Fullmetal Alchemist Fan Fiction ❯ Future Memories ❯ Answers ( Chapter 10 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Future Memories
Chapter Ten
The silence seemed to stretch on forever as Trisha watched her son think. His eyes moved over her face, but she knew he wasn't seeing her. The teenager seemed be having some internal struggle, because every now and then he would drop his face into his hands, shake his head and mumble quietly to himself. Each time he looked back up at her, his eyes seemed to be just a little more tired, just a little more weary.
Sometimes he would open his mouth to speak, but words would fail him. His eyes were slightly red from holding back a flood of tears; though every now and then one did escape and trickle hesitantly down his smooth cheeks.
“Edward…” she said softly, breaking the silence. At the sound of her voice, a small sob broke from him and he covered his face with his hands.
“I'm sorry…” he whispered, “I just don't know if I can…”
Trisha's eyes crinkled in sympathy. She reached her hand across the table and took a hold of Ed's. “Please…” she whispered gently. She had to know; it was killing her not knowing.
“I… I'm not… I don't really know… where I should start…” he mumbled, as he looked down at the hand holding his.
The brunette woman sighed as she realized she'd probably have to drag all of this out of him. “Tell me about Alphonse…”
His face crumpled in agony. The hand she was holding squeezed hers and she wondered vaguely why he was still wearing gloves, even while inside, but lost that line of thought when he murmured, “I'm still… I'm still not sure where I should begin…”
Specific then…
She'd need to be specific in what she asked…
Trisha took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “How… how old were you when you lost him? When did this happen?”
An easy enough question…
Ed whispered something she couldn't hear and she had to ask him to repeat himself.
“Ten… I … I was ten…”
He was ten years old.
That was only three years away.
The knowledge made her want to rush outside and hold her little Alphonse in her arms. Hold him… protect him. Edward had always been one to get his younger brother in trouble… it had been a worry of hers that her oldest boy would someday get Alphonse into serious trouble, but she had hoped it wouldn't be so…
And now she knew.
Trisha didn't know what to say…
Here was Edward, her oldest son, sitting just fine in front of her when her youngest was who knew where… only… hadn't he said he'd just seen his brother? How could both be true? Had he been lying to her before? She knew her little Edward wasn't above lying to get out of an unpleasant situation… perhaps that was something he'd never grew out of.
“Edward, how could you lose your brother? He's not a toy, he's a person! You don't just go around losing people!” Trisha yelled hysterically. She knew she was being irrational, but she couldn't stop the words. “You just told me last night that you'd just seen him! I don't know what to believe! Where you lying to me? Are you lying to me now? I just don't know, and you're barely telling me anything! I don't know the right questions to ask, but still I have to drag everything from you!”
Suddenly, Ed stood and slammed his hands down on the table. “I'M SORRY! Okay? I'm sorry! I'm not lying! I'm not! I wouldn't lie to you! I'm not a child anymore! I stopped being a child years ago! I… I…” With a cry of frustration and anguish, Ed pushed the chair aside, causing to topple backwards, and ran out of the room. Trisha could hear his footfalls as he ran through the house. The front door opened, then slammed shut so hard that the pictures on the wall shook slightly.
Her bottom lip trembled as she tried to hold in the pain, but it was just too much. Sobs broke from her and she buried her face in her hands. She didn't want it to turn out like that… she was usually so calm and collected, but all of this was tearing her apart inside.
When the sound of the chair being put upright met her ears, Trisha looked up to see the colonel looking down at her compassionately. “You should go find him. He needs you.”
He was right.
She didn't want him to be right about anything, but he was.
“I'll go find the boys and keep them preoccupied…” the major said, looking down at her worriedly. “They don't need to know what's going on…” She nodded and he hurried out.
With tears still running down her face, Trisha stood and quickly passed the older dark haired man. He wanted to help… she knew that… but…
It didn't take her long to walk around the fenced part of their property, and in that time she had been able to get a fragile control over herself. For now, she kept the tears at bay… Unfortunately, there was no sign of her teenage son.
In frustration and regret, Trisha ran a hand through her hair and wondered where he could have run off to. He shouldn't be out there. What if someone recognized him…? She shook her head. No one would realize that it was Edward… it was a stupid thing to worry about, but…
“I think I know where he could have gone.”
The brunette turned around quickly and stared at the colonel. For a moment she considered not accepting his help, but that was foolish… she needed to find her son…
“Where?” she asked with a trembling voice.
When she saw him sitting under the tree, Trisha couldn't help but feel surprised. The man had been right. How he'd known was beyond her, but he had been right. She stood staring at the blond for a long time. His back was mostly to her, so he hadn't seen her yet and for that she was grateful. It gave her a chance to study him, to gather her thoughts together.
He had come here, to the cemetery, for some reason she was unaware of, yet Colonel Mustang knew. He'd known Ed would be here… or at least had a good reason to believe Ed would be here.
But why…
It came back to that.
Why would Ed come here?
Why… how...
So many questions.
Trisha walked toward him and by the tightening of his shoulders she knew that he knew she was there.
“Edward…” she began gently, “I'm sorry…”
She'd meant to say more, but he cut in sharply, “No! No… Don't say you're sorry! You have no reason to be, and you have every right to say what you did.” His voice softened as he continued. “I guess I just… it seems I'm always angry. I guess I get that way because it covers up anything that I might be feeling that I don't want people to see…” He gave a short mirthless laugh. “Like… when people make fun of my height… I get mad, but it's just to cover up that it hurts… kinda stupid I guess…”
He looked so vulnerable sitting there below the tree, with his legs hugged to his chest and his chin resting on his knees as he stared out over the cemetery. She knew that position so well. Her little Edward often sat like that when he was upset or feeling down.
“It isn't stupid…” she replied softly. “I think we all do things like that.”
He shook his head. “Not you… You were always so kind and gentle, even when you were mad at me… but you were always sad too… and now I'm just causing you more pain.” A slight breeze stirred the cool morning air causing his blond bangs to brush past his face.
“Don't be silly, Edward… wasn't I just upset, and didn't I get mad last night?”
The teenager shook his head. “You wouldn't have been if I wasn't here. We shouldn't be here, me and Roy…”
“Maybe that's true, but you are here,” she replied softly.
He nodded, silently accepting the fact.
For a few minutes neither spoke. Trisha walked the few steps that put her next to him, sat down, and gazed at him sadly. His face held a pensive look and radiated an aching pain that she couldn't even begin to understand. Finally after the long silence, Ed spoke.
“I was arrogant. I thought… I thought I could do what no one else could do. My pride kept me from believing it couldn't… shouldn't… be done. I thought they only said it was forbidden because they couldn't do it. Men older and wiser than I was…” Ed sighed and shook his head. “I was stupid. Al… he didn't want to do it. He was wiser than me…” A small mirthless laugh burst from him. “He still is…”
Trisha waited patently. He was talking without being prodded, and she didn't want him to stop. She needed him to continue.
“I was so stupid… so foolish, but I couldn't let it be. I couldn't let go of the fact that what I wanted was wrong.” His voice lowered into a tortured whisper. “I was so desperate…” He blinked and a tear escaped his eye, dropping onto his knee. “My theorems and equations… they all seemed so right… they were right, but…”
His voice began to quiver, but he continued on. “It was us… we were the problem. What we were doing was the problem… it wasn't even near equivalent… but, there was nothing we could have possibly offered that would have been enough…. what happened… it wasn't fair… none of it, but it was equivalent, in a sick, morbid way, or at least almost equivalent.”
Ed shook his head and snorted in disgust. “Equivalent would have been a body for a body, that much was right.... A leg for knowledge isn't exactly equivalent if you ask me. They tried to take too much… I shouldn't have had to pay to get his soul back… there was no reason for them to have taken it…”
Trisha wasn't exactly sure what her son was talking about, and since she was pretty sure that he was just rambling now, she said, “Edward… I don't understand…”
He looked at her with liquid eyes, sighed, then stood up and walked a few steps before stopping.
“You're ill… aren't you?”
Her eyes widened and she gasped. How did he know? She hadn't told anyone…
The blond turned and looked down at her with such agony that Trisha thought she'd start crying again. “Why? Why didn't you tell anyone?” His voice caught and he had to swallow hard before continuing. “We needed you! Maybe someone could have helped you!” The passion in his voice was only amplified by the pleading in his body language. His hands were spread out as if begging her for something.
Maybe he was…
“Edward… how did you…” she began but never got a chance to finish.
“You died mom! You fucking died on us!” he sobbed, then fell to his knees in unadulterated anguish.
Her body felt cold as her brain numbly processed what he was saying.
She'd died?
“That was when I lost Al…” he moaned. “We created our own array for human transmutation, and…”
He never got a chance to finish because Trisha was jolted out of her stupor by the words `human transmutation', and yelled, “What? You didn't! Even I know that's forbidden Ed!”
“I know!” Ed responded loudly.
“Then why…” she began but was cut off.
“BECAUSE I WANTED YOU BACK!” Ed screamed passionately, then buried his head into the grass and sobbed. His fingers grabbed at the green blades and pulled them roughly from the ground.
Tears flowed from her own eyes, making her vision blurry, but she crawled over to him on her hands and knees, and wrapped her arms tightly around her son.
Human transmutation…
What had she done wrong that her little boys would try such a dangerous thing? His body trembled under her touch and she tried to comfort him by rubbing his back and holding him close.
“I'm sorry…” he moaned. “I'm so sorry… I was wrong… I was wrong… and I… Al… I… it was my fault…”
“That's how you lost Alphonse?” she asked in dismay.
He nodded and slipped his gloved hands over his head as if to cover himself.
“But, how…” she began, then stopped as her eyes rested on Ed's right wrist. When he'd put his hands up to cover his head, the sleeves of his coat and jacket had shifted; had moved down with the gravity, and to her horror, she wasn't looking at a wrist of flesh and blood...
She was looking at automail.
Tears sprang unbidden to her eyes and the dull gray metal became blurry in her vision.
Automail on her baby?
How could this happen?
Trisha tried to blink away the tears, but she couldn't. It was all so overwhelming… A tormented sob broke through and her body shuddered with the force of it. Again and again, sobs wracked at her body. So caught up in her grief was she that Trisha didn't notice Ed lift his head and stare at her. She didn't notice when he touched her shoulder or when he fearfully said her name. A small shake from the teen brought her back to the situation and she lifted her head and looked into Ed's frightened eyes.
“Mom…” he whimpered apprehensively, “mom… what's wrong… please…”
With what little strength she had, Trisha grabbed onto Ed's red coat and pulled him forward. “What happened to you Edward!” she cried in despair.
“What do you mean?” he asked in confusion.
The woman yanked on his coat and cried, “Your arm Edward! Why? Why is it automail?” Another sob tore through her and Trisha rested her head against Ed's chest before moaning, “Why... why… why…”
Small, but strong, arms wrapped around her shoulders and held onto her tightly. “I didn't want you to know…” he said in a shaky, tormented whisper. “I'm sorry… I didn't… I'm so sorry…” Trisha clung even more tightly to him and felt him softly stroke her hair. “This is all my fault… I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry,” he whispered over and over, “Please don't cry. It… it's okay…it will be alright…” but on the last word his voice broke and she could feel his small body shake with silent sobs.
This made her cry even harder, because she knew that he was trying to comfort her, when it should be the other way around. He was trying to be strong for her… he was trying to hold back his tears… hold back the pain.
Trisha didn't know how long the two of them held each other, but finally she became too exhausted to continue crying. It seemed as if that's all she'd been doing since last night. Her head hurt, her eyes hurt, her nose hurt… even her throat hurt… She lifted her head and gazed wearily at her son. His nose and cheeks were splotchy and his eyes were a pinkish color from his own tears.
“I'm sorry Edward…”
His eyebrows knit together in confusion. “For what?”
“For not being stronger… I… I should have been the one comforting you…” she looked down in shame. What kind of a mother was she?
Rough fabric touched her chin as Ed tipped her face up to look at her. “You have nothing to be sorry for,” he breathed. When he blinked, a tear broke free from his eye and he sniffled loudly. He tapped his chest, and opened his mouth to speak. At first nothing came out, but then he croaked, “Me. It's my fault... my sin…”
Another sniffle and another tear.
The teenager looked down for a moment, then shrugged off his long red coat. Slowly, he pulled off his gloves, and looked at his hands for a moment, then unfastened the buckle on his jacket and pulled it off, leaving only a black tanktop. She looked away and tried to blink away the sudden tears. Not just his hand, but his whole arm… She just didn't know if she could handle this… it was just too much…
“Mom,” Ed whispered quietly, “look at me.” Trisha gritted her teeth together, squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head. She couldn't. She couldn't look at him... not like that. There was a moment of silence before she was roughly grabbed and turned. “Look at me dammit!” Ed cried in hurt frustration. Slowly, she opened her eyes and when her gaze met the automail she had to fight the urge to shut them.
Ed touched his flesh hand to his automail arm and whispered, “This is the price that I have to pay for what I did.” He tapped the metal softly. “This…” Then he brought his hand down and touched his left leg. “And this…” It took her a moment to understand, but when she did a gasp tore from her and her hands flew to her mouth.
“No…” she whispered in horror.
Ed tapped his leg as he tried to get his emotions under control enough to speak, then he whispered savagely, “This… this is nothing compared to what Al has lost…” Trisha stared at him in dumfounded silence. She couldn't even imagine how much more Alphonse could have lost. The teenager looked down, shook his head slowly and gritted his teeth. When he finally looked up at her, Trisha could see the tragic truth written in his eyes.
“Al…” Ed began brokenly, but stopped for a moment to compose himself enough to speak. “Al lost his whole body. It was all I could do to keep his soul here. I…” he looked away, unable to face her as he said, “I attached his soul to that armor in the corner… the one in that room adjacent to the study…”
Trisha stared at him, not comprehending, not taking it in. The words seemed to hide in the dark recesses of her mind. Like a coin in murky water… you knew it was there, but just couldn't see it…
“The… armor…”
“It was the only thing I could think of… and… I didn't have very much time…” he murmured regretfully. To this, Trisha said nothing. What could she say? Surely not, `Edward, put your brother's soul back where you found it'. The thought was a ludicrous one, and she realized that her brain was just not processing this information like it should. Even though she knew it was true, a part of her just refused to believe it.
“That's why I became a State Alchemist,” Ed stated flatly, then his tone changed to one of purpose. “Al doesn't deserve that. This wasn't his fault, it was mine, and I would do anything to make it right again.” The teenager's face held a look of stubborn determination.
After a moment his face softened, and he said, “So… you see, there's nothing for you to be sorry for. You haven't done anything…”
Trisha nodded brokenly, her eyes going back to the automail. Hesitantly, she lifted her hand and brought it close to his arm, then looked up at him as if for permission. He swallowed and nodded to her before she looked back and let her fingers touch the smooth, cool metal of the artificial limb.
It must have hurt… the surgery. She'd talked to the Rockbells about it before, and they'd said it was probably the most painful surgery there was. Again tears sprang to her eyes but she pushed them away and dropped her hand before looking down in her lap. It was then that something from earlier came back to her and she looked up at her son in new understanding.
“That's why…” she murmured.
“That's why you're called that… the Fullmetal Alchemist…”
A small half smile formed on his face and he said, “Yeah, the Fuhrer has a lame sense of humor…”
“I suppose…” she said noncommittally.
Ed sighed and slipped his jacket and coat back on before standing and holding his hand down to her. “We'd better get back.” She took his offered hand, stood up and brushed the grass and wrinkles out of her dress. When she was finished, Trisha walked beside her son as they walked toward the house.
So many questions had been answered, but she still had more, and one especially that wouldn't leave her alone.
Well. There it is. You have no idea how long I worked in this today to get it out to you this soon. Seriously I got up at 5:30 this morning and over the last fourteen hours I would have to say that at least ten of them was spent working on this chapter.
I really hope you all enjoyed it and I'd really, really love to hear what you thought about it. Even all you lurkers, if you could drop me a line or two about what you thought I'd be so grateful. It would be worth all the cramping in my shoulders and wrists. :)
- Z