Summery: Edward, Al and Noa are prisoners of a German duke who wants them to find a way to make Alchemy work in the real world. Except Edward is dying of Leukemia and the task falls in the hands of Al.
Crossover: there are some subtle crossover elements with Doctor Who, mainly Cardiff, the rift and good old Jack (Who, I kid you not, in cannon is bisexual and very in character). The fic tells why Jack lost his memory and was punished by the time agency (IT'S ALL AL's FAULT!).
Warnings: It's FMA HEAVY, and filled with angst, WHUMPING, mad science, Ed's foul mouth, and naughty demons.
Rating: this chapter is PG, mostly Talk.
On to Chapter
The Science and Psychical Research
A week passed and Alphonse found life at the Kaiser estate wasn’t uncomfortable. In the mornings they were given breakfast in their room and than taken to the vast estate library across the hall. Guards were always close by, moving them about directly from point to point, so
they never learned where the estate exits were, or what the layout of the building they were in was. Alphonse did realize was they were being held on one floor, where there was a kitchen, a small dinning hall, a spare bedroom, a bathroom, and a library. Other doors were sealed off, and since he never had the chance to explore, Alphonse
wasn’t sure what was in them. One thing he guessed was there had to be a stairwell or lift behind one.
It was frustrating. He knew there was a way out; but when he asked to go out into the courtyard, they blindfolded him and took him down what seemed to be a maze of corridors and stairwells so he’d be disoriented by the time they reached the outdoors. As a result, he had no idea whether they were held in an isolated annex of the building or
part of the main castle. All he did know was their room’s wall was curved and likely part of a tower.
They had a staff that waited on their needs, and got almost anything they asked for. They were forbidden to have a radio. Edward was able to obtain newsreels and silent films.
Despite their requests, Kaiser had not produced Noa, and Edward was growing restless. As a result, he drove himself into his work. Alphonse recognized guilt and frustration building in his brother, which worried him.
“I wonder if I can get a kitten?” Al sighed, staring down at the pages of the book he had been scanning. They sat in the library with its ceiling high shelves and rows of bookcases.
It was an enormous room with curved walls and a tall ladder that rolled from shelf to shelf. In the center of the room was a table and rows of shorter bookshelves stacked with books ranging in age and length. A large glass door was at the end of the room and led to a balcony overlooking a vast courtyard and garden.
Suits of armor stood sentry at the room's entrance, and glass cases were built into the walls. In the cases were an assortment of things: ancient weapons, pottery, scrolls, tablets or books, some dating from ancient civilizations like Babylonia, China, Egypt, or Greece while others were of medieval origin. It reminded Al of a museum.
“I’ve seen a cat around, that big fluffy gray thing.” Edward said. “I think one of the servants owns her.” He stood on the ladder and poked through several volumes on the 11th shelf. “Besides what would we do with a cat? What would Kaiser do with it? Threaten you with it I suppose… I’d rather be only one of us dancing on his strings.” The
elder boy pulled out a dusty volume and studied it. “It wouldn’t be fair to the animal, Al. We couldn’t take it with us when we escaped.”
Ed was right, they were not in the position to own pets, and even though Al had always wanted one, he was unable to get one. Yet as it seemed, they’d be with the Kaiser for a good many years before they found any way to escape. And the animal could be useful if trained. The boy sighed, looking down at the text before him. He was being
ridiculous, though. It was very impractical to own a pet, and Al knew it.
“Brother…” Alphonse glanced down at the book he had been studying. It was a text concerning Alchemy in Ancient Mesopotamia. Unfortunately, for the most part, the book was filled with information on an assortment of Babylonian Gods and various myths. Alchemy, so it seemed
in the ancient world was closely related to magic and religion. The boy looked around the room, sighing. Many of the books in the library were connected with mythology and not very scientific at all. Closing his eyes, Al fingered the pages of the book. “Mr. Kaiser certainly has
many archaeological texts and a great deal of information on Anthropology. Apparently Alchemy was very prevalent in the ancient world.” He closed the book, a pang of disappointment on his face. “Unfortunately it’s all related with ancient religion and dogmatism. I don’t know where to start. The very nature of Alchemy here is foreign
Looping his elbow around a rung, Ed studied the book in hand. It was a dusty, and Alphonse was unable to make out the cover. “Yes well, electroplating will not help us find a gateway. “ He said rather nonchalantly. He offered a wicked smile and placed the book back into its slot. “Science is very important to me, Al, but we have to face it, the very metaphysical forces behind Alchemy make it magic here, and looking in journals and text about the scientific properties of this world will not help us find any secrets.” He gave the shelf a gentle push and the ladder rolled along its track until he stopped it at another book case further down. “So what scientific understanding do they have of “mystical” forces?” He asked aloud. “People call things they don’t understand magic, right? Obviously the people here see things like Alchemy and Psychic phenomena as magic. After the Thule situation, men like you and I know it is possible using the right metaphysical, errrr dimensional properties…” He rubbed his chin
contemplating. “I’m really not sure how to classify the gate of Alchemy or other gateways like it, what I do know it’s a passage to another place and time.”
Edward was thinking out loud. Alphonse watched him fondly, amazed how he was already breaking the world down around him and making hypotheses and creating theories. But then again, Edward lived in this
world for more than two years, so he had a basic understanding of it. “So where do we start? What scientists seriously research psychic, and dimensional forces?”
“Ahhh yes, many, but only a handful understand what they are really doing.” Edward said, reaching for a rung and climbing up the ladder. “Father once mentioned the Thule society followed the research of men like Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Professor James
H. Hyslop as well research into non-Euclidean and hyperspace geometries…”
Alphonse straightened himself. He was confused. Lodge was famous for his work with radios and electromagnetism, Doyle wrote mysteries and Hyslop was a professor of Logic and Ethics. “Electromagnetism, radio waves, Sherlock Holmes, and Mathematics? Brother, these people, some who are not even scientists, have nothing to do with Alchemy.”
“Lodge was the president of the Society for Psychical Research. He does a great deal of work in telepathy and communicating with the other side.” He paused, finger tipping a book from its slot. “I have to admit Doyle’s a bit off the deep end with the faeries, but he does have some valid ideas concerning spiritualism. And I think Hyslop’s
theories on possession are very intriguing. Of course we know what happens to souls here, but what we don’t understand is the workings of telepathy and whether there are metaphysical forces behind it. Men like Lodge, Doyle Hyslop and Flammarion are the foremost men of science involved in that kind of research.”
“Flammarion?” Alphonse lifted a brow, he wasn’t familiar with the name. The other names he had seen on some of the book bindings in the library.
“He suggested the source of psychic powers, telepathy or the existence of ghosts were influenced by the existence of Psychic matter. “ Ed studied the book he had and reached down to Alphonse. “Here, we might find something here. It’s a collection of research articles from the American Society for Psychical Research.”
Shaking his head, Alphonse stood and made his way to the foot of the ladder. “And Alchemy?” It appeared that his brother had finally lost his mind. “If we are interested in finding out how the natural laws of this world work, shouldn’t we be studying Einstein and Quantum Physics and applying them to manipulating sub atomic particles? Einstein did win the Nobel prize.”
Edward cocked his head to the side and gave a half smile. “Our job is to understand how the metaphysical works in this world before we can understand how to harness the powers of Alchemy, Al. Trust me, we are not abandoning our science.” He began to pile books from the shelves
above into Al’s arms. “I know you’ve been reading a great deal about Einstein and admire him, and he is a brilliant man, but he’s no Alchemist. I am afraid the physicists in this world are unable to look beyond the physical world, they cling to what they know and see. And as we both know, Alchemy is more than that. ”
The books were stacked up to his nose. With a helpless shrug, Alphonse shook his head. He barely understood the world of science, or how it worked, just that it appeared to be limited. But if Edward’s theory was right, and they did have proof it was a possibility, the world of science was just as capable of opening up to metaphysical forces.
Edward dropped a book on the stack that forced Alphonse to tip his head to see over the stack. “I think that will be enough brother.” He said softly and carried the pile to the table. “Now, what is the theory we are working on?”
“Good question, Al.” Edward’s hand went to curl around a rung over head, and missed it. His gaze clouded and he wavered for a moment, as if he were about to lose his balance, than with what appeared to be an effort, he grabbed the rung over head, and pulled himself up so his
arm was looped around the ladder. With his freed hand he rubbed his eyes.
Dropping the books, Al raced to the ladder, horror slamming his heart against his chest. “Brother? Brother, are you all right?”
Edward was pale and didn’t respond right away. Breathless he blinked, focusing to Alphonse, features struggling to appear unaffected by the spell. “Just tired.” He managed. He climbed down to the floor and refused Alphonse’s help. Stubborn, he grabbed a chair and sat heavily down. “I haven’t been sleeping well, lately.”
Al went to respond, when the door to the library opened. Kaiser, followed by Noa and a man Al did not recognize, entered.
Standing, Edward’s face masked the strain with annoyance, but it quickly faded to relief when Noa’s gaze met his.
Alphonse lifted a brow, aware his brother was hiding his feelings for the girl. He suspected there was something unspoken between the two of them, but now he was sure. Edward was fond of Noa, and that was why he
returned to the world of Machines rather stay with Wynrie in the world of Alchemy.
Noa didn’t appear to be harmed, Her long dark hair was pinned up under a small flowered hat and sprayed so ebony curls ringed her face and dripped down her neck. She wore a very fine deep red silk dress and an expensive string of pearls around her neck. The dress was modern, with
a long waist and pleated skirt, like the flappers Al had seen in magazine pictures on the street. It was daring, far more daring than he’d imagine the gypsy girl wearing.
Noa cried out. “EDWARD!” Weeping, she bolted across the room into Edward’s arms.
Edward’s eyes flared, then softened as he wrapped his arms around the girl. “I’m all right, Noa, so is Al.” The older boy, held the girl at arms length and studied her. “He didn’t hurt you did he?”
Trembling, Noa shook her head. Teary eyes looked across to Alphonse. “I’m sorry…” She whispered. “Please forgive me. I had no choice.”
Touching his cheek, Al sighed. “They just roughed me up a little, I’m ok.”
Across the room, Kaiser’d face was smug. “Good morning, gentlemen! I see you are hard at work.”
Edward snorted. He edged the woman behind him and fixed Kaiser with a steely glare. “I have nothing for you yet.”
Looking around, Kaiser folded his hands behind him and started to walk. “Now, now, Herr Elric, didn’t I say, you must submit a weakly report of your findings?” He paused, pulling out his pocket watch, and checked the time. “It has been one week and 12 hours. You have missed
Alphonse felt a chill. The newcomer was studying him. The gentleman was a tall man, with dark hair and sharp blue eyes, wearing a pair of dark brown slacks, matching vest and a white shirt. On his hip was a gun. He was dressed similarly to most of the guards on the estate, but looked less thuggish. Yet, those eyes were hard, and Alphonse recognized them as ones of a killer.
Kaiser motioned to him and he crossed over to Alphonse with quick deliberate strides. His hand dropped on the boy’s shoulder, forcing him to remain seated. “I would like to introduce you to your new handler.” Kaiser said. “Herr Jack Harkness.”
Alphonse craned his neck so he could see the gentlemen in question and was surprised to see him smiling kindly, down at him. “I wish I could say it is a pleasure, Mr. Harkness, but I am well aware you are here to rough me up…” More likely, Harkness was there as a spy, someone who’d try to gain their trust and make sure whatever information they
gained was sent to Kaiser.
“Handler?” Edward hissed. “What the hell do you mean by handler? I’m followed 24 hours a day by your thugs, why the hell do I need another? I’m doing your lousy research for god’s sake!” He slapped his hand down on tot he table, rage barely contained in his voice.
“Yes, yes, I see you are.” Kaiser circled the table, gaze falling to the notebooks sitting next to the sea of texts. He picked one up, studying the pages, then nodded at Alphonse. “You’re writing, young Elric? I had no idea you were an Alchemist.” He appeared surprised, and very pleased with the discovery. “Keep up the good work, boy, and I shall hire you some tutors to help you fill in those gaps you have in your education. There is a great deal you need to learn about the world, if your mind is to be harnessed properly.”
Alphonse didn’t know if he should be flattered or frightened. Obviously Kaiser had uses for him and didn’t just want to break him in order to control his brother. Before the boy could answer, Kaiser turned to face Edward. “Herr Harkness is here to keep you in place, but he is also here to make sure you stay alive. You have angered many people, Herr Elric, and I understand there is a price on your head. Spies from the Thule Society and former Nazi party are looking for you and your brother. An inconvenience, to me, for I need you alive.” He shook his head and placed Alphonse’s notebook in front of the boy and strolled up to Edward. He towered over the elder boy, but Edward stood his ground. “I will let your mistake pass, this time. You are adjusting to your new situation, but I am a man of efficiency, and control. I want my report, promptly on schedule, or else.’
“Threats will not make me work any faster.” Edward gritted his teeth. He strayed a look to Al, who gave him a calm smile. They needed to keep their scruples and Alphonse sensed his brother was starting to lose his. “But I get your point. You will have the report by this evening.”
“Good.” Kaiser bowed his head, than turned. Harkness followed him, taking a position at the door. “I will leave the group of you to get to know one another, but I strongly suggest you make it short.” He said coldly. “Or young Alphonse will be writing with his left hand tomorrow.”
The bastard, the words kept circling in his mind over and over, as Edward Elric fixed his attention on Kaiser’s back as he exited the room. One well placed blow to the back of the man’s head would do him in, they’d be free…
In the end, Edward Elric wasn’t a cold blooded murderer. He shook his head, face turning toward Alphonse, who sat quietly at the table, hands on his notebook, and Kaiser’s new spy looking on. Without a layout of the castle they’d never find a safe route out.
He had no alchemical powers to fight. The automail would only be an advantage to a point, and there was no way he could get Al out alive. So once more he was someone’s lap dog.
The door clattered closed, leaving the four of them alone.
Silence followed. In the distance, Edward heard the whistle of the wind.
“It’s starting to snow.” Alphonse closed his notebook and placed his hands neatly over its brown leather cover. “I understand the winters in Bavaria are beautiful.”
Al was trying to break the mood, and succeeding. Edward felt the tension in the room fading and his own fury settling. He glanced at Noa, a mixture of feelings flooding him. She had betrayed him and was responsible for Al’s injuries, yet try as he might, he couldn't muster much anger for her. She seldom did anything maliciously. “You owe Al and I an explanation!” He said, gruffly, and turned his attention to Mr. Harkness. The man leaned himself against the doorframe, watching the three of them as if they were the first act of a performance. “And you mind your own business! I don’t need a body guard, I never have and as far as I’m concerned you’re just here to spy on my work!”
Harkness lifted a curious brow. “You’re very quick to judge, Herr Elric. I have done nothing yet, save keep a close eye on you.”
“Working for him is enough!” Edward retorted, he looked at Al for support but the boy was now standing by the glass doors, watching the snowdrift down from the sky. “Al?”
The boy peered over his shoulder, attention fixed firmly on Edward and Noa. “You two need privacy,” he said. “That means both Mr. Harkness and I must give you it.”
Across the room, Harkness lifted a brow, and focused his gaze to the stacks in the center of the room. Edward couldn’t figure the man out. At first he took him to be a thug, but he moved too carefully to be one. He also seemed to be going out of his way to just watch and not to interfere with them. Yes, he was now sure the man was a spy. He was there to make sure Edward handed over all of his work and hid nothing from Kaiser.
“I’m so sorry Edward.” Noa’s voice drew his attention back. She brought her hands together, tears filling her eyes. “They caught up with me….”
Edward frowned, and pulled out a chair so she could sit. “Is it true, you tricked Al?”
She heaved a breath, and wiped tears from her eyes. “Yes, I led them to both of you.” She shook her head, lips trembling. Unable to meet his gaze, Noa rubbed her arms, and inhaled a deep sob.
It was hard to keep calm. He felt betrayed. Yes, Noa had betrayed him once before, but she was desperate. The Nazis were destroying her world so she wanted nothing but to escape. How could he blame her? Yet this time it was different. He and Al were going to take her away from
Germany and the hatred. She had no reason to betray him. Edward swallowed his growing anger and paced his breaths. In the past, Edward Elric made a career of losing his temper and being harsh to others. It was often said he failed to play well with anyone, save for Al, and
Winry. Al’s gentle nature made it easy for them to get along and Winry would simply clock him over the head with a wrench if he got out of line.
Edward folded his arms, “Why?”
“I returned to the Caravan. They were all dead, Edward, and he was there, Kaiser.”
“He killed them?” Edward asked barely able to hide his contempt of Kaiser.
“He told me Nazi sympathizers did it, and that they were hunting you down. He said if I helped him, he’d protect you and Alphonse. I had no idea it would be like this, Edward…” Noa’s trembling fingers touched Edward’s.
She thought she was helping them. His face softened as relief filled him. Without thinking, he closed his fingers about hers. “No. I understand your reasons, but we can take care of a few Nazis. You know that.”
She shook her head. Worry wrinkled her brow and she folded his fingers into hers. “You’re not well, Edward. I’ve had dreams…”
Numb, Edward made sure Al wasn’t listening. The boy stood on the balcony, staring at the sky, catching snowflakes in his hands: well out of earshot. Edward hadn’t been feeling well of late, tired and weak. The fainting spell he had earlier was not the first. However, his symptoms could easily be explained by the stress of not sleeping.
“You’re a prophet now, as well as a mind reader, Noa?” He gently asked. “I don’t doubt your abilities, but in light of the last battle I was in against the Thule, I have every reason to believe I am as strong as a horse. My malady is nothing that a little sleep can’t cure.”
The woman sighed, but the fear failed to leave her pretty face. “When I read your dreams… I saw your mother. She died of a illness that took many years to kill her.”
“She died of a broken heart.” Edward snapped. He didn’t want to discuss his mother and it made him feel awkward when Noa brought up his past. The woman knew more about his life and thoughts than he was comfortable with. Edward pulled his hands away, and turned toward the
bookshelves. “If you don’t have anything useful to contribute, Noa, I suggest you leave. I have a report to write.”
Sadly, Noa blinked away her tears. She shook her head, coming to her feet. Desperation filled her features. “Edward, why can’t you listen? Why must you hide from the truth? I’ve seen it! I feel it inside of you, your body is slowing breaking down, and if you don’t do something
about it, you will die, the same way your mother did!”
She was convinced, and there was nothing he could do to change her mind. Edward glanced down unable to come up with an appropriate argument. Here he was in the middle of research that required Noa’s very skills, yet he had to deny her very powers of prediction. Why? He had no proof or reason to believe they worked, unlike her ability to read minds. Moreover, if her dreams about his future were true, what she was telling him was unfathomable. How could he, Edward Elric, the most powerful Alchemist in the State Military simply die of a wasting disease? A disease, he could undoubtedly treat at home with Alchemy, but not here. It would mean his very sacrifice to remain in Germany would destroy him and he had doomed his brother to a life of uncertainty and loneliness on an alien world.
No, by that very fact, he knew he could not be ill, not the way his mother was, that was that. He’d never leave Al alone in this world, not ever. Edward snatched his notebook from the table. His mood was rapidly becoming foul and to remain in the room with Noa would just get him angrier. “I’m not hiding from anything.” He said firmly. “I’m
trying to save my brother, if you can’t tell, Noa. Remember how you were sold to the Nazis? Well, like it or not, Al and I are now in the same position you were put in. The one I rescued you from. Now, if you will excuse me…” Without a second glance, he marched to the door, “Open the damn door and let me go back to my room.”
Harkness’s features were thoughtful as he unlocked the bolt. “Are you sure you want to leave the lady like that, Herr Elric?” He asked gesturing to Noa. She was collapsed over the table sobbing. Alphonse stood at her side, gently stroking her back and apologizing for Edward’s insensitivity, no doubt: Good old Al, Edward thought. Always trying to smooth out the wrinkles he left behind. Edward swallowed the lump in his throat.
“It seems to me she blames herself for all of this…” Harkness replied.
“The path to hell is pathed with good intentions.” Edward retorted. He edged by the man and pushed his way though the door. Behind him he heard Harkness bark out a few orders to the guards watching the door and set out behind him. Exasperated, Edward turned and threw his hands
up in the air.” Follow me if that is what you have to do, Harkness, but keep the hell away from me! I don’t need anyone’s advice, especially from someone who’s working for the very bastard whose holding the key to my prison. To hell with you! Do you understand? This is my bloody life and I’ve got work to do!”
Harkness shrugged helplessly. “Sure, I’m one to let a man dig his own grave kid, go ahead. I’m just doing my job and trying to make it as pleasant as possible. I’m no marriage counselor, so do what you want.”
Who the hell did he think he was? Edward glared at Harkness, realizing the security guard looked at him the way an adult looked at a spoilt child. Marriage counselor, the thought was idiotic. He’d tell him so, too, when he found the time. Edward gritted his teeth, and continued
his march down the hall. The day was quickly on a downward spiral, and at that moment, Edward Elric didn’t care, as long as he got his report finished and Al was safe.