Xannee (xandrabelle) wrote in fm_alchemist,
Xannee
xandrabelle
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Fic: The Secret of the Stone

Title: The Secret of the Stone
Rating: PG
Fandom: FullMetal Alchemist
Summary: Ed and Al's search for the Philosopher's Stone, as seen through the perspective of Roy Mustang. Spoilers for most of the anime.


There were a million reasons why he was standing here at this particular door and even more why he should walk away. But there was only the slightest hesitation before Roy Mustang lifted his hand and knocked.

Thinking back, it had all started fairly simply-- a letter in the midst of the official correspondence filling up his desk tray one morning. Nothing odd about that, except for the last name in the sender's column-- Elric.

That had been enough to give him pause. The letter had been forwarded from another state alchemist and it appeared to have been ignored for some time. Not unusual given that many state alchemists travelled frequently and didn't get to read their mail for many months.

Roy turned the letter in his hand. So Hoenheim Elric's sons were writing to ask for the whereabouts of their father. The name was familiar enough. Hoenheim Elric was notable for being able to transmutate without using an array. The Hoenheim Elric who'd disappeared without a trace so many years ago. From the letter, Roy gathered that the mother had died. Pity and pain flashed within him. No child should have to be without their parents. Not like the one he'd deprived...

Something must have showed in his expression because his ever present second-in-command spoke up.

"What's the matter, Sir?" Riza Hawkeye asked protectively, gazing at him with an intensity that Roy was used to.

Roy handed over the letter wordlessly. No point trying to keep anything from her. The woman knew everything about his business anyway. Roy was ambivalent about this particular aspect of their relationship. Half the time he was grateful that he had at least one person who seemed to accept him, despite all his glorious flaws that no one else seemed to have perceived. The other half of the time he spent trying to run away while swallowing gibbers of terror at the mountain of paperwork she piled upon him.

He watched her study it carefully, no doubt commiting the contents to her memory. Riza was nothing if thoroughly capable. Her serious concentration held everyone in Roy's office in abject terror. They were all thoroughly pussy whipped.

"These two boys, they're alone," she stated, her brow creasing slightly.

Roy nodded, face carefully neutral in watching her. He wondered if her maternal instincts were kicking in, a side of her he rarely got to see, unless it was from the way she mother-henned him.

"Will you go to them, Lieutanant-Colonel?"

Roy dipped his head lightly. "I think I will. The military likes to keep track of civilian alchemists and their research. And if the boys have a lead on the whereabouts of their father..." He wondered if this would be a good enough distraction from the paperwork.

Even though he'd made up his mind to go, he was still surprised when Riza nodded along with him.

"I'll make the arrangements immediately." His astonishment must have showed because she turned suddenly and flashed him a wholly evil smile. "Don't worry, the paperwork will be here when you get back.

Hearing those words, Lieutanant-Colonel Roy Mustang, the Flame Alchemist, battle-scarred hero of the wars, breaker of a thousand hearts, was reduced to a whimpering puddle.

So it was that he found himself at Risembool's train station 2 days later. Hawkeye had gone about arranging his absence with a quiet efficiency. Either that or she had fired some well-placed bullets to intimidate the relevant personnel to sign on the dotted line. It would be blatent insubordination but Roy couldn't put it past her.

The sky was clouding over upon his arrival and he spent a few minutes debating between finding some cover from the impending storm in the village or trying to track down the Elric brothers. A polite enquiry to the old pipe-smoking codger gazing at him curiously found him heading towards the pointed direction-- towards the Elric brothers. Roy sighed, it wasn't as if he worried about getting wet here. He was safe enough in this sleepy village. He hid a bitter laugh, recklessly guessing that the greatest danger he faced here was a cold. Now that'd be a glorious end for the great Roy Mustang.

The countryside proved wider than he expected. It was dark by the time he trudged up the path to his destination, a small cosy house. The windows were darkened but he could still make his way onward in the growing dimness. He wasn't particularly tired, he was a soldier after all, used to marching long distances, even if he was an officer and spared the worst rigors of being at the frontlines.

All of a sudden, a blue flash centering around the house lit up the entire landscape. The light burnt into his retinas leaving him blinking to clear his vision. It was the unmistakable light of alchemy being performed. As if that wasn't enough, flashes of lightning began to ripple across the horizon in melodramatic punctuation, as the sky opened. In the sleeting rain, Roy stared dumbly, wondering what the hell was going on. He was unable to stop shivers from running up his spine, no thanks to the scene before him. Sometimes too much atmosphere was not a good thing. He hurried towards the house.

At first glance, the house had seemed near enough but in reality, it took him the better part of an hour to cross the fields and down the path towards it. There had been nothing after that initial burst of alchemiac light but Roy was unable to shake the sense of foreboding upon him.

Hesitantly he stepped across the threshold, water flowing freely from his coat. The door was wide open, he didn't even need to push at it. He called out a hello, only to be greeted by silence. A few steps further in and he knew why.

His feet squelched in the blood and bits of something soft, flesh probably, his mind helpfully supplied. But he was beyond disgust, his stomach too inured to worse horrors to churn at such sights. Not after Ishbal. Even the coppery scent of spilled blood did nothing to him. The rain had masked the stench but it was all too powerful in this room. His mind merely registered its presence.

Standing in the center of the room, Roy saw at a glance exactly what had happened. An intricate array detailing a transmutation attempt, as crystal clear as a road map to the practiced eye of an experienced Alchemist. State Alchemists passed rigorous tests to get to where they were, Roy was no exception though he hid it well beneath a lazy exterior. The resulting gore splattered about the room was enough to tell him about the spectacular failure at alchemy.

He had come too late.

Some academic part of him was impressed that two children, not even in their teens could have come up with an array so original, so dangerous as to even work. A calm detachment flowed into Roy as he continued to study the scene.

There was no body.

Heaving a sigh of relief, he concluded that as spectacular as the failure was, no one had died.

Retaining some presence of mind, he swiftly set about erasing the array, smudging over what he could so that no one who came after would guess at what happened. The crime for attempting human transmutation was death. Roy didn't want that complication upon the Elric brothers, if they had survived this mess.

Roy followed the blood trail out the door. Initially there was a disconcerting amount of blood, splattered about the steps, smudged by his own footprints but not yet erased by the rain thanks to a small awning. It was amazing that he hadn't slipped on any of it earlier. In the dim light, he spotted suspicious bits splattered among the cobbles of the path leading south. Heaving a deep sigh, he plunged back out into the wet, pursuing the trail without pause, dreading what he'd find at the end but by no means undeterred from seeing it to the finish.

For what seemed like hours, Roy trudged through the rain. As the raindrops fell, what little evidence was left was rapidly erased. But his senses were keen enough to track the sparse trail. It wasn't too far before he concluded there could be only one destination-- a house in the distance, windows lit with a welcoming yellow glow. The lights pulled him onward, an offer of warmth and comfort from the rain, now pouring freely down. Confidently he surged forth, ignoring the seeping cold, until he saw the sign at the base.

He stopped short and drew a shuddering breath, staring at the sign as if it were the gateway to hell. Perhaps it was after all, his own personal hell.

Rockbell.

How far had he run to avoid this and yet now, here he was. Three years after the tragedy at Ishbal. If Roy hadn't been atheist, he'd have wondered if there was some guiding power that decreed this fate for him. For a moment, he almost succumbed to hysteria from the irony. But iron discipline restored his control and he gathered himself together, tucking away his heart wrenching guilt, still not scabbed over. Perhaps it never would.

He crossed the three steps up the house to the door and knocked.

Notes:
I'm still not sure how well Roy knew Hoenheim Elric, if at all, or really what Roy's job at Central was. Also a check, do people usually refer to General Hakuro or General Halcrowe?
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