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Leave a Scar

Reunion

It was raining when I first saw them.

I was focusing on the map in my hands, hand drawn lines smudged and unreadable due to the sky's water. Great. I folded the paper, tucking it back into my bag. I could probably repair the drawing with Alchemy once this storm clears up. I just hoped I remembered exactly how everything looked...

My train schedule was in better shape, but as luck would have it the current train times were the only ones blurred away. I looked up from the piece of paper, spotting someone standing by the train station I was supposed to be waiting on. The girl was rather short, but what interested me more was the giant suit of armor standing next to her. Weird. Anxiety balled into my stomach. This was why I didn't travel too much.

But the suit of armor was holding an umbrella for both himself and the girl. I guess he couldn't be too bad.

I stepped forward, coming up from behind them, my hand extending towards the suit.

"Um, excuse me."

I touched the arm of the cold metal, immediately feeling the suit's body rise up, a shout quivering from it. I pulled away, immediately apologizing.

A hollow breath sounded against the inside of the suit's helmet, the light that made up its eyes reduced to thin slits.

Wait

Lights? Making up its eyes?

"There something we can help you with?" A smooth voice; one that I didn't immediately place the location of.

I looked towards the voice's direction, to the other person standing there. The person I thought was a girl, but upon seeing the masculine face framed by golden hair all those thoughts were shoved out the window. I calmed myself, the anxiety and slight jump of fear from before withdrawing as I straightened my posture.

"I'm wondering how to get to Central. My train schedule got a little wet." I held up the piece of paper for them to see. By now, the schedule was completely drenched, just like the rest of me.

"Well here," Those golden eyes glanced up, taking in the sight of the umbrella beneath him and the suit of armor as he stepped back a little bit, "There's room for you too. No use getting even more wet."

"Thank you." I stepped in the umbrella's shadow, briefly seeing the guy in the armor shift his hand my direction, making sure I was covered. Warmth touched my chest despite the cold water soaking me. These people sure were nice.

"If you're heading to Central," The Suit said, the voice of a kid ringing out underneath the metal. "You're in luck! We're headed there now."

"Well, as soon as this train gets here." The other guy added. "Takes forever sometimes."

"I don't mind." I said with a little smile. A hand rose to the back of my head, and I felt myself blush a little. "I'm so sorry; I completely forgot to introduce myself."

I told them my name; a word the shorter one politely repeated before extending his hand.

"Call me Ed."

I took his hand, the warmth radiating underneath his glove. "It's nice to meet you, Ed."

I met his smiling eyes before a sudden memory flashed. A child... No, it couldn't be him.

"And I'm Alphonse!" The Suit pointed to himself. "We're brothers!"

I looked to them both, my head shifting to compensate the massive height difference. "Ed... Al... Brothers?"

A grin overtook my bewildered expression. "You two wouldn't happen to be from Resembool, would you?"

"Yeah, we grew up there—" Ed suddenly pointed to me, eyes widening and voice rising. "Wait a minute"—he said my name again, my heart skipping a beat at the hilarity of it all—"From Resembool?"

I held a hand to my mouth, quieting a laugh bubbling against my lips. "The very same."

Al turned, looking down at Ed. "Do we know this person, Brother?"

Putting one hand on his hip, Ed leaned to the side, lightly regarding me with a soft smile. "Yeah, she lived nearby when we were little, Al. Only for a year or so."

"And then I moved away." I finished, a blush running along my face. "Parent's decision. Not mine."

Al was quiet, his eyes cast down to the ground beside him.

"I'm sorry. I don't remember you."

"That's alright, Al!" I told him, leaning forward a bit to try and catch his gaze. "It was so long ago. And we all look so different!" I laughed a little, a bit embarrassed when neither of them joined in. If anything, that comment seemed to kill the mood.

Ed raised a hand to the back of his hair, keeping his stare downward. "You're telling me..."

"Look, the train!"

I turned to where Al was pointing, seeing the train's light shining through the heavy curtain of rain.

"Good," Ed stepped forward, lightly swinging the suitcase in front of him. "We can finally get moving again."

He was close by me; close enough to notice that I was still soaking wet from the rain. A smile came to him as he set the suitcase down in front of himself.

"Here." He straightened, still not coming to match my height, and clapped his hands together. He placed both of them on my coat's shoulder, blue light emitting from beneath the gloves. I was warmed instantly, the water evaporating, but I was much more interested in how that happened.

I looked to his closed eyes as he bent down, picking up the suitcase again. "You don't need a transmutation circle?"

"No." he replied. A grin came to him, a thumb hooking back to point at himself as he winked. "Guess I'm just that talented, huh?"

Al, who had watched the whole thing, spoke, voice deflated. "Teacher can do it, too, Ed."

"Will you stop messing up my cool?!"

I laughed lightly, the train slowing to a stop behind me. The brakes sounded, the cars all shifting forward before the door closest to us opened, revealing a worker. His expression remained blank, waiting for our tickets with one outstretched hand.

I dug around in my bag, wondering aloud if he'd take the right amount of money for a ticket. Ed stepped up beside me, suddenly handing the worker enough to cover my fair. More than enough, actually.

I turned to him. "Don't pay for me!"

Ed just grinned, continuing to dismiss every attempt I made to pay him back.

"You've definitely grown since I've seen you last, Alphonse."

Al shifted his head, looking up enough for those lights to meet my eyes from across the train's seats. An odd feeling met me as I looked into those eyes; something I shied away from examining.

Ed laughed, banging on his brother's arm with a fist. "Well, what can I say? The kid's got an appetite, that's for sure!"

I smiled, looking to Al as the younger brother laughed. Light and bubbly. Almost sounding... Nervous?

"Yep," He patted his stomach with both hands, "Just can't get enough of that food!"

I turned to Ed again. "You've grown a lot, too."

Shifting his finger across the base of his nose in embarrassment, Ed looked away, grinning. "Yeah, you think so? I mean, I have gotten taller since you've seen me last."

"I sure hope so!" I replied, laughing. "We were just kids then."

"How old were we?" Al asked us.

Ed and I exchanged glances; ones without much emotion, only a sharing of information. Ed looked to the middle of our section, in the center of the booth. He remained slumped down with his legs crossed; one ankle resting on his knee.

"You were about three, Al. It makes sense you don't remember, since you were so young, that is."

I nodded, continuing on with his explanation. "Making Ed four and myself five."

"Yeah, that's right." Ed pushed himself up a little straighter, a little taller. "You were a year older than I was." Thought came in between his golden brows. "That would make you..."

"Eighteen now." I answered for him. A smile came to my face. "I'm a full-fledged adult."

A sound of awe came out of Al's armor as Ed gave a brief cheer. I bowed a little, embarrassment reddening my face. Once again, I looked to the suit of armor sitting directly across from me. The wheels of the train below us bumped, moving along with the track's slight grooves.

"Speaking of growing up, I've been wondering about that armor, Al." I began, grinning. "Why don't you take your helmet off? I would love to see what you look like now."

"Uh." Al's head retracted back, eyes shrinking a bit.

"He's shy." Ed replied, taking a bite of a bread roll. I looked beside him, noticing a food cart waiting in the aisle. Ed motioned to it. "You want anything?"

My stomach answered for me. I had been so preoccupied before, I didn't even go back to eat breakfast. I leaned forward towards the cart, then moved back to retrieve my bag. "Yeah, lemme just check—"

"Don't worry about the cost." Ed waved his hand in front of himself. "Just pick out what you want. It's on me."

"Well," I replied, giving him a coy smile as I shifted over one seat, "Someone's definitely changed since childhood."

Ed's eyes closed, hand resting over his mouth in a sophisticated pose. As if that could distract me from the blush touching his face.

I picked out the food I wanted—still of course being wary of the prices—and leaned back into my seat holding two rolls with butter between them. Ed gave a sigh, looking up to the woman in charge of the food cart.

"Give me your most expensive item."

"Ed!" I shouted, but he only smiled as the woman nodded, moving below to the bottom of the cart.

Ed looked to me, that hand still poised in front of his mouth.

"It's not every day you run into a childhood friend."

"But you don't have to celebrate like this!" I protested, squirming in my seat. "Whatever she's getting probably costs hundreds, at least!"

"You worry too much."

"Here you are, sir."

We looked as a champagne bottle was presented in front of him. "Would you like me to uncork it for you?"

Ed trained his eyes on mine, still not letting up that act. "You're legal, right? You drink?"

"Not... Not regularly." I replied quietly, shaking my head. "Not like this..."

"Great! We'll take it!"

"Very well, sir."

"ED!"

A grin finally broke out onto his face. The cork popped out of the bottle, bubbles rising towards the surface without spilling over.

I looked at the glass as it was handed to me with a polite "here you are, ma'am." I thanked the waitress, looking up from the golden liquid swirling in my glass to see Ed snap open his wallet. The total price was recited to him, and I forced myself from screaming again. Ed met my eyes, holding my stare as he gave a smile. His hand withdrew from his wallet, fanning bills away from each other like a hand of cards. More money than I would have expected—more money than everything COSTED.

"What..." Words failed me; how did he have that kind of cash?

He placed the small stack in the employee's palm, telling her to keep the change. In other words, giving a tip that probably more than tripled the original price.

I nearly fell out of my seat, dumbfounded. The employee wheeled into the next car, more than overjoyed.

"One of the few perks of being a State Alchemist." Ed explained, clicking his wallet shut.

"State Alchemist?" I repeated, briefly looking to Al for some sort of clarification. "Since when did this happen?"

Once again, something I said triggered a change in mood. Ed's eyes lowered, a thought I couldn't read hanging in the air between us. If I could just reach out and grab it...

Another thought occurred to me, making me turn behind my seat and look through the car doors in search of the food cart. "Al, you didn't get anything. You want something to eat?"

I looked back to see Ed giving me that small smile again. He shook his head, answering for his brother.

"He ate a lot on the way over here. Almost seems like the guy never stops eating, so it's a relief when he finally does!"

I laughed behind my hand. "I'll believe that!"

"So what brings you to Central City?" Al asked me, keeping his hands in his lap.

"Oh, that's right." I opened my bag, digging around for a moment. "You're a State Alchemist, Ed, you'll probably be able to help me with this."

I sensed Ed's interest grow, and when I turned back, he was leaning forward. I revealed the silver pocket watch, watching interest overtake his face.

"I found it nearby my house." I explained, shifting the watch slightly, hearing the beginning of the chain sound against the metal body. "I was hoping to return it to Central; it'd be pretty bad if this ended up in the wrong hands."

Ed looked up, meeting my eyes. "Have you opened it?"

I shook my head, and at his soft request, I handed the watch over. As my fingers uncurled from the watch, they brushed over Ed's palm. But the feeling of his skin was purely flat. Hard, even beneath the glove.

I returned my hand to my lap, silently regarding his hand before looking back to the watch. He had popped the accessory open, diligently studying the inside.

"Nope." The watch flipped closed with a flick of the wrist. "No engraving. I can't tell who this belongs to."

"I didn't know it was standard practice to engrave it." I said, and as Ed moved to give the watch back, I held up my hands. "It might be better if you hold onto it, Ed. I'll probably be seen as some sort of imposter if I keep it with me."

"Oh," Ed moved, putting the watch in the pocket of his red cloak, "Right. Nice thinking."

I smiled, and for the next few moments, a silence came between the three of us. I looked down, noticing the champagne still in my hand. A blush ran across my face.

"Thank you very much for the champagne."

Ed gave me that same smile. Sincere. That's a good word for it.

"You're welcome." he said my name again, and I felt my heart swell, growing a bit more.

I smiled, my gaze dropping before catching sight of the chain clipped to his pants. The color contrast made it visible, and again I brought up the topic.

"So, a State Alchemist?"

Ed nodded, reaching into his pocket to hold the watch in his hand. The familiar emblem reflected off the sun's light, displayed proudly.

"I hope you won't get the watches confused." I commented.

"Don't worry about it." Ed replied, shaking his head. "I've got mine engraved, so I'll be able to tell even if it gets unclipped."

This caught my interest. "What's engraved in it?"

"A little bit of motivation." Light flickered off his eyes, my stomach flipping.

"It's been about five years since you've past the State Alchemy exam, hasn't it, Brother?" Al asked, the question forcing my stare to him.

"Yeah." Ed pocketed the watch again. "And it'll be six in just a few months."

"Wow," I said, unable to help myself, "You made it in so young..."

"Yeah." he repeated softly. His face was turned to the side, one arm on the chair's rest, side of his hand hovering in front of his mouth. There was something about that position, the way the grey sky was visible in the windows behind him, that made me want to put that sight down on paper. But I wouldn't be able to get the lines right; the curves of his face, the lines lightly etching in between his thin brows. My art would pale in comparison to the real thing.

He caught me staring and I looked away, trying to hide the bit of dignity I had left.

"So what have you been up to all these years?" he asked me.

"I just opened up my own school." I answered. "So I've been pretty busy with that."

"What do you teach?" Al asked me.

I told him, seeing a mischievous grin come to Ed's face. He playfully elbowed his brother's arm. "We know some martial arts ourselves, don't we, Al?"

"Yeah, Teacher taught us."

"That's so cool!" I said. "What style do you do?"

Ed and Al shared a look; then Ed put his hands up, defeated. "We actually never asked before. There wasn't a lot of time before she started throwing punches."

I laughed a little, listening as he continued. "As long as we can get away, that's really all that matters."

"I agree." I said, nodding. I took a sip of my champagne, the taste bringing me back. I forced away the memories. "This teacher of yours sounds pretty great."

"She is." Al said. "We've been her students for a while now."

I nodded in response, not wanting to pry. I had done that more than I needed to today, something I now felt guilty for.

"Hey, you alright?"

I looked up to see Ed leaning towards me, one hand extended out towards my knee but not touching it. I nodded, blushing a little.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I was just keeping quiet. I've asked you both enough questions!"

"Nonsense." Ed leaned back, smiling again. This time, my stomach fluttered a bit. "But we have been talking a lot about ourselves, you're right about that. Are you still drawing? How're your parents?"

"They're... They're good." I replied, looking down at my champagne. I took a small sip before saying, "We don't talk very much, but they're good."

"And your art?" Al asked. "I think I remember some chalk drawings outside our house."

I smiled. "Yeah, I always drew transmutation circles. Sometimes inside more artistic drawings, like bellies of dragons."

"You'd always try to invent new circles." Ed added, grinning a little as he looked at me.

"Yeah. I still play around with them sometimes. Doodling on documents I probably shouldn't."

We laughed a bit at that, all three of us. I sipped my drink again, a little more relaxed.

"So how's your mom doing?" I asked, the question slipping from me.

The response was like stepping into a graveyard. I saw Ed's face, saw Al's eyes lower, and immediately pulled my statement back.

"I'm so sorry. I didn't know—"

"She died." Ed began, his voice rougher than usual. "She passed away when we were around ten."

No words came to me. I felt tears well up behind my eyes, my memories of Trisha now incredibly, bitter sweetly agonizing.

"I'm so sorry."

The pain was released a little, and I bent forward as a sob escaped me. She was gone... She'd been gone for so long, and I didn't even know.

What... What had I been doing when she died? What useless thing had I been wasting my time doing when she slipped away from this world?

"Don't..." Ed's voice, but words escaped from him as well.

I kept my hand over my mouth, tears free-falling to the floor. I was sobbing, the pain racking my body as I heard Ed call my name.

He dropped to his knees, his hands coming to my shoulders. I opened my eyes, lifting my head up enough to meet his stare. Those golden eyes were hurting just as much as I was. No. More. Even more. I saw tears come into his eyes as another sob wracked through my body.

I'm so sorry. I couldn't speak the thought. It repeated over and over, and I hoped Ed could hear it. I hope they both could hear it.

"I am, too." Ed whispered. He still kept my gaze, and slowly, I began focusing more on the eyes in front of me. They were solid, real. Alive.

My breathing began stabilizing, heaviness coming back to my once feather-weight lungs. I looked down as I brought my hand away from my mouth, memories of Trisha still burned into my mind's eye. How could I have not known? How could I be finding out just now?

"We didn't tell you." Ed began. His hands were still on my shoulders, and I focused on the warm one. The one on my right shoulder; his left. "We were too ashamed, trying to fix what we'd done."

My focus snapped to his other hand. The metal hand. Hard, cold. Completely unlike his other.

I couldn't get the words out. I couldn't ask what they had done. A large, large part of me was still fighting to be in the dark.

"We..." I wanted to scream, stop Ed's lips from moving again. Don't say it‼

His eyes closed, shutting tight.

"We tried to bring her back." His hands gripped my shoulders as pain overtook his face. As if he could no longer block out whatever image his mind was forcing him to watch.

"We tried to get her back again—and we failed."