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Dropkicked Into Maturity


Al was a little sad to admit that he and Ed had settled into their life in England.

Also, he thought they had reached one of the most backwards stages of their lives.

Al, at 17, had discovered that mornings were unbearable for the first time in his life, and waking up before ten o'clock in the morning was pure agony. Ed, on the other hand, was up by half past eight.

Al stumbled into the kitchen that morning to find Ed standing at the kitchen counter with a cigarette in his mouth. Al didn't know when that habit had started, but he never argued with it before noon. He was reading the front page of the newspaper with raised eyebrows, his glasses perched on his nose.

Glasses, on Brother. At first Al had been shocked, but the more he thought about it, the more he thought it had stared back in Amestris. Squinting at all that fine print in thick tomes with the light of only one candle to aid him while they were children couldn't have helped him at all.

And Corporal Mustang had remembered Ed as the 'put the book at arm's length and scowl' kind of reader. Yes, it had definitely started in Amestris.

"Coffee?" he asked.

Ed looked up at him, and Al was struck by how much he'd grown. He wasn't anything like stocky any more; He was relatively broad-shouldered, but slim, with the sort of good looks that came naturally and from keeping in good shape. He had his fair share of female admirers around the university now, and Al suspected he'd have more if he ever gave up that silly goatee.

"Here," Ed said, with a smile around his cigarette, holding out a mug of coffee. "Made your way." Which was not Ed's way. Ed's way was black, and killer strong. Al preferred his coffee heavily watered down with sugar. Sugar plus caffiene went a surprisingly long way towards wakefulness.

Al grunted his appreciation and took the mug, clutching it. Coherency in a cup, he thought, taking a long sip and shuffling over to the table to sit.

"We're running low on sugar. I don't know if I can buy more with the tariffs," Ed informed him, scowling at the newspaper again. "The depression is only getting worse."

Al yawned. "We could move to America," he said blearily.

Ed glanced up at him, and snorted. "Won't be long till they follow Europe into this," he remarked. That was another thing Al was a little confused by: when had Ed become so familiar with the economic goings-on of this world?

He took another sip of coffee and looked at Ed's broadening back and his long ponytail. There were days, he thought, when he really felt left behind.

"Brother," he said, stretching, "You look more like Dad every day."

Ed drew up his shoulders a little, and looked back over at him. He took the cigarette out of his mouth, and smiled, a little fondly. "You think so?" he said, and laughed a little. He blew smoke out of his mouth. "It's good you haven't forgotten him, even if he's a weird bastard."

Al looked down at his mug and didn't admit that he only knew it from the old pictures in Pinako's house.