Author: esteltinuviel, beta whatshername 209 and l_frohock_007
Pairing: Ed/Winry later
Other notes: it finally gets exciting
Note: This fanfiction is Ed/Winry (or will be, especially in the next chapter), but my sister noticed that one part is a little Elricest-y. I sorta did that on purpose to please all of those fans (but it's not implied or anything). My Ed loves Winry. Also, when I mention the whole "Al as a trash can" thing, it's because my mom actually thinks Al is a trashcan or is in one. It was funny the first time, but on the thirtieth, it gets old. My parents did watch Saturday's episode with me though... but that's another story! Enjoy!
Chapter Ten: An old Acquaintance
The wall was the painting. The painting was the wall. Every inch had been covered in the primitive acrylics which formed the shapes. Architecture met human in a fluid combination. Man met God. Despite the visible signs of age and the crackled paint, da Vinci’s painting was nothing short of a masterpiece.
Edward Elric stared in awe. “I think we’ve found it, Al...”
“Yeah, this hasto be it,” his brother responded.
Everyone admired the painting in silence, too amazed to speak.
Winry finally broke the reverie. “What does the information plaque say, Edward?”
Ed, closest to the painting, bent down to read; he was careful not to overstep the velvet ropes which prevented anyone from getting too close.
“ ‘The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo da Vinci is widely considered a master of Renaissance art. His painting reflects and is illustrative of the distinct style of the High Italian Renaissance.
Da Vinci experimented with acrylics upon plaster, however, the paints used on The Last Supper are not his perfected model. Da Vinci painted The Last Supper as a mural in Sta. Maria delle Grazie, Milan. The image quickly became iconic, and is still famous today. In it, da Vinci depicts one of the most recognizable scenes from the Bible: Jesus and the Last Supper. Da Vinci’s painting focuses on the human emotions at the event and contains Jesus along with the Twelve Disciples. Jesus is giving the Holy Communion; within a day, he will have been crucified and will soon rise again in a brilliant demonstration of God’s love for the world.
Technically, The Last Supper is nothing short of a masterpiece. The architecture adds elements to the painting without taking away from the table and people. The vanishing point, a technique only recently rediscovered and utilized, is situated slightly above the figure of Jesus, reinforcing the emphasis upon him as the Son of God. The painting illustrates a perfect balance, with Jesus in the center and the disciples on either end. Further, the color palette is typical of the Renaissance: rich colors, yet slightly somber, especially the colors used to paint the profile of Judas.
Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece The Last Supper truly is a treasure that the Central Art Gallery is privileged to have rescued from the crumbling ruins of the Sta. Maria delle Grazie in Milan.’ ” Ed stopped.
“Is that all?” Al asked.
“Yes--no, there’s a quote at the bottom,” Ed read it aloud. “ ‘For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son.’ ” Ed was unsure what it all meant. “What does this have to do with the Philosopher’s Stone?” He looked up at Izumi, hoping she might have an answer.
She shrugged, saying, “ ‘The truth within The Truth.’ All I can gather is that there must be some clue about the Stone, or its origins, in the painting.” All of the group began to examine the painting. Ed frowned as he looked up and down, across, up and down, across...
“There is nothing even remotely close to the Stone in this painting!” Ed exclaimed after an hour of scrutiny.
“Did you find anything, Izumi?” Winry asked. “Because I certainly didn’t!” Izumi shook her head.
“Nope,” he responded.
“Perhaps we don’t know exactly what we’re looking for,” Izumi noted. “It could be any alchemy symbol, something scientific, or historical. Maybe it isn’t a symbol, but the elements of the painting represent something with the Stone.”
Ed had already thought it over. “Marcoh was an alchemist, and even if he knew a lot about art, most alchemists don’t know anything. However, it would almost be too easy to put a symbol conspicuously on the painting. The military would have noticed years ago. But at the same time, Marcoh couldn’t have made it thathard...”
“And...?” Al asked.
“And... I don’t know where to go from here.”
“You mean it’s a dead end?” Al said, disappointed.
“Not necessarily, but I can’t seem to find anything. I need time to thi--ink!’ Ed whined. He was getting antsy.
“Edward, you’re whining again,” Winry said, her tone flat. “You’re hungry aren’t you? Come on, let’s go get some food.” She turned to head out the gallery.
“Fooood...” Ed trailed off, following Winry in a hungry stupor.
“So I guess we made a mistake,” Al told Izumi as he walked alongside his teacher.
Izumi smiled. “Oh, I don’t know.”
“What--do you know something, Teacher?” Al exclaimed, getting excited.
“Oh, no, but knowing Ed, he does!”
The group walked back down the hall toward the grand staircase. Ed, despite his growling stomach, couldn’t help but pause outside the Italia Gallery.
“If only I could try to transmute on the painting, I’m sure I’d find something, then,” he muttered under his breath.
“Ed, come on!’ Winry called back to him.
“Coming!” he replied, running to catch up just as a tour group came up the stairs.
“And on your right is the Italia Gallery which contains Renaissance art along with da Vinci’s The Last Supper,” the guide explained. Ed was lost in the crowd, trying to make his way back to the others.
“Excuse me, sorry, pardon me--” he elbowed his way past the people, bumping into a woman at the back of the group. “Sorry,” he apologized as she readjusted her head scarf which covered her hair. Ed looked into her eyes, seeing pale skin framed by wavy, black hair. The cruel eyes and beautiful face seemed inhuman.
Ed stumbled backwards. “You--” he gasped. The woman merely smiled back and disappeared in the crowd.
“Edward!” Winry called to him again.
“Um, yeah!” Ed said, walking down the stairs. At the bottom, he caught up with everyone. Al noticed something was wrong immediately.
“What is it, Ed?” he questioned is brother.
Ed shrugged it off, deciding not to alarm everyone else. “Oh, I just thought I saw an old acquaintance of mine. Now let’s get some food!” He laughed, running outside, everyone else following him, smiling.
Chapter Eleven: Break In!
“You’re breaking in to the art museum?!” Al shouted at Ed.
“Shhh! Don’t wake Izumi and Winry. And, correction, we’re breaking in,” Ed whispered.
“What do you mean ‘we.’ I’m not helping you with this!” Al replied, dropping his voice to a whisper. Ed moved closer to the open window in their apartment.
“Oh, yeah?” Ed retorted. Al walked over to the window to stop his brother. Ed clapped his hands together, forming a circle, then placed them on the curtain. The fabric transformed into a rope attached to the metal curtain rod.
“Ed, don’t do this!” Al pleaded.
“After you,” Ed said, handing Al the rope.
Al had only a second to stammer out a “Wha--?” before Ed had pushed him out the window. Al screamed as he fell three stories, landing with a metal thud on the ground. “ED--!!!” he yelled up at his brother.
“Just trust me,” Ed whispered back as he made his way down the rope.
“That’s my problem--I always trust you,” Al muttered. Ed jumped down, landing on his feet.
“Let’s go.” he took off running down the street.
“But, Ed, the rope!” Al reminded him.
“It’ll be fine; besides, it’s 1 a.m. No one will ever know we’re gone!” Ed called over his shoulder.
“Famous last words,” Al commented as he began to run after his brother.
* * *
“Al, can you be a bit more loud?” Edward asked his brother as the pair “silently” crept through the bushes. “How can we break in with you clunking along?”
Al got defensive, ‘It’s not my fault I’m in a suit of armor!”
“But there wasn’t anything else to put you in! Or would you rather be a trash can?” Ed argued back in a whisper.
Al sighed. “Some people think I am a trash can, brother.” Ed just scowled. “What exactly are we doing here anyway?”
“I already told you. I’m pretty sure that if I can use alchemy on the painting, we’ll find that clue. And I saw that humunculi woman, Lust, here. They must be after the painting, too,” Ed explained.
“But why do we have to break in?!” Al demanded.
“Are you crazy?! If someone saw me transmuting on the painting, even just touching it, they’d arrest me. I might lose my certification! Plus, Izumi and Winry would kill me...”
“I just wish there was another way...” Al wondered aloud.
Ed relaxed. “So do I, but this isthe other way, remember?”
“I know. So how do we plan on getting in?” Al asked.
“This is the plan:
I checked the locations of all the security cameras in the building. Each camera has a capture radius of 160 degrees, meaning that there are small blind spots where the camera can’t see us. Cameras are stationed every couple of feet, so some blind spots overlap, giving us more room to maneuver. The security guard is stationed in the security room just off the front atrium. He’s supposed to watch the video from the cameras to make sure there’s no suspicious behavior. However, there aren’t as many screens as there are cameras, so every ten seconds, the screen changes locations to a different camera. Judging by my calculations, if we can get in the blind spots when the camera is on the screen, then run to the next blind spot while the screen is showing a different camera, we won’t be detected. Now as to how to actually get in, if I alchemically change he elements in the air so that sound is not conducted and the pitch of the alarm is inaudible to humans, then he guard won’t hear us. We can’t be seen or heard!” Ed explained proudly.
Al was in awe. “Wow, you really are a genius, brother!”
“I didn’t pass the State Alchemist exam at age twelve with just alchemy!” Ed crept along the line of landscaped bushes. “We’ll enter through the staff entrance in the back just to be safe. Walk along the perimeter of the lawn until we get there.”
“Okay,” Al agreed. The pair stealthily stalked behind the line of shrubbery that lined the manicured lawn, arriving at the rear of the museum.
“Now, as soon as I change the air, you open the door and we’ll go in. Then wait for my signal to move into the first blind spot. Just follow my lead and we’ll be fine,” Ed told Al. Ed pulled out his pocket watch to keep track of the seconds. “In ten seconds, I’ll change the air. Then we have fifteen to move to the first blind spot just inside the hallway. Ready?” Al nodded in response. “Five--four--three--two--one!”
Ed clapped his hands together, alchemically changing the elements in the air. “Go!” Ed shouted, but no sound was heard. The transmutation was a success. Ed then undid the locks on the door through another split-second transmutation.
Ed and Al moved through the open door, which shut without a sound, moving quickly to the hallway. Ed pointed to the blind spot, carefully calculating the exact spot where they would have to stand to stay undetected.
“Okay, we made it,” Ed mouthed to Al. “We have thirty seconds until we need to move. Luckily, there isn’t another camera in the hallway, so we don’t have to worry about being caught.” Al nodded again. Ed looked at his watch, the seconds ticking by. “Go!” Ed mouthed, the pair running to the next blind spot.
Ed and Al moved through the building, carefully moving between blind spots. They arrived on the second floor after a particularly difficult journey up the grand staircase. Ed and Al paused before they entered the Italia Gallery.
“There’s more security here because of the painting, so we have to be extra careful not to get caught.” They moved inside at Ed’s signal. Once inside the room which contained the mural, Ed reconfigured the air to allow sound to conduct.
“Thanks, brother,” Al whispered. “It’s nice to be able to talk.”
“Yeah, but we have to be extremely quiet: it’s so quiet that sounds carries further and appears louder.”
Ed backed against the wall. “See that camera?” he asked Al, pointing to a camera on the wall. “There are two of them in the room, each focused with a raduis of 160 degrees. That means that they will catch anyone just casually looking at the painting. if we can get up close, we’ll be out of the viewing range.” Ed took a step forward. “I’m going in.”
“Be careful, Ed,” Al whispered.
Ed silently moved toward the painting, but stopped short. He let out a deep breath. “That was close,” he said. “Piano wire. It’s normally invisible, but your armor gives off a slight sheen which the wire reflected. If I hadn’t noticed, I would have tripped the alarm system. I’m changing the air back, just in case.” A quick transmutation later, no sound would carry in the room. Ed did a “thumbs-up” to Al, then proceeded to get on the ground a crawl under the wire.
“See, if I was normalsize--” Ed mouthed, then immediately regretted his thought. “Argh--NO! I need to focus: get to the painting!” Ed continue to navigate under the wires. “Here we go!” he exclaimed, jumping from under the wire when he reached the painting. He checked the cameras out of the corner of his eye. “Perfect!” Ed jumped over the rope barrier which separated him from the painting, landing within inches from the wall.
Al stood against the wall out of sight in the gloom, watching Ed. “Be careful, brother,” he thought. Ed looked at the painting. Still nothing.
“All right, here goes!” He clapped his hands, then placed them on the painting, not transmuting it, but alchemically activating it.
For a second, nothing changed, then Edward noticed a slight glow around the center of the painting. He looked closer. The central figure was holding a cup, from which the light was shining. Slowly an image appeared on the front of the cup: a newt encircling a six-pointed star.
* * *
Something hard and heavy collided with Al’s head. He tried to scream for Ed, but the sound didn’t carry. Al could see Ed place his hands on the painting, a flash of blue light, then he blacked out.
* * *
Ed gasped in horror as he recognized the image on the cup.
“It’sTheirs!” Ed immediately changed the air back to normal. “Al! You won’t believe what I’ve found!” he called to his brother.
“It’s useless, FullMetal,” a familiar voice whispered in his ear. “He can’t hear you.” Ed spun around, in the process transmuting his arm into a weapon.
“What are you doing here?” he demanded.
Another voice laughed, it, too, familiar to Ed’s ears.“Why, the same reason you are here. We want the painting,” Envy said.
“You want it so you can get the Philosopher’s Stone?” he said.
“You catch on quick, FullMetal, but actually, I was planning to hang it on a WALL!” Envy replied, throwing a punch at Ed. He dodged it, blocking the attack with his metal arm.
“You’re not so tough with out the others. Where’s Gluttony?”
Lust smiled. “He’s looking after your dear brother.”
“ED!” Al screamed, awakening. Gluttony stood two feet away, poised to strike.
“Can I eat him now, Lust?” he asked.
Lust nodded, then reminded him, “Remember to chew your food thoroughly: metal is extra tough.” Gluttony let out a low, guttural growl.
“Ed--help!” Al pleaded. “Get away from me!” he yelled at Gluttony, knocking him away.
“Al, I’m coming!’ Ed shouted back. he moved to run to Al, but Envy cut him off with a blow to the stomach which knocked the wind out of Ed. He moaned in pain, reeling backwards. “You--bastard--!” he gasped, clutching his stomach with one hand. “I’m not giving you the painting!” Ed lunged at Envy. Envy dodged, the resumed her attach on Edward. He blocked, leaving the battle stalemated.
“Stop!” Lust said, growing weary of the antics. “Let’s just get the painting a leave. That’s all the Master asked.”
“I already told you, I’m not giving you the painting!’ Ed retorted. Lust spun around, extending her fingers to trap Ed against the painting. She leaned down, her face inches away from Ed.
“Then we’ll just have to destroy it. She used her other hand to smash the opposite wall. The whole room shook.
“Again, Lust,” Envy said. Lust hit the wall again, this time causing the plaster walls to crack. Lust continued to assail the supporting wall, each time causing move damage. Debris began to fall from the ceiling, showering down on Ed.
“Looks like that’s our cue,” Envy told Lust. “Gluttony, we’re leaving!”
“Aww,” Gluttony sounded dejected. ‘But I didn’t get to eat him!”
“You already ate the guard!’ Envy protested. He turned to leave. Lust released Ed from his prison.
“Consider yourself lucky, FullMetal,” Lust said without looking at Ed. “I’m letting you live for now, but the Master will be angry with you for destroying the painting.” She joined with Envy and Gluttony as they ran out of the crumbling building.
“Al!” Ed immediately called to his brother.
“I’m here!” Al replied. “What’s happening?”
“The building’s collapsing! We’ve got to get out of here!” He ran over to here his brother was, then stopped. “The painting!” he exclaimed.
“Ed, no! Just forget about the painting. Let’s go!’ Al tried to reason with his brother, but Ed had already run back over to the painting. Without thinking, Ed transmuted the mural into a smaller painting not part of the wall.
“What are you doing, Ed?” Al asked over the din. Ed ripped the painting off the wall, sounding off an earsplitting alarm, and tucked it under his arm. He sprinted back to Al, dodging huge chunks of the falling ceiling. He dashed out of the room, Al in tow.
“What about the cameras, Ed?’’ Al said as he raced down the stairs.
“Chances are--” Ed found it hard to talk, avoid being crushed by a crumbling building, and carry a painting worth more than he made in ten years. “--that Lust destroyed all of the screens and tape--” A particularly large slab of plaster fell and shattered inches from Ed. “--when she killed the guard!”
The building tremored as the foundation began to deteriorate. Al began to fun faster, panicking. “ED!” he yelled to his brother.
“I KNOW!” Ed turned around to yell back, not looking where he was going, and tripped. he slid down the rest of the stairs, landing in a heap at the bottom. he staggered up, bushing debris from his hair. Seconds later, a deafening explosion blasted Ed from his spot.
“BROTHER!” Al screamed as he fought his way through a thick cloud of plaster dust. The whole structure seemed to convulse in agony, pouring its pain out upon the brothers still trapped within its walls. Al could make out he faint figure of Ed through the opaque air.
Ed coughed violently as he tried to clear his lungs.
“Damn!” he swore. “They must have left bombs!” He checked to make sure the painting hadn’t been harmed: his death grip had not ceased to protect the valuable object.
“I’m all right!” Ed told his brother as Al’s form moved increasingly closer.
“You’ll have to be!” Al replied as he galloped through the ruin of the bomb. Ed had only just adjusted his vision before it was filled with blurred images. “We have GOT to get out of here, NOW!” Al explained to his brother as he picked him up and carried him over his shoulder. Al squinted in the dark, trying to make out the exit. Light poured into the hall from the wall of glass doors. Al focused on the light, running toward it with unprecedented speed. With a bolt of energy, Al cleared the door, took a running leap, and jumped the long flight of stairs leading to the ground.
Ed rushed to protect the painting for the inevitably damaging impact, transmuting it into a more compact version which he hastily stored inside his coat. Ed and Al landed with an unpleasant metallic sound upon rough, concrete walkway. Ed looked up just in time to see the building give one last shudder and then collapsed completely. he sighed from relief.
“We got it, Al, we got it,” he breathed. Ed crawled a few feet until his fingers felt the cool grass of the lawn. He rolled over, exhausted from the all the effort. Al knew Ed was tired, but he also knew that they had stolen a very famous painting and would need to head home before the military came.
“Come on, Ed,” Al whispered to his brother. “We’ve got to go back home.”
Ed felt quite comfortable, except for the pain and cuts on all his body.
“Do I have to?” Ed whined, then gave up when he noticed when Al wasn’t going to relent. “Oh, all right.” He tried to sit up several times before admitting defeat. “I can’t get up,” he pouted.
Al, largely unhurt, asked, “Want me to carry you?’ Ed nodded as his brother gently picked him up. Ed yawned, suddenly realizing how tired he was.
“Thanks, Al,” he murmured before falling asleep in Al’s arms.