Read disclaimer for info on Title and possible spoilers for FMA. A night in the life of Alphonse Elric, what does he do all night? Read and find out. One shot.
The title of this might strike you as a play on Ghost in the Shell but it /isn't intended/ that way as an /insult or a parody of either anime/. After re-watching ep 24 (obviously there are going to be spoilers for up to ep 24 and very likely spoilers from beyond that, as I have spoiled myself on the series. Therefore I wanted to do this one shot set at this time frame) that something like this would be nice to do and I have been a bit sad about the state of the world around us all. So this is the result of that and my curiosity about how Al can keep himself together not being able to sleep, of all the things to lose, that must be one of the hardest. Don't worry about offending me in any review, I pretty much started writing this to entertain and cheer up myself after posting chapter 14 of "Empathy" because I wasn't ready to start on chapter 15 just yet.
Disclaimer: I do not own Full Metal Alchemist in any way. I am merely a fan writing this for purely entertainment purposes for myself and other FMA fans.
A One-Shot By Pamster
Guilt In The Shell
Edward Elric was fast asleep in his bed next to the one occupied by his brother; something Alphonse could no longer do along with his brother, so instead he would spent nights thinking. Tonight he was again remembering the way number 66 had tried and succeeded in messing with his head. That he was so ashamed of how he'd coldly said he didn't care what happened to his brother to Scar that time he'd run away; it was something he still carried guilt over. That and for even thinking that his brother would have done or was capable of something so treacherous as to intentionally manipulate his memories to make him to his liking. That was the kind of sick thing he could imagine Tucker doing, but Edward? He should have known better.
How could I have ever thought that? Just because I was confused and even still can't remember everything clearly that didn't mean it never happened. I know that now, but I should have known it then. Just the fact that I could still perform alchemy, that alone should have told me that number 66 was just trying to get into my head so he could kill me. Artificially made people can't perform alchemy, Tucker got turned into a chimera as a result of what he was experimenting with supposedly which is why he was working in lab 5. Besides being the only one crazy enough to listen to Basque Gran's orders.
But even with that small clue that homunculus had said about their kind being unable to use alchemy, it hadn't even entered his mind when he'd been lying there helpless after that bulbous homunculus had eaten away all his limbs. Even if he hadn't been able to feel it, the experience had been beyond traumatizing for the young man. He was sure that it hadn't been fun for Ed to see him lying there like that, but that didn't make it right, what they were trying to make Edward do by threatening him with wiping out Al's blood seal. In the end Al had been proud his brother had refused to do it, just as he had hoped he would.
Ed snorted in his sleep as he turned over, muttering something about wanting more of some rice dish. Al hadn't fully understood it, but it was pretty much a nightly thing for his brother to toss and turn in his dreams, many of which were about food. But others, others left him cold, too terrified to even imagine what he could be having a nightmare about. Certainly he had to relive that awful night at lab 5 over and over in his nightmares, but for Al it was only in his mind that he had to live over the shame he felt at not having complete faith in his brother. When it had come out about him being afraid that Al would hate him for putting his soul into the armor, well that was just about the best relief he'd ever felt in his entire life.
Still with that relief came the sadness that he had in fact hurt Ed with his accusations, not to mention how he'd hit him when he panicked after Ed had restored his armored body. He shouldn't have doubted his brother and vowed that moment he reacted to number 66's attack to never doubt him again. There was no telling when they would get their bodies back or if they ever would, but at least all that was in the past now, behind them like so many other things. Even though Edward might act like he didn't care about other people, Al knew he did. He'd done too many good things in spite of being a dog of the military to not have good intentions. He hadn't gotten his reputation of being a hero of the people and a friend of the common man for nothing.
As Al looked out into the night beyond the window he wondered if the blood seal would wear away before they found the answers they were looking for. He sighed and thought about their Mother. Was what they'd tried to do so wrong? Did it mean they deserved all this suffering and pain? He was afraid that they'd never find a way to restore his body or Ed's arm and leg. He'd gladly go to the afterlife if only it meant Ed got both limbs back. The thought made him wonder about Edward. Did he have the same thoughts? That he'd gladly lay down his life if only it would give Al back what he'd lost?
I know the time Scar was going to execute us he begged him to let me live. I can't remember what being human was really like so if I sacrificed myself for Ed it wouldn't be that hard for me to do. But for him to give up himself for me, that just isn't fair. Why should we both have to pay for this mistake?
But he already knew the answer. It wasn't going to be easy to try to get his body back or restore his brother's limbs. The idea they could do both and yet remain together was something the young man had trouble believing in. If it meant traveling the world until his seal wore away to help restore his brother's limbs he'd do it, but he didn't hold out much hope that there would be any change in his own physical state. Thinking about this made him think about Scar. How Scar and his own brother had such tragic results of their own brushes with the philosopher's stone.
I know he never got specific about what happened with his brother, but I can tell he was holding something back when Ed asked him about the stone and if they made one. The light that comes from that right arm seems to me to be the same that came from the light of the philosopher's stone Marcoh had. I wonder if maybe it is related. It has to be because his arm reacted to the stone before Marcoh tossed it at his palm and then it was sucked into Scar. That can't be just a coincidence.
Al thought about it and the more he thought about it the more he was convinced there was definitely some very strong connection. They knew now he had the incomplete stone in his arm and yet his abilities still existed. They also knew he had chosen to take on the homunculi and hadn't gone after Edward, going so far as to tell him to take care of Al. It was related to their history, that Al had instinctively saved him from the insane number 66, of that he was sure. He hadn't known exactly how Scar would react to seeing him there and as odd as it sounds Al really hadn't expected to see him there at that underground Ishabalan camp.
Seeing all those people huddled together he'd instantly wanted to help them; that feeling had only grown stronger as he'd spent more time with them and Scar. Looking back at the experience now as he gazed out at the night skyline he remembered how close he'd come to being killed by number 66. How Edward had come in at the last moment had shown Al just how dedicated his brother was towards him. He thought that had to have impressed Scar because of how despondent and defenseless Alphonse had been moments prior to that; surely seeing Edward rushing in willing to lay down his own life had inspired the scarred Ishbalan man to spring into action, killing that atrocity that had been a murdering lunatic in life called Barry the Chopper.
As the Chopper he'd had Edward at his mercy before and that was something Al knew neither of them would forget; though for Al it was different. He hadn't lived through that and it had made him realize the difference in their perspectives. And it didn't sit well with him. If a sacrifice were to be made he would be the one to make it. And if their paths were to cross with Scar again he hoped they wouldn't meet as enemies. He certainly wanted to be friendly with him and any other Ishbalan they met. What the military had done to them was wrong and both he and Ed knew it. Which was why they'd fought with Scar there against that band of mercenaries who'd held that young Ishbalan boy hostage.
Scar. I wonder about you sometimes. What you're doing and if you're going to kill anyone else we know. I hope not, not All State Alchemists are evil. Some were sadly just following orders. They knew what they did was wrong; I've seen that in some of them. Major Armstrong comes right to mind. Then there's Mustang. Though Ed acts like he hates him and he's worthless. Though I think I can understand why he wants to become head of the military.
Al knew it was because he hadn't wanted to be part of killing the two doctors who'd turned out to be Winry's parents. He would have committed suicide had it not been for his deep desire to make up for those dark days of his early military career. That and his friendship with Maes Hughes. Ed might not admit it, but with Roy there was a mutual respect there; even when they went at each other skirting the lines of acceptable conduct, there seemed to be a sizing up going on and he had seen recognition of Edward's achievements. He was glad to be there for every one of them too. They'd had so many adventures, that was for sure and many more were coming as they journeyed through the country looking for anything they could find about the elusive legendary stone that held such promise for them.
The moon had long since set and it was beginning to become dawn, Al began to hear birds perking up to greet the new day. Soon Edward would wake and they could go on for another day. Acknowledging that each day possessed the potential to be their last, the two would never stop looking for the answers. However, it was possible that Scar could have more of a role then anyone might suspect. Alphonse was somewhat troubled about something. The tattoo. It was beyond strange that the scarred man knew nothing about what it was or its origin. Al hadn't lied when he'd told Scar that he had not ever seen anything like it before and he considered himself and his brother to be pretty well versed in their knowledge of alchemy.
I wonder, he said something about his brother's work...He must have meant that he'd performed a human transmutation on his dead wife or something. Good lord that homunculus, that gluttonous one called it Lust, he'd seen her before too, but not as she was then. It has to mean something. Most people I have encountered who use tattoos for transmutation tend to do them in pairs, except those homunculi have only one as did Psiren. If Scar had two of those he'd be unstoppable. He's pretty damned unstoppable now and I think what Marcoh did only served to strengthen his alchemic abilities.
It seemed to him that he referred to the arm sometimes in the third person. Then the thought struck Alphonse Elric, one that chilled his spirit to the core of his soul. What if that arm was not his? A successful human transmutation! A step up from the mockery of automail, a true limb given of his own brother. Al reeled from the image and implication of such a thing; it could only be done with the philosopher's stone. That had to be why he wouldn't speak of it, why he hadn't wanted to believe at first that Al had sunk so deeply into doubting his brother that it seemed there was no coming back from that.
Like at first his thoughts were that there was nothing Edward could do or have done that would justify such a thing, but then he realized that Ed is like his brother, only human and as such vulnerable to human frailties. Al had to lie down, he felt like he was spinning just from thinking so much. It was from thinking about everything; it just had never occurred to him that such a thing could be the origin of his tremendous alchemic abilities. To think the red water was basically human beings with other chemicals that worked together to amplify alchemic reactions was horrific. But to think that a man could walk the earth with his brother's arm. That was pretty far out there and Alphonse knew it.
Oh well, its not like we're really ever going to know unless Scar admits to it and I don't see him doing that. He doesn't owe us or anyone that, even if brother disagrees, he truly doesn't. I understand him better then anyone I think. There is a huge difference in the killing Scar did then Barry in life or after his execution as number 66.
It still filled his thoughts as Edward stirred. He slowly got up to use the bathroom, walking groggily out of the room. Al sat up and wondered what Edward's next assignment would be. They could hope that it might have some benefit to their ongoing search for answers. No matter what the day brought they would face it together, side by side as they always did. It was the way they did things and that would never change no matter where they went; he would fight by Edward's side to the death and he would be there when they found what they'd been looking for.
After all one thing above all Al couldn't forget beyond his guilt over the past, was that he was indeed human. That meant he wasn't perfect and in time he could forgive himself just as Edward was working to forgive himself over what they'd done together when they'd known deep down it was wrong yet they'd gone through with it. The fear that Al had felt those last moments as unbearable pain exploded throughout his body was also something that with time he'd become distanced from. He could still recall it somewhat and things since becoming bound to the suit of armor that had stood in their home for as long as he could remember.
He'd looked up at it as a child fantasizing about being a knight wearing it, finding a princess to make his own. He'd given up on finding love as had Ed, but Alphonse at least did feel his stature was useful to Edward and most of the time there wasn't a conscious thought or awareness about his size. Not unless size was brought up of course, then there was little choice but to think about the dramatic difference in height between brothers. Edward came back in and stretched his arms up behind his head and yawned, heading back to the bed. He smiled sleepily at Alphonse and then fell face first onto the bed. He mumbled something about getting him up in an hour, but Al had to stifle a laugh, he knew that translated into three more hours, so he looked out the window again.
The meeting with Colonel Mustang would take place at ten-thirty there was plenty of time for Ed to rest now all he could. They'd end up going god knows where; heading out on a train or some other mode of transportation to get to his brother's next assignment took them. Most days began this way; though not all included a meeting with Mustang or anyone with the military thankfully. But Ed made a regular habit of sleeping as much as possible. Al was sure it was connected to how much he ate at dinnertime, but Ed would always deny such a connection. It was something that made Al want to laugh, thinking back to when he'd overeat and have a stomach, yet deny he was in any pain.
Anyone but Al would have a hard time living with his brother. As he looked over at the sleeping blonde he thought to himself how different things could have turned out if they hadn't willfully gone against the law against human transmutations. But they went around doing the best they could to fulfill Ed's obligations to the military that funded their research into the stone. They'd see how things went on this next leg of their journey before reassessing their current methodology for focusing their efforts. Ed made a grunting noise as he turned onto his side, Al stifled another laugh, not wanting to risk waking him. With all that they faced on a regular basis, Alphonse still felt at times like a kid watching and living from the shadow of his elder brother. It wasn't a bad thing, so much as an awareness of a situation and a set standard.
Yet when they talked about their past now, he felt more able to connect to it and could remember being pushed around by Ed into doing things he knew he should have left to him, like his chores mostly. A rabbit hopped into view outside and Al just watched it quietly, thinking about how much he missed home. He missed when this suit was just a fantasy and a dream of a future. He just wished it hadn't been this kind of future he'd been destined to have in connection with it. Fueling his spirit's need to move around in this world, instead of fueling his dreams and childhood fantasies as it should have stayed. The rabbit hopped away and out of Al's line of sight, but he could remember what it had looked like sitting there chewing on weeds.
Everything had purpose, but was there a purpose for every thing? He often thought about that as he sat guard over is brother in slumber. He felt he served a purpose by being there with his brother. Yet he also felt that he'd died that day so long ago. So did that make what he was all right now? Was such a thing as getting his body back even possible? Edward certainly seemed to believe it so he had to trust in that. As he'd begun thinking about earlier, Al remembered how sad it was that he'd lost that faith, even for a little while. So much guilt harbored in this shell that it would be hard for him to breathe if he needed to; which he no longer did, still that was no comfort to the young man as he looked out wishing the rabbit would come back again, even for a moment.
It sounded silly he knew, but if he could call up the image of the rabbit then he could call up other images. That was what he'd also begun practicing when he had nothing else to do or think about at nighttime. It was not an easy life by any means, but of all people able to cope with it, Alphonse Elric was able to because of his brother and because of their dearest friends. He knew how important those relationships were and he treasured the time he had with Pinako and Winry. Just as he treasured the time he had been able to spend with his brother. It had gotten better between them for awhile but now things were settling back down again and Al wondered if his faith would be tested again and if so how soon it would be from now where he was devoted to keeping that vow to trust Edward implicitly
I'll just have to try to call up an image of this moment sitting here trusting him as he is right now. A lot can happen and I know he can be so damned stubborn, if he wouldn't listen to me then; well I guess in the end he did listen to me, but still, it felt like he was going to do it. I've never felt such fear as I felt right then, since being bound to this armor, and I pray I never do feel something like that again ever.