Ok, this came out so suddenly after reading chapters 35-40 of the manga. I had to get this out right away before I forgot it. And while compiling all my manga sources together, several other shorts' ideas came up and those should be up shortly.
This is an RxR and formed from chapters 39 & 40 most directly (the birth of my enlightenment) when Pride announces his plans for Flame, SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! But including all the flashbacks, it ranges from chapters 25 to 43.
The song is the one that plays at the end of the last episode. 'Tsuisou' is the same song, instrumental. Both work so well, but the instrumental works best for the first half and the vocal the more emotionally laden last.
And OMFG! There's something dangerously close to a plot!
::Brothers :: FMA OST : Track 32::
Entering 'the room', Pride was immediately aware of Envy's angry footsteps storming up to him even before he heard the cry as he continued on towards Father.
"Why did you let them live!?" Envy's voice boomed directly behind his ear. "They almost made it here!" He stopped, arms rigid and tightly clenched fists at his sides; his frustration catching up with him and perhaps a little fear at their 'mortality' causing his bottom lip to tremble. "They even killed Lust!"
Pride continued to move forward, listening to Envy's ceaseless ranting. Of course he knew Lust was dead. He'd been there, beside the door frame, at her parting words and damnation of the Flame. Her 'vision' of what Mustang's eyes would hold had helped him realize the way in which to open It.
"Lust…" Gluttony's pitiful lamenting over Lust would do nothing to restore the homunculus and Pride could not begrudge the child-like one. They each felt and dealt with Lust's demise in their own way, or for him, in his own time. "Lust is gone…"
"You were in charge of eliminating intruders!"
Pride knew Envy was upset over the loss of Lust and simply taking it out on him, though they all knew he'd rather take it out on the Flame. And if not watched…
"I've got it!" Envy exclaimed heatedly, keeping pace with Pride the entire time. "They're in the hospital, right? Why not make it look like a medical accident?"
Pride was actually surprised that Envy had come up with that on his own. Diabolical schemes were not his specialty and he'd managed to come up with one that had plausible merit and easy execution. It wasn't that he himself hadn't thought of it, he just never expected Envy to. But that's not what he had in mind for the Flame Alchemist, though it was always a possibility if his usefulness expired before performing his task for the Father.
"So go kill them already! We can't let them get away with embarrassing us like that!" Envy was definitely upset. Perhaps he should have been named 'wrath'. "Take care of them properly and-!"
"Envy, please…" The quiet, commanding voice of Father effectively stopped him mid-rant and broke Gluttony from his mourning as all three homunculi focused on the man. Father directed his question to Pride, his tone carrying exhausted exasperation. "Why did you let the Flame Alchemist escape?"
Pride bowed his head slightly for the failure, but explained calmly, "He may still be of some use."
The other two homunculi froze, dumbfounded, but he certainly didn't expect that from Father, whom now was looking on him in utter confusion. Pride could identify with that, though; the Flame Alchemist…useful?
The Father stood, detaching from his precious machine, and walked up to Pride. Coming to stand before him, he questioned Pride, the under-laying warning undeniably clear. "Will he be useful?"
The death of a friend…
A bizarrely somber and quiet Colonel Mustang at a funeral…
A newly invigorated Flame Alchemist throwing himself into work and research…
Pride nodded slightly. "Roy Mustang is a much too compassionate man. It is both his strength and weakness."
He was listening intently to their conversation, sword held at the ready and waiting for the telltale sign that would require him to eliminate them.
"Alphonse, I want to thank you for protecting my Lieutenant," Mustang wheezed before lapsing into a painful coughing fit.
"Nevermind that!" The ever-eager Elric responded. "We should get a doctor, immediately!" he pointed out unnecessarily as both he and Hawkeye leaned over Mustang's battered body.
"Yes," the pained whisper agreed, "get a doctor… for Havoc…"
And Pride let his sword fall from en guard slowly before re-sheathing it. And walking in his characteristic regal manner, he headed to the entryway and the awaiting troops.
The sign would not be coming tonight.
Meeting the guarded eyes of Father, Pride revealed the means to their goal. "I'll have him open the Gate."
Dust and rubble made up the heavy fog in the room that clouded everything left visible to him. His left eye was currently blinded by the stream of blood trickling from his forehead and complicated by the smoke and rocks and dust from his returned fire, literally. Pride, with his Ultimate Eye and swift sword reflexes, had all too easily returned the Flame's own fire back on him. Coughing against the crap swarming around him, he continued to search desperately, hand frantically patting the ground, in the time he had before the homunculus came upon him. He'd seen her laying somewhere around here…!
He carefully positioned his aim between his lieutenant and Fuery. It would not be difficult to hit the fat one. He snapped fiercely, letting his worry over Hawkeye and his self-anger fuel his fire in the take-down of the homunculus.
Oh, damn, it hurt to breathe. He hadn't been bluffing or bragging when he'd told Lust he'd nearly passed out several times cauterizing his wounds, but now he was paying the price. Every movement caused his side blinding pain and he could feel himself slipping again. But just like before, he forced himself to stay awake long enough to instruct Alphonse on how to get to Havoc. Someone should be with him…
A cool hand against his fervent face suspended him from his fall and he turned bleary eyesight upon an extremely alleviated First Lieutenant.
She nodded once and spoke with as much control as she could. She'd already wiped the few relieved tears away as he'd directed Alphonse to the injured Jean, but she'd been unable to completely remove the traces of a tremor from her voice. "Will you be alright, sir?"
That arrogant smirk had immediately blossomed before pain faded it into a half-smile. "I hope so."
Riza's eyebrows knitted together in indication of her displeasure at his answer. Her hand flipped his blood-caked uniform jacket and shirt aside and gently removed the hand covering his burns. The brief whiff of seared flesh the fabric threw her way sent her into a momentary imagery fit of burning bodies in a desert night and she had to school her stomach.
Her fingertips had just registered the red-stained melted flesh before his hand seized her wrist. Her attention went to his face, his teeth grit and eyes squeezed shut. The overwhelming pain painted in his features and demonstrated it with his crushing grip at the instigating source.
He slowly peeled his eyelids back to peek at her, the dark irises speaking where he could not: it hurt. The concerned frown melted into one of puzzlement as she watched his gaze sharpen and his features soften. Her wonderment was answered as his rising free hand stopped somewhere under her chin and long fingers extended to brush their tips against her throat.
Gluttony. The marks from her strangulation must be manifesting or already manifested. She shook her head slightly as his thumb moved lightly over her larynx. His face darkened at that and he curled his fingers around the back of her neck, pressing, unevenly in his pained state, in an attempt to bring her closer for a better look. She shook her head again and touched his burns ever so lightly, pulling the rest of the way out of his suddenly slack grip as he recoiled in pain.
"Worry about yourself for once," she'd commanded. Yes, she'd used his pain against him, but it was for his own good. If he saw how close that monster had come to killing her, he'd kill himself in his attempt to take care of her. But she caught the hand as it fell away from her throat and held it, its limpness and the loosening of the other about her wrist telling her he'd finally succumbed to unconsciousness.
Where are you!?
He'd scolded her rather harshly for that incident and the following one with Lust. He'd… regretted it afterwards, but hadn't tried to take it back or soften it. It was best she thought him somewhat ruthless when it came to performance, so that his staff would be motivated to consistency. And he'd felt particularly guilty about using the threat of continuing to be 'his aide' against her as he'd glanced up at her from the medical journal in his lap as he sat in the waiting room, she forever at his side with the shamefaced look she'd been sporting when she thought she wasn't being watched.
But he'd take it all back, apologize for every little thing, if he could just find her now!
His questing hand jammed into something solid and soft and possessing enough heat for him to determine it a body. Bringing his other hand to the first, he focused his eyes as clearly as possible on the black clothed person before him. The two gun holsters he recognized immediately and knew this to be his lieutenant. His right hand moved up and squirmed under her neck to hold her head, turning her to face him. His left sought her right, pausing upon finding her gun hanging there limply before brushing it aside to wrap his fingers around hers.
"Lieutenant," he said lowly, insistently. "Lieutenant Hawkeye, wake up."
She wasn't responding at all and he couldn't see any flickers of movement at all in her features. He shook his head in slight bewilderment. He hadn't thought she'd been hit that hard. He'd seen her get thrown back, heard her grunt of pain, and had immediately thrown a blast towards the Fuhrer to cover his run to her. Well, that part had sure gone well, but at least his was finally at her side.
But she remained unresponsive, head only lolling at his slight shake. He shot a look behind him and unconsciously held her a bit closer to himself at the image of Pride with both hands perched atop his sword resting in the concrete through the departing fog, watching them. Roy felt threatened by that vision alone but felt his heart freeze upon Pride's head lifting at seeing him. He turned to Hawkeye again, desperate to wake her.
"Hawkeye, now would be a really good time to wake up and start shooting." And when still nothing happened, he looked back to see Pride unmoved and clenched Hawkeye to him. If nothing else, he had to get her out of here.
He thought of plausible ways to at least draw Pride away from her so she wouldn't be hurt as he didn't think he'd be able to tie the homunculus up long enough to carry her to safety. He cradled her to him as he deliberated, keeping an eye on the Fuhrer while he let the scent her hair carried keep him level-headed. How could he get them both out of this…?
Roy's thoughts broke off immediately. Something was very wrong. He paused, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, slowly removing his hand from her back and hesitantly bringing it from behind to put his sight upon it. He knew there was every possibility that somehow blood from his wounded scalp had managed to drip on his hand. And using that same logic, he knew that it also had every likelihood to spill onto his uniform shirt. But as he looked down, he knew with that sickening knowledge born from otherworldly intuition that the blood staining the shirt was not his.
He'd pulled the right arm that cradled about her shoulders away and snuck his left to crawl under that black shirt reserved for covert missions. It was pulled free and up and quickly released as his questing fingers confirmed what his eyes battered him with. The reflexive action of crushing her to him had only allowed for the hand to once more slide around to the back, all the while remaining underneath. And feeling an exiting hole there as well, he'd buried his face into her hair, crying hoarsely into its perfume, "God…"
"Riza!" his hoarse voice exhaled brokenly into her hair blanketed neck, he rocking slightly in his despaired delirium. "Everyone always goes before me!" his coarse voice painful to even the homunculus's ears.
"You can still save her," Pride had projected, still unmoved throughout the episode. "There is a way."
Shit, that had scared Mustang; he'd forgotten. But in looking briefly at the homunculus and feeling Riza's heavy body against him, he just didn't care anymore, only wished he'd finish the job. She'd been all he had left. All.
Fuery had been the first to be moved back to East, under the claim of needing a competent communications technician. Actually Havoc had been with his injury and rehabilitation, but Fuery the first to be actively taken from his command. Then Breda had been moved to another division in Central, one not under Mustang's jurisdiction or influence. And Falman to the Southern HQ for a projected long term investigations case, far out of reach and significant touch.
Only his Lieutenant and volunteer bodyguard was left to him. Everyone else had been pulled away from him, slowly but surely, and he'd feared it was only a matter of time before Hawkeye was, too. He'd fought against every transfer order, every one, but there was only so much he could do against requests and orders given or backed by the Fuhrer. He may be a State Alchemist, but he was, after all, only a Colonel. He'd been suspicious at first, extremely so, as the staff that had been transferred with him time and time again was systematically removed at varying intervals. It wasn't until several months had passed with Hawkeye still at his side that he'd finally passed it off as undue paranoia.
But he took that back now.
There is a way.
Oh, God, if he even existed, no!
There is a way.
This…was a set up. It was all arranged…!
Roy's eyes widened in maddening, appalling, and nauseating shock, "You planned this all along, didn't you?" He focused a hate-filled contemptuous glare on the homunculus, still standing with such composure across the way. "From the transfers of my staff to this!"
Pride merely nodded once, holding that noble position of hands atop his sword. "Perceptive as always, Flame Alchemist, even if it comes a bit late," his eye narrowed as he met Flame's glare.
Roy emitted a number of choked noises and buried himself in his faithful lieutenant.
"Ah, Lieutenant Hawkeye!" Colonel Mustang replied over the phone in a voice sounding suspiciously like it was pleasantly surprised. "Aren't you off today?"
"Well, about that…" her voice came back, profound annoyance evident. "I've managed to catch some weirdo."
"Stand aside, Lieutenant. The Flame's exceptionally strong tonight."
He'd closed the door behind them and followed her to the kitchen, setting the grocery bag he'd refused to let her carry on the counter. Stepping back, he'd watched in silence as she set her purse on the table and attended to the groceries. She'd only put away three or four items before his hands placed themselves at her waist and his feet moved him directly behind her.
"Sir?" Her body had tightened in understandable surprise, but his preoccupied mind didn't really register the question he logically knew she'd vocalized.
"Are you sure you're alright?" he let out shakily, his quiet tone indication of how disturbed he'd really been. "No…cuts any where?"
She'd only smiled slightly and assured him that no, Barry hadn't begun to "chop" her up.
"Hellooo, Elizabeth!" he sung ecstatically. "How are you?"
"Why Mr. Roy, thank you for always calling! Are you calling from the office again?" The tone was chiding yet slightly probing.
"Yes, I just had to hear your voice," he smiled, not lying in the slightest.
"My, aren't you smooth! But won't your scaaaary lieutenant be after you?"
He laughed, "Not to worry."
It was their private joke.
"She's on vacation."
"Talking about special occasions, would you take my granddaughter as your wife?" Roy's favorite general and chess companion of East City asked. "She'll become the future Fuhrer's wife." The smile was in his voice as well as on his face, but there was a level of seriousness to the General's question.
"Now, now, General," Roy humored him, "don't plan too far ahead."
"The array's already drawn," Pride baited further. "All you would have to do is place her upon it and perform your precious alchemy."
Roy's head jerked up to stare ahead, Pride visible out of the corner of his eye. Already drawn…? He gave a bitter laugh. "Don't be ridiculous, Fuhrer. Human transmutation is impossible."
"Oh, is it?"
Roy's eyes narrowed as they shot to glower at Pride. 'Already drawn,' the thought echoed as his eyes trailed back to his burden and her beautiful, pale, slack face. Already drawn…
'I'm such a bastard to have never seriously considered this with you, Maes,' Roy reasoned mentally. And taking his lieutenant's face in so carefully, the feel of her weight, her skin, the way her lips turned down at the corners, made his hatred for himself grow. Only a bastard like himself wouldn't even have attempted this on a long-time friend who'd stood beside him during a morally corrupt war and various trying circumstances, yet would risk all for a small female subordinate so that he wouldn't be left alone.
'I am a bastard, but I love her.'
Gathering her, he stood and allowed familiar challenge and command to once again enter his tone. "So where is this array?" he squared off against the homunculus.
'I'm so sorry, Maes,' he offered as the homunculus guided him from the room.
Hmm, tee hee. Well, it ends there.
I read somewhere that Pride (Fuhrer/President King Bradley) can somehow mean the same thing/being taken/read as Wrath. In the manga, there is no little Wrath made from Ed's lost limbs and/or Izumi's baby. Seeing as how Bradley strikes me as Prideful and not Wrath-like, he's staying Pride. :P Though he does possess a wicked ruthlessness.
Unfortunately, half of this fic is taken from the manga and so mostly written by Arakawa…? Though I've 'continued' some of the manga scenes.
It's a rule of mine not to ask for reviews, because I feel that a good story will warrant its own results. But I must admit I love to see that "Review Alert!" message in my inbox.
Ok, from QuickEdit. I...hate...this...program! HATE IT. How about actually preserving the original update formatting, huh!?!??!
P.O.S.! Seriously, this QuickEdit shit # everything up! My beautiful formatting!!!!!! I hate how this looks, now. It was so beautiful in Word!!!