Written by: Hakimu
Rating: K+ (for language and mild sexual references)
Series: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Setting: August 1917 (3 years after the events of Brotherhood) in the countries of Amestris and Xing
Genres: Family, Humor, Hurt/Comfort, Drama, Romance, Adventure
Summary: Ed gets cold feet on his wedding day and runs away with Al, leaving a heartbroken Winry behind. As runaways, the duo encounter various people who teach them the meaning of love and family... and the brothers realize what it will take to form their own family.
"That's not how you wear a tie, Brother."
Edward was standing in front of a full body mirror, attempting to put on a pure white tie, one that matched his pure white suit. He'd never worn one before, so he was a loss of how to put one on. He stopped his progress as he instantly recognized the voice speaking as that of his younger brother, Alphonse. "Well, do you know how to put on a tie?" he retorted, not looking up from his work.
Alphonse gestured down to his own tie, bright red and tied neatly around his neck."Obviously. Here, I'll help you with yours." Al closed the door behind him softly. He took the tie from his eighteen-year-old brother and tied it gently around his neck. He then stepped back to get a look at his brother. "This is so unreal, Brother. It seems as if only yesterday I got my body back. Now, you're getting married." He cleared his throat. "I have to be honest with you… I never would have pictured you as the type to settle down and get married."
Ed gave a soft, nervous laugh. "I never pictured myself getting married, either. It's just... not me."
His younger brother looked at him with confusion, blinking his dark golden eyes dazedly. "Brother... what are you saying?" Edward still did not meet his brother's gaze, but rather walked over to a chair by the sealed window in the room and sat down, clutching his face in his hands. Strands of his brilliant blonde hair that weren't tied back into Ed's trademark low braid fell over his hands.
"I'm having second thoughts about this, Al."
Al gasped, covered his mouth, and took a step towards Ed. "Brother! You can't be serious! You'd be hurting Winry! You can't!"
"I know, Al!" Ed snapped. He pursed his lips and lowered his voice as he continued with his confession. "I don't want to hurt her. But I know that if I actually do do this, I'll still be hurting her because I won't be the husband she expects and deserves. So I have to do this.."
The groom-to-be got up and stood to look out of the closed window. The morning sun shined brightly on his white wedding suit, making it seem as if he was glowing. "I'm sorry Al, but I'm leaving. I really can't do this. Tell Winry that's it's nothing personal... and that I still love her."
"But Brother!" yelled Al, his maturing voice cracking with fear. "Where will you go? You're leaving behind your family!"
"I dunno, I'll go live in Central or something. I have enough money to get by; my years in the military earned me a lot of cash."
"Ed, that money won't last you forever. And you can't renew your State Alchemist title because you can't perform alchemy anymore!"
"Stop worrying about me, Al. I'll be okay. I'm still going to leave no matter what you say." Edward turned back to face his brother, who was wearing a sad and pain-filled face. "Don't look so sad, Al. I'll keep in touch with everyone. Unless... you all hate me after doing this..."
Not looking at his brother, Ed stood up and lowered the window in the room. Once the window was up, he grabbed the top and slid his legs - one real, one automail - through the open space. Before he could leave, Alphonse grabbed his right arm, which was now flesh and blood thanks to Al's own efforts. "Brother, I can never hate you, no matter what you do. But shouldn't you at least tell Winry yourself before you do this?"
Ed simply shook his head no, flinging his golden bangs back and forth. "I couldn't bear it. Telling you was had enough. Now can you let me go?"
"No," answered Al simply.
"Then I'm going to have to make you let go. C'mon, Al, I don't want to hurt you."
"Brother, the reason I won't let go is because I want to come with you." At this declaration, Edward turned to face his brother in disbelief. Before Ed could object, Alphonse continued speaking. "I'm your younger brother, and I will support your choices no matter how stupid they might be. Besides, someone has to look after you." Alphonse coughed a little and mumbled, "I was certain after today that would be a job left to Winry... but..."
Al was cut off when his brother wrapped him in a quick hug, causing him to gasp in surprise. Edward isn't a very affectionate person; it takes a lot to get a hug out of him. "Thanks, Brother. I'm glad you have my back. But aren't you worried about Winry and Granny being angry with you for leaving them as well?"
" I'm more worried for your sake."
Edward pursed his lips in thought and spun back around to face the open window. "Well, shall we go then? Before we are caught?"
"What!" Alphonse crossed his arms angrily. "Don't we need clothes and stuff?"
Edward scratched his head. 'Riiiiiiiiiiight," he dragged out.
"...and you wanted to do this on your own?" said Al teasingly.
Young, blonde and beautiful Winry Rockbell sat in the back of the car her granny rented, fighting back tears. Three hours ago, she was supposed to be marrying her best friend. Three hours ago, she was supposed to be Winry Elric. But no. Edward had to go off and be his idiot self and not show up at all.
In addition to Ed, his younger brother did not show up to the wedding either. Winry suspected that they were in this together, whatever "it" may be. The young woman wasn't sure what she should be: furious or depressed. A single tear slid down her cheek, ruining her bridal makeup.
"Now, Winry, please don't cry. You know those boys; they can never stay out of trouble. It's probably not their fault their late," her grandmother Pinako said matter-of-factly. "They've known you all of their lives. Would they really leave you like this?"
The blonde bride thought of the darker days, when Ed still had an automail arm and Alphonse didn't have a body. The days where they went off journeying to search for their bodies. The days where they never called her, unless it was for automail repairs. "Yes."
"If that's what you think, then why did you choose to marry one of them?" Winry gazed out of the window as the town of Resembool scrolled through her window. After all of this time, she still did not know the answer to that question.
When she arrived at her home and workplace, all she wanted to do was run upstairs and cry. How ironic: Edward hated when she cried, and now it was all fault she was doing it. Winry wished he could see her cry. Maybe he'd feel guilty about what he did.
However, before the deserted bride could fully cry away her problems, she decided to check Ed's room. She still had an ounce of hope in her system. Maybe he overslept? Retaining this thought, she rushed into Ed's room. She fought hard to restrict her tears when she saw that his bed was empty and that all of his stuff was gone. So he did leave her. She then ran to Al's room to discover that his belongings were gone as well. Of course, those two are always keeping secrets.
By this point, Winry had succumbed to tears. They slowly crawled down he cheeks as she ran into her room and face planted onto her bed. As she sobbed, she felt something crunch beneath the whites of her wedding dress. She shuffled a bit before removing a folded piece of parchment. She fumbled with the tiny folding until it opened. Right away, the neat, large and cursive handwriting told her that this was something written by Alphonse.
Ed's going to kill me if he finds out that I've written this, but here goes. If you are reading this, you're probably really upset that your special day was ruined. For that, I'm very sorry. I'm a little upset, too; I was excited to see you and Brother get married. You see, the only reason Brother backed out is because he has commitment issues. It's not because of you, so don't you think that for a second. You know how Ed can be. The idea of marriage scares him a lot. I guess he felt kind of rushed. You guys are only eighteen, after all. You have time to try this again, right?
Anyway, I tried to talk him out of running away, but that didn't work. So, I decided to run away with him. Someone has to take care of him, right? We won't be gone forever, though. No matter how long it takes, I'll bring Brother home to you and Granny. I won't come back without him, either. Remember, whenever Brother and I leave home together, we return together. That's a promise Ed and I made when we first set out to restore our bodies many years ago. And now, it is a promise between you and I. I promise, I'll come home with Brother. We won't leave you behind.
With love, Alphonse Elric
As she read the letter, Winry had to keep moving the paper so that her tears would not blur Al's writing. She was still angry with Ed, of course, but Alphonse had eased much of Winry's anger. Just like when they were kids.
Nothing has changed.
The Elric brothers sat on a train headed to an unknown location. Well, unknown to Ed, at least. He had asked Al to buy two train tickets, and when the younger boy asked where to, Ed responded with "surprise me". Al, seeing some kind of opportunity, decided to buy tickets to Dublith. He was planning on visiting their ld alchemy and martial arts instructor, whom the boys have not seen since the day Alphonse got his body back. Al knew that if anyone could set Ed straight, it would be their teacher, Izumi Curtis.
The boys both loved and feared Izumi. Even though she thought of the boys as her own children, she was very strict with them. Her punishments were typically physical abuse, and even though the Elric brothers were expert fighters, Izumi was one of the few people they refused to hurt in return. Their teacher was also the only person who understood their troubles, for she also attempted alchemy's greatest taboo in addition to the brothers: she attempted human transmutation. Whereas the boys tried to revive their dead mother, she tried to revive her dead baby, losing some of her vital organs as a result.
Alphonse glanced out of the windows and through the trees to see the setting sun casting an orange glow over the bustling down of Dublith. Her reached over and shook his older brother, who was peacefully napping at his side.
"Mmmm, Al, just a little bit longer?" moaned Ed. "I'm exhausted."
"Brother, that excuse only worked when you rested for my body as well as yours. But now that I can rest for my own body, your extra hours of sleep are not needed. So get up! We're almost there! Ugh, you're so lazy!" Alphonse gently hit his brother until Edward sat up.
Edward wiped his eyes and glanced sleepily out of the window. Once he recognized the town, his eyes opened wide as he realized the city they were entering. "What the hell, Al!" he screamed, causing everyone on the train to stare at the pair.
Alphonse blushed a little at the attention and slunk down into his seat. "No need to yell, Ed," he whispered.
"Why are we going to Dublith! Do you want us to run into teacher! Do you want us to get our asses kicked!"
"Brother, please. She hasn't seen us since the day I got my body back. You know, when my hair was long and my body looked like a skeleton?"
Ed folded his arms and turned his head away childishly. "Whatever. She's going to kill me for running away! She's going to beat me to a pulp! Is that what you want, Al? To see your older brother kicked around? You're sick."
"Brother, please. Did you even invite Teacher to the wedding? You told me it was going to be very small!"
"...you're right, Alphonse. I didn't invite her! She doesn't know; she won't hurt me. Let's go visit our teacher!" Edward started to creepy, fake laugh; the kind you laugh when you're happy and nervous about something.
The train arrived at the Dublith station a few minutes later. Edward and Alphonse, carrying light luggage, quickly unboarded and made their way through the streets of Dublith. It was getting dark, and the boys wanted to reach teacher before it became too late. Otherwise they'd be greeted with a punch in the face for rudeness rather than a friendly hello.
It was roughly 8 o' clock at night when the boys made it to the Curtis house. The boys took bets and Ed won, meaning Al would have to knock on the door. Alphonse knocked politely, wondering how Izumi would react to seeing them. Even though he knew there was nothing to fear, he couldn't help but feel his heart race as he heard Izumi's footsteps approached the door. Old habits die hard.
"Who's there?" asked Izumi, her voice annoyed.
The brothers traded panicked looks. "Um, the Elric brothers," said Alphonse in a soft voice. The door swung open and Al was strangled in a tight hug.
"Oh, Alphonse! It's been so long! You look healthy!" Izumi squealed happily. Al, relieved that he wasn't being beaten, patted his teacher on the back.
"Nice to see you, Teacher."
Izumi let go of Alphonse and moved in front of Edward. Instead of a hug, Izumi greeted Ed with a clean left hook to the jaw, sending the unsuspecting boy face-down on the ground. "Hello, Edward," she said icily. Edward winced as he could see her metaphorical flames of anger cascading over her form. "Inside. Now."
Both Edward and Alphonse didn't dare to disobey her.