redrose999 (redrose999) wrote in fm_alchemist,

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Gilded Cage

Here is the next part of gilded. I've been working like a dog on it. This is a light chapter with a heavy does of cuteness.

Warnings: This chapter is rather clean. Lots of sweetness here. May be too much... Possible slash or Het inferences, if you read into it. I really have no interest in doing relationships for this fic, but the characters are driving the story and my plans to avoid certain things are failing utterly....
General, Action Adventure, Hurt Comfort story with a dose of Angst
Characters: Ed, Al, Noa and Captain Jack
FMA CROSSOVER with Doctor Who.
Chapter 14 Innocents (If you can think of a better title let me know)
Summery: Jack insists they celebrate Christmas, but Edward is suspicious….

Chapter 14

“So, it’s the security guard’s job to give Al his opium and so far they’ve been like clock work. What about you?” Edward asked, staring at Jack Harkness as he helped Noa clear the end table of dishes.

“I’m not planning on giving him it, not unless he asks.” Jack replied. “Are you asking Al?”

“The pain isn’t that bad.” Alphonse sat on the couch with Einstein cuddled up on his lap. Painfully, he stroked the animal with a smile brightening his features. He was happy, and Edward wondered how he managed it. At times, he admired his brother’s ability to grasp of strings and hold their precious ends as if they were his lifeline. An ability, Edward himself had forgotten. It was this damned place, and the gate that had done it, he thought. Or perhaps it was seeing his father’s death. With the old bastard alive, there was always the hope that someday, they’d be a family.

Even if, Edward himself was too angry at the old man to admit it. Their time together in this world made Edward realize how much he really wanted to be a child again. Yet, at the time, he was unable to see it.

Too late, he saw it all too late and now was determined to give Al the dream because the boy was always grasping those precious few moments to be a child when they showed.

He pressed his head into the back of the tall lounge chair they had pulled up to the end table and studied Jack, realizing his brother looked at the man as an opportunity to be childish.

Why couldn’t Al feel that way with Edward? Why did Al feel he had to be grown up and responsible around him? “What about your orders, Jack?”

Jack shrugged. “I only obey my orders when they make sense, Ed and right now, Kaiser doesn’t make sense.”

Holding a stack of dishes, Noa studied Jack. “He stopped making sense to you a while ago, didn’t he?”

“You could say that.” Jack replied, he walked toward the door. “Al, can you get the door, the lady and I have to get to the kitchen.”

The boy placed Einstein on his shoulders and jumped to his feet. Stiffly he jogged to the door and held it open. No other guards stood there. After encouraging a little pre-Christmas celebration with a bottle of liquor Jack dismissed them to celebrate Christmas with their families.

Both Jack and Noa hauled the plates out of the room, leaving Edward and Al to themselves.

Edward studied Al. The thirteen year old walked over and sat himself on the couch, curiously staring the decorated tree and packages under it. “He got us gifts, Edward. It seems each of us has two presents, even Einstein.”

Edward blinked, what in god’s name would Jack get him? He picked up the two packages with his name and held them in his hands. “Books, he got me books.”

“Brother!” Alphonse snatched them away, and hurriedly placed the under the tree. “You’ll spoil the surprise!”

“Surprises could kill us right now!” Edward folded his arms stubbornly, refusing to give into the pangs of childishness sweeping him. Jack had picked up two books. He had no reason to buy presents for Edward for Edward had been nothing but difficult to him.

So why buy him presents? Jack wanted their trust, and was assuming they we’re children, that’s why. Then where did the man stand? What did he want from them if he wasn’t spying for the Kaiser? Or was he? Not giving Alphonse the opium confused Edward. Over the last few months, Jack was trying to reach the boy, and get his trust, and had the ability to sucker Al into doing what he wanted.

Yet, he wasn’t.

Curled up on Alphonse’s shoulders, Einstein pawed at the boy’s hair. The boy lifted a hand and absently pet him. “Brother, you look a little better today. I saw you smile at dinner.”

Did he smile? He couldn’t have, Edward has no intention of smiling that day. Not at all. “I did?” He asked, “I must have slipped. That the last thing I want to do is encourage him.” He crossed his arms against the back of his neck and closed his eyes.

“I think it is a good thing. When you are happy, you can heal faster, and you need to heal, Brother.” There was a hint of pleading in Alphonse’s voice.

Edward cracked open an eye, and slumped in his chair, sighing. “I guess this helped me forget, a little of where we are.”

“So did I.” Alphonse looked away, attention to the small barred window. “I wanted to ask you, why did you accuse Kaiser of poisoning you?”

Edward looked over his shoulder to the open door. He heard no one in the hall. It was possible Jack was helping Noa clean and put away the dishes, trying to work on her sense of trust, like ha had done Al. “Because some one was.”

“How do you know?” Al leaned his elbows on his knees. “Edward… What aren’t you telling me?”

“I’m not telling you, because it is only a hunch, and in light of your theory, which is very logical, it could be nothing at all, just paranoia on my part.” Edward rolled up his sleeves, noting there was a dot of gravy smearing the cuff of his shirt. “Stepping in the redwater was enough to boost my power. It affected my soul and I stood in it quite a while. Yes, I was splashed with it and the results are deadly, we saw what it did to me when I just inhaled its fumes.” Edward heaved a breath. “In Xenotime it took years before it really started making people ill. It is a slow death, Al. This is all happening to fast.”

“If my theory is true, it will happen as fast as it takes a stone to degrade.” Alphonse rubbed his arms.

“When they degraded, Al, it was messy, not Leukemia.” Edward pressed his head into the soft cushions of the chair. Strangely, dinner had not bothered his stomach and he felt a tad stronger than he had all week. Perhaps what he needed was a good meal, untainted by Envy… Well, he could theorize, he had only a dream and no solid proof of it. “Al, when Rudolph beat you, just for a moment, I saw him. Envy.”

Al’s gaze flared wide and filled with fear. “Envy?” The boy’s hand began to tremble forcing him sink his fingers into Einstein’s coat to still them. “Yes, his strikes were unusually powerful He broke four of my ribs and nearly punctured a lung. Why didn’t he finish me then? Why did he allow Jack to stop him?”

“Because he wants something and Kaiser can’t know who he is.” Edward explained. He dropped a hand on Alphonse’s shoulder. What does he want to do more than anything? Destroy father and anyone who shares his blood. What a better way to avenge his anger than to turn the old man’s children into something he can simple consume and use? Something that will give him his immortality back and make him powerful in a world were such powers are not allowed?”

Al twitched. “I suppose.”

There were the sounds of footfalls in the hall, so Edward leaned close to his brother and whispered. “Or wait, I know, he is making sure what the Gate started is finished. When the Thule scarified him, he became bound to it and is now its puppet and as long as the damned thing gives him what he wants, the bastard doesn’t care.”

Alphonse sank back into the couch, wrapping his arms about himself, horror struck. “Brother, he took our father, why can’t that satisfy his hatred for our family?”

Edward didn’t answer, he wanted to but, Jack and Noa came into the room, laughing. “You never mentioned you brought a Phonograph, Herr Harkness, please play it tonight! I would love to dance!” Noa was saying. She twirled, long skirts flaring out with the liquid movements of her ethereal body.

Unable to look away, Edward watched, and wondered what it would be like to dance with her again. It was nice to see her humming and spinning, it reminded him of a ballerina he had seen at the theater once with Alphons, in Munich. It was a piety Alphons had not seen Noa dance. He certainly would have loved it. The sickly blond engineer was often caught up in his work, but appreciated the arts, and enjoying a good logger with friends and folk music.

A pang of emptiness filled Edward and he rubbed his arms. When he died, would Alphons be there to take him to the gate?

“Maybe Edward would take the first dance with me?” Noa leaned over him, finger touching his nose. “Edward? You are far away right now, is everything all right?”

Startled, Edward gave a stiff laugh, and a large toothy grin. “Ahh of course I’m fine! I was just thinking that’s all!”

“A dangerous profession, when you are concerned, Ed.” Jack sat down on the couch, next to Alphonse. He plopped a box on the table and opened it. Within its velvet interior was a heavy silver arm and needle with a turntable and crank. He removed an enamel record from a pocket in the lid and gently placed it on the turntable. ”I brought just the music for this occasion.” He said. “Do you guys like Jazz? None of this Dada crap they’ve been doing in Paris, but real American ragtime with a Christmas bent!” He inserted the crank in the keyhole on the side of the portable player and turned it. The record began to spin and when he placed the head of the arm on it, tinny perky sounds of ragtime Jazz filled the room. It was cheerful and quick paced. On the couch, Al taped his foot.

Jack reached out and removed the presents from the tree and handed them out. “I’m a horrible wrapper.”

“We don’t have gifts for you, Jack.” Alphonse whispered, slowly drawing out of his ball on the couch. Einstein jumped down from his shoulder and rubbed his back against the boy’s sling.

Jack winked at the boy. “Just get well, Al and punch Rudolf in the nose for me, ok? I hear you have a mean right hook.”

Edward fingered the gifts in his hand awkwardly. “Yes, and I’ve never beaten him either, and I am no slouch.” His automail hand touched Al’s shoulder and squeezed it. “When I am well, I promise to beat the crap out of you…”

Alphonse’s haunted gaze brightened. “You wish.”

Noa giggled, sitting on the arm of Edward’s chair. She ran her fingers along the wrapping paper and looked to Jack. “You didn’t need to buy us anything, we have everything we need here…”

Her voice caught and she looked down, tears filling her eyes. Edward’s anger flickered. Noa needed freedom, not fancy clothing, not a place, not jewelry, she needed to roam about the world, dancing like the free spirit she was.

“Open the gift, Noa.” Edward said gently. She tore away the paper slowly, making sure she had just popped the adhesive without doing too much damage to the colorful paper.

Her features brightened, as she removed what looked like a set of finger symbols. “For dancing, Jack?” She blushed looking up though her long dark bangs. “Why thank you.”

“The other one, I looked all over Bavaria for it.” Jack said. “It’s hand crafted, and I have no idea if you know how to use one.”

With a shy smiled she opened the next package and dug into the box. In it was a wooden hallow box with strings and metal keys and abalone inlay, an Autoharp. She gave a gasp, hand going to her mouth. “Oh dear lord, Jack you shouldn’t have!”

“So let me guess.” Edward said, feeling a pang of annoyance. He glanced up to Jack very suspicious now. ‘You’re a little wealthy, right? That’s an expensive gift.”

Jack shrugged. “I like hearing Noa sing. Music heals the soul Edward.”

“Yes, and I have not sung lately.” Noa replied. She stood up and shyly took the guards hand and squeezed it. “Yes I do play and thank you, I will have to think of music now, Jack.”

“Please play something tonight!” Alphonse begged. “You’re voice reminds me of Mothers, doesn’t it Edward.”

He had forgotten his mother’s voice. Edward gave a weak smile. “Why don’t you open Einstein’s and your gifts, Al.”?

The boy lifted the small box and poked the kitten on his lap. “Look at this, Einstein, a gift for you!” The animal lazily sniffed the box, and purred head rubbing against Alphonse’s fingers as he unwrapped the box. It was a can of sardines. The other was a knitted ball, filled with catnip.

They spent the next few minuets, watching the kitten chop down little fishes and roll around the floor clawing and chewing on his ball.

Alphonse was delighted, laughing and smiling as if he hadn’t a care in the world. It made Edward wonder what he would do if Edward died? Would he stay with Noa? How could she help him adjust to a world where their science didn’t exist? Would Alphonse even attempt to survive or would he kill himself? He forced his thoughts away, when Noa reminded all of them Alphonse and Edward had gifts.

“Lets unwrap them at the same time, brother.” Alphonse announced, holding one package between his legs so he could get his fingers around the edges of the paper.

Edward sighed and fumbled at one of the packages in his hands. “All right, Al.”

Together, they quickly demolished the wrapping paper on each of their presents. Edward, finished first, and started down at two books. One was on Houdini, the famous escape artist and mentalist debunker. And the other was on Temporal and Spatial dynamics in relations to Non-Euclidian Formulas and Applications.

“Eh?” The alchemist flipped open the book and stared at the slick pages. It was like nothing he had ever seen. It was piled with information on theories of temporal manipulation and dimensional space. It was advanced, and like nothing any scientist in the 1920s had calculated. Alchemists like his father, or even Izumi, may have understood such theories, because they had looked into the gate, but as far as Edward knew, no such book existed in this world.

“There is an interesting bit on dimensional rifts there.” Jack explained. “I thought you’d be entertained by it. “

Edward met his gaze. Those cold blue eyes were kind, yet something else hid there. “Where did you get this?”

Jack shrugged and rubbed the back of his head. “Ah, someplace. I travel a lot kid.”

Outside they could hear the wind howling and the rustle of pines. It mush have been cold, Edward felt a draft in the room and shivered. He had forgotten his blanket. To his surprise, Noa grabbed the blanket from the couch and dropped it over his lap. “A thank you might be polite, Edward.”

Jack looked toward Noa, “That’s ok. I know he likes it.”

Edward didn’t want to admit it but the book was something he could loose himself in for hours. It had far more information he could wish for on the given topic and it was possible the material would actually be useful.

Across from him, Alphonse contently leafed though the two books he received. One was the Unabridged Memoirs of Charles Dickens and the other was a copy of H G Wells the Time Machine. The boy was amused, and excitedly flipped the pages of one of the books. “This one is about Dickens’s experiences with Mentalism! It’s research, Brother! Thank you Jack!”

Another useful item? Was Jack trying to tell them something? He was aware of their research, and he could not have chosen any of the books unless he understood the topics rather well. In fact, when it came to dimensional and temporal mechanics, he would have to know a great deal to find what Edward needed to continue pioneering the research he was conducting. So how, would a simple security guard know anything about rifts, in relation to mathematical formula and Alchemy?

Edward was drawn out of his thoughts by Jack. Smiling, the man pat Al on the head. “Knew you’d like that, and since you are into reading, I thought you’d like a little fiction to wet the appetite.” He gestured to the Time Machine. “Why don’t you open it up.”

Excited, Alphonse flipped the cover of the book, and stared down at the crisp white title page. “It’s autographed!” He announced. He lifted the books so Edward could see the messy scrawl covering the page. “Look brother, it says, To Alphonse Elric, fondest regards. I am pleased you enjoy my work. HG Wells Jan 7, 1924.”

How did he manage to pull that off? Edward stared at Jack, fingers picking at the cover of his books. And wasn’t the date off? Why would a man like Wells write the wrong date? Curious and eager for his own mystery, Edward opened the book on Houdini, and stared at the first page. Houdini was an escape artist…

Sure enough Jack had written in it. It said “To Edward, Houdini was always found of puzzles, and I suspect you are too, try this one…” There were three columns of numbers. “PS Sherlock Holmes would have enjoyed this one.”

It was a coded message. Edward carefully closed the book, looking at the others as they laughed and quietly talked among themselves.

Jack made no move to acknowledge the books or what was in them, only that they were gifts, he thought, they’d see as useful.

Useful indeed. Edward Elric felt hope rise and a lump in his throat. He barely believed, or wanted to believe they’d have a chance to escape.

Was that what this was all about? He fingered the book, feeling its hard leather cover press against his fingers. How could they trust Jack? He worked with the Kaiser and could easily be a part of Envy’s plans, where did he come from and where in god’s name did he get a book that Edward knew could not have been written in this world….

Not now.

He heaved a breath, dimly aware Noa was singing.

He would have to wait until later, to talk with Alphonse. Right now the boy appeared wrapped up in forgetting their situation.

As for Jack, he was all to smug about all of this, like he was hiding some big secret that he couldn’t wait to unveil Edward Elric was suddenly more paranoid than he had ever been in his life. Their lives were on the line and he had no idea what direction he needed to go in to help his family.
He’d have to trust someone he knew nothing about, and didn’t like.

Well, that wasn’t a first. His entire life was a risk, things hadn’t changed. He watched Alphonse as he clumsily tried to join Noa, off key voice cracking with each octave. The boy would say trust Jack and trusting others wasn’t easy for Ed. It was close to impossible for him, but he’d have to. He just hoped it wasn’t to late.

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