Series: Brotherhood/the manga
Word Count: 896
Characters: Ed, Maria Ross, others.
Summary: He may believe in several things, but he doesn’t believe in ghosts. Or, he didn’t—until now.
Warnings: some language.
Notes: Isn’t it funny how, this time, I only write something fairly short for the ‘open’ prompt? I suppose I could’ve made this longer, but I like it just the way it is. Enjoy, guys~! ^______^ Won third place at fma_fic_contest for prompt 82: “What is she doing here?”
There are several things that Edward Elric believes in: He believes in justice; he believes in kicking serious ass when the occasion calls for it; he believes in giving second chances (because he received one himself); he believes in indulging his little brother’s every whim (well, almost every whim—he can’t very well let Al carry a thousand stray kittens within his armored shell, can he?).
He believes in Winry’s skill as a mechanic and believes in her kind heart and her good intentions and her quiet strength; he believes in Lieutenant Hawkeye’s steady aim; he believes in Pinako’s ability to make the best damn vegetable stew ever; he believes in Gracia’s and Elicia’s ability to pick themselves up and keep moving; he believes in logic and reasoning and research.
He believes in setting goals; he believes in not backing down; he believes in running headlong into the future; he believes in striving to reach the day when he and Al will regain their bodies.
There are also several things that Edward Elric does not believe in: He doesn’t believe in the theory that drinking milk will make a person grow stronger (and this disbelief isn’t because he’s biased, honest!); he doesn’t believe in giving up; he doesn’t believe in letting misery swallow anyone whole; he doesn’t believe in any deity, all things considered.
He doesn’t believe in passing up any opportunity for a nap; he doesn’t believe in sharing food with complete moochers (Ling comes to mind immediately—nevermind that he’s let the prince get away with mooching off of him more than once already); he doesn’t believe in the notion that ‘home is where the heart is’, because he is a wanderer and his heart resides in many places (though the largest part of it admittedly remains with his little brother at all times).
He doesn’t believe in calling Hohenheim ‘father’, because if that bastard had ever intended on being a real father to them, he never would have left.
He doesn’t believe in successful human transmutation (he’s learned that painful lesson already and he’s paid for it, too).
And now to address his current situation: He certainly does not believe in ghosts, but it would seem that he is staring at one this very moment. There Maria Ross stands, not thirty paces away, the ghost of a smile (oh the irony) playing on her lips. His perhaps fried brain (he knew better than to trudge around in this damn heat looking at these damn ruins!) wonders distantly if ghosts can actually smile.
What is she doing here? he wonders, though not aloud, because he seems to be able to do little more than gasp her name and gape at her, utterly dumbfounded. She’s dead and he knows she is dead—he saw what that bastard Mustang did to her; he saw her body, burnt to a crisp (overkill). He knows that she can’t possibly be alive, and he knows that ghosts do not exist.
Now, he is forced to consider the possibility that he just might be hallucinating. No surprise there, considering the fact that they are in the desert.
But the truth of it all is this: Maria Ross is not dead. She is living and breathing and looking at Ed with a mixture of relief and uncertainty in her eyes.
The eyes of a ghost, Ed thinks, unable to help himself, and then he amends his thought: A non-ghost—no such thing as a ghost, no such thing. She’s alive, isn’t she? Of course she is.
Their eye-contact is broken when Armstrong begins chasing her around in a wide circle, trying to give her one of his ridiculous bear-hugs. Strangely enough, Ed’s knees are a little weak; he can’t blame it entirely on the heat, though he wishes that he could. It’s mostly due to shock, he knows—the good kind, and he figures that maybe it’s okay as long as it’s the good kind.
It was Colonel Mustang’s idea; this was his grand scheme, his elaborate plan—he knew of Lieutenant Ross’ innocence from the beginning. Mustang’s granted her a chance to find asylum now, Ed knows.
Still gaping at Lieutenant Ross in stunned disbelief, he realizes (even more disbelievingly) that Colonel Mustang might not be a complete bastard, after all.
She’s off to Xing before he has much of a chance to appreciate the fact that she is indeed alive and well. She is smiling when she shakes his hand and makes promises that center around the words ‘next time’, but Ed can see the sheen of tears in her eyes before she turns away from him, heading out of this life and into another.
Ed feels a sudden pang of sympathy for Lieutenant Ross—he knows quite well what it’s like to turn your back on all you’ve ever known and to head into the unknown, blind and unprepared and afraid.
He smiles to himself, thinking that she is a brave, strong woman.
Days later, when he is once again standing before his commanding officer, Mustang offers him a secretive smile and says, “You look like you’ve seen a ghost, Fullmetal.”
Catching on quickly, Ed tentatively returns the smile. “I guess you could say I have.”
There are several things that Edward Elric believes in.
He can now say – without a doubt – that he believes in ‘ghosts’, too.