of cars slowly decreased, Hohenhiem started the car and crept it forwards, edging ever closer to the main pathway. He watched and patiently waited for the two youngsters to spot him and come on over. Though he wondered how they would ever see him in this mass of people by the sidewalk. It was noisy to say the least, especially with the added excitement of the up coming dance and summer vacation, not to mention it was Friday too. With the start of the weekend and the end of the school week, the teens were all hyped up and ready for fun, making for a very rowdy bunch indeed. The waves of teenagers spilled out across the street and onto the opposite sidewalk as many didn't have anyone to pick them up nor did they need the buses. Those who lived close to the school itself, were fortunate enough to be free to walk home, with their friends chatting away cheerfully. A happy atmosphere and a peaceful existence. One Hohenhiem had gotten quite accustomed to. He could really see himself living out his days here. Most assuredly he could.

Suddenly he was drawn from his deep thoughts, by the sound and movement of the passenger door being opened, along with the rear passenger door seconds after the front one. He looked over in that direction to see the two teens he had been waiting for getting in the car. Alphonse settling in the back seat of the car, as Jennifer took the shotgun seat up front, they both were happy and smiling as they dumped their book bags to get their seat belts on. Hohenhiem smiled at them both, reaching for the key to start the car again, once belts were buckled he set off carefully avoiding the other students. He drove to the end of the street and turned left in the direction of the cabin. About a quarter mile along this road, Hohenhiem took a right onto the east bound road into the hills, making for the lake and the cabin they called home. He chatted with the two excitable teens as he drove, being careful not too speed on the winding road, also minding the crash barrier that was placed along the edge of the road to warn of the cliff drop.

"So how was school you two?" Hohenhiem asked, keeping his eyes on the road but glancing a little at them via the rear view mirror.

"It was good. I got told in art class that I have some serious talent uncle..isn't that great?" Jennifer had started, shifting a bit in her seat so she could look at Hohenhiem better "My teacher told me I could have shows in art galleries when I'm older."

"Well that's great news, I'm sure you could do just that Jennifer, what sort of things would you paint?" He asked her, feeling happy she had found something to take her interest just like her sister had her cars, it seemed to Hohenhiem that Jennifer had discovered art.

"Thanx uncle, well I like scenery...you know mountains and stuff..maybe I should do one of the lake some time, what do you think uncle?" Jennifer continued, even more excited than before and with the biggest, sweetest smile on her face.

"I think that sounds wonderful Jennifer, perhaps I could take you to town and get you some good quality art supplies..wouldn't that be nice?" Hohenhiem said, chuckling at her excitement, seeing her happy was a blessing indeed.

"Really! You mean it uncle!" Jennifer practicably squealed with delight, bouncing in her seat, making Alphonse chuckle in the back.

"Yes I mean it, I want to help encourage any hobby you wish to pursue...I know your father would do the exact same.." Hohenhiem told her, his smile softening at the thought of his friend "As he isn't able to I want to do it in his place."

"Your the best uncle Hohenhiem..I know daddy would have, I'm still sad about him being gone, but having Jessy and you and Al and Edward around..it helps." Jennifer replied, sounding a little sadder now, but still not as torn up as before when it had just happened.

"Well I got an A+ on my science test dad, I also got asked to be in the class play..we're doing Shakespeare's Midsummer Nights Dream. My teacher said I was very good at the shy type of roles or the softer ones as she put it." Alphonse piped up after his father and his girlfriend had finished talking about her day "I also got to have lunch with Jenny too, out on the grass, it was really nice today."

"Well now, I'm proud of you Alphonse my boy, an A+ is excellent and to get picked to be in a class play too..very impressive." Hohenhiem smiled in the rear view mirror at his youngest son.

"Thanks dad, I can't wait to tell brother about my test result..he helped me study for that. Oh and dad, I was wondering..can I take up an instrument?" Alphonse said, looking pleased and then hopeful with his question.

"I'm sure he will be just as pleased as I am Alphonse, oh an instrument you say...did you have one in mind son?" Hohenhiem asked him, genuinely curious now.

"Well, I was thinking about taking up the piano dad..is that alright?" Alphonse replied, looking at his father for approval from him.

"I think that is a wonderful choice son. We'll definitely look into getting you some lessons." Hohenhiem told him, smiling more as the happy smile claimed Alphonse's face.

"Ah, thank you dad!" Alphonse was now as excited as Jennifer was, sitting back in his seat and smiling for all the world to see "Hey Jenny, if I get good..I might be able to serenade you with a song hehe." he chuckled.

"Teehee, oh Al..your such a hopeless romantic.." Jennifer giggled and looked back at him, being cute as always with him.

The banter in the car continued in this pleasant manner all the way back to the cabin, as the drive itself was nice too, with all the new growth on the trees and the fauna that bloomed. The front two windows were opened a bit and the one next to Alphonse was also open half way, allowing a wonderfully cool breeze into the rather warm interior of the car, as they headed home for the day. Both Jennifer and Alphonse were looking forward to dinner that evening, Jessica had made great efforts to instill normality to the household, by introducing Friday night specials..tonight they would be having a barbecue by the lake shore..something the two had been looking forward to all week long. Little touches like these, a tradition Beth Taylor had started years ago, was now being continued by her eldest daughter. Hohenhiem could clearly see how it had a positive effect on the happiness of the two youngest and how it put himself at ease..even Edward too.

0000000000000

Laughter filled the air by the lake that early evening. Puffs of white smoke drifted into the ether from the barbecue. The smell of the cooking food filling the immediate area. The water lapped gently at the shore and the crickets chirped in the undergrowth. A small radio warbled out tunes softly in the background, some form of nineties pop, at that moment The Cranberry's with Zombie played. The picnic table was set out for dinner, a stack of plates at one end and a couple of serving platters too, a pile of cutlery beside them along with a stack of glasses. Just behind those two pitchers of root beer and a large blue bowl filled with fresh salad, a few folded napkins beside it. The table itself had a soft red and white checked cloth covering it, with a few Citronella candles in curved glass containers to keep the wind from blowing the flames out, the perfect thing to keep away the unwanted bugs. The whole area was a low decking, built not too long ago for just such occasions as these, the barbecue being just off to the left of the decked area. It was a nice brick built barbecue, with the removable racks to cook on, the hot coals and wood mix beneath. Surrounding the decking were eight tall posts, about seven feet high with small hooks on the tops, said hooks were used to hold the string of large elongated multicolored lights. They cast a warm and playful glow upon the table, decking area and some of the surrounding area too, making it just that much more special. Jessica had really put some effort into making these Friday night specials entertaining.

With the food happily sizzling away atop the hot coals, dark char grilled lines being seared into the meat, the mood was cheerful and light. The variety of meats on offer was mouthwatering, with succulent chunky hamburgers cheddar cheese melted on them, their juices dripping down between the bars of the rack. They had sweet corn on the cob's, brushed with butter on occasion, to give them a creamy taste. On a foil tray were soft white rolls, both round and long, warming over the heat. Laying beside the burgers, were sticky honey glazed Hickory chicken pieces, both on the bone and off it giving off an incredibly delectable aroma. On the far right of the upper rack sat the Buffalo ribs, their darkened meat crisping nicely at the edges, as the spice rub on them cooked into the meat and the Beechwood smoked hotdogs too. Then there was the real treat of the evenings meal, wrapped in backing foil and steaming away on the grill, Bull Trout freshly caught from the lake that morning. Fragrant herbs that had been used with the fish, gave off a lovely aroma of Dill and Chives, mixed with the flat leaf Parsley and garlic butter used to fill the cavity of the gutted fish. It was such a good smell and enough to make even a full stomach grumble with want.

Hohenhiem was settled on one of the garden chairs set up near the waters edge and watched the very normal goings on around him. Jennifer was at the waters edge seeking stones to throw or skim as Alphonse put it and smiled at how he was trying to teach his girl to successfully achieve it. There were giggles and pouts, frustrated little stamps of her foot when it didn't go right, but Alphonse was patient with her and merely smiled while he took the hands on approach to teaching her. He stood behind her, reaching around to guide her hands with how to hold the stone, then showed her by moving her arm how best to throw it. Hohenhiem sighed contentedly as he watched the two a moment more, then turning his attention to the two eldest, who were over by the barbecue and picnic table. Jessica was flipping the burgers and moving the other meats around to prevent them burning too badly. Edward was hovering about close to her, the mere sight or mention of food, always had him staying close by. He was leant against the far end of the picnic table, hands in his pockets and his hair loose about his shoulders, something he rarely did but rather suited him. Jessica would turn to look at him quite a bit, smiling and laughing at whatever it was he had said, clearly enjoying herself just being in his company. Each time she giggled or laughed at what he said, Edward's deep voice could be heard, chuckling at her reaction and his shoulders shaking with mirth. It was relaxed, wonderfully peaceful and happy, a perfectly enjoyable time.

When the food was cooked and served on the platters, Jessica called the others to the table, as she set the last platter on it and took a seat closest to the barbecue end. Edward settled next to her on the long bench of the table, his father taking up a spot opposite her, being handed a plate to start loading it up with food. Jennifer chose to sit closest to the lake end of the table, Alphonse between her and his father, as they too were given plates. Everyone picked things to fill their plates, the salad bowl making the rounds and the plate of corn cobs too, followed by the first pitcher of root beer once the glasses had been shared out. Once everyone had a plate full, Edward's being heaped higher than the rest, they started to dig in and chat away. The conversation started at the food and how good it was, moving swiftly on to the pleasantly warm evening and how nice it was not to be freezing cold all the time, then onto the days events and the exchanging of smaller news for the day. Just the normal A-typical conversation a family would have at the dinner table and it was all so easy going. So very casual with all the laughter and joking, all the smiles and happy sounding voices, all the closeness and the comfort. The sun was slowly sinking on the horizon and it turned the sky a lovely shade of amber with a line of mauve bordering the darker section of the night sky as it swept over like a blanket. The colored bulbs surrounding the decking area becoming brighter with the fading light as the day came to an end.

With dinner over and the clean up finished, the plates and glasses being taken inside to the kitchen, the left over food finding a home in the fridge with the left over root beer as well. Hohenhiem, Alphonse, Jennifer and Edward all gathered at the lake shore awaiting Jessica to return from the workshop. When Jessica started towards them all, she carried in her arms a large item that looked like a miniature boat of sorts, approximately three feet long and one foot wide. As she got closer it was clear a lot of work had gone into it, with the intricate carvings along the hull, that looked like Greek figures from mythology. Jessica came up the waters edge and set the boat down so only half of it was on the water. There was a compartment in the center of it, sort of a box shape that had a carved bouquet of Lillie's on it's lid, on the rear end was a long wick of some kind. She also had in her left hand, two small round wooden pots, each with a word carved into their lids. Mother and Father. In her right hand she carried a small can that held liquid which could be heard sloshing around in the metal container. Jessica set the metal container down to her right and the two small boxes to her left as she knelt down. The others all watched her as she carefully opened the central box on the boat, lovingly placing the two small round boxes in the space there, then gently replacing the lid securing it. She now reached for the can to her right picking it up, unscrewing the cap slowly so she didn't spill anything, Jessica removed the cap and poured the contents into a specially carved trough around the center box. The wick like stem that stuck out from the back end was at least two inches submerged into the liquid that smelt pretty potent...clearly gasoline.

"That's a very fine job of carving Jessica, did you do all that by hand?" Hohenhiem asked, curious to know if she had used her ability to make this fine crafted boat.

"Well, I made the basic boat by hand...I guess I sorta cheated with the carvings.." Jessica replied, still with her head down as she made sure all the preparations were complete.

"Wow, you really got good with alchemy Jessy. I guess brother makes a pretty good teacher huh?" Alphonse commented, chuckling a bit at the thought of Edward being a teacher.

"Oh gimme a break Al." Edward piped up "I'm not that bad at teaching someone about alchemy..I helped you didn't I?" he teased.

"No way! I did it on my own!" Alphonse protested, almost insulted at his brother's comment.

"Now boys, I am sure you both learnt alchemy in your own ways and helped each other..lets not argue alright." Hohenhiem said, trying to play peacemaker between them.

"Yeah guys, no arguing please...this is an important thing Jess and I want to do." Jennifer pleaded, pouting at Alphonse "For me Al..please?"

"Hmm, alright. For you Jenny." Alphonse smiled and his shoulders relaxed, he truly couldn't deny her anything when she gave him that look.

"Heh, I guess you and I won't be fighting as much anymore Al..." Edward chuckled, then smiled "Our girls won't allow it."

"Okay, we're all set..." Jessica said, digging in her pocket for the lighter she had put there "Time to fulfill...mom and dads last wishes..."

Standing up straight Jessica kicked off her sandles and walked into the cold lake water till it she was at the front end of the boat. She tugged it gently off the shore, it floated and bobbed beside her, silently taking it's maiden voyage. The rest of the group stepped closer to the waters edge to watch the events unfold and staying silent with respect at the sadly emotional moment. Jessica dragged her thumb across the flint wheel, a small spark flashed and ignited the gas, bringing to life the small flame. It glowed reddish orange with a yellow tinge to it's edge and flickered in the gentle breeze. Lowering her hand to the wick, Jessica lit the end of the it and then retracted her hand, putting the lighter back into her shorts pocket. Placing both hands to the back of the boat, giving it a steady shove on it's way, watching as it drifted away from her. She remained stood there, knee deep in the water and her arms lax at her sides, as she softly started to recite words out loud. The boat drifted further away into the dark of the lake, only the moonlight shimmering off the still water, as the shape of it got harder and harder to see.

"Together in life, sharing good times and bad, loving whole heartedly, trusting unquestioningly, with all that you are, you showed us how happiness can make it all worth while..." Jessica said, speaking loud enough for the others to hear.

At that moment...the boat reached near the middle of the lake and the wick burned down to the gasoline...igniting the fuel and setting the boat ablaze.

"Though not in the physical world any longer, you will always remain in our hearts and memories forever more, your wisdom and teachings with us for all time..." Jessica's voice began to crack a little with the emotion "...we send you now together in death, to the four winds, to the earth and to the water, to the be with nature. We'll miss you..goodbye mom, goodbye dad..." she finished off and her shoulders shuddered as she began to weep.

Edward stepped forward into the water with her, the bottom of his shorts getting wet as he came to her side, but he didn't care about that one bit. He put his left arm around her and drew her close to his side, kissing the top of her head and then leaning his chin there, as he tried to soothe and comfort her. Jennifer sniffled and did her best not to cry too hard, though Alphonse could tell she needed to let it out, he held her tightly and shushed her gently. Hohenhiem watched as the symbolism of the boat burned away in the night. He really was at a loss as to how to ease the pain of the girls, but it seemed his sons were doing a far better job than he could ever do, he supposed having to bury their own mother helped them to understand. It didn't take much more for Jennifer to break down and let it all out against Alphonse's shoulder. With his hand softly stroking her back, his cheek pressed to the top of her head, he gently swayed her while she wept. Jessica was a little more controlled, managing not to loose it completely and even leaning on Edward, wrapping her right arm around his middle. She held on tight to him, like he was her life line, as though is she would become lost in the emptiness if she let go of her rock.

Edward decided standing in the cold, and getting colder, water wasn't a good idea so he led her back to dry land. They stood together, wrapped in the other, watching the boat burn to the water line and sink out of view. Alphonse walked Jennifer back into the house, her tears calming some along the short walk, vanishing inside together. Hohenhiem stayed a moment more, before following the two back into the house, keeping quiet out of respect. The two eldest remained outside at the shore line, till Jessica was calmer and ready to go inside, they walked slowly with Jessica leaning against him. It was touching to see, Edward being so loving and caring to another, showing just how much he had matured. When they got in the house, Alphonse and Jennifer were heading to bed, saying their goodnights and the two girls hugging as they did. With Alphonse and Jennifer retiring to their rooms, Hohenhiem had one last drink and selected a book to read in bed, before bidding Edward and Jessica goodnight also. This now left the couple alone in the living room and they settled on the couch cuddling for a while. Edward and Jessica talked for a long time, both opening up to the other about their inner feelings, and what they thought about for the future.

With the hour growing late and the hooting of owls outside in the woods that surrounded the cabin, the crickets chirping loudly and their song blending with the owl's, the lights in the living room were extinguished. Edward followed Jessica down the hallway all the way to her room door, stopping as she opened it, then smiling softly as she turned to face him. He leaned forward letting his hands rest on her waist and softly pressed his lips to hers, his eyes slowly sliding closed the closer his face got, he sighed as he showed her such gentle affection. Jessica kissed him back and placed her hands flat against his chest, her own eyes closed and a soft moan emanated from her throat, the longer the kiss lasted the further up his chest her hands migrated. Jessica's hands finally came to rest at the back of his neck and her finger tips rubbed at the base of his skull. His soft blonde hair brushing the back of her hand and she titled her head to the side a bit for a better angle. Parting her lips she brushed her tongue along the slight space between Edward's to request entry for a deeper kiss. A shiver ran up Edward's spine from the sensual attention to his lips and parted them enough to slip his own tongue out to start a, by now, familiar tango with Jessica's.

He snaked his hands further around to her lower back and increased the pressure of his hold on her. The synchronized rocking of their heads and their heightened rate of breathing indicated their desire. A heated few moments of heavy breathing through noses and the crackling sound of moisture as tongues danced. Air became an important factor in slowing the young couples amorous tryst. Pulling apart slowly, their lips still hovering close, warm breath wafting in each others faces. Jessica curled his soft hair around her fingers, eyes still closed as she regained her breathing, her chest heaving against his with every intake of air. Edward meantime had begun to slowly rub his fingers on her back, his chest rising and falling in almost perfect time to hers, heart pounding fast behind his ribs. The hallway was silent, the other three members of the household now fast asleep, the only sound to echo off the walls...was the soft panting from Edward and Jessica.

"Are you...sure your gonna be alright tonight?" Edward asked her, his tone gentle and concerned.

"I think so...it's just a little..." Jessica replied, faltering in her response somewhat, partly due to the heated kiss they had just engaged in.

"I know. It's never easy to say goodbye." Edward finished for her, sighing after he had spoken, he knew all too well what she was feeling on that issue.

"Yeah...you could say that.." Jessica added, though she knew in herself, this would haunt her from time to time.

"Well, I should let you get some sleep.." Edward said, starting to let go of her and moving slowly away "Goodnight Jess. You know where I am if ya need me. I don't care what time it is, okay?" he told her, kissing the tip of her nose as he moved to cross the hall towards his own bedroom door...but a hand clasped his wrist and held tight..making him turn to look back at Jessica "Jess?"

"Please..." Jessica's tone was timid and almost shy, as she seemed to plead with him "Stay with me...for the night..please Ed?"

"Uh, are you sure Jess?" Edward questioned, turning back to her fully "If you really want me to, then I will...but I want to be sure it's what your ready for."

"I'm sure and it is what I want..." Jessica let her hand slide off his wrist as he moved, her next words clearly spoke volumes "….your what I want Ed."

"Ah! J-Jess!" Edward's eyes almost popped right out of his skull, he knew what she meant and it stunned him "Are you really ready for that?" he just had to be sure.

"Ed.." Jessica said in a breathy tone, grasping his shirt and tugging him towards the door, her other hand turning the knob and opening the door as she moved backwards into the room "...I'm ready. I want to be one with you..."

"Ah...Jess..." Edward's own voice was breathy too now, as allowed himself to be tugged into the room "...I want that too..more than you know.."

"I think...I know how much Ed.." Jessica replied, pulling him close when they got through the door, pressing herself into him "I feel it too.."

Edward groaned softly at the feel of her body pressed to his and lifting his right leg he kicked the door closed behind him. His arms were around her in the next second, holding her firmly so she couldn't get away, though he was now certain she wouldn't even try to. Jessica's hands immediately made their way to his jaw, cupping it on both sides she tilted his head down a little, lining him up for a repeat of the kiss they had been enjoying in the hall. Edward wasted no time in obliging her unspoken wish and claimed her lips hungrily with passion unrestrained. It was then that Edward began to purposefully walk Jessica back towards the end of her bed that sat opposite the door. Jessica went willingly without so much as a word of complaint and along the way slid her hands down to the hem of his shirt. Curling her fingers under the bottom of the cotton shirt, she started to lift it up and their lips parted for a moment, Edward lifting his arms helpfully to aid the removal of the unwanted clothing.

His heart raced with the promise of what was to come and, though they didn't say anything to each other, Jessica's also has taken on an increased pace. They both wanted this, that much was clear, it was like they had been starved of each others touch. Once Edward's shirt was over his head, he captured her lips once more with renewed passion, practically devouring her with his mouth. As they got closer to the bed, he trailed his hands down to the hem of her strappy top, mimicking her actions and removing her top too. She wore no bra under her shirt, so at this point they were both very shirtless, as Jessica's calves hit the end of the bed. They slowly lowered to the mattress, Jessica trying to keep the connection between their lips, as she scooted up the bed till her head was upon the pillows. Edward crawled up the bed, following her every move with a matching one of his own, hovering above her on his hands and knees. The only light in the room was from the window, as they had neglected to switch on any lights, on their single minded path to get to the bed.

Somewhere in the faint white light from the moonlight shinning into the room through the blinds, Jessica could see glimmering liquid gold pools, staring directly into her soul via her own eyes. Shimmering steely blue eyes stared right back into those heavenly ones, telling what was in her heart and on her mind, all without uttering a single word. The faint light reflected off Edward's blonde locks, as they fell about his shoulders, the tips lightly tickling her chest. Her own loose brown hair was splayed out on the bed around her, framing her torso and her face, making Edward's breath catch in his throat. He ran his left hand lightly from her jaw, across her collarbone and over the top of her breast, trailing down her side. Jessica shivered and her skin got goosebumps, this simple touch was lighting a fire inside her, one that would only grow hotter. Slipping her hands down his torso slowly, till they reached the waistband of his pants, she took her time to carefully unbuckle his belt. Edward kept eye contact with her the entire time, his mouth hanging open a little bit, as his lungs tried to get more air.

Achingly slowly Jessica successfully undid the belt, then popped the button open, taking her sweet time teasing him as she pulled his zipper down. Edward could feel his body heat rising at an incredible rate and it was all due to her painfully slow movements with her hands. When his left hand reached the top of her denim shorts, he moved it over to the right, finding the button and popping it like she had done with his. Though he was a little more impatient to get things moving than she was and her zipper quickly was pulled down. He slid his hand inside her shorts, easing one side down and finding, that it was impossible to remove them with only one hand free. Edward knelt back on his haunches and used both hands to pull off her shorts, panties and her sandles too, before he slipped off the bed to let his shorts fall to the floor and kicked off his shoes. With anticipation riding high and hormones raging, Edward climbed back onto the bed and crawled his way back up to Jessica, coming to a stop on all fours once again above her. Jessica watched him and ran her tongue across her lips, surveying the veritable banquet of sculpted body now above her, as their eyes met once more. Edward himself had taken a good few mental pictures on his way back up the bed of Jessica's beautiful body before him.

Jessica reached up for him, cupping the back of his head and holding the back of his neck, tugging gently to draw him to her. Edward didn't hesitate at all, he lowered his head towards her and once again tasted her lips, this time not waiting for the entry request...they simply fell into that sensual dance of the tongues...like they hadn't ever stopped. Jessica arched up and pressed her chest to his, moaning softly into his mouth, as they kissed so heatedly. Edward let out a groan, when her clothe-less body contacted his own, igniting his passion further. The room began to feel warmer, as their amorous activities increased, their joint heavy breathing echoing off the walls. Hands caressed every inch of the other, exploring and mapping the contours, mouths following after lungs demanded air again. If not for the need to breath air, Edward and Jessica would have been locked, in a heat filled passionate kiss all night. After a good deal of exploration and discovery about themselves, their partner and their bodies, the time came when Jessica parted her legs in invitation. Edward slowly lowered himself onto her, connecting with her on the most basic and elemental level known to man, as the two became one for the very first time. Their voices filled the room, bouncing off the walls and the furniture, as they expressed their deep unwavering love for each other. The window off to the side of the bed steamed up completely from the increased temperature inside the room.

Time seemed to stand still for them both...ticking by so slowly that they weren't aware of it...their only thoughts of each other.

Of the unbelievably euphoric pleasure...that came with finding your soul mate and becoming one.

To finally find happiness...and a place to call home.

FIN.

0000000000000

Written By: Chrissy Howe