AN: OMG I'm back after HALF A YEAR! I won't bore you with my pitiful excuses for not updating. But I will say the fire I had for this fic is slowly guttering out…Still I want to finish it for you guys. You've all been so great and supportive I just COULDN'T give up and leave it without an ending. So, I'm going to finish. And I do love writing about Roy, it's fun to write as an adult occasionally. XD
Thanks for everything. Seriously, you guys made this fic my baby. Geeze, I honestly didn't think it had been that long…Since January, holy cow…
And sorry about the overload of Zak. Unfortunately, he's the only one not being held hostage…By either Russian mafia or Rosetta. I think Rosetta is scarier. AND WARNING: GORE AND SHIZ. YEH.
This chapter is for MARYLOVER. Being as you are amazing and wonderful and all, you deserve it. So, without further ado, I begin the ending sequence. I believe about five or so chapters to go…But I may be wrong. I usually am.:
Don't Slip on the Splinters
Chapter 20 – Marching on the Spot
Edward left the plane with a weary grimness, hand luggage slugged over one shoulder. He was thankful to Al, who had dutifully taken the brunt of her nervous conversation throughout the flight out of concern for his morose brother. She chattered to Rosetta beside him, as she had the whole flight, occasionally casting brief, concerned glances in Ed's direction. He was worried, and it showed, but he couldn't bring himself to tell Winry or Al about Roy and Hughes. She was so happy about their chance at Olympic fame, they all were, and he couldn't crush it for her.
Besides, they were coming back, so there was no reason to cause upset for a problem that would be solved.
They were definitely coming back.
"They told me that they would reach a decision within three days, it has been four, and I am not a man who is happy to wait!" Every other word of Svetklov's was punctuated with a sharp kick to Roy's ribs. His hands, shackled behind his back, refused to help him fight, or flee, or even get up. His lip was split, and his hands were numb both from cold and from lack of blood. Even his eyeballs felt frozen. "Due to this foreign lack of respect, you and you shall not be complete packages when…if, they ever decide to save you."
Roy groaned and spat blood onto the floor, rolling onto his back in relief as the kicks and punches finally stopped. Above him he could see open sky for the first time in five days, and he smiled grimly at the stars. Snow was encrusted around the opening, the frigid air chilling even the Russians in their thick sheep-skin coats.
"A package has been sent to your superiors to help them reach a decision, and now you have only a few hours, barely a day, until either your deaths or your liberty. It has been…interesting, Gentlemen. I leave you now with my men. Goodnight." An arm was under Roy's in an instant, hauling him unceremoniously to his feet and into the middle of the room. Svetklov didn't close the door behind him.
From somewhere outside his field of vision Roy heard a pained yelp.
"Maes…!" He tried to turn but was forced back into position by a scorching punch. The numbed skin made the blow feel like someone had strapped a hand grenade to the fist that had hit him. Painfully lifting his head, Roy looked into the face of a particularly disgruntled, meat-headed Russian.
"You…You do this!" He angrily gestured to his mouth, and at the two gaping caverns that stood where two white front teeth should have been. "Whores here don't like kissing mouth longer, you repay me?" An angry fist in his gut knocked the wind from Roy's lungs. "Huh?" The feral gleam that overtook the man's eyes threw Roy into fight or flight. There it was, right in front of him. How could they be so stupid? An open door. "Here in Russia, we have ways to showing men who no repay debts."
The muscles in his legs suddenly released their tension as Roy sprang for the door. He had little to no time to get out, phone the authorities and get back in unharmed to free Maes and Russell. He didn't want to leave them, but training took care of his morals.
Everything around him was inputted into his brain with new clarity, senses heightened by adrenalin and the sudden return of blood to his limbs. Fingertips made the distinction between wood and plaster as he guesstimated the distance between himself and the outside door against a bullet and his chest.; the bullet would definitely reach him first.
He risked it anyway.
Zak's heart sank lower with each downward step he took. The Russian Federal Morgue wasn't heated, as none of its occupants could appreciate the warmth, and the team of foreign officers shrank into their coats and scarves. They travelled in near silence past differently labelled rooms with names he couldn't understand until they reached floor minus eight.
It opened without a sound, and the group shuffled in.
"It's this one." A man stated; Dan, Zak seemed to remember; some higher up at the British Embassy. Or was it Dave? He couldn't will up the muster to care. The frosty metal door opened as though it were in pain, revealing a plain room containing four metal tables on wheels. Sheets covered their burdens respectfully.
"You ready?" He was asked, gruffly. Zak nodded despite his numbing neck, and watched in terrified fascination as the sheet was peeled back.
The first thing he noticed was that it wasn't smiling. No smirk or happy-go-lucky grin, just lax, dead lips. Colder than pewter. Fish lips.
The face…Was not the face that belonged to him. It wasn't the one he knew, the one he'd memorized over so many debates and lessons and teasing scaldings. It was as though someone had made a cast to desperately preserve something long gone. A marble replica of a dead man.
"Is this Russell Tringham?" Zak swallowed the bile he felt rising to burn the back of his throat.
"It was." He choked out.
"Alright. Would you like a moment alone?" Zak blinked furiously to avoid tears in front of the men who were pretending to care, and nodded succinctly. The team shuffled from the room and back into the bare corridor, leaving Zak alone with the Russell impostor. Lifting one hand, he gently placed it on the pearly-white shoulder before him. Nothing living, and nothing telling of why he was dead. He moved on.
The face had been cleaned up, evidence of blood in the nostrils and ears betraying the state he must have been recovered in. Cuts lined one cheek deeply, and there was an obvious injury to the head. The neck was bruised. That meant he'd been strangled whilst still alive, so it was a possible cause of death; Russell had taught him that. Irony was a bitch.
The first tear fell.
Further down, his doctor's hands told him of fractured ribs and a broken arm. It hung out of its socket, useless to its owner even if it had survived the ordeal. There was a wound on the stomach, but it didn't seem deep enough to cause concern. He pulled the blanket down, and them abruptly covered the horrifying mess he found there once more.
It took ten minutes of deep breathing and wiping away the water leaking from his eyes before he could work up the courage to pull down the sheet again without throwing up. The legs were mutilated, broken and bent unnaturally. Bone stuck out in jagged shards from the blue flesh, and he could see without having to examine that the knee-caps were shattered. Zak choked.
He threw himself onto the dead chest and beat it using his fist without passion.
Finally, he allowed himself to cry over this Russell who wasn't Russell.
The first bullet exploded by his head, while the other managed to clip his right hand. Roy carried on running, already focussed on shutting down his senses to avoid pain, avoid fear, to reach his ultimate goal. The corridors were a maze of abandoned tunnels dug by crazed worker ants all leading him to dead ends. Somewhere an alarm went off, but most of the sirens were choked by the cold.
The deeper he went into the labyrinth, the closer he got to dilapidation. Walls were crumbling, here and there a hole big enough to see the world outside through its gutted middle, missing tiles making him stumble and cut his naked feet. He wished he had all of his clothes. He wished it wasn't so cold. He wished he hadn't left Maes behind.
He wished to be at home with Ed, teasing him by the washing line.
A door loomed ahead, a metal sentry guarding his route to escape. Roy pulled down the latch, but it stayed stubbornly closed, its bulk not moving even an inch under his weight. Red blinking to his left signalled a key pad, which in turn demanded a password from the bleary-eyed prisoner. His mind blanked.
He could try some codes without setting off the alarms, they were already blearing after all. Numbed fingers rose to the monochrome pad and carefully punched the first random letters it found. It let out an undignified shriek of protest and the door remained smugly closed. Footsteps reached Roy's ears. Men, attracted by the machine's shrill beeps, began to run toward him with the clatter of guns. It was a matter of time, a matter of seconds. Roy was doomed.
He punched harder, faster at the keypad. The beeps came quicker in succession and the door steeled itself for a fight. Voices reached him and Roy panicked. His fingers bled painfully but he still hooked what was left of his nails under the security pad's panelling, brutally tearing it to reveal the quivering innards. He'd seen a movie once, and it had worked for James Bond. But he wasn't James Bond and this wasn't a prop, and he could see them coming now. There's no time, no time!
Ripping two wires out, he touched their two spark-spewing ends together and hoped for an explosion. A bullet ricocheted off the door, but it remained impenetrable. There had to be something…the door was designed to open wasn't it? Then why was it still in his way? The palm of his left hand suddenly bloomed with pain, the gunshots still sounding telling him it was a bullet. A strangled cry tore itself from his throat and he pulled out every wire to try and activate the safety mechanism but…
The safety mechanism, of course, the safety mechanism! He let out a mad laugh and searched for the fire symbol. It was tucked under the wires hanging like spilled intestines, and just as he pulled it another speeding metal demon tore through his shoulder.
Water began to fall from the ceiling and more sirens joined the cacophony, the melody the accompanied his escape. But he ignored his own personal soundtrack in favour of the opened fire-door, which he threw himself through and began to shove closed with his one whole shoulder. Around him was a small, thin set of wooden walls set with windows that dangled the outside world before his eyes sickeningly. Looking down at the door when he heard pounding on the other side, he noticed his shoulder had been bruised. Blood pulsed out of its opposite, soaking the thin undershirt he still had remaining, and despite his hands being numb he knew it was pouring from his palm as well. He had to get out now; if the guns didn't get him then the blood loss would finish the job.
Or the dogs.
A feral, guttural bark tore the frigid air as he flung open the wooden door to a millisecond of freedom. Snow clung to him as it fell from fat yellow clouds and he threw himself desperately in the direction he prayed would lead him to a road or public place. His legs began to scream at him and his lungs felt like they were on fire. They reminded him with no sugar-coating that he'd eaten nothing over the previous four days, and that adrenalin alone was not enough to make up for the strength he'd lost, nor would it sustain the level he was pushing his body to in hopes of escape. Even regularly he didn't have much hope against a healthy dog, as he was at that point…
He could hear the panting and tearing of snow by claws. The barks drew closer to him, literally snapping at his heels, slicing his calves. A rock underfoot, one leg giving way, stumbling; it was all they needed. This was where he was going to die, so he grit his teeth and hoped he'd go quickly. The vicious beast launched itself onto Roy's back and lunged for his throat.
Three succinct gun shots rang out, and suddenly the dogs lay steaming in the snow. Nothing moved.
A gloved hand dangled before his face.
His abused body refused to take it.
"Officer Roy Mustang, we've been hoping to bump into you."
It was the feet that alerted him first. As a doctor, Zak had seen his fair share of dead people, it was an unfortunate part of his job. Russell…Russell didn't have dead people feet. If he'd been dead as long as he'd been told, the feet should be almost perfectly blue with yellow soles. Russell's, while blue, had a tinge of purple and his soles were as ordinary as anyone else's.
Hope welled up.
Zak crushed it with a mental hammer.
He checked the vital signs, but couldn't find a pulse. He couldn't hear breathing either. Wishful thinking on the part of the bereaved. He'd seen that before; people who looked for signs that their loved ones lived on, even after they were scientifically dead. Oh God, I'm counted as 'bereaved' now, aren't I? No…
Maybe…Maybe he hadn't been able to hear the breathing, because he was hiccupping. Or even he couldn't see the rise and fall of the chest through the tears…
He checked the pulse again. And then again. In desperation he wove his fingers together and pumped his hands on the dead man's chest.
The table groaned in protest. Russell's corpse didn't even twitch.
"What the fuck am I doing?" He whispered into the empty room.
At the sight of a European police badge, Roy almost burst into tears. The hand belonged to a man older than him by a few years. Probably, by that account, above him in the food chain of police employment. When he didn't take it a face came into view and the officer smiled at him.
"Let me help you out there, Buddy." An arm gripped his midsection and his own was flung over foreign shoulders making him groan in pain. He was half walked half dragged through the snow towards a non-descript white van, and then lifted inside.
The warmth made him instantly dozy, but he couldn't sleep as a blanket was tossed over his shoulders and the superior officer began barraging him with questions.
"Do they know you're missing?"
"Y-yeah. The alarms were going off when-god damn! Shit!" He yanked back his arm from the kid at his side.
"You're gonna' have to let me treat that. You don't want to have escaped only to die from a holey hand, right?" Roy grit his teeth and grunted as the boy wiped the wound with a cotton ball and alcohol.
"I'm more worried about my shoulder…"
"Your…Aw fuck, I'm gonna' need an oxygen mask over here stat!" The engine rumbled to life, and a hundred pieces of equipment burst into action with bleeps and lights. People around him began talking loudly. Outside he heard more guns. "And someone press that surgical cloth down on the wound, I can't have him losing anymore blood!"
"But wait!" Roy implored, he shoved the oxygen mask away from his face violently. "Wait, you can't leave, there's still two men in there! Another officer and one civilian, we can't leave them. Damnit turn round!" The superior officer laid a hand on the minimal part of his arm that was still in tact.
"We can't Roy. They'll be on red alert, we thought we could take them by surprise and bust you out but now…We were always outnumbered, but now they'll be ready for us."
"You can't just leave them! You have an obligation, as a government paid protector of-"
"I'm not risking my team!"
"So you're going to just let them die?"
"It's them or us Mustang, let it go! Negotiations are still happening, we'll do what we can without the suicide missions, got that? Now put on your damn mask and shut the fuck up."
Russell…Maes…I'm so sorry…I can't…
The bumps made his wounds throb, and he realised dully that no-one was holding that medical cloth the young paramedic had ordered. At some point the blood loss robbed him of his consciousness. At no point did it deign to take his guilt.
The hotel was lavish and ornate. Winry gushed over the view they had, claiming she could see the Kremlin. Ed was sure she was just seeing a far-off church in the big, grimy city that had swallowed up the man that occupied his mind.
"Ed, what's wrong?" Winry set a dainty hand on his arm and he started at the touch.
"Nothing, Win. I guess I'm just nervous about the preliminaries. And…And about Roy."
"You're already so possessive. My little Edo, all grown up!" She grinned. "I'm sure he's just been really busy. He'll probably drop everything when he hears you're here." Edward made a noise of approval which Winry seemed to accept. She patted him and moved away.
"Brother, whatever it is, it'll be okay."
"Hm?" Al was suddenly there. The comforting scent of his brother, the one constant in his life, made him sigh out a little tension.
"You've just…Got further and further away the deeper we got into Moscow. I know something's wrong but…We can fix it. We always do."
"Yeah Al. We'll fix it in no time." Ed assured. Below him, a non-descript white van ripped through the streets in a spray of snow and grit. Edward closed the blinds.
A/N: Mm' done. My 'z' key and my space bar are both not working (Not good with a name like Zak 8) and I have to hit them really hard to make either of them work. MY GOD is it ever annoying lol. Thanks for reading, please leave a comment and the next chapter should be up in no time since I have the next two days free. Should be. Maybe. Okay pleasedon'tkillme, onto chapter 21…