A Brother's Burden


That night Ed had a nightmare of the night he and Al performed the transmutation. In the end he woke in a cold sweat and was unable to sleep. It was around four in the morning when he woke up and he knew very well how much of a little kid he had already acted that night. Going to his dad's room because he had a nightmare again wasn't the smartest thing to do. So Ed got out of bed and pulled on a black hoodie and some dark jeans. Tying his sneakers off he wandered out his room and down the stairs. Unsure entirely of what he was doing, following his heart, he made his way out of the house and began walking down the street. Normally when he wandered out this late he'd be worried about running into any muggers or crooks lurking in the shadows but right now he knew it was the one peaceful time in the night. Too late for criminals to be out, but too early for the common man to be out.

So it was that Ed made his way to the nearby cemetery where he wandered amongst the graves, a set destination finally in his mind. He had stopped at the gate where white roses were growing underneath the moon. Ed picked a few of them and bundled them into one hand before proceeding to the inside. He walked amongst the graves like a wraith, his steps making only the softest of sounds. Ed smiled sadly as he passed by the tombstones, the only markers that someone resided beneath. How long until the military removed the tombstones and build something on top? Making these thousands of people forgotten, losing a grip on the past.

It was depressing to think about, it made him wonder if he was putting a building on top of his own past. He had placed Edward Mustang on top of Elric, letting the present consume his past. Was he wrong to have let it go like that? He felt guilty whenever he considered it too long, but then again feeling guilty didn't mean you were in the wrong completely. What made his choice right though? What made the most people happy? Well he made himself happy, he also made his dad happy. Yet he couldn't erase the look of pain on Al and that bastard's face. They weren't happy with it. That made the score 2/2, he needed more people... There was the team of course, Hawkeye and the rest; but did his choice really affect them? Dad's choice affected them but not his.

Winry; the thought seemed to be in the air, making him stop in his tracks. Of course there was Winry to consider, after all he hadn't told her or Pinako anything. He felt bad for it but he had come to the conclusion long ago that Winry loved Al and not him, which was okay with him. They were friends still; he just couldn't see himself having a place in their lives back in Risembool. He enjoyed the sounds at night of the cars driving by. He missed seeing the stars, but he enjoyed the lights of the streets too. No, his place was here at Central.

Still the guilt ate at him little by little whenever he was alone, it was like the guilt had its own mind; tearing him apart a little by little.

He stopped at his destination at last, before a lone grave where he knelt and placed the flowers. "Hello Mr. Hughes," Ed said quietly. "I know you probably didn't expect me to come here, especially at this hour; but I had to talk to someone about everything. Not dad because he's a part of it, and I didn't know who else to go to really. I'm so sorry to bother you after everything but…" As Ed talked on he grew calm, talking about everything that had happened to him since the start of this fiasco. Giving an account with additional comments about his opinions on certain things.

It was cold outside and he shivered a lot but he refused to move, his port was beginning to ache but he didn't care. He continued to talk, long past the point where he had anything worthwhile to say. His eyes grew heavy and his shoulders slumped slightly. Finally, he was out of words and fell onto his face before the grave as snow started falling around him.

From the trees Al came out and made his way to his brother's sleeping form. Al shook his head; he had heard most of what Ed had to say to the ghost of Mr. Hughes. He could sort of understand why his brother did what he did, but still held firm to his dad's belief that Ed was just going through a phase. A phase that Al may have a chance to end sooner than not. If it was him and dad who brought Ed into someplace warm, maybe he'd trust them more.

Al made it halfway to his brother's side when he noticed Roy was already there, having been previously obscured from view by a large statue commemorating a fallen general. Roy bent down and picked Ed up, cradling the boy in his arms. Roy glanced up from Ed and saw Alphonse, their eyes met.

Roy sighed, "It's a lot easier to hate that father of yours than it is to hate you."

"Really? I'm not finding an issue here," Alphonse said.

Roy flinched slightly, probably from the amount of venom Al had managed to pack into his tone. "Alphonse listen please I was only-"

"I don't care what you were 'only' trying to do!" Al yelled. "You took my Brother from me and our real father you bastard! I absolutely hate you! I'm here now! I'm back in my body and ready to go home with my father and my brother but now he wants to stay here because of you! Bastard Colonel you are you messed with his head and now have him playing your game! How long you going to use him Colonel? How long before you throw him away like trash and leave me to pick up the pieces? When will you be done with him? When you're Fuhrer? or do you have some other end game you'll use him for!?

Roy gaped at Alphonse, his mind as blank as the space between his teeth. That's what Alphonse was angry at him for? Because he believed that he was going to use Edward for personal gain? That was preposterous! Edward was his son, not his pawn.

Bitterly Roy recalled how he had first met the child and yelled in his face. Okay, so he could see where Alphonse got his ideas from, still; that was not his goal! Ed stirred in his arms, his eyes briefly fluttering before shutting again.

"Dad," Ed mumbled in his sleep, his left hand reaching over and grabbing Roy's shirt. "Don't go…" Ed mumbled, his face screwed up from what had to be a nightmare.

Al watched the transformation overcome Roy's face, going from defensive to soft in a matter of seconds. "I'm not going anywhere Ed," the man said gently. "Just go back to sleep okay?"

Ed whined sleepily and seemed to drift back to sleep, his hand not releasing Roy's shirt. Al watched the exchange with a look of bemusement on his face, his thoughts sliding in and out of focus. He hadn't expected to witness such a tender moment like that. He had thought all along Roy was scheming to use his brother to further his own ends, a rung on the ladder to glory. Yet these ideas could not reconcile Al's innate empathy to all things loving and kind; and that instinct told him that Roy's parental-ness of his brother was in fact genuine.

"Do you really care about him?" Al asked quietly, trying not to wake his brother up again.

Roy looked Alphonse in the eye, sensing that this was his one chance to appease the younger Elric. "Yes, I really do. I'm not using Ed to become Fuhrer quicker, I promise." Actually having a child to care for set him behind in becoming Fuhrer, but Roy decided to keep quiet on that comment.

Al backed up a step and the tension in the air vanished, it was like he was calling a truce between the two. "Alright then… I can tell you make Brother happy and that's most important to me right now. I'll leave you two alone," Al turned on his heel and started heading back into the trees when from behind Roy called, "Wait!"

Al paused, turning and giving Roy a curious glance. Roy shifted Ed in his arms and spoke carefully. "Do you and Hohenheim have a place to spend the night? I know it's the middle of the holiday season so the hotels are probably all filling up…"

"We can manage," Al said stiffly.

"I was just going to say you two can come stay at the house with me and Ed. I know he won't be happy to see Hohenheim but you are another matter. The argument hurt him deeply you know."

"It hurt all of us," said the voice of Hohenheim as he walked into the scene.

"Are there any more people hiding in the tree line waiting to come out?" Roy asked curiously.

Hohenheim placed a hand on Al's shoulder, "If you don't mind I'd like to take you up on the offer. With the snow and what-not, I'd rather not be caught outside."

Roy nodded, a truce being forged between the two groups, even if Ed was asleep through the process.

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