Departure XXI

Disclaimer: Fullmetal Alchemist does not belong to me and I make no money from this work of fanfiction at all.

Pairings: Roy and Ed, leaning to Scar and Al, and others mentioned.

Warnings: Yaoi, angst, chimera!Roy, and possible OOC. Now with more lemony-fresh scent!

A/N: And hopefully, from here, it's all downhill. Things will hopefully start picking up, the plot congealing like cold gravy and with a better taste.

The question repeated itself in Scar's mind, over and over again, echoing dully and loudly enough to compete with the faint sounds of gunfire and the utter lack of life inside the city of Lior.

It was a strange question, one that he had come to ask after he had spoken with the Ishballan outcaste.

Simple and strange-

What is the Philosopher's Stone?

It should not have been that important, considering that they were faced with crows picking at corpses as they walked up and down the rubble filled roads. The scene was so similar to his memories of Ishbal that he should have been ready to find the people responsible and bring them to Ishbala's justice. Instead, that question repeated itself through his mind.

The Philosopher's Stone was something that could turn sorrow into joy, bring victory to the fallen, and made despair into hope. It exceeded "equivalent exchange"… and it required the sacrifice of thousands of human lives. Why? Why did it take all that, to bring back a person from the dead? What would make a sane human being want to do such a thing? Evil men wanted power- but to make it required such sacrifice on your own part that a selfish person would stop before they began.

Yet a person with nothing to lose… a man who didn't hear the cries of his little brother, who was so deeply in love then had his beloved called back to god's side too early… and when his entire world was falling apart around him and he wanted nothing more than to save the only family he had left…

The sun beat down overhead on this once beautiful city, making the smell even worse. Alphonse was shaking, the sound of his armor clanking against itself loud as they passed in and out of the shadows cast by the hollowed out buildings.

The Philosopher's Stone was made to fix all this, yet required this kind of madness. There was no equivalence in its making…

It could do so much, perhaps, because so much had been paid for already. A credit of some kind, for the future, concentrated into a simple blood red stone…

Ishbala, he thought, if you exist, save me from such a world. Yet his god had not answered his prayers even as he still continued on in his heart, hoping against hope that he would be heard. There was truly nothing equivalent to a life- and something so precious, taken by one who had nothing to lose…

He looked down at his arm, ignoring the familiar sounds and smells of war. My brother- why did you do this to me?

So lost was he in his thoughts, that he didn't hear the stop of Alphonse's steps, he didn't pay attention and kept walking on, until there was a loud clanking.


Whirling, both Scar and Armstrong saw Alphonse charge off, running at full speed into what had to be a group of twenty armed soldiers. They laughed- and underneath was the soft sound of flesh impacting flesh.

The boy hit them like they were ten pins, knocking half over with his momentum. The blue uniforms scattered, and Scar followed, smiling grimly…

Until he noticed one of the uniforms taking a swipe at Alphonse's helmet.

Without thought he swept in, kicking the soldier's feet out from under him, grabbing the gun that would have knocked the boy's head off and causing it to shatter. Another soldier went for the boy, this one with a knife, and again he reacted without thinking.

Then he saw what had sent the Alphonse into such a rage, and his own mind went up in flames. A tall woman, dark skinned and haired, almost Ishballan, was curled up on herself, around her swollen belly. She was bruised and bleeding from where they had gathered around her, and her clothing was in tatters.

His face didn't change, but he whipped one arm around to bring his right palm up, about to slap one of the soldiers in the chest and give him the justice he deserved-

The ground below him shivered and erupted, creating a wall and cutting most of the soldiers off from the alley where they had drifted. Armstrong stood up, from where he had punched the ground; his gauntlet's crackling with energy.

"Oh Rose, oh no, I'm so sorry- Rose, are you all right?" Alphonse asked, paying no attention to the last man left conscious of the group, just casually backhanding him into the wall.

"She needs medical attention," Armstrong said softly, kneeling next to the woman. His large hands carefully checked her injuries while tears made his eyes sparkle. "As well as food and water- she's dehydrated and malnourished." He finished checking for broken bones. "Scar- your robe, please. She needs the warmth."

Scar looked at him blankly, his mind still stuck on the fight and the peculiar fact that he had defended Alphonse Elric without hesitation or doubt. Stiffly he removed his tattered desert robe, watching Armstrong wrap it around the insensible woman.

"Rose- do you hear me?" Alphonse called pitifully, wringing his hands.

"You've been here before, Alphonse Elric," Armstrong murmured, getting his attention. "Do you know where we can take her to be treated?"

Alphonse paused, collecting himself- doing better than Scar, who was still blinking in surprise. "Everything's changed- but we could try near the church… and there were houses over that way." He pointed north. "We can see if there's anyone who can help. Rose," he whispered, looking like he was about to touch her, and pulled his hand back at the last minute.

Scar looked at the boy, feeling the tears that filled his heart and he could not shed. Even the worst of men could shed tears, and even in the deepest of suffering you could feel… So wrong, that this boy should be confined to cold, empty metal…

Brother… what would you have done?

Roy was aware of the scents first. The room was musty, smelling faintly of the rot that had seeped into the very stones of this hell hole. It was only a trace, because at the moment he was swamped under the earthy, strong musk of sex. His own scent was mingled with Edward's, completely and totally wiping out the scent of Kimbly. He was relieved- that man made him sick.

For the first time in what seemed to be years, his thoughts were clear again, lucid, without the need driving him. Instead, the Other curled contentedly in the back of his mind, enjoying the peaceful darkness around them. Ed was sprawled against him, face utterly relaxed, reminding him of his previous mate. He had been a lovely golden creature as well, though far larger. He could still remember the needing, his-

Roy shuddered, closing his eyes and turning his gaze inwards. I'm human. I am still Roy Mustang… I'm not you.

He could nearly feel yellow eyes on his- not Ed's- presenting him with memories of being the large cat. Non-linear images peeled back, one after another, of kits against his fur, soft mewls and longing to feel that again, of stalking prey through dense forests, that damn small rodent that always eluded him…

It felt like him, he could smell, he could hear, he remembered his heart beating quickly through a stalk and a strike, and he could feel the other doing the same with his own memories. The Other had looked forward to this. The cat had wanted to go back to what she knew- den and kittens and hunting…

I'm sorry.

Tucker said it was impossible. I- we- we can't go back to being different. We're this now.

He was met with confusion and disbelief. It felt like his own- when he had realized he could not and probably never would, be able to accomplish his goals and that he was forever to be… this.

I'm sorry. For us both.

He blinked his eyes open again, lifting one of his hands to wipe away the tears of pity he couldn't help but shed. He could feel the longing, the desire to return to where the cat had been… he quickly squashed his own desire to return to humanity, and to regain what he knew had to be forever lost.

Yet he felt the ache for those soft mews, the memories of his den, and the feel of leaves under his paws… Everything he no longer had. What the cat had… and he could feel her sighing in regret over his lost humanity. Bizarre, to pity himself twice, but he did. He had lost two different lives.

Of course, all of this speculation was to avoid thinking about one thing. The Big Thing…

Once the subject was dodged in his thoughts, it became possible to avoid, and his eyes traced the face of his sleeping lover.

He had nearly lost himself, nearly begged Kimbly to fuck him. He could remember how desperate he had been and now Roy was utterly mortified… and he remembered begging, crying out for Edward to fill him up with his cock.

A shiver danced down his spine as he felt Ed's breath against his naked skin. He remembered the sounds of Edward's skin slapping against his, being filled… His face flushed.

He was never, ever going to call Edward little again.

His body tried to drift back into sleep, and his damnable subconscious, talking to the Other, created images of children with black hair and gold eyes, or his face with Ed's coloring and…

It couldn't happen, he told himself, waking up with a feeling of bitter regret; not quite his own. It was impossible. Chimeras were usually sterile. Not only that- he was male. He shuddered. The idea of… that… was just wrong. He didn't think that- she did. But they both wanted...

He glanced over at Edward again, and wondered how it had come to this. Three months ago, if someone had told him he would have been desperate for Edward's skin he would have told that person he was mad. Mad, mad- that was what this situation was- mad.

He couldn't face this. Not now. He couldn't look at Edward when he woke up knowing that he had laid down and spread his legs, screaming like a queen mounted by a tom.

The words sent another shiver through him… and he licked his lips, human shame warring with the memory of how satisfying it had been. Necessary. Full and hot and slick and hard and… Something he would have liked, even as a full human.

Roy moaned. Ed was still asleep… and he could take a taste, couldn't he? He leaned down, mouthing Edward's collar bone. A little taste wouldn't hurt.

Edward slept hard, dreaming about his Kitty Bastard, begging silently for him not to leave. He had been angry and disgusted at the sight of Roy under another man's hands, and his dreams threw images of Roy leaning over and letting nameless, faceless men have free access to his ass. It kept on going, Mustang allowing others to touch him, caress him, and this time Roy wasn't fighting back.

It wasn't a Gate dream, it was his own fears, but it made him feel queasy all the same, until he remembered the taste of blood in his mouth and saw the gore between Mustang's teeth. Somehow that helped, even as he looked away. Then he felt hands lightly stroking over his skin and warmth and wet against his neck…

Eyes opening, Edward inhaled, hands flailing as he tried to find the source, and his real hand landed in thick hair.


The sound of his voice had to have been what stopped Mustang's attentions; his grip was certainly too weak to do it. The sound was high and plaintive, almost a mew, and it made Mustang pull away with a snort. Dark eyes fixed on Edward's, wide and surprised, and Roy licked his lips as his chest heaved and nostrils flared.

"Edward," he answered, sitting up beside him, blinking repeatedly as his jaw moved without words passing his lips. Finally he found something to say. "Are you all right?"

All right? All right? His mind shuffled through the past several hours, and he most certainly was not all right. He'd been made helpless, forced to watch as the man he really liked (loved, lusted after) act like a total and complete…

He peered upwards, looking up at Mustang's lips, imagining his teeth.

"Why'd you bite that guy?" he asked. "Right then… you would have wanted anyone. You wanted him to fuck you." Edward's tone was low, unconsciously pained and whining. "You didn't care who it was."

Mustang didn't deny it, but he seemed to pull into himself. His expression was one of the most human Edward had seen since this mess began.

"You didn't see that man in my memories?"

Edward shook his head.

"That was Zolf Kimbly- the Crimson Alchemist. I knew him in Ishbal. He enjoyed… enjoys, watching people hurt. That was what he did- make people into living bombs. Making them explode." Mustang looked down to Edward, giving him a crooked smile. "I told you I'd never really had sex with anyone I loved before, and Kimbly took something from me I didn't want to give. Thankfully I was so drunk at the time I don't remember it."

Edward's chest froze.

"And what does that say about me?" Tell me it's not true and that I mean something.

Mustang's expression was pained again. "You have to know that I would never have even considered you as a lover, Edward, under normal circumstances. You are beautiful, you are strong, but I was your commanding officer and-"

Edward sat up, hands and automail shaking as he turned away. He didn't want to hear this. He didn't want to hear Mustang, that old bastard, saying what he already knew. That this was a mistake, a one night stand, that Roy really, never could love him like he wanted.

Arms wrapped around his shoulders. "I should be grateful to the jaguar then." Roy's jaw rested on his shoulder, pulling him back against his body. "I couldn't accept it at first, but she showed me that you are very, very sexy."

Ed's brain fizzled.

"Now if she would just shut up about kittens," Mustang muttered, nuzzling Edward's ear. "I do want sex, but I want it with you… so please stay with me. Don't leave me, not when I realized that it's you I want. Even if it's not how I would have liked it…"

Ed took a deep breath, smelling Mustang, his Kitty Bastard. "So, in other words, I need to stick close to you?" he asked softly, as Mustang's large hands went up and down his sides. Having the man be coherent was much better than the hysterical fuck-me-now Mustang of a couple of hours ago. "When you become human again, you'll still-"

Teeth lightly pricked the shell of Ed's ear. "That doesn't matter." Ed didn't like the sound of that, but Mustang was gliding back down to Ed's waist. "Don't think about what might be. I want you for now, and the future can take care of itself."

Ed frowned- then smacked Roy's head.

"Don't- don't think like that. This wasn't meaningless. I am not going to be some- some throw away boy for you."

Roy growled, and Ed remembered where his teeth were. "No. I said I'd never had sex with someone I loved, or cared about, before. You're the first. I care about you- that much should be obvious, or I wouldn't be here. I-" he swallowed, then licked Ed's ear. "I could fall in love with you, and that's what bothers me, because I need you so much."

"What's wrong with-"

"I don't like being weak anymore than you do, Ed," Roy mumbled, voice husky before brushing Ed's hair over one shoulder and leaning down to lick his neck. Thinking was very hard after that.

"You aren't… just… equivalent exchange, kitty bastard." Ed gasped, tilting his head to the side. "You helped Al and me, you turned into this because you weren't going to turn us in. You took care of me, I'll take care of you." He reached back, putting his flesh hand on Roy's head, biting his bottom lip when Roy sucked just under his ear this time. "You'll get back on your feet and- and then," he moaned, unable to finish. "We can… we can…"

Roy didn't let him finish, tilting his head up and finding Ed's lips again.

"You're not in heat again, are you? Can you stop?" Ed wanted to shoot himself for asking. He didn't want Mustang to stop.

There was another growl, and Roy pulled back. "I still am, I think, but it's not so bad. I can wait if you want."

"Don't you fucking dare," Ed hissed, twisting around and putting his hands on Roy's shoulders and pushing him backwards. "You do not do this to a man and just stop." Ed looked down, straddling his waist. He was trying to get some kind of control of his emotions; so far, lust was the easiest one to handle. Didn't want to think, didn't want to deal- he just wanted to taste and feel and make Mustang howl again.

"Wouldn't dream of it," Roy answered, sounding light headed, reaching up and lightly running a claw over Ed's cheek. Their bodies shifted, allowing Ed to fit himself neatly between Roy's legs again.

"Did you like it?" Ed asked, abruptly. "This. Did you feel," he paused, turning bright red. "I know you came, but, um…"

His mind was foggy, but he kissed Ed, this time just to enjoy the feel of his mouth. "You're sweet."

"Am not!"

"Ed, you're ruining what mood there is."

"And you aren't answering my question!"

Roy gave him a quirky, odd smile. "Ed, for lack of a better metaphor, I was starving. I needed food, but that doesn't mean I couldn't taste the difference between beef jerky and steak."

"Great, you're comparing me to a piece of meat now."

Roy rolled his eyes, before sighing and rubbing himself against Ed and finding his lips again. "You aren't… and if you are so concerned, this time- we'll take our time."

Ed closed his eyes- there were words he clearly wanted to say, but had no idea how to say them. Not when warm skin was against his and he was thoroughly rested and his beautiful kitty bastard was being such a bastard again.

"Take our time?" Ed finally worked enough spit back into his mouth to speak. "How do we-"

Roy chuckled and rolled them over, on top of Ed but straddling his waist, leaning over for a kiss.

"Like this."

All told it had been three weeks since Maes had last kissed his little girl goodbye. In that time, the world had changed, and here he was…

Standing in front of a butcher shop in Dublith.

He had been on the train, wary and sweating in his civilian clothes, until he had arrived here and had found the address Ed had given him before he had left. It had been a gamble, knowing where they had gone, but Hughes had thought it worth the risk, especially if an emergency occurred.

One had. This one was…

He walked into the butcher shop, not knowing what to expect, but absently feeling for his knives. No one was tailing, not yet, he didn't think anyone knew he was here beyond his own people.

"Welcome," a gravely voice called from the store counter, and Maes stopped on front of a man who rivaled Armstrong in height and girth, sans sparkles.

"Ah, yes, I'm here looking for a friend of mine. I'm told she was staying around here," Maes said, politely, wishing they had come up with some kind of sign/countersign before they had all parted ways. Besides, asking for Hawkeye was less threatening than asking for Ed, right?

"Depends on who's asking."

Er, right…

"Don't worry, he's with us," a calm voice interrupted, and Maes had to have figured that it would have been her to fix things. Hawkeye always did. "Though I cannot imagine what it was that brought you here. We didn't plan to meet up again until later."

The blond woman looked much the same- her hair was severely pulled back, dressed in trousers and blouse, with a broom in her hand instead of paperwork. Behind her stood Tim Marco and a formidable looking woman in dreadlocks, looking at him like a piece of trash.

Maes assumed this was their teacher.

"Where are Ed and Roy? I want everyone to see this," he stated, putting the battered leather briefcase that held his data on the counter. "Explaining this more than once will be a pain."

"They aren't here," someone replied, and he turned to another man, this one hauling a massive sack over one shoulder, "Izumi put them on the island-"

The man was shot a withering look that Maes knew had to be reserved for women only, from both Hawkeye and the lady with dreadlocks. Maes was married…

And while he wasn't as smooth as Roy, he knew how to deal with women; treat them like human beings and appeal to their better natures. Barring that, sweet talk worked.

"This is important- and I want all the alchemists I know of to see this. This is big. It's not just big, it involves the entire country and we have to get them here," he said, brooking no argument. "Now."

Greed leered as Ed emerged from the bedroom, sweaty and barefoot, hair down around his shoulders.

"So, kid, equivalent exchange. You got your fun, now you have to listen to me."

Ed took a deep breath, and lifted an eyebrow when Greed pushed over a glass. Picking it up, Ed sniffed it, and put it back down.

"I need a drink, but I need a clear head more," Ed deadpanned. Greed rolled his eyes.

"Sure, sure, but I thought you becoming a man would mean you could take a manly drink…"

"Cut out the bullshit. Tell me what you've got to tell me and let's get it over with."

Greed seemed delighted; eying Ed's still flushed skin and the unavoidable scratches. Apparently he wasn't finished trying to get a rise out of Edward. "You two must have had quite the little party. You made enough noise to wake the dead. Some of the living really got a kick out of it, too."

Ed's face turned red, but his expression didn't change.

"Get on with it."

Greed shrugged, before lifting his hand with the ouroboros tattoo. "You seen something like this before, kid?"

Ed nodded, pointing as the blood drained from his face. "That was what those things calling themselves homunculi had!"

Greed snapped his fingers, grinning toothily. "Got it in one, kid. That's exactly what we are. Homunculi."

"If you all are homunculi, some alchemist had to have made you- and there's no record of successfully making one-"

"Well, you see, kid. This is how it works. Homunculi are made when a person tries to bring a human back to life, and fails. What you get are creatures like me."

Ed's jaw fell.

"There's no flies down here, kid."

Ed shut his mouth, goose bumps breaking out over his skin.

"Interesting as the subject is, I can't do alchemy. None of us can. It's one of our few weaknesses."

Greed continued talking. He knew the kid was smart- he'd probably get the point soon enough.

"I want something from you. From what Tucker's said you all but made your brother immortal. I want that. I'll have that, and you'll give it to me."

Ed's lips pursed. "I've listened to what you had to say- I didn't say that I would do anything for you. What I did with Al-"

"What if I made it worth your while, kid?"

Ed glared. "Don't call me kid."

"Kid, once you hit a hundred, I'll stop. I've been around about a hundred and fifty. I ain't asking for much, not with what I plan to offer you. I've got a juicy bit of information that I'm sure you would just adore to have."

The bait was laid out, and the struggle on Ed's face and his squirming were obvious.

"I already know about the Philosopher's stone, asshole. I won't ever make one, either. I don't care if you do want to be human-"

"Human? Who the hell wants that? Everyone's human- I'm not called Greed for nothing. I want power. I want women, I want money- I want it all and I'll have it. "

The young alchemist's face twisted with disgust. "Yeah right- there's nothing you could tell me that would even convince me, and if you kill me no one will ever-"

Greed again cut him off. "Even if I tell you who has been pulling the strings for the past four hundred years? Who actually made the Philosopher's Stone in the past- and that she's still around?" The homunculus sneered, leaning back and smelling his drink before tossing back a gulp. "The person who's been steering your life- and pretty much everyone else's?"

Ed frowned. "What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about the truth, kid. The real truth. You up for it?"

"You slept out here again?"

The older man looked up, blinking in surprise as he realized that he had fallen asleep next to the grave once more. He could feel the wet seeping through his coat and pants, the chill air against his hair and skin. His eyes traced over the name of Trisha Elric before he met the blond girl's eyes.

"Yes, it seems I did. Time… just doesn't seem to mean much to me anymore."

The blond girl tilted her head, before placing a small bundle of flowers before a grave next to Trisha's. The names belonged to…

"My god, I thought you were Sara- how long ago did it happen?" he asked, standing up and dusting off. "They had a little girl- that was you? You- you've grown… the boys have grown too, haven't they?"

"It's been nearly ten years since my parents died," Winry answered.

"And Trisha?"


Silence blew in after the wind, uncomfortable and unpleasant as man and girl looked at each other.

"Granny sent me out here to call you for breakfast," Winry finally continued, getting the impression that the man wasn't truly seeing her. He was seeing something else entirely. "Are you all right?"

"No. But that doesn't really matter, does it?" he said, shrugging. The emotion drained from his face. "I want to mourn, I want to take on the role of this life… but it doesn't exist and I don't have the energy to create a life of my own."

The man noted that his words were making the girl look like a fish- her jaw was slack and her eyes were overly large. Of course, they could be construed as being quite eccentric… He looked down at the grave.

"I think this is where I truly belong. Yet I cannot go there yet. A husband made a promise to his wife that I will keep." He looked over at Winry and smiled. "Do you know where the boys would have gone? I have something I need to tell them."

"Uh, sure… but sir, Ed and Al… last time anyone saw them, they were…" She swallowed hard. "They supposedly broke a man- a condemned man- out of prison. The man who killed my parents. They thought that Ed and Al would come here, but they never did and…"

"That means they thought it wouldn't be safe here for you." That much he knew and understood of those two. They were truly Trisha's sons. They both had a capacity for caring and love he could never possess. "Which means that they would go someplace they thought was safe. If not their home, then were?"

"Where else could they go?" Winry was puzzled. The man looked fondly down at Trisha's marker.

"Did anyone help them after Trisha died? Did they know someone they thought they could go to for protection? A mentor, a friend? Someone that few people knew about?"

Winry paused to think, shoulders hunched, and turned to head back to her house on shuffling feet. The man watched her, stepping forward as well.

Quiet still blew louder than the wind, even as the trees were their familiar green and he could smell fresh cut grass as the sun warmed the ground. All of it was lovely, all of it was nostalgic…

"And in the end, we can never truly go back. All we can do is remember and go forward."

Winry looked over her shoulder at him, still clearly puzzled, and then scratched her head. She was thinking hard, dredging up all she knew about the two boys- and the man was happy it was her he was talking to. No one would know them better than the friend who grew up with them. No one else would point him in the right-

"They left for about six months right after their mom died. Went someplace to learn more alchemy… I think their teacher could do it like Ed. You know- alchemy without circles."

The man behind Winry stopped, eyes wide.

"Without circles?" he asked, faintly. The sun on his shoulders could no longer be felt, the nostalgia of the path in the morning faded away. His heart ached at the thought of what those boys must have gone through.

Hohenhiem had known exactly the kind of despair it would take to break all the taboos; the sins of hubris and wrath that could make someone defy death. He couldn't condemn someone for that… Still, those boys…

"I think they told me once where it was. I need to go see if Granny remembers… but they could have gone there. If that lady was as strong as I remember, she might help them."

"They would go there," he said with finality. "Those boys always ran to their mother when they were afraid or hurt." He closed his eyes, shutting out the too familiar memories.

He hated those memories. He loved those memories. They were a thorn in his flesh that he could never be rid of, no matter what that awful woman told him. He was so lost in those memories, that he barely noticed the sound of steps and a scream…

The cheerful yellow house was the same, but Pinako was being held by a large, round man… and his eyes went wide when claws lanced through his body, and he came face to face with disinterested, mildly amused purple eyes.

"Well, well. Long time no see," Lust purred, lips quirking upwards as she withdrew her hand from his chest with a wet slurp.

He, unfortunately, was not as amused as she was. Winry had stopped screaming, but he could see the tears wetting her face.

He didn't like those tears; Hohenhiem had made enough women cry.

Winry shrieked in shock and fear as the man she had thought was Ed and Al's father swelled, exploding in a furious storm and crashing into Gluttony to knock him away from the old woman and flood the dry lawn and reform himself between the women and the intruders.

In Hohenhiem's place stood a tall, pale man, dressed in close fitting black trousers and sweater, the snake eating its tail just below his right collar bone. Pale purple, slit irises peaked out from his narrowed eyes.

"That hurt," he responded and woman shrugged.

"It was nothing permanent, Sloth."

To be continued.

A/N: I have been sick, had school, been burned out at work and otherwise had writer's block. I hope this chapter was decent and I hope the plot is still interesting. Merry Christmas, happy New Year and I wish everyone peace and joy. Hopefully the plot twist wasn't too confusing.