Fic: Paint The Sky With Stars, Chapter 7
Rating: PG13 to R
Genre: Family, Yaoi, AU Drama, post CoS
Parings: Roy/Ed on Earth and Amestris, past Roy/Hughes, some Het content
Synopsis: Edward Elric passed through the Gate to Earth in the 1920's. Now, lonely and as ageless as his father, he dedicates himself to training Al's daughter—the Reborn Trisha Elric. And Trisha will stop at nothing to reunite Edward with his lost Colonel--even if she has to chase Roy down between the worlds...
A training mission to Australia has taken Trisha to the edge of the Gateway. Izumi Curtis, Hohenheim of Light and Colonel Roy Mustang have given her clues to her past with Edward and Alphonse and hints at where Roy has been reborn—but much of that knowledge has now been locked inside her subconscious mind. Meanwhile, Ed spills the beans about the Elric family adventures after escaping Nazi Germany—and we meet two old friends reborn on Earth: Maes Hughes…and Roy Mustang
LINKS TO PREVIOUS CHAPTERS UNDER LJ CUT***FEEDBACK MOST GRATEFULLY APPRECIATED!!
Paint the Sky with Stars, Chapter 7
By The Binary Alchemist
PREVIOUS CHAPTER LINKS:
“Who the hell are you??” I demanded.
**I’m Van Hohenheim of Light.**
“GRANDFATHER???” Okay, I was REALLY confused. "Hang on--you were there for the Fall of Xerxes. Soshi was born after that. So how in the hell could you have been my father? It's not like you could be two places at once, right?"
He smiled a little and rubbed his glasses. "Oh...is that so?"
Well…THAT was a mind-fucker. “I think you’d better clear up a few things,” I told him.
There were a lot of subjects my dad had me research—subjects that Edo dismissed out of hand as bullcrap.
Astral projection wasn’t one of them. Mind you, it’s not easy. Took me years and years of practice to learn to leave and return to my body—and I still can’t do it nine times out of ten-- and nearly thirty years before I could ‘transfer a portion of my soul’—and that was only once, and it was in Amestris aided by a Master alchemist. It was exhausting and left me wobbly for days after Daddy and I returned thru the Gatestone. If it hadn’t been to prolong the life of a dying man I wouldn’t have ever dared to try it . Daddy could do it effortlessly in Amestris. And so, it would seem, could Hohenheim of Light.
**When I was rescued in the desert by some Xingian travelers I was brought to the village of Guang Xi. Your father sheltered me for three days. On the third evening your father admitted to me privately that he was ill and feared that he would not survive long enough to find good husbands for his five daughters. I offered to give him of my own strength and transferred a portion of my soul into him. It killed him, Trisha—and so I transferred an even larger portion of myself into him to animate his body—to keep him alive long enough to honor his final wish. When the Master of Fire came to the village and demonstrated his great intellect and skill it seemed a good idea to offer you as his companion. He would not be unkind to you and you would never go hungry. How long did your father remain alive after you went to live with your master?**
The memories were beginning to cloud over in my mind, no matter how hard I grasped at them. “A year—that’s right, he died before my marriage.”
**Long enough to secure good prospects for all you children. Once the matches had been made, I withdrew from his body and he died instantly. Your mother never knew. She was a fine woman and I remember her fondly. This body—the body of Slave 23—moved to a hermitage in the hills where I spent much of that time recovering from the horror of absorbing so many souls into my body. I think I saved that peasant’s life so that I could keep my sanity—I could focus on his life instead of my own for a little while**
So that was it. I wasn’t thrown away as a burden. My ‘natural’ father had worried about keeping us alive and Hohenheim chose the best prospect he could for me.
Still—just telling me all this…”Is this what Daddy meant in his letter, about Edo having good news for me that would make me happy?”
The Colonel shook his head. **No. That is something personal. We are going to block some of these memories—you will remember Xing but you won’t remember being Trisha of Resembool. That might make things very difficult for you—it will interrupt the flow of your destiny. If you need to know, Alphonse will tell you.** He smiled a little and added, **There are a few things we need to show you that will be blocked from your waking awareness—but it will help you if you are absolutely determined to help Edward find me on the Earth.**
Again, that god-awful feeling of being yanked backwards through a keyhole asshole first and twisted into a knot and stomped on…and a part of me was Somewhere Else…
“Look, Mustang—if you wanted to get my pants off me, all you had to do was ask.”
“It’s more fun this way, Hughes. Now, let’s see—this hand is going to cost you…mmmm…either fifty bucks or your boxer shorts.”
The tall fellow with the angular good looks and brilliant green eyes shucked off his skivvies and tossed them triumphantly over his shoulder, where they landed…
…right on top of MY head. “Mayland Alexander HUGHES!” I yelped, throwing them back in his face.
The young man I had addressed looked anything but contrite. “I thought you liked me naked?”
I slipped off my glasses and rubbed my eyes. “Not at fuckin’ two a.m. when I’m so damned tired I could pass out on my feet.”
The other young man, the one he called Mustang, tossed me a sly grin. “Care to ante up? Whoever gets completely naked first is the other’s sexual slave for the weekend. He’s still got his shirt and socks on, but he’s on a losing streak. A few more hands and he’ll be running down to the store for Redi-Whip and Hershey’s syrup. I don’t mind sharing the spoils of victory. As much as he runs his mouth I hardly think his tongue is going to get tired after I’m done with him.”
“Mmmm…much as I appreciate the thought, I’ll pass. You boys have fun molesting each other.”
Hughes nodded to his companion. “If she’s not interested getting my tongue in her twat, she’s not tired, she’s comatose. I’d say an intervention is called for, right?”
Mustang nodded, and before I could protest, Hughes had picked me up bodily and carried me to the couch. He crouched down at my feet and yanked off my boots, fingers digging blissfully into my aching arches.
“Here you go.” Mustang was placing a cup of what smelled like Sleepytime tea in my hand. As I sipped it, he stepped behind the couch and started rubbing my shoulders and neck. I purred contentedly as my two friends kneaded the tension from my body. Mustang perched on the top of the couch and smiled down at me. “Any better?”
His hand gently smoothed my hair back from my forehead. “Anytime. You know that.”
I reached out and squeezed his hand. “If I were a guy, I’d marry you, Taisa. Too bad I have tits.”
He chuckled softly. “And very lovely tits, I might add. You don’t have any other brothers or cousins, do you? Alfons is damned good looking, but he’s about as straight as a slide rule. And while your father is remarkably attractive your mother would take me apart with a circular saw if I asked him out.”
I burst out laughing. “You’d make one hell of a stepmother! Don’t think you’d have any luck breaking up my parents, though. Those two will be together forever. And the only other relative I have…”
I went silent. Then I smiled. “I’ll have to introduce you to my uncle Edward sometime.”
Mustang took a swallow from my tea cup. “Uncle?” One dark eyebrow inched up a fraction. “Is he as good looking as your dad?”
I shook my head. “Nah, he’s a little guy. Smaller than me, and damn, has he got a short fuse. But he’s the best.”
Hughes rested his chin on my knees. “The little shit with the big mouth, right? The one that’s teaching you the family business?”
“Yeah.” I patted Mustang’s knee affectionately. “He’s coming down for spring break. I’ll have to introduce you…”
This time I slammed back into consciousness so hard it made me throw up. I crawled to the mouth of the cave and retched up pure bile and water, almost too weak to move. I lay, panting and sweating, on the bare rock as the world reeled overhead.
**ENOUGH!** The voice was low, womanly and sounded like its owner was not inclined to take any amount of crap from any man. **Hohenheim, leave her be. Roy…you too. I’ll take care of this.**
I couldn’t roll over but whoever it was had come around to kneel on the rocks in front of my field of vision. The sunlight poured through her translucent body, making her glow like a church window. “Who are you?” I managed to croak.
I could almost feel the caress of her fingers on my cheek. Her long braids tumbled over her shoulders and I could see a red tattoo by her collarbone that looked really damned familiar. **You’ve seen enough and been through enough, Trisha. Time to rest…time to forget…**
“Wait!” I hauled myself up on my elbows and reached for her. “You can’t just tell me all this shit and then wipe it out of my mind! What damn good is that?”
**You’ll know what you need to know when you need to know it. And you’ll remember your loved ones when you meet them. Including me. Now, close your eyes.**
The last thing I remember before that horrible migraine started was her smile, seconds before her fist smashed into my forehead…
(So…how the hell do I remember all this shit if I was made to forget it? Well…I was allowed to retain the memories of Xing. Daddy eventually told me about Resembool. As far as the rest of my memories---they say great trauma or shock can unlock the subconscious. It’s truth. That’s what Envy taught me a few months ago when I had my first—and so far only—battle with a homunculus. That’s why I’m writing all this down for my private journal…just in case we meet again…in case I’m not quite so lucky next time…)
Anyway, Coorah Yindi had come up about an hour later, bringing food to break my fast—toasted grubs and yams, dried figs, a little damper bread and plenty of cold tea. She’d cleaned me up, fed me, dressed me and made me rest until nearly sunset when we made our way back to the foot of Uluru. While I was resting, there was a flash of emerald and black that darted through the cave mouth and came to rest on my hand. It was stunning—the biggest damn butterfly I’ve ever seen in my life. It must have been bigger than a handspan—nearly half a foot from wingtip to wingtip.
Coorah nodded when she saw it. “He’s been close to the cave the whole time you were here, trying to get your attention. He’s trying to teach you if you’d pay attention to him.”
“Boroke. He’s a teacher to you. He’s trying to tell you what you need to know.” Now,” she snatched up a fig and popped it into her mouth, “you tell me what the message is.”
I paused mid bite. Butterflies? I mean, I read all those anthropology books Daddy marked for me. Native Americans had totems like the buffalo or the wolf or bears or whatever. “Does that mean my ‘totem’ is a bug?” It seemed damned ironic. Ed would laugh his ass off, and I wasn’t all that convinced of the idea of so called spirit-helpers. “Hmmm…have to think about that. Could you pass the grubs, please?” I was pretty starving, but not so hungry that the irony of eating a damn grub while being told my totem is a butterfly was lost on me.
He had been waiting at the foot of Uluru the whole time. “Told you she would be fine,” Coorah called out as she carefully guided me down from my cave.
Edo looked so weary. He wasn’t altogether recovered from his illness but damn it he was worried about me and was not about to leave me up on the Rock to die, Coorah’s experience notwithstanding.
I reeked. My hair was all matted, and while I was clothed I was still smeared with clay and so wild and hollow-eyed in appearance that he was downright alarmed. “Hey…Kiddo…? Are you…?” And then we grabbed each other and hugged fiercely for a long time, Coorah grinning at our reunion. “Are you really okay?” he whispered urgently.
I nodded. “Did I pass the test?”
Edo laid his hands on my shoulders and studied me for several moments. “You’ve already told me what ‘all is one—one is all’ meant. That’s the test of an alchemist, by tradition. This—“ he gestured towards Uluru, “—was a test of what you’re made of, to see if you’ll be strong enough to train, that you won’t crap out when things get tough or dangerous.”
“Yeah? And?” I demanded. I wanted to hear the words. I didn’t want to think that I went through all that pain and fear and four nights of strange dreams I couldn’t clearly remember for nothing .
He grinned hugely. “Go to the head of the class, Kiddo. Suma cum Laude.”
Three days later I was soaking in a mineral hot tub at the Endota Day Spa over at the Mantra Pandana, a five star resort in Darwin. We were taking a few days off to rest and recover before flying back to San Francisco to spend the holidays with my folks. This was Ed’s treat. He felt that after a month in the bush eating grubs and putting up with his bitching and the flies and the heat and the sweat and the pure hell of my Walk that I deserved some serious pampering. “Besides,” he smirked, “you look like hell. You come home looking this bad and your mom is gonna come after me with a Makita cordless drill.”
Yes, the massages felt heavenly, and they had managed to get my hair smoothed out and soft again. Even my ragged cuticles looked presentable after a manicure, although I didn’t want polish on my nails any more than I wanted them to cover up my sunburns with makeup. I looked rough because, goddamn it, I had earned it, and somehow I wasn’t quite ready to have it all soothed away with expensive facials or nourishing creams.
In fact—to tell you the truth—I didn’t have much use for our digs or the trappings and whatnot at the resort. Yeah, clean sheets were great—and you have no idea how greatly you will value a flush toilet until you’ve taken a shit in a bush dunny. But it was full of elegant, brittle people, getting upset over the most idiotic things. Edo slept a lot and told me to go out and have some fun, do some shopping or whatever, handed me a credit card and told me he’d see me in the evenings.
The only shopping I did was to replace some clothing that was now too large for me and then I spent the days visiting museums and parks or just roaming the streets of one of the most laid-back and friendliest cities on earth.
At night we’d head out to Mindil Beach to watch the sunset and explore the night markets while chowing down on some of the best Asian food I’ve ever eaten, often cooked over small charcoal braziers out in the open.
The night before we left Edo told me to grab a spot while he dashed up the beach and came back with a bucket of curried crabs and prawns, naan bread and, to my surprise, a couple of cold ‘tubes’ of Foster’s, even though I was not yet eighteen. “Ah, your mom was shooting tequila in junior high, I bet,” he reassured me. “Besides, it does help with fluid replacement.”
So we cracked claws and got mildly buzzed and licked our fingers in companionable silence. Finally he took a long pull of his brew, belched loudly and informed me that I was now on the board of the Elric Foundation…and a young woman of considerable means. “That’s why I’m glad to see you don’t have any patience with those piss-elegant asswipes back at the hotel. That means you’re not likely to BE one of ‘em once you come into your inheritance.”
I was so shocked I nearly choked to death on a prawn tail. “What the fuck??” I spluttered. “What inheritance?”
Uncle Edward yawned, scratched his flesh knee and sprawled out on the blanket, one hand dangling lazily over his face to keep the setting sun out of his eyes. “Let’s just say that after the war your Dad and I found our niche with a bunch of ex-patriot German and Austrian refugee scientists. Guys like Von Braun. Back in 1945, a little event called Operation Paperclip. We were brought in to Fort Strong in New York. We’d worked with British Intelligence before that—you know we left Germany with the Roma and met your uncle Fritz Lang in Paris, right? After that we hooked up with Churchill in London, ‘cause he’d gotten Dad to spy on the Nazis. Only he never lived long enough to tell them about Hesse and Oberth and the Shamballa project.
“There were a handful who knew who and what we were. Some folks wanted to exploit us. Some wanted to get their hands on that goddamned uranium bomb of Huskisson’s that passed thru the Gate to Earth. Al and I wanted to continue in rocketry, but we weren’t interested in making weapons. We were more interested in space exploration.”
I nodded. That’s how my brother Alfons had gotten in at NASA. He’d gotten the space bug from birth and his job at Mission Control as a flight engineer was his all consuming passion.
“Anyway—your dad and I got out of the military’s clutches and became independent contractors. It’s been…it pays damn good, Kiddo. And we handled our investments right. Your sister and brother are well set up for life. But since you’re going into the family business, your cut of the pie is gonna be a lot bigger. In fact,” he pulled a letter out of his pocket and passed it to me, “your dad sent me this list last week. These are all the colleges that accepted your application. What I’m saying is that even if I weren’t gonna pay your way through school you’d have enough to pick any college on this list and go without worrying about tuition or expenses. Got it?”
I scanned the list and poked at the name of the school I had wanted to attend ever since I’d decided to study journalism. The University of California at Berkeley. “I’ll send them my acceptance letter soon as we get home.”
What I didn’t know is that the same Thanksgiving weekend two other letters would be dropped in the mail with the same destination.
One was sent by the scion of a family of well-heeled celebrity lawyers. Mayland Alexander Hughes III was very smart. He was also a smartass. He caught a lot of shit for being a rich kid who was absolutely convinced that the ‘system’ sucked, that the game was rigged and that there was a vast ‘military-industrial-complex’ conspiracy to rob the common man of his inalienable rights of Life, Liberty…and most importantly, The Pursuit of A Really Good Time. One of his best friends got shot by a cop when a pot deal went bad, and Mays, who had never so much as touched a joint to his lips became a rabid supporter of marijuana decriminalization. The best place to nurture such a rebellious spirit, his parents reasoned was Berkeley. His older brother Robert put it this way: “One of these days that snot-nosed bastard is going to get his ass thrown under the jail. Berkeley’s just the best place to make it happen sooner.”
The other acceptance letter was postmarked LONDON. It came accompanied by several glowing letters of recommendation, and a string of A-Levels that would make him prime candidate for scholarships at any British university. The student, a Eurasian native of Kokura, Japan, had decided to choose an American university instead. He’d had it with the English school system and his half-gajin status had sometimes made things awkward in his homeland. Berkeley had an outstanding College of Chemistry and the scholarship package had appealed to his mother, herself a pediatric nurse at the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.
Besides…there was a sexual revolution going on in California, and not all of it was for the benefits of heterosexuals alone. “Gay Liberation” was alive and well and flaunting itself on the west coast. His one schoolboy romance had led to a caning in public school back in London; his would-be lover was hastily shipped back home to his grandparents in India. His mother wasn’t altogether pleased but she admitted that she would grow to love whomever her son chose as a life partner. And since the odds of finding someone might be better in the center of the revolution, a move to Berkeley seemed to be the best of all options and he signed his acceptance letter with a typical flourish:
“Taisa Roy Mustang”
…TO BE CONTINUED…..