Sacrifice

How To Save A Life

(Alphonse's POV)

“Wake up, brother.” I gently touched Ed on the shoulder.

He rolled over, turning away from me. “Alright, alright. Hold on…” He said drowsily.

“Come on, get up! It’s eleven forty five! We have to get Alex.” I hoped that mentioning the girl would motivate him enough to get out of bed.

That seemed to wake him up completely. The second I mentioned Alex, he sprang out of bed, suddenly full of energy.

He pulled on his clothes in less than a minute. “I’m not coming back to this hotel until I find her!” Edward called, running towards the door.

I held him back. “Wait for Colonel Mustang. He’ll be here in a second.” I told him.

Sure enough, the colonel walked in a few seconds later.

“Are you ready?” He asked.

Ed nodded anxiously. “Can we go?”

Colonel Mustang nodded. “Yes, but don’t…”

My brother was out the door before he could hear the rest of the colonel’s statement.

“Run off.” He finished.

I watched Edward hurry towards the hotel lobby. “He should really stop doing that.” I said.

The colonel nodded, glaring at him. “I completely agree.”

We followed Ed out the door of the hotel. Every once and a while, he would bump somebody and earn a dirty look. I would apologize on my brother’s behalf, while still trying to lessen the distance between us. After several minutes of this, we reached the train station.

“We’re meeting her by the ticket booth.” Colonel Mustang told us.

The three of us sat down on a bench. Every so often, Edward would pull out his pocket watch, look at it, and put it away.

“Got a date?” I asked smugly.

Ed glared at me. “No. Just worried about a friend.” He said icily.

I held up my hands in surrender. “Hey. We all are. No need to get crazy about it.”

He checked his watch again. “It’s a minute past noon.” He said.

“Then she’ll be here any minute.” I told him.

We waited five more minutes. No Alex.

“She’s not here.” My brother looked at his pocket watch again.

“Maybe she’s late.” I tried.

“I don’t think so. If she’s not here by a quarter after noon, we’re looking for her.” The colonel said.

Five more minutes passed. I looked down, concerned. Edward began pulling out his pocket watch more frequently. Colonel Mustang started fingering his gloves.

Another a few more minutes went by. Ed leapt to his feet. “That’s it. Something’s happened.” He announced.

“Come on, brother. We don’t know that for sure!” I said.

The colonel stood up as well. “He’s right. Alex is never late.” He pulled on his gloves. “We have a problem.”

I looked at him. If he thought Alex was in trouble, then she was probably in trouble.

“Alright. I’ll pull out that picture of her I showed you two earlier. One of the locals is bound to have seen her.” Colonel Mustang said.

Edward nodded. “Let’s go.”

So we did, asking around. Nobody had seen her, but after about fifteen minutes, we struck a gold mine.

“That girl? I saw her with an automail mechanic about half an hour ago.” A woman said. “Around noon, I think.”

“An automail mechanic?” I asked.

“An automail mechanic?” My brother echoed.

The colonel put his head in his hands. “Oh, no.”

“Do you know where his shop is?” Edward questioned.

The woman nodded. “Yep. Keep walking straight for two blocks, and then turn right. His automail shop is the second building on the left.” She said.

Ed shook her hand gratefully. “Thank you!” He ran down the street.

Colonel Mustang and I followed him. We reached the building in a matter of minutes.

“Come on!” My brother headed for the door.

I held him back. “Wait! We don’t know who’s in there!” I told him.

The colonel nodded. “He’s right, Edward. We should take a look before bursting inside. Alex could get hurt.” He found a window, pulled a crate under it, and stood on top of it. The second he looked inside, his eyes widened and he turned bright red.

“What? What’s going on?” Ed asked, jumping up and down.

Colonel Mustang stepped off of the crate and smashed it into pieces, probably so Edward couldn’t look in the window. “I’m going in alone.” He said.

Ed glared at him. “Oh, no you’re not!” He shouted, throwing open the door and running inside.

“YOU…” The colonel ran after him.

I decided to go inside as well. I really didn’t feel like being alone while Alex was possibly in danger. So I ran next to my brother, who had locked eye contact with Alex.

Immediately I realized what had caused Colonel Mustang to go red.

Alex’s shirt was missing. All she had on top was a bra.

She was kneeling on the ground and looking at Edward, her face bright red. I looked at him and discovered that he was blushing as well. Not to mention that he was breathing extremely heavily.

I hadn’t even realized that a boy that looked to be around sixteen was leaning up against a wall, twirling a gun around his finger.

“You didn’t tell me you have friends.” He said, aiming the gun at Ed. My brother backed behind me slowly.

Alex struggled, trying to break out of the chains that were holding her hands to the wall. “Don’t you DARE touch him, you moron!” She yelled.

The boy looked at her. “Would you rather that I shoot you, automail girl?” He asked Alex, changing the gun’s position so that it pointed at her.

Automail girl? Ed and I looked at Alex. She hung her head, and for the first time, I realized that she had automail.

Both of her shoulders were entirely made up of metal. Her arms were still flesh and bone, however. I hadn’t known before because I had only seen her in long sleeved shirts.

My brother’s eyes widened a bit when he discovered this, and then he glared at Alex’s kidnapper menacingly. “If you hurt her, you idiot, I will intensify the pain that you are bound to feel a thousand fold.” He said darkly.

I flinched. While I didn’t exactly expect Edward to be happy about the course of events, I really had not seen that coming.

The boy laughed. “Bring it on, pipsqueak.” He taunted, aiming the gun at him.

Ed reached his breaking point. “DON’T CALL ME LITTLE!” He shouted, clapping his hands together and touching the ground. A concrete fist formed and smacked the boy underneath his jaw, giving him a nice uppercut.

I ran towards Alex’s kidnapper and hit him on the head, knocking him out cold.

“Well, that settles it.” I pushed his limp body to a corner of the room.

“Are you okay, Alex? Did he hurt you?” My brother asked.

She shook her head. “I’m okay.”

Edward ran next to Alex and, using alchemy, freed her from the chains. Her hands flew to her automail shoulders, trying unsuccessfully to cover them.

“Thank you.” She hung her head.

“You don’t need to hide from us, Alex. It’s okay.” Ed told her, gently moving her hands away from her shoulders.

“She could use your cloak, brother.” I said, walking over to the group.

Edward blushed again. “I suppose she could.” He took off his cloak and handed it to Alex.

She wrapped it around herself and looked up at him. “Thank you. I’m sorry for running away.”

He shook his head. “We’re not going to talk about that. What matters is, you’re safe.” He kneeled down next to her.

Alex looked at the colonel. “I should have contacted Central. I’m really sorry.”

Colonel Mustang looked at her. “It’s fine. I was just worried, that’s all.” He said, looking down.

“Alex, just out of curiosity, how do you know the colonel?” I asked her. “You don’t have to answer that if you don’t want to.”

She looked at Colonel Mustang a bit nervously.

“Go on. You can tell them.” He told her gently.

Alex looked at us. “I sort of work for the military.” She lowered her gaze to the floor.

“What do you mean you work for the military?” My brother asked.

“I’m kind of a…” She hesitated. “State alchemist.” She pulled out a pocket watch identical to Edward’s.

“What? You’re a… How… What?” Ed looked at the colonel, in shock.

“It’s true.” He said, nodding towards Alex.

“How come we didn’t know about you?” I questioned her.

“I didn’t really want to be known about. I asked Colonel Mustang to not tell you guys about me.” Alex said, looking down.

“Why?” Edward moved just a tiny bit closer to her.

“I really don’t know. I guess I was afraid of being judged.” She shrugged.

“If you didn’t want us to know about you, why travel with us to Resembool?” I asked.

“To be honest, I didn’t know who you guys were from the start. But when it finally clicked, I thought, hey, we could be friends without you knowing about my role in the military.” Alex said.

“That makes sense. But why the heck would we judge you?” Ed wondered.

Alex looked at the colonel, who nodded.

“I made a mistake. A mistake that I thought would make my life a lot better, but instead changed it forever.” She said, looking at the ground again.

Suddenly, everything fell into place. Alex’s automail shoulders. Her interest in alchemy. Her becoming a state alchemist. The deaths of her parents. The list in her journal. And finally, her awkwardness about the forbidden type of alchemy.

Alexandra Hagane had attempted to bring back her parents using human transmutation.

My brother’s eyes widened. “Oh, Alex…” He said softly.

The girl hung her head shamefully. Her body began to quiver, and I could see tears fall onto the pavement.

“Come here.” Edward told her gently, opening his arms.

Alex crawled over to him with her head lowered, and he wrapped his arms around her.

This was all it took for her to lose it completely. Her body wracked with long, heart aching sobs.

Ed stroked her hair as she buried her head into his chest. There wasn’t anything we could do but comfort her.

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