10/7/12 A/N: I wrote this somber one shot to honor a friend who passed away unexpectedly this morning. She was young and has left this world with a husband and two great kids. Hug the ones you love and be sure to actually tell them you do love them every once in a while.
As A Family
Alphonse plunked down on the hard bar stool and took off his faded brown jacket, draping it across his lap. He never drank alcohol, but today was a day he made an exception. To his right, his older brother swirled the ice in his empty glass of bourbon and slammed it down on the bar to get t he attention of the proprietor. To his left, he assumed this was Henry and he, just as Edward, had a collection of empty glasses in front of him as he downed the last of his own glass of brown liquid. Merv, the bartender finally made his way over to the inebriation sandwich.
"Alphonse Elric! It's been a long time!" The bartender's friendly face helped soothe Al's somber mood. "What'll it be?"
"Give my little brother a bourbon…I'll have two." Ed's voice carried softly.
"Make that three." Henry piped.
"Edward's opened a tab." Merv smiled and poured three glasses then went about his business, leaving the three middle aged men to take in their swill.
"Have you been to the house?" Henry, with his jet-black hair and brown eyes, turned to the younger man.
"Yeah, Mei is there with Winry and Alice. Oh, Ethan just got in too, I invited him to come with me, but he wanted to be with his mom a bit before he came over." He thought lovingly of his nephew, Ethan, the spitting image of Edward except he inherited the proclivity for mechanics his father lacked. The boy was an automail prodigy just like Winry.
"Was David there?" Henry asked, hopefully.
"No, I'm sorry. I didn't see him." He knew the young man was taking losing his wife very hard, he also didn't want to push Henry about his son.
"How are you holding up, Ed?" His golden eyes searched his brother's. Edward never showed his age, not that Al ever remembered. Yet, today, here he was with tired eyes ringed with dark shadows. He looked old all of the sudden, tantamount to the tragedy that just fell upon the Elric family.
"Ah." He just grunted.
"That good." Al took a swallow and as the warm liquor coated his throat, he hoped that Edward expelled his grief soon because if he held it in like usual, they all were in for a terrible few days.
"That son of a bitch student of mine." Ed mumbled as he took a drink.
"Hey!" Henry half halfheartedly protested.
"He took off. Couldn't take it. I gave him Teacher's address and told him to go see her and Sig. I don't think he's going to listen to reason." Edward liked David. He loved beating him senseless during training and although he hated to admit it, he was one top notch alchemist. At that moment, though, he really wished that he never took in David as his apprentice. Had he refused that boy who begged and begged him for weeks, then Sara might not have ever fallen in love with him.
"I'm ashamed of him. I didn't raise him that way." Henry looked on the verge of tears.
"Hush. Al patted him on the back. "He's just suffering right now. He'll see." He hoped he was right.
"Al, he was talking about it." Ed's voice became somber. "Talking about…."
"I told him he was a fool. He already knew what you and I went through because of our mistake but he, he is not thinking clearly."
"What are you talking about Elric?" Ed had Henry's attention.
"Does he know enough…is he capable of trying it?" Al hoped not but knew from all the letters Edward sent to him in Xing that David had become quite the alchemist.
"He's smart. He's read the same books of Hohenheim's that you and I did."
"Tell me, what the hell are you talking about!" Henry stood and moved closer to Edward.
"Easy, easy," Al intervened. "What Ed's talking about is something called human transmutation." He had to explain it so that the non-alchemist could understand. "But it's not possible and it's dangerous. That's why Edward tried to send him to our old alchemy teacher, Izumi Curtis. She's the toughest woman we know. If anyone could reach him through his sadness, she can."
"What does this Izumi know about human transmutation?" Henry gruffly returned to his seat. "Can she help my son?"
"She knows as much as we do, or more." Edward motioned to Merv for some more alcohol. "She tried to bring back her child."
"What do you mean, YOU tried it too? Alice told me you boys had a secret but no one knew exactly. David wouldn't tell me."
"Henry, Edward and I were children. Unfortunately, we were children gifted with knowledge of advanced alchemy. We tried to bring back our mom. That's how Ed lost his leg." Alphonse took a drink not wanting to elaborate further. He hoped that Henry would grasp that the simple fact that Ed lost a limb, the act of human transmutation was a dangerous craft and shouldn't be attempted.
"Does…does it work?" His voice carried with trepidation, if there was a hope that this could bring back the dead, he wondered why it would be so bad for David to attempt it. "I mean, could he, could he actually do it?"
"No. It doesn't work." Ed thumped his metal leg for emphasis. "You cannot bring back the dead, it is not possible and the price the alchemist must pay…is…" He looked lovingly at his brother. "Is too high."
"You've got to stop him! Get him to this Izumi!"
"If I knew where he WAS, I'd knock him out and carry him to Dublith myself!" Ed slammed down his glass.
"Take who to Dublith?" While the three were deep in conversation, Ethan entered the bar.
"Ethan!" Alphonse stood to hug his nephew and take in the sight of him. Ethan stood tall, much taller than Edward at the same age, "Hell, he's much taller than Edward NOW." Al thought. The young man, now twenty had the same Elric yellow eyes and golden hair. Unlike his father, Ethan wore his hair short, but he still carried the unmistakable Edward antenna. "Are you alright?" He knew he wasn't.
"It's weird. Like a dream. I still expect her to come in and transmute my tools into a big dragon or something like when we were kids." He took Al's seat at the bar. "I'd be so happy if she did that now." Merv came up to the young man and took his order. He brought him back an orange soda.
"Yeah." Ed smiled and finished off the bourbon, he tilted his head back to get the last little drop and lost his balance, Al had to catch him from falling off his bar stool.
"That's enough for you, Brother." He motioned to Merv to cut Edward off for the night.
"Ah, shaddup. I deserve to get drunk tonight Al." He made a scrunched up annoyed face.
"Ed, that'd just make it worse for everyone else at the house. Besides, Winry needs you. Don't be so selfish."
"Selfish!" The tiny hairs on the back of his neck rose as he jumped off of the barstool to face this brother. "I deserve to be selfish! You all OWE it to me…" He pointed at the men around him. "to let me get so drunk I don't remember if I piss out my ass or shit from my dick!"
"Dad!" Ethan wanted to melt into his barstool from embarrassment.
"C'mon, Edward. Let's go home. Let's go hug our wives. Let's go grieve with our family." Alphonse tried to reason with his brother.
"God damn it! I don't fucking WANT to grieve." He couldn't help it. He hoped that the booze would keep the feelings at bay, keep them from showing. Instead, he soon realized, the emotions swarmed his mind and he could no longer keep them in check. "I WANT MY DAUGHTER BACK!" The tears fell and he brought his right fist down on the bar with such force, he shattered a glass. He didn't feel the pain of the shards as they cut his fist. He didn't feel Al embrace him and try to show him it was ok to be sad, it was ok to be angry.
"Edward, your hand." Al took Ed's bloody fist and drew a circle in his brother's blood on the top of his hand. He used his extensive knowledge of alkahestry to heal the wounds. Ed jerked the limb away.
"Happy now, Alphonse?" Edward stormed toward the door and grabbed his jacket from a hook on the wall. "You wanted me to get it all out, so there it is!" He slammed the door as he left.
"Great." Al exhaled loudly and turned to Ethan and Henry.
"Ethan, I'll take care of your dad, can you make sure Henry get's home ok?"
"Sure, uncle Al. Just make sure dad cleans up before he goes home to mom. She's in no humor to see him like this and I can't deal with her in the shop this week if she's making him sleep on the couch."
"Don't worry. I know what your dad needs to help him get over this." He winked at his nephew and Ethan understood. It had been years, after all, since Alphonse kicked Edward's ass and tonight the elder Elric really needed an ass whooping.
"Edward!" Alphonse raced after his brother. He noticed how Edward's gate wobbled and he listed to his right, evidence that the alcohol coursed through his veins. It didn't take him long to catch up. It started to rain as the two men trudged up the gravel road toward the Rockbell-Elric family compound.
"Piss off, Al."
"Oh, you know I'm not going to do that. So, do we do this here or do you want to wait until we get to the house so everyone can watch?"
"You wouldn't dare!" Ed squared his shoulders and stood his ground.
"You're being an ass, Ed. Winry needs you in your right mind. Ethan needs you to be strong! That BABY needs her grandfather!"
"Baby?" Ed's face lowered and his bangs hid his eyes at the mention of the new infant. "That baby is the REASON Sara is dead!"
"You never learned! You of all people should know that the Truth hurts!" Edward took off his jacket and tossed it to the rocky wall on the side of the road. The ran fell harder.
"That's not the same! The baby didn't kill Sara!"
"Idiot! That's exactly what happened! If she didn't want this child so much, if she was just happy being Sara, she'd be ALIVE!" Edward took a swing at Al, missing his jaw by an inch as the younger Elric moved out of its path.
"Edward! The baby didn't KILL Sara!" Alphonse clocked Edward on the chin with a roundhouse kick, the smaller man swayed but stood up, rubbing it.
"She fucking died giving birth to that thing!" He returned a kick that caught Al on his chin.
"The baby is not a THING!" Al resorted to close combat punches, busting his brother's nose. "I said the baby did not kill Sara!" He kept pummeling Edward's face, cutting open his cheek. Now Al was the brother full of emotions. He lost HIS niece, his beautiful, eighteen year old niece with golden hair and blue eyes, just like her mother. Did Edward think he was not sad too? He loved that girl, she was the spitting image of Winry but with the wit and arrogance of Edward. All of the sudden, Alphonse realized that he was holding his brother by his collar, having punched him almost senseless.
"If, if, the baby didn't kill my daughter." Edward started to cry, the tears and blood mixing with raindrops on his tired face. "What did?"
"Edward." Al let go of his brother and slumped down in the muddy road beside him. "Like I said, the baby didn't kill her. She GAVE her life FOR that baby." Now he started to cry. "She loved her so much, just like mom loved us, just like Winry loves Sara AND Ethan." He looked to Edward and saw his eyes grow large with realization.
"Yeah?" He stood up and offered his brother his hand.
"I want to go home." Edward let Al help him to standing and he picked up his muddy jacket. They both were soaked thoroughly as well as scraped, bruised and bloody. Edward more so than Alphonse.
"Me too." He patted his brother's back as they walked toward the big house all lit up and warm. "I think I broke your cheekbone. Want me to fix it?"
"No, let me blame the crying on my wounds, OK?" He half smiled.
"Sure." Alphonse smiled. He knew that the next weeks, months, even years were going to be tough, but that his family was strong, his family had endured this kind of pain and it only made them stronger. Al knew that Edward now saw the baby as Sara's gift to everyone, the last gift she could give as a mother, as one who loved them all, just like Trisha, just like Winry.
Yes. He knew that they'd come through this. They could endure any pain and become stronger, that as a family, they would survive.