Concrete Angel

Disclaimer: I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist, hell I don't own the title to this fan fic. FMA belongs to Arakawa-sama and the title and song belong to the writers, editors, and whatnot of Martina McBride. I do not condone abuse nor am I a fan of it.

A/N: Dark themes, child abuse, violence, language. This story is fictional and should it offend anyone please do not read. Flames will be used to make smores and comments and constructive criticism is welcome. This story is un-beta'd and edited by me. Oh, and here's a shocker, Hoenhiem is the good parent in this, OMFG. lol.



Through the wind and the rain
She stands hard as a stone
In a world that she can't rise above
But her dreams give her wings
And she flies to a place where
She's loved
Concrete Angel

Chapter One

A little girl watched from her bedroom window as the new neighbors moved in, there was a big truck parked out on the street next door and there were a few grown ups moving furniture and boxes into the two story home. It was the same size and structure as her own home, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, a dining room, a nice front yard and a spacey back yard. There were two more trees in the neighbors backyard than in her own. Her blue eyes watched with excitement as two little boys laughed at their father who was making faces at them in the yard as they tried their best to move boxes into the house. The three walked inside with laughs and smiles and she felt sadness well up inside her at the sight, wishing that her family could be like that.

Her soft blond hair was only inches past shoulder length and she wore it down because she couldn't braid her own hair and because she wanted to hide behind those bangs. Her lip was busted and stung when she ran her tongue over her chapped lips. She always wore a white long sleeved shirt and a faded, blue, summer dress since it was summer vacation. She could get away with not wearing pants or long socks to cover her legs since her adoptive parents knew that people would be suspicious if she wore pants in the summer heat. She had white curtains on the two windows of her room, the one she watched out of was along the wall across the room from her door and allowed her to watch the neighborhood. There was another curtained window with blinds in the middle of the front wall that faced the front of the house but she knew better than to watch from that window in case her parents stepped outside and looked up and saw her.

Her bedroom was simple with light blue walls and a twin sized bed with light blue sheets and a pink quilt and one pillow with a light blue pillow case that was against the wall in the center of the wall across from the other window. The head of the bed rested against the wall and a small, simple nightstand with a lamp and a digital clock sat on top of it was up against the right side of the bed. The lamp had a white shade with purple and pink butterflies painted on the lamp shade. The closet was to the right of the bed from the direction of the window and there was a Chester wood dresser in there. Her room was kept tidy and clean at all times because she didn't want to risk making her parents mad at her for finding it messy.

There was a bookshelf to the left of the bed pushed back against the corner where childrens' books were organized alphabetically on two of the four shelves. On the third and fourth shelf were dolls she'd collected. At the foot of her bed was a chest where her other toys were kept, those were the toys her parents had bought her to appease the adoption agency four years ago when they'd adopted her. All her dresses and pants were hung up in her closet with two of the three jackets she had and arranged by color. Her shorts and shirts were organized by color and her shirts were folded exactly and stacked in stacks by sleeve length and color. Her shorts and her one bathing suit were in the first to last drawer beneath the drawer where her shirts were. Her under clothes were in the bottom drawer and her five pairs of pajama's were arranged by warmth and color in the top drawer.

There was a special hiding place under a floorboard under her bed where she kept a small box where she had the locket from her mother, the picture of her birth parents and herself when she was only a new born with a short old woman that was her grandmother.

They were standing outside a big yellow house in the country and it was her grandmother that had brought her to an orphanage in the city before she'd died only weeks later. The locket was something her grandmother gave her, she'd said it belonged to her mom and that her dad had given it to her mom when they got married. She also said that she was sure her parents would want her to have it and she'd put two pictures in it, one of her mom and one of her dad from their wedding day. She had two notebooks underneath the box where she wrote letters to her parents and to an imaginary friend she called 'Rose.'

She'd spent a whole of three months in the orphanage, depressed and crying all the time and refusing to talk to anyone or make friends. Her parents had died, they were in a car accident when she was only two years old and for one year she'd lived with only her grandmother and her dog Den. But then her grandmother got sick and she died too leaving her all alone.

Then her foster parents had come by, one was pale skinned with blond hair and blue eyes and he looked friendly at first glance and had a smile to fool anyone. His hair was kept short and he always wore a brown suit with a white shirt, brown pants, vest, jacket, and shoes. His wife was darker skinned and she had luscious, wavy, black hair and soft brown eyes and she looked friendly and had a gentle smile that could fool anyone too. At first she was afraid of them because they were strangers, but they talked sweetly to her and she soon felt confident enough to tell them her name and say hello. She was then offered a home with them and then that was it. She came to live in this house that she'd thought was really nice with people she thought were really nice. That only lasted for the first year and then things changed when the adoption agency stopped calling and checking in as frequently and they changed.

Then the wife started being mean to her and blaming her for everything and scolding her and calling her a slob and a messy, spoiled, brat. She would grab her so tightly she left bruises and she would hit her when she cried and she would tear up her dolls and rip apart her notebooks that she drew and wrote in. She would hit her even more when she cried from being hit or when she yelled out for help.

But the husband, he was worse than the wife. He would hit her when her room wasn't perfect or when she would tell him how mean the wife was he would hit her more. He would insult her and he called her worse names than his wife did. He would call her pompous and a bitch and he would slap her and grab her by her hair and shove her head into the sink after filling it with hot water that stung. When she tried to get away or yell or when she cried he would punch her and if she messed up or her hands shook when he stood over her and yelled at her to clean up her room after he tore it up he would stomp on her fingers or hit her knuckles until they bled with his belt.

She didn't like the belt at all, the belt hurt and it really, really hurt when the buckle hit her and scraped and cut into the skin of her back. They didn't care where they hit her as long as they hit her. The belt was used when they were really angry, which was when they would drink or when they saw her talking to the other kids or if she stuttered when answering them or when talking to other adults. They never hit her in public and they never hit her when someone else was present but afterwards if she did something they didn't like they would hit her until her whole body was so sore she silently cried herself to sleep.

That was four years ago, she hardly cried anymore though she did sometimes cry herself to sleep. She never stuttered anymore and she never held her head up or looked an adult in the eyes. She didn't talk to other kids and she was picked on at school for that and the teachers had stopped asking. She went to school everyday unless she had a mark on her face then they would keep her home. They worked all day from nine in the morning to five in the evening but she learned quickly not to sneak out of the house. The first and last time she tried to run away when they made her stay home from school because they'd given her a black eye the neighbors had told on her.

The neighbors that used to live in the house she was watching. She decided to call the new neighbors the 'sunny family.' They all had golden blond hair, and tan skin, and they laughed and smiled and when she caught the dad and the older boy glancing her way she gasped at the golden eyes she saw. They were so golden it was like looking into the sun. The younger brother had soft, copper eyes and his hair was a light shade of brown but he looked really sweet. She wasn't going to let herself believe that they were as they seemed since her foster parents had seemed to be sweet and caring too, but she wanted to believe that the boys next door and their dad were nice people.

She stepped back from the window when the older brother looked up to her window pointing at her and saying something to his younger brother. She jumped and ran with silent footsteps to her bed when there was a loud knock on her door.

Hoenhiem Elric scooped his youngest son up in his arms with a laugh to his sons' laughter as he set him on top of his shoulders and reached down to take his oldest sons' hand. Ed glared at his father with a look that clearly said I'm-big- enough- to-not-need-hold-your-hand which made him laugh again and say, "Let's go meet the neighbors."

Ed followed his dad across the yard and kept glancing to the window on the second floor where he saw the little girl watching them when they were playing in the yard just a few minutes ago. He looked back up when he nearly tripped going up the two steps to the front door. This house was just like theirs but it was blue and white instead of light brown and white. His dad let go of his hand and Ed put both of his hands in the pockets of his jeans shorts as he dad reached up and knocked firmly on the door.

Ed looked up when a really pretty woman with her hair tied back in a ponytail wearing a red blouse and blue jeans with a white apron answered the door with a gentle smile. She had brown eyes and the shade reminded him a little bit of his mom's eyes but there was something that he just didn't like about them when she met his gaze.

"Why hello there, can I help you?" She directed the second part of her greeting to Ed's dad with a bright smile. It was already five in the evening and most of the parents were home with their children at this hour. There were two cars parked in the driveway. Ed looked back to his dad as he introduced himself, "My name is Hoenhiem Elric, these are my sons Alphonse and Edward," he motioned swung Al down from his shoulders first and then messed up Ed's hair as he said their names.

The woman nodded with the same bright smile, "I'm Jasmine Wetherton, it's a pleasure to meet you. Are you the new neighbors," they shook hands after exchanging names. Hoenhiem nodded politely, "Yes ma'am Mrs. Wetherton we are."

She nodded in return, "Welcome to the neighborhood," she turned her head as someone walked up the walkway. He stood taller than her and was paler than her dark tan with blond hair and blue eyes. He smiled as looked at them and there was something fake and forced about his smile to Ed but he didn't dare to say anything, he didn't know these adults and even though he didn't trust or like them he knew his dad wanted him to behave and be polite.

The man held out his hand, "Hello there, I'm Alex Wetherton." Hoenhiem shook his hand and introduced himself and both Al and Ed. The couple stepped aside and invited them in. Ed took his dad's hand trying to tell him he didn't want to go inside but Hoenhiem smiled at him and accepted their invitation. They were led down the hallway and past a stairway to the second door on the left and into the kitchen. Mrs. Wetherton invited them to dinner and when Hoenhiem commented that he didn't want to be a bother her husband commented that it was their way of welcoming new neighbors.

Hoenhiem kept both Al and Ed in the kitchen with him and sat them down at the table and asked them to behave, polite, and mostly quiet. Ed made to say something but Al elbowed him in the ribs and the two exchanged glares but Ed busied himself with staring at the patterns in the table cloth as he listened to the adults talk.

"So what brings you to this neighborhood Mr. Elric," the husband asked.

"Well, there is a good school and I thought the boys could use the experience of living in the city."

"Really, did you used to live in the country before," the wife inquired.

"Yes, we used to live in a small town of Resembool."

"Resembool, where is that exactly," the husband asked with what sounded like genuine curiosity.

"The country side of Britain actually, we came to America after I received an offer to work as a professor at Harvard University."

"Harvard University, that's quite the well know school. What subject do you teach Mr. Elric," the wife asked with excitement and a bright smile.

"Advanced chemistry and physics."

"That's quite impressive. My wife is a high school English teacher."

"I sympathize with you Mrs. Wetherton," the adults all laughed and Ed rolled his eyes which earned him another jab to the ribs and the two exchanged glares again. Al whispered to him, "Be nice brother." Ed scoffed which earned him a sharp look from his dad.

Ed could feel a glare from the couple as well and turned to them with one of his own then asked before they could all start talking about something boring again; "Do you have a daughter?"

"Edward," Hoenhiem began but Mrs. Wetherton turned another of her off smiles to him with a nod, "Of course we do. Her name is Winifred and she's up in her room right now."

"Can we meet her?"

Al turned to the couple with a smile of his own and Mrs. Wetherton nodded once more, "Of course, why don't I take you upstairs then boys?"

She glanced to Hoenhiem who nodded and then held out her hand for them to take. Al took her hand immediately but Ed didn't want to and wouldn't have if his dad hadn't of looked sharply at him. He stifled a groan but took her hand with a forced smile as they got to their feet and let her lead them out of the kitchen and towards the stairs.

Mr. Wetherton turned to Hoenhiem, "How old are your sons, if you don't mind my asking?"

"Edward is nine and Alphonse is seven, they usually get along really well."

"How are they in school?"

"Both of them are straight A students in school and Edward is already enrolled in advanced classes."

"Really? You know there's a prestigious private school in this area if you're interested in having them attend I could put in a good word for you."

"Really, how so?"

Mr. Wetherton motioned for them to take seats at the small table in the middle of the comfortable kitchen. "Well, I used to be a student and I'm good friends with the headmaster at the school. I'm sure that if they both make such good grades in school then he would be glad to have them attend."

"I'll have to check into it, do you mind giving me the information on the school?"

"Not at all," Mr. Wetherton got to his feet and walked over to the counter and opened a drawer to the left of the refrigerator where he took out a tablet and a pen. He wrote something down and then ripped out a page, but the tablet and pen back, closed the drawer and returned to the table holding out a folded piece of paper. Hoenhiem read its' contents silently then slipped the paper in his shirt pocket, "Thank you."

"Of course, I hope you don't mind lasagna for dinner, its my wife's specialty."

"Of course not, are you sure we are not imposing?"

"Quite certain Mr. Elric," came Mrs. Wetherton's voice from the doorway. "The children are upstairs playing and its' good that they make friends with one another."

"Yes, they could spend the summer getting to know one another."

Ed stood in front of the closed door with Al next to him, the little girl was sitting on her bed reading a book she had on her lap. The wife had told them her name earlier but none of them had spoken to one another. She had shown them to the room, opened the door and more or less shoved them inside then closed the door behind her without a word. Ed felt even more suspicious of her because of that. Usually a mom would introduce guests to her daughter and make sure they got along and said something before leaving them alone.

That was what his mom had done when introducing them to other kids that had shown up asking them to play. Ed cleared his throat to which the girl jumped and looked up. She glared at him, "What are you doing in my room?"

Ed bristled but Al cut him off, "Umm, your mom brought us up here-"

"That woman isn't my mom."

"Sorry . . . well we're your neighbors, I'm Al and this is my brother Ed."

"I'm Winry, why are you here?"

"Our parents are downstairs talking to each other. So uh-that nice lady brought us up here to play with you. We were invited to dinner."

"Great," the girl all but huffed. Ed growled and brushed past Al, "What's your problem?"

"I don't have a problem. I just don't like strangers in my room or strangers that mistake that woman as my mom or as being nice or anything else. Why don't you just go downstairs and leave?"

"Why would we do that, we want to be friends," Al inquired.

Winry knew what would happen if she made friends, she would get punished for it like she always did. She wasn't allowed to have friends because she wasn't good enough to have friends and because friends asked questions. She couldn't have friends that would ask questions because they might find out and if they found out then she was going to be kicked out or locked in the basement like she was that time she tried to run away from home last year. She couldn't make friends because she didn't want them to know, couldn't let anyone know. It was with those thoughts that she threw her book towards Al.

The older brother stepped forward and snatched it out of the air with an infuriated scowl, "Why'd you go and throw that book at my brother, what's wrong with you?"

Winry jumped off her bed, her fists clenched at her sides and she forced an angry glare on her face, "I told you to leave, get out of here, I don't want to make friends! I don't need any friends so just go home!"

"Fine, I don't like this place anyway!" Ed yelled back before throwing the book to the ground, grabbing his brother's wrists and stomping out of the room to slam the door behind him. He stomped down the stairs and pulled Al behind him. Al managed to pull his hand free once they reach the bottom and watched Ed storm out of the house, slam the door behind him and run across the yard to their house. Hoenhiem and the husband and wife came out of the kitchen and into the hallway. Al turned teary eyes at his dad who closed the distance quickly and knelt down in front of him with his hands on his shoulders.

"What's the matter Al?"

Al sniffed and wiped at his eyes with the back of his hand before answering, he'd decided to place the blame on Ed since he was so rude to the girl and because he'd noticed that she was scared before she'd thrown the book at him. "Brother was mean and h-he . . . we can't ever make any friends c-cause brother is such a Meany."

Hoenhiem sighed and picked Al up in his arms then turned an apologetic smile to the couple, "I'm sorry, but perhaps another time."

The wife nodded, "Of course, it was a pleasure meeting you."

"Thank you for the warm welcome, I'm sorry again."

"Oh, don't worry about it. Children can be quite tricky from time to time. I was sure they were getting along before."

"Ah," Hoenhiem brought a hand to the back of his neck nervously, "I should have warned you that Edward has a short temper. I apologize again," with that Hoenhiem left and closed the door behind him before crossing the yard to his own house. Mr. Wetherton turned and stomped up the stairs and kicked in Winry's bedroom door which caused a yelp of surprise to leave her lips. She looked up and paled at the angry expression on his face and backed away with her hands in front of her, "You said I couldn't have any friends so I told them to leave."

"I didn't tell you to be rude or to make the younger boy cry," Alex growled.

"But I, I didn't know what else to say to them. They were both persistent."

He closed the distance and backhanded her so hard she fell to the ground. Her right hand came up to caress her cheek as she used to other to support her. She yelped when he grabbed a handful of her hair and forced her to look up at him as he loomed over her, his face inches from her own. "The next time they come over I want you to apologize. I want you to make friends with these two boys."

Winry's blue eyes widened, "Yes sir."

He released her and shoved her head down but she caught herself. When he left Winry got to her feet to see Jasmine leaning against the doorframe with a smug look on her face. "You need to learn some tact you little worthless girl. Those boys' father is well known and quite accomplished. We need you to make friends with his sons so that we can get closer to their father. Do you understand?"

Winry nodded, "Yes ma'am."

"Good, now get your lazy ass downstairs and make dinner. You'd better not burn it this time or I'll take the belt to you."

"Yes ma'am," Winry said clearly as she dusted herself off and waited until Jasmine turned and headed downstairs before following her, closing her door silently behind her.

Hoenhiem told Al to head upstairs to his room and start unpacking while he made his way into Ed's room which was on the opposite end of the hall on the second floor. His room was right across from the neighbors' daughters room. He opened the door to see Ed on his bed that was against the wall beneath the window that face their neighbors house. He was staring through the window with his arms around his knees and his knees hugged to his chest with a scowl on his face. His bookshelf was against the wall to the right of the door about three paces from the doorway and their were four boxes piled in front of it. His closet was across the room from where his bed was and there were about five boxes piled on the floor and a dresser was already situated in the closet. There was a wooden chest at the foot of his bed with two boxes in front of it.

Hoenhiem noticed the silver chain from the pocket watch he and his wife had given Ed for his last birthday hanging down from where he held it in his right hand. There was a small wooden, hand made desk underneath the window in the center of the wall that faced the front yard and their were two boxes stacked on top of it. He noticed the backpack on the ground at the head of Ed's bed. The room had a beige carpet and red walls with a wooden ceiling fan with frosted glass and gold metal pieces.

"Son?"

Ed didn't respond he only clenched his hands tighter and hugged his knees closer. Hoenhiem sat on the edge of the bed with his back facing the window to try and give his son some privacy, he knew that Ed hated it when people stared when he was upset. "Talk to me Edward."

"She started it."

Hoenhiem waited for Ed to continue, which he did after a moment, "She was ignoring us and Al spoke up first and I let him because he's nicer than I am and better with people and all." Hoenhiem nodded, that was true. Ed continued, "He was nice to her and she was rude and she got mad and threw her book at him so I snapped at her."

Hoenhiem nodded, there were times when Ed could be nice and not let his words run away with him or let his temper get the best of him. He usually behaved himself well when asked and held his tongue, if you compared it to his usual attitude anyway. But insulting, threatening, or disrespecting Al made him forget about everything else and he would snap at anyone for that. He used to get in fights at school for things like that, even in the small countryside town they all lived for years. He didn't want to pick up and leave at first, but the boys were always depressed and they just couldn't handle being in the same house that they'd found their mother unconscious and dying on the floor at. He couldn't stomach it himself, the house and all the memories of her were eating him alive.

So, he called around and put in applications for a job and when Harvard asked him he jumped at the chance and picked up and left. Harvard offered the best money and he could afford to take care of both of his sons' with the income and afford to live in the suburbs as well so that they would have a nice neighborhood to spend the rest of their childhood in. Not only that, but as a professor he could spend time with his sons' and would have the same time off as they did which worked for their schooling. He would spend this summer getting to know the neighbors and see if they were willing to watch the boys when he had to work and he wasn't able to make it home to them on time. If he couldn't find anyone then he could hire a babysitter or sign them up for a Y.M.C.A. or something.

He knew that Ed wanted to join martial arts now that they lived in the city and that Al would like learning to play a musical instrument. Thanks to one of Trisha's family friends both of his sons were taught martial arts growing up and both of them were tutored in all the main courses which put them ahead of the kids at the small town school and up to date, possibly past the students in the school's in the city. Once he'd accepted the job at Harvard they sent tests to him for his sons' to take to see where they were at. The letters with the results and which years they would be put in were due to arrive on Monday of next week.

"I don't like them," Ed muttered with his forehead on his folded arms. Hoenhiem grimaced, "Why not?"

Ed raised his head and lowered his arms and legs and turned around to sit on the edge of the bed beside him.

"The adults, their smiles are fake and they acted too cheerful."

Hoenhiem laughed and Ed scowled up at him, Hoenhiem ruffled his hair, "You barely know them Ed."

"I still don't like them, there's something off about them."

"I think you're just saying that because you just met them"
Ed shook his head, "Nu-uh, I really mean it, I don't like them dad."

Hoenhiem sighed and stood up, "Well . . . even so, when we go back over there sometime next week I want you to apologize to them and their daughter."

Ed grimaced, "I don't want to, why should I? I don't like the adults and Winry was mean to Al."

"You're going to apologize because it's good manners and because I said so Edward."

Ed scoffed, "Fine, but I'll only apologize to -her- if she apologizes to Al."

"That's fair, but you still have to say you're sorry to her parents."

"They are not her parents."

Hoenhiem raised an eyebrow, "What do you mean, why do you say that?"

"Well, she doesn't look like them and because she said so."

"Is that so?"

"Yes."

"Well, alright. Then you have to apologize to Mr. and Mrs. Wetherton then."

Ed crossed his arms over his chest and huffed. Hoenhiem shook his head with a sigh and headed to the door. He held the door open and turned to Ed from the doorway, "Why don't you start unpacking while I order us some dinner?"

Ed uncrossed his arms and looked around his room then sighed and said, "That's going to take forever."

"Which is why you should get started now," Hoenhiem said with a smile.

Ed hung his head tiredly, "Alright," he mumbled and Hoenhiem closed the door behind him and walked down to the other end of the hallway. Al's room was the third door from the left on the other side of the bathroom that separated his and Ed's room. He knocked lightly and Al said cheerfully, "Come in."

Hoenhiem opened the door and smiled to see his son folding his clothes neatly and putting them away in his dresser in his closet. His room was situated the exact opposite of Ed's. His bed was against the wall beneath the window facing the backyard, his bookshelf was against the wall to the left of the door, the desk was positioned under the side window facing the neighbors house, and the closet was along the same wall as the door in the corner. He had a wooden chest at the foot of his bed as well. There were only half as many boxes in his room and half of them were already empty and folded in the middle of the floor. His room was painted blue and the carpet was tan color.

Hoenhiem walked into the room glancing up at the white and silver ceiling fan before looking around the corner of the outward wall that shaped the closet. "What do you want for dinner Al?"

Al grinned, "Really, I thought it was brothers' turn."

"He chose lunch on the way here."

"Okay, umm . . . " he raised his hand to his chin and tapped it with his index finger while he bit his lip in thought for a few moments. "Umm, can we have . . . " He turned to grin at his dad, "Chinese?"

"Okay, Chinese it is. The usual?"

Al nodded, "Yes please."

Hoenhiem smiled with a nod, "Alright, I'll call you when it gets here, don't work too hard and help your brother if you can. We both know how he is."

Al nodded with a contemplative expression, "Okay."

Hoenhiem left the room and crossed the hallway to the study in the middle of the other side of the hall. It was large enough for him to have his shelves, his filing cabinets, and his cheery wood desk. The floor to ceiling bookshelves lined half of the left and right walls and the back wall and his desk and desk chair sat in the middle of the room. His filing cabinets lined the rest of the right wall and then the left wall beside the door while a comfortable leather couch sat between the bookshelf and the filing cabinets leaving the right amount of space between the corner of the couch and the filing cabinet to prevent difficulty and opening the drawers. There were boxes stacked in front of the bookshelves, on top of the desk, the filing cabinets, and the couch and two stacks of three boxes on the floor in front of the couch.

He would have to take a couple of days to unpack everything and sort it where it belonged. He sighed and stepped back closing the door behind him.

There was a door at the end of the room that he was going to turn into a study for his sons when he had the money. He planned on having enough shelves to hold all the books they wanted to read and have two desks put in so that they could have their own workspace. He also planned on putting in a couch and a small table with two chairs so that they could have somewhere to eat and rest and debate without having to do that in the kitchen or dining room like they had at home.

At the moment the room was empty, but it wouldn't be long, hopefully, before he changed it. All the rooms were carpeted with the same beige carpet that was in Ed's room. But he hallways and the stairs that were in the center of the hallway and led down to right in front of the front door were made of polished hardwood. The walls of the hallways were white and he'd had only the bedrooms painted a specific color letting Ed and Al chose the colors of their rooms and carpets. His bedroom was to the right at the back of the house beneath Al's room. The living room was beneath Ed's room and the dining room across from that. The kitchen was across from his own bedroom and there was another bathroom between the his room and the living room while he had a private bathroom in his own master bedroom.

He walked down the stairs and glanced into the living room and dining room before heading to the kitchen by walking down the hallway to the right of the stairs from the direction of the front door. They had plenty of boxes but he knew once they were moved in they would still need to do some shopping to fill up all the added space. Right now he was living off his own savings from when he'd worked as a professor in Berlin before the boys were born. Before getting to the kitchen he stopped to see the box on the inn table against the stairs open and a single picture taken out. It was the latest family photo of the four of them together.

He picked it up and smiled at the picture. It was taken during the winter holidays last year, only weeks before Trisha had fallen ill. Al looked so like her, sweet, copper eyes, light brown hair, that gentle and happy smile. He was more like her in looks and personality. He was patient and kind and sometimes too gullible for his own good which generally got him into trouble when his older brother talked him into doing something childish and reckless.

She was wearing a velvet red dress and smiling, the smile reaching her eyes and she held one hand on Al's shoulder standing in front of her. He was standing next to her with one arm around her waist and the other on Ed's shoulder. All three of them were wearing khaki pants and white button up shirts, he wore a khaki vest and his long blond hair was tied back in a ponytail. Her soft brown hair cascaded across her back and shoulders. All of them were smiling, well Ed was smirking and Al was grinning.

He pinched his nose beneath his glasses and closed his eyes to blink back the tears that had welled up in his eyes. It had been nearly eight months since she'd died, but the heartache, the sorrow and longing were still fresh and still so painful to bear. If it wasn't for their two sons he was sure he wouldn't be able to go on without her. She'd given him so much, had fulfilled his life and gave it meaning when he didn't even know he didn't really have any. She'd healed the wounds of his past and taken in all that he was when he'd revealed his darkest secrets to her. She'd married him and waited when he sought to find something he could do and be content with. She supported him when he wanted to become a doctor and a teacher later on. Then she gave him two beautiful sons and she left him all too soon.

The good die young, they always leave us much too soon. He removed his glasses and set the picture on the table before setting his glasses down and running his hand over his face. After a few deep breaths he replaced his glasses and then headed to the kitchen, he'd had the phone company install his phone before he'd arrived. It was against the wall to his right as soon as he walked in. He had another phone installed in his own room, his study, and one more in the living room. They were all black, cordless phones with caller i.d.'s.

There were boxes in front of the refrigerator, on the counters, on the small table in the center of the kitchen, and on the floor. But he took the phone and turned his back to the kitchen and made his way to the living room where he searched through a few boxes to find the phone book with a number to a Chinese place that delivered. He'd need to at least clear off the dining room table and get a few dishes for them to use unpacked but he wanted to spend the weekend trying to organize the house. Dinner, a shower, and then sleep, he was completely exhausted.