No, I have not abandoned Indiana Elric…Chapter nine of that should be up soon.
A Fullmetal Alchemist darkfic
By: Shadow Mage Evelyn
Edward Elric was not the kind who considered the quantity of his life. By the same token, he was not the kind who worried about his life's quality either. He was the kind who lived each day as it came, living in the moment, because a day at a time was really all he could handle. Despite his every effort to pretend otherwise, he could no more deny his status as a grownup child struggling to make it in the world of adults than he could deny his own heart beating within his chest. Fifteen was a hard age; it was the place caught halfway between being a child and becoming an adult. And the supposed "grownups" around him were not making the transition any easier, telling him not to grow up too fast one minute, and then turning around the next to order him to act more like an adult because otherwise he was never going to make it in this world, and if he wasn't going to be serious about his goals, he might as well quit. His only response was to take the middle road and immerse himself in the present, lose himself to the momentum as the events around him unfolded. He could never say what he was going to do next, because he was never quite sure himself. He kept his eyes focused on a fixed point and anything that got in his way would be dealt with accordingly, and while many might not agree with his methods that was just the way he did things. He didn't ask anyone to agree with his choices, only to respect them no matter how bad they were sometimes, because they were his decisions that he had had to make at that particular moment. Others could say they would have chosen differently, but would they ever really know that for sure? What was the likelihood that they would ever have to be faced with making such a decision in such a situation as he had? It bothered him that those two questions were his only defense, but he doubted that anyone could answer them honestly.
Yes, he would admit that nine out of ten of his usual decisions were perhaps a bit rash, but such rash actions had dominated his life for so long that it was hard to change, and he'd always turned out okay in the end, hadn't he?
"That might be the case," the Colonel had retorted when presented with this idea, "but someday, Fullmetal, decisions like that will only get you killed. You need to take off the blinders and start seeing the forest past the trees!"
But what did he know anyway? Regardless of what all the others at Eastern Command might think, Edward could take care of himself. And he always had Alphonse to back him up, even if his younger brother was vocally against him, because Alphonse would never turn his back on his brother. And Alphonse was rash sometimes, too, even if no one wanted to see it, because he was invested in the search just as much as Edward was. So what right did Colonel Bastard have in telling him how to live his life? It wasn't as if he were his father or anything.
The truth of it all was that Edward simply hated having to depend on anyone for anything. To him, asking for help meant that he couldn't accomplish his task himself; in other words, he'd failed. And nothing bothered Edward more than failure. He was not accustomed to being less than the best at things because he'd always been exceptional. It was his skill and brilliance that had gotten him his spot as a State Alchemist, after all…not to mention that he had some help from good, old fashioned dumb luck. It was that dumb luck that got him through most things, like his fight with the Slicer brothers in Lab 5 or the final fight with Greed. Sure, in the end his skills had dominated, but he had not known what he was capable of before he'd happened upon the solutions by accident. He certainly hadn't known going into the fight that he could rework Greed's chemistry. He'd just guessed right on that one. So maybe his methods were a little unorthodox, and maybe his ideals and values that he steadfastly held to were a little childish, and maybe he didn't know how to let things go sometimes, and maybe he blew things a little out of proportion, and maybe he could be a bit of a smartass on occasion. He could admit those faults. He was human, wasn't he, and he knew that his smart mouth often got him into a lot of trouble, but he'd turned out okay in the end, hadn't he? As an alchemist, he was very aware that everything followed a flow; Edward smarted off, his enemies would get pissed off and attack him, they'd fight, and he'd win. He'd always win. Sure, he might come out a little worse for wear, but he would still beat the other guy down long before the other guy had a chance to beg for mercy. He was the hero, after all, and therefore had all the right in the world to piss off those weaker than himself, because he knew he could beat them, because he always did. Of course, he had always known in the back of his mind that someday, somewhere, Karma would come back and sneak attack him from behind for all of the bad things he'd ever done. It was irrevocably bound to happen because everything in life had a flow. Of course, Edward usually just brushed it aside, figuring that he could beat Karma just like he'd always beaten every enemy.
He'd never been more wrong in his life. Karma was not a force to be trifled with, and took extreme pleasure in making that known to him. After all, it had been Karma that had brought him to those three guys, Karma that had made him smart off to them, and Karma that had caused them to retaliate with such brutality that he hadn't even gotten a chance to fight back. And it was Karma that had so conveniently made him decide not to tell anyone at Eastern Command where he had gone. But, a beating wasn't so bad. He could handle a few broken ribs, a busted nose and lip, a swollen eye, a sprained ankle, and a twisted knee, plus a major head trauma and some minor bruises and scrapes. He could shake that off with no problem.
But Karma could not be satiated with that small gesture. Oh no, Karma would not settle for anything less than the men binding his arms behind his back with duct tape, trapped in a position were he could not do alchemy, nor having him drug into a cold, dank hallway in the back of the warehouse that had partially collapsed. It would not be happy with anything less that having him thrown down onto his back beside a pile of rubble and kicked a few more times in the stomach, then having the three men leave the room only to have one of them return two hours later and tie a plastic bag over his head. Karma could be a force of reckoning when it caught up to you, and he and Karma had a lot of catching up to do, apparently.
Edward felt the hot tears well up and roll down his face.
It was amazing to him how high one's level of clarity became while slowly suffocating to death.
Colonel Roy Mustang ran a hand through his black hair in utter frustration. The search for Edward was becoming increasingly more difficult as false leads kept pouring in. He thought he'd had something about an hour ago, but that lead had turned out to be wrong. They'd narrowed the radius down to two blocks, and several groups were frantically searching the area for any sign, any clue that the Fullmetal Alchemist had been there, but so far they had yet to locate hide or hair of the boy. Roy slammed a fist onto the map he had spread out on a table before him.
"Why didn't you tell someone??" he growled between clenched teeth, speaking as if Edward could hear him. When Alphonse had called him two hours ago to ask if he had seen Edward, it had put Roy on alert. If Alphonse didn't know where his brother was, then he knew that something was up, because Alphonse went nearly everywhere with his older sibling. At first, Roy had only made casual inquiries, but the moment he'd heard that Edward had been asking for the location of three men with connections to a large terrorist group, he knew that he had to find the teen and fast. The three men had built a reputation as being the only trio of their terrorist group that had ever killed several military officials and gotten away with it, and they would most certainly know who Edward Elric was and what kind of dent his death would cause to the military.
He pulled out his watch. One hour had gone by since the search had begun and he was growing nervous. Where was he??
"Colonel!!" shouted First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye as she ran up through the rain. "I've got a lead!"
The Flame Alchemist clenched his fist in hope.
"What is it?" he demanded.
"Sir!" Riza saluted. "We've spotted the three men that Edward was looking for. They're in an abandoned fish cannery packing warehouse in the next block over."
He jumped to his feet and grabbed his coat.
"Is Fullmetal with them?"
"We don't know, sir, but a witness in the building across from the warehouse mentioned that they saw a small figure in a red coat go in about two hours ago."
That was all he needed to speed into motion.
"Start the car, pronto!"
"Master Sergeant Fuery!"
"Send out an alert that all groups should convene at the abandoned fish cannery down the block! Go!"
As Fuery rushed away to put his given order into motion, the engine of the car roared to life as Havoc fired it up. As soon as Roy and Riza climbed in, Havoc pulled away from the curb and sped off, tiring spinning for half a second on the wet pavement, and then they were off down the street.
Mustang's heart was racing. He could only hope that Edward was okay. Why did he always pull stunts like this? Why didn't he tell someone where he was going? Why, more than anything else, did he not at the very least take Alphonse with him for backup?? Why? Why? Why? He was going to go crazy from the all the whys. He pulled his alchemic glove onto his right hand, preparing himself. He shook his head and firmed up his jaw. He couldn't ask himself why. He could only ask himself what he was going to do if Edward was in trouble. Whether Edward wanted to believe it or not, he, Roy Mustang, worried more about that boy then even his own brother. Didn't he see that everyone around him was there to help? Roy clenched his hand into a fist. If, after everything was said and done, Edward turned out okay, he was going to make it his personal duty to fry that boy's impetuous behind for making him worry so much. But something inside of Roy—maybe the uncomfortable churning in his stomach—made him believe that Edward was in deep trouble at that very moment and needed someone's help more than ever.
It was all he could do to keep from throwing the door open and jumping out while the car was in motion as they got close to the warehouse. Havoc, sensing this, parked the car as close to the curb as he could and the three piled out. As one, they moved up to the door, Havoc's rifle held casually in his hands and Riza's hand calmly resting on her pistol. With a nod from Roy, Riza pounded on the front door.
"Open up! It's the military!" she called. She stepped back and they waited. In a few moments, the door opened and a man with a scruffy brown beard and spiked brown hair stood in the doorway, blinking at them in surprise.
"Can I help you?" he asked.
"Sure you can," Roy answered, smiling, but there was no mirth in his black eyes. "We received information that someone in a red coat came in here recently. You know anything about that?"
The man stood as if thinking and then shook his head.
"No, I don't think so."
"Really? You haven't seen a short little blonde kid with a big mouth around here?"
The man shook his head again.
"So basically you're telling me that you haven't seen the Fullmetal Alchemist Edward Elric who stands about 4'11", wears a red coat and all black, has blonde hair usually in a braid, and has kind of a smart mouth? You haven't seen him at all?"
"That's pretty much the gist of it."
Roy smirked, and anger great and forbidding burned in his eyes.
"Sure you haven't."
Riza pulled her gun out and pointed it at the man's head. The man pulled back in shock, raising his hands to the sky.
"Hey, hey, whoa!!" he said indignantly. "You can't do that!"
"The hell I can't," Roy answered. "Move aside." He pushed his way past and was greeted with a spray of gunfire.
Cursing, Roy dove behind a pillar, while the brown haired man jerked and fell to the ground, killed by his own allies. Riza, meanwhile, jumped inside and dove behind the pillar on the other side of the door, peeking around it and firing with practiced ease. The spray didn't relent, even when Havoc joined in, and Roy cursed again. He looked back at Havoc, trying to ignore the dead body.
"Havoc! I'm pretty sure that Fullmetal's around here somewhere!! Go around the building and see if you can get in somehow and find him!!"
"What about you?" Havoc cried.
"We can handle ourselves!" Riza shouted. "Go!!"
Grimacing, Havoc pulled back and raced around the left side of the building, rifle held at the ready. It wasn't long before he found a window on the first floor and he ran up to it, grabbing a chunk of concrete that had fallen off the building and throwing it through the glass, shattering it to pieces. He took off his military jacket and threw it across the windowsill, covering the remaining shards of glass, and he slung his rifle across his back, climbing inside. Meanwhile, back in the front room, Roy snapped sharply, and flames jumped from his fingers, arching across the room. The two men shooting across the way paused to duck out of the way, desperate in the face of fire. Once the flames had passed, they resumed shooting, as did Riza. With a pervading calm, the First Lieutenant took careful aim and fired, and the man on the right jerked, twisting to the ground, a neat, round hole in the center of his head. The other man continued to shoot wildly, until she took him out, too. Roy moved forward once it was clear to search the bodies, but paused when something red flashed out of the corner of his eye. He turned to his left and his heart nearly leaped into his throat.
"Colonel?" came Riza's voice, sounding as if it were cutting through fog, so shocked was the colonel. Mustang said nothing, just moved forward to a table nearby. Riza watched his back in confusion until he turned around, Edward's trademark red coat clutched in his right hand. She took one look at her superior's ashen face and looked closer at the coat. Or, rather, the coat's bloodstains.
"He's here," Roy said dumbly. Riza loaded more bullets into her pistol with practiced ease.
"Let's go," she said, leading the way into the hallway. Roy followed, still carrying the coat.
Havoc shuffled around the room—if one could really call it that—unsteady in the debris of the building's collapse.
"Ed?" he called softly, afraid that there were more enemies lurking about. "Edward? Where are you?" He moved forward ten more steps, moving far away from the window into the dim shadows looming about. His eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness as he moved further forward. A sound to the right drew his attention; it was a soft, moaning sound, like that of wind whistling through a screen. Curious, he cocked his head that way, listening carefully. It was rhythmic and constant, and the source of it seemed to be behind the large pile of debris twenty steps in front of his current position. Cautiously, Havoc pulled his rifle off his back and brandished it, moving softly and slowly, not rushing. He kept the barrel straight, waiting for someone to rise up over the pile and attack him, and paused briefly before it, counting to ten before jumping around and taking aim.
Nothing, none of his rigorous training nor any crime scene he'd ever been at, had prepared him for the sight he found on the other side, for there, more dead than alive, both his red and black coat gone, his arms trapped behind his back and a thick plastic bag fastened over his head, lay Edward Elric.
"Oh my God!" Havoc cried, throwing his rifle to the side and dropping to his knees beside the boy. It was Edward who was making that whimpering sound, and, even though Havoc could really see the teen's face through the glare on the plastic, he was clearly at death's doorway. Havoc didn't think, he just reacted, grabbing for the tie around the bottom of the bag—and incidentally around the boy's neck—and he strained to locate its knot in the darkness. At the same time, Edward started to make noises like one coming awake as he realized that someone was there beside him.
"Hang on, buddy!! Hang on!!" Havoc begged.
Edward stirred slightly, thoughts somehow forming through the dark haze settling over his mind.
"Dammit!" Havoc swore vehemently as he noticed Edward's lack of movement, denying the situation with all his will. The tie would not come undone, and he was running out of time. His panicked mind sped into motion, and he reached into the pouch on the back of his belt, pulling out his switchblade and flicking it open. He grabbed the tie again.
As quickly as he could, Havoc tore the plastic in half, getting it at far away from Edward's face as possible. Edward, meanwhile, bolted upright, gasping loudly, gulping down the precious oxygen with ferocity he didn't know he possessed, trying to fill his oxygen depraved lungs in one motion. Air!! Sweet, sweet air!! Two seconds later, the realization that he was still alive hit him.
He did it with all the force his body could muster, the tears pouring out before he could stop them, and he began to sob wildly, whole body trembling uncontrollably. Havoc grabbed hold of the boy tightly, using the same motion to slice apart the tape on his wrists and tearing it free. Edward meanwhile just continued to scream and scream, his body trying futilely to express the emotions racing wildly through his brain. He bunched up Havoc's shirt in his hands and buried his face in the man's shoulder, clinging to the man with the tenacity of a bulldog, afraid that if he let go of this physical symbol of rescue, it would vanish. He needed the tangibility, needed it to be a permanent reality, needed that security of life to know that everything was going to be okay. Havoc seemed to sense this, and he held Edward tight, stroking his hair and rocking gently back and forth.
"It's okay, buddy," he said, keeping his voice as low and soothing as possible. "It's okay. You're safe now. It's alright."
Edward's body shuddered violently as each sob broke loose from his slender frame, and tears soaked Havoc's shirt. The teen could not stop shaking, and he just didn't have the strength nor the will to try, but could only lay there and weep.
Not even five minutes later, Roy and Riza came running into the hallway, Riza leading the way with her gun pointed straight out before her.
"Havoc!!" Roy thundered, worrying about his man's status.
"Over here!!" Havoc called. "I found him!! He's okay!!"
His two companions raced over, following the sound of Edward's hysterical crying, and their faces clearly conveyed how they felt about Havoc's prognosis of the boy's condition.
"He's okay," Havoc said, as if reading their minds. "He's just really shook up right now, but he's going to be just fine."
He nodded to his left, gesturing at the plastic, and his expression grew angry.
"Those bastards tied a bag over his head!! The poor guy almost suffocated to death!!"
Roy and Riza stared at that bag, horrified. It terrified them that such an innocuous object could double as an instrument of death. Before they could say anything, a sudden commotion erupted out in the front room of the warehouse.
"Colonel!!" came Fuery's voice. "Colonel Mustang!! Where are you?"
"Coming, Fuery!" Roy replied, though he wasn't sure that he had been heard over the sounds of the soldiers flooding in. He turned back to Havoc, pulling off his outer coat and draping it around Edward's tremulous shoulders.
"Let's go," he said to Havoc, who nodded and tightened the black coat around the boy, sliding his left arm under Edward's knees and wrapping the other around the boy's back. He rose to his feet, his grip tightening around the small form in his arms, and he followed Mustang out to meet the cheers of the soldiers who stood around waiting for the verdict.
Roy looked over at the teen in Havoc's arms, face still buried in the man's shoulder, grip on the man's shirt still tight. He was glad that the whole thing was finally over, but he knew that once Edward had recovered, he'd give him no end of grief for making him worry so much.
A half an hour later found Breda, Falman, Havoc, and Fuery sitting in the waiting room at the local East City hospital. Roy and Riza had gone back to check on Edward's status and Alphonse Elric, arriving utterly hysterical from the news, had gone with them once Roy had gotten him calmed down, explaining the fragility of his older brother's emotional condition. And fragile he was. It scared the four men sitting in the waiting room to see Edward so upset. They had never seen anyone more even-keeled than Edward, and seeing him trembling and terrified in Havoc's arms had shaken them all up. It had angered all of them more than they cared to admit when they saw how injured the teen was, and they couldn't imagine the viciousness he'd been faced with at the hands of his captors. They didn't want to imagine it, only wished that they three men were still alive for them to beat on, because no one, absolutely no one had any excuse whatsoever to so sadistically batter a minor like that. However, they could only be satisfied with the knowledge that the three had gotten their due, but it wasn't enough for any of them. The minutes ticked by on the clock as they all continued to sit there, all of them simply at a loss for what they should do. It was Breda who broke the silence first.
"You know…" he said, eyes slightly widening as his realization took form. The others looked at him inquiringly.
"We almost lost him," he finished, dumbstruck.
That hit them all hard. In their own ways, each one of them had come to care about Edward. He had sort of become like a kid brother to them all, someone they could tease and pick on and not mean it, someone who they had to set an example for. Sure, he wasn't around much since he was always out looking for the Philosopher's Stone, but there existed an assurance that they'd see him again soon, even if he didn't stick around for very long. And yeah, they'd had some close calls before in the past, but nothing had ever cut it so close like this one. This one had been uncomfortably close for all of them.
"Bastards," Havoc said, shaking his head and leaning back in his chair, wishing now more than before that the three men were still alive. The others just nodded in agreement, all feeling the same way.
No one, absolutely no one, messed with their kid brother.
"…and I'll be back tomorrow with some books, okay, Brother? You just rest up and get your strength back, okay?"
Edward tried an uneasy smile. Roy could tell that he was becoming more increasingly uncomfortable the longer Alphonse clucked over him. Finally, Alphonse left the room, but not before getting Edward to promise to take his time and relax, which Edward did readily. Roy followed the younger Elric into the hallway where they paused for a few minutes.
"Colonel…he's going to be okay, right?" the boy asked. Roy looked up into the two glowing orbs in that helm and smiled reassuringly.
"Of course he is, Alphonse. You're just going to have to give him some time, and some space. What he went through is going to leave him on edge for awhile."
Roy didn't know how it was possible, but the expressionless helm looked sad and forlorn. He smiled again and put a hand on Alphonse's arm.
"It will be okay, Alphonse. Edward will move past this, because he has you to support him."
Alphonse seemed to straighten a little at that, and he nodded.
"Good night, Colonel, and thank you."
"Good night, Alphonse."
Leaving a similarly polite farewell with Hawkeye, Alphonse moved down the hallway and out into the waiting room. Roy looked at Hawkeye, who nodded in understanding. When Roy moved back into Edward's room, she didn't follow, just stood to keep watch outside.
Roy walked over to a chair in the far corner across the room from Edward and sat down. He studied the teen for a moment, eyeing the tight fist gripping the blankets, the determined set of his jaw, and the tears in his eyes that were threatening to overwhelm him. For awhile, neither of them said anything, letting the silence stretch between them, both wanting to speak out but at a loss for just what to say. Finally, Edward couldn't take it anymore.
"Just say it," he said, tone slightly irritated.
"Don't play dumb with me. You want to say 'I told you so', so just say it. You were right, I was wrong, and I'm sorry."
For a moment, Roy didn't say anything, just crossed his arms and cocked his head to the left.
"What makes you think I want to say 'I told you so'?" he asked.
"Because, you told me that my actions would get me killed someday and you were right."
"Are you dead, then?"
Edward started to tremble slightly and the way he screwed up his face, Roy could tell that he was trying very hard not to cry.
"But…I came really damn close."
Roy let another pause slip between them, watching Edward try to get his rushing emotions under control. Finally he sighed.
"It's okay to cry, you know," he said softly, almost absently. Edward glared.
"I'm not going to cry," he said, but he didn't sound like he believed that at all. Roy decided to let that issue lie.
"But, if you feel like you want to…its okay. What happened was pretty scary."
"Stop talking to me like I'm some kind of child!" Edward snapped, not appreciating the gesture.
"But you are a child."
"I'm not three years old!!"
"Maybe you're not, but your actions certainly weren't adult like."
Edward stiffened at that, and he hid behind his hair, keeping his expression as unreadable as possible. Roy sighed in frustration.
Edward didn't look at him, but inwardly braced himself for the coming lecture.
"What the hell were you thinking, going in there alone?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know?"
"…I guess I wasn't thinking."
"No, I guess you weren't!"
Roy's tone was angry now. He'd been worried, and he wanted to make it perfectly clear to the teen that he was not a man who liked to worry.
"You should have told someone."
"If you know, then why didn't you?"
"…I…I didn't want anyone to get involved."
"I don't know."
"You don't know?"
"…I guess…I guess I was just thought I could handle it."
"Well, you certainly handled that well. Fullmetal, you're lucky, you know that? You almost died. They were trying to kill you and if we had been any later, it would have been all over for you."
Edward didn't say anything, but his left hand tightened.
"Do you know that? Time and time again, I have told you to start using that brain that God and man gave you, because dammit, Fullmetal, you're a lot smarter than that. Maybe too smart for your own good. How many times have I told you to watch what you say around people? You are damn lucky that people noticed you were gone and went looking for you, you know that? Really damn lucky. And you should have never ever gone in there alone against three men, even if you think you can handle them!"
"Okay!!!" Edward cried, cutting him off as the man opened his mouth to continue. "Okay!! I get it!! I screwed up!! I know!! I'm sorry!! Okay?? I'm sorry!!"
To his own horror, he started to cry again.
"Dammit!" he swore, wiping his eyes angrily with his left hand. He wasn't a little kid anymore!! Why couldn't he stop crying??
"No!! Shut up!! Shut up!!"
He tried to stop, but the tears just kept coming. God, why couldn't he stop crying?? And why were his hands still shaking??
"Stop it! Just stop it!" he begged, though he wasn't sure if that were aimed more at the Colonel or himself. He buried his face in his hands, and his shoulders started to quiver with the force of the trapped sobs.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry," he repeated over and over, and he was. He'd failed. He'd let not only himself down, but he'd let Alphonse down, too, and he'd disappointed the Colonel. For all his seeming disrespect, there was no one whose approval he sought more than the Colonel's. He didn't know why; maybe it was because he didn't want the man to think he was just some run-of-the-mill child genius, or maybe he wanted to prove that he could handle the job he'd been given. Whatever the reason, no one's opinion mattered more to him than Roy's. And now, he'd let him down.
Roy took in the scene in silence, and his expression softened. He wasn't being fair right now, was he? Sure, he'd been worried and scared, but he couldn't imagine what Edward had been through, laying there, bound, beaten, and broken, waiting to die. Roy's eyes widened at that thought. Oh God…he couldn't imagine the terror of knowing you were going to die and not being able to do anything about it. He just couldn't imagine it, and a shiver ran down his spine. He looked over at Edward and was suddenly ashamed. He had no right to yell at him right now, even though all he wanted to do was grab the boy by the shoulders, shake him violently, and shout don't you know how worried I was?? Why do you insist in scaring the hell out of me?? But, he didn't, because that wasn't what the boy needed right now. What he needed was to know that people were there to support him through this time. Yelling at him when he knew that he had made a bad choice wasn't fair at all. Roy pulled the chair closer to the bed and put a hand on one of Edward's shoulders.
"Hey," he said. "It's okay."
"God!!" Edward suddenly spat out, banging his left fist against his thigh and placing his right hand against his forehead. "How could I have been so stupid?? To say that to them, knowing that they outnumbered me…God! I am such a moron!! I should have never opened my damn mouth!! I'm such an idiot!!"
Roy shook his head firmly.
"No, you're not."
"Yes I am!! Even you know it!!"
"Edward, you are not stupid."
That gave Edward pause and he looked at the man in surprise. It was a rare occasion indeed when the Colonel called him by his first name, so rare, in fact, that Edward couldn't consciously remember the last time Roy had ever used it.
"Edward, I'm not being fair. What happened to you…"
He paused, at a loss, and could only shrug.
"I don't know what happened, and I will never understand, and I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I understand you completely and know how you feel right now."
Edward dropped his gaze and hid behind the golden curtain of hair again. Roy paused.
"It must have been horrible," was all he could think of to say. He could feel Edward's shoulder trembling under his hand.
"And I'm never going to understand that…but I can try. That's all I can do. And, I'm sorry I yelled at you, because you don't deserve that. I only did it because you've scared us all half to death."
"I'm sorry," Edward whispered harshly, drawing his arms protectively around himself. Roy squeezed his shoulder.
"Don't be. It's not your fault."
Roy sat back in his chair and folded his hands in his lap. He stared out the window for a long moment.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
Edward shook his head.
Roy nodded and went silent again. A few minutes slipped by in silence.
"I made some comment about one guy's mom," Edward finally spoke up. Roy looked at him in confusion.
"I think that's why they jumped me," the teen clarified a moment later, hugging himself tighter and staring at the clock. "All I know was that everything started to happen really fast, and two of them had me by the arms while the third one started beating the crap out of me. Before I could fight back, they taped my hands together behind my back and threw me down by the pile of rubble. They kicked me a few more times, and then left me alone for about an hour or two. Then, one of them came back and…"
He choked for a second and swallowed, squinting his eyes as if he were struggling to read the clock.
"And he put the bag over my head."
Here, Edward paused and swallowed a few more times.
"I started to go crazy once I realized I couldn't breathe. All I could think about was how much I wanted out of there. After awhile I realized that I was going to die and there was nothing I could do about it."
The tears came again, but this time he didn't bother to hide them.
"It's kind of funny but…everything gets a lot clearer when you're waiting to die."
Roy didn't find that funny at all, but he didn't say anything.
"And, all I could think about was how much I was letting Alphonse down."
His voice thickened with tears and he stopped staring at the clock, dropping his hands to twist the blankets across his lap.
"All I could think was that I was never going to see him again, and that he was going to be sad and alone, and…"
The tears flowed harder.
"And that I had broken my promise to him," he cried out, burying his face in his hands again. He sobbed hard for a few moments, and Roy let him, knowing that he had to get it out.
"Why??" he choked out between tears. "Why do these things keep happening to me?? Am I bad person??"
Roy's heart nearly broke from the tone of Edward's voice, and for the first time since he'd known the youth he saw the scared little boy kept hidden from everyone. He leaned towards him and placed his hand at the base of the youth's neck.
"No," he said gently. "No, you're not a bad person. You're young, Edward. You're fifteen, and you're going to make mistakes. We all do, even me. But, the most important thing right now is that you're alive and you're okay. It's horrible that this happened to you, and it's unfortunate that you had to go through something like this, but you will learn from this experience and move on."
Edward dropped his hands and looked over at Roy.
"None of this is your fault, Edward. You didn't do something so terrible that this had to happen to you. You didn't provoke it by some action of yours…not even trying to resurrect your mother."
Edward's gaze drifted to his hands in his lap.
"You're the victim, here, Edward. What happened was not your fault. There was no reason for them to brutalize you like that and they had absolutely no good reason to tie a plastic bag over your head and try to suffocate you. You didn't deserve that, no matter what you said."
He paused to let everything sink in for a moment.
Finally, he pulled his hand away and sat back. Edward sniffled a few times and wiped away his remaining tears.
"Are you okay now?" Roy asked him. Edward nodded.
"Good. Now, don't ever scare the crap out of me like that again or I will fry your ass faster than the sun in a desert."
Edward smiled slightly at that. Roy started out of the room, but then stopped at the doorway and turned back around.
"I want you to take two weeks off from your search," he said. Edward looked up in shock and opened his mouth to protest, but Roy cut him off with a wave of his hand.
"I don't care what you have to say, Fullmetal, you're taking two weeks off to recover and that's an order."
Edward went to protest again, but then shut his mouth.
"Yes, sir," he said instead. Roy smirked and straightened his coat.
"Good. At least now I won't have to court martial you for disobeying an order."
Edward smirked. Same old Colonel. The man made to leave.
"Colonel?" he called. Roy paused and looked over his shoulder.
"Thank you," Edward said, and he meant it. Roy smirked.
"Take it easy, Fullmetal. You promised your brother."
With that he walked out. Not even a second later, Havoc, Breda, Fuery, and Falman all flooded into the room.
"Hey, kiddo!" Breda called.
"Hey, guys," Edward replied. "What's up?"
"Nothing," said Havoc. "We just came to see how you were doing."
Edward looked Havoc straight in the eyes and took a deep breath.
"Havoc, thank you…for saving my life," he said. Havoc waved it off.
"No worries, man. It's what we do. We're family, and we take care of our own."
The others nodded in complete agreement.
"No problem. We'll always be there to protect you."
Edward snorted, straightening up and crossing his arms.
"I don't need anyone to protect me."
He didn't see the four men exchange grins. They were all glad to see that the old Edward seemed to be back.
"Sure you don't," Havoc replied, his tone teasing.
"No, you're right. All you have to do is stand still, and the other guy's swing will just go right over your head."
"Are you calling me short??"
"No, of course not! I'm just saying that a sprout like you will be fine in a fight."
"DON'T CALL ME SPROUT!!!"
The four men around him just grinned, thrilled to see that Edward would be fine after all.
Sooooooooooo…yeah…kind of a disturbing story that I've been kicking around in my head for awhile.
Ed: YOU TRIED TO KILL ME!!!!!
(ducks) I'm sorry!!!!
The reason for this story was to kind of analyze the relationships between the characters. I've always imagined that the other guys in the military would see Ed as a kid brother that they had to look after, and I've always pictured Roy taking on a sort of fatherly role to Ed, guiding him the whole way. I could imagine Roy would be worried. Ed is only fifteen after all, and by being the guy who discovered him, Roy would have to be responsible for him. So, no, there is no romance between them. Just a dysfunctional father-son relationship. Eastern Command: Friends, Comrades-in-Arms, Dysfunctionally Functional Family. (lol)