Here's the Alphonse portion to my readers. Personally, I'm not too fond of this character and have hard time writing him but since many have requested for Alphonse to pop up into my stories, here's some Hughes/Alphonse parental. That's not a very popular pairing, why isn't Hughes!Parental more popular? The guy is perfect for this kind of stuff!
Now, an announcement. Go read my other stories! Father's Pain is about Edward's wedding and deserves some love; it's all about love =) Then, more important thing; I suggest my faithful readers to go and read Longing for Love from the beginning so you'll be back on tracks when the next chapter comes up...
Disclaimer: I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist, the characters or the plot. They are the property of Hiromu Arakawa.
Chapter 2: The Adult's Way of Life
Several pillows supported the boy's head and back so he was lying in a half-sitting position. A baby blue blanket covered his legs and feet in order to halt the possible flue from setting in. The night lamp lighted up the room but it couldn't sweep away the black demons in the boy's mind.
The door that was ajar opened revealing Hughes who was holding a tall glass of water in his right hand. The man had changed his military uniform to slacks and white t-shirt. Edward wondered whether the man was going to sleep in those clothes or if he just liked to play dressing up.
"I usually don't give children sleeping pills," Hughes said in a low voice. He sat on the edge of the bed by the boy's knees and opened his left hand: two white, round first aid medicines looked so little on the man's hand. Without waiting for the man to say anything else, Edward put the pills into his mouth and swallowed them down with a gulp of water.
"The other one will ease the pain," The man continued his earlier speech and the boy turned onto his left side. It was impossible to curl up in this kind of position let alone with the throbbing pain.
Hughes took the boy's flesh hand into his own and rubbed it gently.
"Just close your eyes, Ed. You don't have to be afraid."
The boy kept his eyes open despite the man's efforts to make him feel safe. Tucker had made him feel safe too. Just living with his mother had been nice; he and Al had acted like they were the men of the house. Yet, ever since Hohenheim left, there had been no actual man. Had someone broken into the house, they would have stood no chance.
Edward was ashamed to admit it but living in a house with a grown-up man had been reassuring. There had always been someone to do the hard tasks like moving something heavy. Men could be intimidating and that was why they were considered the caretakers. He had trusted Tucker, even liked the guy despite his deep commitment to science. He had just taken it as the life of a true State Alchemist. He had been blind enough to not to notice the madness forming behind those glasses.
"Why is it that whenever I trust an adult man they always betray me?"
Hughes, if possible, took an even gentler hold of his hand.
"I haven't, have I?"
"But you will! Someday, sooner or later you'll turn out to be just like them. Hohenheim left when I was a kid, Winry's dad promised he would come back from the war but he died and Tucker-"
The boy's voice quieted out; he bit his lip, trying so hard to control the tears. Hadn't he already cried enough? He was so tired of everything. The past three years had been full of nothing but tears and pain.
It was right there, lying on that comfortable bed when he realized his biggest fault.
"I hate them all," Hughes heard Edward let out. The boy's eyes were half-open; sleep was beginning to take over.
"Who?" The man asked as he removed the blanket and instead grabbed the covers and began to spread them onto the boy. He decided to listen carefully to the complaining although he knew it was the tiredness and medicine speaking through Edward's mouth.
"Mom for dying, Hohenheim for leaving, Teacher for teaching me about life's circulation, Pinako for not stopping me, Winry for crying so much, Al for being so considerate and…"
Hughes never heard how many more persons Edward accused for something since the boy's words turned into mumbling as his lips became still and all the muscles relaxed. He made sure Edward was warm; after all, spending nearly hour in that pouring rain could have its effect in the morning.
Trails of dried tears decorated the boy's face. Despite the horrible events of the day, the natural function of body had taken Edward over. The boy needed his sleep to get better.
When Hughes woke up the next time it was the middle of the night. For a minute, he lied in his bed, listening to his wife's and daughter's steady, deep breathing. The room was dark and even with his glasses on he would have been blind to the world.
The man had no idea what had woken him up; he suspected it was an instinct. When Gracia had become pregnant, he had developed a skill of waking in the middle of the night to assure himself his angel was fine. The habit had continued as Elysia had come to the world. Now he had two other children staying under his roof and with them being in their current state, Hughes was sure extra surveillance was in order.
Lifting his head on the pillows, his eyes caught the trail of light coming through under the door from the hallway. Hughes frowned slightly, wondering if something was wrong. As quietly as not to wake up the two other habitants of the room, the investigator lifted his covers and set them on the top of his wife, covering her gently.
During his many years in the military, the Major had learned even the simplest things could have many explanations. Therefore, as he made his way out of the room and to the guest room, various reasons kept swirling in his head. The boys could be scared in a new place or Edward could be behind the door, wanting to talk or feeling ill.
The light came from the bed side lamp of the room the boys had occupied. Hughes pushed the door that had been ajar completely to the side to reveal his young guests. Edward seemed to be asleep; the boy was in the same position he had left him in. Covers protected the small, fragile body that kept moving in rhythm of breaths.
On the other bed sat Alphonse, metal fingers turning the pages of a book carefully minding the material. Red eyes glowed reflecting light and, on sensing someone else was in the room with him, focused on the intruder.
"Al," The man was surprised to see the younger boy up. "Why aren't you sleeping?"
"I can't sleep," the young voice certainly did not suit the massive armor. Hughes could not but wonder how the boy who the voice belonged to looked like in human form. He sat onto the edge of Edward's bed so that he was facing Alphonse.
"Can't sleep or don't want to sleep?"
"I'm not able to sleep," Alphonse made his message clearer to the investigator. "That's one of the curses for being a soul attached to armor."
Hughes shook his head; his eyes held a sympathetic look. "I'm sorry, Alphonse, I didn't want to make you feel any worse. I'm not an alchemist so all this stuff you and your brother do is incomprehensible to me."
The man crossed his leg on the top of the other, eyeing the armor curiously.
"I don't know much about you. It's this little one," he nodded his head at Edward," that I'm more in relation with."
A sly smile appeared onto Hughes's face as he pointed at the armor.
"But I do know that you're born on 27th August and that you got 91% correct in your written test."
The eyeholes on the armor seemed to be glowing with tears of happiness on hearing the last phrase.¨
"Are you serious?"
Hughes nodded still smiling. "Yes, you must be very talented to get a score that high."
Then, the smile vanished and all the easiness disappeared from the man's appearance. "I shouldn't have told you that, the scores are classified information."
"That's okay. It doesn't matter since I'm not going to become a State Alchemist after all."
The armor lowered its head and silence filled the room. Only sound was the breathing of the two humans and the slight humming of the night lamp.
"It could be worse," Hughes lifted his gaze, referring to the incident. Alphonse looked at the man and Hughes couldn't understand how the two feet armor could manage to look so helpless.
"Mr. Hughes," The boy addressed the investigator, not forgetting his manners. "What is going to happen to Tucker."
The voice was even but by the missing Mr. in front of Tucker's name Hughes assumed that while Edward showed his rage in his actions, Alphonse processed everything in his mind. It was the slight changes in tone and position, he guessed, which let out the younger boy's true feelings. Maybe it was attributable to the naturally polite soul that the armor didn't go ramping around like the shorter brother did.
Hughes made an attempt to take of his glasses but then remembered he didn't have them on. He wasn't completely blind so whenever he was at home just enjoying himself, he would just leave them on the night table. Yet, playing with his glasses always helped him think
"They'll probably court martial him," the man twirled his fingers. It hurt a bit but he didn't care; the theme of the conversation was painful anyway.
"Is he going to be-"
"Executed?" Hughes interrupted and shrugged. "I have no idea. It depends on the judge and trust me, Alphonse: Court cases within the military are not simple or even fair most of the time."
"I can't believe Tucker could do something like that. He loved Nina! How can anyone hurt their own child?"
Hughes was quiet for a moment, pondering on his next words. He knew he was playing with fire but the boy needed some sensible view that was not affected by strong emotions for the victim of the horrible crime.
"Alphonse," The man started and waited until the eyes were looking at him. "Before I say what I have in mind, remember that I'm not going to forget what Tucker did. Also, I only knew Nina for a second but she was a wonderful young girl who I liked just as much as I like you two."
"Now, I'm a parent like Tucker was and in a way, I understand him."
Alphonse was quiet. He kept staring at the Major and Hughes found himself feeling intimidated. It was impossible to tell what the boy was thinking. Hell, he could just as well be talking to the wall!
The boy seemed to sense the man's thoughts and he nodded Hughes to continue. The investigator let out the breath he didn't know he had been holding and let out his thoughts.
"There's only one thing I'm certain of: Tucker loved Nina. She was his life, I have no doubt about that. You told me that Tucker transformed his wife into a chimera. Their family was poor and no parent wants their children to live in bad conditions. I'm sure it was a huge sacrifice for him but Tucker saw no other way. Maybe that was the reason why his mental health began to- shatter, in lack of a better word."
Had he had a body, Alphonse Elric would have had goose bumps by those matter-o-flatly said words. Now, when such thing was not possible, he could concentrate on the deeper meaning of those words.
"The Military wanted Tucker to do something just as remarkable as the chimera, another one at the best. "
"When I and Niisan went there, there were dozens of caged, malformed animals."
"That explains a lot. Tucker tried to create a successful chimera from animals, creating one from Nina and that dog was the last option. The control is in the morning so he must have thought through all the other options and the created chimera was his last choice."
"It still doesn't make it acceptable! Even if he didn't want to do it, he still did it."
"I know, it was wrong but think of what would have happened if Tucker had not made the chimera."
"He- he would have lost his job."
"Exactly. With that, Tucker and Nina would have lost everything: their house, properties, the life they had built. They would have ended up on street, maybe social security would have taken Nina to the orphanage and Tucker- Alphonse, they would have been in the state where they had left from. The sacrificing of Nina's mother would have been in vain. At least when being a State Alchemist, Tucker could assure himself that that chimera had been essential for Nina."
"It's still not acceptable."
Hughes nodded, he was glad the boy had at least listened to him. A slight part of Alphonse seemed to understand the possible motives that had caused the horrible murder.
"Adult's world is a tough place, Alphonse. I don't accept Tucker's actions either but I understand he had no other choice."
"You have a daughter too. Could you do something like that to her?"
"No, but people are different. We all have different beliefs. What I think is okay might be wrong to others. We just need to do so that as small amount of people as possible will suffer."
Hughes covered his mouth as he yawned. Being away from the warm bed made his teeth chatter.
"You should go to sleep," Alphonse urged the man who looked like he could fall asleep right there. Hughes shook his head a bit to clear his thoughts.
"I can stay if you want to," The man protested against his subjective feelings.
"I'm fine; I'm used to being alone at night. I borrowed some books from your bookshelf, they'll keep me company."
"By no means, you're free to take any of them."
Hughes stood up and walked to the boy. He put his right hand onto the armor's shoulder although the boy could not feel it. Yet, the man hoped it was the thought that counted.
"It feels bad now but remember, this is like every other sorrow you've faced in your life. It'll take some time to heal it but eventually, memories remain."
Giving an encouraging pat on the hard metal surface, the man turned to the human child who was oblivious to the conversation.
"You had better remember it too, kid," Hughes smiled, ruffling the hair by the hair line gently so that he wouldn't interrupt the boy's sleep. Much to the man's relief, Edward didn't even flinch at the maneuver but continued his superficially peaceful rest.
As he left the door ajar and told Alphonse to get him if he was needed, Hughes couldn't but admire Alphonse. Even after such a horrible incidence, the boy had not broken down but was there for silent support. He had been honest; he didn't really know Alphonse but the boy seemed to be an interesting personality. The brothers were complete opposites; whereas Edward tried to fight the change, Alphonse was like a rush: he adapted more easily.
Hughes himself had two brothers, he was the middle one, but he had always thought they shared similar traits. Even without their similar characteristics, people could have guessed or at least foresaw their kinship. With Edward and Alphonse, had it not been for their downright affection for each other, no one would be able to figure out they shared the same blood- metaphorically speaking, since Alphonse didn't have any in his current position.
Yet, he hoped that, even without his body, Alphonse was still the same brother he had always been to Edward.
Yeah, what is an FMA story without some angst =) The purpose of this chapter was to make readers understand Tucker. I don't beliave he's bad; he has just gone through too much and lost it. I hate it when people judge him only because he did what he did to his wife and daughter.
Then we get to our next bundle of angst: Barry the Chopper.
Reviews are appreaciated.