Warning! T for violence, blood, language, disturbing junk, and other T-like stuff...yeah...
Written By: Zilo and Chizi
Beta: Maruka Gomez
Zilo: Okay, okay, so we have this policy about stereotypical story ideas--
Chizi: And this whole thing started out as a dare. "Write a story and use up as many cliché FMA plots as possible."
Zilo: So we snatched up some parental Roy and Ed--
Chizi: Threw in a spin on the Pride!Ed deal--
Zilo: Added a hint of EdxWin, I think--
Chizi: And, along with other junk, produced this mess!
Zilo: Between us two, we own a terrible replica of the Ourobourus mark (however you might spell that), a green wig, a silver pocket watch bought off of eBay, a terrible heap of creative license which gives us an excuse to screw the original storyline--
Chizi: But no FMA. What a shame!
It was a bright, clear day, and it promised to be another boring one. It had been a solid three months since Full Metal Alchemist Edward Elric had turned up another lead on the Philosopher's Stone, and he was tired. More importantly, he was quite irritable. Alphonse was probably the only person who hadn't recently been snapped at.
As he flipped yet another book closed and picked up one of the last ones he hadn't read, Edward realized his head hurt. He rubbed his temples with a sigh as he opened the book. He'd been immersed in research at the national library for the better part of seven hours, and Alphonse kept pleading with him to take a break and eat or drink something. Ed didn't want to take a break until he had made some kind of headway, but as the time passed and his headache got worse, he realized he just might need to.
With a sigh, Edward pushed back his chair and stood. He was surprised that he was unsteady when he got to his feet, and realized he must be more tired than he thought. A knock at the door of the private room he was in drew his attention. It was too soft a knock to be Alphonse. "Come in," he said, shoving his chair underneath the desk.
The door opened, and an unfamiliar girl stepped in. She had short black hair and brown eyes, and she was dressed in a military uniform. A cup was in her hand. "Um, Mister Elric, sir, your brother Alphonse sent me to give you this and tell you to 'take a breather'," she said nervously, her eyes not meeting his.
Edward smiled tiredly. His brother, the worrywart. He accepted the cup from the girl. "Thanks," he said. It smelled like coffee, and he took a sip.
The girl nodded and bowed out of the room like her hair was on fire. Ed pulled his chair back out and sat down. He finished the hot coffee in less than two minutes, and appreciated the boost. "Now to get back to work," he said, picking up a book.
Al's words came back to his mind, and Edward stared unseeingly at the page before sighing and leaning back. He knew his brother wasn't trying to do anything but make sure he didn't overwork himself again. The last time Edward had logged insane amounts of time researching, he'd worked himself into a fever and had spent five days on bedrest. After that, Alphonse had been making sure he didn't overdo it. But that had been six months ago, and his brother's intense overprotectiveness had slipped a bit, allowing Edward to get back into the habit of burning the candle at both ends.
Edward stared moodily into his empty mug. On the one hand, he wanted to keep going. He knew a lead on the Philosopher's Stone wouldn't find itself. But on the other hand, he didn't want his brother to worry. He sighed and pushed his chair back again. "Fine. I'll take a quick break."
He stood, and nearly fell over. He was dizzy, very dizzy. Edward put a hand to his head as he steadied himself with a hand on the desk. But the room still seemed to be spinning. "What the hell?" he said, trying to keep himself balanced and upright. He took a step forward and crashed down like a ton of bricks. His arm hit the coffee mug on the desk and sent it spinning to the floor beside his head.
The door opened again, and Edward, now in such a state of extreme dizziness that he was having a hard time rising, looked up to see the girl who had come in moments ago. "Are you all right?" she asked in alarm, coming over to him.
"I don't know," Edward ground out, closing his eyes to try and block out the confusion. "I tried to get up, and..."
"Poor thing," the girl said. There was something in her voice that made him open his eyes again, and he saw that she was now squatting down next to him, a satisfied sneer replacing the concerned look. "Something wrong with your coffee?"
A realization dawned on Edward as he lay helplessly on the floor. "Envy," he spat. "What..." He tried to say, "what did you do?" but his mouth wasn't working. His arms and legs weren't responding.
But he was right. The girl's form morphed into Envy, and he looked very pleased with himself. "Didn't your mother ever tell you not to use drugs?" he taunted.I've been drugged. That bastard did something to the coffee, Edward realized. He tried to demand of Envy what he wanted, but his body wasn't following his orders anymore. He was struggling to keep his eyes open, and the whirling room wasn't doing anything for his stomach. But he had to stay alert. He couldn't let his guard down with that Homunculus here.
"You look really tired, pipsqueak," Envy went on. "Why don't you take a nap?"
Edward couldn't even muster up enough anger to vent at Envy for the short comment, and to his horror, a nap sounded like a great idea. His body was already starting to shut down. No! I've gotta stay awake! He thought of pretending to fall asleep, but he feared if he dared close his eyes, he really would.
Envy's image was getting blurry. Edward's eyelids grew heavier and heavier. Damn it...don't fall asleep... His brain only seemed to latch onto the "fall asleep" part, for his eyelids dropped without his permission. Now that he had assumed the complete position of someone about to conk out, he knew it was a losing battle. He managed to fight it off long enough to feel Envy pick him up and sling him over a shoulder before he finally lost the fight and succumbed to the darkness.
Three hours later...
Alphonse Elric knocked on the door. "Brother? Are you in there?" When he didn't get a response, he guessed that his older brother had fallen asleep over a book and opened the door.
The desk was still covered in books, and the chair had been pushed up underneath. Edward wasn't in the room. Alphonse looked around, as if he were hiding, though there really was nothing to hide behind. "Brother?"
"Are you looking for Mister Elric?"
Alphonse turned and saw a girl with dark hair and eyes wearing a military uniform. "He said to tell you he was going to take your advice and stepped out for some air," she said.
"Oh," Alphonse said, sighing with relief. "Did he say he would be back?"
The girl shook her head. "He'll probably be back soon, though. It's been about ten minutes. No worries, Mr. Elric." She saluted and wandered off.
Alphonse moved into the room and sat down in Edward's chair. He was relieved that his brother had taken his advice. Edward was one of the types who didn't give up until he had good news. He neglected just about every need except bathroom breaks, especially if he didn't have a lead. For once, though, he seemed to get the fact that he wasn't a machine, and needed to take care of himself. Alphonse would tell Edward how proud he was that he took the sound advice.
"Good job, Brother," Alphonse said aloud, waiting for his brother's return.
Alphonse hadn't really realized how long it had been until an aide came into the room to inform him the library would be closing soon. The library closed at ten. It had been five hours since he had come in! The sun was down now!
He hurriedly thanked the aide, and then asked him about the girl who had told him Ed had left. The aide looked confused, and he gave him a better description. "She's about Brother's height and weight, looks maybe 14, with short black hair and brown eyes, wearing a military uniform."
"Um...I'm sorry, sir, but I've been here the past couple of years, and I'm pretty sure we don't have anyone who fits that description working here," the aide told him.
Alphonse felt nervous. "Okay. Thank you." He made his way out of the room. When he reached the exit to the library, he saw indeed that it was now night time. A thought came to him, and he approached the front desk. "Excuse me, you know who I am, right?"
The aide looked up at him and smiled. "Certainly. You're Alphonse Elric, Edward Elric's younger brother."
Alphonse nodded. "Did you see my brother leave?"
"Leave?" She considered. "No, I don't believe so. And I'm pretty sure I would have noticed. I thought he was still in the private room in the back."
"So did I," Alphonse said to himself. "Okay, thank you very much." He walked through the doors and came to a stop.
Second Lieutenant Maria Ross saluted him. "Mr. Elric, Colonel Mustang needs to meet with your brother," she said.
"Before you ask, I don't know where he is right now," Alphonse told her.
"You don't?" Maria looked surprised. "Where was he last?"
"I think he stepped outside to take a break from research, at least that's what I was told," Alphonse said. "But that was five hours ago, and when I asked about the girl who told me, they said they didn't have anyone who fit her description working here. I don't want to jump to conclusions, but I think something may have happened to Brother."
Maria nodded, now focused on a different goal. "Come back with me to Headquarters. We'll inform Colonel Mustang."
In the colonel's office...
Colonel Roy Mustang remained silent as Alphonse recounted what had happened at the library. He was in his thinking position, elbows on the desk, mouth hidden behind intertwined fingers. Beside him, First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye listened to the account as well.
"And you say when you asked about the girl who gave you this information, you were summarily told she didn't exist?" Roy asked at the end.
Alphonse nodded. Even as a suit of armor, he could still somehow radiate worry. "The aide told me that he didn't know of anyone working there that looked like her."
"I see," Roy said. "Edward may be irresponsible at times, but this is out of character for him. We'd better not waste any time, in case something has happened to him. We'll start an investigation immediately." He frowned contemplatively. "This mystery girl you saw, where did she go after telling you that your brother had left?"
"I think she went up to the second floor," Alphonse said.
Roy leaned back in his chair. "Then our first order of business is to question the employees of the library and see if any of them saw her. Alphonse, you'll need to give Lieutenant Hawkeye your best description of this girl. Lieutenant, you head up the investigation. And have officers on the lookout for Edward, in case he was just absent-minded enough to wander off without telling someone and got lost."
"Yes sir," Alphonse and Riza said in unison.
What Roy didn't tell them, however, was that he was almost certain that Edward had met with foul play. Edward had been researching the Philosopher's Stone, and he would never have taken more than a few minutes for a break. He was too focused on getting a lead. Plus, he wasn't a big enough idiot to get lost in Central. But Roy wasn't going to needlessly worry Alphonse.
At least not yet.
Jennifer Lewis yawned widely as she checked the last private study. It had been a long night. Helping keep such a big library in order was no simple task, and it took most of her energy every day. But she still loved the job and wouldn't trade it for any other.
She approached the front desk just as several military officers did. Curious, and naturally nosy, she hung around, pretending to straighten a shelf of books. One of the men was telling the aide at the front desk that they were conducting an investigation. Edward Elric, the Full Metal Alchemist, was currently missing, and had last been seen here by a girl with this description, and have you seen her?
Jennifer listened intently, her charade forgotten, as the man rolled off a description. Short, close-cut dark hair, brown eyes, around the same size as the Full Metal Alchemist himself. She realized why that description sounded familiar. She had seen the girl! And in fact...
But no, Jennifer thought, turning to finish her room check. I can't tell them what I saw. They'd think I was a loony, or trying to get attention. When she had been in one of the upstairs studies about two hours ago, she had looked out the window, admiring the scenery. Movement below had caught her eye, and she had looked down to see the girl entering an alley. The girl, however, somehow changed herself into what looked like a young, long-haired woman dressed very loosely. The woman then jumped out of the alley with an agility Jennifer had never seen in her life, and left the area, traveling over the roofs of buildings. She had gone so quickly that Jennifer knew she would have caught it if she hadn't looked before the woman leapt.
Well, that's probably the weirdest thing I've ever seen, Jennifer thought, but nobody would believe me. I don't even know if I believe me. I'd better just keep it to myself, and if they ask I'll tell them I never saw the stupid girl.
All the employees working at the time that Edward disappeared were contacted and questioned. Then the managers and supervisors were questioned about the girl. It soon became clear that whoever this girl was, she didn't work in the library, but a couple of the employees had seen her. One saw her go into the room where Edward had been, with a cup of some steaming liquid. The cup wasn't turned up, but there was a stain on the floor that turned out to be coffee.
Another employee saw her when she was speaking to Alphonse. They confirmed that she had gone upstairs, but no one who had been upstairs at that time had seen her.
By day three, Edward was officially missing, and a formal investigation was ensued. People on the streets at the time Edward supposedly stepped out were tracked down and questioned, but no one had seen him. That corroborated the general statement from the library workers that no one had seen him leave the library.
Alphonse was beside himself with worry. Maria did her best to help him feel better, but he insisted on helping, saying that that would be the only thing that could help. As he kept saying over and over, "there's no way Brother just disappeared. Someone had to take him somewhere at some point, and somebody had to see it." He kept going back to the library, making the rounds and asking employees for anything that might help.
"Anything at all might help," Al said earnestly to the desk clerk of the sixth day of Edward's disappearance. "Even the most trivial."
The clerk shrugged, giving him a sad smile. "I think we've all racked our brains answering the questions in the interrogations. You're welcome to ask any of our employees, of course, but I don't know if anything new will come up."
Al sighed. "All right, thank you, ma'am," he said. Dejected, he turned to leave.How will I ever find Brother? he thought as he started down the steps. He mentally ran down the list of suspects. Scar wouldn't have kidnapped Edward; he'd only explode the young alchemist's brain and leave him in some alley. The Homunculi had no need to kidnap him; they just wanted him to make the Philosopher's Stone for them. Then did that mean there was some new enemy who was after his brother? The thought would have made him shudder, had he had real shoulders.
Al turned to see that a young woman had come after him. She had long red hair pulled into a bun, and gray eyes behind glasses. She was dressed conservatively and held some books to her chest, showing that she worked in the library. "Um...you don't know me, but I'm Jennifer. Jennifer Lewis. I want to talk to you about that mystery girl."
"You saw her?" Al asked, his spirits lifting.
The girl looked hesitant. "I think I did, but--well, it's a really long story, and you might not believe me."
"Please, tell me," Al pleaded. "Anything could help."
Well..." Jennifer's eyes darted around behind her glasses, then settled on Al's face. "On the day your brother disappeared, about eight o'clock, I was upstairs straightening up one of the studies. I looked out the window, and I saw a girl that fits the description going into an alley."
Al nodded as a prompt, seeing that she was hesitating again.
"You see..." she sighed. "I know this is going to sound crazy, but I swear I saw her completely change form."
"Change form?" Al gasped. "Change to what?"
"It looked like she changed into a young woman, a rather scantily-clad one, I might add..." She bit her lip. "Then she jumped up to the roof and started jumping from roof to roof with this incredible speed and agility that's beyond belief. If I hadn't seen it I wouldn't have believed it."
Al felt excitement. Finally! A break! "Please, Miss Lewis, you have to come to Headquarters and tell Colonel Mustang what you told me," he said.
Jennifer blinked. "You mean--you believe me?"
"Yes!" Al exclaimed. "It wasn't a woman you saw. It was a man, and my brother and I have run into him before. Please, come and tell the colonel--he'll believe you too!"
"I don't believe this," Colonel Mustang spat.
Jennifer exchanged a nervous glance with Alphonse. "You were questioned before with the other employees," Riza Hawkeye put in. "Why didn't you come forward with this information?"
"I didn't think anyone would believe me," Jennifer said, earnestly opening her hands in her lap.
"Well, by deciding that on our own, you took the option out of our hands," Riza lectured sternly. "Because of this, we may lose valuable time. It could already be too late for Edward Elric."
Jennifer looked down into her lap. "I'm sorry," she said sincerely.
"Very well. The both of you are dismissed." Jennifer and Alphonse got up and left. Roy waited until they had closed the door behind them to look over at Riza. "If the Homunculi are involved in Edward's disappearance, this could be even more serious than we thought."
Riza nodded solemnly. "I only hope he's still alive."
"So do I," Roy sighed.
"I'm so sorry, Mr. Elric," Jennifer said earnestly as they exited Headquarters.
"It's not your fault, Miss Lewis," Alphonse immediately responded. "You had no way of knowing we'd believe you."
"Yes, but I should've risked sounding like an idiot if it helped find your brother faster," Jennifer sighed. "Listen, I hope this isn't coming too late, but if there's ever any way I can help, please let me know. I'm at the library almost every day, so you can stop by anytime."
"Sure," Alphonse agreed. She smiled briefly at him, then turned and started home.
Alphonse watched her go, then looked up at the sky. The "woman" that Jennifer had described was Envy, he knew without a doubt. The question was, why would Envy want to kidnap Edward? What use could he have like that? Alphonse worried that it might not be about the Stone at all. But then, what was it about?
"Alphonse Elric?" Alphonse turned to see a woman. "There's a call for you from Risembool."
Two weeks had now passed since Edward's disappearance, or kidnapping as it was now being called, and there had not been a single lead. Even knowing that Envy was most likely the one who had taken Edward away in the first place did them little good, since it would be a snap for him to disguise himself. He could have even been infiltrating Headquarters itself, ensuring they didn't get too much headway.
Officers were scouring the city for clues. They put up posters with pictures of Edward, asking people to come forward with any information about his disappearance. People at the train station were regularly questioned, as the military tried to figure out if Edward had been taken out of the city.
But nothing had turned up.
Several people had claimed to see him, but when the leads were followed, they turned out to be dead ends. Key witnesses were often called back in to retell their story, in case a vital clue was remembered in the rehashing. Above all, the timeline put together from witness statements was gone over again and again, searching for anything they had missed.
Roy sat at his desk, staring unseeingly at some paperwork. If this had been a normal day, he would be staring unseeingly at it with Riza hovering dangerously near him, making sure he finished it. Sometimes Edward would throw open the door and walk in like he owned the place, bringing a report from his latest journey to track down leads on the Philosopher's Stone. But Riza was out in the city, helping with the search and investigation. And Edward had vanished into thin air.
With a sigh, Roy looked up at his door. What I wouldn't give for that loudmouth to come barging in here, he thought. He considered. The last time he had spoken to Edward, he had mercilessly teased the 16-year-old about his height. Edward had nearly demolished the office trying to get a piece of his superior, and Alphonse barely managed to hold him back. Roy sorely hoped that that wouldn't be Edward's last memory of him.
The door suddenly opened, and Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye came in. Roy looked up at her, surprised. "Back so soon? I wasn't expecting you for another hour," he said.
"I don't think you were expecting me at all, Colonel," she replied. Something in the way she said his title caused him to stand up, and his hand reached for the pockets were his spark gloves were kept.
"You're not the First Lieutenant, are you," he stated.
Riza smirked. "You'd be right." In a matter of seconds, she had morphed into another.
"Let me guess. Envy," Roy said darkly, glaring at the sneering young man before him. "What have you done with Edward?"
"The pipsqueak?" Envy smirked, leaning against the door and lazily crossing his arms. "He's alive, for now."
"What do you want with him?" Roy demanded.
Envy morphed again, this time into Edward. Roy started, then glared at him. "Let's just say there's a few things you need to do if you want to see me alive again," Envy said in Edward's voice, looking very pleased with himself.
"Like?" Roy ground out.
"Turn over all my research on the Philosopher's Stone," Envy said, still playing Edward. "If you don't know where it is, ask my brother. I tell him everything. And get rid of the people on this list." He tossed a balled-up sheet of paper at Roy's head, and Roy caught it.
"'Get rid of'?" Roy repeated, eyes narrowing.
Envy as Edward smirked, sending a chill down Roy's spine. "I think you know what I mean, Colonel. If it makes you feel so bad, say they committed some heinous crime and execute them for it. Either way, do it or I'm not going to be coming back."
Roy slammed his palms down on the table. "I do not negotiate with criminals," he growled.
"Not even for me?" Envy said. His face suddenly changed to that of Edward's in a sad, unguarded moment. "I thought you cared about me, Colonel," he said sadly.
"Stop that right now!" Roy snapped, not wanting to admit that it was affecting him to look at what looked and sounded just like a very hurt Edward Elric.
Envy smirked and resumed his original form. "What's the matter? Am I getting to you?"
Roy tossed the paper back at Envy. "What, you won't even look?" Envy said as he caught the ball of paper. He shrugged. "All right, then. Have it your way. This offer isn't coming back." His face spread into a sneering grin. "And neither will the pipsqueak." In one smooth motion he opened the door, stepped backwards, and slammed it closed in front of him.
"Stop!" Roy jumped up and ran for the door, throwing it open. "Tell me where Edward--"
Envy was gone. A few milling officers hurried up, asking if everything was all right. They, of course, didn't understand the glare Roy gave each and every one of them, but the truth was, he was trying to figure if one of them was Envy.
Of course, unfortunately, he couldn't tell.
Roy clenched his fists. Edward.
Chizi: And there's the first chapter!
Zilo: Man, we're kinda evil.
Chizi: Yep. (nod)
Zilo: Anyway, please review! We love hearing from people!