LunaescenceLunaescence
 
"Even if I Don't" by NineTailedFoxDemones


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Please enjoy my first Fullmetal Alchemist story. It's a bit sad, so I hope you readers don't mind some tears.
I wish that I knew all the answers to life. That way I wouldn't have to ask so many questions.

It happened to Al when he was only eight. He had met the girl of his dreams. He was certain of it, even though he was so young.

She was cute with her short locks of cherry red hair and soft ocean blue-green eyes. She was someone he could look at, smile at, and blush at without even knowing it. She was the only one who had that effect on him, and yet she would never know. Her name sounded like music to his ears. Maria Rose.

Many times Al tried to muster up his courage and talk to her. Just say a simple hello and then walk off. Many times he tried, and he failed on every one of them. He would move away once he saw her turn her head towards him, as if waiting. He couldn't help it that he was shy. That was just the way he was.

His older brother, Ed, was some help. Seeing that he really liked this girl, his older brother would encourage him, telling him he could do it. Encouraging words proved to no avail for him. His shyness got the best of him all the time.

His friends tried to help. Winry, one of his friends, was a friend of Maria. Hearing that Al had a crush on her, Winry tried to help. She told Maria of Al's kindness and great qualities. This helped a bit. But it still didn't help Al make a move on her.

Then, finally, a month after Al started crushing on Maria, he finally got the nerve to make his move. He was hoping that he wouldn't mess up, or else he wouldn't be able to muster up his courage ever again.

If that something that brought us together was gone, what would've we done? Just go on with our regular lives, not knowing what a great person the other was?

"M-Maria!" he called out to her after school. He parted from his dear brother, who stood still and watched the scene from afar.

Maria turned toward the voice, and found that it belonged to one of her classmates. It was none other than Alphonse Elric, one of the brothers who did alchemy. She held her composure, trying to ignore the mocking, fast beat of her heart. "Yeah, Al?"

Al immediately became shy again in her presence. Like he did so many times. He was certain that his face was turning red. "I just wanted to say..." the sentence trailed on forward to silence.

"Say what?" She tried not to sound too eager.

"Umm...Ireallylikeyou," he said hurriedly in one breath.

"Come again?" She was sure she heard something like, "I really like you."

He took a deep breath, calming himself and his blush. "I really like you. So...umm...if you wouldn't mind, maybe we could...you know...hang out?" He waited excitedly for her answer, hoping it wasn't rejection.

She smiled, feeling her heart beat a little faster at his request. "Sure. I won't mind hanging out sometime. It'll give us a chance to try to get to know each other more." It sounded cheesy, but it was truly how she felt.

"Maybe I can walk you home today, Maria?" He hoped he didn't sound too eager or anything.

He did sound eager. And that's why Maria's smile grew.

"Sure."

And together, they walked off into the sunset together.

Our first time together is something I don't ever want to forget. Please let it be etched into my mind forever.

"Aww, look at those two. Aren't they cute together?"

"They make a cute couple."

"It's puppy love, I tell ya."

"They're even holding hands. How cute."

"Ah, kids these days."

Everywhere they went there were people who marveled at their puppy love. People made comments. People smiled at them in amusement, feeling happy for them. It was like they were engaged, about to get married the next day. At school, it was even worse. There were students who were less than forgiving.

The first week of their new relationship was the worst. The children teased them: the girls awed and ooed at them with sparkling eyes; the boys smirked and kept singing the same song over and over in playful teasing.

On the second week, things died down. On the third week, they were just yesterday's news.

I felt embarrass when they talked about 'us.' But I never once admitted I only liked you as friend.

"Phew. I'm glad that they stopped talking about us," Maria said one day as she and Al were walking toward her house after school. "That way I won't have to worry about those boys stalking us anymore."

Al chuckled. "Yeah. That's for sure."

A moment of silence seized the moment.

"Umm...Maria..."

Maria turned to him, watching as he tried to muster up his courage. "Yeah?"

His face was red, making him look like an apple with blonde leaves. "We're almost to your house," he stated as calmly as he could.

Maria looked up. "You're right, Al. Only ten more steps and we're at the end of the driveway."

Nine. Eight. Skip a few. Four. Three. Two. And one.

And they were there.

Maria turned to her guy friend (she couldn't say boyfriend because she was too embarrassed) and waited for the cheerful smile and a, "Good bye!" as he ran off into the distance. But instead, Al was looking down, watching his feet. His face was still red, although a paler shade.

"What's wrong, Al?" Maria asked. She couldn't understand why Al was acting strange all of the sudden. Was it something she said or did?

Al finally looked at her in the face, courage in his eyes and a little blush on his cheeks. It was like he was about to confess a deep, dark secret to her.

"Al-"

She felt something on her cheek.

And was blinded by dust the next moment.

Off in the distance, she could hear him yelling, "Bye Maria! See you tomorrow!"

Our first kiss was just a kiss on the cheek. But it meant at a lot to an eight-year-old like me.

The next day, everything went as it normally would. No one seemed to notice the small distance between the young lovebirds. It was as if everyone else in the world has blocked them out. It was just the way they liked it.

After school, Al waited for Maria as always by their patch of flowers. Maria was usually surrounded by people, that's why she took so long to get out of school and was easy to spot. But today, everyone seemed to be scattered about, leaving only little groups consisting of two or three friends together with some by themselves.

Al still watched and waited.

Finally, after everyone had gotten out, Maria came. And Al's face immediately lifted up. Then he remembered yesterday, and his face went down. Without a word of greeting, Al and Maria walked.

"M-Maria...you aren't angry about yesterday, were you?" Al finally asked as they were nearing her house.

"Why would I be?" was the cheerful answer.

They finally stopped at the end of the Rose's driveway. Maria was waiting for Al's answer with a new, excited face. Al was a nervous wreck.

"Well, it's just that-"

Before he finished, he felt something warm on his left cheek.

It wasn't a kiss on the mouth, but it shocked Al nonetheless. It was the first time that a girl ever kissed him on the cheek. The only girl, or woman, who ever kissed him was his mother.

But when his mother kissed him, he never felt like butterflies were fluttering in his stomach. He had never felt his face heat up or his heart skip a beat. No. This was far more different than a mother's kiss.

Maria pulled back soon afterward, looking at Al's blushing face with a bit of concern. He looked so shocked he could faint.

"Your kisses are better than Mother's," Al blurted out randomly. It was the only thing that sounded right.

Maria giggled at his statement, feeling a bit of pride. "Thanks, Al."

Al looked at the sun, which was soon to fall. He sighed. "I wish the sun would stop in the sky and make time stand still."

"Why?" She was still smiling.

"Because I have to go back home." With another sigh, he was off running toward his house. "See ya tomorrow, Maria!"

Waving back, Maria was still smiling. She was happy for meeting Al and becoming more than friends with him. They were too young to earn the title "boyfriend and girlfriend" but at least they had the title of "puppy love." Still, she didn't care. She was convinced that what she was feeling at the moment was love.

And it felt great.

At first, love is like a glimpse of heaven. It felt wonderful. It felt like nothing could go wrong and everything would be perfect forever. But it's just an illusion.

A year passed without fail. Everything stayed the same without fail. Even Al and Maria's puppy love stayed the same without ever breaking.

And then tragedy struck...

Mrs. Elric, the loving single mother of Ed and Al, died peacefully in her sleep. But what she left behind were two boys without a mother and without much happiness. At her funeral, Ed and Al cried the most.

Maria could do nothing to help ease Al's pain. She didn't know what to do except give him room to cope with his sadness with Ed. And so, for the next few days following Mrs. Elric's death, Maria made sure to keep clear of Al. Sure they still walked to her house after school together, but they were less talkative now. When Al would wave good-bye to her with a, "See you tomorrow, Maria," he did it with less vigor.

And then, one day, Maria didn't see Al after school waiting for her like he always did. At first she thought he had gone to use the boys' room. She waited for ten minutes. She began to walk alongside the sun by herself this time.

You were in the depths of sorrow and despair. I could do nothing but let you wallow in your misery. That was my way of comforting you. I hope it helped.

"Al, why didn't you wait for me yesterday? Were you, you know, still sad about your mother?" Maria asked the next day, when Al did wait for her.

"I went home with Ed."

"Why?"

"He was too scared of ghosts."

They both laughed.

Al suddenly stopped walking, looking as if he just had a brain flash, he took out something from his book bag. It was a book.

"Here, Maria. Ed said that I could give this to you."

Maria took it in her hands. It was rather big book, but nothing that she couldn't carry. She looked at the cover. " 'The Basics of Alchemy'?" she read.

"Yeah. I know it's a lame early birthday present, but I couldn't wait to show it to you. You told me once that you've always wanted to learn alchemy." Al was sounding like an excited five-year-old who was just about to tell an adult something big.

Maria remembered. At her birthday party last year, Al transmuted for her two dolls: one of herself and one of Al. Then Maria blurted out that she wanted to learn alchemy. And she had meant it.

Suddenly, both of them were excited. Maria immediately opened the book to the first page. And she couldn't understand a single word.

"Umm...Al...?"

"Yes, Maria?"

"I don't understand it," she blurted out in a tiny voice.

Al just laughed. "It's okay, Maria. When I first read it, I didn't really understand it either. But Ed helped me. And I'm going to help you."

Maria smiled now that she knew she wasn't alone.

And so, they spent ten minutes understanding Alchemy's first law of Equivalent Exchange.

" 'To obtain, something of equal value must be lost.' " Maria repeated it like a mantra until it was stuck on her head like a song. She turned to Al. "So, it's like an eye for eye thing?"

Al nodded, smiling. "Yeah."

Maria looked thoughtful. "I see it now. Equivalent Exchange. Exchange equally."

All the while, the blonde beside her was smiling brightly. "Glad that you understood it, Maria. Ed said that you probably wouldn't."

Maria smiled at his compliment. "That's because I have you as a teacher, Al. Thanks." They stopped at the end of the driveway. Maria gave Al his daily good-bye kiss.

Al, in return, gave her a kiss too. Then, he was running off with an excited, "See you tomorrow, Maria!"

Alchemy's first law of equivalent exchange is the first law to life. It's like karma. A cycle of giving and taking. Simple. Right?

The next few days were filled with alchemy lessons. Together, Al and Maria learned about transmutation circles and the basic laws of alchemy. Slowly, Maria found out why Ed and Al were always so immersed in the science.

Another thing happened to the Elric brothers.

They found themselves a teacher.

"So, you want to go to Dublith and train?" Maria asked Al as they sat in a grass meadow together. This was where they enjoyed each other's company during the school-free days.

The blonde nodded. "Yep. We're going to train and become better alchemists!" He held out a fist of determination.

With a small smile on her face, Maria asked, "How long will you be gone?"

Al was silent as he let his fist fall to the ground. He looked up at the sky instead of Maria. "I don't know. Brother says that it might be long. Maybe two months. Maybe even longer."

The ebony-haired girl nodded understandingly. She forced herself to smile for Al, the boy she was in puppy love with. If you can even call it that anymore. "When you come back, come visit me right away and tell me about the things you've learned. I wish I could come and learn more alchemy with you guys, but..." Maria left the rest blank, knowing that he knew what she meant.

Al nodded in sad understanding. He smiled though. He stood up. "I wish that you could come too, Maria. But don't worry. When I get back from my training, I'll come straight to your to teach you all that I've learned. Until then you'll have to study alchemy without me."

Maria also stood up facing Al. She grinned back reassuringly. "I sure will!"

They laughed together like they always did. But there was something different in the air. There was a speck of gravity that didn't quite blend well with laughter. No matter how they tried to brush off the speck, it stayed. In their subconscious mind, it stayed.

After their laughter died they continued to stare at each other. Just staring at each other with a smile forged by courage.

Al held out his hand. Maria took it. Together, they walked back to the Elric house.

You told me you would return to me. You did. But then you left me again. Tell me why it has to be like that?

Al and Ed left the next day. Maria came to see Al off. Then she quickly returned home to study more on Alchemy.

Today, she was going to try to transmute one of her broken dolls.

"Let's see. I need this line here. This line here. That makes a triangle. I need this line here. And here. And there too." After finishing her transmutation circle, she placed the doll on the middle. Taking a deep breath to gather herself, she pressed on the circle.

A blue spark. Then a big puff of smoke. After the smoke disappeared, Maria find herself a fixed doll, as good as new.

"YES!" she yelled at her accomplishment. She took her doll and ran quickly, past her bewildered mother and startled father, to the Elric house.

But before she knocked on the door, she remembered.

They weren't home...

I've become so used to you that I've forgotten that you were gone. I'm afraid I may never be able to live without you by my side.

Three months passed with no news from the Elric brothers. Maria was afraid that Al might be gone for years. But Winry reassured her that they were going to back soon.

"Don't worry. If I know Al, he'll come running to you first thing," Winry had said.

Maria hoped that she was right. After all, Al was the type of person who was polite and could never lie without good reason. Once he gave his word, he stuck to it. That fact about Al was never going to change.

Never.

You broke a promise. You didn't come straight to me after you returned. I wonder why you didn't. Even after I found the reason why, I still wonder.

That night a storm came in. There was something foul in the air. Maria just knew it. It was a strange foul. It was the type of foul that made cats nervous.

Maria wanted to just go to bed and sleep through the storm, but the foul feeling couldn't leave her. So instead, she decided to look out her window. Off in the distance through the rain stained window she could see the Elric house.

She smiled just thinking about Al.

Then...

A purple light...

The foul feeling was growing stronger and stronger...

The light was coming from the Elric house...

That could only mean one thing...

Al...

That night was a stormy night. A night that spelled trouble and left a foul smell in the air. I would've never guessed that the foul smell came from you.

The first thing that went through Maria's mind was, 'Get to Winry's!' Maria had to tell Winry about the strange purple light. So she ran out silently, hoping that her parents didn't hear her.

As she was running toward the Rockbell residence, she noticed the door already open. The shadows cast by Pinako and Winry were joined with two other. But she didn't have time to pay attention to it. She ran straight inside...

...and stopped.

Ed was being bandaged. His right arm and left leg were missing. A suit of armor was standing in the corner. It seemed frightened when Maria entered the room.

"W-What is...?" Maria started. She couldn't finish her statement. The next moment, she was retching.

"Maria!" the armor said. It ran to her side, patting her on the back to get the vomit out.

The armor...talked...

It's voice sounded like echoes. But it was strangely familiar.

Now too surprised to retch anymore, Maria turned to the suit of armor. Her eyes wide with realization. In a weak voice, she asked, "Al?"

"Yeah." The armor looked down. "It's me," it whispered.

"But...how?" Maria was afraid to turn, but she did. She turned to Edward, and tried to ignore the blood on the floor. He was all bandaged up now. "Ed...h-how did this happen?"

Edward refused to tell. He just hung his head, bit his lip, and muttered, "I'm sorry," repeatedly. In a few seconds, he passed out.

Maria turned to the suit of armor, or otherwise known as Al. "Wh-what happened, Al?" She waited for her answer.

Al kept his head hung. "I'm sorry, Maria. I'm sorry." He sobbed inside himself.

With a little hesitation, Maria took hold his cold hand, and held it in her warm ones. She brought it up to her small cheek and shivered. It was ice cold.

But she still held it.

"I-it's okay, Al. It's okay," she muttered, just to make Al stop crying inside. It was going to make her cry too. "Everything's going to be okay."

The only thing Winry and Pinako could do was watch and listen.

Shortly afterward, Pinako sent Maria back with an umbrella. "You must never tell this to anyone, you hear?" the old lady asked before Maria left.

"Yes. I hear you, ma'am," Maria replied.

For that moment, the pitter-patter of rain was only heard.

Pinako sighed. "I wish that you didn't have to see that, dear. I wish that you didn't have to see that blood and Al in that empty steel cage." She turned away.

"Tell Al I'll be at the meadow waiting for him tomorrow." She ran.

I saw you for the first time since you've been gone. I told you, "Everything's going to be okay." I wanted you to believe it would. I wanted to believe it would.

The next day Maria waited for Al in the meadow. She waited for what seemed like hours. It wasn't until mid-noon that Al came.

The clanking metal of the armor gave away his coming. It was like his fanfare.

"M-Maria?" the armor asked nervously.

Maria didn't say a greeting in return.

"I'm sorry. I'm-"

"What happened last night?" Maria interrupted. It wasn't her nature to be rude to the boy she loved, but she was too confused to think about manners. "Tell me everything, Al."

The armor sighed. Then it began to talk.

Maria learned that the secret that Ed and Al had been keeping was their ambition to bring back their mother. They trained in order to gain more knowledge before trying to bring her back. But when they tried, something went wrong. Al became unconscious. When he woke up, he saw his brother, bloody and all. When he turned to see their mother, he saw a 'thing' instead of his smiling mother. Then he brought Ed to Winry's.

And the rest was history.

"That's what happened," Al concluded in a whisper.

In response, Maria said, "Why were you guys trying to bring back your mother if you knew that it was forbidden, Al?"

"We had to, Maria. We had to try at least. We just wanted to see Mom smile again. You understand, don't you Maria?" he asked desperately.

Maria didn't answer. She was silent, slowly absorbing the information that Al gave her. Or maybe she didn't want to answer.

Al turned, and started to walk away. Once he stopped and looked back, hoping that Maria would put on a desperate mask and ask for his company.

She didn't.

So he kept walking away.

You walked away; I stayed. You would move on; I'd be left behind. I don't think I'll ever be able to catch up to you.

A year passed.

Maria tried her best to avoid the Rockbell residence, where she knew Ed and Al were hiding. She tried to avoid the meadow where Al and she would meet. She tried her best to avoid any contact with the Elric brothers.

Her efforts proved worthless. She would run into them every once in a while. And when she tried to avoid getting any attention from them, Al would always be able to catch her and give her a small glimpse.

Even so, they never talked. They would look away and go on with their lives.

We don't even talk anymore. It's been so long since the last time I heard your voice. I don't know whether it was me or you. But neither of us did anything about it. If we did, where would be now?

Then, one day, the Elrics just got up and left.

Winry later told Maria that they were going to become State Alchemists. They were going to research alchemy and find a way to get their original bodies back.

Maria didn't cry or try to stop catch up to Al. All she could do was practice her alchemy and wait for him. She wasn't going to become a State Alchemist. She had no use for it. And it wasn't like becoming a State Alchemist would make her any better.

So she stayed and waited and practiced.

You left me again. I knew you would eventually. You moved on. I was the one left behind. I was sure I would never catch up.

Something happened.

One morning Maria woke up and screamed, not knowing where she was. She couldn't recognize her parents.

Her parents immediately called a doctor from Central.

The doctor said that her mind was slowly dying. All the cells and connections would be gone. It was due to something alchemy-related. "First," she had said, "she will forget everything. Then she will lose the ability to move and think. Last, everything in her body will stop functioning. I'm sorry."

There wasn't a cure because her condition was the first of its kind. It was because of this that many doctors came to help her, in hope of her recovery and their fame. Try as they might, they never succeeded.

But none could cure her.

One doctor came close, but failed just as well.

"I'm sorry. I tried my best, Mr. and Mrs. Rose. But this is something that even alchemy can't solve," the doctor told them after he failed. "I'm sorry."

That's why they all said. They said that it was something that alchemy couldn't solve. It was something beyond their control.

How right they were.

I hope I never forget you. But hoping won't help me now. I'm beyond help, beyond hope.

"I want someone here with me. But I don't know who," Maria told Winry one day when she came to visit her. Her parents never allowed her out of their sights because they were afraid she would never come back. "I want to see someone I haven't seen in a long time, Winry. I want to see someone..."

It's been three years now since Maria began to loose her memory. Surprisingly, she never forgot Winry (probably because Winry always came to visit her).

"Do you miss Al?" Winry asked.

Maria blinked. "Al? Al who?"

Winry smiled at the image of Maria and Al together again. "Alphonse Elric. You know, your old-" Winry stopped. "You've forgotten him, haven't you?"

Maria avoided the question. "I don't know who you're talking about Winry. But the way you say his name and talk about him makes me think that he was someone really special to me. Was he?"

Winry nodded. "Yeah. He was."

And they left it at that.

Eventually I forgot you. Your name, your face, your voice, the times we shared. I forgot them. Maybe it was for the best.

It was a nice day. There were clouds in the air and the sun was shining brightly. The sky was happy. Nothing could possibly go wrong today.

That's what Maria thought as she looked over her dolls.

She had two favorites. One looked like her. The other looked like a blonde boy. She didn't know why she liked the doll. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't ugly. There was just something that bonded Maria to it.

She named the doll Alphonse.

"Alphonse Elric," Maria muttered absentmindedly as she gazed at the doll. The name came out of nowhere. She didn't know anyone named Alphonse Elric. She didn't remember.

"Why does that name sound familiar? I've heard it before, haven't I?"

Uncertain, Maria thought no more about it. She figured she would forget about it later. She always did.

Even if I don't remember you, I knew that you still remembered me. A part of me wants you to forget. A part of me wants you to remember.

The rest of the day was pretty quiet. Nothing big happened. Maria ate breakfast, stayed in bed reading a book about alchemy, and then took her medicine. The medicine didn't help with her memory, but it gave Mr. and Mrs. Rose some comfort.

But not enough to relieve them.

It wasn't until mid-evening that a knock came from the door. It made them jump, since they rarely had visitors or guests (except for Winry). But Mrs. Rose quickly opened the door in hope that that it was a doctor.

In her room, Maria sat up quickly. When there was a knock that usually meant a visitor. She hoped it was Winry. Something told her that she needed to talk to her again about something. Something about someone.

The next minute, she heard footsteps going up the stairs. These footsteps had a clank to them. Maria was sure it wasn't Winry. It had to be another doctor.

The door opened, and her mother came in. Following her was a suit or armor.

"Maria, you have a guest," Mrs. Rose said nervously. The suit of armor came into the room and looked around. "Well, you two have fun. I'll go make something to eat."

The armor looked over at Maria and sat down at the chair on her left. That was where the doctors or Winry would sit.

"Hello," Maria said. She remembered it was polite to say, "Hello," and then introduce yourself. "I'm Maria Rose."

"Umm...Hi. I'm Alphonse Elric," the armor said.

"Alphonse Elric...?" Maria remembered the name from somewhere. "You have the same name as my doll."

"Doll?"

"Yeah. It's that one over there." Maria pointed to Alphonse the doll sitting on his little shelf. "I don't know why I named him Alphonse. The name just seems right for him."

"Do you remember who gave him to you?" The tone sounded a little eager.

Maria thought for a moment, trying hard to recall. "No. I can't remember." The armor looked a little down. "But I can feel that the person who gave me the doll was someone who really cared about and liked me. I think that person was special to me."

"Y-yeah. I think he was." The armor suddenly sounded very embarrassed. If Maria could see his face, she would see him blushing.

"So, Alphonse Elric, are you a doctor?"

The armor began to sweat. It waved its hands in defense or in reply. "What? Me? No. I'm an alchemist."

"I'm an alchemist too," Maria answered, a small smile on her face. From under her pillow, she took out a spoon that broke in half. Placing her hand over it, a blue light emitted from her hands. In a second the spoon was one again.

Al seemed surprised. "Y-you don't need a transmutation circle?"

Maria blinked. "I guess not. I don't even know what a transmutation circle is."

He calmed down, looking at the ground. "Oh. So you don't remember or know." He looked up again. "Do you remember someone named Alphonse Elric?"

"You're Alphonse Elric, and my doll is Alphonse Elric."

"I mean, do you remember someone else named Alphonse Elric?" he echoed.

Maria thought for a moment, not digging too less or too deep into her memories. "No. I can't remember."

Al stood up and clenched his fists. "You have to remember something." His voice sounded desperate. He wanted Maria to remember something, or someone.

Frightened by his sudden mood change, she did what Al told her. She thought deeper, harder. She knew she was venturing into forbidden territory, and it would be emotionally dangerous. But there was a feeling that whatever Al wanted her to remember was important.

And an image appeared.

A blonde boy with golden eyes. He was laughing with her, smiling as they walked toward somewhere. They were walking toward her house from someplace. They stopped at the driveway. He gave her a kiss on the cheek, she did the same for him. And then they departed.

Another memory came in a flash.

She was suddenly in another person's house. She saw someone blonde, not the boy from before, being bandaged up. There was blood over the floor, covering it in an allover pattern. She threw up. Then there was someone beside her. It was a suit of armor...

You forced me to remember what I didn't want to. I thank you for helping me face reality.

Maria opened her eyes, gasping and panting.

"Well? What did you see, Maria?"

She slowly turned to Al, the armor, standing beside her bed. She looked up at his eyes through his armor. "I remember now..."

"What?"

Maria had that crazy look in her eyes. "I tried to make you a body. But the Gate told me I shouldn't have. It was a waste of time and it wouldn't work. But I said that I would trade in my memories-"

"Are you okay, Maria?"

"-It told me that I was foolish. I guess I really was. He told me I would pay the debt, little by little. Eventually in five years I would die because my mind and body wouldn't work anymore. When I woke up, I screamed and didn't know where I was. But I was in my room. I didn't recognize my parents when they came in. It wasn't until a little while later that I remembered." By now Maria was shaking badly. "I don't want to forget Al. I don't want to forget anymore."

"It's okay, Maria." Al sat down on her bed and embraced her, wishing he could feel the warmth of her. "Everything's going to be okay. Remember? You were the one who told me that."

Maria laughed a little. "You remember that?"

"Every single moment when I had doubts."

Maria smiled up at Al, imagining his face now if he were in his body. It was starting to fade. "I'm starting to forget again." Hurriedly, she added, "I don't want to."

"You-"

"Soon, I'll loose every memory of you. I won't remember. I'll forget everything. I don't want to, Al. I don't want to forget..." Tears rained down from her eyes.

Al could do nothing but watch as the girl he loved was suffering. "I'll remember the memories for you."

"Thanks Al. Thanks." And she fell unconscious still in his cold, iron arms.

And they stayed like that until the sun went down.

Even if I don't remember everything, I know you will. So I want you to keep all the memories of us. That way when I forget, I'll be sure that you remember.

Two years passed.

Al stood in front of a gravestone with fresh flowers on top of the fresh soil. It had been dug just two days again.

" 'Maria Rose. Loving daughter and friend. We will remember you always, even if you don't remember us,' " he read sadly. Silent tears fell down his face and touched the soil. "I still remember. I'll always remember..."

He took out a piece of paper from his jacket pocket, reading it for the third time that day.

I love you. Please remember that. Even if I don't. On it were dried teardrops. Along with some fresh ones.

"I love you too. Please remember." He wanted to laugh at that statement, but he couldn't allow himself to. "Even if you don't, I think you already know."

Even if I'm not perfect, you still loved me anyway. Even if I didn't move on, you took a step back for me. Even if I forgot you for a moment, you never forgot about me for a second. Even if I don't remember, you do.




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