redrose999 (redrose999) wrote in fm_alchemist,

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Gilded Cage Chapter 19

Eeek! I managed a Chapter, house work, and a RPG! Let me know if the end seems rushed. I did it horribly distracted.
Chapter 19
Wedding Blues
Warnings:MOVIE and END of SERIES SPOILERS. Slash and Het implications if you read into it,violence, drug usage, forced weddings and a very stoned Ed. Al and Ed WHUMPING
Fic Type:General, Action Adventure with LOTS of ANGST
Characters: Edward Elric, Alphonse Elric, Noa, Alter Roy, Alter Hughes, Alter Gracia, Alter Cornello, and Envy sightings and Captain Jack Harkness (though he is not in this chapter)
CROSSOVER: With Doctor Who but FMA HEAVY

Chapter 19
Wedding Blues


He was dreaming. Of course; he had to be because he stood facing Father Cornello, with Rose staring glazed eyed next to him in a white dress. Edward Elric had this odd floating feeling and he felt the world tilting around him as he looked around. Was that Hughes, Gracia and Roy he saw? That was impossible of course, he was in hell, and they were home…

Kaleidoscope landscapes drifted across his vision as he turned to his bride, realizing she reminded him of someone else. Her name was on the tip of his tongue, yet it refused to come to him, as he looked deep into her sad dark eyes. He knew he cared for her, perhaps too profoundly. His head tilted and his brow furrowed. His mind was blank, like the gate had wiped it away, making him a clean slate just for the sake of tormenting him.

The Alchemist found himself kissing her, mind racing though the assortment of feelings rushing at him. Winry? Was it Winry? No, not Winry… Alphons, was it him? Yes, he loved Alphons, or so it was what he thought he felt, but he was too frozen inside to express it. But wasn’t that true with anyone he cared for? He tried to drive Winry away, hiding his life from her in order to keep her from really knowing who he was. She deserved so much better…

Only one person knew him, and that was Al. Al was the only being in his life he felt safe with. They shared their sins, for they both walked the same path. Al was his hope and shed light in the dark world. They were two sides of the same coin, inseparable souls, born out of the blood of their sins. Brothers, and soulmates, destined to be intertwined for the rest of eternity. That was the profound truth that Al was unable to see in the end. They were a philosophers' stone because of their very bond to each other. In the end, they were two bodies with one soul, a soul with two distinct independent halves, woven together because of fate and childish foolishness.

He pulled away, seeing the woman’s face, realizing there was one other who knew him just as much as Al. Noa; and it was Noa who watched him though fogged eyes. She read his mind. She knew the depths of his sins, yet she never ran. She welcomed his hurt with open arms, and he accepted her, for they both were outcasts, with no home, only each other.

And here he was, drowning in her gaze, struggling to understand why he was there, kissing her and chaining her free spirit to his tainted soul.

Wasn’t he dying?

Cornello said something, and organ music boomed, blotting out his thoughts until he found himself elsewhere.

Colors and swirling cloth distorted in a blaze of rainbow fire as he struggled to comprehend what had just happened. “Kaiser is dangerous.” Someone said to him, though he was not entirely sure whom. The world blurred in and out of focus and faded into shifting prismatic light each a fleeting memory. “Edward, are you listening?”

“Herr Elric is very ill.” It was Envy, Edward squinted, gaze shifting on a man, who did not resemble the dark haired homunculus at all. Yet something inside of him screamed that thing was there, leering at him wickedly. “Kaiser did explain? Did he not?”

Edward felt a hand on his as it pulled him away, just as he realized the man who had been talking was Hughes. He felt desperation rise; there was something he wanted to tell his friend, but he couldn’t remember. He tried to cry out, hand reaching for the ghost as it vanished into an explosion of white.

He must have collapsed. He wasn’t sure. His head ached and when he opened his eyes, he was staring at the canopy above his bed, with the Kaiser looking down at him smug. “I commend you, Herr Elric, you did well today.” He said in an agonizingly painful booming voice. “You even fainted, showing your poor health!” He brought his hands together, thin smile broadening. “How do you feel now?”

“Fuck off.” Edward licked his lips, voice cracking from dryness. He rolled his gaze, focusing on Noa who sat at the edge of the bed, slender form dressed in a loose see-through silk crepe camisole with matching French drawers. On her finger were two rings, one an ornate golden band and the other a large diamond.

Edward fought the wave of disgust filling him. Kaiser had her dressed like a whore. With an effort, he mustered all his anger, balled up a fist, and thrust a punch at the Kaiser. The blow was weak, and the Kaiser easily deflected it and carelessly pushed him back into bed. Dizziness assailed him, blotting out his vision, consciousness threatening to escape him.

Kaiser laughed. “Ahh, you are your difficult self, I see.” He placed his hands on his hips. “The medication is wearing off. I trust you understand you must cooperate or you will be drugged once more.”

Now he understood. He had been drugged for most of the day, doing whatever the Kaiser wanted. Edward’s gut tightened and frustration wrinkled his brow. He dropped his gaze to the gold band on his left hand, his wedding ring. He was hoping to at least remember what had happened. “That’s not necessary. “ He said bitterly. “You didn’t make me look too much like a wuss... No one will take me seriously.”

Kaiser’s gaze became cold. “I didn’t need to do a thing, Herr Elric. It is obvious, by just looking at you, that death is only around the corner.”

Well, he couldn’t argue that, nor did he want to. Brushing his hair from his eyes, Edward looked around the room. It was clean, and Noa’s belongings were sitting on the coffee table and he saw no sign of Alphonse’s things. “Al…”

“Resting in the other room.” Kaiser explained. He patted Noa on the shoulder and gestured to Edward. “We can’t have him intruding on your special night!”

What a mockery. Edward struggled to sit up but his head spun and every time he moved he felt this heavy aching throb threaten to black him out. With an effort, he pulled himself to an elbow, and closed a hand around a blanket. Gently, he placed it around Noa’s shoulders. “If you are so worried about intrusion, than why are you here?”

Shyly, Noa’s gaze shifted to Edward. Her features were pale and lost, yet she had control enough to wrap her arms around the blanket embarrassment crossing her face. For her sake, he had to get Kaiser out of there.

“To make sure you understand what you are expected to do.” Kaiser explained. He tapped his arm with long fingers and chuckled. “Of course, if you need anything to assist you in this important matter, just let me know, and I will send for it.” He gestured to Noa, his face suddenly serious. “The woman should be very compliant with you, Herr Elric. I have made sure she will not argue. At least there are some uses for Roma!”

Noa was still drugged. It explained why she was so passive. The bastard. Drawing in a breath, Edward pointed to the door. It took all his will not to strike the man. “Just, just get out of here!”

Kaiser waved a hand, nodding his head cheerfully. “Very well, who am I to interfere with two love birds? Enjoy your evening, Herr Elric.” He turned and strolled out, features content as he closed the door behind him.

“Son of a bitch!“ Edward grunted, folding his arms. Love birds his ass. Edward sneered, hitting the mattress annoyed. He was sick of being helpless, and sick of seeing those he cared for played with like dolls. “He’s more annoying than Roy.” He missed Roy that was for certain. If the flame Alchemist were there, he’d help them and flambé the Kaiser. He flopped back down on the bed, rolling over to his side so he could get a good view of Noa.

The woman sat motionless, arms wrapped about her blanket. Tears filled her eyes as she breathed in. Her breath trembled. “So, Edward. What are we to do now?” She asked, voice haunted. “You are my husband.”

Husband? He hadn’t really thought about it. Awkwardly, Edward touched her hand. It was his fault Kaiser had shamed her. “You may have the bed.” He said softly to her. “And I have a robe, if you’d like. As your husband, I am responsible for your welfare, we do not need to sleep together.”

She looked down at him, wiping tears from her eyes. “Is it that simple for you? How can you say you are my husband when it is against your will?”

There was no simple answer, just the sense of responsibility. Edward looked away. “It is, but it has been done, the laws of this place mean something to me, now that I am here.” Edward shook his head and gave a soft laugh. “The Kaiser’s wishes mean nothing to me.” He added. “Your wishes do though.” With the back of his hand, he touched her cheek and brushed hair from her mouth. She was beautiful. It wasn’t the first time he'd noticed, but beauty was never important to him. It objectified people, and someone like Noa should never be objectified. “Please take the bed and sleep off the effects of the drug they gave you.”

Gathering the blanket around her, Noa came to a stand, legs wobbling. “You are ill, Edward. I can’t take your bed from you.”

“The sofa is not soft.” Edward told her firmly. How many nights had she half slept there when he was at his worst? “You deserve better.” At least he could try and pay her back. Carefully he sat up, and leaned over so his hand closed about her pale wrist. With a gentle tug, he urged her to sit back down, this time on the bed beside him. She was dazed still, and it would take some time before she came to herself. Kaiser must have planned it that way, in case Noa was resistant. “What did he do to you, Noa? Did he hurt you?” Edward asked. He eased himself out from the covers and placed them neatly over her. When satisfied she was completely covered, he removed the blanket she was holding and held it in his arms. He would need it.

Noa dragged in a sob, and looked away. “He dressed me. That is all Edward. He told me to please you and implied I was a whore. He did not touch me in any other way. Noa closed her fingers around his own, and pressed them to her cheek. Carefully, she lay beside him, tears trickling on to his palm.

She was a caged bird. His hate for the Kaiser grew. Edward grit his teeth and exhaled. “Son of a bitch. When I get well, he will pay with his life.”

“Edward, I am not worth you murdering a man,” she said, looking away.

She knew he hated killing, and was hurt by his sudden threat. Edward looked down at her confused. “You are worth defending.” Slowly he edged away, bare feet touching the cold floor, He was in his nightshirt again, and a pair of boxers. “The bed is yours, Noa. I will sleep in my chair tonight.”

Shaking her head, Noa split the blankets so the sheet lay on top of her body, and smoothed it so it was flat on Edward’s side of the bed. “We will bundle.” She told him carefully. “You need sleep, and you don’t sleep well in that chair, nor is it warm enough for you. Sleep on top of the sheet. I trust you will not touch me.”

Edward heaved a breath, not looking forward to the stiff back of his chair. Noa spoke with determination and he realized she was not going to budge on the matter. She knew him well and trusted him not to do anything to her. His body did ache enough for him to consider her offer. Sleeping his chair would make it impossible for him to move in the morning. Edward Elric sighed. “Noa.”

She gave him a weak smile. “I am more frightened of invading your mind, Edward. You deserve your own privacy.” She explained. “But if we don’t touch, I won’t read your thoughts. And I will not take no for an answer!”

Who was he to argue? Edward wrapped himself in the blanket and then hunkered down next to Noa, who placed the rest of the blankets over him. “I have never bundled with a woman.” He said softly, feeling a hint of embarrassment.

She didn’t appear phased. “Alphons told me you kicked in your sleep.” Noa smiled weakly. Edward felt his face warm. He had forgotten about that. It was a pleasant memory one he didn’t mind Noa knowing.

Edward closed his eyes, feeling sleep tug at his brain. “And he used to talk, more than Al, too!”

He waited for her reply, but heard nothing but the soft inhaling and exhaling of her breath. She had fallen asleep.

Edward sighed. Having her near by was comforting; far better than sleeping in the cold on that damned couch! Besides, he needed to sleep too... With that thought he just let go, and drifted away.
Edward Elric was startled awake by a gasp. Flaring his eyes open, he saw Noa, leaning over, knees drawn up as she buried her head in her hands. A deep sob trembled from her lips. She looked frail and frightened.

“Is everything alright?” he asked, despising how weak he sounded. Exhaustion filled his voice and he was achy. Yet all in all, the same as he had been every morning. He was getting used to it now. With an effort he sat up, hand touching her back. Since they had arrived, she had never shown any grief. He wasn’t used to seeing her curled knees up, like a lost little girl.

The woman wailed and jerked away from him. Dragging the blankets with her, she stumbled out of the bed, looking at him with dark tormented eyes. “You must not touch me, Edward,” she said, trembling. “Please.” She looked away, tears streaking her face. She looked fragile to him, like a bird with a broken wing. “I can’t share a bed with you.” She said softly, “I still see your dreams.”

Numbness spread though him and he couldn’t help but ask himself what he did wrong. She appeared overwhelmed. Had she read his dreams again? Yet he didn’t recall his dreams being very disturbing. Rather, they were muddled and disjointed like broken glass on the floor. Than why was she upset? Edward cocked his head, scientific mind racing. “Did you have a vision?” he asked, trying to make his voice sympathetic rather than guilty.

Noa hugged herself, and looked away from him. She pressed her lips together, unable to meet his gaze. “It’s getting worse, Edward.” She said softly. “Sometimes, I forget who I am, I am so involved in what I see, and yet, the images are so scrambled, and the feelings so overwhelming I don’t know how to escape them or what to do…”

Noa’s psychic ability was growing, and she wasn’t able to keep up with the changes. Edward climbed out of bed and circled the bed to her side. He wasn’t sure what to do actually. She didn’t want him to touch her, and he was no good at giving comforting words. Awkwardly he looked at her. “Noa.”

Sniffling, she wiped her eyes. “It’s all right, Edward.”

“It’s not all right.” He said softly, “I’m worried about you.”

The words came out and Edward could hear his own frustration in them. He sighed and looked down. In truth, he had no idea how she felt or what to do. There were scant options where Noa was concerned. She hated being touched, and rarely wanted to burden him with her thoughts. In fact, she was in painfully many ways as tight lipped and stubborn as he was. Now that her powers were eating her away, she was unable to trust him as he would have wanted. If he was feeling better, he would have offered to work with her in the lab to find a way for her to control his brainwaves. At least, it was a theory they could research and it would give them something to do. It would also give her some hope, and he spent his entire life running on hope. “I can’t fix it.”

Noa hefted the blankets around her up and weakly smiled. “My dear Edward, only one person can fix it.” The tears riming her eyes sparkled. She failed to meet his gaze, and he suspected she had something on her mind.

Edward felt an overwhelming cloud of sadness settle between them. He didn’t understand what she was saying. “Noa.”

“I will be all right, Edward.” She replied softly and turned to the bathroom. “I will wash up, you take care of yourself and don’t worry about me.”

She had shut him out, just like that. The young man watched guiltily. She closed the door, leaving him alone in the room. Edward heaved a breath. Not that he was interested in being married, but as Noa’s husband he was responsible for her happiness. His feelings were conflicted on the matter. He shook his head, tying to figure out the woman, and decided she’d tend to herself, or it seemed to him, that it was what she wanted to do.

The Alchemist gave a sigh, and scratched his head. It was difficult letting go, and he didn’t like it. He heard the bath running and Noa opened the door a crack. “Will you please fetch me some clothing Edward? A heavy skirt, a blouse and a sweeter, please.”

Taking no time, Edward went to her luggage and leafed though her clothing until he located the proper garments. “I hope these will do.” He said making his way to her. He handed her the clothing and got an approving smile.

“You have been very kind, Edward Elric. If I had to be married to anyone, I am happy it is you.”

He felt his cheeks warm as Noa ducked back into the bathroom. Once more, he could give no response. She didn’t seem bothered at all to be married to him. Puzzled, Edward shuffled over to his desk, and sat heavily down. Absently he flipped though his notebook and studied the arrays and work he had done so far.

There was a faint knock at the door, drawing his attention. He wasn’t ready for visitors. “Yes?”

“It’s me, Alphonse…”

The sound of his brother’s voice brought him to a stand. He grabbed his robe from the closet, and walked to the door. Slowly he opened it to see Al standing with Hans looking down at him disapprovingly. Edward gave the thug a glare. It appeared, the man had not allowed his brother to enter, as if he was a stranger or perhaps interrupting something? “Since when is my brother not welcome in my room?” Edward demanded. He waved Alphonse in and slammed the door in Han’s face before the man could answer.

He turned to the boy, studying him. With his cast arm hanging in its sling, he was still flushed, with circles around his wide eyes, but a huge smile covered his young face. He looked wired. Alphonse Elric grabbed Edward’s shoulders and shook them excitedly. “Brother! I did it!”

Shaking his head, Edward regarded Alphonse with concern. The boy was excited, yes, but he looked downright awful. “You look terrible, Al, have you been up all night?” He touched the boy’s head with the back of his hand. “And you still have a fever…”

Alphonse batted the hand away. He was practically bouncing when he led Edward over to the couch. “That is unimportant, Brother.” Excitement filled his words. “I made several successful Soul transmutations last night. I can now spy on the Kaiser and his men!”

Now, that was reason to bounce. Edward Elric lifted a brow. Alphonse had been busy. He couldn’t help but feel a little envious; he missed that thrill of getting away with something, yet he forced it away and patted Alphonse’s shoulder. He was proud of the boy. “Heh,” he gave a huge smile. “I guess trouble runs in the family. Good work Al.”

Einstein jumped on to the arm of the couch, startling Edward. He hadn’t noticed the animal coming in, but assumed he slipped in past Hans. Alphonse picked up the kitten and placed him on his shoulder. It settled down on to its haunches and toyed with the fabric of his sling. “I marked most of the armor in the halls near the entrance and near the Kaiser’s office.” Alphonse explained. “If I concentrate I can hear and see through them.”

Edward smirked, folding his arms. He had to give Alphonse a great deal of credit. It was certainly clever and something he wouldn’t have thought of. “And you used your seal for that? Soul Alchemy?”

Folding his arms, Alphonse nodded. His face suddenly became very serious. “Brother, I can place pieces of my soul in places now. I’m not completely attached to this body.” He explained. “I know soul alchemy is taboo.”

Edward shrugged. He was concerned, but over the last few days, he had learned there were things about Al that he had to deal with. The nature of his unusual soul was one of those things. Not to mention the uses for it the boy would come up with. “Who am I to argue, as long as you are staying away from resurrecting the dead.”

A long stiff silence followed and Edward saw Al lower his head, free hand forming a fist. Tears filled his eyes and spilled down his cheeks. The boy understood exactly what he meant. “Don’t worry Brother, I won’t ever do that to you.”

The comment was never meant to hurt Al. Edward exhaled. Al hadn’t had any sleep, and he always got all weepy when he was overtired. Just like when they were kids, some things just never changed. “I know you won’t, Al.” The young man lifted the boy’s chin and wiped his face with his edge of his robe’s sleeve. “Hey, so what’s the Kaiser doing now eh?”

The enthusiasm returned to Al features. “The Kaiser?” He asked, and looked across the room. For a moment his gaze got distant. “Talking on the phone.” He said; his voice eerily haunted. “Something about increasing security for the Ball he plans on New Years Eve.” He turned his attention back to Edward and came to his feet. The bounced returned and the boy danced in place. “Incredible isn’t it?!”

There was no arguing that. “Damn, I trust you are watching the staff, finding out when there are breaks in the security, and where people are located and at what times…”

“Of course, Brother.” Al offered a mischievous grin. He planted his hand on his hips. “With luck, we will be able to leave tomorrow night.”

“Tomorrow night?” Edward failed to hide the surprise in his voice. What was Al thinking? “Isn’t that short notice?? I thought we were going to leave New Years Eve.”

Al shook his head, hand scratching Einstein behind the ears. The kitten bumped his fingers purring. “They’re increasing security,” he explained. “It won’t work, and I don’t want to risk anyone getting hurt. No, tomorrow is our best bet. If we wait, things will be in an uproar for the party. I don’t want to risk it.”

Standing, Edward folded his arms, and studied the boy. There was no stopping Al once he put his mind to something. Edward just wasn’t sure if he liked being on the losing end of Elric stubbornness. Yet the idea of leaving soon was consolation. He felt better that day, and if they were lucky, he’d continue to feel better. To wait might mean a lapse in his health that would cost them. “All right, Al.” He sighed. “We’ll do it your way. I trust you.”

Alphonse went to reply when the door opened, and Hans entered, followed by Gregor. The two men looked smug, like they were up to something unpleasant. It made the hairs stand up on the back of Edward’s neck. “All right kid,” Hans began, with a wicked smile. He removed a thin black bag from his jacket pocket and waved it. “Time for your medicine.”

Medicine? Edward wrinkled his nose and gritted his teeth in revulsion. It certainly wouldn’t be long before Al was an addict, if he wasn’t already. He watched his brother turn to Hans, defiance in his gaze. “It’s not necessary.” He told the man firmly. “I feel fine now.” He pointed to his sling arm. “It only aches a little.”

The large security guard regarded the boy with little patience and Edward realized he was sizing him up, incase of a conflict. Gregor circled them, smiling wickedly at Edward as he did so. “Professor Elric, if you don’t mind, tell your brother to behave.”

Apparently, they had not forgiven him for the other night. They still wanted a fight. Edward side glanced Alphonse who appeared to be weighing the situation. “I will NOT tell my brother to let himself become an addict!” Edward announced. Protectively, he stepped closer to the boy, maneuvering him so he was behind him and Edward was between Hans and Gregor. “You will have to go through me, to get to him.” The Fullmetal Alchemist offered a wicked smile, balling his fists and indicating Hans and Gregor’s bruises from the previous night. “I have more than enough fight in me to give you a few more bruises…”

The guards exchanged glances. They looked hesitant. After all, they couldn’t hurt him, not if he were to perform properly in bed. He had an edge.

He was surprised when Alphonse stepped forward. “Brother, it’s all right,” he said softly. He faced Edward, hand dropping on his automail arm. “You’re still sick; reserve your strength, Ok? I don’t want to see you hurt.”

“God damn it, Al! You don’t need to do this!” Edward objected, grabbing for the boy’s arm but found Alphonse slipping from his grasp and walking over to Hans. He obediently rolled up his sleeve, revealing an arm covered with needle marks.

The sight wrenched Edward’s stomach and he suddenly felt ill. Had he been so sick he hadn’t realized how often Al had been drugged? “No, Al!” He went to spring after his brother, but found his automail arm grasped behind his back and an arm around his neck as Gregor seized him from behind.

Hans took Alphonse by the arm.

“I don’t want to do this here.” Alphonse protested. He squirmed, wriggling his arm in an attempt to wrench it free of Hans. “My room, ok, I need to be there…”

“What? You don’t want him to see how his little slut brother likes being doped up?”

Slut? Edward froze thinking about Hans' words. He was referring to the other night of course. Somehow, they had gotten it in their minds Alphonse had…With Jack. Furry filled him with an explosion of energy. He clawed at the arm holding his neck. “YOU MOTHER FUCKING PERVERT! Get your goddamned brain out of the gutter! My brother is no one's slut!”

Alphonse looked at him helplessly. The boy had the power to stop both Hans and Gregor in their tracks, yet the timing of their escape was so vital that he had to sit fast and let them humiliate him. Edward’s heart slammed against his chest as his anger made his struggles frantic.

“Don’t listen to them brother, he’s just trying to piss you off!” Alphonse called back.

Piss him off, yeah right, well they were succeeding. What did Al expect him to do? Again he wrenched at his arms, trying to free them from the hold Gregor had on him. Damn Kaiser for having hired men built like gorillas and strong as elephants. All he could do was strain, and watch and swear his fucking head off. Which he did.

Behind him, the door to the bathroom opened, and Noa stepped out. Stunned, she stood motionless and Ed wondered if she was frightened or just overwhelmed by the fury of emotions assaulting her senses.

Alphonse closed his eyes as Hans tied a rubber tube around his arm and searched for a vein. “I’m not trying. Brat, I think I am succeeding.” Hans said. Carefully, he removed the syringe from its case, and jabbed it rather roughly into Alphonse’s arm.

He then came to a stand, hand dropping on Al’s head. “If I were you Professor Elric, I would lock him in his room and keep him from your wife!” Chuckling, he walked by, mocking features straying to Edward triumphantly.

Only after Hans was out the door did Gregor let him go. Spinning around, Edward’s automail fist, just about cracked into Gregor’s face, when someone grabbed him, and pulled him back.

“No! Edward!” It was Noa, her soft arms and body pressed into his, pulling him away from the man as he smugly vanished out the door. “You are only giving them what they want.” She whispered. “Don’t be a fool! Alphonse needs you now.”

Feeling a wash of embarrassment, Edward pulled away. The woman looked at him with anguish in her eyes. Touching him was difficult for her. She must have sensed the battle going on inside of his body. A battle, he deduced from the expression on her face, he was losing. Putting a hand though his hair, Edward gave the woman a stiff laugh. “Got a little carried away didn’t I? They get to me, you know.”

Noa weakly smiled, arms wrapping about his chest. “I know they get to you.”

Looking towards Alphonse, Edward swallowed. “Jack, he’s not that kind of a prick.” He explained. “He likes Al. These guys don’t…”

On the couch, Al rolled down his sleeve, gaze following Edward as he walked to his side. Edward licked his lips, finding them parched as he sat down beside the boy. “You’re an idiot, you know that, Al?” He said fondly, brushing the boy’s tangled bangs from his face. “How can you do any alchemy doped out of your head? Hummm?”

The boy inhaled, leaning against his shoulder. He looked tired, perhaps the drug would let him sleep. “It will wear off.” He said softly. “And you have to remember, I was doped out of my head yesterday. I managed.”

Edward let out a trembling breath, studying his brother’s face. Gently, his hand fell to the boy’s arm and pushed up the sleeve. His inability to act had caused this. “How many times are you going to sacrifice yourself for me, Al?”

“I still have an arm and a leg brother.” Alphonse rubbed his arm. An ugly black bruise formed where Hans injected him. “As far as I’m concerned, I have a lot more to give.”

He felt his heart lurch. Edward turned the boy’s face and stared deep into his dark golden eyes. His senses were starting to fade. “Alphonse, don’t be a fool,” he said firmly. “I need you whole.”

He felt the couch shift as Noa sat down beside him, Einstein in her arms, as he watched with moist cheeks. Her lips trembled.

“I love you brother, but sometimes, you are blind.” Alphonse giggled, looking down. He patted Edward on the leg and snuggled closer to him. He was still warm, the fever, Edward suspected, was still there and going strong. “Don’t let Hans get to you, I am not addicted. When Jack is here, he doesn’t drug me. It breaks up my doses enough to prevent me from becoming addicted.”

Unable to reply, Edward stared at the boy. He should have remembered what Jack had promised on Christmas, but he had been so caught up in the wedding he had forgotten. He had gotten all stressed out over nothing. Now he felt stupid. Well, sort of, any excuse to deck Hans and Gregor was a good one, even if it was wrong. Edward’s face flushed and he dropped a hand to Al’s head. He stroked it gently, seeing the mind behind Alphonse’s gaze fade. The boy didn’t fight because he had nothing to lose. “I feel like an idiot.” Edward said aloud, side glancing Noa.

She shrugged. “On occasion, Edward Elric, you are…”
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