"Every night, before I fall asleep, it feels like I have wings." The psychologist, Paul Duncan looked up from where he was jotting down notes in a small, handheld computer. He was a balding man, in his mid-to-late forties, slightly overweight and red in the face, but with the perfect attitude for his profession. So, when the usually moody and secretive teen he was working with finally admitted something after a good seventeen sessions of trying to get the boy to speak up, Paul merely raised an eyebrow.
Leaning forward, his blue eyes shining with something akin to triumph, he commented, "Well, Edward, I'm sure that's not a very rare occurrence. I'm sure lots of people imagine what it would be like to have wings."
He was rewarded with a snort for his effort, as the golden haired, golden eyed, fifteen year old turned away, inspecting the fingers of his gloved right hand. The boy was wearing a strange assortment of clothing, and he appeared to have an affinity with red and black. He was in a black, light cotton top (It was long sleeved, but slightly too short, so a flash of pale skin could be seen at his waist), Black leather pants that clung to his hips, and his torso was covered with a red, fishnet top. Of course, the gloves were there as well, white, and very old fashioned, and they served well to accent the sliver flamel symbol hanging on a black leather strap about his neck. "You don't understand, as usual." Edward scoffed, his hand straying up to play with the tip of his long, golden hair, which was wrapped in a braid.
As he moved, a sparkle of light caught Paul's eyes, coming from the boy's left ear lobe, where a plain silver stud rested. There was no matching stud in the other ear. The hand that was playing with the end of the rope of hair quickly moved to cover it. "What are you looking at?" The boy barked, glaring at the man.
Paul held up his hands defensively. "Nothing!" Cold gold eyes still held him pinned, and they were filled with a deep mistrust that lingered, even after the boy released him from his scrutinising gaze. Briefly, Paul reflected that Edward would be quite beautiful and effeminate looking, if his mouth weren't permanently set in a deep scowl. "What don't I understand?" He questioned the teen.
Those cat-like eyes narrowed, a frown crinkling the boy's brow. "About my wings. I don't imagine what it's like to have wings, like in dreams or shit like that, moron, it feels like they're really there. Moving, rustling, you name it. I can see them, hear them, feel them damn it! I can even SMELL the bastards there. It's like they're fucking REAL!"
Paul winced at the profanities, but watched the boy closely. The boy's eyes were cold and hard, but the boy's brows and other features danced as he spoke, portraying a range of emotions. Most were negative. It was almost hypnotic watching such expressive features. "MORON! Listen to me!" Paul jumped.
"Sorry Edward." He ducked his head in feigned apology, and mentally shook himself. What the hell kept coming over him as the moody teen spoke? It was, well, weird. The foul mouthed, bad tempered and cold patient in front of him could manipulate people around him so easily. Paul had watched him do so with his young friend... what was her name? Winry.
"So?" Edward snapped, glaring and most likely waiting for an explanation of his dreams. Another factor of the boy's personality Paul had come into contact with on a regular basis during these sessions was his incredible impatience.
"I merely think that this might be connected with something within your subconscious, Edward, maybe something from which you are trying to escape?" As Paul was speaking, he wrote quickly, noting the details of Edward's dreams, or illusions, which was probably a more accurate word. "Perhaps these wings might be a symbol of freed..."
"Don't patronise me!" Edward spat over Paul's explanation. "You know as well as I do that I'm too smart to buy that 'this-stems-from-something-buried-in-your-past' crap." The venomous look Paul received would have left a braver man shaking in his boots.
Of course, that braver man did not have Paul's five years of training and 16 of experience. Paul calmly met Edward's gaze "Humour me, Edward, what has happened in your past?"
Edward sighed, the friendliest emotion Paul had ever received from him. "Well, I never knew my real parents; I was adopted when I was six months old. I grew up with nick and Ana, my adopted parents, who for some reason have always made me call them by their first names. As I am adopted, I do not have a last name, but Nick and Ana have the last name Carlton. My best friend is Winry Rockbell who I've known since she and her grandmother moved into the apartment next door to mine at age two. I was three at the time. I have no known siblings, and my adopted parents were involved in a DIGIT experiment about mid last year and are now no more than the equivalent of giant rabbits due to the failure of said experiment." There was a moment's pause in which Paul realised that Edward would divulge no further information without coddling and the words the boy spoke were digested.
"DIGIT Experimentation, what is that?" Paul asked, sinfully curious. He had never heard of such a thing before.
Edward grunted. "Something the military invented. DNA introduction, generation and infusion technology. "He scowled more heavily than usual. "It involves introducing strands of animal DNA into human cells, infusing the animal and human DNA together and replicating the cells at a furious pace in order to cause the mutation of the whole body into something half-animal, half-human."
"But you said the experiment failed?"
"I did." Edward growled. "The technology leaves no room for error, too little DNA results in a cancerous tumour, too much and the animal instincts take over the human, rational brain."
Paul hid his shock as much as was humanly possible. "So your parents..."
"Adopted parents, moron. They didn't give birth to me. But yes, you are right. They received too much DNA in the process of infusion. Rabbit DNA. So, as a result, they are now little more than human-sized rabbits, with maybe a few human words here and there." Edward replied in a cold tone and with emotionless eyes.
Paul stared at the boy. Even more amazing than his total lack of emotion about the subject was his seemingly complete acceptance that the people who had cared for him since he was in diapers were no more than vegetables now, which needed his complete and utter devotion. There was no anger, no sadness, only complete and utter detachment from the entire issue as he spoke. And it was al delivered with a cold, shrewd and calculating air that left Paul tingling with slight fear. A soft 'ping' issued from under Paul's desk, and there was an audible 'click' as the locks upon the doors slid open. Edward stood.
"I believe that that is the end of this incredible waste of my time." He stated simply, turning on his heel and passing his hand over a receptor near the door. It swung outwards. "Oh, and 'Doctor' Duncan?" He paused, "Lay off the chocolates." He stepped out of the room, and the door swung into place behind him.
Paul merely stared, slack-jawed, at the oaken door. Edward was a mystery, and he wondered what on earth could be going through his mind at that moment.
"DAMMIT I'M HUNGRY!" Edward cried as he stormed up the stainless steel passageway of Duncan and Associates Psychologic care centre. He scowled deeply and deliberately dragged his feet, trying to scuff the polished steel floors. It was a strange place, Duncan and associates, the hallways were cold and sterile, and totally technologically advanced in the way of movement receptors and scanners. However, the rooms themselves tried to be homely, for the ease of the patients. Wooden and warm, and in winter, the vast majority had a roaring fire in the corner. Absolute crap, really.
Edward had reached the end of the hallway, and gratefully he sighed, and reached out with his left hand to press a round, silver button, aware of the finger-print scanning taking place even through his glove. The door slid to the side, with a hiss of misplaced air, and Edward continued onwards, into another of the homely, 20th century, out-of-date rooms. This time, it was not another office, but the reception.
He proceeded across the wooden floorboards, more at home in a cabin than a highly profitable business to the front desk, to collect the certain treasured possessions that were not allowed within the wards. He paid no heed to the picture of innocent looking puppies above the female secretary's head as he snatched up his pocket knife and portable lighter. The blonde, dopey looking woman sent him a reprimanding glare which he met coolly. "Got a problem?" he delivered spinning his lighter through his fingers and flicking open the top, which caused it to emit a blue spark with a small 'click.' The secretary shook her head quickly, and went back to typing out reports and memos. "That's an out of date piece of crap, you know." He stated, gesturing at the hologram screen. He was ignored.
Shrugging at the cold shoulder, and really not caring at all, he turned away and sauntered the short distance to the clinic entrance where he waited briefly for the automated door to open enough to let him pass.
Almost instantly he was greeted by a female voice. "Hey Ed!" The shout was warm, bright and full of life, and for the first time since entering the clinic earlier that day, Edward cracked a true and honest smile.
Turning to greet the early teens girl who ran up to him, he returned the greeting with a quick nod of his head. The girl had long, golden hair that sparkled when the sun hit it, and was held back in a blue bandanna. The piece of cloth served the dual purpose of supplementing her sky-blue eyes which were wide and bright and happy. She grinned at Edward, running slightly to catch up to him, where he had started walking down the street. She wore clothes that allowed movement, baggy tracksuit pants, brand label trainers, and a loose fitting, black tank top. And, as she caught up to the boy, she enveloped him in a bone-breaking hug. It became apparent suddenly, to all watching, that the cold boy who appeared to loom was, in reality, quite short.
"Winry?" Edward asked, scowling from where his face was pressed into the girl's shoulder.
"Yes?" She replied, all too innocently, her grin turning mischievous on her warm, slightly round face.
"What have I told you about touching me?" There was an edge of malice to 'Ed's' tone.
Winry Rockbell let go, pulling back and pouting slightly. "Honestly Ed! You're so antisocial." She scolded gently, her hands on her hips in mock anger. "I mean, it's not like being touched will give you cooties or something."
"I had cooties once. It's not an experience I care to repeat." Edward replied, deadpan.
"Beside the point!"
Edward raised an eyebrow, brushing off his arms almost defensively, and shoving his hands into his pants pockets once the task was complete. "I just don't like being touched, alright, Win'?" He started down the street, uncaring of the car-like contraption that flew by overhead. Winry followed, sighing.
"Edward." She began slowly, her tone one of explaining to the very young. "We live in the year 3050. There are such things as air-buses which can get us home in two seconds flat. Why on Earth do you insist on walking?" He felt both his eyebrows rise as he turned to shoot her a dark look.
"Cars make me uncomfortable." He told her flatly.
"GODDAMMIT ED! Cars make you uncomfortable, crowds make you uncomfortable, water makes you uncomfortable, Atmos bugs make you uncomfortable, is there anything that DOESN'T make you uncomfortable?" She snapped, well and truly past the end of her tether.
"Mountains." He replied, his gaze turning skywards and looking through the haze of 'Atmos bugs', little robots that purified the atmosphere to the lone cloud in the sky. He felt a strange pang of longing.
"Oh, not bloody mountains again." Winry sighed and stopped, standing stock still. Edward turned to give her an expectant look. "Where on Earth do you expect to find mountains, Edward, they were all flattened for residential area. There's none left."
"Not on Earth." He said softly, and she had to strain to hear him. He was looking at the cloud again. "We've already fucked up Earth. On Mars."
"Fuck Mars." She snapped, sounding truly weary of what appeared an age-old argument between the two. "It's a trashy little tourist hole with no value whatsoever. It's not even that any more, not with the war between the angels and us. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Edward, it's a battleground." She began walking again, slightly slower and with her shoulders slumped.
"I know." His voice had lost all its tone once more. Above, horns and profanities blazed in the uncomfortable silence, as two of the flying transports nearly collided. Edward was suddenly very aware that he and Winry were the only ones walking the footpaths.
"Then why do you still want to go there?" She asked softly, sadly.
"You want to go."
"Maybe I do, Edward, but I'm going to go to fight in the war and defeat the angels. I have a purpose, Edward, a reason. You just want to see some stupid mountain!" She kicked a nearby bottle angrily. It bounced off a wall, and landed, a cheery, female voice coming from inside it.
"Please Recycle" Edward grinned, but quickly covered his smile at Winry's murderous glare. He turned and wandered up a set of dark steps to a steel door covered in scuff marks, dirt and even some congealed blood.
"Thumb print identification please." A weary voice asked from a small panel to his left. He complied, stripping off his left glove and pressing his thumb (With slightly long nails) to the screen with a scowl. The door creaked open slowly. "Welcome back, Edward."
"What's wrong with wanting to see mountains?" Edward asked Winry, stepping into the dingy hallway which smelt slightly of urine. Winry followed.
Perhaps she sensed she was fighting a loosing battle, perhaps she was just sick of the argument, but in any case, the blonde haired girl sighed. "Nothing. Are you still coming to Grandma's 70th birthday Edward?"
"Depends on Nick and Ana." Edward replied, opening a door to his left, the same way he had opened the first.
She nodded. "Give them my love, would you?" She asked. "God knows they don't get yours."
"I'll pass it on." The words were cold, and Winry knew she'd overstepped her mark.
"See you tomorrow?" Her tone was hopeful.
"We'll see. Tell Auntie Pinnako I said 'hi.'" The door slid into place between Winry's sad eyes and Edward's unseeing back.
"I'm sure Grandma'd prefer it if you came over yourself once in awhile and said so, Ed." She spoke to the closed door, before turning and walking the few steps to her own home. "When are you going to realise that you can't live like this, Edward? When are you going to realise that even you aren't so strong as to not need a friend?"
Inside Edward's apartment, the teen was seemingly trying to get from the dark hallway to his room on the other side, crossing across newspaper which rustled only slightly under his feet. So much so, that it seemed he almost cringed, when a small, slightly slurred and childish voice cried gleefully, "Edward's home!"
A/N: I must be the most fucked up, on-crack-without-being-on-crack Authoress in the known universe.
However, I would like to be serious for a moment. In light of the recent events, that is, the tragedy of the Tsunami, I would like to extend my deepest and sincerest sympathies, sorrows and apologies to all who have been affected. As I personally have had nothing, and no one stolen from me by this event, I will not waste yours, or my time by pretending to know, or even be able to fathom the anguish all who have suffered on a personal level must feel.
However, I can not express how much gratitude I feel in my incredible luck that whatever God (or Gods) that are out there have spared all who are close to me on more than one occasion. And also, for blessing me with such incredible people in my life.
My family is the most precious thing in the world for me. I imagine that this is the case for most. And this importance is shared by my friends and other loved ones so close as to be considered family. Looking upon my grandparents as I write this, I cannot express the depth of the love and trust within me and the immenseness and intensity of emotions that have been plaguing me since first hearing about the horrific events in Asia. I cannot imagine such pain as to loose anyone close to my heart.
If anything good at all can come out of the recent events, I hope that it is that we can hold the people we still have a little tighter, love them a little more and pray that those who have lost so much in this tragedy can find peace, and closure.
To all the victims, either directly or indirectly, of this horrible event, my prayers go with you.
For those as lucky as I was, count your blessings, and give all you can to those people not as fortunate as yourself.
There is only one way for the world to keep turning, communal effort. Best wishes, Catherine (Haku) French, 2005.