Ed stared at his reflection in the mirror in the cheap motel room bathroom. He missed his long golden braid. It was silly to still mourn something he knew he could see again. Hell, he had just alchemized his old look complete with his signature red coat with the Flamel symbol on the back the other night.
It was safe when it was just him and Al. He didn't even do that in front of the kid.
"Sweetheart, did you fall in?" the asshole of the night called out from the bed.
Ed counted to twenty and slapped a sickly sweet smile on his face before he walked back into the crappy little room. He didn't know what was worse the cheap bastards that picked him up or the cut-rate motels they took him to.
"Did you miss me?" Ed batted his lashes at him.
"I always miss you. I don't know why you won't schedule dates further in the month. I have a few important work dinners that I have to attend that I could really use a date for," Asshole complained.
They had this same discussion every time they got together. Ed was tired of hearing him whine, but the guy did pay top dollar and tipped him enough to overlook the whining.
"I'm sure you could find a more respectable date." Ed ran his fingers through the guy's short graying hair.
"Maybe, but not one better looking. You ever think about dying your hair? If you let it grow out and dye it would be a dead ringer for Edward Elric. That would be a date that no one would ever forget." The guy had the nerve to laugh at the thought.
"Really? I don't see it. I read that he had automail for one arm and a leg. I only have the arm." Ed dragged his glove covered automail hand up the asshole's chest. Ed really wished he could recall his name. He should know it by now. He knew he'd seen the man a dozen times at least. They were all just a fistful of cash to him. Over the past few months, he'd been a little choosier about who he accepted dates with. This just proved that he may have been more selective, but that didn't mean he kept his guard up as well as should.
"Think about it. There's an officers ball at the end of the month and the look on the guys faces if you did dress up would be worth whatever you wanted to charge me," he tried to convince Ed.
"I'll think about it," Ed lamely promised.
"I really think you can pull it off. You're the right age and I bet if you factor in the couple of years he's been missing, you would be about the same height. It would be really easy to pass you off as Elric. You even live with a guy just a few years younger. How is that for a coincidence? Plus you have a kid. If you told people she was a girl that was about seven or eight, they would think she was Nina." Asshole grinned a smarmy grin that even Archer couldn't have pulled off.
"Yeah, I do live with a guy and we have a kid, but he is a lot younger than that. He's my boyfriend's little brother, Their parents were killed in a house fire a few years ago." Ed lied through his teeth as he grabbed his clothes.
"You in a rush?" The guy tried to beckon Ed back to bed.
"Yeah, sorry I forgot I promised the kid I'd be home before bedtime." It wasn't a total lie. Ed finished dressing and headed towards the door.
"The good little family man," he sneered at Ed.
"I promise I'll make it up to you next time." Ed tried his best seductive smile as he fled out the door.
He couldn't stop himself from jumping to conclusions. It was hard to think of another reason why the asshole had made the request that he dress up as Edward Elric. He wondered what the reward for his head was now? Last he checked it was fifty thousand cenz for him and seventy-five for Al. He just remembered being relieved the wanted dead or alive option seemed to be missing. He knew that turning in just one of them would be a small windfall for anyone.
He stood at his front door grateful that he had walked home instead of taking the car. Chances are good he would've killed someone if he'd tried to drive. He had no memory of leaving the motel or the walk home. All he could think about was the M.P.'s breaking down their front door and dragging the three of them out. Everything he and Al had tried to build was crumbling around them.
The worst part was that he had no idea how to stop it. He knew the first thing he needed to do was speak with Al. Al had always been the more level-headed one. He would let Ed know if he was just being a paranoid bastard.
"Ed?" Al called from the kitchen. "What's wrong?" he asked when Ed walked in the room.
"Where's our girl?" Ed softly asked trying not to sound as panicked as he felt.
"She's still playing over at Allie's house." Al walked over to where Ed stood and wrapped his arms around Ed's waist.
"As much as I love where you're going with this, We really don't have time." Ed pulled Al's hands off of his waist.
"Okay, now you're worrying me. Anytime we have a spare minute alone, you try to get me naked." Al worried his bottom lip.
"Trust me, I want nothing more than to strip you down and fuck you stupid. Believe me, I will always want to do that. We don't have time. I'm pretty sure the last guy I saw knows who I am. I mean really knows who I am." Ed tried his best not to sound panicked and knew he was failing.
"How? It's been almost seven years and you've changed everything about yourself? You won't even leave the house with your own hair or eye color. I know for a fact Fullmetal had more automail than you do," Al snapped.
Ed walked out to the garage and started grabbing a few moving boxes. He wasn't surprised to find Al waiting for him in their bedroom.
"I'll grab these to start," Ed snapped as he started yanking open the dresser drawers. He began to fling his clothes onto the bed. They'd moved enough over the years to know that clothes made good packing materials.
"Are we going to talk about it?" Al asked from the bed.
"That's all we've been doing since I got home. I think we've passed the talking phase and entered the packing and running phase of our night," Ed quipped as he shoved the few photo albums they owned in a box.
"Ed, we've had to pack up and move before and you've never been this upset. I have to wonder what is different about this time?" Al asked him.
"The bastard knew. He really knew what we did. He made a crack about you and our kid and that if she were a girl, she could be Nina. That asshole called her by her name. How could he know who she was?" Ed continued to shove their mementos into the box.
"We knew that someone would figure out what we did. It would've been stupid to think that no one would be smart enough to piece together what happened." Al pulled Ed down next to him before continuing. "We did a great job of covering out tracks. You have to admit a large part of that was luck. If you had been active in the military longer, I am sure we would've been even better. We had to learn as we went. There were a bunch of close calls over the years. We survived them. We'll make it now."
"How can you be so calm?" Ed asked with a quick kiss to Al's temple.
"What choice do we have?" Al asked him.
"I thought this time was going to be different," Ed complained.
"I'm glad it didn't work out," Al softly confessed.
"Why? I can't recall the last time we had it this nice. Oh wait, it was when we are all still living at Tucker's. You can't tell me that you haven't been happy with a real roof over your head. Not to mention the steady money," Ed reminded him.
"That's true, we haven't been this settled in years. That doesn't mean we're happy. I've been trying to figure out how to tell you, but not all of us are happy," Al told him.
"How can you say that? This is the best our life has been in years." Ed didn't believe him.
"I know I told you I was fine with this crazy plan that you had to work with the girls. I tried to be fine. I really did. The thought of all those people touching you drives me crazy. Before you argue about Nina being better off, she really isn't. She hates it here. I hate it here. Neither one of us fit in. We've been raising her as best we could. She's a genius. I doubt there is any kid that can keep up with her. She has no idea how to socialize with them. That's our fault. We did the best we could for her. She wants to go back to the way it was before," Al said.
"Why? It's better here." Ed was dumbstruck.
"She doesn't like the structure we have here. She's used to living on the road with us. We did what we wanted when we wanted it. I have to say I agree with her. She hasn't made many friends and to be honest, neither have I. I say let's pack what we truly need and anything worth a few cenz and find a train and just go." Al found their sturdy travel trunk and started packing what he thought they should take.
"It's been seven years. Seven long hard years on the road. How many more years do we have in us?" Ed mumbled.
"Yeah, it's been seven years. Do you regret them? Do you want to leave us? Do you want to keep the house and your job? Tell me, Edward. Are you sorry you fixed us? Do you wish we had just let her stay dead?" Al asked while his back was turned to Ed.
"How can you ask that? I will never regret trading Scar's life for hers. She is worth so much more. Tucker, he's the sick bastard that killed her. How could anyone be that desperate for state funding that they would make a chimera out of his own child? Anyone that transmutes their four-year-old little girl with the family dog doesn't deserve anyone's pity. He's just lucky we were able to swap his body for yours in the Gate. If we weren't able to, I would have ripped him limb from limb." Ed meant every word of it.
"I know and I agree. I would've been right there with you. He got better then he deserved," Al told him.
"So, we're in agreement? We go grab Nina and find the first train out of here? We go back to doing alchemy on the street for cenz. Maybe we'll get lucky and fix a few things for room and board." Al sounded much happier about that plan then Ed thought he should be.
"You really would rather do that than fight to stay here?" Ed had to be sure Al was willing to throw their new found normal life away.
"I think we should finish packing and be on our way. I know some day we will be able to go home again. Until then, we wait." Al smirked.
Ed knew better than to argue. He would just have to trust Al and believe that one day when Scar and Tucker's death are no longer a priority they would take their little girl home. Until then, they'd live each day to the fullest and enjoy the adventures that they find.