Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist
Reference: Conqueror of Shamballa
Main Characters: Ed, Alfons
Type: General, Oneshot, Friendship
Summary: Ed contemplates time, knowledge, his brother, and home.
Note: In celebration of the new FMA series coming out, I am posting CoS fic! You are not forgotten CoS! *laughs*
Time and Knowledge
Time and knowledge... knowledge and time. It was those two ideas that seemed to circle Ed like vultures as he lay on the library floor with eyes fixed on the cracked, off-white ceiling of the library.
How much time had he been searching? How much time had he wasted? How much time did he have left? Was it running out? Could time run out? Not really... It was a stupid expression. Time never actually ran out. Time was always there, always present.
Just not for him.
Perhaps it would be more correct to refer to time as his time, instead of time in general...
He sighed and the fingers on his left hand twitched slightly for no apparent reason. Ed noted it in a corner of his crowded mind, then forgot that it had even happened—dismissed it because it really wasn’t that important.
What was actually important was knowledge. Knowledge was something he possessed already, but he hadn’t been able to obtain the right knowledge—the knowledge that mattered...
Unlike time, knowledge wasn’t infinite. There was only so much knowledge in the world because the human mind was only capable of comprehending so much. Also, new knowledge was always being found, unlike time which stayed the same...
An itch assailed him on his stomach and he brought his real hand over unconsciously to scratch at it before letting his arm sprawl back to the floor where it had previously been. He glanced to the table near him and then around to what parts of the library he could see from his position.
Ed knew what he wanted to study, yet the unsettling feeling of not really knowing where to start plagued him. He was surrounded by so much knowledge that he felt paralyzed with an emotion he couldn’t accurately describe. One part of him subconsciously hoped that if he lay there long enough, the knowledge he wanted would simply seep into his brain.
It wouldn’t happen, but it was a nice thought...
Ed sighed and traced one of the cracks on the ceiling with his eyes. He wished his brother was here. Alphonse understood him, understood this overwhelming feeling of uncertainty. They’d talked about it several times as they both simply lay on the floor, books surrounding them, feeling full of knowledge, but still needing more and not exactly sure where to go next, yet knowing it at the same time.
It didn’t make sense, but he couldn’t entirely dismiss the feeling.
He’d once described the sensation to Colonel Mustang, who had laughed and remarked that he felt the same way about women. He knew he wanted them all, but could only have one at a time so it was hard for him to decide which he should have first.
Ed had been unimpressed, but he thought he’d detected something beneath the humor; something that seemed to imply that Mustang knew exactly how Ed had felt. Perhaps the man had felt that if he admitted it, then he would be admitting a weakness—something Ed knew his former commanding officer was generally loathe to do.
“Comfortable?” a voice rang out in the empty silence.
Ed smiled slightly. “Quite,” he replied. The hard library floor was cold, but the chill was tempered by his clothes and heavy coat so that what Ed felt was a pleasantly cool sensation.
“Does that mean we can sell your bed?” the voice, ribboned with mild humor, asked.
Sitting up, Ed eyed the young man in front of him with interested consideration. Alfons was a product of this place; this different world beyond the gate. Alfons was interested in the advancement of machinery and industry—something that wasn’t highly considered in Ed’s world.
Ed had become rather proficient in machinery, though it would never hold the same place in his heart as the sciences—as alchemy... Yet, Alfons was intrigued by it; almost obsessed. He wanted to see his rockets fly, wanted to be apart of something new and amazing. It encompassed his life as completely as alchemy had with Ed.
In this, Ed could hardly fault his new friend and roommate, but...
“Don’t you ever want something more?” Ed asked suddenly and passionately.
Alfons blinked. He seemed to be trying to figure out what Ed was talking about, then shrugged, grinned, and said, “Of course, that’s why I want to sell your bed.”
“Ha, ha,” Ed said sarcastically. “But really,” he continued. “Don’t you ever want something more than rockets?”
Alfons’s deep blue eyes considered him, then he asked, “Don’t you ever want anything else than to go home?”
The answer to that was ‘no’ and they both knew it.
Without answering, Ed lay back down and studied the ceiling. He missed his home. He missed his old life. He missed the world being full of color and a brightness that this dull world lacked. He missed the lightheartedness he could always dredge up. He missed the fun and happiness despite the sadness. Here, there was only a tainted misery that felt heavy and was almost like a smeared painting, the colors all combined to create a dreary mud colored substance.
And most of all, he missed his brother... He missed Alphonse so much that his whole body ached with the need to see him again. Oh, he missed other people from his world, but none of them could quite compare with the pain of being separated from the brother that was his closest friend.
“They said they’re closing for the night,” Alfons said again. “Should I just push you under a table so the night guards won’t see you?”
“Are you trying to get rid of me?” Ed asked wryly.
“Not exactly, but you’re too heavy for me to carry out.” There was a pause, then, “I could possibly drag you out...” Groaning, Ed sat up, then stood stiffly. Another day gone by. Another day that he hadn’t found a way to return home... Alfons wrapped an arm around his shoulder and said conspiratorially, “A bunch of us are thinking of meeting up at the pub. Are you in?”
And another night of drinking Alfons under the table...
“Speaking of dragging someone home...” Ed said good-naturedly as they started out of the library.
Alfons gave Ed a mock-offended look. “Are you implying that you ever have to drag me home?”
“Not at all,” Ed said with a grin. “I’m saying it outright.”
Alfons grunted. “Don’t they teach you manners where you come from?”
“Oh, they teach them, but I’m only just now learning them.”
“Really?” Alfons asked. “You’ve started learning them?”
Ed slugged Alfons on the arm in jest and his friend laughed good-naturedly as they walked. Before he knew it they were to the pub and letting themselves in. Ed stepped inside and was instantly greeted by several people who waved them to their table.
It was warm inside and the atmosphere was very friendly, but Ed’s melancholy mood hadn’t completely left him and he couldn’t help wondering again how much time he had left. Sitting, Ed looked at Alfons as he laughed and joked with another man. How much time did he have left to find the knowledge he needed to go back home? How much time would he have with Alfons before their research took them on separate paths?
He took a sip of the beer that was placed before him and thought that maybe time wasn’t really as endless as he’d supposed. Time as a whole was never-ending, but each person’s time was measured on a finite scale...
Time and knowledge... knowledge and time... Such strange and insubstantial things, and yet so very important...
“Are you going to sit there and space out all night?” Alfons asked him. Ed glanced up and was surprised to see that he was being watched.
He smiled, then raised his mug. “Nope, just thinking of the best way to get you home after you pass out!” And with that, he chugged down half his beer and joined the conversation..