A/N: Another one shot forced it's way out before my Al fic is done. No worries, it is still in progress. I may be a little delayed for a while though, since I will be leaving for college this coming week.
Disclaimer: I do not own FMA. If I did, Ed and Al would both get their bodies back and live happily ever after on Al's alchemic kitty farm (joke aimed at CaptainKase. :D).
Summary: Death was not a possible outcome for Edward Elric, the Full Metal Alchemist. (angst, torture)
This fic is a purposeless exercise in Ed!angst and torture. There are no pairings. Let me repeat – NO PAIRINGS. That means that this is not Envy/Ed. You follow me? NOT. Not not not not not. When I say no pairings, I mean no pairings. This is just Envy being a sadistic bastard. That's all.
I'd like to extend a huge 'thank you' to two people. 1) My good friend Suzy, without whom, this fic would not be possible. 2) My spectacular beta, CaptainKase. Much love to both of you.
Not Now, Not Yet
As Edward Elric hit the ground and got a mouthful of dirt, he vaguely thought about how strange it was that one little decision, one seemingly incidental, meaningless choice at a fork in a road could affect the future so much. How one little difference in the past hour could have had him sitting at dinner with Al, Winry, and the Hughes family instead of here, in the middle of the warehouses of Central Headquarters, fighting against an unknown attacker.
He'd been leaving the library with Al when they ran into Hughes. Hughes had been absolutely adamant that they both come over to his home for dinner (because Elysia was now, apparently, cuter than ever and Hughes had another whole photo album filled that they just had to see). He'd also invited Winry, who was still in town after repairing Ed's arm from the damage of laboratory five.
Ed had refused the invitation. He hadn't intended to sound as if he didn't want to come – though Hughes had been getting on his nerves a little – but more dead ends in his research had given him a terrible headache, and he really wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed and never come out again
Hughes had understood, of course, but had still extended an invitation to Al, who reluctantly accepted after a little prodding from his older brother. Edward assured him that Hughes knew enough about the two of them to not make Al feel uncomfortable about his unnatural eating habits, and there would be more to the evening than dinner anway. Al deserved to have a little fun. It would be good for him. So, Al left with Hughes, and Ed started on the dark walk back to their room in the dorms, taking the shortcut through the sprawl of military warehouses.
It shouldn't have been dangerous. It shouldn't have.
The warehouses had closed several hours before, so no one was on duty in the area, but it was still on government soil, still surrounded by military buildings, still within the boundaries of Central Headquarters. It wasn't as if he were walking past some dirty alleyway or sleazy bar, and the rumors of a 'Phantom Thirteenth Warehouse' that had been circulating Headquarters recently were completely idiotic and bogus. Ed never really stopped to think about it, but he had taken the route enough to be comfortable with it, and he was positive that if he had stopped to consider his personal safety, he would have found his chosen route to be safe and secure. Especially since he was the Fullmetal Alchemist, and should be able to go wherever the hell he pleased.
He was certainly not prepared for the figure that dove out of the shadows just after he passed Warehouse Four, nor was he prepared for the full body tackle that left him facedown in the dirt.
Throwing off the heavy weight, he leapt to his feet and tried to get a good look at his attacker. All that his eyes were able to process before he was tackled to the ground again was a grungy, gray sweatshirt and dusty snowcap.
"Get off of me!" Ed punched the man across the face, sending him flying. "What the hell is your problem!"
Scrambling to his feet, Ed reached to grasp the man by the collar, but hit only air. The man was running, skirting the corner around the Fourth Warehouse. The coward had attacked him, and then, apparently finding out that his prey was not as weak as he'd predicted, decided to make a run for it. How utterly pathetic!
"Get back here! I'm not going to let you get away!" Ed sprinted after him, darting for the thin space between warehouses where the man had disappeared only moments before.
He came to the entrance, but only got a few steps into the small passage before he was forced to skid to a stop. A thick, brick wall spanned the space between the two warehouses that loomed up on either side of him.
A dead end?
"You know, Pipsqueak," came a quiet, gravelly voice, "I've been watching you for a while now. And you've just now managed to prove how pitifully predictable you are."
Ed spun around.
A lone figure stood at the entrance of the alley. It was the man who had attacked him – some old geezer with stained clothing, greasy, gray whiskers and crooked teeth that spliced through his lopsided grin. For all his girth, the stride the man took as he slowly walked into the alley was smooth and light.
"Who the hell are you?" asked Ed, crouching slightly and preparing to defend himself.
"You know who I am."
Ed was just about ready to end this silly game and leave the insane quack to his delusions, when the man's face was enveloped by a buzzing, white light. The buzzing quickly continued to spread throughout the figure's entire body, until that too was shrouded in the mysterious glow. Ed took an involuntary step back.No…it couldn't be…
The torso slimmed out into a slender, muscled frame. Wide eyes rimmed with filth and grime narrowed to purple slits. Thin, gray locks lengthened, lightened, spidered out into long, green spears of hair. The white light puttered out, revealing…The psychopath from Lab 5! Envy! But why? Why is he here now?
But he was given no more time to think.
Envy lunged at him, coiling up and springing forward like a cat pouncing on a mouse. Stumbling backwards, Ed dodged the first lunge, but just barely. He's too fast! Now that Envy had shed the old disguise, his fighting did not suffer in the least. But you're dealing with the wrong guy, here! Ed smirked, as he brought his hands together with an echoing clap –
But before he could extend his right arm into his trademark blade, he felt his automail being grabbed at the elbow and yanked forwards. Ed stumbled, feeling a hand slam down and grip his shoulder, and then, with a strength and speed that was frighteningly inhuman, Envy forcibly bent the arm back at an angle that it was never meant to perform. Something ripped and tore away.
Flashes flared across Ed's vision. It took him a moment to realize that he had fallen to his knees, and a whole additional moment to connect the raw feeling in his throat to the screams that resounded in his ears. Sweat beaded from his pores while pained tremors wracked his body. Darts of agony shot through his arm, and when his vision cleared enough for him to check and see how badly his arm was damaged, he froze.
His arm was gone.
Envy had ripped the automail completely off at the base of the shoulder. Trailing bits of wires and machinery spilled from the docking port, little blue sparks ravaging the exposed, artificial nerves. Well, that explains why it hurts so badly, was his first thought. His second was, Oh shit, Winry's gonna kill me.
He looked up just as Envy was tossing the automail aside. "Well," the homunculus turned to him with a smug smile, "That was easier then I thought it would be. You're already unarmed, Pipsqueak. Pun intended."
Ed growled involuntarily at being called short as he gathered his voice to speak. "I thought – "he inwardly cursed his weakness as his breath hitched from a ripple of pain from the shoulder, "I thought you didn't want to want to kill me. You said before you were told not to."
Envy's grin wavered for only a brief moment before returning stronger than ever. "I was told not to, but that doesn't mean I don't want to. Especially since you're the son of that bastard." Slim bare feet padded closer. Ed couldn't help but flinch as the homunculus crouched in front of him, pinning that haughty gaze straight into his face. "As I have discovered, you yourselfknow quite a bit about bending the rules for your own purposes." Purple eyes glittered mercilessly. "So you must understand."
A foot connected solidly with Ed's stomach. All breath left his lungs in a rush as he felt himself lifted into the air by the force of the kick. He flew straight into one of the tall, warehouse windows, smashing through thick glass that shattered into spiderweb patterns. Shards fell free to slice him or imbed into his soft, yielding flesh. He landed heavily on the concrete floor inside.
For a moment, he could only lie there, dazed.
A rain of glass debris fell about him, sparkling with reflected moonlight and clinking delicately against the concrete. Blood was beginning to spread around him, sluggishly pumping out of the myriad of gashes the broken window had inflicted on him. He could only lie there and struggle to recover his thoughts and energy.
Get up! He told himself as his eyelids fluttered weakly. It's only a matter of time before that psychopath comes in here after you. You have to be ready for him! GET UP!
He dragged himself to his knees, extended his hand out and noticed how the index finger dripped with blood. Perfect. He managed to quell the tremors of his body long enough to sketch out a dark red transmutation circle among the scattered shards of glass. Who said I was unarmed? He pressed his hand against the completed circle, and smiled in satisfaction as it glowed with a deep light.
Ed flinched as a shadow fell over him. Envy's slender silhouette loomed above, framed by the edges of the broken window. But when Envy leapt down from the perch, swooping down like a bird of prey, Ed was ready for him.
Edward Elric does not go down without a fight.
He lifted a clear, narrow spear that had been transmuted from the broken window pieces, aimed it the dead center of Envy's chest, and let fly. The spear followed soared true. The homunculus gasped as the spear tore through his chest, spraying blood, ripping a path through the pale skin and red muscle. Curling in on himself, Envy landed on the floor in a heap.
Then he lay still.
Ed wearily hauled himself to his feet. The shooting pains from his ruined shoulder socket were almost unbearable, but he soon found that he could walk well enough. He turned a disgusted gaze towards the bloody, messy pile of homunculus. "Sorry," he sneered at the unmoving body. "But I won't lose to the likes of you." My little brother needs me. Ed turned and hobbled for the door.
"Likes of who? Me?"What the hell!
Ed's gaze snapped back to where the homunculus' bloody remains should have been resting, only to see Envy standing upright and smirking. The bloody spear was still skewered through his ribcage. Envy grabbed the end of the spear, and slowing dragged it free of his body with wet, sucking noises as the glass slid against the torn, bleeding tissue. Once it was out, Envy took an end in each hand, and broke the spear over his knee, tossing the splintered pieces to the side. The gory hole in his chest lit up and rapidly began to heal.
"You didn't think I'd die that easily, did you, squirt?"
Before Ed could react, Envy darted forwards, entangling a pale hand into the plaits of Ed's braid. "No!" Ed thrashed, his scalp throbbing as the homunculus began to lift him off the ground by his hair. "Get off of me!" But it was useless.
The next several minutes were a blur, an endless torrent of sharp pains and blows and he was slapped, punched, kicked, bitten - seemingly whatever method the goddamn psychopath could think of to inflict pain. His torso ached abominably. He was pretty sure his ribs were nearly crushed, and the sharp, metallic tang of blood seeping up the back of his throat confirmed the fact that something inside was seriously messed up.
More than once, he was thrown down onto the concrete like a piece of rubbish. This time, when Envy moved to pick him back up for more abuse, he didn't grab him by the hair. Instead, he moved for the automail leg, just now revealed by new rips in his pant leg. "Aha," came the smooth, cocky voice to Ed's ringing ears, "You do still have a potential weapon. We can change that."
Ed cringed as a hand grabbed him by the knee and ankle. The situation was achingly familiar. No… not my leg too… But then Envy snapped the leg back, just like he had the arm. This time, the limb didn't break off completely, but twisted and dented, hanging loose by a few straggled wires and nerves.
Ed didn't think he had the energy left to scream. It wouldn't be the first time he'd been proven wrong.
While brilliant pain-induced colors whirled inside his mind, Envy lifted him by the mutilated leg, spinning him around, and slinging him across the room and into the far wall. Ed's head hit the wall with a dull crack.
For a moment, time stood still.
The world felt unsteady. The ground heaved and rolled drunkenly back and forth, everything within his sight wobbling, swaying. Nothing hurt as much anymore; his brain was shutting down, cutting off overloaded pain receptors, and Ed was suddenly filled with an overwhelming sense of apathy. He didn't think he would have wanted to move from that spot even if he'd been able to. Still, the slender, black-clad figure that was walking towards him did not turn aside, but instead kept on moving straight forward with purpose and intensity, like a whip in slow motion.
A hand grabbed him by the neck, pressing back against the wall and dragging him upright until both his legs, flesh and mangled metal, hung as dead weights. The hand at his neck tightened, and Ed was roused from his lethargy by the alarming signal from his lungs.I can't breathe!
Adrenaline flushed through him as his body went into panic mode. Ed clutched at the fingers at his throat, desperately trying to wrench that tightening grip away. Those purple, cat-like eyes continued to stare at him, boring into him until that cruel gaze hurt him like a spike slicing through his head. He half expected Envy to say something – gloat, laugh, spew hateful remarks. But he only stared with eyes lit up by pure, unadulterated joy.
The grip tightened.
Ed's body convulsed, eyes bulging wide and a choked gurgle escaping his throat. As dark splotches began to eat at the corners of his vision, Ed felt a spasm wrack his form. No! He wouldn't die like this. He wouldn't let himself die like this.
He clawed at Envy's hands in desperation. Just loosen the grip a little bit… just enough to take one breath, just one, little breath… But no matter how much he tore at the pale skin, shredded his fingernails across the knuckles, pulled, pinched, jerked, twisted, ripped at the vice-like grasp on his throat, it did not ease. He felt blood well beneath his fingernails, but there was no way of telling whether it was from one of the many gashes he scratched through Envy's skin, or from his own nails breaking and splitting from the abuse.
A yawning, gaping hole bloomed in his chest. His lungs felt like a vacuum, as if his entire midsection, rib cage and organs included, were about to be suctioned into a ball, caving inwards towards some unidentifiable center of gravity.
His struggles were growing weaker. Still, he continued to kick, to squirm, to tear at those goddamn unmoving hands. Some logical part of his brain knew that there was no hope. That if he hadn't been able to free himself when he had more strength, freeing himself now was out of the question. But some primal, unthinking, desperate part of him could not understand why he was unable to breathe, why he was unable to take one little breath of that sweet, life-giving air that surrounded him, blew softly through his hair, caressed his skin.
By now, his eyesight had descended into an unintelligible blur. His limbs felt limp and shaky, like wet noodles that were boiled for far too long. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew. He knew. But he could not help thinking…
This is where they'll come and save me. The military is going to burst through the door of this warehouse, barging in with ample supply of guns and bravado. That Bastard Colonel will be leading the way. With one snap of his fingers, he'll fry this goddamn homunculus to a crisp. Then he'll come over to me, smiling that stupid, arrogant smirk.
"Always needing my help to bail you out, eh, Fullmetal?" Dark eyes would be sparkling. "What sort of troubles have you been getting into this time?"
A tiny smile fluttered across his lips, even as his vision began to cloud over.
Then Al would run in, clanking each footstep like always. "Brother!" He would exclaim, rushing to my side. "Thank goodness you're alright! You have to be more careful next time!"
The small smile disintegrated into an open-mouthed gape, stretched open in one last almost-gasp.
And then I'll sit up, tell that Colonel Bastard to 'get lost, I don't need your help.' And finally, taking a deep breath of relief, I'll tell Al…I'll tell Al that I…
The thought fluttered away from him as one final spasm tore through his body.
I'll tell Al…
The family and friends at the Hughes residence had just finished dinner. Gracia was transcribing a recipe for Winry, a complicated casserole dish with lots of cheese. Al was playing with Elysia in the corner, make-believe games with little dolls bedecked in tangled hair and mismatched clothing; it didn't take long for Hughes to join in the game too, if only to humor his beautiful daughter.
The door slammed open, and a smile lit up the room.
"Yo, Ed! Good to see you!"
"Edward! I'm glad you decided to come after all!" Gracia moved to greet the red-coated boy who stomped into the house, crossing through the open door into the dining room.
He was grinning, a strange glimmer dancing through his golden eyes. Flicking his long, blonde braid over his shoulder, he wordlessly bypassed Mrs. Hughes, making for the center of the room, the dining room table just now cleared of dinner plates.
"Is something wrong, Brother?"
Ed lifted his right hand in a dismissive gesture. It was then that a feeling of wrongness permeated the room. Ed didn't bring his hand down. He kept it lifted, as if to show off something. The automail hand was ungloved. Ed never went out in public without gloves on.
Finally, grabbing his right wrist with his left hand, he brought his hand down – but when it reached his side, it didn't stop moving. Farther, farther it fell, sliding effortlessly free of the red coat sleeve, until Ed was able to pull it completely free of himself. He held it up for everyone to see.
Starting from the fingers and moving up, the arm was seemed perfectly fine. But about halfway between elbow and shoulder, it abruptly broke off. Metal twisted violently, bending and breaking in ways it shouldn't. Wires tangled and spilled like vomit from the mangled metal edge.
The boy quietly set the arm down in the center of the dining room table. It clattered only a little bit as he set it down, but the noise was deafening, like an alarm bell sounding off in the dead of night. The boy said no more. He turned around and headed for the door. Right before he disappeared back into the night, he looked back once more and winked a purple eye at Alphonse.Purple?
And then the boy was gone.
The household was frozen. Confusion and dismay ricocheted madly about, even as the people stood stock still. It took a moment or two for realization to sink in.
That boy was not Ed. The real Ed was
in the middle of the warehouses of Central Headquarters
lying motionless, slumped against a wall
possibly in danger
fingers curled into claws, mouth wide, eyes bulging, body contorted in a way that soundlessly described his final agonies
in need of help from whatever troubles he'd gotten himself in this time. He was certainly alive, and they were going to get there in time to save him.
Death was not a possible outcome for Edward Elric, the Full Metal Alchemist.