Title: Needed
Author: Jordanna Morgan (librarie@jordanna.net)
Archive Rights: Please request the author’s consent.
Rating/Warnings: G.
Characters: Ed, Al, and an unusual companion.
Setting: General.
Summary: The Elric brothers have an unsung traveling companion.
Disclaimer: They belong to Hiromu Arakawa. I’m just playing with them.
Notes: Written for the prompt of “secondhand” at Fandom Weekly, where it won first place. This is undoubtedly one of the odder stories I’ve written, but I do have a small fascination with the viewpoints of unlikely observers—even when they’re inanimate objects.

 

Needed

 

The day my old Master brought me to the house on the hill was bittersweet. I was glad he might find happiness at long last with his bride… but I was sorry he would no longer have much need for me. After unpacking the few clothes and books I had carried for him across so many miles, he slid me into the closet, patted me fondly, and shut the door.

Only later did I learn that after a time, Master left again—without me.

When next I saw daylight, I thought it was Master who opened the door. However, it was only a little boy who looked just like him—as did an even smaller child who peeked around the shoulder of the first. These were Master’s sons!

The older Little Master smiled when he saw me, and pulled me from the closet, dragging me over to a bookshelf. He climbed up on me to reach a book, while Littler Master stood fretting that his brother would fall.

He didn’t know I would never let that happen. I would serve them as faithfully as I had served their father.

After my new Masters’ mother died, I helped them move to the house of their friends. Little Master’s face was dark and secretive as he took the book he had once used me to reach—a human-alchemy book, he and Littler Master said in whispers—and buried it among the clothes they put inside me.

In their new home, I lived under Little Master’s bed. He brought more strange books from the old house, and kept them in me. The way he hid them whenever “Winry” or “Granny” came in, I worried what the books meant… but I forgot those concerns when my Masters took the books out, filled me once more with clothes, and hauled me to the train station. Now they were going to travel with me, just as my Old Master had.

The trip was thrilling, but short-lived. After we reached Dublith, I was dumped on a bed in a spare room—and then I didn’t see my Masters for a month. Just when my worry became unbearable, they returned, scarred and half-starved but excited and eager for “training”. I thought this meant another train journey… but instead, we stayed there a while. It was alright. Since my Masters never put away all their things from inside me, they handled me every day, and I was pleased with that.

One day, quite suddenly, they repacked me, and we left for their home village again. To my surprise, on our arrival, they took me back to the old house. They left me in their former bedroom, and went off to the study where I once helped them fetch books from high shelves.

A storm broke shortly afterward. At length, over the thunder and rain, I heard screams and sobs downstairs… and then I was alone, for a long, long time.

When my Masters came back, seasons later, they had changed. Little Master looked much older and harder—and Littler Master was no longer little at all. His body was gigantic and made all of metal, just like my clasps and hinges.

And just like Little Master’s new right arm and left leg.

In the following days, they used me to move some things from the old house. I was glad to be back with them in their friends’ home then; but we didn’t stay there long. A few nights later, Little Master rose in the dark and filled me with supplies only he needed… because Littler Master now needed nothing except him.

With me in tow, they slipped away from Resembool—pausing only to set fire to the house that had belonged to Old Master.

 

Years have passed since that night, and the three of us have never stopped traveling. Little Master has grown much—although he sometimes still stands on me. As for Littler Master, his outer shell remains unchanging as my own, but he is now even wiser and gentler than he was when made of flesh.

I wonder, on occasion, if Littler Master might sense me at all as he is now: no longer entirely person, but partly an object like myself. When his brother leaves me covered with dust and muddy bootprints, it is he who wipes me clean like his own steel… and when he is done, he gives me a pat, the way his father used to.

Not that Little Master is really neglectful or unkind. Even when he kicks me to vent his helpless frustrations, he soon smooths out the dents in my sides. I don’t mind it, because I am sturdy, and glad to take the blows if it gives him any relief from his troubles. He takes care to fix my wear and tear regularly, and when my handle broke just as a train was arriving, he repaired it in a moment—all with his wondrous alchemy instead of awkward, poking tools.

Strangely, I see both much and little in their lives. Although I’m usually left behind at an inn or some such when they attend to their business in each town, I know they have had to fight so much for whatever it is they seek. Watching them when they return, I’ve grown even more devoted to them than I was to Old Master. I hurt for them when they hurt, and often wish I could act on my own to help or protect them.

And so we go on. My Masters use me every day, wandering with me from one end of the country to the other, and  for myself I am happy… but for their sakes, I hope they will find what they’re searching for, even if it means they wouldn’t need me as much. It would still be enough to be theirs, always ready whenever they might want me.

Truly, a hand-me-down old suitcase could ask for nothing more.


© 2016 Jordanna Morgan