5 of 7
Roy was forced awake as he was thrown violently across the dim cabin. He grunted as his body connected painfully with the wall. The ship tipped up violently making him slide back to another wall along with the few things in the small cabin that weren’t latched down. A wave of nausea swept over him as the boat corrected itself on the wave and he slid to the other side of the cabin to where the door was.
He blinked at the swaying room, trying desperately to keep himself together. He was used to danger, even used to braving the elements, but the sea was one woman he was still loath to deal with when she was angry. His insides clenched as the ship lurched again and he grabbed onto something connected to the wall before dry heaving.
Outside the cabin, the wind raged fiercely, and he could hear the panicked shouts of crewmen trying to keep the ship afloat. Suddenly, the sound of heavy footsteps over the hardwood floor caused Roy to look up and he saw Alphonse’s shape in the dimness making his way unsteadily towards him.
“Careful...” Roy warned weakly.
“I’m fine. This doesn’t bother me at all,” the teenager said, then knelt down next to him. Now that Alphonse was close, Roy could see a dark bruise beginning to form on the boy’s forehead. When Roy reached up and touched it, Al grabbed onto his wrist, and moved his hand away. “Don’t worry. I’m fine,” he assured Roy, then said, “Are you okay? You should get back in the bed. There are railings near it that you can hold onto.”
“What about you?” Roy asked, not liking the tone in the other’s voice. The teen had only said that he should be there.
Al shook his head. “I’m going outside to help.”
He started to stand, when Roy grabbed a hold of him. “No, don’t. You’re not a sailor.” It was a plea from the depths of his soul. He was afraid. He didn’t want to chance losing Alphonse now that he had him.
“I’m an alchemist,” the teen said simply, as if that were the end all to everything.
“I don’t want you to go,” Roy pleaded, feeling even sicker from the wild rocking.
Al frowned and said irritably, “I’m going. Brother would go. I can help.”
“No, you can’t!” Roy forced out harshly. He wasn’t sure how much more of this rocking and diving he could take. “You’re right, Ed would go, but Ed has done some very stupid things. To go out there would be insanity!”
The teen stared flatly at him for a moment, then said, “I’m going!” sounding none too friendly about it.
“It’s a storm out there!” Roy yelled, forcing himself to stand despite the rocking. “You’ll never get an array to stay long enough in the rain to get it to work!” He couldn’t let him go. He couldn’t let him risk himself like that. Maybe it was selfish of him, but he just couldn’t let Alphonse him go.
The teen threw open the door and Roy felt rain and salt water spray against his body. The door shuddered and Roy desperately wanted to close it. Al started to go out, when Roy grabbed his arm again. “Stop! You cannot go out there!”
Al whipped his head and torso around. “I can do what I want!” he yelled back angrily. “Just because you knew me before doesn’t mean you can order me around! I’m not my brother!”
Roy felt his hair and clothes begin to stick wetly to his body and the cold made him begin to shiver. He heard more shouting from the sailors, and the ship groaned loudly around him. “I know that!” he shouted passionately over the sound of the storm. Of course he knew that. How could he not know that? Another wave of nausea washed over him and he almost fell to his knees. Instead, he pulled Alphonse close and stared hard into the teen’s eyes. “I know that...” he repeated fervently. “But do you know that?”
Alphonse reared back in shock, his eyes open wide, his hand coming up to grab a hold of the long, red coat draped around him. “I... I...”
Suddenly a particularly strong wave hit the ship causing them both to fall to the floor. Roy grabbed a hold of the doorframe as the world tilted crazily to the side. Alphonse fell outside of the cabin and scrambled for purchase, but was unable to and disappeared as the boat tilted even more.
“Alphonse!” he shouted, and frantically tried to pull himself up. As the ship started to correct itself, he scrambled to his feet and moved to stick his head out of the doorway. Through the rain and past the rushing sailors he saw the teen at the far end of the ship, hanging on the edge of the railing, trying to climb back into the boat.
With all the energy and courage he could muster, Roy flung himself out of his cabin and raced down the swaying deck. Or rather he raced up, given that it was now tilting up for the moment. As he neared the railing, Roy worked to slow his momentum when the ship tilted back. He hit the railing with a thud and moaned.
“Help!” he heard the boy yelling as he desperately tried to keep a grip on the railing. “General! Help me!”
Roy reached over and grabbed onto Alphonse’s arms, and felt himself get sick as he saw the ocean raging wildly beneath the boy’s dangling legs. He pulled, trying to pull Al up, but the boy was too heavy, or maybe he was just too weak. Roy let his eyes wander over the frightened teen, thinking urgently of a way to save him.
It finally dawned on him, and he almost didn’t want to say it. Even if he did, would Alphonse listen to him? Gritting his teeth against the nauseating sway of the boat, Roy shouted, “Get rid of the coat!” Al stared at him in shock, for a moment not processing what had been said, then fiercely shook his head.
“Do it!” Roy pleaded over the gusting wind. His arms were aching with holding onto the boy, and he didn’t know how much longer he’d be able to keep a hold of him. “It’s too heavy with all the water!” he yelled.
Tears welled up in Alphonse’s eyes as he shook his head again. “I can’t! It’s brother’s! It’s all I have left!!”
“You won’t be able to find him if you’re dead!” Roy yelled angrily. He couldn’t believe he was having this conversation now of all times. He would never ask Al to get rid of the coat if it wasn’t a life or death situation. “That coat is too heavy! It’s weighing you down!”
Dragon sized tears spilled out of those large, brown eyes and mingled with the rain and ocean water covering Al’s body.
“No! No! No!” Alphonse screamed in agony.
“YES!” Roy half yelled, half moaned. “Just DO it, dammit! I don’t know how much longer I can hold on! You can’t look for your brother if you’re dead! Do you really believe Ed would want you sacrifice yourself for his coat?”
Al’s face crumpled even more, and his eyes begged Roy not to make him do this thing, but Roy couldn’t give him what he wanted. “I need it!” Al argued.
“Why!?” Roy returned angrily. “You didn’t know him when he wore that coat! All you remember is how he was before! Ed changed from that time, Alphonse! And now, it’s been years since I’ve seen him. I’m sure he’s changed again. It’s a possibly that I could pass him on the street and not know him!”
Al opened his mouth to speak, but Roy continued on. “You’re looking for a memory! You’re holding so tight to the past that you can’t see the now! It’s no wonder you haven’t found him yet!”
The ship lurched and Roy nearly lost his grip on Al’s arms. He was suddenly aware that tears were running down his own face, but he paid them no mind. “It’s no wonder that you aren’t at peace with yourself, Alphonse! You’re never going to know who you really are until you start living your own life! Look for your brother, but do it as Alphonse Elric, not as some poor imitation of Edward Elric!” he yelled passionately.
Al’s face crumpled and he sobbed heavily, but after a moment he nodded. It was not an easy task to extract himself from the coat and Roy nearly lost his grip on him three times, but he did it. Roy watched with an ache in his chest as the dark red coat fell into the raging sea and was swallowed by the waves.
As the ship tilted again, Roy pulled hard on Al’s arms and the teen was able to help a little in the process. Roy stumbled backward and Al fell on him heavily. Rough sobs wracked Al’s body and he clung desperately to him.
Roy wanted to comfort the boy, but he couldn’t. Not now. Now they had to get back to the cabin. With an effort, Roy pushed the boy away from him and opened his mouth to speak when two sailors rushed to them and pulled them up.
An angry lecture about not coming out in a storm came from both sailors as they helped them back to the cabin, and as quickly as it had happened, they were back inside the cabin. Lying on the floor, Roy held onto Alphonse as he cried and stroked his wet hair, the strands knotted and tangled from the wind and rain.
“It’s gone!” Al sobbed. “It’s gone! It was all I had and now I’m alone!”
“No...” Roy soothed, kissing the boy’s forehead. “You’re not alone. I’m with you.”
“But, brother...” Al cried.
“Is not the coat,” Roy said softly. “You will find him. I know you will.”
To this there was no verbal answer. Instead, Al sobbed even harder, and Roy simply held him close. Nothing he could say right now was going to make it better. He understood that. But Al would get through this. He was strong. Even if he didn’t know it, Roy knew it. He’d seen what kind of strength lay dormant inside of this young man. Perhaps now, without the crutch that he’d used for so long, that strength would emerge and Al would finally become who he was meant to be.