Fullmetal Alchemist Fan Fiction ❯ It is What it is ❯ Goal Setting ( Chapter 3 )
After Edward had turned down the corner, Alphonse faced Roy and Riza.
"Sorry..." He said, sheepishly rubbing the back of his armor head with his hand. "my brother can be a bit much at times."
"Seriously, kid, how do you put up with that...?" Roy sighed, questioning Alphonse's patience level. Dealing with Edward's attitude and smack talk had never been a irritant-free task for the Colonel himself, so he couldn't help but find a little respect for the younger brother.
Even if Riza didn't entirely agree with Roy's actions and way of handling the situation, she did understand that Edward had his own fair share of problems, so the fact that Alphonse had stayed so calm and level-headed about it all despite his young age was quite amazing.
"Well, he's not all that bad." Alphonse laughed a little. "Brother may act tough on the outside, but he's actually really sensitive when you get to know him. But also..."
He trailed off into silence, wanting to tell them about his brother's depressive behavior as of late, but didn't want to be an imposition.
"What is it?" Roy asked, noticing the hesitance in his voice.
"Well..." Alphonse trailed off into silence for a second. He had never disliked Roy, even if he did occationally disagree with his logic on things. Both Roy and Riza, for that matter, were people he considered important and even trusted. On top of that, they were two of the few that knew the full story behind Alphonse's suit of armor, so it made it a lot easier for him to come to them to talk about certain things if need be. "Brother has been kind of upset lately. I've been trying to get him to cheer up, but he's not really listening..."
"It does seem like something has been bothering him lately..." Riza said. Alphonse looked over at her. A part of him was relieved that he wasn't the only one that could tell Edward hadn't quite been himself.
"I..." he uttered in a low voice, Riza's and Roy's eyes on him. "I don't know what all is wrong, but I can tell he's not happy."
He could only guess an extent of what was upsetting his brother, and he wished Edward would talk to him more. But there were a lot of things he didn't talk about with anybody anyway, so it was hard to tell one way or another. He couldn't read Edward's mind, after all.
Roy and Riza could tell that there was probably a lot more to it than was being said as well. And for Alphonse to be so worried over it, it must be pretty serious.
Riza was about to speak, but it was surprisingly Roy who took the initiative.
"Don't worry, kid. We'll figure something out, alright?" he said, giving Alphonse's armor a light tap. Even though he had to tilt his head back, he gazed at him like a parent looking at a child. Of course, he wasn't aware of this, otherwise he would have denied it.
"Yes," Riza decided to add, giving a small smile. "you just enjoy yourself this week, Alphonse."
Alphonse was moved by the gesture, wanting more than anything to believe him, that they would be able to do something to help his brother. He said all he could think to, but it was no less genuine: "Thank you..."
"I should probably go after him for the time being though, in case he gets himself into trouble..." Alphonse said, a little awkwardly. Edward had seemed pretty angry when he had stormed off.
"Of course. You do that." Riza smirked a little.
As Alphonse began running off after his brother, she spoke up again:
"Those boys have really been through a lot..."
"Yeah, maybe this will actually do them some good... To take some time to themselves and just relax a bit." Roy's face turned a bit sullen. "Heaven knows they need it."
"By the way," Riza offered him a bit of a glare. "mind explaining your tactics to get Edward to come along?"
Roy turned to face her, not really seeing a problem with his actions. He smirked. "The answer is simple, of course. At times, a little force is necessary to push things in the direction I need them to go in. Unless... You had a better suggestion?"
"Actually, I do." Riza said, meeting his eyes. "for starters, you could have told him you actually wanted him to come along, sir."
Roy felt something inside of him jolt, his eyes widening a bit. He was taken aback by the obvious advice. He had never been one for words, but, even if he wanted to deny it, he knew she was right. If Hughes had been there, he probably would have told him something similar. In fact, he probably would have outright told Edward the whole story and why he was being taken along in the first place.
"You're right..." Roy looked away. "I'm sorry."
"With all due respect, I'm not the one you should be apologizing to, Colonel."
Edward was not happy. Not happy at all.
Only after he was back in his dorm room did he realize he'd fallen victim to bribery just as Alphonse had, and he wanted to punch Mustang more than ever.
Trotting across his room, he looked into his closet, snatching out a black jacket. It had brown fur-lining on the hood. He threw it on the bed, long enough for him to take off his red jacket. He winced, the fabric of his shirt rubbing against his cuts.
It was then that he realized Alphonse hadn't entered the room yet. "Al?"
Peeking his head out the door, he called out for him. "Hey, Al!"
Huh, I guess he'll be back here shortly, he figured, dismissing it momentarily.
Yet, a part of him couldn't help but wonder if Alphonse had already left.
He immediately found his aggression towards Mustang fading as he thought about how excited Alphonse had seemed over something as small and simple as the prospect of looking after cats.
It made Edward feel a little guilty. His brother should have been enjoying himself as a kid every day anyway, but instead, he was constantly having to come along on trips with him to find a way to get his body back - A body he shouldn't have even had to lose in the first place.
Edward had lost count of the number of times he'd wished he'd just accepted his mother's death instead of trying to play god and suggesting human transmutation. He recalled all the times Alphonse had expressed hesitation over their plans to try to bring her back, and how he himself had just shot him down, and essentially pressured him into it.
Edward still blamed himself for that and that wasn't going to change.
So maybe it was better he let it go. Alphonse deserved a week of fun to himself, even if the thought of being without him for a while was kind of painful.
After grabbing three pairs of clothes, Edward stepped into the bathroom, picking out several packs of bandage wrap, and a few other things before shoving it all into his briefcase. Opening the cabinet, he then reached into a box of razor blades, taking one out. When he originally started cutting, it was every few weeks at most, but as time passed, he began to want to cut more and more, to the point he couldn't even go three days without facing bad urges. And since he had lost his previous razor blade on the trip back, he was glad to have one back in his possession. (He would use his automail blade, but the sound and light produced by the usage of alchemy wasn't something he particularly liked when he was trying to avoid getting caught.)
Staring at the tiny metal object, temptation began to consume his instincts. He felt his arm start to itch again, as he wanted more than anything to carve into his flesh, to see his blood, to just forget everything for a while.
Maybe just a few wouldn't hurt...
However, before he could even start to act on the compulsion, he heard Alphonse's armor clinking as he entered the dorm room. Startled, he jumped, quickly shoving the blade into his pocket.
Alphonse called out. "Brother, are you almost ready...?"
"Y-yeah, just give me a few minutes, alright?" Edward stammered, slowly regaining his composure. However, he cursed himself for stuttering, feeling his heart pounding in his chest.
I don't have time for this. I've got to finish getting around, he told himself, walking out of the bathroom.
What if he had went through with his urge? What would Alphonse do or think or say if had found out about the cutting? The thought terrified the blonde.
"Alright..." Alphonse said with a bit of uncertainty, wondering why Edward had been so startled.
As Edward made his way out of the bathroom, bringing his briefcase with him, Alphonse asked, "Are you okay...?"
Edward couldn't bring himself to face him, but smiled none the less, even though it was fake. "Yeah, I'm fine... Though I am still a bit pissed at Mustang... That guy really knows how to push my buttons."
Despite the fact that they were words of hostility, most of the anger from before had left his voice.
"That looks good on you." Alphonse said.
"Huh?" Edward looked up at him, confused as to what he was talking about.
"The jacket." Alphonse pointed. Even though Edward's usual red jacket wasn't bad looking, it was always interesting seeing him in something different once in a while.
"Oh, thanks." Edward said, before sulking. "I do wish I could have worn the one I'm used to. But instead, somebody wanted to be a snide prick about it..."
Alphonse sighed a little, before giving his thoughts. "Ed, I think you should try to get along better with the Colonel... I'm sure there's more to this than what we're even aware of. And coming to terms with your differences or at least trying to might do you some good."
It was true, Roy's and Edward's antagonism towards each other had done far more bad than good and it was never really pleasant to be around.
"You too...?" Edward frowned a bit, but he sounded more tired than anything else. He looked away, a pain-filled expression on his face. "Hughes once told me the same thing..."
Remembering the face of the man who'd become like a father figure to him and his brother before he was shot and killed, Alphonse didn't know how to respond.
"Alright... I guess I'll see you next week. Be nice, Brother!" Alphonse said. Edward was at the train station alongside Riza and Roy, about to board their train.
"No way." Edward gave a wry smirk, looking up at his brother. "That's your job, isn't it?"
"Ed...!" Alphonse laughed a little, playfully scolding him.
Using the back of his fist to lightly bump Alphonse on the chest of his armor, he turned towards the door, offering a small wave. "See ya later, Al."
Roy and Riza who'd already said their goodbyes waited for Edward to get on. Once they were seated, Edward gave another wave as the train began to drive off. Standing up, he shouted out the window:
"Take good care of those cats, you hear me?!"
"You can count on me!" Alphonse gave a thumbs up.
Edward grinned a little, before sitting back down in his seat.
"I can tell that you two really are close to each other." Riza gave a small fond smile. Edward looked up at her, before he gazed out the window again.
"Yeah." he nodded, reminiscing. "It's not like we really have any other family, after all."
Of course, Riza knew that this was not entirely true; that Edward did have people who cared for him, like Winry and Pinako.
"It's only natural for siblings who face loss at such a young age as yours to grow attached to one another. It makes sense why each of you think the other is all you have left..." Riza said.
Before Edward could respond, Roy added to Riza's statement.
"Even so, you two do have family beyond yourselves, kid." If he had spoken any lower, they might have not heard him, or at least wouldn't have been able to make out what he had said. Roy had his arms folded over his chest, but not in a condescending way. He had been listening to their conversation, deciding to then speak up.
Edward just then recalled that he was even there.
"No, I don't." He turned away, a bitter expression on his face. For one, he thought that Mustang was probably referring to Hohenheim and, secondly, Edward just didn't want to negotiate about anything with him.
Roy and Riza exchanged glances but neither of them pressed the matter further.
For a long time after that, the train ride was silent.
Eventually, Edward found himself gazing out the window towards some mountains that were off in the horizon. By this point, the sun had began to set, creating a vast array of orange, purple and red. Briefly, he was reminded of his old home in Resembool, and the sunsets he would see there while walking alongside his mother. They had always been beautiful back then, and it wasn't something he could ever just forget. Even if it was something so small and seemingly irrelevant, it honestly had meant the world to him, just like his mother's stew.
Sometimes, the little things were harder to swallow than the big things, however ironic it may have seemed. It was moments like that, after all, that made him want to go back to those days.
However, no matter how lonely he and his brother got at times, their mother was gone for good, and there was no way to get her back. He had long since accepted that.
Eventually, he felt his eyes growing heavy, fatigue setting in, as he soon drifted off to sleep, the last thoughts on his mind being about his father's abandonment.
- End of Chapter
A/N: I hope it was good. I do still plan to have some really sweet moments between Roy and Riza coming up in a few chapters, by the way, so look forward to that. X3
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