Title: Bluebird of Happiness
Word Count: 650
Author's Notes: Essentially, this grew out of my visual mis-reading of the second opening credits sequence in the first anime: intercut with other scenes there are several shots of the Brothers Elric on a train platform with a bluebird flitting around them. My brain somehow parsed this as the Brothers Elric standing on several different train platforms in different places, all with the same bluebird, and things sort of took off from there. As always, I am a Textual Poacher.
The train platform at the flag stop in Columbar was a windswept, dusty, desolate spot, so isolated it didn't even have a proper depot – just a tiny clapboard shack with a single boarded-up window and a narrow wooden bench. Trains rarely even slowed on their way through; on any given day, Columbar station was home to nothing more than dust, tumbleweeds and one rickety windmill.
On a busy day, you might add to that count one traveler clad in heavy armor, one bluebird, two suitcases and one very suspicious State Alchemist . . .
"You know, maybe Colonel Mustang is right." Al said placidly. "Maybe you are going crazy."
"Al." Ed scowled and nudged his brother's side with his automail elbow. "Al, listen, I'm not kidding."
"Brother," Alphonse's hollow voice responded patiently, "You're being ridiculous."
"I am telling you, Al, this bird is following us!" Ed glared up at the creature in question, which was fluttering in wide, cheerful circles in the air above them.
"Birds don't follow people." Al bent down to retrieve their suitcases.
"This bird is following people." Ed gestured emphatically. "It's the same bird we saw at the train station in Sophar . . ."
"That was days ago."
"And on the platform in Evensong . . ."
"Two hundred miles away?"
"And when we were fishing in Central!"
"I was fishing. You were sleeping." Alphonse retorted. "Even if a bluebird could fly all that way, why would it want to?"
"Well . . ." Edward frowned thoughtfully. "Well, what if it's not a bluebird? What if it's some sorta chimera?"
Al sighed, privately wishing he had eyes to roll at his brother. "It's a bluebird."
"Or what if it's Envy?" Ed narrowed his golden eyes at the bird, which whistled merrily in apparent unconcern.
Al tipped his helmet skyward and regarded the bird. "I don't think Envy can make himself that small." He concluded after a moment.
"Then . . ."
"It's a bluebird."
Al settled himself onto the platform's narrow wooden bench, clearly intent on ignoring his brother's lunacy while they waited for their next train to arrive. After some hesitation Ed joined him, sprawling against Al's side and throwing his feet over the arm of the bench.
For a few moments the bird fluttered through the air above their heads, and Ed continued eyeing it warily – but finally the creature executed a few dizzying swoops and disappeared into the air beyond the ramshackle abandoned depot.
Ed waited for a few long, tense moments before he finally let himself relax. Just a bird. Of course it was just a bird.
His brother was right – too much time as a Dog of the Military was clearly starting to go to his head, if even a simple bluebird could seem to be part of a vaster conspiracy. Maybe he should request some leave, take some time to unwind a little bit. He chuckled quietly. What a dumb thing to get worked up about; as if there weren't thousands, maybe even millions of bluebirds in Amestris . . .
An unmistakable noise from above caught his attention – and Ed looked up just in time to see the bird reappear, fluttering down through the air until it came to rest on the crest of Al's helmet. The bird trilled a few lighthearted notes and cocked its head quizzically down at Ed, fixing him with one bright black eye.
Ed stiffened. "Alphonse . . ."
"Leave it alone, Brother, it isn't hurting me." Al made a quick gesture to cut off Ed's next words of protest. "And it isn't following us."
The elder Elric brother shut his mouth with a disgruntled huff and slumped against his brother's side, simmering. He fixed the bird with his best narrow-eyed glower – the one usually reserved for Roy Mustang – and jabbed a finger at it.
I'm on to you, bird. He mouthed accusingly.