Rating: PG13 to R to be safe (revised)
Genre: Yaoi Romance (Roy/Ed. Past Ed/Hei), Elricest (mutual and one-sided), some het content (revised)
Post-COS AU, very AU
Edward Elric left a lover in Amestris. He lost a lover in Munich. He has shared loves that defy ties of blood. Now the soul that was once his mother makes the Equivalent sacrifice to reunite him with the soul that was once Roy Mustang
The nighmares began around two am.
When I checked on him, he was burning with fever, shivering and thrashing, screaming for my father: “Al! Al! No..nooooooo!”
I began rocking him gently, humming this old song Dad would sing to me, a song sung to comfort a terrified child when the valley echoed and rumbled with cannon fire and the village lay in ashes. A lullaby from the era of the Ishballan War.
“You’ll wake your brother,” I lied. “Shhhh, Edward…. It was just a bad dream. I’ll be right here—I’ll never leave you…”
He whimpered and burrowed his face into the curve of my neck and I felt his taut shoulders sag with relief.
A/N: As a story unfolds, it changes direction…Feedback Appreciated! (links to previous chapters within)
PAINT THE SKY WITH STARS, Chapter 4
By The Binary Alchemist 2010
“You’re graduating a year early. You were thinking of taking a year off to work before entering Berkeley, right?’
“I was going to live with Win-Sara in Boston.”
“Or…you can travel with me as a paid research assistant—and unpaid alchemic disciple. And flunky,” he added with a smirk.
I reached out and squeezed his hand. “Screw Boston.”
Khajuraho. Madhya Pradesh, India, 14 September
And boy, what an eye-opener! Edo joked that they should check ID before letting people view the Tantric depictions on the outer temple walls. Edo was of course being all clinical and analytical about how the body’s sexual energies can be used and controlled by skilled alchemists, but that this was something that was not generally practiced in Amestris. He said it was an advanced type found in the healing alkahestry of Xing—that your ability to ‘detach part of his soul’ is related to this. I had been doing the Middle Pillar exercises to ‘open the inner Gate’ with a fair amount of success. Edo says that if we were in Amestris I would be doing transmutations with very little trouble by now. Those were his actual words. Damn shame I’ll never get to put them to the test…
He was a bit squeamish about bringing me to the ‘erotic temples’ but he says that I’m old enough to know about it, just as Izumi told you about it when you trained privately together after you’d passed puberty. He’s so funny—blushing and stammering and finding it hard to look me in the eye. I was really evil and asked him if he and the Colonel ever got a chance to practice Tantric Alchemy…and you should have seen his face! He finally admitted, “we didn’t have the time”. I said, “yeah—but don’t you wish you had?”. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “yes!”
It’s funny—but I find I think of him less as my uncle and more as my mentor and teacher. We kid around less and things are a lot more serious. But I like this change. I’m a legal adult and he treats me like one—in fact, he’s more likely to act immature at times than I do. Someone asked me if we were siblings—I told them, “he’s my Gurudev now,” and they understood.
We are staying in a Buddhist dharmasala—and Edo is not sleeping well. In fact, he spends a lot of time roaming the gardens at night and in the morning looks like pure hell. He and some of the monks have late night discussions about reincarnation that are kind of damned hard on our translator.
I wanted to tell you about something that happened a few weeks ago in Vrindavan, I—well, I’m not really sure how to talk about it, Daddy. I went to pay my respects at the shrine of Sarasvati, Goddess of Music and the arts and I met an old Shavite renunciant at the gates when I washed my hands before doing puja. I had some rupees in my pocket—and for some weird reason I just put the whole shebang in his begging bowl. He pranaam’ed to me and I to him and he dug in his bag and gave me a japa mala—a string of prayer beads that he said had been blessed. “Always the giver, where ever you are born,” he told me. “And many lives left empty handed. But every sacrifice heals a hurt others have suffered and it is the Divine One that stands at the Gate and watches—and it is the Divine that will reward you and make the balance for what you do, not men of earth.”
I told Edo this and he nearly choked to death on his chai. Of course, he then muttered something about religion being complete bullshit. I then asked him why he kept talking to the monks at the Dharmasala and he told me sharply to shut up. Weird…
But if Someone—Truth, maybe?—is watching from the Gate….
Anyway, I went into the shrine and offered flowers and sandalwood dhoop incense and I asked for three things:
First—to be a better student. Alchemy and Alkahestry don’t come easily to me, especially since there’s no real way to test myself and know for certain that I’ve got the theory right.
Second—for the protection and well being of you and our family and Edo
Third—to find the Colonel—and that he and Edo love each other again. I know—I know! And you won’t give me any clues to find him and I won’t dare say anything to Edo. But don’t I have just as good a chance of finding him as anybody else?
Uluru, Northern Territory, 14 November
If you want to make Edo turn all sorts of funny colors, just say the words, “let’s go get some grub” . He wussed out on bush tucker—honey ants and wittchety grubs, which for the record taste a little like scrambled eggs. Well, he WAS the one who told me to eat local when I travel, right???? He just sat on his ass and laughed at me—eating a ham sandwich, drinking a Coke and eating a Violet Crumble for dessert….Well…at least I followed orders and didn’t puke all over his shoes either.
The sky is enormous here. Too big for words—which is a good thing. He’s making me keep a vow of silence-until-spoken-to for a whole month. He says I can’t just be left out to survive in the wild like the two of you did on Yock Island. So he took me to your friends among the Pitjantjatjara, Daddy, and I’m spending the month with my mouth shut and my mind open. No books. No radio. No TV or newspapers—and I can only write once a week.
A lot of physical labor. A lot of shutting-up-and-paying-attention—but that’s a good thing. In Australia—on land or in the sea—there’s a lot that can kill you. Kind of like life, Edo says. He says Izumi Curtis spent a month in the snow in the North, you two went to Yock Island. I get the Outback. He says that it will be up for me to decide where to take MY student to stand the Vigil. That’s a mind-blowing thought. MY students? But then, you and Edo aren’t teaching me to keep the knowledge to myself. Edo says that one day my children—and possibly my nieces and nephews—will be looking to me to train them, to keep the Elric tradition alive. I said, “well, what about you and Daddy?” And Edo said, “why the fuck should I do all the work? That’s why I’m training YOU!” I swear I could just kick his ass sometimes….
Egypt. India. Japan. New Guinea. Australia.
Long, long ways away from San Francisco. Long ways away from Daddy and my mom. And a hell of a bad place to get sick.
I was doing well, actually. Hard work, good plain food, fresh air and good company was doing worlds for me. I’d trimmed up a bit more, my asthma was improving and I was sleeping hard every night. Yeah, the vow of silence stuff was pretty annoying at time but I had known some sort of ordeal was coming. I just didn’t think it was coming for Edward too…
He hadn’t been resting well since India. I knew that. We weren’t in the same rooms so I didn’t know just how bad. I’m wondering if going through the journey of training me wasn’t waking up some memories that were chasing him through his dreams.
He’d been…not exactly depressed, but not altogether himself since that Christmas Eve when he confided to me about the Colonel and admitted that he was lonely. He had the comfort of my Dad, the friendship of my mom, the love of my siblings. And even though I know he had no idea how I felt about him, he knew beyond any doubt that I’d thrown in my lot with him and that I was completely dedicated to ‘wearing the red coat’ someday. “Traveling with you is a lot like traveling with Al—only you don’t clank and occasionally you do have to stop and pee.” And, unlike my dad, I wasn’t sharing his bedroom.
And believe me…I would have given anything if he’d been anybody other than my own flesh and blood. No, proximity and familiarity did not breed contempt. If anything, my feelings were becoming more intense. And I was learning a different sort of alchemy—the art of transmuting profound desire and yearning into something deeper, something finer. I was channeling all that power and emotion into the single-minded quest; I would find the Colonel. I would find him and somehow make him love my Edward…and one day that haunted, numb look would be gone from those incredible amber eyes.
Anyway, it caught up with him. A low-grade fever became high, with chills and vomiting and the runs. Coorah Yindi, one of the ‘clever women’ listened to Edward’s fussing and protesting only so long before contacting one of the bush doctors who diagnosed exhaustion, dehydration and a nasty intestinal bug. “Probably got it from bad food. If he’d eaten off the bush like you reckon he’d be fit as you are, miss,” he told me with a grin. He handed me samples of an antibiotic, gave me some powdered Gatorade and told me to keep an eye on him. “Make him stay in his bed for a few days—rest and fluids are what he needs.
Coorah supplemented the western medicine with herbal teas she’d brewed in a billy can over an open fire fed with gumtree leaves. Far from objecting, the doctor agreed that the natural herbs were probably better medicine than the capsules. “Keep some of that cold tea at hand and get him to sip a little all day. Keep an eye on him at night. Not sleepin’ well, is he?” I nodded. “Coorah’ll give you a tea for that too, miss. G’day!”
Coorah and the other women knew that I was undergoing a type of spiritual training and respected it and respected Edward, even if he had nothing but contempt for even the idea of any kind of god or deity watching over the affairs of humankind. They honored my imposed silence and were kind enough to invite me to sit at their women’s fires when they talked to the girls preparing for their rite of passage into adulthood. So I wasn’t surprised when Coorah took me aside and told me that with Edward incapacitated she would assist me in my vigil. “I’ll show you what plants will help him. You make the tea, you take care of him and learn what you can.” And before I could make any gesture of protest she’d packed up my rucksack and bedroll and set my things up in Edward’s tent.
That first night was pure hell—on a lot of levels.
First off, Edward was a shitty patient, no pun intended. His guts had turned to water and while the loperamide had helped he had a few gastric accidents, and he was so damned weak he couldn’t…well, you know. Embarrassed the hell out of him and wasn’t a barrel of laughs for me either. I stepped out of the tent long enough for him to clean up and change clothing and then hauled away the stuff that needed washing.
You wanna know what love is? Love is what makes you stay when confronted with someone’s shitty boxers. Real love is what makes you get out the Dr. Bronner’s Soap and scrub them clean again. Unconditional love is cleaning up vomit. Thankfully, the women provided me with fresh-smelling wild herbs that I bruised and they made the tent smell a little nicer.
I managed to feed him damper bread with a little golden syrup and plenty of tea, as much as I could get him to swallow. “There’s not any fuckin’ grubs in that, right?” he grumbled, proving that he was still not too sick to bitch.
I indicated that I was going to go wash up before bed. “Yeah, okay,” he mumbled, his head falling heavily back on the pillow. Just as I was heading out the flap he called my name. “Hey…sorry you had to deal with…you know. Even Al never had to wash up after I crapped my pants. I’ll make it up to you. Promise.”
I’d pinned his shorts on a clothes line and I felt them to check if they’d dried out enough. Nope, still damp. I tossed my towel over the line and headed to the fire to dry out my hair before turning in.
Coorah was alone and nodded as I sat down, pouring me a tin cup full of brew. We sat in companionable silence for awhile.. Finally she glanced at me over the flames and observed, “Your heart is in your eyes when they follow him.”
“Nothing happened. Nothing will. I’ve felt this way for years. I can’t understand it.”
“It’s not your first Walk. Who knows? Things were different other times. Point is, love doesn’t die when we die. Deep love. Deep hate. Keeps on going. “
“There’s someone—a man---someone he loved and lost and remembers. I want to find him. Want to see if there’s a chance…”
“May be the price you pay in loss is the sacrifice. The test.”
“One cannot gain something without sacrificing something of equal value. That is the law of Equivalent Exchange. That’s part of our tradition.”
“Your people, my people. Different words. Same truth.”
I paused outside the tent. “Snnnrrrgggkkkkk…..Snrrrrggggggkkkk
Great. Shit. Vomit. Stench…and now snoring. Loud. Really fucking loud. How in the hell such a loud sound came out of such a small nose was beyond me. But…that’s love. Love is going in the tent when you’d rather be almost anywhere else. Edward needed me. I took a deep breath and crawled inside, offering a mute petition to the gods that he didn’t have gas on top of this.
The screams began around two am.
He was shivering and thrashing, biting his lips so hard they bled. Awful, primal cries—sounded like they were being ripped from his guts.
He was crying for my father. “Al! Al! No..nooooooo! Give him back! Give him back! He’s all I have left!” Sweat had drenched his shirt and trickled down his neck, pooling at the base of his throat. “Alphonse! Alphonse!”
I crawled out of my sleeping bag and hurried to his side. His skin was scalding; it was a fever dream, a hallucination. Shit, he’s reliving it—the night Daddy went through the Gate. Not knowing what the hell else to do, I began to shake him gently. He didn’t stop screaming—if anything, it made it worse. Jesus…what is he seeing in his mind? It had to be more terrifying than anything I could imagine.
I had to get him back, get him the fuck out of there.
Instinctively, I lay down beside him and pulled him close, cradling his head on my shoulder. I don’t know why, but I began rocking him gently, stroking the damp hair back from his forehead. Lips close to his ear, I started humming this old song I heard from the cradle, a song Daddy used to sing to me. A lullaby from Resembool.
Rest in my arms—sleep without fear
I’ll be beside you ‘til morning draws near
I shall paint the sky with stars
To watch and guard you from afar…
Funny. I hadn’t thought of that song for ages. Nobody else I knew had ever heard it when I sang it in music class in elementary school. A simple song. A beautiful song, of how a father would paint the sky with stars and craft a golden moon to hang in the window—all to keep watch over a ‘most precious child’. A song sung to comfort a terrified child when the valley echoed and rumbled with cannon fire and the village lay in ashes. A lullaby from the era of the Ishballan War.
Gradually, the screams became helpless sobs. I pressed soft, soothing kisses on his brow, his eyes, his cheeks, whispered quiet words of reassurance in his ear. You’re safe. Alphonse is safe. It’s all right….let it go…it’s all over….
I leaned down and brushed my lips lightly against his. “Shhhh….hush now…you’ll wake your brother,” I lied. “Shhhh, Edward….my love…go back to sleep. It was just a bad dream. I’ll be right here—I’ll never leave you…”
He whimpered and burrowed his face into the curve of my neck and I felt his taut shoulders sag with relief. “Mom…”
…TO BE CONTINUED….