D M Evans
Disclaimer - not mine, all characters belong to Hiromu Arakawa et al, Square Enix and funimition. I don't make a profit
Time Line - Set within issue 57 so spoilers for that
Pairing - Ran Fan/Ling (sort of, Ran Fan pov)
Summary - Ran Fan's pleasant dreams are spoiled by the realities of what Ling is attempting to do with the Philosopher Stone
Author's Note - Thanks to Sj and Megs for the beta
Home - the mere smell of it comforted her, made the trek across the desert melt away. Watching the bright colors of the fish in one of the Imperial Gardens' many ponds helped her forget the strange land they visited, with its wars and violent alchemists. However, could she ever truly forget that, as much as she wanted to pretend, that Xing was little better with all its clan wars? It would be better now. Ling would make it so.
Golds, whites and blacks streaked under the water as the greedy fish gobbled the food she parceled out. Those were not her colors. From now on her colors would be red, like the stone inside of him. She would wear just a spot of it every day to reflect that, red for the stone, red for the blood she shed.
Ran Fan looked at her shining metal arm, taking pride in the weaponry concealed within it. She had turned a disability into something that would allow her to protect her man even better than before. Oh, he might need it less now, but what of later? What of his children...their children, they would need protecting.
"Ran Fan." The way he said her name was softer than the petals of the flowers that surrounded them. Ling's smile was the one she had seen only rarely, not the broad ingratiating one he used to win people over nor the wicked one of his Greed aspect. No, this was a shy, loving smile seen only by a few. His fingers pressed over her lips, cutting off anything she had to say.
She had never imagined that he cared as much about her as she did for him until the trip home. Ran Fan fretted because she knew she wasn't worthy of his love. She was just a servant and he was the man who would be emperor soon. He could be so now but he was waiting, biding his time, garnering more supporters. He promised her the throne, and more importantly, his love. He said he'd always trusted her with his life and now, his heart.
Her knees felt weak as his lips touched hers, the tip of his hot tongue pressing between them. She wrapped her arms around him, trying to ignore the clanking. Clanking? She reached for a weapon out of reflex. Ling disappeared as consciousness flooded in, bringing in a wave of pain the doctor's medicine could barely stem. Setting down her blade, Ran Fan's fingers strayed to the bandages over her shoulder as she tried to cling to her dream. Alphonse seemed to be looking at her intently but with him, who could tell?
Ran Fan glanced away, her cheeks coloring. Could he know how she burned down under the covers? Variations of these dreams had been with her for about a year now, filling her with such hopelessness. Her grandfather would have been ashamed to know it. Her young master was just that, her master. She could never be anything to him but a bodyguard, no matter what she might long for.
"Is there anything you need me to get, Ran Fan? It's late. I think everyone else is asleep," Al said, hovering in the doorway.
She looked over at him. "You're here to be sure Mei-Chan doesn't try to kill me in my sleep."
Alphonse would have been fidgeting were he human, she didn't doubt. "Sometimes patients wake up in pain and need help," he lied diplomatically.
"I'm fine...and that is just the way of things in our land, Alphonse." Ran Fan turned her face away. "It has nothing to do with you."
"Children killing each other...that should have something to do with all of us," he replied softly.
Ran Fan bit her lip, looking at him out of the corner of her eye. "That is what my master wants to fix. Now that he's immortal, he can put an end to it. The clans will be stable, those in favor, those not. It will bring peace."
"At what cost?" Alphonse asked.
Ran Fan shut her eyes. She wanted to believe that Ling was still alive inside of Greed but Alphonse couldn't tell her that for sure. And the name alone didn't engender confidence but she didn't care. She would take Ling back any way he came. She loved him that much. "He was willing to make that sacrifice. I do not blame you."
Al seemed to slump. "No, I meant, how do you make the unfavorable clans not a problem? How many die then? And when they grow to fear Ling, what happens? They will, Ran Fan. They have to. I've seen fear of normal alchemists. I've heard them call my brother a freak. I've seen soldiers scurry away so they don't have to be near Colonel Mustang. What do you think they'll do once they realize that Ling's immortal? Immortal, Ran Fan, not invincible. I saw Colonel Mustang kill Lust. I've met the other Greed, the one that was destroyed. This may not be the gift you think it is."
Ran Fan's breath caught. She had never thought of that and to her knowledge, neither had Ling. They had been so obsessed with the goal of immortality, so convinced it was what was right, that maybe they hadn't seen all aspects of it. She couldn't deal with this. "It's something to think about." She rubbed her eyes. "Alphonse, I do hurt. I'll take more of my pills. May I have some water?"
"Of course." Al appeared happy to have the diversion.
Ran Fan swallowed the pills because she did hurt, more than she cared to acknowledge. She had an ulterior motive as well, sleep, escape Al's disturbing thoughts. "They'll make me sleep," she said, hoping to get him out of the room. "I do appreciate you looking out for me but I don't think Mei-Chan will try again."
"I hope not. I'll be around," Alphonse said and thankfully left her.
Ran Fan settled on the pillows, trying not to think about what he had said. It left her too unsettled. Worse, she knew deep down it was too late. Ling was now Greed and their plan would have to go forward. Her place was at his side, if he'd still have her. Maybe, if she were lucky, the pills would let her dream of him again. The dream world might be the only place she would ever be with him again.