Disclaimer: I don't own FMA the cow does, bow to the cow she is all powerful. FMA is the property of Arakawa-sama and not I. I make no money writing this I am merely borrowing the characters for creative purposes.
A/N: This story is still very much in the works. Originally I was going to wait until it was finished to post it but oh well. I will give a forewarning, this is a story for fun and a challenge I have set for myself to write better so there may be a good deal of time between posts. Constructive Criticism is highly appreciated. Hope you enjoy and happy reading.
Title: Carpe Diem (Seize the Day)
Genre: Drama, Action Adventure
Rating: MA, NC-17 (overall)
Status: Work In Progress
The constant rocking and stiffness of the seat he currently sat in brought back feelings of familiarity that caused a small smile to curl his lips. The fact that he could feel that stiffness reminded him of all the times his brother had fallen asleep on train rides to all the places they had gone. But even the nostalgic feelings couldn't gouge the loneliness he felt even with his best friend and wife and their daughter right there with him. He missed his brother and it hurt to think back on how distant they had become, how secretive he was and how there seemed to be a wall separating them even when they stood side by side. They used to tell each other everything used to know one another so very well but now Al felt like his brother had become a stranger and that pained him more than he wanted to openly admit. He knew logically that some things were the same and that it was most likely Ed was keeping things from him to protect him but that didn't make it hurt any less that he was not telling him anything.
They had been through so much and why did Ed believe that Al had not had to endure and go down those hard roads with him, that he didn't feel pain in some small way and especially now when he had his body back? When he did get his body back all the memories of their time spent on the road came back to him almost viciously. It was as though now that he had regained his body that he had to pay a heavy, emotional, and agonizingly eye opening price for his time apart from it. In a matter of months he had truly felt what their journey had cost them both. He had always been viewed as mature but now he fully understood why others saw him as wise beyond his years.
It was typical of Ed to carry all the weight on his shoulders but that weight would crush him as surely as the automail would one day. He was accustomed to having Ed at his side all the time and since his return he had accepted that they needed their space and to grow to be independent from each other but that didn't mean that they shouldn't still be close and trust one another. He had gone to Teacher and spent those two years constantly on the road and it wasn't until Ed was suddenly there, found around North Headquarters near the Drachma Mountains that he had ceased his search. Two years of not knowing was probably the cause for his paranoia right after Ed had left on assignment and why he had found himself speaking with Mustang often to ensure that his brother was alright and had not disappeared once again.
It was still obvious to him at every turn and every thought, Ed wasn't there, he wasn't within reach, to talk to, or to just lay eyes on. That left a gap in his life that he wished could be filled with his older brothers' presence. He knew his brother was alive, knew he was on assignment, knew that his brother had to check in every week with his commanding officer and that those responses rotated back to Mustang and his crew and thus back to Al and Winry in Rush Valley but it wasn't really enough. He longed to hear his brothers voice, to see those golden eyes and would actually cherish seeing one of Ed's outbursts just because it would rectify that Ed was there and not somewhere else.
Al was worried about the changes in Ed, how much different were they now? So much had changed about their lives, Al had Winry and Anna and Ed had left Resembool only six months after his return after spending several months in the hospital recovering from whatever it was he had been through. Then he went back to Central where he spent another six months before he left for his two year assignment. He'd visited him in Central at his single apartment but even then there was this rift between them. The 'People's Alchemist' had disappeared for two years and when he returned he was more subdued, calmer, more mature and even more distant than ever.
He remembered the first time his brother had begun to change; Ed was sixteen and their lives were still an everyday struggle as they desperately searched for a way to restore their bodies. His brother had become more withdrawn, more secretive, and there was this permanent cloud hanging over him. It seemed as though he was haunted and he knew such a drastic change resulted in his brothers' encounter with Kimblee in the Drachma Mountains. That was the first time his stubborn sibling had drawn away from them and set off to do things on his own. The consequences for his choice were something he had covered up with time but could not be fully hidden.
It wasn't until all the fighting was over and both of them were recovering in the hospital that Al had noticed the scar. A scar from a wound that should have been fatal and was present in alignment with a scar on his lower back was there on his stomach on the lower left side. He knew his older brothers' scars from grazes, cuts, burns, the automail, but was denied the information on that particular one. He had to resort to research to figure out what could have caused and find out how deadly it was. The knowledge was heart stopping at best; he could have lost his brother and would have never known as such if the choice were left to Ed.
When his elder sibling had miraculously returned the artificial limbs he wore made Winry balk at the sheer simplicity and lacking of modernization in their design. They seemed to only fulfill the barest of necessities and had made the replacement of the automail much more difficult than should the automail have been damaged or the limbs simply removed. The ports had to be redesigned and reinstalled. Another thing that had bothered the younger Elric was that his elder brother had been very adamant that he not be present for the surgery. Pinako and Winry had seen his brothers' scars from his time away and they had told him but why was his brother so . . . defensive towards him of all people?
Ed had spent several months at the North Medical Facility before he had even traveled to Resembool and then six months having the automail reinstalled. Then his brother had gone to Central where he was told to take six months leave and was reinstated in the military with a promotion to add to it. No one could figure out why he would remain in the military after all the complaining and times he had said he despised being a dog of the military.
Al snapped out of his thoughts at the yawn emitted from his daughter, her bright blue eyes were very much Winrys' and her dark blond hair was his own. She looked so much like his mom that he couldn't help but smile as she rubbed her eyes tiredly. The speaker announced they had arrived in Central while the whistle blew loudly breaking the tired reverie of the passengers. Winry stood and stretched her arms over her head before picking Anna up with a laugh that was met with the helplessly happy laughter of the two year old and Al felt warmth run through him and his heart swelled with happiness.
He had changed and grown and no longer wore an outfit similar to Ed's taking to brown slacks and a white button down with a khaki coat instead. Winry dressed a little more sophisticated now choosing to wear a lose pair of navy pants with a green pullover shirt. She'd given up skirts and tank tops as her business grew and then after giving birth to Marianna she chose comfort over looks. It suited her really and they were both a bit surprised when Anna decided she wanted to wear dresses and have her long hair worn in a braid declaring that Uncle Ed always used to wear it that way and she would too until she was taller than Ed's now 5'9". Her hair had only managed to grow to the middle of her back. She had yet to actually meet Ed but she was shown all kinds of pictures and always managed to get to talk to him on the phone when he called. It was late fall and the weather in Central required a bit more attire to keep warm than what Rush Valley or Resembool did.
Winry had already put on her thicker coat and had done the same for Anna who was wearing thick, white stockings to keep her legs warm beneath her long sleeved, light blue, ribboned dress that one of the mothers' in Rush Valley had made for her. He shrugged his thicker, khaki coat on as Winry set to fastening the buttons on her own navy blue coat. Their coats were made of wool and they had bought those years ago for their trips to Central.
Anna motioned to Al as he stood and Al took her with a bright, warm smile and her giggling made his heart swell with pride and a fierce feeling of devotion. He learned when his daughter was born that Ed wasn't the only person he could be so tied to and dedicated to, it was different with his daughter than it was with Ed or Winry. It was all consuming and he understood Mr. Hues now, why he was so protective and proud and would always show everyone pictures of Elysia. He twirled her in the air making her laugh before hugging her close and reaching up to grab his suitcase in the hamper above the seats. Winry had already grabbed her bag and the small white suitcase that had Anna's things in it. He followed her off the train and through the station where they were greeted by Havoc waiting for them with a car.
Havoc was wearing the standard issue wool jacket that marked him as a soldier over his uniform and that reminded him that he would get to see his brother in uniform when he returned seeing as how Ed no longer had any excuses not to wear it. He waved and smiled and Al was so glad to see him standing on his own legs again, he grinned and waved back as they headed towards him. "Hi Al, Miss Winry, Marianna, see you're dressed for the worsening weather here," Anna smiled in greeting as did Winry as they stood before him.
"Indeed, the winters' here are terrible. Ed seems to have great timing to return," Winry commented as she set her bag and the suitcase on the ground.
"That's not really his choice Winry," Al began as Havoc reached down and took hold of the things Winry had set down. "You didn't have to go to this much trouble for us."
"Not that it isn't appreciated," Winry added with a smile as Havoc set her things in the trunk and held his hand out for Al's things. Al handed him his suitcase with a polite word of thanks then asked, "How have you been Mr. Havoc?"
The older man turned back to them with a grin after he got their things situated in the trunk and closed it, "Just Havoc is fine Al, the boss calls me that. I have been doing well and this is truly the highlight of my day. Chief wanted to make sure you three were well taken care of, boss would ring his neck if he ignored the fact that you were in Central." He motioned for them to get in the car moving to open the door for Winry. Al handed Marianna over to his wife once she had climbed in the backseat and then took his seat in the front passenger seat as the Captain climbed into the drivers' seat. Clicks rang out as seat-belts were put on and then keys jingled before the car was started and the Elrics found themselves grateful for the heat in the car.
As they started down the road Winry asked to break the silence, "How is everyone doing?"
Their driver shrugged, "Fine I guess, still the same as ever. How have you three been doing?"
"Really well, business is wonderful and Anna has already started to read on her own."
Anna beamed and Havoc grinned with a knowing smile as he detected the pride in Winry's voice and in Al's smile.
"That's great but not unexpected, she is an Elric after all and I know as well as anyone that has come across you and the boss that Elric's and Rockbell's are something else."
"The chief wanted to have dinner with all of you but said it could wait until tomorrow, I'm sure all of you are tired from the trip."
As a small silence fell over the group the rest of the way the Amestrian officer snapped his fingers as though a sudden thought has come to him, "Chief wanted me to tell you guys that the boss would be back the morning after tomorrow. We just got the telegram today that he sent from Xing."
Anna yawned to show that indeed they were and Havoc just grinned and turned at the next street heading for a familiar, civilian hotel next to the military hotel Ed and Al had often stayed at. Havoc went so far as to actually pay for their room which he refused to let Al or Winry protest saying it was orders. Once their bags were taken to their rooms the younger of the Elric brothers followed his escort downstairs and stopped him from leaving just outside the hotel.
"Captain, I know it s against regulations and all that-"
His excuse was waved off easily, "Al, he wasn't seriously injured, some bumps and bruises. Though he was adamant about walking that desert which is probably why its' taken so long for the boss to get back. Didn't give a reason why though," he finished before fishing out a cigarette from the right pocket of his heavy coat and then digging into his right pants' pocket for his lighter.
"That sounds like brother," was the only reply he could give with only a frown to accompany it.
The older blond chuckled a with a bit of strain that the younger Elric couldn't help but to notice as he clapped him on the shoulder and said with his cigarette held between his teeth, "Hey, he's tough but rumor has it he lived it up in Xing so don't look so depressed about the boss wanting to take a trek through the dessert. You two did that often enough anyway."
Al nodded, "Yeah, I wasn't worried for safety reasons . . . thank you so much for all your help tonight, we all really appreciate it."
Havoc laughed with a bit of embarrassment, "Well thank the chief for the bills being covered, he can afford it better than I can."
With a smile the young alchemist bid the soldier goodnight and headed back to his room. Upon re-entering his room his wife declared she would take their daughter to round up some dinner for the evening. And so left on his own in the room he took it upon himself to unpack their belongings and try to make the room appear more lived in. Tomorrow he would start trying to get to know his brother again and he would hope his time away in Xing somehow helped him grow less distant and guarded. He had a lot of patience but he felt like he had missed his brother for more than the last four years. They would have to go and see Gracia and Elysia sometime while they were in Central, Elysia was ten years old now and it had been over a year since he had seen her and Gracia.
In fact, in just a few short weeks his brothers' birthday would be here as well as Elysia's. It was not much of a happy ending how they had found out that Elysia and Ed shared a birthday considering the moods they were both in at the time but now he found he looked forward to the day. They would have to find something to get her and he never could find anything to get Ed. A book was the most obvious choice. He was grateful to be worrying over something so simple like what to buy for upcoming birthdays and that was the discussion through dinner when Anna and Winry returned with pasta and meatballs with bread and lemonade. The small family ate in silence before bathing and changing into sleep attire to settle down for the night.
After a long train ride and many thoughts and emotions circling through his mind all day Alphonse found sleep easily in the security of having his arms around his wife and their daughter curled in between them. With a soft kiss and a whispered goodnight he closed his eyes and hoped that his families dreams as well as his own would be pleasant throughout the night.
A/N: This is very much a work in progress and something I came up with while stumped with other stories I have been working on during my lack of internet hiatus. I do however have quite a few chapters of this story finished already so I will add them a week at a time to try and give myself time to move forward with this. Hope it was enjoyable to read and thanks for reading.