[Author] Mara D (Watarisgirl/Lady Jade)
[Series] Fullmetal Alchemist
[Rating] Not work safe. NC17
[Spoilers?] Yes. It's fairly AU. My take on the end of the series, The movie doesn't exist at all for me.
[Chatter] God, I really need to stop being so mean to my characters...I swear it was the only way I could think of to get rid of that pesky Homunculus...T.T
It was early morning and Ed was finally showered, fed, and rested after the whole ordeal of his trip to Rizenbul.
Roy had dropped him off at the hospital wing and had gone into the office, and Ed was just…
Uncertain. He shifted the bag full of his dad’s journals and the letter. It felt strangely heavy against his back…Heavy with worry.
Winry was still un-hinged from last night. She had shouted at Al, shouted at Ed, and shouted at Roy in turn. She had even shouted at Breda when he had come to visit. Now she was back at Roy’s house, petting Den and brooding. Ed worried for her honestly, but Roy had insisted that Holly would be around all day, that Winry would not be alone.
Part of him was very relieved that he was not home. Winry in a bad mood was hard on his skull. Part of him longed for the comfort of Roy’s fireplace, the sumptuous couches and then quiet retreat. Instead he was here in a hospital, the harsh fluorescent lights beating down on him, the smell of sterility in the air. And then he felt selfish. Selfish because he had had no right to hide away and grieve when his poor brother, still recovering, had found out that their Aunt was dead right here. In this place. Without his big brother to so much as hug him.
Ed felt really badly about that.
He opened the door to Al’s room, and found the nurse getting ready to change his bandages.
“Hey Al” Ed said cheerfully, masking his pain as best he could with a familiar and enthusiastic smile that was more like he was baring his teeth at fate.
Al’s return smile was a bit strained.
“Hello big brother…did you sleep well?”
“Yeah.” Ed said with an almost shy shrug. He had slept curled around Roy and had finally rested a bit. He felt…a bit better this morning. But then again, Roy always made him feel like that. Roy took his heart and cradled it in his hand, took his soul and gave it rest. There was no one in the world like that that he had ever met before, and somehow he doubted her would ever meet again. While he was thinking about that, he thought about Al. He thought about just how much Al needed what he had, and even more.
In that moment Ed realized that if he could give to Alphonse what he had with Roy, it would kill him, but he would do it. He would die again and again to see Al smile again, like he used to.
Ed moved to Al’s side, perching on the edge of the cot and stroking an unruly lock of hair back out of his brother’s eyes.
“How do you feel.” Ed murmured.
Al bit his lip then, looking away nervously.
“Al?” Ed encouraged, a bit worried now.
It wasn’t his imagination. Al was quiet, trembling a bit as the nurse unsnapped the shoulder of his hospital gown.
Al’s hand with the IV came up then, kept the fabric from falling away and exposing the bandages beneath. The nurse stopped then, with a tiny sigh. Al looked as if he were about to tell Ed to leave, but the nurse shook her head.
“With all that automail you must know how to change bandages. I’ll leave you to it then big brother.” The she said with a wink.
Al would have protested, but the woman was gone before he could. Instead he was just breathing a bit too fast and refusing to make eye contact with Ed.
“Al…what is it?” Ed asked gently, automail hand coming up to cover his brother’s where it was still holding the hospital gown on.
Al whimpered just slightly, enough to warn Ed that he was crying.
“I don’t want you to see big brother.”
“See what?” Ed asked softly. “The wounds?”
Al nodded miserably.
“Why not?” Ed asked, his automail hand tightening just slightly over Al’s, helping him hold the gown closed more tightly, not forcing him to relinquish his grip.
“Because it…because they’re horrible to look at.” Al choked.
“Alphonse….Al…look at me…”
Al kept staring at the bed, so Ed cupped his brother’s jaw in his flesh hand, forcing their eyes to meet.
“You have nothing to be ashamed of.”
“I was careless, I made a mistake…I…”
“Al…aren’t you forgetting something?”
“Yes…your automail, but those scars, they show how noble you are, how sacrificing. Mine just show that I was stupid.”
“Oh fuck that.” Ed grunted, wiping one of Al’s tears away with his thumb. “You are a hero, if you hadn’t led Envy away, he would have hurt all the innocent civilians on that street. Maybe killed them. You did your best, and it is because of you that we managed to capture him. So don’t be so down on yourself.”
“It’s not just that…big brother…who will want me? Who will want me now?”
Ed grunted then, giving up wiping Al’s tears and then hugging him instead.
“Al…” He cradled that weary head to his chest, stroking that tangled hair and ignoring where the gown fell off of Al’s shoulder because he had moved his hand to hold onto his brother. “Al…I still want you…just because I’m with Roy doesn’t mean I don’t love you still…”
“I know…isn’t it stupid?!” Al whispered. “I’m also afraid that no girl will want me now either....”
“You mean Winry?” Ed asked softly.
Al trembled against him almost convulsively.
“Yeah.” Al said, his voice small where it was buried in Ed’s chest.
“Are you kidding me?! She thinks battle scars are cool. All girls do!”
The broad generalization made Al laugh just a tiny bit, a fitful sound in the stillness of the room.
“What do you know about girls brother!” Al giggled.
“Just about as much as the next man. Which is nothing. At all.”
“I miss Auntie.” Al sobbed half a heartbeat later, his cheer dissipating. “I want Dad….” He continued, depressing himself all over again.
Ed shook his head as he rested his cheek on top of Al’s head.
“I know. I do too.” Ed said softly. “In Germany, you should have heard him talk about you at night. He was certain I had succeeded, that you were all right. He was betting you were so big and smart by now, and you should have heard how proud of you he was. He talked about you all the time…”
“Stop…brother…” Al pleaded.
“No, you deserve to hear this Al. He would want it this way. He told me about how much you reminded him of our mother…that you had her sweet smile and open heart. How you were tender to a fault, and cared about everyone. And it’s true Al…you always put everyone else before yourself. I think it’s an Elric trait but… think about yourself Al. Think about what you want for the future and then go for it, give it your best. That is what Auntie, Mom and Dad would want you to do. Not sit here and worry about a bunch of dumb scars. You still have legs to walk with, so move forward. I’m not saying not to cry Al…we both…need to do that. But when it’s done, when it’s time to stop…think about yourself, understand!?”
“Brother…I…will you change my bandages now?” Al asked after a few more moments of quiet crying.
“Yeah. Sure thing.”
“This looks good Al…”
“I still can’t feel my fingers very well.”
“Nerve endings can regenerate, it just takes time. If all else fails, there is always…”
“Don’t say it brother.”
“Right.” Ed said with a slightly malicious little smile. “So you better concentrate hard on getting better.”
“See here?” Al gestured to his stomach.
Ed leaned forward obediently.
“Yeah, they did take the staples out, didn’t they?” His golden eyes studied the wound seriously.
“They said I was healing fast.”
“That’s because you’re an Elric. It takes more than a stomach full of steel to bring you down.”
“True…brother…what is in that bag you brought?”
“It’s the letter, and the journals.”
Ed said as he helped snap a clean gown onto Al.
“Can we…read it?”
“It says that dad has a secret study in Dublith. It’s not your imagination. He told Auntie while he was drunk…I didn’t know they were drinking buddies!” Al sighed. “But it doesn’t tell us where in Dublith…”
“But I bet Izumi does. It isn’t just coincidence that she became our master. She knew dad, and I bet they were friends…Izumi knew! She knew all this time!” Ed barked in annoyance, standing. “Where the hell is she?”
Al patted the air soothingly with his good hand.
“She knew you were going to the funeral, she stayed with me until just before you got back. Then she packed her things and left, saying she was going back home to Sig…oh god no Brother. You don’t think?”
“Goddamit Al! That’s where Envy’s remains are, if they are anywhere. Dad would have to have them, he isn’t that careless…and Izumi knew…she knew I would somehow find out when I went back to Rizenbul. Izumi is guarding them for Dad…”
“Maybe that’s it brother, maybe it isn’t…Maybe she went back to Dublith because she knew Wrath would be heading back home now without Envy to keep him on task.”
“She wants to save her son.” Ed said softly.
“She’s going to be in trouble!” Al said, trying to sit up.
“No…Al…lay back down. I’ll tell the General, and we will think of some way to get help to her. I’ll be on the next train out as soon as I can, I promise!”
“I’ll go too!” Al gasped as he disobediently tried to get up again.
“No, Al, you have to take care of Winry. Al, she needs you, we can’t leave her alone. I’m already worried about her by herself in Roy’s big mansion…and someone has to feed Zeke.”
Al gave Ed a helpless look.
“I know it sucks Al…I know, just, get better so we can take this on. Rest for now, I swear I’ll be okay.”
“It took you less time than I thought it would, but that doesn’t really matter.” Izumi said where she sat on the edge of the well, legs crossed formally. She was a picture of lethal attention where she was, dark eyes taking in every detail of the youth in front of her.
“Get out of my way or I will hurt you.” Wrath growled, tossing long dark hair back over his shoulder with a shake of his head. His hands were on his hips defiantly.
“I cannot do that. You have killed, you have maimed others. You will be hunted down…and finished. But you would hurt innocent soldiers in the process, and you see, neither you nor I are innocent now. I made you… my son. I brought you into this world. And believe me when I say, I will take you out.”
“How could you betray me!” Wrath spat, stomping his automail foot.
“How could /you/ betray /me/.” Izumi replied. “I gave you a second chance after Dante no longer controlled you.”
“She took me back…I couldn’t tell her no.” Wrath said then, suddenly looking every bit the boy he was, hands clasped behind his back as he swayed at the knees, rocking from heel to toe.
“Dante put you up to this?”
“I still have to kill you.” He replied, just a tiny bit of hesitance in his tone now.
“I know there are a million reasons why you could be here.” Izumi said softly. “But enlighten me.”
“Don’t you know?” Wrath’s expression changed again, at a speed that was almost alarming. “I’m here to destroy that moron’s remains. We homunculus can sense them…and when I was here last…when I was younger, even then I knew you were hiding them…” He stomped his foot in childish frustration. “Animals can smell death miles away…well, we can sense it too…death for us…”
“Can you sense that you will die here now then?” Izumi asked calmly.
“I wont die here! I want them! Give them to me!”
“Because I hate him. Because the old woman wants them and I hate her too!”
“So you’ve had a taste of killing, and now you want more?”
“He made me obey him…all the time. Because he was older…because he had had more red stone! She promised she wouldn’t hurt me if I did what she said, that she would give me more stone…”
“Oh They did now, did they?” Izumi asked.
“Dante said I had to listen to him.”
“You are a fool son.”
“A fool? But Mama, I’m going to kill you. It doesn’t matter what I tell you.”
“You will try.” Izumi said.
“Wrong Mama, I’m going to kill you now, and there is nothing you can do about it.”
“Well I suppose really, that you will have to succeed.” Izumi said softly, she had cut her fingertip with her nail, and there was a bead of blood gathering at the tip of the digit. She let it fall to the grass at her feet with a tiny, almost sad smile.
“What was that?” Wrath asked then, smiling at her. “Was that supposed to mean something?”
“No, not really.” Izumi said quietly, smiling as she brought her finger to her lips, lapping at the blood there.
Wrath smirked, eyes dark at the concept of blood, of killing. He clapped his hands together, but Izumi was already moving.
A swish of heavy white skirt and she had kicked him squarely in the head.
Wrath went sprawling, never able to release the power he normally should have had built and ready in less than half a heartbeat.
“Owww!” He whined, clutching the side of his head and scowling. “How did you do that?” He asked.
“Did you forget that I am a part of you?! That my Alchemy, my blood, lets you use /your/ Alchemy?”
Wrath blinked at her, rolling out of the way as she attempted an axe kick to his head.
“You are sluggish, because you have used your last red stone when General Mustang’s men wounded you, even more so, because I am already beginning the process of binding you.”
Wrath glanced around the well in a panic, the array he had missed in the tall grass was activating now, glowing red.
“I made you from part of my body. When I am near you, I have more control over you, especially when you are inside this array.”
Wrath got up and tried to dash away, only to fall violently backwards, crimson lightning crackling over his form as he seized and screamed in anger.
“You may not leave this array while I am inside of it.” She said calmly, taking a step towards him as he crab crawled backwards.
“You can bind me…but you can’t stop me!” Wrath gasped. “I’ll come back…I’ll kill everyone.” He laughed maniacally.
“No.” Izumi said, pausing to cough up blood. “You won’t.”
She drew a knife then that had been resting in a sheath high on her thigh.
“A knife! That won’t stop me!”
“Yes. It will.” Izumi said patiently. “You have no red stone left, practically mortal. And of course…if I die…part of you dies too. The part that will keep you from ever being revived.”
Wrath’s eyes were huge…desperate then as his situation sank in. He was well and truly terrified.
She ignored the blood spilling from her lips, not even bothering to cover her mouth as she heaved for air. She executed another perfect kick, a deadly crescent that sent Wrath into the foundation of the well, chipping the stone away in a spray of dust.
She jammed the blade into his shoulder, the movement sleek and practiced. She was as good with a knife as she was her fists. She preferred her fists, but she couldn’t finish this battle without the blade, so in the interest of continuity…
Wrath cried out in pain, and it really did break her heart. She forced herself to not show the emotion, but this was killing her slowly. Her child, her baby was lying on the ground crying out, his blood staining her hands. The only comfort to her was that her blood stained his as well. It was oddly symbolic, how entwined they were.
Wrath came to his feet with a ragged cry, tears in the corner of his eyes. She had kicked him from one side of the array to the other, had ground him into the dirt, antagonized him just be existing, by living and punishing him as he did. He wanted to be the one to punish, but he could, simply because he was clumsy, because he was so near Izumi, his mortal remains…
Half a soul. So this was what half a soul did to someone. It tormented both until they went mad in their own ways, until they sought death of the other half, hoping to no longer exist without the other. In death they would both finally be whole again, not living this miserable half life. For Wrath, what was eternity without being able to really live. For her, what was life without the eternity of love. Blood mingled with blood, as it had on Wrath’s birth. Her blood, his blood…and it mingled again now, in the end.
She flicked her wrist.
Wrath was sprawled to the dirt again, blood from the wound at his throat seeping out onto the ground, onto the array that drank it up thirstily, growing stronger and stronger. He gurgled, struggling for air, but the light was already fading from his eyes as his fingers scrambled at his cut throat.
She knelt beside him, her hands instinctively, guiltily, searching to soothe the hurt she had caused. His eye focused on hers one last time, and there was no longer Wrath there. It was simply her son. Her little boy. A frightened child as his eyes fluttered closed. This was all her fault really. None of it his. She had made him. She had unmade him. And she would finish this now.
“I was a fool, Son. I was a fool. This has come full circle now, and my debts to this world are paid.” She whispered as she let him slide from her lap to the ground, limp, his form quivering from solid to crimson and back again.
She coughed, blood spilling from the corner of her mouth and poised the blade over her breast, both of their blood already stained the front of her dress crimson. “No more pain…for either of us…no more pain for others, except the mourning, and that will pass with time.”
She slid the blade home without any real effort, watching their blood mingle one last time, drops of it falling to Wrath’s bare skin, to the wound in his throat.
“I am sorry…Sig…” She whispered just before her knees buckled, and she fell atop her dead son. They would go together now, as they always should have from the beginning.
Winry rubbed her sore wrist where it was splinted. She had sat around the General’s library long enough. She was about to go find out if there was anything decent to eat in the house when she heard the front door slam open.
Den clearly recognized the footsteps because he was on his feet, bunching up the rug beneath his churning paws in a canine show of glee.
She heard a startled grunt from the foyer and cries of “Agh! Den! Get off! Off boy!” and the sounds of messy slurping dog kisses.
As expected, she found Edward prostrate on the foyer floor, with Roy Mustang standing behind him in bemused silence.
“Don’t just stand there bastard!” Ed shouted at the older man. “Help me!”
“No.” Roy said seriously. “I have to pack.”
Winry watched Roy trot by hurriedly as she hauled Den off of Ed by the collar.
“Just where have you been all night?!” Winry asked angrily, hands on her hips.
Her wrist might hurt, but that didn’t stop her from using a wrench like a pro.
“Just run bastard and leave me /here/ to explain /this!/” He shouted over Roy’s retreating footsteps.
“There’s a problem.” Ed began. “We need you to look after Al for a while.”
“You better explain it Edward Elric, not just run away!” She hissed.
There was a sense of death, of imminent danger that went beyond the room he was sealed into. A drive to go, to do something, to run and protect…to protect…
He forced himself to uncurl against the blinding pain. The stones within him were eating at him, taxing his strength and forcing him into this shape, his most vulnerable form. He tossed dark golden hair and then pushed himself up off the floor with a tiny cry.
There were wards everywhere…the door sealed, guards outside…
He had to get out of here. He had to get away. Something warned him that danger, mortal danger was close.
He pressed both hands flat against the door, and found that it swung open easily.
Was he dreaming?
It hurt terribly to pass the ward, to stagger out into the hallway, but as he did, his bare feet stuck to the floor suspiciously, as if he were in mud. But it wasn’t mud. It was blood.
He peered to his left, and then his right to see a scene he could only have ever hoped for in his wildest fantasies in the last few days. The guards were dead.
Somewhere, far away, there was an alarm bell ringing, and the smell of smoke was heavy in the air.
“Ah…there you are Envy. I knew you would rally on your own, given a chance.”
He turned to glance up at a tall and slender woman, properly dressed. She smelled heavily of perfume. Envy knew she did because her body was decaying. Even in the young girl’s body…the decay was happening faster and faster…it was practically out of control, and Dante was becoming more and more frantic. Envy knew this. She was, and always had been like this. She would always be the ‘old woman.’ She was really quite ancient. And a bit insane. But that was a given.
“Dante, Master…” Envy gasped. She moved to his side, stroking his shoulder and back like she might a kitten, tenderly. The look in her eye hungry. The look wasn’t for him, no, it was for this form. The form of her lover. The form of his son. Part of him, it made feel sick. The other part simply welcomed the affection because he had been so frightened for so long. Who cared why the old woman had saved him? All that mattered was that she had. And that he had somewhere to go soon. The sense of urgency hadn’t left him yet.
Envy found that the longer he was away from the binding, the better he felt.
“They had a state alchemist holding the ward at all times. Tonight you got two of them. Lucky for you…I was feeling energetic.” She purred dangerously.
She was going to punish him for this. He just knew it.
For a moment he debated climbing back inside the ward.
“Roy!” Ed shouted up the stairs, his voice sounding panicked even to his own ears.
Roy thundered down the steps, suitcase in hand only to freeze as he watched Ed standing there, breathing a bit too quickly, his eyes a bit too wide beside the telephone. “It’s for you.” Ed whispered as he sank to the couch, phone outstretched. “I suppose you could have answered it upstairs.” Ed said softly, knowing Roy had only come down because he had called out to him so urgently. He handed the receiver to Roy then, removing his flesh hand from over the mouth piece.
Winry was scooting over, closer to Ed, her hands wrapping around his flesh bicep as she laid her head sympathetically on his shoulder.
Ed just shook.
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Crossposted to: steelandsparks fma_yaoi fm_alchemist