Rating: PG-13, "T"
Summary: AU. Roy's best-laid plans derail entirely, more than he'd dreamed possible, and leave the Elric brothers with even less than they had before...
Disclaimer: Don't own FMA, just penning down a possibility...
Notes: Saw a line in a fic about fallen angels-- remembered a song called "Angel Boy" I'd been wanting to link with FMA-- remembered that certain things in FMA aren't impossible-- and then I think the rest of it birthed itself, and I'm almost half-traumatized myself, which is saying something. And in the way of fics sometimes, this had nothing to do with the thoughts that started it. God, I think this may be the only worse scenario than the original... Though it's still a tight race...
This was going to be longer, but I never finished the rest of it. Later, upon reflection, I realized my ideas to extend it were really stupid anyway. So trust me, I think we're all better off. Even if the title makes a little less sense...I still liked the concept, and wanted to post it. So I have. cough If anyone were crazy enough to want to continue this in my stead, they would be perfectly free to, as long as they notified me in a review. But somehow I don't think that'll happen, which is okay.
Spoilers for-- it might be episode six, I can't remember names-- Shou Tucker's first appearance. Something ridiculously early, that's all.
I've held the hand of the devil, felt his breath on my skin
Dip me into the water, wash me again
Can I still be forgiven for all of these things?
Or have I gone too far now-- Have I lost my wings?
-Tim McGraw, "Angel Boy"
And in his spiral of darkness, Shou Tucker finally saw a light.
"I'm not sure..." he said, letting some of that desperation show. "I only realized this morning what I've been doing wrong... If I only had time, I could do it all myself, but-- I don't think I'll be able to finish in time."
Amber eyes looked faintly doubtful. "Is there maybe any way I could help you?"
"You know... maybe you can, Edward. I hate to ask you to do anything that could ever get you in trouble with the military..."
"Screw 'em." Ed laughed. "Besides, I've already done things that could get me in trouble with 'em, this is nothing. It's not even cheating or anything. Who says you can't have some help? You'll be making the Array and everything yourself, right? I can just help you draw it. That'll be enough, right?"
"More than enough. Ed... thank you so much for your help. Before this... I thought I was going to lose-- everything." A wavering smile. "But you're the answer."
"Hey, don't make such a big deal about it. I was really curious about how you made that chimera, anyway. And now I get to see it for myself!" Ed grinned.
Tucker smiled. "Ah, the passion of youth... But we should probably send Nina and your brother away. It might be dangerous... at best, a little daunting. I don't think we can risk..."
"Wonderful!" Tucker smiled. "It's done."
Al drummed the fingers of the armor on the table. He was nervous, and he wasn't sure why. Maybe it was just because Ed was out of his sight, and he didn't really like that. But that was a little obsessive. Still, what could happen to him with Mr. Tucker? It wasn't like he was on the street fighting crime or something...
"It's lonely here," Nina said, hugging Alexander's neck. "I want to go home."
"I know," Al said. "But your father said it would be safer here..."
"But what if they get hurt?"
"They won't. They'll be fine. They know what they're doing." But still... Al didn't entirely like the idea of chimeras, and he wasn't sure why. Maybe it just seemed a little too much like forbidden alchemy for him to feel safe around it. Merging two animals together... it didn't seem quite...
A talking chimera... How could you possibly...?
"Nina..." Al said. "Do you know anything about your father's first chimera? The one that talked?"
Nina shrugged. "They wouldn't let me see it. I didn't want to. I saw some of the others, and they're a little scary... and... they usually die, Daddy says, but he's working on fixing that."
Al tapped his fingers faster. There were two ways to create a talking chimera that he could think of... And he wasn't sure he liked either of them. But if it was-- the second way--
"Nina..." Al said. "I was thinking maybe we could go visit Mr. Hughes."
"It's so late..."
"Yes, but there's something I want to talk to him about. I think it's important."
"Okay. I'll come with you?"
"Sure. Let's go."
Several times on the way to Mr. Hughes' house, Al had to stop to let Nina and Alexander catch up with him. Part of it was because he was so tall now, but also he was walking quickly. There was an anxious edge to his thoughts he couldn't quite explain, but reminded him of... Of the way he'd sometimes felt when they were doing research into bringing her back. Of the way he'd felt-- the way they'd both felt-- after they'd learned that Winry's parents had died, and they'd reached the bottom of that hill and seen her-- that kind of sick feeling, of premonition, muted now, but...
"Oh, hi, Al!" Hughes said when he opened the door. "What are you doing here so late? We were just about to go to bed for the night. Such as it is..." He chuckled a little, then caught sight of the little girl. "And you brought Nina? And their dog..."
"Mr. Hughes," Al said, "there's something I need to talk to you about. May we come inside?"
"Sure," he said instantly. "Nina, why don't you go visit Alicia? She's grown so much already..."
Nina's eyes brightened. "Sure!" she cried, and Hughes' wife led her to the nursery after a glance at her husband's eyes.
"Well, then. What's so urgent?" Hughes asked, leaning back on the couch.
"I was wondering... about Mr. Tucker's chimera. The one that talked?"
"Ah, yes." A faint dark flicker came into his eyes. "What about it?"
"Do you know-- what it was made of? Did you see it?"
Hughes shook his head. "Nope. I'm in Intelligence; that's way out of my field."
"Then-- what did it say, exactly?" Al said, a tinge of desperation to his voice. "How did it talk?"
Hughes glanced away. "The way I heard it... it didn't live very long, and it only ever said one thing."
"It said, 'I want to die'."
The lights that were now Al's eyes flickered and grew brighter.
"And it wouldn't eat after that. It starved itself, I heard."
"--I have to go!" Al jumped up, panic in his voice.
"Wait a second, wait a second!" Hughes grabbed Al's arm. "What is it?"
"It's-- my brother's alone with him, and--"
"Slow down, I don't understand--"
"My brother's helping him! And I don't know how! Either--" Al's arms were waving around wildly. "Don't you see, he's got to make another talking chimera! And-- either-- it can't be good, either way, he couldn't-- I-- I have to GO!"
Al threw open the door and ran out into the night.
"Honey!" Gracia ran in. "What is it! What's wrong!"
"I don't know," Hughes said, and stepped to the phone. "But I know who will."
Maes was probably hopelessly confused now, Roy realized belatedly, tugging on his gloves as he hurried to the car. Al certainly hadn't explained it, and he hadn't bothered either-- but he'd understand, later.
Assuming Alphonse hadn't killed him by then.
He ran down Al's line of reasoning again, checking it one more time. Talking chimera. The only way you could produce one was to use something that could talk. What could talk besides humans? Maybe parrots, too-- which was why he'd gone to Hughes first, praying to God it had been a parrot. And it hadn't been. Parrots didn't talk like that. Parrots were taught 'Polly want a cracker' and dirty jokes, not 'I want to die'. No, there had been sense behind that statement.
And now Edward was helping Tucker finish his experiment.
And the best possible scenario for that was that Edward would be standing by as Tucker fused a human with an animal.
Roy furiously wondered why he hadn't been told that Alphonse and Nina had been moved out-- and knew the answer instantly. Someone wanted Tucker's work. Someone wanted another talking chimera. But why? Chimeras were inherently unnatural, always in pain. What possible use could they have for an intelligent one, one that talked? It made no sense.
He hadn't anticipated this, and he hoped he hadn't just made one of the biggest miscalculations of his life.
He pushed open the door before the car completely stopped and ran inside the house. He had to stop in the front room to listen-- and heard a muffled thumping up the stairs, to the right. He ran up the stairs as quickly as he could, threw open the door--
Saw Alphonse beating the living hell out of Shou Tucker.
"Alphonse!" he yelled. "Stop it! You'll--" He saw Tucker's bloodied face, remembered the metal hands. "You're killing him!"
"He deserves to die!" Al screamed, a sound that shocked Roy to the core. "DO you know what he did! DO YOU KNOW WHAT HE DID! That first chimera of his! He told me! He used his own WIFE, the son of a bitch! He turned his wife into that THING and watched as she starved herself to death because she couldn't live like-- she couldn't live like that and you son of a bitch!" Al punched him again.
Roy quickly gathered his wits back up. "That's horrible, Alphonse, but you've got to--"
"What! You think I'm angry! I don't get angry anymore! I don't get out of control! I know exactly what I'm doing, Mustang, and leave me alone! He was going--"
Roy glanced around frantically for Ed, sure that nothing else could stop Al. But the older brother was nowhere in sight.
And Al dropped Tucker, shaking. "I hope I did kill him. I hope I did kill him. I wouldn't forgive myself. But Nina-- oh God, Nina-- did you know-- what he told me he was going to do? He told me-- he was going to-- fuse his daughter with his DOG. He was going to turn his own DAUGHTER-- and he KNOWS how much it hurts-- and he was going to--"
"His own daughter--" Roy was lost in shocked horror for a moment, then recovered himself again. "Alphonse. Where's Edward? You came here looking for him. Where's he gone?"
"And then Ed came along and solved all his problems," Al said, with a bitter laugh, metal scraping on metal. "And-- I hope he is dead. I hope he is dead. He should never have been born."
"Alphonse! Where is Edward!"
The armor dropped to the floor as Al laughed again, a bitter, terrible sound, that had no business coming from a giant suit of armor, much less a ten-year-old child. "Well, GEE, Mr. Military Manipulator! YOU TELL ME!"
"What the hell do you MEAN, 'you--"
"They took him away, you idiot! They got whatever the HELL it was they wanted and they left before I got here and I was only JUST in time to get him to tell me what happened. And to kill him. No one can EVER do this again. And he'll do it, and they'll make him, and-- You. You can make yourself useful. Burn this whole place down."
"His SPONSORS! Machiavelli! You thought you had everything figured out, didn't you! Thought you had every single person on a string, every molecule under your control. But I know you didn't see THIS coming. Oh no. Even you can't pretend to have manipulated THIS. You wouldn't lose your prize, would you? No, you'd never give him up. I know why he hated you now. Why he hates you now. Help me burn this place down, or I'll do it myself. And I won't ever bother coming out."
"Alphonse, what the hell--"
"Are you STUPID! He was going to make a chimera out of his daughter! And then he realized there was someone else he could use! Someone young enough to tolerate it better, like he'd been thinking-- someone he knew could handle pain. YOU GODDAMN MORON! He made a chimera out of my BROTHER!"
And Roy had known in his heart it was coming for several minutes now, but staggered back anyway, deathly pale. "Alphonse--"
"Help me burn this place down. They'll want to know how he did it. They can never find out. Do you hear me? They can NEVER find out."
"..." Roy nodded mutely. "...Let's go. Let's get the hell out of here."
Al obeyed, and he led the way down.
"That room over there was the center."
Roy took out a piece of chalk and scribed a few quick arrays on the walls, numbly. "Come on, that should be enough." He led the way back to the door... and saw blood and mangled feathers on the ground. Had glanced through the open door of Tucker's study, which was covered in Arrays, arrays drawn in blood, arrays covered in blood...
And Alphonse had been entirely right.
Roy snapped his fingers, and the house instantly caught fire in a blaze that was so hot it flickered blue.
At some point he had dropped to his knees. And it had all been a plan, to teach Edward caution, to reinforce the lesson of Forbidden Alchemy. It had been all part of his grand scheme, and look how easily it had fallen apart. Edward was, barring some freakish, pointless subterfuge, a chimera. And he was entirely to blame.
"Al!" Hughes had torn himself away from his wife and daughter, had followed them here. "Al, where-- Roy? Roy, did you-- where's--?"
At some point Roy had started sobbing uncontrollably, horrified at his lapse of composure but unable to stop himself. And Alphonse-- Al couldn't cry, not anymore.
"Roy, God Almighty, what's happened? Al? Somebody tell me something!"
"Kill me too!" Roy found himself screaming, whipping his head around in Al's vague direction. "You know I deserve it!"
"Roy, Sweet God Almighty, snap out of it, snap out of it!"
Hughes was shaking him, but Roy was already shaking more violently than he could rival. And Alphonse didn't answer.
"Roy, I'll--" Hughes was turning to go-- to call someone-- and Roy grabbed his sleeve.
"No! You have to let it burn down. It has-- what he's done-- they can't find out-- I never should have--" He shook himself violently, realizing he didn't make sense. "Maes, you have to let it burn down."
And Roy had pulled him down and was sobbing into his shoulder, and Hughes was too terrified to speak again. And Al said nothing, and was alone.
And the mansion collapsed in flame.