Title: Fullmetal Alchemist 2 : Motherhood - Chapter 1
Series: Fullmetal Alchemist (first anime)
Pairings: eventual Roy/girl!Ed (someday, maybe)
Warnings: Genderswap, mostly. Some transgender things, pregnancy, etc. Adult themes, I guess, but nothing explicit.
Summary: Roy gets Ed in trouble, and thus starts the longest nine months in either of their lives. First anime based, post series, AU. And Hughes, because I like Hughes.
A/N: There is so much backstory to this plot that I can't even begin. This chapter is a little...weighty? In some spots? Because of that, as I try to interject my backstory without being too overbearing with it. I didn't do a very good job, I don't think. SO, SORRY. Also, I fail at titles. XD
Thirty-seven days had passed since a very eventful evening in the life of one Fullmetal Alchemist.
Thirty-seven stupid, smelly, uneventful days of late autumn in Rizenbul, edging by in aching slowness. Ed was slowly going insane, smoldering here in vague annoyance and self-pity. Or, really, being completely honest, it was more like boredom. Now, it wasn't that it wasn't the best thing ever that Al had gotten his body back or that they were living back in Rizenbul with Auntie and Winry. It was simply that Ed was used to being in constant motion, always on the move. And now, forced into early retirement (or whatever), life was just...boring.
Mustang's coup d'etat had been successful. The homunculi were gone or dead, Dante was out of the picture, the government was overthrown. And Ed had ended up in the hospital, this time unable to contain the secret that had held fast for more than four years. It was a military hospital, after all, and the Fullmetal Alchemist was practically a household name by that point in time. One of the nurses had blabbed, and now the entire nation of Amestris knew Ed's secret.
The tabloids had been all over it, and even the local papers had published headlines about it: The Fullmetal Alchemist Revealed As A Woman!
The media had eaten it up. And Ed had ignored all of it, declined to comment, and continued to bind her breasts and wear shapeless clothing, even if everyone knew it was a 'cover' or whatever.
And fucking Mustang too.
Thirty-seven days ago, Mustang had thrown a party. It was the second party he had thrown since he had taken the office of fuhrer, but Ed had forgone the first one, as she was still recovering from a second set of particularly nasty automail surgeries. She hadn't an excuse to miss this one, but it wasn't exactly one she had wanted to miss anyway.
It had been a party to honor a man that was supposed to be dead and wasn't. A man who had a gravestone in Central Cemetery and everything-but no one had bothered mentioning to Ed that the grave was empty. That Maes Hughes had made a successful escape to Xing had been a slim to none chance. And yet, as soon as it was public news that Roy Mustang had taken the position of Fuhrer of Amestris, it wasn't a month before the man was back in Central.
And so Ed wasn't opposed to going to that party. She didn't even bind her breasts for that, since Hughes knew she was a girl anyway, and not just from the papers. He had been one of the officers to hush up everyone in that tiny hospital Ed had been in after the fifth laboratory incident, to hide her identity as the Fullmetal Alchemist. He'd taken care of everything, because at that point in time, it was safer for her to remain a boy.
Then again, it wouldn't surprise Ed if Hughes had known from the first time he'd laid eyes on her.
Mustang had seemed a bit put out that Hughes already knew Ed's secret-because Mustang had known before the entire world had, and he probably was under the illusion that he had, for a while anyway, known something the great Maes Hughes did not know.
Thirty-seven days later, Ed had a migraine.
She couldn't rightly blame Mustang, as she hadn't seen him since his stupid little party thirty-seven days ago. But she was going to anyway. Because, honestly? It had to be his fault somehow. Didn't matter if she'd seen him or not. She was still thinking about him, and fuck, that was worse somehow.
It wasn't spectacularly warm for a late autumn day in Rizenbul, but Ed was lying on the rug in front of the fireplace without a shirt on. Instead, she was only covered by the bindings firmly and tightly holding her breasts as flat as possible. Winry had had the gall to ask why she still bothered with them, even though everyone knew she was a girl now. Winry didn't understand, obviously. It wasn't even that Ed wanted everyone to think she was a man (though it had been nice while it had lasted). She just actually didn't feel comfortable with her femininity. It wasn't a part of who she, who Edward (or Edwina, if you wanted to be technical) Elric, was. And that was why she hid them.
With the recent surgery and intense soreness that lingered on top of what appeared to be yet another growth spurt, though, she had been lax with wearing them lately. But right now, they were a comforting weight around her ribs. Anything to distract her from the throbbing in her head.
She rolled onto her stomach, resting her forehead against the fuzzy rug and closing her eyes tightly. Thirty-seven days ago since the bastard colonel-fuhrer now, actually-had to go and be his stupid asshole self and mock her about the very thing she hated most about herself. He had sworn that day when he had found out that he wouldn't tell...but now that everyone knew, he was safe! Bastard!
As if he knew she was still wired incorrectly! Fuck.
It had been a long, despairing conversation with Alphonse that had finally allowed her to understand it. She had grown up firmly convinced she had been put into the wrong body, that she was meant to be a boy, and that something had just gone wrong and she'd ended up with tits instead. But then she'd developed feelings for someone, and that someone wasn't a girl, and so she'd suddenly been faced with a number of doubts. Boys liked girls, so if she was really supposed to be a boy, then wouldn't she like girls too?
Maybe it was still the bastard's fault for being so fucking handsome. She hadn't noticed it at first, but she'd been eleven and nearly bleeding to death the first time she'd seen him.
But when she finally expressed these feelings to Alphonse, back when he was still made from metal and leather, he had simply thought about it in silence for a moment. "I don't think you're wired wrong, Brother," he'd said quietly. "I think maybe you're just one of those boys who likes other boys."
Alphonse, bless his heart, never tried to imply that his sister was actually female. He knew better. Ed liked to think he agreed with her too, but she wasn't sure.
The problem was that no one else saw her that way. The papers said she had impersonated a man because she was in the army, and the rumors said she'd impersonated a man because of her brother, and god only knew what else. Everyone knew she was physically a female now. But mentally, she hadn't changed at all.
Even Mustang didn't understand that.
He'd toyed with her that entire night, the bastard. Because he could. Because he wasn't her commanding officer any longer, and because she wasn't under age any longer. And she'd let him because he was Mustang, and she'd only hit him twice the entire night for it.
Fucking asshole bastard. She hated him. She hated him with every fiber of her being, and with some of Al's too, just for good measure.
The door creaked open, and Ed whimpered quietly as the noise slid inside of her head, stabbing through her forehead like a thousand knives. For the love of Ishbala, was there no way to get a little peace and quiet in this fucking town? She was going to murder the next person who came in here, regardless of whether or not she had just spent the last five years of her life trying to put that person into a body again.
"You have another migraine?" Winry's voice asked, blissfully ignorant of the fresh wave of agony she brought to her floor ridden victim.
"I hate you," Ed retorted through gritted teeth.
Winry made that little clucking noise she does when she's annoyed. "This is the third one in four days," she commented, her voice scolding, because, you know, this was totally Ed's decision to have these horrible, debilitating migraines.
"S'all the same one, probably," Ed moaned. "Will you please be quiet?"
"You need to see a doctor," Winry decided.
"You need to shut the fuck up before I murder you," Ed informed her. "I'm not moving."
"Then I'll have to do the tests."
"Go die in a fire!"
She, of course, did the tests. Several thousand of them, to be exact. She was paging through one of her dad's old medical textbooks and asking Ed a thousand questions to determine whether or not she had an ulcer or something. She made Ed pee in a cup, took some blood samples, asked Ed some very personal questions, and then blessedly left her victim alone.
"...and it's definitely not scoliosis or rubella, so that's good," Winry said during breakfast the following morning. Ed was poking at her omelet sans her usual gusto, as she was still not feeling up to par. But at least she didn't have any of the eight thousand things Winry had already tested for. "So basically, you might have a brain tumor, an aneurysm in your brain, or you might just need glasses."
Ed was banking on the brain tumor, mostly because she did not want glasses.
Al's gray eyes went wide in alarm. "Brother? Oh god, you can't have a brain tumor!" he gasped, leaning over and throwing his lean arms around Ed's smaller frame.
"She doesn't have a brain tumor," Auntie informed them with a sigh. "Winry, I swear, put those books away and let Ed see a trained doctor."
Winry pouted. Al sighed and let go of Ed, giving her a worried look.
Ed stood up and threw up in the sink.
"Nausea? You didn't say anything about nausea last night!" Winry protested in annoyance. "This opens up a whole host of other possibilities!"
"I'm going back to bed," Ed returned bad-temperedly.
The party had only been open to a few, exclusive invitees, and had therefore been small enough to fit into the outer area of the new Fuhrer's office. The furniture had been pushed over to one side of the room, centered around a small buffet table piled with food and drink. The other end was free of furniture, open for dancing.
The lights in the room were low, lit only by one overly gaudy chandelier and a number of candles set about the room. Mustang was standing by a window, back lit by the candlelight. His silhouette was clear and striking, and the light reflected off the amber liquid in the glass he was holding. He'd had a few already-his motions were exaggerated and bit more sloppy than normal. But he wasn't faring worse than anyone else. Ed herself was already pleasantly beyond the tipsy stage, and she didn't even remember what number the one in her hand was.
But hell, it helped quell the angry ache in her shoulder and leg. The automail would eventually stop aching so much, she knew from experience. But this soon after the second round of surgeries...well, it still hurt.
She looked out over the dance floor. Al had abandoned her to dance with Winry, which was all right with her. Very cute, honestly, and Al had had a crush on their childhood friend for ages. It had, of course, been Winry's suggestion to dance. Al was far too shy.
Also on the dance floor was Hughes and his wife, holding each other close and making eyes only for each other. Well, aside from the occasional glance at the sofa, where Elysia-now four years old-was dead asleep. Hughes had been back in Amestris for a few months, but that was not enough for a doting daddy like him to get his fill. Hell, Hughes could barely get through a full day at work without his wife and daughter.
A few other couples were out on the dance floor, swaying slowly to the music. Hawkeye was wearing a stormy expression as she sipped her drink on the far end of the floor, ignoring Havoc's attempted advances. Fuery was teaching Black Hayate tricks. Breda was dancing with a giggly Sheska. Falman was in a deep discussion with Armstrong, who was, rather inexplicably, not wearing a shirt. Brosch and Ross were sharing a very strange sort of dance which involved both of them blushing and holding each other at arm's length from one another.
And Ed...was just standing there, contemplating raiding the food table for the eighth time. She certainly didn't need any other drinks, as she was fairly uncertain of how she was standing up right then. This was why she hated parties. All she had to do was to stand around and stare at Mustang.
...except he wasn't by the window anymore.
"Enjoying the party, Fullmetal?"
Ed jumped and whirled around as the Bastard's voice came from somewhere behind her. She very nearly fell backwards from the motion, but Mustang caught her arm and kept her upright. She would have been able to keep on her own feet if she hadn't been so toasted.
"No, it's a total drag, asshole. Stop calling me that, I'm not in the military anymore, and let go of my fucking arm," she snapped, jerking it back away from him.
For the first time in the history of the world, the bastard actually listened to her. He let go of her arm even as she was pulling back. This, of course, caused her to tumble right over backwards, landing on her ass with a thud. The goddamn Bastard had done that on purpose.
"Easy there," Mustang said easily, grinning that stupid handsome grin that she hated more than anything else in the entire world right then. He extended a hand down to help her out, but she smacked it away.
"Go to hell, would you?" she spat, standing up on her own. "Fuck. I'm toasted. I need to go home."
"Locked all the doors," he replied, shrugging. "Everyone's been drinking. Won't have you all smashing your automobiles into trees and such. You'll all stay the night."
"The fuck I will!" Ed snarled back, unreasonably angry at this sentiment, but then the Bastard did have a way of doing that to her. "We're all going to sleep in your fucking office? Not a damn chance!"
"Come off it, now, Fullmetal, there's plenty of room in HQ," he went on. "I even have a private bedroom tucked away behind my office. You could sleep there if you wanted."
Ed felt her face flush as she realized exactly what he had just said-because surely he would be sleeping there. Now, being that Ed had been posing for a male for most of her teenage years, she hadn't really had the experience with people flirting with her. She felt flustered, unsure of herself, and very suddenly angry. The Bastard had no fucking business saying those things to her.
And so she did the first thing that came to mind. She hit him. In the face. With her metal hand.
A couple of people paused to watch the Bastard go tumbling backwards from Ed's blow, but no one was really surprised by it either.
Mustang was fuming as he stood up, glowering at her. He grasped her upper arm and dragged her aside as a parent might do to a naughty child who was making a scene in public. Ed was humiliated and enraged, but his grip was iron. He pulled her inside the inner office and pulled the door shut behind him. She rubbed her forearm as he locked the door before turning back to her with a scowl.
"What in the name of Ishbala do you think you're doing?" he demanded finally, turning toward her.
"Don't you fucking treat me like a child," Ed spat, crossing her arms over her chest as she glowered right back at him. "In case you'd forgotten, I'm sixteen years old, and that's legally an adult here, remember?"
Mustang didn't apologize or even change his expression. She considered hitting him again, just for good measure. "What the hell did you hit me for? All I did was offer you somewhere to sleep," he scowled.
"That was for propositioning me, asshole."
When he just stared at her for a long moment, Ed got a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. Just because she was hopelessly attracted to him didn't mean he had any interest in her. And why would he have any interest? He could have any woman in Amestris. Why the hell would he pick her? He wasn't one of those men who liked other men, and so he wouldn't be interested in Ed, who, for all intents and purposes, had been a male for the past five years.
"Edward," he finally said, shaking his head. "Edward, I was not propositioning you. I was not suggesting that we both sleep in the-"
"Okay, I get it, shut up!" she scowled, embarrassed and upset.
The Bastard considered her, leaning up against the wall with her arms folded. And he leaned in so close that Ed could smell nothing but his cologne. "If I were propositioning you, I'd probably do something more like this," he murmured, and then, he leaned in and kissed her on the mouth.
She didn't react for a long moment, unsure of what was happening. Just a moment ago, he had been scolding her like a naughty child, and now he was-kissing her? Where did he get off pulling shit like that? She jerked her head back after a moment and socked him again, in the jaw. The angle was bad and she hadn't done any real damage, but he still had a glint of annoyance in his eye when he looked back up at her.
Wanting him to do it or not, that was not how to win her affections.
"The fuck is wrong with you, Mustang?" she demanded, feeling her cheeks heat up. "Is that how you get most of your dates to go out with you? You just fucking kiss them without even asking if they want you to or not?"
One of his eyebrows was raised slightly as he looked down at her, one hand rubbing his jaw. "All right, then," he said lowly. "If that is how you want to play. Edward, would you like me to kiss you?"
She really, really should have said no.
"YOU KILLED MISTER SNUGGLES!"
Ed groaned into her pillow as Al's voice shattered the very nice dream she had been having. She rolled over and sat up, finding that the symptoms of that morning had vanished for the most part. Well, that was a nice plus. Even if she'd-ugh-dreamed about the Bastard again.
Thirty-eight days now. Someday the dreams would quit. Fucking Mustang and his fucking whiskey and his fucking kisses anyway.
"HOW COULD YOU, WINRY!"
Ed pulled on a pair of pants and ran her fingers through her hair, not bothering with changing out of her nightshirt before heading toward the door. Whatever was going on out there, it had Al morbidly upset.
She found Winry and Al in Winry's bedroom. Winry was standing over her work table, where a dead rabbit was lying with its stomach cut open, and Al was sobbing rather hysterically.
"I swear, I didn't know it was Mister Snuggles, Al," Winry cried desperately. "I just caught it in the trap, and I needed a rabbit to do some testing. I'm so sorry, Al, I really am."
"YOU KILLED HIM TO DO SOME STUPID TESTING?" Al demanded.
"Goddamn it, Winry, what kind of stupid testing do you need to kill a poor rabbit for anyway?" Ed demanded from the doorway. She crossed into the room to give her brother a comforting hug, and he clung to her like a starfish in response. Ed managed a glare for Winry.
The girl did look like the guilt was eating at her, at least. She also looked a bit worried and confused, and she took another look at the rabbit on the table.
"Just...something I thought might be causing your symptoms," she replied finally, evasively.
Ed thought about what the hell sort of tests a doctor would have to run on a rabbit to get the results for. Surely there was some other way she could have done this? What kind of a test-
The answer came to her rather suddenly, and her heart started beating a little faster. Thirty-eight days...she didn't know much about it, but it would make a certain amount of sense. The length of time seemed to be about right, didn't it? But surely not-the test was negative-but the rabbit was dead...
"And how did the test turn out?" Ed asked, voice low.
Winry gave her a tiny, apologetic smile. "Positive," she replied. "Congratulations."
"Oh, fuck," Ed whispered.
Al pulled back from Ed just a touch, looking at her with tear filled eyes. "What? What's going on?" he asked. "Brother, what's wrong? What do you have?"
"Uh," Ed replied, rubbing the back of her head.
Winry looked at Ed, and then she looked at Al. "Um, Ed's...Ed's pregnant, Al," she finally said.
Ed didn't stick around. A sudden, out of nowhere wave of nausea encompassed her, and she rushed from the room with a hand clamped over her mouth. She could hear Al following her out, but she didn't stop. She rushed into the bathroom and gagged into the toilet.
Al sweetly held his sister's hair back as she was sick, and then wet down a washcloth to wash down her face. "Brother?" he said quietly as he rubbed her back. "Brother? Are you okay?"
Ed was decidedly not okay. She had fucked up once, gotten drunk and not thought about consequences, and now she was paying for that. In the worst possible way. There was no way she could see this through, no way she was going through all of this by herself. Or at all! No! There had to be a way out of this. And of course there were options regarding this that she could go through, so that she'd never have to tell the Bastard or anyone else, and no one but Al and Winry had to know, and...
"I'm just great, Al," Ed muttered, wiping her mouth with a metal fist. "Just fucking perfect."
"Brother, who did you-I mean, who is-I mean-"
God, this was infuriating. Here she was, pregnant and scared and alone, and none of her friends even knew who the father of the baby was. She felt somewhat hysterical as she rubbed her hair back out of her eyes.
"No one. This isn't happening," Ed replied. "This isn't real, it isn't."
"Brother?" Al's voice was quiet. "You know you can tell me anything, right?"
Ed didn't say anything for a long moment, but she did know that. And she appreciated it. But right now, right in this moment, she wasn't ready to tell him yet. She wasn't ready to deal with his expressions, with his admonitions, his surprise at the revelation of who his big sister had slept with to get into this situation. She wasn't ready for it.
"Some other time," Ed replied, and she moved away from her brother. She stood up and rinsed her mouth, getting out her toothbrush as she did. "But yeah, Al, I know."
Al nodded and watched her brush her teeth and flush the toilet. She looked in the mirror, took in her bedraggled appearance. It was past noon and she wasn't dressed yet, hadn't brushed out her hair. She was pale, rather overly so, and she was getting dark circles under her eyes. Lovely.
She was also hungry. Overwhelmingly so.
"I'm starving to death," she announced.
Al smiled a bit at this declaration. Ed supposed this was sounding more usual. Then again, she hadn't really eaten breakfast, and last night, her migraine had been so bad that she hadn't been much in the mood for eating. She put her hair into a makeshift ponytail and set out for the kitchen, Al at her heels.
Auntie was in the workroom with Winry, and Ed caught a glance from her as she passed the doorway. Great. Winry had told, hadn't she? Or, hell. Maybe it had been Auntie's idea to start with. Either way, Ed decided that she hated them both at that very moment. She made a face in their general direction.
She made a sandwich and piled it high with anything she could find in the icebox. Al trailed along behind her, sitting at the kitchen table as Ed finished preparing her sandwich. There was a lot left unsaid at that table, because there wasn't a lot to say. Ed wasn't willing to talk about it, not when she had no idea what to do, and Al probably knew better than to ask. He was content to be Ed's silent support.
There was a lot to consider. If Ed decided to end this, she was going to have to deal with a good amount of guilt from it, not to mention that Al and Winry already knew. She wasn't sure she could justify just getting rid of it, even if she couldn't offer much. There was, she supposed, always adoption.
Because if there was one thing Edward Elric was not, it was maternal. She would make the world's shittiest mother, hands down, and she'd certainly never intended to have children. Now granted, she wasn't even seventeen, and she had plenty of time to think about it, but still. For all intents and purposes, she wasn't even a girl, why should she even think about being a mother?
Keeping it was out of the question. She didn't even have a home. They were staying with the Rockbells temporarily, until they figured out what to do. Auntie said they could stick around as long as they needed to, and Al was certainly content to stay (probably because of his massive crush on Winry). Ed, on the other hand, felt guilty for sapping the Rockbells' resources most of the time, even though they were certainly not hurting for money. But she had very little money left of her own and no job or prospects of one. How could she possibly raise a baby?
She couldn't, and that was final.
And then there was the thought of telling the Bastard, which was another story entirely.
"Hm," said Al thoughtfully, giving his sister a much welcome distraction. "I didn't even know you were seeing anyone like that, Brother."
Ed colored just slightly and glared at her half-eaten sandwich. "I'm not," she admitted.
He gave her a worried and slightly suspicious look, eyebrows knit in worry and gray eyes wide. "Did somebody hurt you, Brother?" he asked lowly.
"No, no! I just-it wasn't like that, Al," Ed assured him quickly. "I was-I mean, I had been drinking a bit, wasn't thinking clearly, you know. And I made a bad decision, and that was the only time it has ever happened, and ever will happen probably. Ugh."
He looked rather relieved at the thought and then snatched a tomato from her plate. She let him, but only because he was Al, and Al could get away with that sort of thing.
Ed sighed, leaning her forehead against her palm and her elbow on the tabletop. "What the hell am I gonna do, Al?" she asked quietly.
"Brother," and Al's voice was a bit of an admonishment. "You don't have to worry so much, you know. You have a lot of people who care about you and will look out for you. Not just me and Winry and Auntie, either. Brother, you're on a first name basis with the Fuhrer!"
Ed winced. "He is not finding out about this," she stated flatly.
Al deflated just a little, but frowned. "And just why not?" he demanded. "This doesn't have to be such a bad thing, you know. Most people are happy when they receive news like this!"
"I'm sixteen, I'm not married, I don't even have a boyfriend, and up until about six months ago, everyone in the world thought I was a boy," Ed pointed out dryly. "I do not want kids. I have never wanted kids. And I sure as hell don't want one coming out from between my legs. Excuse me for not jumping for joy here."
"The Fuhrer won't judge you," Al put in mildly. "You know he won't. He didn't judge you when he found out what we did to Mom. He'd probably even let you stay with him for a while if you wanted."
"I don't want," Ed retorted hotly, pushing her plate away. She wasn't hungry anymore. She got up and headed over to the door. "I'm going for a walk."
Ed really should have stopped counting. The dreams had changed, thank god, but they weren't any better. No, now they had babies in them. Babies that looked exactly like Roy Mustang, babies that sassed at her even though they shouldn't have known how to talk. She didn't sleep much at all.
The morning of the forty-third day, they'd received a call from Dublith. Izumi, the Elric siblings' old mentor, had taken ill once more, and the doctor wasn't all that optimistic.
Because, you know, this was all Ed needed in her life-a little bit more stress.
She was leaning her head against the window of the train, ignoring the little bumps and jostles of the tracks. She hoped and prayed rather fervently that the impending migraine would wait until they were in Dublith to manifest itself completely, because she was going to be in more agony than normal if it hit her on the train.
Al tucked a blanket around her shoulders gently, and she smiled gratefully at him. Apparently, this was a part of something called 'morning sickness,' though it was a complete misnomer. There was nothing morning about it.
They'd got on the train the night before with the intention of sleeping on the train, and Al had slept without any trouble whatsoever. It was Ed, who had a propensity to be able to sleep wherever she happened to lie down, who had stayed awake all night, glaring out the window at empty space. When she'd finally fallen asleep...well, that was where those dreams came in. Fucking Mustang. He even ruined her sleep.
"Next stop: Dublith! We'll be coming into the station in ten minutes time. I repeat, next stop: Dublith!"
The attendant's voice made Ed wince, but at least she'd be off the train soon. Not that she'd be able to sleep, not with Master so ill that they thought to call her old apprentices in. Ed swallowed as she sat up a bit, very aware of the fact that she was about to relive one of her worst nightmares. She still remembered very clearly being at her mother's bedside as she slowly faded away. Ed couldn't bear to lose her second mother to the same thing that took her first.
"Did you sleep well, Brother?" Al asked, grabbing their suitcases from underneath the seats.
Ed gave her brother a cynical look. "Oh yes, just great, thanks," she groaned, rubbing the back of her neck. "Never slept better than I did last night, that's for sure."
He gave her a somewhat annoyed look. "Well, I know it's not the best situation, but I'm trying to be optimistic," he replied quietly. "I'm really worried about Master. Do you think she's...?"
"She'll be fine, Al," Ed responded quickly. "She's-she's Master. She can't-you know."
"Then why are we here, Brother?" Al asked softly.
Ed didn't really have a response for that. She began folding up the blanket Al had put over her, fiddling with it nervously even as the train started slowing down to approach the station. It was obvious that they were here in case Izumi did pass away soon, and Al was smart. He understood.
With a sigh, she started braiding her hair over again. "Yeah, I know...I just don't totally believe it somehow," she admitted. "I mean...it's Master. She can't...you know."
"I keep thinking about Mom," Al murmured, looking out the window.
"...me too," Ed replied, closing her eyes.
Mason had met the two of them at the train station with an overenthusiastic wave and a smile that did not quite reach his eyes. He greeted them in his typical ways, aggravating Ed by commenting on her lack of height and exciting Al with talk of the local cat population. They turned down the wrong street to go to the butcher shop where Izumi and Sig kept shop, but it was fairly obvious where they were heading: the hospital.
They were dropped off at the door with instructions on how to get to their master's room before Mason apologized that he needed to be back to work and waved goodbye.
Izumi's room was small and painted a quiet pastel blue. Her bed was positioned so that she could look out the window, and the view was of the river just beyond the city limits outside Dublith. The bed itself was made up in white sheets and a blue blanket, and there was a chair on either side of the bed. Sig was dwarfing one of the chairs on the far side of the room from the door, and Izumi of course was in bed.
She was very pale, and she had dropped a lot of weight since the last time Ed had seen her. Her hair, still in dreadlocks, was no longer pulled back away from her face and neck, but down and spread across the pillows. Her breathing was ragged and slow, and Ed could hear them rattle from across the room. Even so, she was speaking softly to her husband and smiling for him.
"Master?" Al called tentatively, a step ahead of Ed and eager to be at his foster mother's side.
"Alphonse," Izumi called, turning toward her former apprentices. Her smile was not there for them. "Edward. Have you left the military yet, I do hope?"
"We got what we set out to do," Ed replied quietly, stepping in after her brother. "We don't have a reason to be in the military anymore. I gave up my watch as soon as I got out of the hospital."
"Good. Sit down, Ed, before you fall down," Izumi said in a voice that booked no argument.
Ed immediately took the seat across the bed from where Sig was seated. "Yes, ma'am," she replied meekly.
Izumi coughed once then, and the motion racked her entire frame. Ed winced and Al made a tiny sound of distress, refusing to look at her. It was just a reminder of what they were losing, after all.
"You know why I had Mason call you, right?" Izumi asked them quietly, and Ed pressed her lips together as Al clenched his hands into fists. "It's because the doctor here doesn't think I'll be around much longer. I wanted to see you two again before I-"
"Don't say that, Master!" Al protested.
"We can't run from the truth, Alphonse," Izumi told him gently. "I'm only human. I don't know when I'll die. I only know what the doctor here tells me. He thinks it will be sooner rather than later, so I'm simply taking the actions necessary to prepare for such an outcome."
Everyone went silent for that. The clock ticked slowly, eternally, and Ed was suddenly faced with a realization. Izumi was like a mother to her; she had adopted both Ed and Al into her life as far more than simply her apprentices. It was only because her mother had passed away, Ed realized, that Izumi had adopted them in the first place.
Ed needed some advice from someone who had been in her situation before. Someone who knew something about babies and children and pregnancy and the like. And since she couldn't ask her mother...
"Master," she said, and very suddenly. Al jumped, and Sig looked up.
"I-I want to talk to you. About something." She glanced around the room at the others. "Alone."
Sig stood up obediently, but Al paused for a long moment before following Sig out the door. He glanced at Ed with a strange expression on his face, part worried, part betrayed. Ed prayed that Al wouldn't feel too much like he was being left out.
When they were alone, Ed reached out then and laid her flesh hand over Izumi's. "I guess I don't understand, Master," she said softly, "how you can be so content with this. Don't you want to live?"
"I don't want to die, that is true," Izumi answered quietly, looking over at Ed. "But I guess I'm not sure I want to live either. Don't get me wrong, Ed. I'm in a good place right now. I have Sig and Mason and the store...and you and Al have grown up so well. You don't need me anymore, and that's all right. Look, I will have to die someday. We all will. I'm just simply at peace with the fact that my someday isn't very far away."
"That's untrue," Ed insisted. "The part about us not needing you. I need you-more than ever right now." She realized her hand was shaking, and Izumi must have too, because she turned her hand over so she could hold Ed's hand.
"Edward, what happened?" Izumi asked, her voice quiet and gentle. A mother's voice.
Ed shook her head, finding that for the first time since Winry had done that stupid test and it had come back positive, she wanted to cry. Ed didn't cry for many things, but suddenly, this seemed important enough. "I did something really stupid, Master," she whispered. "I-well, I'm pregnant."
Silence reigned for a long moment, but Izumi's hand never left Ed's.
"How did it happen?" is all that Izumi asks.
"I fucked up. I. I was drunk, and it was at this party, and everyone was drinking, and it just sort of happened, and I just let him, and I went along with it," Ed gasps out in one long breath. It felt strangely good to finally talk about it. "I don't think it occurred to either of us to...to use protection."
Izumi was very quietly, only letting out a long breath as she contemplated what Ed had to say. "All right," she finally said thoughtfully. "Have you told the father yet?"
Ed shook her head miserably. The reasons for not telling him were outweighing the reasons she ought to by about a million to one at the moment, but she wasn't sure how she could explain that. Oh, what a scandal it would be if word got out that the Fullmetal Alchemist was pregnant with the Fuhrer's child! It was bad enough that she was fourteen years his junior, but they were both rather famous too.
"I can't tell him," Ed stated flatly.
"I think he deserves to know, Ed," Izumi replied, her voice holding just a touch of warning.
Ed winced. "I don't know if he does or not, I just know that if this gets out, it'll be...bad," she replied. "He's kind of...well, you know I'm kind of famous. It's like that, sort of. It'll be really bad for him. He's sort of...older than I am."
A single black eyebrow raised. "Older? Is he married?"
"What do you think I am!" Ed demanded, suddenly annoyed as she jerked her hand back. "No! He's not married! I'm not a tramp, for god's sake."
Izumi was giving her a quizzical look. "Then why will it be so bad?"
"Because...well, he might be in a position of...some power...and...oh, hell with it. The Fuhrer. I slept with the fucking bastard Fuhrer." Ed hid her face in her hands in mortification.
She heard a heavy sigh from Izumi and the sound of fabric rustling before she felt gentle hands on her shoulders. She raised her head slightly just before her master embraced her completely. She blinked in surprise-Izumi tended to teach her children with tough love-but didn't pull back. Instead, she leaned into her master's arms and rested her forehead against Izumi's shoulder.
"I don't know what to do, Master," she finally managed. "I can't just get rid of it and pretend it never happened, but I can't keep it either. I can't take care of it. I can't even take care of myself! I'm living with Auntie and Winry because I don't have a way to make any money anymore. I'm not even seventeen years old! How am I supposed to do this?"
"With help," Master said quietly, gently. "There's a room in my house that I've always wanted to be a nursery. Maybe I'll have my chance yet, hm? I think I'll make a good grandmother." Her hands smoothed through Ed's hair, slowly and soothingly.
Ed, however much she wanted to be, was not mollified by this response. She could not help but remember the entire reason they were here in Dublith in the first place. She let out a shuddering little breath, wishing there was some way that she could fix this.
"Master...I...I appreciate the offer, but I can't-not while...while you're..." She couldn't even bring herself to say it.
Izumi clucked once and pulled back slightly. "You're right, of course," she mused, leaning back against the pillows but holding Ed's hand resolutely. "Edward Elric, you cannot be content to simply stand back and let a woman die in peace, can you? I suppose I haven't a choice anymore."
Ed stared at her, wondering how one could speak so glibly about her own impending doom.
"I suppose I'll just have to get over it and come home, won't I?"
"M-master, I don't think-"
Izumi hushed her with a finger against her own lips. "What those doctors don't tell you is the most important part. You've got to have fight in you, you know?" she remarked. "With my kind of ailment, anyway, it's all about the drive to live. I was tired, Ed. That's why I had Mason call you. But here you come, weaving life all over again, and I'm all caught up in it. You really are something else, you know that?"
Ed wasn't really quite sure she knew how to believe what she was hearing. Master was content to magically start 'fighting' her illness again and that was going to bring her back from the brink of death? And now, because Ed was caught in some sort of stupid situation because of a stupid bastard back in Central, she was 'something else?'
"I don't get you at all," Ed remarked glumly.
And Izumi laughed. "No, I suppose you don't," she answered. "It's just...life is beautiful. The existence of life is one of the biggest mysteries of science, because there's no logical reason we should exist. Where did we start? Where will we end? No one can answer those questions. In the meantime, here we are, creating and nourishing and sustaining life because that's what we're here for. Never mind the how it happened or why it happened. Forget for a moment what you're going to do. It's what you've already done that is amazing, Ed. You've managed to create one of the biggest mysteries in science, and completely on accident.
"And you, as an alchemist and someone who has walked down paths no one should ever tread, you understand it even better than most, don't you? Life is something to be treasured, to be cherished. It's a gift, Ed. Why did you try to transmute your mother? Why did you transmute your brother's soul to a suit of armor?"
Ed looked directly at Izumi. "Because I couldn't bear for them to leave," she whispered.
"Because no one in the world was exactly like them," Izumi continued. She lifted a hand and reached over, rolling to her side so that she could press her fingertips against the still flat plane of Ed's stomach. "Or like this one. This is how you started out too, you know."
Considering this, Ed thought of her mother-her real one, the one who had birthed her and her brother. She had fallen into her mother's footsteps rather perfectly, she realized with a bit of chagrin. Trisha Elric had never married, after all. Ed didn't really know the circumstances very well, but Auntie had said a few things that made her put the puzzle pieces together. It seemed that Trisha had been estranged from her family when she had first gotten pregnant. Hohenheim had, at least, taken responsibility and gave her a house and a son before disappearing.
Was that Ed's lot in life, too? To stand by the window and wait for change?
And she thought for the very first time about this thing growing in her as more than just a parasite trying to make her life miserable-she thought of it as a baby. A baby who, like she and Al had, would grow up loving its mother unconditionally and irrevocably.
But she wouldn't take her mother's role, oh no. She would not sit by idly, waiting for things to get better. She was Edward Elric, the Fullmetal Alchemist, and she did not wait for anything. If things weren't going to get better, then she'd damn well have to make them better.
And really, she didn't have it so bad. She still had Al and Winry and Auntie and Master, after all.
She looked down at her stomach, hidden beneath the folds of her shirt, where Izumi's warm fingertips still rested, and she reached down, putting her hand over the top of her master's.
"I don't have a whole lot to offer you right now," she said softly, still looking down, "but I'll work to change that, okay? I'll make sure you have everything you need...and deserve. That's my job, you know. I'm your mom, after all. That's what moms do."
Just so you know, the "you killed mister snuggles" line was the entire reason I decided to write this fic. Very important.