Author's note: This story is a Fullmetal Alchemist Buffy the Vampire Slayer crossover, and contains some spoilers for the Buffy TV series and the Fullmetal Anime. This is set after the end of season five for Buffy and after episode eight in the Fullmetal Anime, so there could be spoilers for both.
Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Joss Wheden does), or Fullmetal Alchemist.( Hiromu Arakawa does) Please don't sue me.
Seeking the Incomplete
Part 1 No Returns
Willow Rosenberg walked slowly around the grave, pouring a circle of salt from the blessed clay pot. She looked at the head stone.
She saved the world, a lot
She couldn't accept it. She wouldn't. She didn't have to.
When the circle was complete, she crossed it, pouring out three more lines to make a triangle inside it. She waved Xander over. He handed her another pot, this one containing red sand. In the center of the triangle she carefully poured out the sand in the outline of a human form.
"Is that it?" Xander asked.
"No," Willow said. "I still have to activate it."
The book she had found called this Alchemy, though it seemed more like Native American sand spells to her. If this didn't work she had an ancient Egyptian spell to try. Don't think about failure.
Xander stood back as Willow knelt down and placed her hands on the circle. She focused.
The circle began to glow with bright blue light. Willow could feel power flowing into it, not from her own life force, but from something beyond. The ground started to shake. Suddenly behind the head stone, she saw something, not quite real yet, but growing more solid by the second.
She didn't know what it was. The book hadn't mentioned it, but she knew enough to recognize a dimensional gate way. You didn't live on the Hellmouth all your life without observing at least a few weak spots in the fabric of reality.
Buffy would be very pissed if I brought her back by destroying our world.
She tried to pull her hands away from the circle, but they were stuck. She couldn't stop the reaction. The blue light grew brighter and the thing behind the head stone became solid. It was a giant black monolith covered in runes and soulless stone eyes.
"Xander!" she called.
She felt his hands on her shoulders as he tried to pull her free, but his efforts availed nothing. The monolith split open and thousands of shadowy hands reached out for them.
The Sunnydale cemetery filled with screams, and the subtler sound of shifting earth, as soil tumbled into a suddenly empty grave.
The air was still, and she was certain it should not have been. She blinked up at the roof of the cavern, hundreds of feet above. She knew she should get up, that she should move, but she couldn't. It was all wrong. Her mouth opened. Her chest expanded. Her back arched. She breathed. It was wrong. It was wrong, but she couldn't stop.
She lay as still as she could, waiting. Something was supposed to happen. She knew she had fallen, so she did not get up. If she stayed down, she could not fall again.
Lt. Colonel Maes Hughes hummed to himself as he walked down the street. His daughter Elicia was going to be a year old in only twenty more days. He was still trying to find the perfect present for her. He'd already bought an entire zoo of stuffed animals and an army of dolls, but none of it seemed good enough. He knew he would find the one thing he need today though, so even the rain suddenly spattering his blue uniform couldn't ruin his good mood.
There was a short, shabby figure standing in front of the toy store. With shoulders hunched and moth eaten scarf covering most of her head, he didn't realize it was a woman until he saw her dirty face reflected in the window. She didn't seem to see him. She was looking at a stuffed pig. It was down in the corner, sun faded and covered with dust. He didn't see why they made stuffed farm animals. Children would get very upset when they found out the toy they were playing with was the same thing they were having for dinner.
"I used to have one like that," she said hoarsely, finger tapping the window.
It left a greasy print behind.
"Oh," Hughes said. "That's nice."
Hughes couldn't stand depressed people. He always felt obligated to put them in a better mood. He considered showing her a picture of his daughter Elicia, but he didn't want the photo to get soaked in the rain. The toy was in pretty bad shape. It probably wasn't more then a hundred sen. He was considering just buying it for her when the owner of the store came out. He was usually such a nice man, but at that moment his face was red.
"I told you not to come around here again!" shouted the owner, Mr. Bolo.
Hughes was shocked. He knew people got annoyed when he talked to them for more then a few hours about his daughter, (there was just so much to tell) but he didn't expect Mr. Bolo to get so upset.
The woman hunched even further and scurried away up the street.
"Oh," Hughes said.
"Sorry about that Mr. Hughes," Mr. Bolo said, taking out a rag and wiping the finger prints off the window. "She comes by a couple of times a week, dirties up the window and scares off the customers. People like that should be locked up."
"She just seemed sad to me," Hughes said.
He looked up the street after her. The situation was getting more depressing by the second. The homeless woman was rapidly soaking in the rain, and everyone around her just looked on in disgust. A well dressed lady dragged her toddler across the street to avoid her, hurrying as the headlights of a military transport truck washed over them. Hughes saw the toddler drop a ball in the road. As soon as his mother had him on the opposite curb, she let go of his hand. Hughes knew something bad was going to happen. He shouted and started to run. His feet slipped. The child was in the road and the mother hadn't even turned yet. He shouted again. The brakes screeched. Between one blink and the next, the boy was flung back into his surprised mother's arms, and someone else was making a dull thumping noise under the truck's tires. A second later there was another thump as the double axles supporting the truck bed struck as well.
He didn't want to look. The homeless woman from the toy store lay on her back, pinned between the tire and the cobble street. Her arms were stretched out, her fingers twitched. The driver of the truck was climbing out.
"Go forward!" Hughes ordered. "Get that thing off her!"
The driver climbed back into the cab, but the engine wouldn't turn over. The woman was looking around. After a moment her hands stopped twitching and she started clawing at the tire sitting on her chest. Hughes knelt down next to her.
"Is the kid ok?" she asked, hoarsely.
Hughes looked across the street. The woman with the toddler was rushing away. She hadn't even said thank you.
"The kid is fine," Hughes said. "That was really brave of you."
"The engine is flooded!" The driver called.
"Just release the break! We'll push it!" Hughes shouted.
He and the driver, and several pedestrians Hughes drafted started to push. The truck rolled. The woman watched almost boredly as the tire bounced away from her.
"Hang on ma'am. A doctor is coming," Hughes said.
She shook her head. "Don't have any money."
"That's the least of your problems," muttered the truck driver.
"Go find a blanket or something," Hughes ordered.
The rain came down harder, and the woman's soaked scarf was falling over her mouth. Hughes pulled it away. As the rain washed away layers of dirt, he realized she was younger then his wife, probably not even twenty yet.
"I can't find a blanket," the driver said.
Hughes frowned and took off his jacket.
"Hang on Miss, help is coming."
The next day…
Hughes left work early so he could make a stop at a certain store and still make it to the hospital before visiting hours were over. He was surprised to hear the mystery girl had been moved from the intensive care ward to the observation ward. He was in such a state he didn't even show the nurse pictures of his daughter.
"But she was completely mangled by a truck!" Hughes said as the nurse lead him to the girl's room.
"So I heard. The doctors are completely stumped. When she was brought in she had broken ribs and a punctured lung not to mention most of the organs in her abdomen were crushed. Today she's awake and asking for food."
"But that's not possible!"
"You don't have to tell me. She seems to be a little out of it, but I don't know if that predates the accident. She won't tell us her name. If you could get some basic information from her that would be a big help."
The nurse waved him through the double doors to the observation ward, and then marched back to her station. There were only a few people there that evening; an old woman with raspy cough, a bored dock worker with his legs in traction, a man with his jaw wired shut. Hughes saw the woman he was seeking in the bed nearest the window. He almost didn't recognize her with out the dirt and shabby clothes, but her hunched posture was the same.
"I brought you something!" Hughes declared in sing song voice as he approached the bed.
She looked up with a startled and confused expression but when she saw him smiling at her, she tentatively smiled back. He took the stuffed pig from inside his coat. Her face lit up and she held out her arms for the toy. In that instant he would have sworn she was only five years old.
"Thank you!" She mumbled into the side of the stuffed animal, which she was not so successfully trying to hide her face in.
Hughes watched for a moment. He suspected she had significant mental problems, to be out wandering the streets at her age. She probably didn't have a family either.
"Where are you from?" he asked.
"Don't know," she answered, still talking into the side of the pig.
"Do you remember anything from before the truck hint you?" he asked.
"It's a blur. It bubbles up and for a minute I can see how it used to be, but then its gone and all I remember is the circle. I know it was different before I was in the circle."
"The circle? What kind of circle?"
"I've seen circle people around the city. Smaller circles though. They draw the circles and things change. I tried to ask one about how it worked. He was…rude."
"Do you mean alchemy? Alchemists?" Hughes asked.
She shrugged. He watched her play with the stuffed pig. She marched it across the hospital bed. He knew the military experimented with medical alchemy, and he had suspicions that humans were sometimes used as unwilling test subjects. Of course she could just be schizophrenic. Then again crazy didn't explain being crushed under a truck and walking around fine and dandy the next day.
"You were put inside a Transmutation circle and something happened?"
"Light," she said.
"Anything else?" Hughes asked.
"I have a mark. They must have done it. 'No tattoos or you'll stay in your room for a month young lady'. I remember a woman saying that too me."
"Your mother?" he suggested.
"Can I see the mark?" he asked, hopping it wasn't anywhere too private.
She nodded, leaned forward and pointed. The hospital gown wasn't tied to well and he could see the mark she was talking about, right in the center of her back. It was definitely a transmutation circle of some kind; a stylized dragon was eating its own tail, circling around a six point star. There was another circle around the outside of the dragon, and outside of that more runes.
"Do you know your name?"
She bit her lower lip.
"Do you remember?" he asked.
"I think so."
"SummerJoyBunnyAnneWillXander," she said.
"Summer Joy Bunny Anne Will Xander," she repeated. "I know it doesn't sound like a real name, but I'm sure that's my name. Or maybe I'm only two of those names. I'm sure, 100 percent about the Summer part."
"Then how about I just call you Summer?"
"I'm Maes Hughes by the way."
She nodded again.
"And this is my wife Gracia and my daughter Elicia!" he said pulling a photo from his pocket. "Aren't they the prettiest two ladies you've ever seen?"
Summer inspected the photograph carefully and then nodded. "They look very…happy."
Hughes proceeded to tell Summer about how Alicia had taken her first step last month and how she hated mashed peas, which he thought were the best vegetable, and liked mashed lima beans which he thought were the worst. He didn't realize how long he'd been talking until the nurse tapped him on the shoulder.
"Visiting hours are over," the nurse said.
"Can I leave too?" Summer asked. "I feel fine."
"No," the nurse said. "The doctors want to run more tests tomorrow."
"I don't like it here," Summer said. "They give me funny looks, and I hear them talking about me in the other rooms."
The nurse sighed. "No one's talking about you Miss."
"You were telling the doctor with the scar on his lip that I was retarded. And you told him you wouldn't mind going with him to the theater on Friday."
The nurse's mouth dropped open. "I…uh…didn't realize I was being so loud. I'm sorry if I offended you."
"What do I care?" Summer said sourly. "I'm retarded right?"
At the moment she was sounding like a regular grumpy teenager.
"Still, visiting hours are over. Your friend can come visit you tomorrow."
"Bye Summer," Hughes said. "I'll be back tomorrow, and I'll see what I can do about that thing we talked about."
"The mashed peas?" she asked.
"No…uh…the circle thing," he realized she was smirking a bit and must have been making a joke.
"See you tomorrow then," she said. "Or if not…Thank you."
She held up the stuffed pig's front leg and waved it at him. "Mr. Gordo says thank you too."
And the next…
Hughes approached the hospital in a more solemn mood. He had tried to find some reference to the symbol the girl bore on her back, but none of the Alchemy books he had access to told him anything useful. He wanted to ask his co-worker Major Armstrong, but the Major had been sent to deal with riots in the refugee camp to the south of the city. As he approached the nurse's station, he realized something was wrong. The nurse from the previous day was at the front desk, but she looked haggard and shaky.
"I'm here to visit the mystery girl," he said, trying to sound friendly.
The nurse didn't look at him as she responded. "She isn't here."
"She was discharged this morning. She didn't want to stay."
"She just walked out?" he asked.
The nurse continued to look down. "Yes."
Hughes reached out and tilted the nurse's chin up.
"What really happened?" he asked.
"They took her," the nurse whispered.
"Who?" Hughes asked.
The nurse reached out and tapped the gold bars on the collar of his uniform. "They came last night with a dozen soldiers. They escorted her out at gun point."
"Did they say who ordered them here?"
The nurse shook her head. "But I heard them mention the name 'Gran'," she whispered.
"Thanks," he said.
He turned and started to leave, but the nurse caught his arm. Silently she put the stuffed pig in his hand. He nodded and hurried outside.
Hughes tried to stay cheerful at dinner that night, but even Gracia's marvelous cooking couldn't keep his mind off Summer. She had now been officially "disappeared", probably to some horrible lab, and he couldn't do a thing for her. Gran was a General, and Fuhrer Bradley's right hand Alchemist. Unless Hughes had a hundred upstanding citizens as witness and a smoking gun, he couldn't even open an investigation.
"Something at work?" his wife asked.
Hughes shook his head.
"The girl at the hospital?" she asked.
Hughes nodded. He'd told her how the girl had saved a little boy's life in front of the toy store. He hadn't mentioned the Alchemy though. He trusted Gracia completely, but he didn't want to put extra burdens on her shoulders.
"Did something happen to her?" Gracia asked.
He was about to speak when the sound of shattering glass from outside made them both jump. Hughes went to the window and looked out. It was pitch black. Someone had broken out the street light. A few moments later there was a soft rap on the door. He went to the cabinet where he kept his gun, and waved Gracia toward the stairs. Silently his wife crept up to the second floor, to make sure their daughter was safe. The rapping came again, just as softly. Hughes turned the dead bolt and opened the door a crack. There was a hunched figure on the doorstep. He heard the soft splatter of dripping blood on the bricks.
"Can I come inside?" Summer whispered.