AN: Before we start this I would like to say that I'm in dire need of constructive critics to point out a few grammatical errors or disagreements in writing style/content. Please none of that singled lined: 'Great' either because I'm not learning anything from it. Comments! Questions! Just as long as I can work with something to improve my writing skills.
Okay, enough said about ranting. On to the fic.
Chapter Six: Doppelganger
A week ago Edward had run into a wall of inevitability that his charade wouldn't last much longer since Dante had easily seen through him. Now all he could do was doggedly hold onto whatever advantage he had which included his 'used-to-be' homunculus brother and the inconsistent Gate. He didn't dare drag Alphonse or Winry into the fray of his making, hell he even tried to talk Wilhelm out of it only to be berated and reminded that the boy was over four hundred years old and could take care of himself.
So on a bright Monday morning after gathering his wits, Edward entered the office of his superior office to find the man with a dark frown on his face. Edward returned it with a faint smile of his own. "Is there something the matter General?"
The single dark eye flashed then softened a tiny bit. Sure the Avian Alchemist sometimes annoyed him with his secrecy but it wasn't to the extent that it constantly rubbed on him like Fullmetal's secrets. Oh no, that boy had an entirely different set of problems. Even so at least Avian had the decency to be civil…He pulled his head out of his nostalgic reminisces to gaze at the dark haired man and in the morning sunlight he couldn't help that he looked a little like Hughes. The conundrum that was Avian would never reveal itself but at least the man would lend a listening ear.
"We've been called back to Central." He answered as he waited for Avian's response to find that the young man wasn't perturbed by it.
"I see." Edward replied as he turned his gaze out the windows. She had already done what she needed to.
"That's the least of our problems Avian."
Edward's attention turned back to the single eyed man. The tone of his voice…
"Fullmetal Alchemist has returned and is currently in Central. All ranking officers from Major on up is required to attend the negotiation delegations, I'm sure that you know of the other nations' demands for the past year and a half."
The shock had been carefully schooled so that neutrality only showed but Edward felt more than shock in that moment. He felt as if his world was ripped away from him once again. Dante certainly had been busy in his absence. "How can you be sure that it's the Fullmetal Alchemist that's currently at Central?" He asked guardedly revealing only neutral calm toward the man who returned to his distressed silence.
"Everything in the reports says that it's Fullmetal…I don't know what to think but what I do know is that we have to return now." Roy gritted out as he fought hard to contain himself. A year and a half…
"Then I will get ready for the departure General." Edward replied as he saluted the General then left the office to run into Winry and Alphonse.
The blonde haired girl looked around then grabbed him by his arm, dragging him to an alley where she thrust a newspaper in his face. News traveled at ungodly speeds. On the front of the page a blow up image of his face at sixteen gazed back at him with headlines declaring the return of the 'Peoples' Hero.' "Ed, what's going on?" She asked, her voice full of worry.
"Dante." He replied gravely as he looked down on his brother and friend. "You better hurry and pack. The General and I are going to catch a train for Central. Be careful."
"It's you who needs to be careful." Alphonse answered to have his older brother squeeze his shoulder before Winry took him and steered him away. He tossed one last glance at the tall figure before facing forward feeling a deep dread descending upon him.
Full of regret, Edward watched as they both vanished.
"Ed?" Wilhelm asked as he turned his gaze at the young man.
Golden eyes tore away from the empty alley. Turning on his heel, Edward left, weaving his way through the streets to his rented room.
Several hours later Edward stepped off the train as he did millions of times before to be greeted at the sight of a buzzing Central City. Everywhere were boys calling out headlines of the newspapers, which announced the day's news of Fullmetal's return. He gracefully wove through the crowds with the General next to him easily keeping up despite his shorter height. Finally they left the crowded station to catch a cab on its way to Headquarters. Upon entering the personnel were in a flurry to greet the General as Edward followed silently. Debriefing papers were thrust to them as were directions to head toward the Parliament House where Roy would take a seat among the Board of Generals and Edward among those on the lower Board, but being a State Alchemist he was granted the first tier which gave him a spectacular view of the proceedings with the foreign emissaries who were there to strike up negotiations to stop the border skirmishes and possibly prevent a world war.
However his eyes were locked onto the sight of one person. Himself. It was a perfect copy of himself before he left this world for the next sitting toward the center looking rather bored with the talks. Silently his hands gripped into fists. He could see Dante stamped all over the doppelganger. The woman had such a sick mind he couldn't see where the foulness stopped or began. He would give her credit for being meticulous in detail as disturbing as it sounded.
"As we all can see, we have brought forth Fullmetal Alchemist who has returned from a year and a half of absence with justified reason that the knowledge he possessed placed him in danger to those around him…"
It was the biggest lie that Edward had to date since he had lived besides Dante's whole entire puppet theatre spectacle. Instead he kept a straight face as he examined the rest of the room, taking note of people before his eyes strayed back to the doppelganger. He had no doubt that Dante had managed to nab something with his DNA on it to have created a clone of him such a strand of hair or even blood. Lord knows how much he bled on his missions and whatnot. He could almost imagine the ingredients she used in his doppelganger's creation. Clever.
"I knew that my mother had an unhealthy obsession over you, I just never knew that it would extend this far." Wilhelm muttered softly in Edward's ear.
Edward's hands relaxed. "She showed an obsession of our father did she not? What makes this any different? What she sees in me is Paracelsus Theophrastus Philippus Aureolus Bombastus van Hohenheim." He replied just as softly as he hands came to rest on his laps as he leaned back on his seat. Wilhelm choked at the long name. Never in his life had he heard the full name of his father nor was it ever mentioned. He had always believed that Hohenheim had been his father's name for quite some time.
"Just how in the nine gates of hell and seven circles do you know that?" He asked in a rather strained voice.
"Alphonse and I were never to know but I found out one day when my mother had taken him out for shopping. It was merely by accident. You do know that Edward isn't my first name but a middle one? However Alphonse's name is just Alphonse van Hohenheim." He answered.
Wilhelm shifted on his feet before settling once again. "Then what is your name?"
"Theophrastus the Second." Edward replied with a wince. "Or rather if you want to be formal, it's Theophrastus Edward Philippus Aureolus van Hohenheim. The Edward was added because it was my mother's father's first name. As for the Paracelsus part, that's a name that father took up during his alchemic studies."
Wilhelm felt no resentment that his siblings had names given to them from father. He had long since forgotten his, answering to Envy by Dante until his brother had given him a name. A name that didn't sound wimpy or degrading but oddly noble. He would have to grill his brother on the meaning behind the name. Yet he couldn't help but feel somewhat sympathetic for his brother having to carry the name of their father. Why their father bestowed such a heavy name could perhaps be attributed with the fact that Edward (He was going to call him Edward; he wasn't going to change after calling him that for all those years.) was somebody he saw in the future. The rare times Dante ever spoke of his father had been about his uncanny intuition of the future.
"Did you hate the name so much that you went by Edward instead?" Wilhelm asked.
Edward turned a golden eye on his half brother. "Yes but to tell the truth I later on found out that either way my first or middle name means the same thing. Guardian. Add that with the other names then you get Guardian full of light." He turned away from his half brother to gaze at the doppelganger.
For a while the doppelganger didn't notice but soon he did. Edward locked gazes with the twisted creation of Dante's inner mind and saw recognition enter those eyes that mirrored his own.
The proceedings stopped as all eyes landed on Edward's still form leaning back against his seat as he smoothly took off his glasses.
"What is the meaning of this?" one of the Generals demanded as the doppelganger stepped down from his area and made his way toward Edward.
There was a clap and the sound of electricity filled the silent Parliament House. Edward gazed at the blade in front of him with a calm eye. "What about me?" He asked, his golden eyes boring into golden eyes.
"You're a Homunculus."
Immediately the whole House went into a flurry of yells and scraping of chairs. Despite the chaos Edward remained calm as he pushed back his chair to stare down at the blonde haired doppelganger. "What facts do you have of your accusation? Fullmetal Alchemist? I must say she did a thorough job of educating you after your creation. However she lacked certain details. Tell me, what is your father's full name?"
Roy Mustang gripped the table in front of him, his single eye widening at the scene unfolding before him. Avian a homunculus? Yet, it nagged him that of all the people, Avian would demand the full name of the father of the Elrics. He had been certain that the boy in the center had been Fullmetal. He certainly acted like it…
"Blasphemy!" A few officers shouted as Edward gazed down at the doppelganger.
"What is his name?"
Golden eyes glared up at him filled with loathing. "Hohenheim. That's all he ever left us." With that he lunged forward swinging the blade.
Seconds later, sparks flew as the sword was parried by another blade with opaqueness about it, as if it were made of glass. All eyes could see the scabbard that the blade had rested in now stood empty. A few officers nearby scrambled out of the sudden fray, mindful of keeping their heads and lives.
"Incorrect." Edward answered as Wilhelm took off from his shoulder making way for the imposter's face.
A cry fell from the copy's mouth as he stepped back, sporting a few scratches across his cheek.
"What do you know of anything Homunculus!"
"No. I am not a Homunculus though I know quite a bit about them." Edward intoned as he took a step forward at the copy which then aimed a kick toward his midsection. He skillfully dodged the incoming attack with the finesse of a dancer. "It's a fact that of all the things that Dante's ever taught you, she has never spoken the name of the one you claim as your father save for a surname."
From his seat, Roy stared in disbelief. Before the Elric brothers' father's departure nearly two years ago, before Edward's disappearance, the man had disclosed his full name in hopes that Roy would be able to protect the two brothers. How could it be possible that Avian knew of it? He was sure that despite coming from similar regions that Hohenheim would disclose such personal information to an 'outsider' not of his discretion.
The imposter faltered. "S-surname?" He asked in confusion, his eyes widening at the settling truth. Then in an instant he lunged forward to attack. However this time various State Alchemists took the time to restrain him as the Board of Generals and the delegates pinned Edward with inquisitive stares.
"Avian Alchemist. Just what in the world are you doing?"
"Verifying the truth. He's an imposter because the real Edward Elric would have correctly answered the question despite his displeasure in being reminded of it. Another factor to take into consideration is that the person behind this imposter hates Hohenheim with a passion and yet at the same time can't help but still love him."
"Then, how would you know of the name when by state all information were kept behind closed files and there has been no mention of Hohenheim of the Light's full name." Roy asked stonily as Edward squarely gazed back at him.
The charade was up. Edward snapped his fingers then brought them to his hair as they chased away the black dye, revealing deep gold hair. "I would know because I bear his name. Edward Elric has been but a small portion of my name and my mother's maiden name. The name which I had been christened with by my father and mother is Theophrastus Edward Philippus Aureolus van Hohenheim."
Roy slumped against his seat staring at disbelief down at the now blonde haired man who stood tall, his face strongly resembling that of his father's as well as his voice which rang out clearly with graveness as if the fact he spoke was an inevitable fate in his life that he recently had come into terms with. The name wasn't one that he could forget easily, not when altogether it meant Guardian Full of Light or rather, Guardian of Light. Thinking about it brought unwanted shivers up his spine. Words that made up the name were ancient with hardly any origin to trace back to save for what he had been told by the elder Hohenheim himself.
"I-I can't believe it." The dark haired man choked out in a silent room where hundreds of eyes were focused on the tall figure of a deep blonde haired man who only stood calmly amidst the chaos. It just didn't make sense. How...?
Golden eyes narrowed briefly the suddenly a gloved hand drew out a gun and pointed it at a dark haired woman wearing the Amestris uniform, her dark curls pinned up. "You may have killed me before Dante, but as you can see I refuse to stay dead."
The delegates from the surrounding countries stirred at the name telling Edward that they had come into contact with her. Typical.
"Don't you dare shoot her!" His doppelganger yelled, still restrained by the alchemists, unable to do anything given he was rather small with a number of adults holding him.
Roy finally tore his gaze away as he made his way down, pushing people out of the way to the center of the chaos until he stood near the tall blonde haired man, taking in the face. Older yes, but he could see the ghostly images of the Fullmetal Alchemist from a year ago. How? How could it be possible for him to change so much? What did he mean by being killed by that woman Dante?
Edward ignored the oath, still gazing at the dark haired woman staring down the barrel of his gun. He would fulfill his bargain with the Gate.
Deep green eyes bore into his golden ones filled with hunger and amusement as she brought a hand up to the barrel of the gun. She firmly held the barrel as if the tempt him into shooting her brains out.
"I've noticed as much." A curling smile graced her features as she put pressure on the barrel, wanting to direct it downwards.
"This grudge you have has nothing to do with them. It's only between you and me." Edward intoned as he kept a firm grip, not allowing himself to succumb. She had no rights to this world any longer. Her time was long overdue.
She jerked her head at the assembly who stood frozen, unsure how to react. "They're worthless. Nothing but cannon fodder, they aren't worthy of learning the arts of alchemy. You on the other hand are worth all the years I've spent in searching in alchemy for. You've overcome the impossible…because your father expected that you would." The smile unnerved him.
The gun felt cold despite the barrier of cloth protecting his hand. "What are you playing at?" Edward snarled, readying himself for what she had up her sleeve. He wouldn't have been surprised if it would level the whole place.
"You've always known the answer very well Edward Elric. The unnamed nightmares you suffer from, memories you sometimes experience that is not your own, the sheer capacity of your intelligence and uncanny ability to connect with alchemy like none other is more than unusual is it not?"
Edward stepped back, lowering his gun.
"What the hell are you doing?" Wilhelm yelled. "Don't stall!"
Edward did not heed the yell as the gun dropped from bloodless fingers as the whole assembly watched in morbid fashion, unable to move or tear their gaze away from the unfolding events. What did she know about him? Nothing…True, she might have watched him forever but she couldn't possibly know what burdened his heart. She simply couldn't.
Deep green eyes tore through his golden gaze and he felt something within him stir. The doubt he had felt growing up had been locked away…He had often seen himself in the mirror to see his father's face staring back. Years of silently suffering from visions not of his own…He never even told his mother or even Alphonse but he knew that they sometimes heard him crying out in his sleep often mistaking it for his hellish childhood memories.
"You did something didn't you?" He said with dry lips.
"Resistance will only put you through more pain than necessary. Edward Elric."
Roy who had been seeing the foreplay between the two couldn't help but feel immense dread. Dread so tangible that it would change everybody in the room who were watching the interactions of Fullmetal and the woman named Dante. Given how they were talking with each other- they knew each other pretty well.
"You're saying my name as if it never existed; you've always said it in that way…" The feeling stirred once again.
"Because you're not Edward Elric any longer, but Paracelsus Theophrastus Philippus Aureolus Bombastus van Hohenheim. You see, your father infused a small portion of his soul into yours in hopes that you would have a bit of him if he ever died, living out his life as a mere mortal."
He felt nauseous at the words.
Author's Notes: Urgh. This chapter really bites. I don't know but it's always the sixth chapter that bogs me down. Sigh. I can hope that I can come back someday to edit it. I can bet that you certainly wasn't expecting something this twisted eh? Yeah as for the other sins...they'll come around soon.