Warnings: Um...angst and the same disturbing themes from the last entry!
It was a surprisingly nice day in Central and any and all who could seemed to be taking full advantage of the pleasant weather. At least, that's what Fury assumed considering the number of people out and about, even at this time in the afternoon. He'd, unfortunately, been stuck inside most of the day with work but sometimes he was glad he walked home. Considering the warmth of the afternoon and the fact that he didn't have to be back in the office until Monday now, Fury took his time on the relatively short walk from headquarters to the dorms.
Not far at all from the sidewalk Fury was taking, Alphonse found himself wandering the streets of Central. As though by instinct, he found himself near the military dorms, for some reason; he honestly didn't care, though, and for once, he was almost glad that his large frame made a clear path in front of him, even as busy as the streets were.
Fury blinked slightly when a flash of light on metal caught his eye and a small turn of his head had him watching Alphonse cross the street towards the same building he was headed to. He was mildly surprised to see the other but eased his way through the crowded sidewalk with several polite "Excuse me"s.
"Ah..Alphonse!" he called before the other got too far ahead of him in the throng of pedestrians.
The younger Elric slowly stared at the black-haired man, as though not recognizing him for a moment. Then, hollowly, he asked, "Mr. Fury?"
The military man blinked again at the empty tone of the other's voice, frowning in a concerned fashion. "Alphonse, is something wrong?" He asked when he reached the Elric.
It took Alphonse a long moment before he answered. "Yes. There is."
"..Would you like to come inside and talk about it?" Fury suggested gently, not sure how comfortable the younger would be with talking in the middle of a crowded sidewalk.
"Um..." Alphonse shuffled slightly, unsure of himself. Then, in a soft whisper, he added, "I... don't know if I can. It was... I did..." He faltered. He had no idea of how to explain what happened.
Fury was quiet for a moment before reaching out and taking up one of Al's hands, giving him a small tug towards the doors to the dorm building. "Come on upstairs for a few minutes at least. It's a lot quieter than it is out here. Maybe it'll help you clear your head some?" He replied kindly, worried to let the other wander around aimlessly in Central in this state.
It was comforting, in a way, for another person to make Alphonse's decisions for him. He obediently followed the other man's directions with a muttered, "All right." Perhaps the quiet would help him think...
The Master Sergeant kept a hold of the other's larger hand as he led him up through the barracks to his dorm. He was quiet during the walk and urged Alphonse to take a seat by the small table in his equally small kitchen when they reached it.
"Is this...problem anything you'd even want to talk about, Alphonse? It's understandable if you'd rather not," Fury assured him as he took a seat next to the Elric.
Alphonse unprotestingly sat down, worried only for a moment that the chair couldn't bear his weight. But... he had larger issues to worry about. Such as how to explain what happened. "I... I need to talk about it to someone, Mr. Fury..." The armor considered this. "But I don't know anyone that I can tell." He looked up. "It's... about Brother.", Mr. Fury..." The armor considered this. "But I don't know anyone that I can tell." He looked up. "It's... about Brother."
"Ah. Did you and Edward.. have a fight?" The dark haired man asked, watching the other with open concern etched into his features.
"N-no! Not at all!" Alphonse considered this, then amended, "Not really. It... wasn't really a fight." Alphonse gazed at the other man, comforted a bit by the concern showed for him. Or is it for Brother?." Alphonse gazed at the other man, comforted a bit by the concern showed for him. Or is it for Brother?
"A..misunderstanding, then?" Fury guessed again, frowning faintly.
Utterly miserable, Alphonse shook his head, not caring about the screech of metal on metal. "No... I understand exactly what he said. Exactly."
Fury looked mildly surprised at the negative answer and bit his lips slightly before speaking up again. "Was it.. something you didn't like hearing?"
"I..." Alphonse faltered, not sure of how to proceed. "I... did. Kind of. But I'm not supposed to. And... um... it... kind of confirmed a fear that I had. For a long time. About what happened to me." The boy slumped into the chair.
"...What do you think happened to you, Alphonse?" Fury asked carefully after a moment, reaching over and resting a hand on one of Alphonse's metal arms.
Alphonse considered the hand for a moment, nearly flinching away before accepting it. It was kind of nice, having someone just accept him like that. "I... I..." He stared directly into Fury's eyes. "Do you... promise not to tell anyone? No one. Not even Brother. I... I don't want to hurt him any more."
The short man blinked slightly at the request but nodded slowly, the worry becoming more evident on his face. "I promise."
"I... think Brother changed me, when he turned me into this." He indicated his metallic shell with his free hand and continued, his voice losing any sort of emotion it might have had. "I... think he might have changed some of my memories and feelings around. He... he said that he didn't mean to, that he didn't mean for anything to happen... but I just don't know."
"He...changed you?" Fury repeated in a quiet, shocked voice. He stuttered wordlessly for a moment before getting his thoughts back together, pushing up his glasses with his free hand and frowning again behind them. "I... what made you think Edward would do something like that?"
"Little coincidences. Facts that slowly start adding up." Alphonse gave a short laugh. "It... makes sense, if you think about it. I always take care of him. I do anything I can for him, and if he'd ask me to, I'd do anything else, too. I'm... I'm obsessed with him, in a way. It's... not normal." Alphonse glared into the other man's eyes, trying to convey his emotions since his lacked a face to do so. "And there are... other things, too."
Fury held the other's gaze as long as he could, chewing his lip again in silence for several minutes. "Well...there isn't a lot normal about your situation all together, ne? The two of you have been the only comfort for each other for a long time.." he noted quietly. "It's understandable that you'd be closer than most siblings."
"T-that's true, but..." Alphonse curled up slightly, hunching down. "...there are some other things. Things that siblings should never, ever feel. That no one should feel. And... um..." He faltered, entirely unsure of how to explain it without making either himself or his brother seem like a monster.
"..And..?" Fury probed gently, shifting slightly when he didn't receive an answer at first. "Whatever it is, Alphonse, I promised I wouldn't say anything about it anyone.. And it's obvious this is eating you up on the inside.."
"He... um..." Alphonse faltered, but was encouraged by the renewed promise. "Brother... said that he loved me."
Fury blinked slightly at the response and frowned in slight confusion. "I don't.. understand. Of course Edward loves you, he's your brother."
"That's... what I thought too, when Brother said it." Alphonse gave a short, bitter laugh. "Then he explained it. He... loves me. He said that he wants me."
"Wants?" Fury repeated, more to himself than anything, before he realized what was being inferred. "O-oh... I see.."
Miserably, Alphonse added, "I... didn't quite know what he meant, so he spelled it out for me. Incest. And... and... I was the one who asked him what was bothering him, so it's my fault that I found out. He was trying to hide it from me, Mr. Fury." He looked at the other man, almost pleading, Don't hate him. Please, don't hate Brother.
Though he was quiet for a long moment, Fury kept his hand resting gently over Al's arm and met his gaze as evenly as possible. Eventually he spoke up again, an understanding expression overtaking his features as he willed himself to view the situation with as open a mind as possible. "I can only guess but.. he was probably afraid. For as much as your brother acts like an adult, he's still just a teenager and.." Fury paused to consider his words for a moment before pressing on softly.
"The two of you have been all the other's had for so long so.. I suppose it does make sense, in a way, that Edward's thoughts would turn to you when the desire for a.. romantic sort of relationship came about. But considering how something like that is viewed in the eyes of society...it's understandable that he wouldn't want you to know."
"It's... it's wrong," Alphonse stammered. "Brothers... aren't supposed to feel that way." He gently grabbed Fury's hand with his gauntlet, trying to keep from squeezing too hard. "But... but...he needed me. He still needs me. I shouldn't have left him."
"They aren't... but they aren't supposed to be confined to a metal suit or be in the military underage, either." Fury replied, reaching up with his free hand to pat the gauntlet his other was held by. "You both need each other and you can still go back, Alphonse. I'm sure... I'm sure Edward can understand how a revelation like that would lead you to needing some time to sort things out.."
"But..." Alphonse was confused. Didn't he get it? Didn't Fury know how wrong this was? "What if the emotions aren't mine? What if Brother really did change me, and he's just manipulating me now? What if... what if I love him only because he wants me to? He's an alchemy genius. He'd be able to do that, wouldn't he? Even if it wasn't when I first got put in here, any time that he messed with the seal might have done it, right? Isn't there some logical explanation?" Alphonse was desperately, so desperately, trying to find some way to explain what happened.
"I...I don't know enough about alchemy to know if he could do that or not." Fury admitted with a soft sigh before shaking his head slightly. "But Edward.. from what I've seen, at least.... he would give up anything for you, Alphonse. Maybe even those feelings. I don't... I don't think he would do something like that to you, to force those feelings on you to make them mutual."
Now Alphonse was fighting against his own emotions, and Fury's almost inarguable logic. The boy knew that Fury was telling the truth... but he couldn't admit that. Could he? "But... if he knew that an unaltered Alphonse couldn't love him in that way, then wouldn't it make sense for him to try to avoid rejection? Especially when there were so many opportunities for him to try?"
"It makes sense... but wasn't he already avoiding rejection by just not telling you?" Fury reasoned gently. "Sometimes....sometimes love isn't necessarily about having your feelings returned, as much as that hurts. It can be about caring and protecting the person you love and that's what Edward does, isn't it? Perhaps he's been protecting you even from himself."
A swarm of arguments presented themselves before Alphonse, all clamoring for his voice... but he couldn't. Fury's argument cut through all of them, leaving him with no further arguments. "Brother... was protecting me? But why? Why couldn't he just tell me earlier? Why couldn't he answer my questions? How... how could he not know if he did something to me? And..." He sounded absolutely miserable. "Why did he have to cry?"
"I don't know, Alphonse.. that's something you'd have to ask Edward yourself." The dark haired man said, squeezing the hand between his. "Emotions are...confusing. Especially at the age you and Edward are at."
"I... I can't." Alphonse collapsed on himself. "I can't go back to him. I can't ever go back."
Fury started slightly at the slumping metal but responded in the first way he could think to. He stood from his seat, walked the few steps closer necessary to reach Alphonse and wrapped his arms around where the other's neck should have been in a careful hug. "You can't hide from him forever, Alphonse.."
Alphonse stiffened, but didn't move. He wanted, so badly, to feel those arms around him. To feel more than nothing. "I'm... not hiding. I... I left him." He bowed his head in shame, absolutely loathing himself at the memory of what had happened.
"But isn't that all the more reason to go back? To make up for leaving in the first place?" Fury responded quietly.
Alphonse shook his head violently, feeling just like a small child all over again. "You... you don't get it. I can't go back to him. Not after what I did. He... he has to hate me for it. Especially after I promised..."
"Hate you? For leaving? Alphonse.. that might have upset him but I highly doubt it's something Edward would hate you over."
"No, no!" Alphonse felt his body shake. The explanation, all of the pain and fear he had been holding back, tumbled out before he could stop them. "I... I promised that I wouldn't let anything come between us! I promised that nothing he said would make me leave him, nothing! And... and... I told him the truth, that I love him like that too, and then I left him! I... I accused him of changing me, like that... and when he swore that he didn't , that he didn't mean to... I left him. I... I couldn't believe him. And he knows that. What... what kind of little brother am I, Mr. Fury?"
Regardless of whether Alphonse could actually feel it or not, Fury tightened his arms around the shaking suit of armor as if he were any other person in need of the comfort. "...A scared and confused one who has more on his mind than he can deal with," the Master Sergeant replied slowly after a moment of silence.
"Promises...get broken, Alphonse. It doesn't make you a bad person. Between everything you two have been through lately and a confession like that... anyone would need to run for a while. But... you can still fix it. You're still brothers and you still love each other.. part of love is forgiveness. If your brother loves you as much as he says he does, he should, more or less, understand why things ended on such a bad note. He may still be upset about it but he won't hate you for it.."
Just as though he was a lost child, and he had a real body instead of cold steel, Alphonse rested his head against Fury's shoulder. "What... what if he won't forgive me? I don't know what I'd do if he never wanted to see me again... And... I'm scared. What if he accidentally changed me? What will we do? And... and... what if he didn't?"
"Edward loves you, Alphonse. You mean the world to each other. He'll forgive you," Fury replied, firmly believing those words and resting a hand on the back of the other's helmet. "I don't know exactly how you and Edward are going to get through all of this, I'm afraid, but I have faith that you can. If these ARE your real feelings though, Alphonse.. give them time, at least. This is all still new to you after all.. it'll take time to sort your way through everything. You and your brother can get through that together."
It was the confidence that Fury showed, the sheer faith behind his words, that made Alphonse believe him. He paused for a moment, just resting his body and imagining what it would be like if he could feel any of it. Finally, he whispered, "T-thank you, Mr. Fury. I... I'll talk with him. Maybe... maybe he will have some answers. And... maybe..." His voice nearly broke, "He'll forgive me for hurting him like that. I... thank you. For putting up with me." He slowly started straightening up, a little embarrassed now.
The small man smiled faintly and let the other straighten, easing back himself. "I'm sure he will.. and you're welcome." He replied kindly before shaking his head. "Don't make it sound like such a hassle. You're my friend, Alphonse, I'm just glad I could help some."
"Well, it's just..." Alphonse fidgeted, nervous now. "You... um... you never said what you thought about it. About Brother and I, I mean. You just said what... what you thought I needed to hear." He looked at the other man, curious now.
"What I think about it?" Fury repeated before pushing his glasses up some. "Well, I don't think it's anybody's place to judge the two of you for something as boundless as love and I certainly don't think any less of either of you because of it."
Alphonse looked at Fury for a moment, then gave a self-depreciating laugh. "I suppose not, Mr. Fury. But, um..." He considered this for a moment, then blurted, "Would it be all right if I stayed here, just a little bit longer? I... I don't know what to say to him. I... I don't even know where he is right now." He blushed slightly, though how it worked on metal he never knew. "And... I need to think of what to say. Just for a little bit?"
Fury blinked slightly at the sudden request but smiled lightly and nodded. "You're welcome to stay as long as you like, Alphonse."
One last, brief chuckle. "Thank you. Um... at the very least, I should cook something for him, right? He... he never takes care of himself, and besides, we were on a picnic when I made him tell me, so... maybe that will be a good idea?" He gave a hopeful look at Fury.
"It sounds like a good idea to me," Fury agreed with a soft chuckle of his own, motioning around the kitchen with one hand. "You're welcome to use whatever you want in here. Heh, admittedly I don't have a lot since I usually just go to the mess hall for meals.. but whatever's available, you're welcome to!"
"Um..." Alphonse started going through the cabinets, contemplating how best to do this. "...you're sure you don't mind, Mr. Fury?"
The dark haired man shook his head. "Not at all," he assured the other before shrugging out of his uniform coat and pulling his glasses off to wipe with the edge of his shirt. He was glad, at least, to see Alphonse had lost the dull, miserable tone to his voice.