Al needs a kitty, he told me...
I also figure since 6 is a fluff chapter, I needed to balance it out with a chapter of Angst.
Fic might have spoilers for end of the series and movie
Pairing: Not that I know of.
Characters: Ed, Al, Noa, Alter Roy, possible Envy Sightings
Crossover with the New Doctor Who (Mainly Jack Harkness and elements of the world) but it's not necessary for you to know who, the fic is FMA heavy.
Summery: Ed and Al are being held hostage by a German duke who wants them to make Alchemy work in the real world.
Disclaimer: I OWN no one, Not Ed, not Al, not Noa.... Not even Jack...I'm just a house wife, involved in a little stress relief writing. I am making no money, unless some day, the BBC books picks up my manuscripts for the two Who novels I am sending them.....
The Science of Escape…
Every morning, Alphonse Elric insisted on going outside. It was cold, and the grounds were white, blanked by snow as far as the eye could see. But he needed the air, and the illusion of freedom.
Jack stood near the entrance, watching him walk around the courtyard, with his hands shoved deep in his frock coat’s pockets. The man was leaning against the door jam, carefully scanning the gardens for unseen threats or escape routs. Escape routs Alphonse wanted to discretely find.
The courtyard was vast surrounded by sculpted pine trees and with a heavy stonewall. Fruit trees were clustered in an orchard at the far end, and across from them was a lattice roofed swing surrounded by creeping rose bushes and a grand grapevine. Smaller gardens were tired down from the stonewall, and during the summer, they were home to a variety of flowering plants ranging from colorful mums to exotic blue poppies from the far east. .
Stone pathways wove though the gardens, giving it a medieval flavor and an elegant marble fountain stood in the center with nude statue of Venus pouring water from a jug.
It was pretty, and closed in from the rest of the world. As far as Alphonse noticed, there were no gates and the only entrance to the garden was the door to the castle he just exited. Overhead was a balcony and Alphonse deduced it was to the library.
The garden itself was on the edge of the cliff, near the high tower, where the Elrics now lived.
Kaiser went out of his way to design an effective prison for them and it was annoying.
Heaving a frustrated sigh, Alphonse trudged though two feet of snow, ignoring the chill as it bit into his pant legs and dribbled into the cracks of his shoes. He wasn’t dressed for the outdoors, but he never stayed long. Normally, he’d just stroll though the garden, studying the walls around him, praying he’d find something he had missed earlier.
He rubbed his arms recalling the many times he had climbed the wall. It over looked the cliffs below. They could, given time, make spikes and collect rope to scale down the cliff, but it wasn’t an immediate option, and he needed to know exactly where he was if they were to escape. Yet he promised Edward he would find out where they were and an escape rout.
In the past he asked his guards, but they never acknowledged him. However, today Jack was with him, and Jack was talkative. Perhaps he could use that to his advantage.
Edward had been particularly sharp with Jack that morning, accusing him of being a spy and calling him a thug. He insisted on keeping Jack at distance from his work, claiming he asked far to many questions and acted too friendly to be trusted.
Alphonse noticed his brother’s impatience grow over the last few weeks as he dove deeper in his research. Kaiser gave the young man a large lab with a great deal of chemistry equipment as well as electrical generators and other advanced equipment for running on physics and electromagnetism.
The problem was, as of last week, Edward allocated Jack to sit out side the lab door, forbidding him to enter why they plotted away.
Jack objected furiously, claiming Ed was preventing him from doing his job and Ed refused to budge on the matter. There was, in the end no real way of getting along reasonably with Edward Elric in the irritable state he was in and Alphonse decided to take matters in his own hand, by asking the man to accompany him to the garden.
Alphonse Elric weaved his way around the fruit trees, gazing up at the sky. It was a cloudy gray day with flakes of snow that drifted down and kissed Alphonse’s pale face.
He liked the snow, and longed for the days when he played in it innocently with his brother and friend Wynre.
A soft whine made Alphonse pause. It was weak, and echoed pitifully from overhead. Attentively, Alphonse scanned the garden for the source of the sound, and eventually panned his gaze up a nearby apple tree.
It was tangled with thick branches that glimmered with the crystal glint of ice. Soft snow powered the ice softening the reflecting sunlight, and giving it a magical glow.
It was beautiful, and shimmered like the other bare trees surrounding it.
It was easy to spot the small gray form huddling against the trunk three quarters the way up the tree. It was a small gray kitten with large frightened green eyes. It peeped again, little body quaking from cold and fear, wrenching Alphonse’s heart.
He recognized the animal as one of the kitchen cat’s kittens. When they arrived, he spied her in the corner of their pantry, hiding a littler of five. Yet over the last weeks, the cook had gotten rid of most of the litter and this one was the runt. No one ever wanted the runt and Alphonse suspected it was outside quite deliberately.
Saddened, Alphonse’s face creased with a frown and he placed his hands on the trunk. “How did you get up there?”
The animal whined pathetically. “Don’t worry, I’ll get you. That mean cook is trying to get rid of you, isn’t she?” He asked unbuttoning his coat and hanging it over a low hanging branch. He than grasped a branch over head and hauled himself up. He wasn’t afraid of heights, and Alphonse was very skilled at climbing.
Out of the corner of his eye, Alphonse spied Jack, who was a shade of pale and jogging though the snow toward him.
By the time he reached the tree, Aphonse shimmed up and was on a slender branch three feet above Jack’s head. “Hey, hey! Al, get down here! Do you hear me?”
His shinny leather soles slipped over the icy snow forcing Alphonse to lean into the thick branch at his chest. He smiled down at Jack, “Hello Mr. Harkness. I trust you are enjoying the fresh air?”
Stepping up on a branch beneath Alphonse, Jack reached for the boy. “The fresh air is great, but you’re working very hard to make my job difficult! Get the hell down here before you fall!”
Alphonse grasped a branch just over his head, and lifted his knee to a thick limb near his midsection. “There is a kitten, and he looks cold, Mr. Harkness.” Alphonse explained innocently. “We can’t leave him in this tree.”
“He’s a cat.” Jack said sharply grasping the trunk with his gloved hands. “They can climb down. He’ll be fine! You on the other hand can get hurt!”
Shaking his head, Alphonse came to a careful stand and hugged the trunk. The kitten was a several feet out of reach. He just needed to climb a lot higher. “Humm, I thought your job was to make sure Edward wasn’t to get hurt and if needed to break my arm. Look at it as I’m doing you a favor.”
“I’m not here to break your arm! God Damn it! You’re brother accusing me about it every day is bad enough!” Jack sounded hurt. Shaking his head, he clambered up the trunk behind the boy. He was larger than Al, but strong and it wasn’t long before he was well into the tree, a foot or so beneath the determined teenager. “Ok, so I’m guessing you aren’t going to listen here. So let’s make a deal!”
Painfully aware he could slip, Alphonse scrambled up yet another branch. He paused, looking down at the man a few feet below him. Flakes of snow rained down from the thick branches around him and coated Jack’s hair and powered his face. “Deal?”
“Let me do my job, and protect you. You climb down the tree, I’ll get the cat and we’ll call it even. I don’t want to have you break your arm or any other limb on your body.”
Shying a glance to the kitten, Alphonse considered Jack’s offer. The animal was shaking, and looking really frightened. He sighed, if Jack was willing to help him, it was possible he could make the man a friend and perhaps convince him to help them later. Men like Jack had to take the situation into their own hands. Trying to look nervous, Alphonse hung his head and carefully sat down on the branch. “Ok. Just be very careful, he’s shaking.”
Jack exhaled in relief and patted Alphonse on the leg. “Don’t worry, I’m an expert cat rescuer. Now, lets get you down from here
Shrugging, Alphonse made his way down the tree. He was aware Jack was there, guiding him with a strong arm and supporting his slender frame. It was a piety, really. Alphonse felt a pang of guilt. Sensei taught him very well, and he was quite surefooted, but it was safer to let Jack underestimate him. The longer Jack thought he was a normal kid, the better chances Edward and he had to escape.
Once on the ground, he grabbed his coat and pulled it on. His fingers were cold, and very numb. He barely noticed it earlier, but now, it was hard to use them, so he shoved his hands in his pockets to warm them up.
Above, Jack continued to climb, and in no time was just in reach of the shaking animal. Stepping away, Al shielded his eyes from the flickering light. Jack was very high in the tree, and standing on branches that bowed slightly from his weight.
“You might be too big.” Alphonse said, worried the branch would break. “And I don’t want you to fall, you could get hurt.”
“Nah, don’t worry about it, kid. I’m an expert tree climber.” Jack scaled up the trunk, and hauled himself over another branch. The kitten was just out of reach.
Alphonse Elric cocked his head. “But you’re a grown up, Mr. Harkness and everyone knows grown ups can’t climb like kids.”
“What?” Jack glared down at the boy, face frowning. “Don’t give me that kid superiority crap, Elric!” He reached out, and curled his hand about the scruff of the cat’s neck and hauled the creature up. It gave a squeal, little claws fraying fanatically at the air.
Al winced. It was frightened. The twisting animal seized Jack’s arm, claws sinking its into the fabric of Jack’s coat and climbing up the man’s arm as he tried to close it into his jacket.
“I apologize for offending you, Herr Harkness.” He eyed the man’s feet as they touched the branch. “I just want you to be careful.”
Jack smiled and patted the tree. “Trees and I go way back, I’ll be fine.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth, Jack’s foot slipped. He went to grab the slick bark above him for support, but the momentum caused him to crash down and snapped the branches below. He cursed as he tumbled down, body twisting for a desperate grab at the tree limbs around him.
Alphonse braced, readying himself to break the man’s fall if necessary with his own body. But before Jack careened into the boy, the man seized one of the thicker limbs and halted his fall. Painfully he reached into his jacket, checking the cowering kitten, and sighed in relief. The kitten’s head stuck out of the breast of Jack’s coat and looked out with its huge terrified green eyes. It appeared unharmed.
Relief and embarrassment crossed Jack’s face as he released the branch and dropped down next to Alphonse. His clothing was rumbled, and twigs with powered snow stuck to his hair. Blood seeped from long scrapes across his brow and cheeks. A twinge of pain wrinkled his brow as he bent over, hand touching his ribs.
Wordless, Alphonse blinked up at him. He wondered if the man would be ashamed if a child showed any concern for his condition. Edward certainly would, but Jack seemed to appreciate the attention. “Are you alright?”
Jack took a deep breath and side glanced him. He reached into his jacket and handed him the kitten. “A little battered, but I’ll live. Here’s your little friend.”
Easing the animal into his coat, Alphonse wrapped an arm around Jack and helped him to the door. The man didn’t protest and he has a slight limp. “Well, let me help you.” Alphonse said. “It’s the least I can do. Next time, you should let me climb the trees. I suspect I’ve been doing it a little more than you have been of late.”
“Give or take a few years… Ok maybe more.” Jack replied. They paused inside, and Alphonse took a long look around. He had NEVER seen the room he was in before. It was a large carpeted hall, with a wooden coat rack and plush red carpeting. The walls were stone and windowless. A massive suit of armor stood next to the heavy wooden door.
The hall itself went off in a straight direction, away from the door. Something Alphonse knew did not fit his perceptions when arriving at the garden earlier that day. Blind folded, he managed to keep his direction sense enough to determine he had come to the garden from an angle, rather than a straight line.
“Shit.” Jack straightened, hands roughly digging into his coat pocket and removing a black strip of cloth. “Kaiser is going to kill me if he finds out I broke with procedure.”
Heaving a breath, Alphonse closed the door behind them. “I won’t tell if you don’t.” Keeping a hand on the kitten, Alphonse unbuttoned his jacket and hung it on the rung of a coat wrack. “Besides, I’ve never seen any of this, so I have no idea where I am, besides underneath the library.” He pointed to the hall. “That passage could lead me anywhere.”
Jack smirked and lifted the blindfold to Alphonse’s eyes. “You’re a smart kid, I suspect you know a little more than what your saying.”
Alphonse grinned uneasily. “What ever gave you that idea?”
“Don’t know, the level of security around you and your brother, that was sort of a clue.” Jack’s hand closed about his shoulder and steered the boy to the left of the hall way to what Alphonse knew was a wall.
There was a click and the sound of a door opening. Yes, that was familiar. They must have been traveling along passages hidden in the walls.
Secret passages, Alphonse thought, thrilled by the very idea. When the door slid shut behind him he became aware of a musty stale smell. It made sense to him, he wondered why there was a difference when he first started visiting the garden. Now he knew.
He held the kitten in his arms, and felt its nose nuzzle into his elbow. The animal was soft but wet, its damp fur soaking his thin white shirt. Thoughtfully he caressed the kitten’s soft coat aware he could feel its spine and ribs. It was emaciated, and desperate for company, the boy thought. What did the chef think she was doing by not tending to the animal? He let out a shaky breath. He failed to understand the adults around him.
With an effort, he refocused his mind on the passage ahead of him. He could hear the flicker of gaslight lamps, and that told him the passages were used often enough to install pipes in the frame work to run gas. It seemed to slope and that had taken three turns. Jack’s hand stopped him and his voice said. “Step up, we’re to the stairs.”
Yes, the stairwell. It wound up like a corkscrew, as if they were going up into a tower. Obediently the boy climbed. His steps were muted as if pressing into stone. The air around him was cool, there was a breeze coming from above.
He suspected there was a window, or an opening above allowing the change in temperature. Maybe they were near another exit out side. What he did know was they’d soon be entering another passage and it too would twist and turn until they entered the main wing of his new home.
Eventually he’d get the hang of it and map out the halls in his mind. Perhaps even get an idea of where else they may go. If only he could escape his guards long enough to explore. Al didn’t dare hope. They’d probably break his leg if he attempted and there was no telling how Edward would react then. He’d most likely get angry and get them killed.
Alphonse felt a pang of despair. He hung his head low, and listened to his own feet. How could he hope?
Even with all their research, the only thing they came up with was speculative at most. He hugged the kitten closer and redirected his thoughts. Once more he reminded himself to take things one-step at a time. There was no telling what the future held.
The numbers before him were blurry. Twitching, Edward Elric pulled the notebook closer to him and cursed. It was no use, his eyesight was inconveniently worse and his head ached, like a drum throbbing in the back of his skull. It was still early and he had only just begun his calculations for the experiment.
Pained, he rubbed his eyes and reached into the breast pocket of his olive-green vest. As much as he hated to admit it, his father was right, he needed the spectacles to read and in time, he’d need them to see at all.
Yet, going blind was the least of his problems. He groaned, dropping his throbbing head in his arms and ran his fingers though his hair. His body ached, and every muscle pleaded him to drag himself back into bed and stay there, but the call of freedom drove him to ignore it and return his attention to his studies. Painfully he lifted his head and
stared at the pages.
The experiment was simple: he set up the conditions to measure and record Noa’s psychic abilities. If she duplicated the results in controlled situations, he would prove the existence of psychic powers.
It was the beginning of a much larger and more complicated project. And regrettably, he was aware it was a task that would take years to achieve.
Tapping his notebook, he double checked his measurements and reworked his hypothesis. Everything had to be accurate and so far, his calculations were in order. He just had to go over and calibrate his equipment.
“Edward, you are pale.” Noa said. He hadn’t noticed her enter the lab. Wearily he looked over his shoulder, surprised to find she stood behind him and he had no idea how long she had been there. “This can wait until tomorrow.” She dropped her hand to his forehead and slipped it down to his cheek.
Edward felt his cheeks warm and awkwardness washed over him. “I’m fine,” he shrugged off her fingers and closed his notebook. “I’m ready to start.”
“You have a fever.” Noa ignored him. She stepped away as he came to his feet and turned to face the lab. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Noa fold her arms. “Edward Elric, you have been working non-stop for two weeks. You barely remember when it is time to eat, and Alphonse says you have not been sleeping very long or well.”
“I’ll rest after the experiment is done.” Edward gestured for her to sit, and glanced around the room. It almost reminded him of working for the state military.
The lab was the distillation of a small fortune into the highest experimental technology money could buy. Central to this work was the electroencephelograph, derived from an extension of Hans Berger’s designs. This traced the activity of Noa’s brain on a constantly-unrolling sheet of graph paper, seven delicate needles with integral pens scribbling wavering lines that opened mysterious windows
into the workings of the mind.
Edward gestured to a chair near the device. The woman looked at him skeptically, then sat in the chair and closed her eyes. “If it is important to you, I promise I will get some rest when this is all done.” Edward gently said. He methodically began fastening electrodes in a regular array across her scalp. She had adamantly refused to have her hair cut, and it had taken Edward an additional several days to devise a conductive gel which would work even with considerable hair between the electrode and the scalp.
Noa opened her eyes and gazed around the room. “These machines, they are amazing.”
Edward weakly smiled. They had collected quite an assortment of gadgets. Winry would have been envious. To think, he was the Alchemy geek, and in the past had scoffed at machine engineering.
Yet now he was in a room surrounded by machines and ironically he now needed them to make his Alchemy work. What would Winry say?
Huge glass and ceramic insulators alternated with shining coils of copper wire, wound in geometrically precise forms to channel the power of the electron. Tesla coils reared circular heads above conical coils, and at the far end of the room towered a sixteen-foot Van De Graaf generator, capable of generating a seething storm of artificial
lightning, millions of volts of electrical charge. These were part of Edward’s attempts to probe the very makeup of matter through atomic forces – accelerating protons and other particles through the symmetrical glass and metal tubing attached to these electrical generators.
Some distance from the accelerator setups were retorts, coiling glass tubes for condensation, distillation, fractionalization of materials. Bunsen burners, compressors, furnaces, crucibles in confusing yet
ordered array, the tools both of the chemist and the alchemist of old.
Finished with the electrodes, Edward whipped the sticky stuff off with the hanky in his breast pocket and inspected a humming device to Noa’s left. He was rather pleased with it. He had constructed it himself. It used electromagnetic forces to shake a series of numbered metal spheres. The spheres shuddered and banged into each other, rattling
randomly around an enclosure, until by chance one would happen to roll in such a way as to complete a contact between two wires. When that happened, a trapdoor opened for a moment below that ball, which dropped down a chute and rolled out into view in a trough below.
That was the test device. Noa was to predict which number would appear next in the trough. As the shaking and movement of the balls was essentially random, there was no scientific way to predict it, and there were no less than 500 numbered spheres. It was barely possible, though unlikely, that she could randomly guess one of them. Guessing two or more in a row would be strong evidence for her precognition. If she could manage a significant string of correct predictions, and replicate those predictions over time, he would have the hard evidence he wanted.
“Are you ready?” He asked, leaning with his hands curled around the arms of the chair.
She nodded and closed a hand around his. “Yes, I’m ready.”
Stepping back, Edward activated the sphere dispenser. “What is your prediction?”
Noa heaved a breath, and shied a glance to the trough. She appeared unsure, even worried. “427”
Was it a guess? Edward straightened. He liberated a notebook from his desk and’ flipped it open to an empty page. At the top of the page he recorded the date, the subject’s behavior and her prediction.
A clank turned his gaze back to the trough. The sphere rolled to the
end and rattled against steel. Edward took it in his hands, and turned it over in his hand. The numbers 427 were printed across its surface.
“284” Noa’s voice said. It was detached and her face was staring off into space as if she was in a trance. “398, 21, 156…” her voice became a eerie chant that goosepimpled his flesh and raised the hair on the back of his neck.
Edward froze, gaze shifting to the encephalograph as its pens etched a flurry of lines across seemly endless sheets of paper. Checking his calculations, he confirmed his suspicions. Red and blue lines wove in and out of each other, in an explosion of peaks and valleys.
He seized the paper, studying the data, barely aware of the clunking of spheres. “Humm, that seems in order.” He glanced over to Noa. “Subject appears to be in a trance, and I am seeing noticeable theta and gamma wave activity.”
She didn’t hear him. Edward crossed over to her side, nose wrinkling as he studied the woman. Her smooth flesh was pale with dots of sweat saturating her bow as her ghostly voice continued to drone out more numbers.
Quickly making note of her condition and responses, Edward regarded the trough. A chill swept him.
All the numbers in the tray matched her predictions. It was true, he was dying…
Edward stared blankly at his notes, lost in thought. All this time he assumed he had time, but things were different now. Suddenly an unseen force was draining his very life away, making it imperative for swift action. If he died, Alphonse would never be free, and for that reason,
Edward Elric made a decision. He would find a way of sending Alphonse home before he died.
He drew a breath, turning his gaze to Noa, dimly aware she was speaking to him.
“So we are finished with the experiment?” Noa asked, blinking up at him wearily. She ran her fingers though her hair, wincing as goo clung to her fingers.
Edward shoved his notebook in his suit jacket’s pocket and removed his glasses. “Ja, for the day.” His headache had grown worse, and he wondered if it was a symptom of whatever ailment he had. He ran a hand though his hair, feeling a sheet of sweat coat his fingers. He had a
fever. “I don’t have time to be ill.” He told her, weakly smiling.
“Take it easy then, let Alphonse and I help you with your work.” Noa pleaded. “Please, Edward.”
He couldn’t answer her. Edward Elric rarely depended on others to do things for him. He heavily sighed and quietly removed the electrodes from Noa’s hair.
How could he be dying? Some disease, but what? It explained the bruising and his exhaustion, as well as the faintness. He felt a pang of fear, mixed with grief. It was not the fate he wanted. “This is the world of science.” He said absently. “I can’t believe they wouldn’t have studied and diagnosed similar conditions.”
Noa watched him curiously. Taking a towel from the counter, she came to a stand, and tried to rub the gel out.
“Edward? What do you mean?”
Yes, it made sense. Perhaps there was hope, perhaps he could find a cure. If he properly diagnosed his condition and treat it, he would live. Didn’t they say if his mother received help in time she would have lived? Edward felt his heart lift. He didn’t need to waist away like his mother, in fact, he wouldn’t. He would find a cure, and live for Al….
The woman looked at him with moist brown eyes. She dropped a hand to his shoulder. “The Kaiser knows doctors. He will give you the best care…”
“Never.” Edward shrugged her hand off and dashed over to his bookshelves. He ran his fingers along the binds, searching. He had to have a medical journal somewhere. Why wouldn’t he, Kaiser supplied all sorts of reference books and understanding the working of the body was
necessary for human transmutation or Alchemical medicine. One book drew his eye. Edward pulled it out, and studied it. It was an anatomical encyclopedia. Frustrated he waved the book in his hand, and
dropped it to the table. “Gray’s Anatomy, Noa, I need a book, a medical journal. I have to research my symptoms.”
“But Edward, you can’t treat yourself!” Noa came to her feet and gripped the towel in hand between her fingers. “Edward, I am so sorry…”
“Of course I can treat myself! And what is there to be sorry for? I am dying, but I am not dead yet! This is the world of science, Noa. There must be a cure for my condition…” He paused planting his hands on his hips, and stared at the shelves overhead. Most of the books were on the cutting edge sciences of magnetism, radio waves, and electricity.
Besides the Gray’s anatomy, he had a few books on the human brain. He had no medical books in the lab. Anything useful would be in the library or his study. “Shit.”
Noa’s eyes flared wide. “Edward…” Noa’s lips trembled and her dark eyes teared. “Please listen to me…”
Edward shook his head. He raised a hand abruptly and brought it down. “Enough!” There would be no way; he’d allow the Kaiser of any of his quacks near him. “No, where I come from I would be perfectly capable of devising a cure with Alchemy. I will find one here.” He turned abruptly and stalked passed Noa. “Wash up! I’ve got work to do! Meet me in my study, and bring my slides and a medical kit!”
Without waiting for her answer he was out the door.