A/n: Hey guys, this is my new fic. :) I apologize, I know it's a month later than expected, but I ran into a rough bit with the plot and it took me forever to fix! Be warned, there are a few OC's in later chapters, but I promise they aren't Mary Sues. Enjoy this one.
Disclaimer: I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist or any of the characters within.

Chapter 1: Despair

"Another mission dusted!" Ed grinned as he strolled through the open doors of Central Military HQ, hands locked behind his head. His suitcase dangled loosely from his interlocked fingers.

"Another mission failed. There was no stone, brother," Al clunked in behind his brother. His tone and narrowed red eyes told Ed that Al was fuming.

Edward turned, looking Al in the eye. "Not this time. But we'll find it, I promise. I will return you to normal."

Despite the blonde's inspiring burst of determination, Al simply turned and walked silently. Edward's expression turned downcast momentarily. The two had been searching for the philosopher's stone non-stop for 3 years. Ed was 14, and Al 13; but they had made no progress. They were both tired and frustrated.

Maybe we should go to Risembool for a while, mused Ed as he strode up the stairs. He was about to kick in the door to Mustang's office and make his grand entrance when he heard something shocking.

"Brother's doing more damage than he is helping!" Al's voice sounded muffled through the door. Edward froze, stunned.

"Like on this mission!" Al raged, sounding frustrated. "We could have caught the Drachman thief on the second night and come back five days ago! We could already be on another mission to look for the stone! But he just had to be arrogant, conceited and over-confident and the guy got away! Not to mention our mission in Agretha a month ago!"

Ed heard Mustang groan. "Four thousand dollars in damages to pay for the building you brothers fought the kidnapper in. I saw the photos; Fullmetal really crashed the place."

"I'm sure it's not that bad, Alphonse," said a strained new voice, which Ed thought belonged to the Lieutenant.

"But every mission is like that! Brother's cost us so much time and money. I know you're mad at him too, Miss Hawkeye! He's stuffed up your missions multiple times!" Al yelled, unnaturally furious.

Ed's suitcase clattered to the ground, falling from his numb hands. Ed had thought that his brother was angry and frustrated with the misleading philosopher's stone missions, but Al was actually furious with him! The revelation startled Ed. He wanted to move, to open the door and apologize, and to make things alright again. But his brain refused to move his frozen body.

"Not to mention he's always disobeying orders and getting in the way!" Maria Ross's voice interrupted suddenly.

"And he's so rude and insubordinate to his superiors, that little brat," seethed Mustang. "Always late, too. Even now!"

Armstrong snorted, also making his presence known. "His childish antics have also caused me pain and overtime on many occasions."

Hughes then sighed. "He's so self-centred; he doesn't even care for the rest of us!"

"Oh, he's selfish all right! We're all trying to be there for him, but he never shows us any gratitude!" the last sentence resonated throughout Edward. That was Winry's voice.

"We'd all be better off if he left!" Alphonse shouted. Ed's eyes widened as he heard the other subordinates clamour in agreement. Edward suddenly became aware that he'd fallen to his knees. He could imagine the furious, frustrated, scowling faces that accompanied their hate filled eyes.

They hated him. Havoc, Hughes, Hawkeye, Maria, Falman, Fuery, Mustang, Armstrong… his childhood friend, his little brother and everyone he had ever cared about all hated him! Edward felt despair crush his heart, just a little. He thought he was helping, he'd thought… Ed squeezed his eyes shut, shoving the familiar anguish back down. He had to be strong; he had something to live for! He had… he had…

Family? Ed recalled his mother's grave, and the morning his father left. Al's words echoed around his head, mingling with Winry's frustrated input. Oh, he's selfish all right! Never shows us any gratitude! We'd all be better off if he left!

Friends? All the military officers in the room opposite Edward seemed miles away; unreachable and untouchable. He couldn't ask for support from people who loathed him.

A home? The flames of his house in Risembool spurted up into his mind's eye as he remembered the ash of his home burning his eyes. The fact that he didn't have a home or a job, or any security really, had never bothered him before. Since his mum died, his only reason for everything was family. Al and Winry.

But they'd all be better off if I left. His family hated him. He was egotistical and antisocial, and ignored the needs of those around him; he was in the way. He'd even caused Al to lose his body because of his selfishness! If he wanted to help his family…

Better off if I left… better off if I left… better off… better off…

Edward abruptly rose from his spot on the floor. He walked mindlessly to his dormitory, oblivious to the strange looks he was receiving from other officers. He calmly sat down at his desk and wrote two letters- one resignation letter, and one letter addressed to Alphonse and Winry. He left the latter on Al's bed, a weird sense of clarity surrounding him. Edward didn't need to re-think his decision.

"Give this to Colonel Mustang," he spoke lifelessly to the man at the front desk, placing the letter on his table before leaving. Edward passed through the open doors and walked down the familiar streets. Two rights, a left and then straight; and he found himself at the train station.

"Hello Edward," smiled the woman at the ticket booth. "Off to wreak more havoc, I see! Two tickets?"

Ed flinched at her friendly comment. "One to go East. Thanks…"

"You're lucky today- the next Risembool train leaves in half an hour," she replied, printing out the ticket.

"I am not going to Risembool." It was a statement. The woman blinked at Ed as she held out the ticket, which he took before acquiring a deserted seat along the side of the tracks.

I don't care where I go, as long as it's as far from here as possible. Edward shook his head, feeling the strange emotionless state he was in fade. He felt betrayed, somehow. But wasn't he the one in the wrong? They'd all be better off if I left. He had caused so much pain for everyone. His family would be safer without having to deal with the dangerous situations he got into and the countless enemies he'd made over the last 3 years. His little Brother had suffered injuries and terror numerous times whilst travelling with him. Even Winry had been kidnapped a couple of times… Edward no longer had any reason to stay in Central, and every reason to leave. The alchemist looked up into the window behind him, catching his reflection in the tarnished glass. He was crying.

Edward scowled at his own pathetic actions and scrubbed his eyes dry with his jacket, abruptly realizing he had left his suitcase at HQ. All he had was the clothes he was wearing and a small amount of money, but he didn't care. The heartbroken fourteen-year-old checked his reflection checked his reflection again. They'd all be better off without me. His eyes were filled with distress and his wild long hair was falling in his face, annoying him. Ed clenched his teeth, and with a single frustrated swipe, his sliced off his irritating lengthy hair with his metal right arm. Golden strands floated down in every direction, covering the bench he was curled up on. Edward hid his face in his arms, feeling strange without his braid. Edward Elric had a braid, but he was no longer that person. Edward Elric had friends and a family. He was different. He had nothing.

But he couldn't stop his tears from falling as he stepped onto the train, leaving everything behind.