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Mar. 9th, 2013

Erised

This is the second of this massive fan fiction event pieces, and is paired with an awesome piece that i will include as soon as i have the artist's permission to do so.

Title: Erised
Author: Debra Colvin
Genre: Action Adventure Drama
Rating: PG-13,
Word Count: 7314
Pairing/Characters: some Roy/Ed
Warnings: Implied same sex relationship, some male/male kissing
Summary: Ed is stuck on the other side with Al, and has carved out a life he is determined to keep. A slight Harry Potter crossover-- sorry, Harry is does not make an appearance, the time line does not allow it.



A/N>> I have a Harry Potter crossover with Full Metal Alchemist over at ff.net that I have yet to get back to. This piece may or may not fit into that universe. It could also be stand alone.<<<

Erised.

Edward Elric was not a happy camper.

The sun peeked over the distant trees as he crouched down, blending into the shadow of the first decorative hedge. Massive and wasteful, with vast sweeping stone arches just about everywhere and an amble amount of giant windows, this thing that was called a castle was the entire reason that Ed was bothering with this country at all. He hated it already, and his toes had yet to crunch against the fine gravel that likely covered the elaborate cloistered courtyard beyond the towering wall.

Of course, to even get past that barrier and within building to begin his search at all, he had to first somehow cross the big ass lake that he was told was called a” moat”.

“Gotta be kidding me...” he hissed softly in his home tongue. He snarled as he darted his gaze about. He had been under the impression that a moat looked more like a ditch or at most a steam, not something like this. “Greaaat. A fucking lake, great.”, he added, and began to move, slightly favoring his left leg with each shift of his feet. He kept his head low from long practice, and followed the hedge around, making not a sound in the dew covered, and overly neat cropped grass. He made it to a rather large boulder just as he glimpsed movement above him.

He crouched low again hiding amongst the dwindling shadows and held his breath. He watched as the three darkly draped figures, clearly astride brooms, flew gracefully over the stinking large lake. He scowled at that ease that these folks broke the rules he lived by.

The haunted part of the castle was just a cover story then, with these weirdoes in the flapping cloaks and long dresses around. The lack of Equivalence annoyed him, but it proved that a powerful alchemic amplifier, such as the damned philosopher’s stone, was nearby. He supposed that whatever it was, it had to be in the stupid castle, somewhere. He had to go in to find it, to destroy it.

Those weirdoes liked to call themselves wizards, and a select few knew of Ed’s existence. Even fewer knew that he did not belong in this world. That fact made him something special in their eyes, something special in the sense that he had something they considered to be like caviar in him. In his blood, in his heart, whatever, which was disgusting to think about, really, and who knew what that really meant. Not that he cared all that much about it, but he had Alphonse to consider.

Yes. There were friendly wizards, and he knew that he remained on friendly terms with them. Since he learned of the caviar thing, he decided to not let his baby brother anywhere near wizard types if he could help it. Just to be safe. He didn’t want to be responsible for any deaths should the bad ones decide to off the good ones just to get his caviar thing. Or worse, Al’s caviar thing..

He wrinkled his nose up at the thought.

Moments later he spotted it, the way around the big ass lake. Here and there, he could make out dark shadows in the shining water that did not move—perhaps they were what they appeared to be: large flat rocks? With a quick glance around that included a good look up, (to make sure that the way was clear), he dashed off.

Several steps later, he sputtered to a halt. A single leaf fluttered in the air before him, and as he stood upon the tips of his very toes, waving his arms wildly to keep his balance, he held his breath.

He had not been in deep water in years due to his status of having automail installed upon his person. Water and automail was inherently a bad mix, and he well knew the risk of drowning from the sheer weight of his devices dragging him under.

But this, this was the air, the land, and..and he knew it was just bad. Real bad. A slight shimmering graced the leaf, now but an inch from his right shoe, and everything within his sight sort wavered and wiggled. He would recall later that what it looked like. It reminded him of how things appear under water, and something very heavy suddenly dropped right in beside you.

He watched leaf quietly go poof, and vanish like ash in a gale. In that moment he riffled through the Gate knowledge crammed in his skull and belatedly identified the barrier as something called a “house ward”, a pretty damned powerful one. He cursed his luck as he was flung backwards from the shockwave. Airborne for several seconds, his breath gushed out of his lungs as his back smacked against the nearby boulder with the rest of him.

He grimaced, forcing away the pain, and lost track of time. He didn’t need to see the billowing of robe-dresses appearing around him with a pop of displaced air to know he had to move and move now.
He managed a roll to his side somehow, but blinked stupidly at the stick being pointed at him. He had the time to curl his upper lip in disgust before a red colored flash of a discharge blinded him.

ooooo

The next thing Ed knew, he had this terrible kink in his neck, and well, the ground he was laying on was too hard to be anything else but stone. He heard voices speaking above and around him. There was this echo to the voices, and the slightest of sounds bounced about, which told him that the room or whatever was a rather spacious one. He was on his right side, and he could feel the uneven ridges of his stupid artificial arm digging into his ribs with each breath he took. That is until something like rope wound its way about his neck and jerked him up.

“We know that you are awake.” A deep baritone rumbled, and added with a tone of disgust. “Muggle.”

Ed clawed at the thing about his neck, and his eyes were kind of squeezed shut as he gasped and kicked out with both of his legs. He landed no blows, and before long, his feet were no longer within the ground’s reach. By then, he figured out that the language the freaks were speaking was called “Czech” or something, and the reason he could understand it was because of the Gate.

“Let us all have fun, Darius.” Another voice called out nearby. He saw a flash of orange light though his eyelids, and hissed at the burning pain he felt spreading across his chest. Raucous laughter filled his ears as he darted his eyes down and saw a several slashes in the dark shirt he wore. He scowled down at the lot of stick wavers, and counted their number as somewhere below a dozen.

“Let go. Me” he said in broken Czech, his tongue feeling like it was twisted in knots to make the words form. The gate may have provided the knowledge of the language, but practicing it was an entirely different matter. Another flash of orange from the stick waver in the corner, this one striking his right arm. He curled into the injuries anyway, and heard more mocking laughter. As he floated in midair, he heard something wet dripping against rock, and glimpsed a red spot growing on the floor beneath him.

Blue lightening flashed, and Ed widened his eyes and looked about by reflex. The discharge danced down and about, over nearly every surface. A second later, the nearest wall transformed into searching stone fingers, which quickly then became jutting stone fists. One stone hand smacked a rail thing cloak draped fellow against some solid looking stairs that Ed hadn’t noticed before, and he crashed into the ground almost immediately afterwards.

“Brother!” Ed heard a young boy cry out a fraction of a second before a deafening rumble made any speech pointless. He coughed away the billowing of dust as the telltale hallow clanking grew louder.

“I’m fine Al.” he said in his home tongue with a reassuring smile plastered on his face. He glanced up. “Just a few bruises...and…” He found that he could not continue speaking at the glowing red eyes within the metal helm, and lowered his brows as he took a good look through the dust. His brother’s voice had indeed echoed out of that thing, and the metal construct was shaped into a suit of armor.

No.. He can’t be . Ed’s eyes widened fractionally, and then narrowed, picking out a lack of Alchemical marks on the gleaming gauntlets. Missing were the considerable spikes on the shoulder guards, and also, this particular armor was not quite so towering.

“I’m sorry I took so long, Brother, and I know you told me not to use Alchemy, but you see...”

“Damn it Al, the hell did you find that thing?” Ed began, and added. ”And why are you back in armor at all..?”

He grit his teeth as an orange flash flared along with a green, and this time they ricocheted harmlessly off the low wall beside them both. Boy, were these guys predictable.

“Screw it. We’ll talk about it later.” Ed growled. “Get out of here Al.”

“Brother…?”

“I’ve had it with these guys, ok?”

“Just don’t overdo it, ok, brother? I mean it.” Let hanging in the air was the unspoken reminder of his promise to his dearest brother to never kill anyone should he be able to help it.

“Fine, Al. “ Ed sighed, and wrinkled up his nose. “Just go. ”

The red eyes vanished, and the suit of armor quivered a moment before it loudly collapsed.

“Al..?” Ed said softly at the heap, and swallowed back his dread. He hoped Alphonse knew what he was doing. That stunt of Al’s Alchemy really scared the shit out of him.

He grinned evilly at the stone walls, and slapped his hands together; looking as though he were at prayer for a moment before he unleashed the equation he formed within his mind.

ooooo

The earth reformed as the golden discharge danced around him, shaping itself according to his will. He gingerly poked his nose beyond the lip of his hole, and darted his eyes about. This was not the first time he had tunneled to break into a place, and at least this time he had something of a map. In the local records, he had found an architectural sketch drawn up a few centuries ago, but with the freaky weirdoes taking residence in this castle, those plans were not exactly valid. Besides, he had yet to work out where he was in this place.

Well exactly anyway. He was a least several floors down from where he started, and he had the bruises to prove it from the sudden unexpected drops. He glanced up at the ceiling as the stone groaned dangerous warnings, tempted for a moment to duck back down and tunnel about some more. He saw no telltale cracks just yet, so the damage had yet to reach this far down. Wherever he looked was dark shadows and gloom, and he gradually was able to pick out details.

The walls were tall and narrow, and silvery white sheets draped over most things in the room. No, it was a hall. There was no movement, or voices, and the only sound echoing at the moment was his breathing.

There were methods in his head, provided by the Gate, that were for expanding a room greatly in size on the inside while keeping the outside the same. At least with this stupid magic around, he could make use of the lingering energies. To him, that meant this “magic” was actually Alchemy of some sort, even if it didn’t look the same. Or work the same.

Those weirdoes liked using sticks for their Alchemy after all. Sticks and a mishmash of nonsensical words that he suspected were largely made up. Most of the lot were total wimps too.

“Screaming like girls at a little thing like a spike through the hand…” Ed whispered in his native tongue as he climbed out of his spider hole. As he rose to his feet, his artificial left knee made a whirling sound. He limped over to the nearest wall for support as the mechanism within decided to make a series of clicks. He grimaced as he pressed a free hand to his wounds on his chest, and looked down at his fingers to the slick redness. He pressed his palm down more firmly as he raised his gaze. He reached for the nearest sheet, and pulled it free. As he wadded the sheet one handed and pressed it to the wounds, he assessed himself. He wasn’t dizzy quite yet, but the mess he was dripping alarmed him a little.

He startled at some movement he caught by the corner of his eye, and backed into a fight stance. He abandoned the pose as he saw his own face, reflected back in silver. The mirror was a huge one, towering over him as it was on the massive wall, and at the very base he made out some letters.

E R I S E D

Without much thought, he idly traced one bloody finger over the “R”.

ooooo

In Central, along a quiet side road stood a half a dozen handsome town houses, and each building boasted of elegance, and could easily be the finest of the block; however only one served its purpose well, much like the act of a mask he removed each night at the doorstep. This was the townhouse that the famed Flame Alchemist, one Brigadier General Roy Mustang, referred to as home.

On the floor before the entrance lay his golden cords, which served to designate his lofty rank, attached as they were most firmly to one shoulder of his formal heavy jacket. The garment would remain there until he was damned good and ready to retrieve it, possibly before the morning light a few days from now.

He wore his formerly crisp, white military dress shirt with the long sleeves and not so tidy cuffs, blue cavalry skirt-- which served to cover the matching blue slacks of his uniform-- and deepening wrinkles in the heavy fabric-- which further marred his appearance-- as he slumped down to the gloom of the lush carpet by the nestled fireplace of the amply large living room. His pale complexion still nicely complemented the raven black hair he kept shorn military grade short, and the strap, attached to the great and striking eye patch which covered much of the nastier looking scars on his face, hardly mussed a single strand out of place. He knew that he was considered handsome, once.

At the moment, he did not give a damn, for Roy Mustang did not want to think. He was far too sober and the bottle in his grasp was far too empty. He moaned his displeasure at his pathetic predicament, and lifted his chin to set it upon the plushy, red cushion. He stared a while, uncomprehendingly, at the fancy back of the chair the cushion was attached to. The simple wooden construct was no porcelain god, but then, he was an Alchemist, and did not believe in gods anyway. His stomach was not nearly swirling enough to need the “pristine enough” bowl to catch anything, at the moment.

Why anyone would call a simple porcelain bowl filled with water, by the means of some sort of pump, any kind of god anyway? He considered it could be a throwback to uncivilized ways, or may be the sordid influence of the Drachman culture from the north.

Uncivilized ways.

It was said that those in the north had gods for everything. Fullmetal.

He breathed in a shaking breath.

Fullmetal had once brought back the evidence of a god that had the job of swallowing bowel movements and, for a while, the office was alive with all sorts of toilet related humor of how that sort of thing would work out.

It was a happy memory. One of his very few ones, and even though Fullmetal was gone now, he clung to it. He and Fullmetal were both highly entertained for a good month or so, regardless of the outrageousness of the imagery which was loudly shared amongst his staff. And sadly, at this moment, he could not recall a single one of those “theroues”.

No “theries”.

Oh the truth of it was, he was a good ways too drunk to even think of the right word to refer the colorful stories his subordinates had conjured up over the subject.

He closed his remaining eye and let out a great shuddering breath. He could smell the rich stink of the alcohol tainting his tongue, but found still, this night as empty as his bottle. He frowned at the odd train of thought his brain had inexplicitly ran down. Which only proved.

Yep.

He was not yet drunk enough to not have a single thought. That was his goal this night, after all.

What he needed, really needed, right now, was another bottle of scotch. Or whiskey. Maybe he would mix both together and make it a scotch whiskey, the bastard child of both. Yes. What did he care if all his nose hairs could and would singe away, bit by bit, with every mouth full of the foul tasting stuff. He was Roy Mustang, was he not? Here he was, after all these years of effort, just a few seats away from actually being Furher of this damned lie of a country, and dammit, tonight he was going to get blind stinking drunk. And what’s more, he was going bring every bit of his lofty ambition to bear to do so. Dammit. Desperate men like he would never be knocked down by insignificant things like having and empty bottle of alcohol in their lonely grasp, no.

Certainly not.

With that most weighty of decisions made, Roy felt the corners of his mouth tug down. His grip on the empty bottle loosened and he cracked open is one good eye. He studied the fine lines in the flowing pattern worked into the rich upholstery fabric, and wondered for a hazy moment, why he was drinking in the first place. Ah. He knew that answer. He knew it well. There was no longer any one to watch his back. In short, he was utterly alone. He was, finally in truth, a train wreck instead of the shadow of a man he once thought he was.

Oh. Yeah. That’s it. He was far too sober. He shifted his weight and heard the empty clattering of glass upon some hard surface. He shifted his gaze to watch the bottle roll a ways, as if it too were abandoning him. The glass bumbled to a stop by a wooden leg that was attached to a low table in the far corner.

Damn it all.

He was far too neat for a man. This whole apartment of his. It was too altogether too tidy. The way it was now, he would forever be reminded. No matter where he was in here, he would always remember her.

This would not do.

Her absence. That was why he was drinking. This night. He lost Riza Hawkeye. Oh. She was still very much still breathing. He saw her in the halls that evening, walking about and all. But the way she looked at him, the way she looked his way, it had turned icy. Cold. She knew that he was ultimately responsible, and what was worse, he knew it too.

He let out a breath. He knew that he was a sinner, but still, he shambled up. He used the chair as a sort of brace, shifting his way back to his wobbling feet. He idly watched the world perform a brief pirouette before he reached out, flailing with both hands, and then clamped them onto something sturdy. As he stumbled for the rest of his balance, he did not look to what he grabbed, expecting it to be an inanimate thing like a couch, a bookcase, hell, even a table.

Though that would be stretching things for a table to be that tall, as his hands were situated quite comfortably at about his waist in height. He himself could never have ever have bought a table that tall, for he always had thought such a table would be ridiculous to have. Useless even. Except perhaps as a thing which would only collect dust and oddball assortment of knickknacks that he certainly was not at all inclined to collect. No. This contraption could certainly not be any table which he had personally purchased that he had his palms resting upon. The surface was quite solid, though, and for that, he was grateful.

He knew his mind was rambling full of nonsense, but what of it. He was alone in his own domain, secure and all but able to fall to pieces in the absolute privacy of his own hard earned dwelling. Such was the privilege of having a high rank in the military.

“You sorry ass idiot.”

He felt his lower jaw drop, as if in response, but his brain offered no retort. It struck him that he was once thought to be a brilliant tactician, but at the moment he found himself anything but. He blinked his one good eye several times, and even narrowed the lids as he tried his mightiest to form something of a coherent thought in his alcohol muddled brain.

For you see, it was within anyone’s understanding for him to react in such a manner when said piece of furniture, the very one that he was depending on for his continued balance, had managed to speak aloud.

There it was. A blur of some sort, that between one blink and the next arranged itself into a familiar form of a face, but try as he might, he could not place it. And how did such a face come to be in his private of sanctum of places to reside anyhow. He was a single man. He prided his privacy. Everyone knew this.

The voice that had spoken... He knew it too. It was gravelly. Yet young, which was why he supposed he was not on the offensive.

“Oh. You are offensive, believe me. Come on. Let’s get you...”

The voice continued but the sarcastic tone of it tickled his fog of memories. He knew this voice. Strong hands shaped into being and guided him along. Bewildered as he was, he allowed them to. The hands were rough, but kind, and almost gentle. He shuffled and staggered, and a few dozen steps later he swung one of his arms out to catch himself upon the wall. He stood in his own darkened hall, and watched the world as it once again danced about him.

He blinked stupidly at a sudden bright light, and heart beats passed before he recognized the open door of his hall way bath. He waited for the world to stop the dancing, and watched the other person who was with him (for some reason he couldn’t fathom) move about as if he were not bothered at all with the world’s whirling ways.

What a marvelous ability. To not notice when the world danced about the head of a pin, he thought.

He heard the other voice again, but could not make out much of what was said. Just the sarcastic tone, and of course, the snicker that followed. No that was no snicker that the voice performed. That was mocking laughter. Out right mocking laughter. He had not heard such mocking laughter in...

How long had it been?

No... He did not want to think. Not tonight of all the nights. He was supposed to be all alone. Besides.

He. He could not be here. There was no way. He was supposed to be... he was supposed to be…

His brows lowered and he chewed on his lower lip as he stood in his own hall way, leaning on to his palm that was affixed to the wall. He listened, speechless, as metal screeched against metal. It was the shrill, the sound of the faucet turning. The roar of water gushing in to the tub followed far too soon and filled his ears.

…The wall of years had come and gone, and there was not a word about that one’s fate. He was supposed to be...

Roy swallowed and looked away from the impossibly bright light that was coming from his own bath.

…There could be no way in the world that that man could be... Could be.

He glimpsed the free swinging of the single braid, and his brain supplied the name of the hair color as blond. No. Golden blond. That was shade not seen in Amestris in nearly five years. Not since the younger brother had vanished, or perhaps left the country for parts unknown.

It just could not be.

No wait...

He looked back at the open door in his hall way. Steam was beginning to billow out and drift along in welcoming tendrils. He could hear the water within splashing. Someone was in there, and that was the evidence before h

There is just no way...

No

Way...

He grit his teeth against the squeaking of the dials, issuing forth from within that tiny, white tiled room. The roar of the water stopped, and in the blissful silence he heard both his own thundering heartbeat and the slight music of drops dripping into the pool that was surely with in that room. His deep white tub with the lion’s paws for feet, placed just so at each of the four corners. That piece came with the house, and he knew when he saw it that buying the entire place was an absolute must.

The mirrors came later, and he picked them with care, often asking Riza her opinions of this or that model. Who knew that there was such a large variety of mirrors in Central? He certainly did not when he faced the task, and he had no realization at just how daunting mirror shopping could be.

Stop. It.

He knew what he was doing. He was blinding himself to this impossible of situations. A dead man had come knocking, and stood now, alone in his bath. No. He was running his bath. No. Ran his bath, and here he was standing in the hall way, just a witness to it happening.

He took a cautious step toward the open door, watching the billowing of steam. This step was followed by another. And then another. Soon enough, maybe forever passed him by, but the steam was still billowing, and he was close enough to breathe it in. The hot. The wet.

He could not be here. No. He let out his breath, and let his good eye dart to the mirror.

The silver surface was just as fogged up as his half way drunken mess of a brain. It did little good for him like that, no matter what model he had chosen. None would serve him all that well with this much steam weighting the air down. She would be no help for him tonight, his wonderful Riza. She was not watching his back. Not any longer.

The wide patch that covered his other eye itched against his scared skin in the water logged air. He twitched his cheek in irritation, and turned his head so that his good eye could see the bath interior. The white tile lined the floor and what he could see of the walls. The rest was a foggy blend. He breathed in the heat, and smelled the rich aroma he had not let himself miss.

It was impossible. It was impossible. But he was. He was here.

“How…how are you ...” His voice failed him as he watched the interplay of the many muscles displayed on that wide back, and while that was a wonder to behold, especially with the untold tales that the many many scars on that tanned skin hinted at, his gaze wandered to the glinting of silver on the right shoulder. He knew that sweet spot, oh so very well. He reached forward to grace the crease where flesh met steel with aching fingers.

In an instant, the nimbus of gold stands flew before him, and before he could as much as blink, Roy gazed directly into the golden inferno. The twin golden infernos, that is, which were the windows to this most particular of souls.

He was lost; drowning in those eyes.

He forgot about the gaze Riza shot him, full of her disappointment and woe and regrets that gave weight to their many years of effort. He stared at those remarkable eyes, glowering at him in the steam filled tiny room nestled in his hallway as the scientist with in his soul, the dammed scientist that always asked the niggling questions over how everything worked, that scientist he long thought buried under mounds of mindless paper work and far too many deaths in a senseless war, that scientist who was within every Alchemist deemed worthy of working for the State of Amestris, asked quietly with in his addled brain, how can this be. How can he be...?

..Alive?

That face, that close, so close that their noses almost crashed together. They shared each other’s breath for several silent heartbeats. Roy did not make the first move, no. He was never that impulsive. The other one, he bridged the tiny gap between them, pressing his hot and very much living lips against Roy’s, whose own lips were flaccid in comparison.

He accepted the evidence and analyzed, never giving in to the livid hunger displayed. There was no thought exactly, in that flash of pure desperation.

He moved his own lips against the other’s, his teeth grazed against the flesh of perhaps a lower lip. It might even have been an upper, but not that it mattered. There was a slight shift. The mouth opened just the same, welcoming his advances. The kiss deepened, and neither darted their tongue out at first. Roy tasted deeply of the other’s breath this way, not yet believing what his senses where telling him. He licked at the bottom lip; he thought it at first his own. A warm tongue full of his taste slid boldly over his bottom row of teeth, and only then did Roy shudder with realization.

It really was. It really was. As impossible as it was, it was him. It was Edward Elric and none other. No one else he had been with ever tasted so purely of sunshine and pain and sorrow. He slid his own tongue forward, and for several moments, they dueled for dominance. As neither gave way, Roy’s heartbeat thundered deep in his chest. Familiar warmth spread and went straight to his groin. He longed to chase after that taste, to continue on as the tongue retreated briefly, and for a heat fussed moment, he nearly did. Instead, he abruptly turned his head and broke off his end of the long, lingering...

“How..?” He heard his own voice whisper after several gasping breaths. He kept his head turned away, faced to the mirror on the wall. He cast fleeting glances at the golden eyed face with his good eye. The face looked as flushed as he felt, but it was certainly not as he remembered it. The light in here was at once too harsh and yet not nearly bright enough for the details that he longed for.

“Don’t know... “Ed’s voice rasped and Roy watched those burning embers flicker with in those orbs.

Ed’s mouth grimaced as if in pain. It was a brief thing, and could be easily missed were Roy anyone else. Roy turned his head back to the face and looked at Ed fully with his good eye.

"What are you looking at." Ed’s gaze practically gored through to his core. He felt his stomach dance.

Roy had nothing to say to that, and stood mute as he breathed in the hot air of the tiny room.

“Idiot. “ Ed muttered, and Roy heard the hiss gushing through his teeth at the end of the insult. “Come on, into the tub already. Water’s getting cold.”

Roy ignored the tersely spoken words and let his one good eye drift down the sharp cheek to the prominent chin. His eyes were about level with that chin, which was.., well, different. Ed must have had a late growth spurt while away, which was not entirely a terrible notion. Further down, harder to properly see since Ed was standing oh so close, he glanced to the juncture where the muscled neck met the wide set of shoulders. Though one was made of what looked to be steel, and appeared far more primitive than automail, they were a beautifully proportioned. His hands itched to reach out and touch.

His mind muddled at the moment, both from the alcohol and that heavenly long gust of a kiss, he did just that. His palms had barely graced the triceps before his fingers came to rest on the metal and skin. From there, his hands moved almost automatically, sliding up to cup either side of that sharp edged jaw.

“What happened..?”

“I could ask you the same.”

“Fullmetal. Tell me. Where have you been all this time?”

“Its.. complicated. Right now you stink something awful. Get that bath done and I promise you. I promise that I will tell you what I can.”

Roy’s brows lowered, as he knew this was weird. They had a.. a way of handling each other.

Ed would explode in fiery tantrums within five minutes in his presence, in public usually, and stomp off loudly declaring his utter contempt, however, the nature of their physical activities was, in contrast, a quiet secret. They were equally passionate, Ed being the one experimenting really, but the long swaths of separation due to Ed’s travels in his search for the stone nicely allowed for any inquiring minds in the military to never consider them anything close to lovers. Granted, they barely even thought of Roy and Riza as a couple, even with his planted rumors helping the ruse along.

He supposed he was as out of practice as Ed was, but this was not the longest that they had been separated.

This one just felt… final.

“Tell me dammit..”

“That is a long story, and it can wait…” Ed stopped speaking suddenly, and glanced around. “This.. this isn’t real. Now way is this real…” He said in a whisper.

Before Roy could say a thing, Ed slapped his hands together. In a flash of blue lightening, his image broke apart as though it were a shattering of the mirror’s glass. As the splintered shards of Ed faded from his limited sight, Roy could only wipe his face in disbelief.

ooooo

Cats only ever seemed to scowl at him. Even when they opened the eyes wide with fright, it was still in a scowlish sort of way. The feral slits buried within a pair of gleaming irises, gemlike in the natural arrangement of greens and yellows, did not move all that much. The glare of the beast did not relent in the least, and besides that, the creature was disgustingly on the cute side of life.

The two brothers stood upon the entrance stoop of a rather run down row of shacks that, back in Amestris, would have passed as a slum. Here though, for some reason the newspapers declared them as “luxury apartments”. Ed still snorted at the notion that these things were luxury anything. The communal bath was easy enough to locate, he passed that up on the first day, and had to squeeze his nose shut to bear the eye-watering stench every time he had to make use of it.

All the buildings were similar. Planks of wood largely formed the walls, and wavy sheets of some sort of metal the sloping roofs. If one had a knot in a plank, and it fell out as knots in rotting wood often do, it was said to be counted as a window by the owner, and you were charged extra in the weekly rent for its presence in the wall. The floors were dirt, just dirt and more dirt, and Ed often wondered if he should bother with sweeping if it was only dirt at his feet. There was one sink in what served as a kitchen, and that was on the right wall just beyond the door. The lip of the porch though, that was actual concrete, which consisted of a stretch of a block about a foot wide, and half a foot tall.

“Can we keep him?”

He heard again, in his brother’s natural voice. Now devoid of that eerie echo that the armor produced, Ed thought he would never tire of that voice. He flicked his gaze slightly. The creature’s fur was a mix of orange, yellows, and black. The very tips of the thing’s front paws were a gleaming white, as were the tufts of its ears. As he watched, the furball squirmed under his intense scrutiny, and his brow lifted slightly as he noticed a certain truth of the matter.

“You mean “her” right?”

“Huh?”

“It’s a she, you know. He’s missing something back there, you did notice didn’t you?”

“He-- what? Really?” Al dipped his head low in a feeble attempt to look at the squirming mass of a behind. The tail was tucked firmly between the haunches, and the attempt was quickly aborted...

“So can we?” Al pressed.

Ed smirked as he looked fully into his dear brother’s gleaming golden eyes. His cheeks burned from his effort to keep his inner grin from showing. Those golden eyes. He could never refuse Alphonse anything since he had pulled those orbs back from the nothing between the Portals. Al knew this well, which was why he was asking such a thing as this in person instead of simply calling his brother over the phone.

The deadpan expression he fought to keep in place felt to be cracking under the pressure of those irises. The cat itself, though disgustingly cute, had no bearing in this momentous of decisions. This was a matter between brothers, the last of the Elric clan. No. It was a family matter, now that he thought about it. Yes.

And that bastard, that poor excuse for a father called Hohenheim didn’t count as family. Besides. He was long dead, and buried next to their mother, in a place that was out of reach. Ed felt his brows raise and skew as these thoughts flittered through his mind. He knew that he alone was responsible for the horrible fate he sentenced wonderful Alphonse to, and everything, and it was all his fault as the big brother, and here he was, staring at this creature held by his precious little brother’s flesh and blood body. It was still all impossible, too much to think about, and wondrous, and also terrible too. But that had everything and little to do with the ball of fluff he was supposed to be considering. Right?

He denied Al so much in life.

Alphonse shifted his weight from one foot to another, and the well-polished leather of his rather nice shoes creaked. He shifted back to his heels, and then to the balls of his feet, and still Ed held onto his mask with a claw like grip. The sound bubbling up from deep within his belly could be passed as a cough, and with anyone else, he could easily do so. But. This was Alphonse.

Who else knew him better?

Was this mask even working? Ed flicked his gaze slightly. A single golden brow rose slightly on his brother’s face, creeping closer to his hairline.

Alphonse. Oh.. he knew. He knew!

Here they were, on this wreck of a porch, if he could call it that, staring at each other with a ball of fluff between them. The silence was deafening.

The thin door banged open, and the walls vibrated from the blow. As the rotting boards struggled from the vicious kick he delightfully performed, Ed stepped into the tiny luxury apartment of this side of the Portals, and enjoyed a little bounce in the ball of his false foot as he made his way forward.

“Do what you like.” Ed said simply, and he felt the edges of his mouth tighten. .He needed Al to stay someplace safe, and this... this slum would work nicely to that end. Most of the people here were not a part of the weirdo cult that was out searching for them, or at the least, as far as he could tell, they weren’t. The four sets of immediate neighbors usually wore jeans or dress slacks in public, rather than the fluttery robe-dresses favored by the freaks.

“But she’s so lonely. Who will take care of her here?”

“Al...” Ed began again, and let out a sigh.

“Wait. What... what did…?”

Ed let his mouth stretch.

“We’ll call her Predator. Yes that’s a good name.”

“Did you... I can keep her? Really?”

“Uh huh.” Ed replied and grinned widely, and turned to look at Alphonse. A flutter of a heartbeat passed before his face nearly split in two as his dearest brother returned the smile. Abruptly, Ed turned away and stretched his arms over his head. As he rested his palms against the back of his neck, he heard Alphonse laugh. The sound was much like bells jingling.

“Incandesce... I think Incandesce is a better name for her.” Alphonse said from behind the ball of fluff. Ed didn’t look back at him, and instead flopped onto the mound of fabric, wood, and spongy bits that served as a sort of couch.

“What’s wrong with Predator? It is a fine name.”

“You have no taste.”

“So.”

“Incandesce is a good kitty sort of name. Predator is...”

“Badass.”

“Uh...”

“We have a badass cat, with a name like Predator. Incandesce is too...”

“Too what… “ The jingling tone of voice dived down, decidedly flat. Ed glanced over at Alphonse’s face, and noted the lowering of his brows. He decided right then to take the most courageous of routes, and abruptly changed the entire course of the conversation.

“Come here Predator..kitty kitty kitty...”

“Tell me what’s wrong with calling her Incandesce.”

“Never mind.. just give me the cat.”

“No”

“Al..”

“No tell me”

“It’s not that important.”

“Yes it is.”

Ed glared at his brother, and a moment passed. He smoothly tossed the sponge that he used as a pillow the night before, and it struck Alphonse at his chest. A great puff of dust filled the area, and as Ed choked and sputtered, Al waved his hands to clear the air.

Al then bounded off, out of Ed’s sight, presumably searching for the cat.

Their new pet.

Ed frowned and leaned his head back against the fabric. He then closed his eyes, and let out a breath. He tried his best to not think of what he saw in the castle. He had a life here, on this side of things. And where ever Al was, that was what was “home”.

The treacherous wants of his heart be damned.

<A/n: I feel I need to add this here for the HP fans : yes, I do know that the Mirror of Erised does not work in HP as I depicted here. That is intentional. In my crossover stories, Ed and Al have a slightly different interaction with all things on this side of the Gate(s) due to their point of origin.

Mar. 1st, 2013

A funny thing happened in Rush Valley

A/n; This is one of my contributions for the FMA Big Bang event 2012-2013, and is part of the reason that i haven't updated the current version of Like a Single Grain of Sand (I will get back to it, i swear the next chapter is still sitting on my hard drive!)

Paired with artwork "N", by CopperLetters- I'll make her piece the cover for this work once i have her permission. I set this piece roughly after the lab five incident, but I think I have forgotten much of the canon. It may have more than a bit of the post false-gate in it as well.

Title: A funny thing happened in Rush Valley

Author: Debra Colvin

Genre: Drama/Action with slight comedy-of-errors

Rating: PG-13

Word Count: 7040

Pairing/Characters: Ed/Win

Warnings: None

Summary: Ed and Al are passing through Rush Valley, and discover that many of the automail mechanics are missing.

He held his head high as he walked in amongst these pathetic things, these humans, wearing a skin and shape that was not his own. He did so well, acting the part he was made for, but he wasn't pleased, for these so called beings were rather like ants—an annoyance and little else. As he walked he played with fantasies of drawing out their screams, for he knew should he ever reveal his true form to this pathetic lot, magnificent as it was, they would only scream in horror. Not that he really understood horror, but he could appreciate the pathetic—what was that word..? Ah yes – "insignificance" that these weaklings would display before he finally put an end to them. He could almost smell the fear now, and he felt his carefully constructed nostrils flare artfully in response to that most pleasing of thoughts.

"..Coffee?" he heard one of the things ask, and he carefully composed his borrowed face as he turned. The human stood behind the counter in this shop, pen poised over a pad of paper.

Envy narrowed the eyes on his face, the plan Father ordered into action weaving into shape as he played his part.

"Sure." He said, and added, "I would speak with your manager first."

oooooo

Ed settled himself back into the rather uncomfortable wood of the carved deck chair, and listened to the chatter of the coffee house. The room was rather small for Rush Valley, and although he happened to like this particular café, he wished he had gone elsewhere. Most of the people in the room happened to be female, and if there was one this he was certain of in this automail capital of Amestris, it was that the girls were weird.

".. I want to promote body art as much as possible..."

"What body odor…?"

"No body art."

"Huh? "

Ed knew this deeply and without a doubt. He pretended to be far too busy with the arrangement of the newspapers, magazines, and piled up papers to ever be politely approached in such an open and public space. He darted his eyes uselessly over the boldly printed headlines he lifted before him, but failed to read a single word.

He dearly wished Alphonse had accompanied him on this particular outing. He could never predict how the female of the species would react to his actions or words here. No. That wasn't actually it. He could always predict how the female of the species would react.

Females generally reacted quite violently. He dearly wished to avoid such rancid behaviors this day, for he could not stand to see any woman cry, even if they were half mad and almost certainly insane.

"Can I help you sir?"

He startled at the friendly sounding tone. He felt his eyes widen slightly as his brows rose towards his hairline. He did not debate whether or not to lower the newspaper he held up before his face. He had no reason to fear this person, whoever it was. She was likely simply an attendant or something, he reasoned. Besides, he feared no one.

No one but Iszumi Curtis, that is. And she was safely far away, tucked beyond reach behind the distance of a few hundred miles. Rush Valley was more than a train stop on the way to see Teacher, and he thanked his luck often for that simple fact. So.

With solid deliberation, he lowered the newspaper, aiming a scowl of annoyance at the woman who dared to approach his carefully constructed domain of solitude.

The woman was a dark skinned girl nearly his age. Her dark brown eyes reminded him strongly of Paninya, but that was as far as her resemblance to the automail clad girl went. Her nose was wider for one thing, and her lips... much… fuller. She also had curves and...her chest was...bigger...

"I saw your watch chain... Are you by any chance, the Fullmetal Alchemist?" She asked as he felt his cheeks begin to burn. He held his eyes steady as he replied in an icy tone.

"Who wants to know?"

"Well, I was sent in here on behalf of my employer. He has a stall set up on the street and he knows of your automail. He um, " She said in a breathy sort of hush as she glanced quickly over her left shoulder. Her long hair, arranged into a high pony tail, fell artfully down over her skin. "..has this finger accessory that he want you to see, for your..."

Ed felt his cheeks burn, and he self-consciously glanced down to his right arm. It was covered by his dark coat sleeve, the one with the white trim, and the mechanical hand remained contained within a glove. He may be famous, but her display was also making him suspicious. Perhaps he had gained a reputation for being an easy mark for a clever thief?

"Not interested." Ed snarled and lifted the newspaper back before his face.

"Oh I think you will be, sir." The girl purred, and a moment later laid her hand upon the very top of his crisp newspaper. The weight of her digits annoyingly crinkled the page down as she added rather breathily. "My employer, as I said, is running good work out of a cart, and would hate to turn any customer, unlike the mechanics in the shops of late. Or so I hear."

Ed allowed one corner of his lips to rise as he gazed at the girl.

"I happen to have the best mechanic there is, so that isn't going to be a problem. Thanks."

"I'm sure. But keep us in mind should you find that arrangement not be the case any longer." She nodded as she flashed a too bright smile. "By the way, my employer can only stay by this shop until the end of the week…"

"How cheap." Ed knew that meant that she worked for the worst of the automail mechanics. A shop ran out of a lowly cart was hardly the place of choice for mechanics in any town, much less a place with the stellar reputation of Rush Valley. For one thing, automail installation was technically a medical operation, and the chance of infection was high in the best of circumstances. A freaken cart had no way of sterilizing a thing for even the simplest of installations. Nasty business, that. The other problem was that the business in question could literally pack up and leave on the first glimmer of trouble. Say, like an angry crowd of automailists showing up to pound the lousy mechanic bloody for the shoddy work he had done to them.

"..before he is going to move on to Dublith." The girl reached into a pocket of her dull leather worker's apron and presented a grease stained card. Ed frowned at the bold printed script, and wrinkled up his nose in disgust as he looked again at the girl.

"Get lost." Predictably, her face fell in disappointment. About when her lower lip began to quiver, he tugged on the edges of his white gloves as he watched her though his eyelashes. She backed out slowly, and then directed her attention towards other women gathered at the tables. She managed to hand out a few cards to the ones with metal limbs, as there were a half dozen or so that he could tell... He then shifted in the chair and frowned at the stack of papers as he folded his arms.

With the philosopher's stone proven to be too hideous to be of any use, Ed had begun digging up another lead. He knew Alkestry was the art of healing brought in by a scant few stragglers from Xing. A good portion of what he could find of the art was only rumored mentions and most of the authors had dismissed it as a bogus practice all together. What little he managed to scrape together was contained in heavily encoded in Ishvalan, and even that was in pieces, scattered within this nest.

He was beginning to suspect that for Al, it would be far better, not to mention more direct, to simply consult with an Alkestry master. He and Al only knew of one, and finding her would be nearly as great of a challenge as tackling this pile.

He reached for his coffee, and took a slow sip from the mug.

Oooooo

He frowned at the four beasts trussed up in the leather straps before and below his wooden seat as he pulled back on the adjoining straps in his borrowed hands. As the beasts began to obey his will, and stopped their forward trudging in the sand and dust, he spotted the sentry standing at the top of the towering rock pile to his right.

He had on a far different skin than the one he favored that morning, and he wasn't entirely certain he liked this one any better. Hours of traveling in this creaking wooden contraption had made his mood so much worse, and as he looked over the borrowed pudgy fingers, he decided then that he actually despised this body after all. The upper lip on this face immediately curled upward as he thought this; he appreciated the skin's responsiveness as he glanced over his shoulder at the origin of his current borrowed looks.

The fat coffee shop manager remained trussed up in the thick ropes, and lay still in a heap nestled amongst a pile of massive white bags that sported the single word "coffee" printed boldly on one side. Envy did not care to check if the man took a breath, and even toyed with the idea of arranging a meal for his brother with this one as the main course. This body was nearly as rotund as his brother, but he doubted the dimwit named "Gluttony" would ever appreciate the irony of such a thing.

He turned his attention to the goods stacked high behind him the flat bed. Most of it consisted of large wooden boxes, and they too contained the same substance as the few massive white bags as far as he could tell. Coffee. Of all things. Coffee.

What a load of crap.

He allowed the air in his borrowed lungs to rush out of the nose in a huff as he turned back to the sentry. He lifted the blubbery arm in greeting and maneuvered the fingers in the agreed upon way. The sentry vanished from his view a few moments later, and Envy twisted the feature of his face. He knew he had little choice but to wait, and of all things he hated, he hated waiting the most, especially when it came to waiting for idiots like this "Bald" guy. The delays that the man came up with, like needing to equip those in his supposed army with a special kind of automail for the push up north. Ridiculous. The way he saw it, if the wretched insects that made up his army were so stupidly fragile, then they really should be put out of their misery all the sooner.

And now he demanded coffee. Coffee. What the hell the man would demand next before he got his ass moving Envy could not fathom.

The nationwide circle was nearing completion and time was ticking. If Father didn't need the use of these things' blood so badly, Envy would gleefully…oh hell.

On days like today… He would end them.

ooooo

The sun shined bright and warm in the clear blue sky as Ed trudged, with a slight limp, up the wide dusty street. He listened intently to his companion's chatter, filtering out the noisy clanks and hollow bangs by long habit. He knew every gesture of that towering shell of antique armor, for the ingrained mannerisms of his precious baby brother were of things he held most dear. By the way the spike covered shoulder plates were carried, for instance, he knew that Alphonse was feeling calm at the moment. It really didn't bother Ed, all that much, that the subject Al chose to speak of right now was a fluffy white kitten he was forced to give up to a little girl, back on the street to the right.

"Brother..?" The tone of that echoing voice suddenly changed, high, and flat. The shoulder plates creaked and scraped against the back brace, rising up very slightly in alarm.

"Yeah, Al? " Ed replied immediately, and glanced up at the twin red lights shining within the metal helm. He thought for a moment that Al had noticed the slight limp, which he was trying very hard to cover, and had decided to say something about it. The glowing orbs were not looking down in his direction, and with some relief, he swiveled his neck toward where they generally stared. "What's wrong..?" He added as he darted his eyes about.

His brows lowered slightly a moment later, and he stomped his way closer to the wide shop window. Both of his white gloved hands clenched at his sides, and he heard the clanking behind him. He knew it was Alphonse who followed. Ed glared at the small sign he saw posted through the glass, and folded his arms.

"The hell..?" He demanded from the useless letters as he read them once again. It read "Please come again" in a cheery pink cursive script. As the sign didn't change under his scrutiny, and he flicked his gaze to the placard hanging above the entrance, just to be sure that he was in the right place.

"Atelier Garfiel" was carved up there in the wood in the very same, girly script alright. He pivoted on a metal heel and faced the door. He narrowed his eyes and tried to peer through the glass pane. Shadows draped the store within, but here and there he could pick out the gleam of a metal something or other. A few of those shadows looked suspiciously like clawing fingers reaching for the ceiling.

"Winry said she was staying here, right?" He heard Al say as he banged the side of his automail fist against the wood portion of the glass door. A few flecks of dark green paint peeled off and clung to his red coat, and he brushed them off with a snarl of impatience with his other hand. He busied himself with pressing his ear against the glass as Alphonse approached the glass window and shielded both sides of his helm with his leather gauntlets. "I don't think anyone's in there, Brother."

"There has to be someone there, Al. Hell. Winry's always saying they are so busy since she began her apprenticeship that they never close." Ed let out a breath and added in a low tone. "Someone's messing with me, I know it."

oooooo

"There she is." Ed hissed out a few blocks later. The warmth of the street air was stifling enough that he draped his dark jacket over his metal shoulder and arm, and he was beginning to think that the undershirt was nearly too warm a thing to be wearing.

"Winry?"

"No, someone else.. and... she's by that cart there." Ed replied, and picked up the pace of his walk. The street had easily three dozen carts amassed about the center of the street, and that was this street alone. Some had colorful umbrellas providing shade, and others little more than a patchwork for a tent. Most had crowds of automailists about them, shouting to be heard over the general din of so many bodies in so small of a space.

Ed heard a distinct lack of creaking clanks behind him, and he looked over his right shoulder as he added in an irritated tone. "C'mon Al."

The armor trembled a moment, and the glowing embers within the helm wavered, flickered in a way that had Ed holding his breath. It was almost like... like…

The armor straightened up, and sort of shiver scraped all of the plates together at once. The eyes glowed strongly once more.

…Like a light bulb that was near the end of its use.

"My papers giving you trouble?" Ed asked, and Al's glowing eyes widened slightly.

"Hmm... Oh! No Brother. Not at all." The armor replied in the high child-like echo of a voice, spreading gauntlet fingers over the lower area of the chest plate. Ed dismissed his concern as soon as Al took a noisy step forward.

He watched as his brother took another step, just to be sure, before turning his attention to the dark skinned, and curvy, teenaged girl standing near the café's window display. He stopped walking just within arm's length, and breathed in deep. The girl was speaking to one of the café's patrons at the moment, leaning over and allowing the fellow to look at more than the card she held out by the tips of her fingers.

"Remember me?" Ed said, and folded his arms. As she turned, he saw that the cut of her dull leather worker's apron had been changed since he saw her last. There was a slit in the leather now, ah, located quite strategically, and he kept his gaze above her ample bosom with some effort. He felt one of his eyes twitch as his cheeks burned. "I didn't catch the name…"

His voice cracked at his attempt at the word "name", and he swallowed.

"Bernice." She said smoothly, and added with a single lifted brow. "Bernice Gilderstine."

"...Of your employer. Last time." He finished lamely, in the higher octave. He coughed and quickly cleared his throat.

"Have you by any chance had a change of heart regarding my employer's...?" Bernice said in a low husky voice. "…services?"

"I've decided to speak with him, yes."

The corners of her lips stretched enough for her pearly white teeth to show. One of her front teeth was either crooked or missing entirely, he wasn't quite sure.

"Now then. Which cart is his?" He snapped as he waved vaguely about with a free gloved hand.

"Follow me."

He used the time to look about as he really did not want to speak with this girl. On this side of the street there were a quite a few flat boards covering the shop windows, and some of the rest had this brown stuff that looked like packing paper hiding the displays. He recalled that the last time he was here, those shops were busy ones, and he lowered his brows at the disconcerting contrast. The street venders at this time definitely had more of the share of business.

Not that it really concerned him, nor did he really care. He knew he needed some maintenance done on Winry's work, and the very best person to do that, convenient for these vendors, wasn't here.

"Brother... what are you doing..?" He heard Al say. He slowed his pace enough to allow the armor to walk beside him.

"Checking something out. " He said vaguely.

"I really hope you're not thinking of letting someone else lay a finger your automail..." Al began, and Ed waved his left fingers over his shoulder as his brows lowered in irritation. Before he could say anything more, the curvy girl waved at a particularly wrinkled up guy sitting on a wooden chair. Ed spared a glance at the generally purple tent, and the many odd colored collections of patches about the tough fabric. It was shaped very much like a cube, with a single point rising high at the middle, and three of the four sides were composed of a solid wall of the patchy canvas. The final side faced the business end of the street, and was split from the top to the bottom in the very center, forming serviceable flaps which in turn were tied off with a strip of fabric. He could see that there were wooden chairs, at least, set at the entrance, and both were currently occupied.

The guy didn't wave back as his hands were busy. His head was bent over the set of metal toes in his lap, which happened to still be attached the fat automailist who occupied the chair beside him.

"You sound just like Winry." Ed complained as he waited. He glanced up at the helm. "Don't worry so much…"

"You worry too little." Al interrupted with a huff. Or was it that he sighed? Al moved his helm from side to side, and Ed decided that meant the sound was definitely a "huff" when the arms folded before the breastplate.

".. And you don't tell me everything." Al continued. "Look. I know you're limping. You need the maintenance done, and soon, but I don't like this, Brother. I don't want Winry hurt."

"Al..." Ed said in a whine.

Al glanced over to the merchant sitting in the chair, and then looked back at Ed before he continued on in a softer voice. "Just... promise me that you'll at least think carefully about what you're doing. Ok Brother?"

"Uh...ok..?" Ed said softly, not really understanding just what he was agreeing to. Was Alphonse pissed at him?

Ed's brows skewed as he watched Al turn and bow a polite greeting towards the seated fellow. The armor then clanked away to the coffee house door, and what else he did Ed didn't know. He glanced over at the merchant and frowned a long moment as he thought over his brother's behavior.

"Hey there Bern..." The automailist waved with his pudgy fingers on one hand and a wide dopey grin plastered upon his flabby face. The merchant's balding head nodded and Ed could see his piecing blue eyes darting up beyond the confines of the dark glasses perched upon his bulbous nose. Those eyes widened a fraction of a heartbeat later.

" What the ..?!Bernie! The hell're ya..." The merchant sputtered over his client's casual greeting. He looked once over at Ed before he waved a free arm behind him. "Cover that up.! Go on."

Bernice, or Bernie, or whatever they called her folded her arms, and Ed could only imagine the expression she had on her face as the man added in a lower hiss. "What kinda place do ya think I'm running here girl..?"

"You tell me. You're the one that hired me...to... to ..." Her voice dwindled to nearly nothing and Ed took a step forward, wondering if he would have to step in. He swallowed in his discomfort, as he was sure as the Gate that he heard tears beginning to fall from that wavering pitch of a girl voice. He glanced to Bernice's face quickly for confirmation of his fears.

"..Get clients." She finished in a squeak. Her cheeks were flushed, but thankfully dry. As she glanced at him, her brows lowered, and he quickly turned his attention to the metal toes on the man's lap instead.

It wasn't his business, he decided. It really wasn't. Whatever was happening here, it did not concern him. No, not at all.

"Not that way. Never. That way. Alright? Just... Go on." The man said softly to her. Ed listened to the crunching of her footsteps as he pretended to count as many of the missing screws he could in the shoddy flanges. He did manage to notice a crack or two that Winry would have snorted at in disgust just as someone cleared their throat rather noisily.

"Now... how can I be of service to you, young sir?" Ed heard the man say.

"I need you to answer some questions of mine." Ed said as he turned his attention back to the man. He fingered his watch chain attached to his wide belt as he wondered if he should make use of the symbol etched in the silver. Pulling rank wouldn't really work here, he supposed after some length. He grinned widely instead.

"Looks like you managed to carve out a good set up here…" The man huffed out and began fiddling again with the fat man's toes. Ed continued. "There's an awful lot of these nice regular shops closed up and..."

"Yeah. Hell of a thing, aint it?" The man said sharply. "Good for my business, and speaking of which…" The fat man hollered out a, "HEY OW!", when the screwdriver began twisting at the ankle. Ed winced in sympathy as the man continued calmly. "..are you here to add to it or are you gonna keep up with that yappin of yours?"

Ed let the grin slip off of his face as his brows lowered; it was faked to begin with anyway.

"How about…this." Ed said. "I fix up your tent there, and in exchange, you tell me all of what you know about Rush Valley's very best automail mechanics going missing."

The man glanced back in his direction, with lowered brows.

"Brother! "Ed heard the voice of his brother echoing off of the empty store fronts, and turned his head. The suit of armor clutched what looked like a newspaper in one gauntlet as the metal arm it was attached to swung high in the air.

Ed turned fully and tilted his chin to the side as Al clamored his way. In moments the newspaper unfurled and Ed freely gave his brother his full attention. He didn't even notice that he was not the only one listening in until the merchant rather nosily cleared his throat.

"Oh… That guy…" The merchant drawled. "Stiffed me a payment a few years back…"

Ed narrowed his eyes.

ooooo

Golden light of shined beyond the crevice, and if he was any judge of color at all, the scant bit of sky he could see through that crack in the rock looked mightily orange, too. That meant hours had passed on this waste of a journey, and... and here he was, still waiting.

For Bald.

He let the brows on his borrowed features scowl as he turned his attention back to the squalor of a cave. Or rather a series of caves, all of them connected together in something like a rat's warren; Envy should know from the amount of times he had to take that beast's form to perform his tasks on behalf of Father. He couldn't give a rat's behind about the wagon load of that stupid ass coffee, but he had to speak with this Bald guy in the flesh.

Father wished to make his will known to the guy, after all.

He leaned back against the cave wall and chewed the inside of his manufactured cheek, an act he had observed humans doing thousands of times. This particular room reeked of human waste and bodily fluids, which he found ghastly to endure while using this form's, albeit thankfully limited, scent organs. He stared at a woman, no; it was a girl, with long blond hair. This thing—girl- was trussed up with rope and all, and so far, she squirmed about on her belly on the rocks of the far side of the cavern. Not a single sentry seemed to notice as she inched her way, worm like, a good yard or so along the ground.

Human worm! Ha! He had to remember that one.

He heard a bunch of bangs and thumps, and in response, he let out some air through his nose. He worked out where the noise had come from, of course. The wagon. His wagon, rather. He was no Greed and he certainly didn't stupidly obsess over things, but he had a part to play while he stood in this borrowed form.

Conveniently, a dark shadow blocked the light of the sky, and seconds later, the trussed up body of the fat coffee merchant flopped just past the crevice. His true eyes were far superior to a human's in this dim light, so he had no trouble at all with picking out the details. Envy tilted his head as he admired the rather glistening wet quality of the dark red liquid pouring from the weeping wounds in the rotund torso. Pouring, not gushing. He knew that meant that the insect's heart had stopped pumping.

Oh drat. How utterly. Dreadful. He supposed that his current disguise was officially useless, now. If he had a heart, he doubted it would be broken over that particular revelation.

At the same time, he heard the girl gasp out a rather horrified squeak.

"Who are you?" Envy heard a baritone voice demand from just beyond the crevice. He didn't bother with the fallacy of blinking as the man he was waiting for finally stepped within his presence.

Bald took several long steps, and stopped just beyond this form's reach. The man towered over Envy this way, for the coffee merchant was not exactly a tall guy. An eye patch covered nearly half the rebel leader's pockmarked face, and his black greasy hair was pulled back into a rather tight pony tail at the base of his skull. Not that Envy cared, but the guys also happened to have a hell of a lot in the way of muscle mass, especially when compared to the flabby skin job he currently inhabited.

"An associate..." Envy said with considerable irritation in his borrowed voice. "Of your current benefactor. You didn't think you got out of prison so soon on your own, now did you? Good, then, you're not as stupid as I thought. Anyhow, he'd really rather you call him your new employer."

"Emplo…" Bald gasped, and stepped back as Envy let a little discharge flare out from his stone. The red lightening danced up from his toes and made considerable changes along the way to the top of his head.

"Excuse me while I make myself more comfortable." Envy sneered, choosing his favored form from all the available possibilities. He placed his more reasonable, and cute, sized fingers upon his currently narrow hips as he added, "Before we conduct our mutual business matters."

"What... Are you..." Bald whispered, and pointed the metal mess attached to his shoulder in Envy's direction. Envy narrowed his eyes; he was not amused by the barrel roughly aimed at his much nicer looking head. He rather liked his long green colored hair—it was fashionable.

"That doesn't concern y- …" Envy began.

"Grab her and get her out of the way." Bald yelled over his head. "MOVE!"

Envy raised a brow as, out of nowhere, two of the insects, (no wait, they were there all this time, guarding and "sentrifying"), grabbed the blond girl and lifted her up. She cried out and squirmed of course, like a human would. "

"Huh. I don't get it. Why's she so important to you, anyway?"

"She's the best automail mechanic in Rush Valley, that's why." Bald supplied. "I want the best before..."

"Yeahhhh, whatever. " Envy waved an idle hand over his shoulder. "Look, the time table's changed. Father wants you to be..."

"..Father…?"

"…on your way there you have to go..." Envy saw that the barrel of what he supposed was a gun of some sort hadn't even moved down a single inch. "Are you even paying attention to what I'm telling you, dimwit?"

Now that he looked at the man, he saw a rather grim sort of frown on that strong jawed face. He heard the slightest of clicks from that contraption pointed at his head before a deafening—even for his far superior ears—

oooo

Boom!

A blinding flash of blue and the stink of ozone followed the sound, and a second later, the huge pile of rocks beside the wagon shifted. The discharge was dancing up the sheer cliff, as the rat-tat of gunfire zinged. Ed limp-ran, bent over close to the ground. As his opening volley of a transmutation took effect, rock jutted upward from the dirt and dust, covering his movements. He dove and rolled beneath the wagon just as the last spike punched through the wooden side. He crouched low for a moment, and looked into the crevice of the cave system he knew was within the rocky wall.

He knew these badlands. And he knew this cave system. After all, he was the one that created it, months back, making these stupid obstacles in attempt after attempt to catch an annoyance of a thief. He did not bother to clean up after himself then, and that was his mistake. But, as it made tracking these rebels a cinch, he could forgive himself.

He knew not that many people lived here for a good reason. There were neither stores nor markets about up here, and any sort of group needed supplies to live.

And wagons and carts left these deep, easy to follow tracks in the dry loose soil.

He lowered his brows as he saw his target.

It was Bald alright, standing there, looking over his shoulder at him. He even had that same stupid automail assembly attached to the port at his shoulder. Or at the very least, a similar and likely just as cheap ass of a model.

Bald turned. Ed didn't wait for the man to do much else before he went into motion himself. He slapped his palms together, looking as if he were in prayer as his hands hovered before his chin.

"So it's you again." Bald called out, "Die."

He heard the deafening rat-tat of bullets being fired once again, but Ed had ducked his head down as the transmutation went into effect. He didn't feel any searing blood boiling pain, and just realized he had squeezed his eyes closed. So, he just figured he was bullet free, and thus well enough together to crack his eyes open. He saw the transmutation completing itself, wrapping the rock walls about Bald's body, and climbed to his feet. He darted his gaze upwards just beyond the cover of the wagon, but didn't spot the goon up there this time. The angle to shoot down this close to the rock wall would be awkward, but not impossible.

He chanced it anyway, dash-limping the scant foot or two to safety inside the stupid cave. Bald, or rather the material encasing Bald's body, took up much of the entrance way. He could tell the creep was alive, for he had calculated to keep the man's face uncovered. The man swore up and down and through all gutters in the world, which suited Ed just fine. So long as the guy would talk.

He had people to locate, and Bald would know where they were kept.

He glanced around the pillar of Bald to the rest of the cave system, and lowered his brows. He saw the bodies of two men lying still, and between them was a blond-haired girl, all tied up with rope. She was wiggling, and squeaking, and he figured some movement was good. It meant whoever it was over there was alive. She lifted her head and Ed saw the watery twin blue eyes he knew nearly was well as his own.

"Winry?" Ed said as he bolted towards her without much more thought. He saw that the two beside her were bloody, with a hole or two each in the heart area of the chest. He noticed they were making the gurgling sounds only recently dead bodies made, and he grimaced as he glanced for more movements deeper in the cave system. The dark was really making that task difficult.

"Well well. Fancy meeting you here." A sneering voice echoed about him, and he scrambled to a stop just short of touching Winry. The voice continued, "..the Fullmetal Pipsqueak."

"WHO'RE YOU CALLING SO SHORT THAT A SAND FLEA COULD CRUSH HIM!" Ed roared into the darkness. The voice. That cruel voice. His mind whirled, trying to place where he had heard that voice before. His eye lids narrowed as he stared uselessly into the dark, willing his eyes to adjust. He heard cruel mocking laughter next, and he turned about, trying his best to place where the freak was.

"What are you doing here… Huh? With Rebels of all things. What does this have to do.. is this part of this plan of yours? Are they sacrifices too?"

"Ohhh..so many questions…tsk tsk…"

There was a hint of blur, and he did his best to dodge. The laughter rang out again, and this time, it was shockingly near. Winry was whimpering, and he glanced her way just as the freak was lifting her up off the cave floor with one hand fisted in the tangle of ropes.

"Envy." Ed snarled as he slapped his hands together and smoothly brushed his fingers over his right arm. The blue lightening of discharge flashed lit up the cave as his forearm guard extended out like sword toward the homunculus. "Let. Her. Go."

"Oh. That's precious." Envy sneered, and looked down his nose at Winry a moment. "Let me guess. She's the one that works on your automail, is that right?"

"What's it to you?"

Or at least that's what Ed would have yelled out had it not been for the ominous rumbling that rolled though the ground. Sand rained down and dusted the three of them as Ed took a cautious step to the side. Envy stepped away in kind, still holding Winry aloft as he darted a glance over his shoulder.

Ed heard another rumble, glanced to Winry, and dashed forward just as the homunculus moved again. He dove into a frantic left hand spring, narrowly dodging Envy's sudden kick. As he landed, Ed swung a sweeping low kick at the freak, and spun around to his feet.

Envy leaped out of reach with a cackle. The homunculus performed a graceful handspring that was followed by another high graceful handspring, and soon enough vanished into the dark.

As angry as he was, Ed nearly charged after the chortling freak, but suddenly stopped and widened his eyes.

Winry.

The walls were crumbling all around, all according to plan. There was no way he was going to allow something he had created to be used as a base for thievery and kidnappings and who knew what else.

But Winry…

She was lying in the dirt. Alone, and still tied up.

Envy knew this. He had to. The homunculus was playing with him, and what was the most disturbing, he was winning. Ed couldn't let Winry be crushed to death. There was no way he would ever allow that. He wouldn't be able to live with himself if he did.

He spun about and dove to her side, quickly cutting through a number of the bindings with his arm sword. As he pulled and tugged on the ropes in something like a frenzy of movement, the dust from the destruction billowed about them both, too thick to see, much less breathe. Blue lightening flashed and discharge danced as he coughed his airway clear. He felt rather than saw Winry climb to her feet, and knew when she staggered, uncertain. He reached out a hand to her shoulder, and guided her along, and then down.

ooooo

"Brother…?" He heard Al's echoing voice. It was muffled, and sounded somewhere above him. He wondered how that could be since there was a warm body tucked against his at the moment. He blinked in his confusion, and couldn't tell if his eyes were open or closed. It was so, very dark, where ever he was.

Oh, that's right.

Winry. Her breath was like feathers brushing against his neck, and yet, her elbows were digging into his ribs. He tried his best not to think about how close she was to him, and swallowed down his nervousness. If he could hear Alphonse up there, then the surface had to be close. He brushed his palms together. The first transmutation freed more oxygen from the silicon in the sandstone, and he took the time to breathe it in. The second, he used to move the minerals above his head.

He blinked stupidly at the blinding light, and cracked a grin at the empty suit of armor towering over the lip of his hole.

"Sorry, brother." Alphonse said, rubbing one hand behind his head. " I kind of overdid my part of the plan. The rebels all got buried and..."

"I- Is everyone ok..?" Winry asked.

"Hi Winry!" Alphonse said cheerfully, and rambled together a reply. "Um.. I.. think so..? I kind of made everything sand, and parts that weren't were make into pure liquid silicone. Oh. And I found the missing automail mechanics. They were kept together with most of the rebel guys and they... "

"Oh.. that's good. Hi back, Al." Winry replied, and reached a hand up. Al easily lifted her, and for that Ed was thankful. He rubbed at his aching ribs once she was out, and moments later crawled himself up. Just as he sat down at the lip of his hole, he was bowled over by hard blow on the back of his head. He clutched his hands over the injury as he hissed, and glanced about for the source.

After all, Envy could still be around, even with this much of a mess made of the rebel's former base. He found the pillar of Bald still standing in the distance, roughly behind Al's armor. Al would not be the one to hit him, at least not in that way, which left only one person within reach to have struck him.

Winry.

"How dare you. Take such dangerous risks. With my automail.." He heard Winry thunder. Just as he took in a breath to yell right back at the crazy not cute machine freak, a pair of arms, oh so human arms, wrapped tightly about his middle in such a way that his breath was knocked out of him once again. With her cheek press hard against his chest, Ed could only look down helplessly as Winry shook with emotion. He glanced up at Al's glowing red soul eyes, and found he could say nothing at all. His face burned too much.

"Thank you." He heard Winry breathe, and as he lightly patted her back with both of his hands, he knew that he would never, ever understand girls at all.

Feb. 22nd, 2013

hi there!

Happy b'day!

Dec. 13th, 2011

things that make you go hmmmm....

I wonder it this works..

I'm posting this from my phone and dearly wishing for a live journal app of some sort, rather than a mobile interface. I simply fell in love with the one wordpress made. I haven't decided if I would rather post things there, or here just yet.


Posted via m.livejournal.com.

Oct. 18th, 2011

just posting an update of life..

Haven't messed around that much with the new improved blender3d, but i keep looking at all this shiny-ness of it. Yeah, I'm a bit lost.

Besides, this year I have to be focusing on writing more than anything else. The New Year's resolution I took waaay back in January is wearing thin, but I have managed more than I ever thought I could. I have ideas for next year's resolutions, and I hope to actually fulfill them. But first. This year's.

I'll be finishing up my fma naruto crossover at fanfiction.net by month's end. Probably.If the characters cooperate. You know how it is when you write character driven stories. Sometimes they just kick you in the head, and screw up your nicely plotted out ideas.

Month 11-
Nanowritmo is coming up soon, and I just know I am going to go mad with it. I wonder if cross-posting to here and other blogs is allowed? Probably. It will keep one honest, I suppose.

Sep. 12th, 2011

yarrrr!!!!

i am so behind in what I want to be doing. I can't believe i completely forgot about lj, again. I promise I'll be making up for it, really.

I recently got myself a netbook, so the issues between the cell-a-saurus and livejournal will no longer be so...issuey.

Since it is a real computer, this means I can also return to futzing around with blender3d. I opened up the most recent build, and holy god, those code monkees really outdid themselves: guey changes and upgrades and addons and...yikes. It's going to be a lot of fun trying to figure the old girl out again.

May. 15th, 2011

Fma-naruto chapter 7

Matsuri strides along, moving with the press of bodies of the crowded food court. She darts her eyes about, sweeping the crowd as she approaches great arc that heads generally back where she entered. She has no intention of heading back, just yet. She sees what she seeks: At the edge of the curve slumps the sorry looking wagon, bold black letters upon plain white signs declaring "World Famous Ichiban's".


She slides over to where the crowd is relatively thinner, and presses the button of her radio. The vendor fusses with a low table, placing a number of simple folding stools within easy reach before he climbs up, with heavy footsteps, entering his wheeled stall.


"Team leader." She says.


"Go."


"Position one. In position."


"Copy. Position 2. Status."


"What a bother." Drawls a male voice. She narrows her eyes slightly, recognizing it as belonging to the Leaf nin she had seen on the roof. "Sigh. In position."


"Position 3?"



"Ready." replied another male voice. Matsuri supposed it belonged to her Sand teammate. On impulse, hoping to catch a glimpse, she darts her eyes at where they were supposed to be. She recalls her orders, that she is not supposed to give them away with such wistful looks, and squeezes them shut instead. Just for a moment.


"Position one, begin operation."


Matsuri takes in a steadying breath, reminding herself of her cover story: she is only a nin, simply here to buy ramen.


"Copy." She said, struggling to keep her word even.


A mere genin, hunting down a truly dangerous jonin of unknown capacity and mysterious motivations. The kind of jonin she, and other Sand nin, have faced far too often of late. She remembers the terrible powers which nearly destroyed the village and Kazekage both, and swallows down her fear before it blossoms into outrage.


There is no indication of what village he's from. What his techniques are, exactly. She thinks as she steps up to the wagon, arching her neck and making a show of eyeing the menu.


Out of the corner of her eye she sees a small figure, long golden hair tied up in a loose pony tail dressed in the long dirty brown tunic she recalls quite clearly.


He slouches upon a stool, fingers clutching a single chopstick as its mate suddenly flings up and slops a mess of noodles into the large white bowl set before him. She startles as he slaps his palm down upon the low table, pinning the errant stick in place. The curtain of unruly bangs covers his eyes, but Matsuri catches a bare glimpse of gold.


We know so little of him, maybe. Before she can complete that errant thought, he growls something low in his throat. The harsh sound cuts through the bustle of the crowd behind her. She tries and fails to work out the words.


Brows meeting, she blankly watches his clumsy fingers fumble the sticks time and again. Minutes pass, and Matsuri finds she is unable to look away from the strange spectacle. She recalls a neighbor's baby having similar difficulties, but never, ever, someone who looks to be over the age of 9 years.


With a rather loud snarl, he savagely stabs a thin piece meat with the end of one stick, and, with shaking hands, brings up the uneven edge to his lips. She finds herself fascinated by the play of muscles in his jaw as he chews. Glistening, sallow skin hinting at too sharp cheek bones.


Doesn't he know how to use utensils? She thinks in amazement. If this is a sort of act, a play on being a foreigner as her team leader believes, she has to admit it is quite a convincing detail. She certainly would never have thought of performing such an indignity, especially not in public.


"Can I help you?" Matsuri tears her eyes away, startling at the vendor's intrusive voice.


"Uh.. Sure." She says, forcing the corners of her mouth upwards. "You're open? I thought you had an explosion today."


"Yeah. That. Uh." The vendor rubbed the back of his neck. "Stove's fixed now though. Good as new. What'll it be?"


Sent via a stray supercharged nano particle of unobtainium....

May. 13th, 2011

Wax paper continued..

Peggy walked slowly to the bus stop, careful to not glace up at the plodding footsteps she heard all about her as the other students exited the school. She could easily see the legs of one lined up perfectly with another, and so on down at least ten back before another line was formed. Her mind swirled about the chilling sound of Mr. Collin's low voice, as she had heard in the doorway of his classroom. "Riot, loot, then burn.."


The image of his cold icy eyes pierced her heart and knotted her stomach. She shifted her back pack and wrapped her arms about herself as she wondered just what the man meant by telling her such a thing.


She made her way to the blue metal bench, and noticed that instead of clumping up into groups and snarkily commenting on ordinary things, her peers continued on with the nearly regimented lines. She frowned, but dully lined up with them. She glimpsed her friend, Jamie, whom she had desirately shared lunch with, and took in a breath to hollar a bright hello. With that turn of her head, she gazed fully upon the clearly lifeless blank eyes of the girl, and abruptly choked back the greeting deep in her throat.


Jamie moved as robotically as everyone else lined up for the bus.


The bus clamored up to the curb and with a squeak of breaks, the door swung inward. Two steps up, and a glimse within showed her that the adults, too, had the same sort of glassy eyed stare.


Peggy swallowed, and settled uneasily into a shiny blue seat.

Sent via a stray supercharged nano particle of unobtainium....

May. 10th, 2011

Blood turtle

Rhythm poem based of 7 beats and some rhyme.
Awkward. I know.

Blood turtle, revisited
OooooO

I rose my fist gripping tight
the stake of cherry redwood
drove it deep into the chest
of the beast draped in a hood


My blow thunked solidly, thick
Boney plates revealed, chin high
jutting monstrous proud. Flicked
A pink tongue out, lips curled back
Grinned wide. Deliberate licks
Slimed my face, arms, and neckline


l cringed back, turned 'round to flee,
Clawing, wildly, hands out
eyes wide, glassy, and empty
Feet thudding the ground, beast but
Breaths behind! Ravenously
Growling, jaw snapping red, blood
turtle was gravely hungry

May. 9th, 2011

Long life..

Number 115 was a boxy sad affair of a trailer house, with avocado paint, of a shade not seen for at least two decades, peeling off the sagging siding.


Marge let herself in, and strode into the small kitchen, sucking on the inside of her cheek. She glanced at the stacks glossy magazines on the round kitchen table, and placed her case binder and car keys next to her cup of tea on a relatively clear spot at the very edge. She let of a breath as she took up a few pamphlets in her hands, and settled down into a creaky wooden chair.


Her mind was not on the cheerful articles that declared miracle cures, or amazing ways to melt off the extra pounds gathering about her thick middle. No. Her thoughts swirled about the radio program she had listened to intently on her drive over.


Studies say the average life span of marriage is 42 years. This is theorized as men wishing an 18 year old woman in their latter years, rather than the usual complaining shrew most women turn into by age 40.


She looks at the old couple sitting together before the television, glassy eyes staring at the vibrant images flickering across the screen. The volume was up quite high, and nearly made Marge's teeth rattle.


"Hello Mr. and Mrs Smith." She greeted, speaking loud with a tight professional smile stretching her lips. She hoped her voice was louder that the T.V. this time, but it was hard to tell.


She watched the silver head of Mrs.
Smith bounce back, and jerk to life. A turn of the ancient wrinkled neck, and she met the wide vacant eyes sliding her way.


"Oh.. There you are. How are you dear..?" Mrs. Smith greeted, and Marge strained her ears to catch her soft words as the woman spoke in something a normal volume.


"Fine. Can't complain." Marge replied.


"What was that dear..?" Mrs. Smith asked. "You youngun's always mumble.." She muttered as her bushy white brows met at her lined forehead.


"I said, I can't complain!" Marge said, feeling something scrape painfully inside her throat. Her voice had to have been a much louder volume though, for Mrs. Smith smiled a wide pleased smile and a nodded.


Marge leaned over to better see Mr. Smith, and shook her head in disbelief at the silvered head dipped back into the cushions. She eyed his jaw slack and marveled at the thin line of drool dribbling down the stubble sprouting on his chin.


"That man can't hear a thing, can he..?" She said aloud, her own voice a mumble with the terrific cacophony filling her ears.


"What..?" Mrs. Smith replied. "What was that?"


"Nothing!" Marge replied brightly, and darted her gaze back to the open magazine in her hands.


Scientist don't know a thing. Marge thought, and chuckled to herself. I suppose the secret to a long marriage is to live long enough to not be able to hear any complaints.
Sent via Blackhole

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