RATING: PG 13 for mild references to adult situations and language--nothing explicit.
WARNINGS: Yaoi/GEN---yaoi relationships are refered to, but this is mostly GEN. There is a single paragraph that refers to chapter 108's ending but I would hardly call it a 'happy ever after' het passage.
SPOILERS: see mention of chapter 108 above, CoS, Bluebird's Illusion and a random sample of very fine fanfics
NOTE: This story was DEEPLY inspired by--and could be considered a crossover with--Neil Gaiman's brilliant "Sandman" and "The Endless" The lyrics are from "King of Dreams", written and recorded by The Binary Alchemist, music by Bob Seeger. This is also an homage to many of you out there writing fanfics--if you recognize yourself in a sentence....be proud. You are amazing, all of you.
In a Library Between The Worlds, Tricia lights a candle on a birthday cake for her firstborn son--a light that shines in a thousand
worlds, in a thousand stories that will be her gift to him--the gift of True Immortality.
(Feedback appreciated--wank will be ignored)
One Candle Shines in A Thousand Doorways
By The Binary Alchemist 2010
(lyrics: “King of Dreams” by The Binary Alchemist, 2007)
Edward didn’t take naps Fuck, no. Naps were for…what was that term he heard in Germany? Ein alter Mann. An old geezer. “Bullshit,” he growled and stretched back in his office chair, feet on the desk beside a massive pile of daily papers and his eighth cup of black coffee. Not when his belly was still taut, his hair still thick and gold and time had not yet clawed its way into the corners of his mouth and eyes. “Only good thing that old bastard ever gave us was our DNA,” he grumbled, tossing his glasses aside.
Within five minutes a thread of fine drool oozed from the corner of his open mouth. The snores were as impressive as ever.
Alphonse and Roy exchanged shrugs. “The cake will be ready in an hour,” Al nodded. “We’ll wake him when everybody else gets here.”
Edward…my beloved child…my precious little man…
You know where you were last night.
The spires of the tower still gleam in the corner of your awareness in that moment just before the alarm jolts you out of bed. Somewhere between taking the day’s first piss and the aroma of your first cup of the morning, you forget, That’s the sad part. You’re left hanging—like the seventh note of an octave that your soul needs to complete before it drives you crazy. “Shit,” you mutter as you knuckle the sleep crumbs out of your bleary eyes, “what the fuck was I dreaming last night? I was talking to someone…it was important…aw, shit…never mind. If it was worth remembering I never would’ve forgotten it.
But that’s precisely why you don’t remember.
The most precious treasures must be locked away so they can’t be lost, right?
In this realm there is no dawning—no comfort of the day
Where the sun’s ascending brilliance keeps the dread of night at bay
When the Twilight comes He’ll summon you and carry you away
To the landscape you have crafted in the workshop of your mind
Chase the cradle tales of childhood—watch your past as it unwinds…
It’s the Gateway you don’t dread—the one that doesn’t suck you in, rendering you down to the elements of your base composition. You drift towards it with a strange sense of anticipation.
…you flee the shores of the Waking World
Ship of night on memory’s stream
Drift past the Gates of Horn and Ivory…
Gate of Horn. Gate of Ivory.
One leads to fevered imaginings and tears in the morning. You are drawn to the Ivory Gate, my son, because in dreams you torture yourself endlessly. Nina. Alphonse. Sloth….at this Gate you cry at last for the father who abandoned you, for the lives you could not save, the brother you nearly lost forever. You cry for me.
Tonight I have asked a boon of the One I have chosen to serve, and an unseen hand guides you to the companion Gate of gleaming Horn, wherein only true dreams may pass and give your weary heart comfort on this night.
You don’t believe in heaven, Edward.
You don’t fear hell. You’ve been there already.
But this place will give you a measure of comfort, I think, and the evocative scent of ink and cracked leather bindings and old parchment teases you. Your mouth falls open and I smother an urge to chuckle—it’s so like the look on your face when you discovered Hohenheim’s library and I told you and Alphonse you could browse to your heart’s content. Only there are no limits to this library. The shelves soar over your head and spiral in all directions. For eternity.
For this is the heart of the Dreaming. This is the Palace of the Prince of Stories, the Library of All Night’s Dreaming. And I have chosen this place for my soul to linger for a time, because it is the place where you would seek if you could…and I need to see you so badly, my darling.
The tall man—the one known only as Lucien—greets you cordially with a bow. “Master Elric? A pleasure as always!”. You stare at him in confusion. You ask him where the fuck you are, golden brows knitting warily. He tsks in sympathetic understanding and instead offers a mug of fragrant coffee—better than you could have tasted in the waking world, certainly better than any served in Central.
Lucien brings the coffee, but the birthday cake is my gift to you, made with my own hands. It is hard to comprehend how many years have passed since I carried you, felt you stirring sweetly within my body, smelled your sweet skin, still moist from the waters of my womb. But as our Master wryly reminds us, time is meaningless here. A single candle is enough. More than enough.
Your legs won’t carry you. You stumble, folding up like a discarded rag doll. You call my name, sobbing, and I rush to cradle you to my heart, pressing endless kisses upon your cheeks, your brow, your eyes. I rock you as I once did, face buried in that soft, soft hair, finer than your father’s but no less golden.
A timeless eternity I hold you, crying so hard you are gulping for air. Your fingers would have torn my skirts if they were woven on Earth. “Mom…I’m sorry…so sorry…forgive me…please…”
There is nothing to forgive, I try to tell you, but it will be awhile before you can hear me. Your blood is hammering in your ears and you are shaking violently. “Al…I…he was too scared to try to bring you back….it’s all my fault…he disappeared, and….”
I don’t even try to stop you. You clutch me so tight that if I still lived you would be hurting me, not that I would have cared. Any pain would be worth seeing you through this.
You are breaking yourself in my arms, my child—and it’s needed. I watch you shatter because that’s what you must do, love. I must let you feel all the agony you’ve pent up since the day your father left us. I will share this cleansing pain, ride the tides of grief and rage with you. A mother can do no less for her child.
Because, in the eyes of Eternity, it is less than the briefest flicker of Time. And when it is done, I will kiss away the last of your tears. When it is done, we shall light the single candle on your birthday cake and I will give you the one gift that will bring you peace in the end, Edward.
“What is …this?”
It’s in the newer section, labled MYTHIC LITERATURE OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY. It’s in the same wing as the Illiad, the Odyssey, the Mahabarata, the Mabinogion and Star Wars. There’s another assistant here, a man named Campbell, and he greets you warmly. “Edward Elric? A pleasure to meet you. If I’d remained in my body long enough I’d have written about you.”
You suddenly realize you’ve heard of him. “Waitaminute. Campbell…you look damned familiar…”
“I wrote ‘The Power of Myth’ and ‘The Hero With A Thousand Faces’. As you can imagine it was a great pleasure to come to the Library and see my own research on these shelves.”
You look startled—then frightened. “Shit…am I …?”
“Dead?” he chuckles. “Hardly, Edward. Your mother and I work here at the moment. Lucien asked me to help her catalog your stories. Getting to be quite a respectable collection of tales about the Elric brothers. Quite respectable.”
Now, to my gift. The shelves are quite nice, I think. Brushed steel, enameled in crimson with plenty of room for the new volumes that pour in every trip around the sun.
I gesture for you to join me. “Happy birthday, my son.”
You thank me, but you just stare at the bookshelf in confusion. “Mom…what is this? Are these alchemy books?”
“Something even better. It’s your story. Your life. Here.” I hand him the first volume. “This was written in Japan by a manga artist in the first decade of the 21st century. It ran from the summer of 2001 to the summer of 2010. There were two versions—two storylines. One in print, one animated—“
“—which was the right one?” you ask.
“—I’ll get to that. There’s far more to it than that. Look.” There are other volumes—The Broken Angel, The Curse of the Crimson Elixir, The Prince of the Dawn, The Conqueror of Shambala, Bluebird’s Illusion and more. As I gesture, his eyes grow wide—and he grins hugely. Every few seconds a brand new volume appears. “What’s this, Mom?”
“Your story is growing every hour, every day, son.”
I leave you, utterly absorbed, while I refill your coffee and my own…
…serving tea to King Bradley…”Perhaps we should change your name to the Tea Alchemist, eh Major Elric?”….
….the oroboros tatto gleaming against pale skin, he gazes vacantly at the boy in the window and the life he has left behind. ‘Come, ‘Brother’, Envy tells him. ‘Pride….let’s go…’
…the road out of Germany is dusty. Noah keeps shooting inquring glances. He is grateful for the ride but wary of trusting her. But Alphonse is here at last, the road is open and, to paraphrase the General, there is only room for two. They will leave the Roma behind and rendevous with Lang in Paris and sail to America—there’s a rumor that the Allies have Huskisson’s bomb and they have to close the Gate in Munich….
…he hangs up the phone in his hotel room in the west. Pours a brandy and tosses it back with a hard swallow. The conversation had gone pretty much as expected—‘when are you coming home, Ed? It’s been months since you’ve seen the kids.” Anger. Shouting, followed as usual by sobbing. You knew me. You know how I am—what I can and can’t change about my nature. It’s not that I don’t care. I write the kids. Stop throwing up Hohenheim to me, damn it. There’s just so much to be done. It’s not all about you. There’s a world to be rebuilt and Al and I can’t just turn our backs. I gave you what you said you wanted. Half my life. If you’re pissed and disappointed in me….well, you know what they say—‘be careful what you ask for. You may not want it once you’ve got it’. He refills his glass and retrieves his place in his book—pausing to take the phone off the hook…..
And then you snatch up one of the newer volumes…
I waited a lifetime for my Colonel. Fighting each other and fighting back to back…goddamn you, drive me crazy…love you, you son of a bitch…
Alfons…that crazy camping trip to the Alps when we got drunk on local wine and I never thought you’d have the courage to kiss me….
I’m a mean little kid—well, maybe not that mean—kicking the shit out of my babysitter who looks a lot like the General…
A flash of a spotlight in my eyes—the roar of a crowd as I grab the microphone..
Roy’s mother has come from Xing. She doesn’t know what the fuck to make of me…
I’m fooling around, got a dirty magazine and hiding in the warehouse when somebody sneaks up with a blindfold and…
Roy, drunk and miserable, tells me at last about Maes—and that bastard Kimblee…
..Mom is reborn as Al’s daughter. I pass the alchemic knowledge to her so it won’t be lost forever. I visit her at college during spring break and meet her housemate—a Eurasian student from London named Taisa Roy Mustang….
…the heat and glory and passion of sex and alchemy…
…a son named Maes, raised with Roy…
…Ling, get the FUCK out of my bathtub!
…Envy…you bastard…untie me….
…alchemically powered sex toys? Now, why the hell didn’t I think of that?
So many lives. So many loves, male and female. So many choices, including many that made you blush over entanglements and delights you've never imagined—they intrigue you now, free of prejudice as you are in this place and time. “This…wow…I suppose some of this shit should shock me…but it’s…it’s good, Mom. Don’t know why…it just is.” You're smiling now, grabbing up book after book. Some make you laugh. Some make you shiver with desire, wondering "what if...?'. None of them make you angry. “There’s so many of them! It would take a lifetime to read them all.”
Now you comprehend. “Mom…is that….why are you here?”
I beam at you, my child, and touch my coffee cup lightly to yours. “Yes, my darling. For now. It is my great pleasure to be the keeper of your stories—yours and your brother’s and my own. Come,” I rise and dust off my skirt. “There’s one last thing you need to see.”
We stand together under the Roof of Infinity. In the distance, a graceful white clad figure nods in silent greeting, an emerald blazing against his alabaster skin. You shoot me a questioning look. “Is that the guy who runs this joint?”
I nod. “Yes, but if you meet again it’s all right to call him Daniel. He felt sorry for me and gave me this job until—“
“Until the stories of the Elric Brothers are all told. And that may be awhile. A long while, I believe. Remember the First Book? The one from the woman in Japan?”
He nodded. “That’s the only one in there that’s the Truth, right?”
I turn to the Prince of Stories with a smile. “What do you think, Daniel? Is the first telling the only true telling?”
The King of Dreams smiles slightly. Were there any books on the shelf behind the First Volume?
‘Huh? Uh….yeah…yeah, there were. Shitload of ‘em. And an old VHS tape of Star Wars.”
Indeed, Edward Elric. You were born of the books and legends and movies and images crafted before you were an idea jotted down and sketched the first time. The Story of The Hero began before you. It will not end with you. It was interpreted by your Author—but it began before that moment—and will continue long after she is done with the tale.
You don’t really understand. Not yet. “So…yeah…I get it. But which story is true?”
ALL of them. Farewell, Edward Elric….for the moment.
On the birthday cake of Edward Elric a single candle is lit. It is a candle that illuminates a thousand, thousand worlds and stories. It is fueled by love. My love, certainly—but more by the love of those who share the journey of the brothers.
“The people of Xing were wrong, my son,” I tell you as we kiss and part. “The only thing that makes us live forever is to be remembered. Each singer changes the song. Each teller enlarges the tale. Each tale makes you stronger. Each tale deepens the love. My gift to you,” I blink back my tears, “is to keep your tales alive. To make you and your brother truly immortal.”
Tonight my son sits in a thousand thousand worlds with his brother beside him.
In one, he is eating his birthday cake in bed with Roy Mustang, playfully licking frosting off each other’s fingers and planning their next adventure. Before long they will squabble. Then they will make love. Roy will complain about Ed hogging the covers. Ed will grumble that Roy’s feet are cold. Eventually they will burrow under the blankets together and drift off….and we will have another slice of cake together—maybe a glass of wine—in the Library of All Night’s Dreaming…
We’ll flee the shores of the Dreaming world
Ship of light on Eternity’s stream
Your tale is told—you come alive again
As we drink the wine of the King of Dreams….