"See? This is Mittens!" The young boy grinned, holding up the small, black and white kitten. It was only a couple weeks old, small enough that it would probably fit in Edward's palm. The boy sighed, holding the kitten close. "Her mommy abandoned him, so we kept her."
"I'm sure you take good care of her." Alphonse was smiling, although it was impossible to tell with the armor. The only indication was the shape of his eyes – eyes were the doorway to the soul, after all, so it was to be expected that they would reveal his emotions. When you heard his voice and watched his eyes, it made him seem less like a daunting suit of armor and more like the fourteen year old boy he really was.
"Hey, Al," Edward called from the booth he was sitting in, not bothering to look away from the train window. "Next time, we take a more direct route to Central." He was completely and utterly bored. The train ride had taken two days – it was a scenic route – and was going to take another several hours. It would be night by the time they reached Central. Well, that gave them an excuse to avoid the Bastard Colonel for a little while, at least.
"I think it's nice, Brother." Al objected, gently stroking Mittens' fur. He and the boy were sitting on the floor in the aisle, beside the booth his older sister was sitting in. The siblings both had dark brown hair and eyes, as well as pale skin. The sister was a soldier from Northern Command, her vacation coming to an end soon. On the train ride, Alphonse had filled his time with talking to the other passengers – something the Elric Brothers rarely did, but when the boy had come over asking to play, he ended up getting to know everyone in the train car. "There's lots of nice people here."
"Yeah, well… we aren't getting any closer to our goal while sitting here."
That was the typical Edward Elric. Always on the move, always moving towards that goal – and often, getting thrown even further away.
"Hey," Edward mused, "is this train going a little faster than usual? About time. The sooner we get to Central, the better."
"Maybe we're behind schedule?"
"Well they better hurry and make up time."
Alphonse sighed inwardly. His brother would never change.
Mittens began biting – or maybe gumming was the proper word, as she had no teeth – onto the boy's hand, mewling softly.
"I think she's hungry!" The boy grinned. "I'll get her some milk when the snack cart comes by."
Edward frowned, watching out the window. The train was definitely going too fast now. If they were to hit a turn, there was no doubt in his mind that they would be derailed. "Al, I'll be right back." He called, "I'm gunna go talk to the driver about something."
"Oh… okay, Brother." Alphonse stared after his brother as he walked away. Edward would explain later, anyway. He always did. No sense in trying to get an explanation out of him now.
It was shortly after that the train started to tip. Alphonse was the first to react, grabbing the boy and Mittens as the train fell onto its side.
Or, it would've. Problem was, it derailed on a cliff side, so instead of just coming off the tracks to fall onto its side, it began to roll down the cliffs, succeeding in making a bad situation that much worse. Alphonse managed to plant his feet and back against opposite booths to keep himself from falling. The boy clung onto him tightly, Mittens safe in Al's other arm.
It was probably only a few seconds, but it seemed like an eternity before the train finally stopped. The car was on its side, the windows shattered, the ceiling dented and torn. Glass was strewn about, and people were slowly getting up, some cut, others bruised. They were lucky. Alphonse forced his way out of one of the tears in the ceiling, still carrying the boy.
The area they were in was forested heavily. When he looked back, Alphonse could see that the trees had been cleared by the train, some stuck in the other cars, some flattened and others were just left strewn about like the train itself.
Alphonse sat the boy under a tree, giving Mittens back to him. "Stay here, alright?" People were emerging from the train, the least injured helping those who needed it. The boy's sister was barking orders around, her military training holding true. It was mid-day, and they needed to get survivors out as soon as possible.
The first car was completely crushed, and the engine had been pulled to pieces. Finding survivors there was unlikely. Alphonse had been in the third car out of five, suffering the least damage. Immediately he set off to the second car, hoping his brother was there. He had gone to talk to the drivers… hopefully he had made it back to the second car before the train derailed.
It was late by the time help had arrived. There had been no sign of Edward in the last four cars, which scared the younger Elric brother to no end. Help came in the form of soldiers from Central, Roy Mustang heading the group. There were also a handful of doctors with them, probably from one of the military hospitals in Central.
"What's going on? I demand an explanation." He barked out over the group. The soldier from Northern Command gave a sharp salute. Alphonse watched. He could only hope that the extra help would be able to find Edward before it was too late… he scolded himself for thinking like that.
"Colonel, sir, I am First Lieutenant Tonya Vance from Northern Command. It's pretty obvious what's happened, sir. The train derailed on the cliff…"
"I can see that. Where is Fullmetal?" Mustang snapped, obviously in a bad mood. Vance's salute faltered.
"We don't know, Sir. We haven't found him yet. It's possible that he got out on his own before any of us did."
"Where's his brother?"
"I'm right here, Colonel." Alphonse answered, making himself known. The Flame Alchemist faltered for a moment, as if berating himself for not seeing a giant suit of armor.
"You haven't seen Edward?"
"Edward wouldn't run off and leave his brother in a train wreck." Breda remarked.
"Which means…" Fuery didn't want to say it. But they all knew – Edward was still in the train, and the fact that he hadn't emerged on his own meant that he was trapped or injured, or… no, they weren't going to think about the possibility of worse. Fullmetal was too strong for that.
"Hawkeye, take a group and do a thorough search of the last two cars, just in case they missed someone. Havoc, Lieutenant Vance, the first car. Breda, the second and third. Falman, help the injured, Fuery, search for whatever's left of the engine. I want to know why the train derailed, and whose fault it was. Find some soldiers and uninjured civilians to help and get the job done. The priority is Fullmetal. If you find him, tell me immediately."
"Yes sir!" The soldiers chorused back at him, before setting about the task they were assigned. Alphonse went with Breda, hoping that he had missed something in the second car.
The search was painstaking and long, rechecking everywhere Alphonse had already been in the hope of seeing a speck of gold or a piece of red fabric – even the red soles of Edward's shoes would've been a welcome sight. It was two hours before Havoc's voice rang out over the others.
"We've found him! Let's get some help and pull him out!"
Alphonse quickly abandoned his search. By the time he left the car, and made his way to the crushed first car, Roy was already climbing into the small opening they had made by pulling out pieces of metal and rubble to help survivors. Alphonse knew he had no hope of fitting into the gap, so he stood by and waited, every second feeling like an eternity in itself. Mustang's five subordinates were crowding around, their previous assignments abandoned as they waited for the order to drag Edward out.
Roy was startled by the sight. All he could smell was blood, the flashlight in his hand illuminating the figure in front of him. Golden hair was stained in blood, red coat torn to pieces. The teenage boy was half trapped under the crushed train car, his blood pooling around him from the gashes across his body. Purple bruises stood out against Edward's skin, pale from loss of blood, and he looked like he had several broken bones. The Fullmetal Alchemist's breathing was shallow and labored as he struggled for every breath. He wasn't in a good state at all. It didn't take a doctor to realize that.
"Fullmetal," Mustang spoke, unable to mask the urgency in his voice, "Fullmetal, can you hear me? Say something!" He pulled placed his ungloved hand on the boy's forehead gently. He was deathly cold, and that worried the Colonel. "Don't you die, post-processing is too much of a pain to bother with for you." He muttered, before retreating out of the opening. He turned to Havoc, "he's still trapped under there, and there's a chance he may have a spinal or head injury. Try and free the rest of him, and we'll get a doctor in to make sure it's safe to move him."
"Is there anything I can do?" Alphonse asked desperately. His brother was hurt, he could tell from the tone in Mustang's voice. He had to do something! He couldn't just sit there and watch. The Colonel watched him for a moment.
"Use your alchemy to remove what you can. We need to get Fullmetal out as soon as we can." As soon as the order was given, Roy disappeared back into the gap, watching over Edward as the others went to work trying to free him from the outside.
"How did you get yourself into this situation, Fullmetal?" Mustang muttered, listening to the sound of Alphonse's alchemy as it shifted aside the metal scraps. Light began to shine through, and, eventually, Alphonse had managed to essentially cut the train car in two length wise, freeing Edward completely. Everyone saw Alphonse Elric lose it at the sight of the battered State Alchemist they had freed.
Roy carefully pulled the boy out of the remains of the rubble, carrying him in his arms. The blood would be a pain to get out of the blue military uniform, but that was at the bottom of the Flame Alchemist's worries right now. Edward looked half dead in his arms, lying there with no complaint. His clothes were practically unrecognizable, whether it was the blood or the fact that they were ripped to shreds, Alphonse wasn't sure. There were mutterings of 'how could this happen?' or 'that's terrible!' or similar phrases from those around, all watching Colonel Roy Mustang as he silently carried the boy away. Alphonse fell to the ground, shaking. It hurt to see his brother like that, so beaten and battered.
"Brother…" His voice was shaking. Havoc crouched down in front of him, trying to be of some comfort, buy Alphonse couldn't hear him. All he could think of was his unconscious brother, covered in his own blood after being crushed under a train car. "Brother… brother, no…"
"Hey, calm down…" Havoc sighed, "Ed's not going anywhere. He's too tough for that. He's a little battered, sure, but he'll be better before you know it." He did hope he wouldn't be eating those words later. To be honest? Right now, he was trying to convince himself, too. No one wanted to lose Edward. He'd become a big part of their lives.
Like hell were they going to lose him now.