Alphonse Elric has a pet monster to tell him stories... But he's forgotten more than he knows. Set after the end of the series. Very AU. Warning for Crazy!Al.
There is a ghosty weight against him, an arm around his shoulders, a feeling that if he looks to his side he'll see golden hair and eyes, and a face that is like his own. Someone... important. He doesn't like it, even though he knows it's not real. Because he knows it's not real, maybe.
If it was that important, he wouldn't want to forget it, would he? Of course he wouldn't; that wouldn't make any sense. It's only the things that don't matter that he lets himself forget, to clear his mind to do... something. He's not really sure what anymore, but if it was important... Wasn't he just thinking that?
He hums a song under his breath that meant something once. It's his forgetting-song now, and it smooths over the surface of his mind and makes that strange weight go away. It's good. He'll go back to the forgetting-place, and he'll hear a story.
He must bring food, though. The thing that lives in the corner hasn't been eating lately. It's a monster, but tame now, tame and friendly like the cats that rub against his ankles when he goes back to his government-funded home, though sometimes it's still scared of him and it acts skittish, poor thing. It obviously doesn't know how to feed itself, which makes him wonder what monsters do when they don't have people like him to take care of them. Maybe that's why they're so grumpy.
He stops by a bakery, ordering sweet pastries. Monsters like pastries, he was surprised to discover. He carries them to the forgetting-place in a brown paper bag, and when he opens the door, the thing in the corner looks up at him with frightened eyes. He walks to it, setting the bag by the door. He loosens its chains and strokes its dark hair while whispering soothing words. It paws at him a little bit, but he allows it.
Such funny little paws it has, so scarred and stumpy. But monsters, he remembers, shouldn't have fingers, so that's okay. With fingers they can do things they shouldn't, and put them in places they shouldn't (and other things, too, but he's not cruel; it's enough for him that monsters shouldn't have fingers). He takes a paw in his hands and kisses it gently, and his monster makes an odd whimpering noise and rubs its forehead into his shoulder.
"Tell me a story," he says.
It makes a noise like it's in pain (and isn't that ungrateful of it, he thinks, when he takes such good care of it, but it's a monster and he supposes it doesn't know any better), and it starts to talk.
"Alphonse, I'm sorry. I did things... I thought you wanted... you and Ed--" Its words are cut off by the back of Alphonse's hand across its face, and it yelps.
"That's not the story I want to hear," he tells it, in his sweetest and most reasonable voice. His hand is in its hair again, but this time to take a handful and pull its head back, so it looks him in the eyes. It always seems upset when their eyes meet. Sometimes he wonders what it sees that disturbs it so much, but he can't understand how monsters think, anyway. It's enough that when he does this, it knows it did something wrong.
And then, because he can't punish it without also showing it some kindness (because that would be cruel, and he is never cruel), he licks away the blood trickling out of its mouth, nuzzling it and touching it all over until it's letting out soft sighs and moans. It always sounds a little sad when he does that, but he knows that this is the language monsters speak -- touching in certain ways, certain places. Tell me the story, he says in that language without words. Tell me the story about the brothers.
It squirms and sighs and finally starts to tell the story Alphonse likes so much, about two alchemist brothers. One is very like him, and this makes him happy, because he has always wanted a big brother, and the monster somehow knows this. The military people he works with know it, too, and they like to pretend that he really does have a brother somewhere. They talk about this brother like he's gone away, and they miss him, and Alphonse can't help but marvel at how nice they are, giving him an imaginary brother of his own. He always thanks them kindly for their concern. It's not so bad, being treated like a child, because even when they play along, they still give him the credit he deserves as an alchemist, and that's all he could ever ask of them.
But the monster's story is better. In that story, the brothers are never separated, and they live together forever and ever. He stops it from talking when it sounds like its throat is going dry, and he gives it water, and holds bits of pastry to its lips, encouraging it with soft licks and gentle strokes until it eats.
When he lets it continue the story, it starts to cry. And that's just how hard it is to understand monsters, because to them, the happy stories are sad ones. The stories it likes to try and tell are always very sad, he's noticed. It's such a shame, really.
The story ends, and he rewards it with more touching, more licking, until it cries out and makes a mess all over his hands and the floor. It has been trained well, though, and knows to clean up its own messes, its tongue tickling his palms. Alphonse is proud.
So proud, in fact, that he unfastens his pants and lets it nuzzle and lick him there. In the monster language, it's telling him it loves him, so it's okay. He's been under a lot of stress, and this leaves him feeling relaxed and a bit floaty, and he doesn't mind it at all. His hands run through its hair again, thumb grazing the scarred place where on real people, an eye would be. Poor monster, with only one eye to see the world.
He has to go back soon, because at Headquarters everyone is busy, looking for someone... Roy Mustang, that's the name. It's familiar in the bad way, like the golden-haired ghost and the stories he doesn't want to hear, but he helps anyway, because everyone has been so good to him there. He really hopes they find this Mustang person soon.
As his crying monster licks and sucks at him, he stares at the clean white walls and hums his forgetting-song.