France finds out what Mr. Alphonse Elric is made of -- that he was not only the insomniac who liked metal and disliked food because he was on a diet.
"Al, you take care of France while I go get a train schedule," Edward said behind all the noise the people and the machinery were making. "I'll be back soon."
Alphonse nodded. The three alchemists were at the Central Train Station, trying to get the nearest possible ride to East City, and then on to Resembool. Al and France were seated at a bench in front of the huge hour clock that watched over the whole station.
"Alright, brother. We'll wait here." Alphonse replied.
Al and France watched Edward escape the scene into the busy crowd occupying most of the station's space. When Edward was gone, Alphonse turned back to France and noticed that she had been staring at him. "What's the matter?" He asked.
France shook her head. "I never really took much time to realize this." She answered.
Alphonse looked at her questioningly. "Realize what?"
"Al, you really like metal, don't you?"
Alphonse could almost smile and laugh at this gesture. She looked very puzzled and confused. "Well, sort of, why?"
"You're always wearing that big suit of armor," France pointed out. "I've seen you a couple times before we've met today, and I notice that you've been wearing that huge metal suit."
Alphonse groaned. This wasn't a very comfortable conversation, what they were talking about; but he must have gotten used to the same questions being asked somewhere in the middle of things. "Well, France, there's a really good explanation why I'm always wearing this suit."
"And come to think of it, you didn't eat lunch today," France said, ignoring Al's latest statement. "Are you on a diet or something?"
Al laughed. "France, you could even say I'm an insomniac."
"You have insomnia, Al?" France asked in awe. "That's terrible! It's probably because you're so uncomfortable in that suit of armor, or probably because you lack nutrients, or..."
"I don't have to worry about sleep or nutrients," Alphonse cut in. France widened her eyes. "What are you talking about, Al? Everyone worries about sleep and nutrients. They're two things in this world that we need, but there are others, like air and water...and love."
Alphonse put his hands on his metal head and clutched it, pulling it apart from the metal body armor. France was shocked at what she found out -- that there was no Alphonse inside the armor. "What?!"
Al re-placed his head back on his armor body and looked at the startled France. She was speechless. Alphonse gave her a few more moments to regain her composure. "But Al! How could you? What could have?" Said France; she was already tongue-tied.
Alphonse sighed. "You can say it: why aren't you in there, Al?"
France stayed quiet, forcing Al to story about himself, and about his brother, Edward. "This happened when Ed and I were kids. Our dad left us for a reason that Ed and I still don't know to this day," He said. "Our mom got terribly sick; Ed and I didn't know what to do. We just had to hope for the best, and take good care of her. We had to do what we could while we could."
France settled into the story. She eased up, as if she had already known how the story would have ended. Alphonse continued. "But fate decided to leave brother and I alone; just the two of us. And we did something.”
“What did you do?” France asked silently. Alphonse stayed still. “We tried to bring her back,”
“It was so scary. It was so dark. Ed and I tried to bring her back… to bring her back with Alchemy. We were just boys. We didn’t know much about Alchemy, or about equivalent exchange; we just thought that we didn’t have anything to lose.”
“But how? I’ve heard of soul transmutations and stuff like that… I’ve read about them in my books… but I’ve never seen anything…”
“Well, now you have,” Al said, resting his hand on her shoulder. “Something happened after Ed and I did what we did. I was being pulled by something I didn’t even see. It was darker than black; more horrible than death. Ed didn’t let go of me, but somehow I was lost. I was lost for a few seconds until I could see Ed; Ed, on the floor. Bleeding. I knew what I had to do to save him. We both lost so much.”
“He transmuted your soul into the armor…” France muttered. She knew much; Al couldn’t compare her to an eight-year-old child now. Alphonse nodded.
“Can I see?” She asked. Alphonse turned to her. “What?” He asked.
“Can I see what he did?” France asked once more. Alphonse nodded and removed his steel head once more, revealing the empty inside of his armor. She noticed the transmutation circle on the metal; it was made of blood.
France understood what she found out – there was an Alphonse inside the armor.