Author: Shoeless Wanderer
Rating: PG-13 for Language and some gore
Genre: General. No pairings
Summary: Havoc vs the Gate.
Author’s Notes: This is based off the Hellblazer story arc of the same title, “Dangerous Habits”. I’ve seen a lot of Havoc art lately that reminded me of John Constantine, and let’s face it: Havoc will somehow get cancer. I wanted to play around with the idea, and Dangerous Habits inspired me to do so. Hellblazer and Fullmetal Alchemist are © their respective owners. I’ll probably write more tomorrow. Also, please blame the pain meds I’m on for this fanfic. Wisdom teeth man.
Previous: Parts 1-3 Parts 4 and 5
Part Six: Reluctant Help
I walk into Mustang’s office as sure as I’m certain that Ed and Al have left. It’s the same as it ever was in there. Comforting, I guess. Everyone’s working except for Mustang, and nothing terrible has happened. No upcoming wars or sightings of Scar, just normal day-to-day military business. I’m practically whistling while I work.
After work I head out to dinner, treating myself to a well deserved meal. I can’t stand living off take out and ramen noodles right now, and God knows I can’t cook. I’m just about to inhale a large steak when Ed and Al plunk themselves down at my table. I look up and put my knife down, blinking in dumb surprise. “What’re you two doing here?”
”What you were talking about in the car earlier,” Ed mutters. “Look, if you’re that desperate I’ll help. Minimal help.”
”Thanks,” I smile faintly.
”Yeah, well, let’s get down to business then,” Ed produces a small black book and a pencil. “Cigarettes. What’s in them?”
”Er,” I pause and try to think. “Tar. Rat poison. I don’t know, I don’t study the label.”
Ed glares at me, “Give me the pack you’ve got on you then. It’s bound to list the ingredients.”
I hand him over my pack of smokes that’s in my pocket and continue to eat my steak. Ed frowns and writes a few things down in his little notebook and shakes his head. He makes a retching sound. “You actually smoke these? Multiple times in one day? No wonder you’re dying.”
”Shut up,” I glare at him. The truth hurts, especially when it comes from a little fifteen year old kid and his tin can brother. “But yeah, I do.”
”Whatever,” Ed continues to write things down, occasionally asking Al for some input. I just smile and nod, pretending to comprehend what they’re doing. I offer to buy Ed food, but he keeps refusing, becoming absorbed in his work.
Watching that kid work is amazing. You’d think a little brain like his wouldn’t be able to do half the things that he’s capable of, but goddamn he can. Makes you wonder what he’ll be like when he’s adult. You know, aside from ruling the world and cackling manically whilst doing so.
I pay for my dinner, but Ed and Al aren’t ready to go yet. So I humour them, sitting there in silence letting them work. After what seems like forever Ed looks up, “I got the bare structure of what you’re going to have to do.” He tears the notebook pages out and hands them to me. “I’m not giving you anymore help than that.”
”Thanks,” I smile and take the paper from him, gently folding it and placing it in my pocket. “I appreciate it. Really.”
”Good luck at the gate,” Ed replies and walks out, talking to Al about something completely different than what he was talking to me about. I sigh and leave as well, heading back to my flat, wondering what he meant by gate. What gate?
I walk in and close the door behind me, pausing to cough. After that I sit down on the sofa and take out the paper that Ed was writing on and begin to read it over. There’s equations and theorems I don’t understand, but I think I have a general idea of what he’s trying to tell me. Think being the keyword. There’s a list of ingredients on one side of the paper along with an enormous list of books. Next to each title is indistinguishable scrawl, which I think are page numbers but I’m not exactly sure. It might be a girl’s phone number.
I tuck the paper back into my pocket. I think I’ll go shopping tomorrow and start reading those books. I am going to beat this goddamn cancer. Even if it kills me.
Part Seven: All or Nothing
Months fly off the calendar as I read and write and study how to save myself. With each day I study I feel like I can beat this. Then each day I start to feel sicker and sicker and deader and deader inside and I get to a point where I feel like I just can’t handle it anymore and I should just give up. Then I remind myself that it isn’t my time and that I can beat this cancer and then everything’s okay and I keep working.
But in reality, I know I don’t have much more time left. I’ve been taking off from work more and more and keeping to myself. My appearance has slowly become paler lately, and you can start seeing my bones through my skin, like the skin’s just falling off. I feel a lot weaker too.
Mustang’s told the rest of the office what’s going on, and I’ve been avoiding people since then. I don’t want people’s sympathy. They’re either helping me or they don’t mean a damn to me. Looks like most people don’t mean a damn.
So, this is the moment of truth. I've written a will and put it in my office desk. When they clean it out I'm sure it'll get to the right people. I'm sure it will.
My apartment floor is completely bare of furniture. I’ve piled it high in the corner near the balcony. There’s just a giant chalk circle in the center of the living room with a six pointed star in the center and a bunch of funny writing I don't actually know the meaning of. Doesn't matter, if this works, it works. If it doesn't, I die from the cancer.
I walk into the center of the circle and sit down, taking a deep breath and closing my eyes. This is it. "Just do it already," I tell myself. I take out the small army knife from my pants pocket and run the blade across my left arm. Horizontal, of course. I don't wanna accidentally off myself in the process of transmuting my body. I get up and bleed on each corner of the star before I return to the center. I remind myself that there's no going back now.
Channeling my inner Elric, I clap my hands together and place them on the ground. There’s a low whooshing at first, and gradually it starts to speed up. I open my eyes, watching the transmutation around me. It's like fucking fireworks. Or maybe an acid trip. Or maybe both. It's fucking magical, whatever it is.
The colours change rapidly. The glow is a bright yellow, almost white at first, but then it becomes a cold dark blue, then into a magnificent purple and then a deep blood red. Suddenly, I'm nowhere. Limbo. Purgatory. Floating in mid air. No, I'm not floating. I'm still sitting. I'm sitting in the middle of nothingness. No, not nothingness. There's a giant gate in front of me, and something -- someone, sitting in front of it.
I walk over to the thing in front of the ancient gate, holding my wrist tightly. It's still bleeding. "Where the hell am I?" I ask loudly, hoping the person at the gate will come out to meet me. Bastard's not biting. I walk over to him. "What is this place?"
"What do you seek?" I can see him; at least I think it's a him, better now. He's got a human shape and all, but it's just a faint outline. He reminds me of a gingerbread man, in a way. Before all the frosting gets added to give them faces and stuff. "You're not an alchemist."
"I just wanna get rid of something..." I trail off. The weird gingerbread man....thing...I can't call it a man...is pacing around me, inspecting me like a hawk.
"I see," the gingerbread thing replies. "You have something to offer, I can see it. But it isn't enough."
Damn! "I'm not looking to bring back a person from the dead," My voice is wavering. What else can I offer this thing? This gate? "I just want to get back to normal. I don't have anything else to give you." I'm starting to shake now. My right hand lets go of my left, letting the blood from my arm flow freely again. I can feel it trickle down my hand, pooling on the white nothingness of the floor. Goddamn, my arm is starting to throb now. I think I might have cut it too deep and severed a vein. Fuck! "I can't offer you anything but what I’ve got. Equivalent exchange right? I give you what's causing me to die and in return I get clean lungs?! That's fair!"
The gingerbread thing shakes his head. I open my mouth in protest but suddenly I feel thousands of tiny little fingers running over my body. I whip my head around, and see hundreds of hands pouring out from the gate that was closed just a moment ago. I don't run, I don't cry, I don't scream out. So this is what happens to me? Fine. I let the hands wrap around me, squeezing me and pulling me towards the gate. I don't struggle. Whatever's beyond the gate has to be better than what I'm going through now.
I wake up curled up on my apartment floor sobbing in a pool of my own blood. I'm alive. I don't know if it worked, but I'm alive. I try to get a grip on myself, slowly forcing myself to sit up. Blood's pouring out of a huge gash in my left side along with bile from my mouth. I think there’s other stuff coming out too. Shit, the room's starting to get dizzy all of a sudden. Goddamn gate. Goddamn gingerbread man guard thing.
Somehow I manage to reach my phone and dial a number, muttering the words "I'm losing blood fast," before passing out. I wonder who I called.
I wake up staring at a pale while ceiling. Shit, am I back at that state of limbo again?! I bolt up and then stop, feeling the pull of tubing at my wrist. Just a hospital. Wait...then that means....who the fuck did I call?!
Mustang and Hawkeye are leaning against the wall opposite me. Mustang is giving me the infamous Mustang glare and is probably contemplating the best way to kill me. He and Riza walk over. I hit the button and force my bed to a suitable position to talk. Can't talk lying flat on your back.
It's no surprised when Mustang punches me in the cheek and demands to know what the hell I was thinking. I give him a goofy grin (I blame the pain meds they've got me on) and say, "Hell, I wasn't. But I bet you it worked." Mustang shakes his head and says that somehow it did, and if he ever catches me with another cigarette he'll kill me before the smokes do. Then he leaves.
Riza shrugs, "You'll be released tomorrow. We'll expect you back at work three days later."
"Yippe," I mutter. "Oh, by the way. How did I end up here?"
"You called the office," she tells me, a small smile across her face. "Roy and I were working late. We were both very surprised to hear you on the phone."
Riza leaves then, leaving me alone in the hospital. A few doctors come in and tell me what happen, at least how they figure it. I lost a lot of blood and passed out, and got rid of my cancer while I was at it. They discuss how shallow the wound was, to their great surprise, and how quick the recovery will be. I smile and nod and spend the rest of the day chatting with the nurses, eating disgusting hospital food and trying to take it easy. But I just can't get over it. I'm fucking cured. My scheme worked. I did a human transmutation properly. And I'm not even a fucking alchemist. That's gotta be impressive to someone.
The next day they release me, telling me to rest for three days and then get back to work. I laugh and tell them sure thing, and promise to lay off the cigarettes.
Who the fuck am I kidding? The minute I'm off the hospital premises I'm puffing away at my first smoke of the day.
Some habits you just can't kick.
Thank you and good night.