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    Through mine eyes: Holocaust Series

    Kori123
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    Through mine eyes:  Holocaust Series Empty Through mine eyes: Holocaust Series

    Post  Kori123 on 3/15/2009, 5:23 am

    Mine eye hath played the painter and hath stelled
    Thy beauty's form in table of my heart;
    My body is the frame wherein 'tis held,
    And perspective it is best painter's art.
    For through the painter must you see his skill
    To find where your true image pictured lies,
    Which in my bosom's shop is hanging still,
    That hath his windows glazèd with thine eyes.
    Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done:
    Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me
    Are windows to my breast, where-through the sun
    Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee.
    Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art:
    They draw but what they see, know not the heart.

    - Sonnet 24
    William Shakespeare
    Kori123
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    Through mine eyes:  Holocaust Series Empty Re: Through mine eyes: Holocaust Series

    Post  Kori123 on 3/15/2009, 5:23 am

    Prologue -
    Edward Elric took in a heavy sigh as he looked down at the streets. The apartment wasn’t far from where he stood at that moment, he could endure a few extra minutes gazing. Edward was an older boy, a young man really; in his early twenties by now. He had lemon yellow hair that was long and always kept neatly in a ponytail. His attire consisted of a constant brown vest over white collar top, with brown pants to match. He had always been considered attractive and it surprised many people that he was still single and had never even had a girlfriend in the past; though he did tell stories of one girl from his home town.
    Edward’s golden yellow eyes looked at the torn up pavement he was standing on. The sidewalks were stained with blood and dirt alike; something that made him uneasy every time he left the apartment complex. Even going down to Gracia’s flower shop made him uncomfortable.
    He swallowed the lump in his throat as he clutched the brown paper bag in his right hand tightly, fisting his left hand at his side. He turned and headed back toward the apartment complex without looking back.
    Edward always hated going out shopping but it was something that had to be done; it was that or they didn’t eat. ’They’ meaning Alphonse Elric also.
    Alphonse Elric was Edward’s younger brother, by a year, give or take a few months. The two were very close and they were all each other had. Alphonse had thick dirty blonde hair which was cut short as of late; different from Edward’s own thin and flowing hair. Alphonse had golden eyes to match his brother and he also wore the same outfit as Edward, with minor differences most days. He was slightly shorter but it didn’t bother him; he was proud that his brother had gotten taller than him in the last few years.
    Edward sighed again as he reached the door walking in, shutting it as entered through and headed up stairs; dropping the bag of groceries on the table as he passed.
    “Hey Al?” Edward called as he walked through the halls and reached the first bedroom. Alphonse’s room was kind of plain; a desk full of papers, books and pencils alike. A bed to the side that was always neatly made and the ground made of a type of hardwood, that was always as neat as the bed. His desk lamp was on so Edward figured he had just been there. “Al?” He called again as he closed the door and headed to the next room.
    Edward’s room was the same size and build as Alphonse’s room but had many differences. The ground was hardwood also but it was usually messy with papers, since his desk didn’t hold them all. Books were on the bookshelf in the corner near the bed, a few sticking out from past readings. His bed was made, which gave him the hint his brother had just been there as well. He shook his head and closed the door to that room as he kept going.
    “Alphonse? Where are you?” He asked as he knocked on the bathroom door.
    The door opened a second later and there stood Alphonse Elric. He had a nervous smile on his face and an once white apron wrapped around his waist. “Oh brother, I didn’t know you were back yet,” he said as he took off his rubber gloves setting them in a nearby waste basket. “Did you get the groceries?”
    “Of course I did,” Edward said with a nod as he looked at his brother. He always hated when Alphonse did that; cleaned up without ever asking for Edward’s help. Maybe once in a while he’d ask Edward to pick up his room but for the most part, Alphonse did the whole house by himself sneakily. “What kind of older brother doesn’t provide for his younger sibling?” He asked as he ruffled Alphonse’s hair playfully with a big toothy grin.
    Alphonse pouted a bit as he swatted lightly at his brother’s hand, “brother stop it, I’m not a baby.” He whined, which didn’t exactly help his point. Edward laughed at that as he pulled his hand back and stuffed it in his pocket.
    “Yeah yeah. Look, we’re getting kind of low on rations so I didn’t get any milk this month.” Edward explained as he turned and headed back toward the kitchen. Alphonse frowned lightly as he reached back to untie the apron as he followed his brother.
    “That’s just your excuse for not having to drink any,” he retorted.
    “Eh, maybe,” Edward said with a shrug. That may have been partly true, though in reality, they really were running low on rations. With Edward being out of a job for the time being and Alphonse not working at all, they were on their last bit of savings. Neither of them worried though, they knew a job or two would show up eventually. They would have to given the recent population decline, “so what have you been up to, just cleaning?”
    “Yeah pretty much,” Alphonse said as he took the apron off, folding it as he placed it in a side drawer by the phone. Edward started to unload the bag of groceries setting everything out to put away. Alphonse looked over everything kind of sadly, deep in thought for a while.
    When he opened his mouth to speak, he stopped himself and instead went to help. “So I was talking to some men downtown while I was at the store, and they said they might have a job for me in one of the factories. I said I wasn’t sure about it, but they said I would be perfect for it; so I might give it a try starting Tuesday.” Edward explained as he put things in the refrigerator; speaking all at once with slight enthusiasm. He paused a moment then glanced over at his brother.
    Alphonse nodded to Edward’s story, but had a troubled look on his face. “Something wrong Al?” Edward asked with a little frown.
    Alphonse snapped back by that, “huh? Oh, sorry brother. I was just thinking...”
    “That’s dangerous,” Edward teased, “about what?”
    “About life,” Alphonse replied quietly.
    Edward went silent also as he thought about it. He knew exactly what Alphonse was talking about even without saying the exact words. How their apartment had gone down from three to four members back down to only two.
    The whole thing had started only a couple months ago; their friend, Maes Hughes, was first to notify the boys. He said something about a new movement from his old ‘group of buddies’, the Nazis. Something about their leader getting out of prison and leading them again. Something about ending the depression Germany was facing.
    This involved something called The Final Solution. Hughes claimed to not know anything about it since he quit being one of them; a bold move on his part. Then a few days after the decision was made, they started going to work. It was small at first but cleared out many in their neighborhood.
    The movement called for the extermination of all Jews. Including their old friend Fritz Lang; who was brutally killed in front of a crowd of millions one morning along with a few other. Edward Elric hadn’t seen it exactly but was in the area unable to stop it. He felt terrible for it and went into his own little depression, but was only thankful neither him nor his brother were part of the mix.
    Soon after the Jews were being sent to death, other groups were put to death that were counted as ‘imperfect’ in the Nazis eyes; this included gypsies. Their friend Noah had been one, and a few weeks after Lang’s murder, she was joined with him. Only they didn’t kill her on the spot, she was sent to something called a concentration camp. There was always the possibility she was still alive, but everyone doubted it.
    Edward became scared, an emotion he hated feeling. In this world he was use to the fact there was no alchemy; there was nothing like alchemy to hurt or destroy people. Though it seemed many humans were doing that without the mythical power. With more and more groups of people counted as imperfect, Edward was just waiting.
    Waiting for someone to stand up to them and stop them.
    Or waiting for their turn to come up.
    “Hey Al?” Edward asked after a while of silence; he’d just finished putting away the last item. Alphonse blinked then looked over at his brother, sad and waiting for the rest of his brothers words. “I don’t want you feeling sad. This isn’t our fault. We didn’t do this,” Edward said softly.
    “I know,” Alphonse said nodding. “I just feel terrible that there’s nothing we can do. No one who is willing to stop it. Even your not willing to-”
    “They’ll kill you Al,” Edward said as he narrowed his eyes. “I spoke with Hughes and he said that if anyone gets in their way, they would kill them and their family. I’m not letting that happen.”
    “But Ed-!”
    “No!” Edward shouted back. He didn’t raise his voice too loud, but enough to make a point. Alphonse went quiet and nodded as he started to walk off. “Al wait,” Edward said as he walked over to his brother.
    Alphonse stopped and turned to look at Edward who seemed lost in his own thoughts. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly “I just- I saw Fritz Lang die. Noah is probably-” he couldn’t say it, “I just don’t want you to get hurt.”
    “I know. I don’t want you to get hurt either,” Alphonse said with a weak smile.
    Edward smiled back as he ruffled his brother’s hair playfully again, “right. So, no more feeling bad. Come on, let’s go visit Gracia.”
    “Right,” Alphonse nodded as he ran off to grab his coat.
    As soon as Alphonse had left, Edward’s smile vanished again and returned to a frown. He hated pretending that nothing was wrong. He figured Alphonse would be fine, but as Edward looked down at his auto-mail limbs he couldn’t help but remember what he’d heard the other day from Hughes:
    The next step in the movement was to rid Germany of the crippled...
    Edward hadn’t told Alphonse yet.
    Kori123
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    Through mine eyes:  Holocaust Series Empty Re: Through mine eyes: Holocaust Series

    Post  Kori123 on 3/15/2009, 5:24 am

    Chapter 1 - Waiting
    “Things are just getting to be worse everyday,” Gracia said as she poured Alphonse a cup of tea. He sat down calmly as he listened to her speak. Edward was with him, naturally, sitting to the left of his brother at the same table. He wasn’t drinking anything but he was gnawing on a cookie; Edward loved Gracia’s cookies, even if the sugar was limited due to rations making them more like a flat biscuit. “I can hardly go outside anymore. There are so many people being taken away, I’m just waiting for my time,” she said softly as she handed him the cup.
    Alphonse took it and frowned, “Gracia, please don’t say such things. You don’t fit any qualifications,” he said as he sipped at the tea.
    “No, not yet but demand is getting to be higher. The only thing really protecting us is the fact Hughes use to be one of them. If he wasn’t, they probably would have come up with some kind of excuse to kill us by now.”
    “That’s such a negative thing to say,” Edward said as he crunched the cookie in his mouth. Watching a few crumbs fall out of his mouth and onto the table; he wiped them off the cloth and onto the ground. Alphonse watched him, as did Gracia, “your both so negative. Sure this thing is terrible, thousands of people are dying. I don’t like it either but for now we just have to keep watching out for each other and things will get better. Just wait, one of the Russian leaders or someone will come and stop them.”
    “A Russian leader? They wouldn’t help us,” Alphonse said as he rolled his eyes. “They’re busy doing other things. Besides, last I heard, they approved of this whole thing. France and Britain aren’t any help either.”
    “Negative!” Edward shouted playfully as he pointed at Alphonse.
    Gracia nodded. “He has a point Edward. They don’t seem to be in a big hurry to do anything.”
    “Well not right now, but that’s why we need to just hold on,” Edward said as he took another cookie, twirling it around a bit before chewing it.
    “We should have gone with the other scientists to America,” Alphonse said out of the blue as he set his cup down on the table and looked over at his brother. “This isn’t happening over there. In fact, they seem to have been having a great couple years with tons of new inventions. If we went, we might have been able to-”
    “I already told you,” Edward said rolling his own eyes as he finished the second cookie. “They wanted us to be packed and ready the next day and it was too soon. Besides, I’ve heard their stock market has been going downhill. A lot. A whole hell of a lot bigger than ours even.”
    “That was just a rumor,” Alphonse frowned.
    “Yeah well, I’d like to believe that there are other problems in the world besides our own.” Edward explained as he reached for another cookie, only to be swatted by Alphonse. He gave his brother a questionable look and Alphonse mouthed ‘you’ve had enough’ in return. Edward pulled his hand back and leaned in his chair. “I’m just making a point,” he said with a sigh.
    “Not a very good one,” Alphonse said as he sighed also; he looked down at his cup of tea, staring back at his reflection.
    “Now who’s being Negative?” Gracia asked with a small chuckle, “you two shouldn’t worry so much. Edward, your hair is more blonde than any of those so called Aryans,” Edward perked up a little, “and Alphonse. You have done absolutely nothing to be considered a threat.” Alphonse smiled and nodded, “neither of you have done anything to be considered ‘impure’ or whatever else it is they say.
    “Ed, your probably right. Some other country will jump in and save us any day now. We just have to wait and see,” she said a little happier than a moment ago.
    “That’s the hardest part,” Edward said as he stood up to stretch a bit. Alphonse watched him, “not knowing when this whole thing will end. I’m ready for it.” Edward stated with a half yawn, already bored of this chit-chat.
    “We all are,” Gracia said as a small creaking sound was heard from off to the side. When the three turned to its source, they spotted the girl. Elisia was around four years old or so, with little blonde pigtails and bright aqua colored eyes. She was wearing her pajamas still from the night before, but looked content in them.
    “Mommy your being loud,” she said softly as she walked over. She was sleepy from the looks of it, and the boys smiled as she approached.
    “Oh Elisia, I’m sorry.” Gracia said as she got up and walked over to her daughter to pick her up. “Your big brothers are here, do you want to say hi?”
    “Hi big brothers,” Elisia said with a wave, sleep was dredged in her voice.
    The two Elrics just smiled and waved in reply as Alphonse got up to walk over. “Hey Elisia, your birthday’s coming up soon isn’t it?”
    “Yeah!” Elisia said with a little smile, “I’ll be four!”
    “Yeah I know,” he said with a laugh “what do you want for your birthday?”
    The girl gasped excitedly, “you really want to know?”
    Alphonse laughed with a small nod, “sure I do. What do you want?”
    “I’ll show you,” she said as she squirmed around. Gracia set her on the ground and off she went taking Alphonse’s hand and dragged him off.
    “Be right back,” Alphonse said as he left the room.
    Gracia just watched them go before turning back to Edward. She sighed, her smile vanishing into a frown. “Edward, I need to speak with you.”
    “Hm?” Edward blinked, “okay. Shoot.”
    “It’s about your arm and leg,” she said as she glanced at the limbs “they’re both fake aren’t they?”
    Edward went quiet a while then looked down at them and nodded. They had their ‘skin’ colored covering on for the moment, cloaking the auto-mail, “yeah. Both my arm and leg are gone. Winry gave me these auto-mail ones but they’re starting to get too small and rust.” He said as he held his hand up, turning it about to feel the crusted joints.
    Gracia looked at them for a while then nodded, “yes and I’m sure you’re aware of the newest group that is to be put into the camps?”
    “Cripples,” Edward said softly as he put his arm down.
    “Technically, you are counted as one. Even if you do have fake limbs that help you with mobility.” She said as she sat back down in her seat. Edward wasn’t sure what to say as he watched the ground; it was a true statement. Sure he could get around and sure he could hide them; but in truth, he was counted as a cripple.
    “Yeah, I know.” He said quietly, “Hughes told me that the order was for cripples and those diseased to be put to death. No place for them in this world, so they figure they'd just get rid of them altogether." He shrugged, "sounds so illogical to me."
    "None of this sounds logical, because it isn't." Gracia explained with another sad glance to the table cloth.
    There was silence between the two for a long time, then Edward spoke up, “please don’t tell Al. He...he doesn’t know yet and I’d rather he didn’t find out unless it gets way out of line.”
    "I wasn't planning on telling him," Gracia said as she grabbed a cookie and held it out to him, “here. Have a cookie.”
    “No thanks,” Edward said with a weak smile. “Al made it clear I was done for now. Maybe I can take a few back to the apartment with me?”
    “No problem,” she said with a little sigh. “Life is too short Edward, enjoy it.”
    Edward nodded and picked up a cookie, just to look at it. “Yeah...tell me about it.”

    “Brother, I’m going to go to the graveyard for a bit,” Alphonse called from the front door. He was all ready to go with his large and heavy black coat draped across his shoulders. He had one hand stuffed in his pocket and the other one on the door knob. He turned back towards the stair case to wait for some kind of reply, but when none came he just left.
    It had been three days since their little visit to Gracia’s house and since then all Alphonse could think about was the conversation they had. Both Gracia and his brother had made good points. None of them had done nothing to get put into one of the camps or be murdered in anyway. Then again, neither did the Jews; and the more he thought about it, the less fair it seemed.
    Alphonse let out a long and dragged sigh as he started walking down the sidewalk. He casually glanced around at the buildings and people that were walking about. Many of the buildings were run down, some were burnt, some were torn and some were just old and rotting. They lived in a, considered, poor neighborhood. Where the only entertainment you could find would be down at the local pub; which was somewhere Alphonse wasn’t allowed to go for various reasons.
    After examining the buildings, Alphonse looked at the people he saw pass by. Many were sad looking and gloomy, wearing almost permanent frowns. They were waiting, like the brothers were, for the Nazis to come get them. Then there was a small group of people walking around that seemed happy; either agreeing with the Nazi way of life or they just hadn’t realized what was going on.
    Germany had hit rock bottom. Living in Munich was worse than living other places too, by the way. Alphonse hated living there, but it seemed they really had no choice. They couldn't leave by some decree and this was the place where most of the events took place. This was where many people were killed and this was the place where the conference had taken place. The start of hell, in short.
    It made Alphonse sick to think about, and finally reaching the graveyard did nothing to boost his confidence in the legal system. He stopped a few feet through the gate and looked around.
    The graveyard, which covered a good couple hundred feet, was getting old like the rest of the town. Tombstones were knocked over or broken, chipped to where one couldn’t read the names anymore. Alphonse frowned again as he began walking off somewhere in the back. With so many deaths taken place daily, the grave yard wouldn’t hold anymore.
    He stopped when he reached a familiar grave.
    Alfons Heiderich. He had been Edwards room mate, and the closest thing he had to a friend. They spent several months together before he was shot and killed after helping Edward return to his 'real' home. Edward always had claimed that Alfons looked just like his younger brother, and that was what originally brought them together.
    Alphonse smiled weakly as he bent down to clear away some dust and try leaves. He often times had to tell himself that this man was a friend of theirs and that it was because of him Alphonse was back with his brother. At the same time, Alphonse hated him. Envied him for having Edward as long as he did. He hated the fact that his brother would even consider replacing him with another person just because they looked similar.
    He sighed and shook his head as he went into a real smile, “hi Alfons. I just wanted to drop by and say hello. Sorry it’s been so long,” he said as he sat down near the stone. When was the last time anyone was there? Was Noah the last one to be there? Alphonse frowned again, “sorry Noah isn’t here with me right now. She’s actually probably with you right now. If she is, can you tell her I say hi?” He spoke to himself mostly, not actually believing Alfons could hear.
    He didn’t feel so alone anymore, at the very least, “brother is doing fine. He has his moments when things just get too crazy for him. Then again, who doesn't? This war is driving the whole world mad.” He explained as he shook his head, “but don’t worry, we’re doing fine. We haven’t done anything wrong and Gracia says we have no reason for them to come and kill-
    “Anyway,” Alphonse said to cut himself off quickly, “I just wanted to say hi. I sure hope this war ends soon. I can’t stand to see so many people die.” He whispered the last part, and as if in reply, the sky opened up and began sprinkling rain.
    Kori123
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    Post  Kori123 on 3/15/2009, 5:24 am

    “Alphonse, where have you been?” Edward scolded, he crossed his arms in front of his chest. Alphonse had just stepped through the door, drenched in water. Cold water. “I was worried sick! Do you honestly want to give your brother a heart attack?”
    Alphonse laughed lightly and shook his head as he hung up his coat. “No, I just went out for a bit. I told you that I was going before I left,” he pointed out.
    Edward stared in disbelief, “I don’t remember.”
    “Well I did,” Alphonse said as he took off his shoes next; thankful for the person who invented boots. Wet socks were never any fun.
    “Next time, say it louder or something,” Edward said shaking his head. “Seriously Al, I was worried that maybe they-” Edward stopped and shook his head, “forget it. Come on, I have lunch waiting for us in the kitchen.”
    Alphonse nodded and headed upstairs with his brother. He knew what Edward was getting at. The oldest brother had been jumpy about Alphonse leaving the house without him for a while now. Even just going outside freaked Edward out. He was so scared that the Nazis would come and kill Alphonse on the spot, just because. That was why Edward was the one always going outside to get groceries, instead of Alphonse doing it like he had in the past.
    It made Alphonse sad to see his brother so fearful but there was nothing he could really do. He felt the same way about Edward. Whenever Edward left, he knew there was a good chance he may not come back. He tried not to think about it.
    “So what are we eating?” Alphonse asked as he finally got to the kitchen, sitting down at their little table. Edward only grinned as he walked over to the little stove top. He slipped on some oven mitts as he went over to a pot and opened it looking in. Steam rose out in a furry and he smelled it a moment, then nodded and set the top aside. Grabbing two bowls, he took out a giant wooden spoon and scooped out some of the mysterious lunch.
    Alphonse watched him curiously, and before long Edward had brought the bowls over. Setting one out in front of his little brother and one for himself, "here we go. Something you’ll recognize,” he said with a smile as he took off the mitts and sat down in his usual chair.
    Alphonse was hadn’t looked yet but the smell was so familiar. He looked into the bowl, saw its contents and smiled as he looked back to his brother, “stew? I didn’t even know you knew how to make this.” He said as he greedily grabbed his spoon.
    Edward laughed as he took his own spoon to get a nice mouthful of stew going. He savored it a moment then swallowed, licking his lips as he looked back at Alphonse. “I didn‘t. I still kind of don‘t. I got this recipe from Gracia,” he explained as he ate some more. It was a bit too salty for his taste but it was warm and felt good running down his throat.
    Alphonse took his first bite. Then another. Then he frowned looking back over at Edward, “but this probably cost a lot to make. All the milk, beef, vegetables. Not to mention any odd spices you might have used.”
    “Relax,” Edward was so laid back, “I took a little out of my own savings account. Nothing out of our savings for house payments and groceries,” Edward took another bite.
    “Your own savings?” Alphonse gaped lightly, “that’s yours for buying a new car.”
    “Yeah well,” Edward shrugged, “lately there seems to be no need for a car,” He went dismal a moment as he watched the thick soup. “I have no desire to go on a Sunday drive anywhere anyway.”
    “What about after this war is over?”
    “Then I’ll just buy one with one of my many new paychecks,” he said, dismal no longer, with a smile. Soft and gentle and possibly hiding a few things. “Don’t worry about it Al, I’ll take care of us. I promise you that much.”
    Alphonse only nodded. He didn’t doubt his brother on anything; especially when it came to him taking care of his family.
    The brothers spent the rest of the meal in silence. Both boys were deep in thought about so many things. War. Friends. Family. Things like that. Some memories were happy, others were painful. “Hey Ed?” Alphonse asked after a while.
    Edward jerked his head up to his brother’s view as he popped the spoon out of his mouth, “hm?” He cocked his head just slightly as he took another bite.
    “What do you want for your-”
    Knock knock knock.
    Edward paused briefly, then set his spoon down on a napkin and stood. Alphonse stood also but Edward motioned for him to sit back down. Alphonse obeyed but watched his brother carefully as he went around the corner and headed down stairs.
    Who would be knocking on their door? They rarely got visitors.
    Edward opened the door cautiously, “yes?” He asked the figure that awaited.
    It was a tall man, with brown sandy hair that was cut very short. Not quite shaved, but close. He was wearing a uniform that Edward had only seen so many times, but the pin on the front gave it away. He frowned at Edward as he held up a piece of paper, “is this Alfons Heiderich’s residence?”
    Edward shook his head, keeping his distance, “no. He passed away a few months ago. Who wants to know?”
    “My name is Edward Krushien. I was sent here to retrieve an Alfons Heiderich for some research,” it was a well told lie.
    Edward narrowed his eyes a bit, “what a coincidence, that’s my name too. I’m Edward Elric. I was a room mate to Alfons before he died. My younger sibling and I have been living here for a while now and if you’ll excuse me, we’re kind of in the middle of-”
    Edward tried to close the door, but the man caught it before he got the chance. Edward narrowed his eyes again, more so this time. The man only copied him, “your eyes.” He said simply. Edward didn’t budge, “they’re golden like your hair. Are you an Aryan?”
    “Do I look Aryan to you?” Edward hissed. An accident really. Something he’d regret later on no doubt.
    “No. In fact, I’m not sure what you are,” the man said. He opened his mouth to speak again, but another voice cut through the room and disturbed both their thoughts.
    “Brother? Who’s at the door?” Alphonse asked as he stepped down the stairs looking at the man. When he’d reached the bottom, he froze. He knew that uniform as well, and the look the man was giving him...
    “You both have golden eyes,” the man said as he glanced from Alphonse back to Edward, who was almost fuming.
    “Get out,” Edward snapped dangerously. Before the man could protest, if he was going to, Edward slammed the door shut. Locking each lock. Spinning around he leaned his back against it. Adrenaline was rushing through his veins like the old days but he wasn’t about to pick a fight with one of them.
    He stopped his heavy breathing as he looked over at Alphonse who had gone very pale in the last couple minutes. Edward’s eyes softened as he tried to muster up a smile. He was quiet for a long time before looking at Alphonse who had tears streaming down his cheeks.
    “Al...”

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