Chizi: Hey all. We're back with the end of the cliffhanger. After this, the story will come to a close.
Zilo: How sad! This has been such fun to do!
Chizi: And we'll miss our awesome reviewers!
Zilo: But nothing lasts forever, so here's the next chapter!
"No!!" Winry cried, lunging forward. The Homunculus impersonating her was going to send Edward to his death if she didn't do something!
She heard gunshots and ignored her clone as she--or he--was riddled with bullets. Her one thought was on Edward. She had to reach him. He was falling. He was going to die. He couldn't fall.
Winry felt like she was in slow-motion as she raced to the window, reaching out. Edward was on his way down. She reached down with both hands and caught the ankle of his pants. She kept her grip for about three seconds before they slipped from her fingers.
"Edward!" Winry screamed, her hand still out as if she could catch him. He hurtled towards the ground. No, no, no!
Without thinking, Winry hurled herself out the window.
7: Lifting The Fog
Her thoughts weren't on the people at the window calling her name, or the fact that in less than a minute she'd slam into the ground below, possibly dying. Her only thoughts were on Edward.
Who was about to fall to his death.
Who would die without knowing who really cared about him.
Who would die without knowing how much she loved him.
Winry didn't know how she caught up to Edward in mid-air, but she did. The wind was whipping his bangs into his face, but what glimpses of his eyes she saw evidenced that he looked...sad. Now angry. Not hateful. Just sad.
"Edward!" she cried over the rushing wind. His eyes snapped to her, and she saw anger flare up in them. She could only imagine what that Homunculus had said to him while impersonating her. She had to do something to convince Edward of the truth before they died...
Winry wrapped her arms around Edward as they sailed to the ground headfirst. At first he resisted, trying to pull himself out of her grasp, but she held on tightly. "Edward, whatever that thing said to you as me isn't true!" she yelled. "You know I care about you, otherwise I would never have bothered to help you!"
"Why should I believe you?" Edward snapped back.
Winry flinched at his tone, but pressed on. "Because I--"
Suddenly, the fall was over. Winry felt something crack the back of her head, then gasped painfully as the rest of her followed. The impact of hitting the street broke them apart. Winry tumbled and rolled a few feet away, coming to a painful stop on her stomach. She thought she saw a figure duck behind a tree, but she wasn't sure.
She could hear people coming. Slowly, painfully, she got up on her hands and knees. Something dribbled into her right eye, making her close it. To add to the cuts from Lust's attack, she now had to deal with a sore thigh and head, but she ignored it all and slowly crawled over to where Edward lay, looking pretty dead.
"Edward..." she said weakly as she reached him. More residual pain was starting to show up, making it incredibly uncomfortable to move. She crawled up to Edward's back and grabbed his shoulder. "Edward..."
"Go away." It was a painful whisper, but it was bad enough to scare Winry. She leaned over him and saw that his forehead was split open. His face was scrunched in pain.
Carefully, Winry rolled him onto his back, resting his head in her lap. She used the hem of her shirt to wipe the blood out of his eyes, hearing pounding footsteps behind her.
Edward cracked one eye open to look up at her. "Why are you doing this?" he asked.
He sounded so pitiful that Winry felt tears in her eyes. Before she could stop herself she had leaned over Edward's body as if to shield him from the sun. "Because I love you, you idiot," she said tearfully.
Finally, the footsteps made it.
Two hours later...
Roy Mustang glared at Envy. Envy stared at Mustang. The only thing keeping the Homunculus from skinning everyone alive were the heavy, freshly-transmuted chains binding his arms and legs very tightly to the chair. His arms were twisted into such a position that even if he did morph them into blades, they would only wave uselessly in the air.
"Fortunately for you, Homunculus, Full Metal and Miss Rockbell survived the fall," Roy began.
Envy shrugged, which sent a stab of pain through his back. The chains were tight. "I didn't tell the girl to go diving out the window after the pipsqueak," he said nonchalantly.
Roy glared even harder at him. "You and your associates are responsible for a number of deaths," he said.
"So?" Envy challenged.
The Flame Alchemist's fists clenched. How he yearned to wipe that smirk off Envy's face. After everything he'd done, especially to Edward, a good beating seemed like a great idea.
If only the wounds would actually last.
"Take him downstairs," he said to the men pointing rifles at Envy's head. "I'll deal with him later."
"Yes sir!" the men said, putting down their rifles to pick up the whole chair.
But Envy wasn't done. He waited until they had hoisted the chair up high enough so his face was level with Roy's, then he spit directly in Roy's face. Even Riza was startled by his audacity. Roy, seething, reached out in an instant and locked both hands around Envy's neck.
"Sir!" Riza exclaimed, warning bells going off in her head.
There were a few painful seconds as everyone in the room froze, waiting to see if Roy was going to attempt to kill the Homunculus. His face certainly looked like that of someone about to commit murder. But he noticed Envy's satisfied grin, and the sensible part of him said not to give in to the taunting. He managed to let go. "Get him out of here," he said dangerously. The soldiers carrying Envy's chair never moved faster in their lives.
Roy disgustedly wiped the spit off his face. "Sir, are you all right?" Riza asked solemnly from behind him.
"I'll be all right, Lieutenant," he sighed, his anger starting to simmer down a little. "I'm going to go check on Edward."
"Yes sir," Riza said, knowing he probably needed some alone time.
"Like all narcotics, these simply needed time to work themselves out of Major Elric's system," the doctor reported from his clipboard. "It will probably take a few days for them to be completely flushed out, but for now he should be all right. If he drinks plenty of fluids he'll be fine."
"That's good to know," Roy said wearily, resting an elbow on Edward's bedside. "And Miss Rockbell?"
"Fortunately the fall didn't do as much damage as we originally thought," the doctor said. "She has a mild concussion, and some scrapes and bruises on her legs and back, but nothing's sprained, strained, or broken. She'll most likely be able to leave by tomorrow morning."
Roy nodded, resting his chin in his hand to complete the thinking pose. "Thank you. You're dismissed."
The doctor left the room, leaving Roy and Alphonse to watch over Edward.
"So...Brother's going to stop thinking everyone hates him?" Alphonse ventured timidly.
"Hopefully the feelings will go away with the drugs," Roy sighed.
They both glanced at Edward, who had his head, neck, and arm bandaged up. He looked to be sleeping peacefully. "I'm glad the Homunculi weren't able to get him again," Alphonse said. "They might have messed him up for life." He turned to Roy. "Speaking of which, what are you going to do with Envy, Colonel?"
"I suppose the best course of action would be to treat him like a common criminal," Roy said. "I can think of a lot of people who would like to take him to a lab, but he's far too dangerous for that. Anyone who had committed the crimes he has would most likely be executed."
"I guess, but Homunculi don't die like that. How could you execute him?"
"We'll find a way. He's going to pay."
Alphonse nodded, seeing the conviction in Roy's eyes. The Colonel would find a way.
Suddenly the door opened, and there stood Winry, dressed in hospital gear, her head and legs bandaged. Behind her was a nurse who seemed to be attempting to get her to go back to her room.
"How's Edward?" Winry demanded, completely ignoring the nurse.
"He's okay, Winry," Alphonse hurriedly said, standing up. "The doctor said he needs time for the drugs to pass through his system, and that he'll be okay."
Winry sighed in relief. "I'm glad," she said, smiling tiredly. "Is he still asleep?"
Roy and Alphonse nodded.
"Miss, please go back to your room," the nurse said pathetically. "You're supposed to be resting."
"Don't worry about it," Roy said to her. "Miss Rockbell can stay in here with us."
"But the doctor said--" the nurse started.
"I'm your doctor's superior. If he asks, tell him I said it was all right," Roy said in his now-look-here tone.
The nurse sighed dramatically, but she left. Winry was more than happy to take up a chair between Roy and Alphonse.
"Mom! Mom!" Edward ran into the house. "Alphonse cut his leg open!"
Trisha turned and stood. "Where is he?" she asked.
Edward pointed out the door, where the faint sound of crying drifted up to them. "He tried to stand up, but he kept falling down. I think he's gonna die!"
"Okay. Come on, let's go." Trisha walked calmly after her frantic son as he led her to the scene of the accident. Alphonse was sitting on the hill, crying, his leg bleeding. Trisha got him to calm down, then carried him back to the house, where she cleaned and bandaged the gash. Then she put him down for a nap.
"So, he's not gonna die?" Edward asked hopefully.
Trisha laughed. "I think Alphonse is going to pull through," she said.
Edward, relieved, hugged his mother.
It wasn't fair. Edward didn't have a mother to hug anymore. He could only stand there and watch his younger self happily hug his mom. Six-year-old Edward looked so happy and cute, like any six-year-old might. How could he have known that in four years his source of happiness would be taken away?
"It's not fair," Edward found himself saying, watching the scene fade away. "I don't have anyone anymore. Now I'm alone."
"You know that's not true."
Edward whirled to find himself on the hill again. Trisha was standing before him, smiling, her hair pulled over her shoulder as usual.
"M...Mom?" Edward said in disbelief. "It can't be. You're dead."
"Why would you believe that you're alone, my little man?" Trisha said. "You know it's not true. You have Alphonse and Winry."
"But nothing. Your mind's been fogged over with those hateful thoughts that were forcefully injected into it, but you know they aren't true. You know that there are many people that care about you."
As she said it, Edward saw the faces of people he knew crossing his mind. Roy Mustang and Riza Hawkeye. Izumi and Sig Curtis. Maria Ross and Denny Bloch, and so many more. All these people that Envy had talked about in that awful room, where he had written those awful words so he wouldn't forget how much they hated him.
"Those words weren't yours," Trisha spoke again. "You know yourself that you would never think to write things that awful. You were tricked. You were beaten into submission, and hypnotized into believing that no one cared about you. You were told you needed to take revenge on them."
"And I did," Edward said, his voice breaking. "I put three of them in the hospital, and I tried to do the same to the Colonel."
"But you knew it was wrong," Trisha said. "Something in you would not allow you to kill them. There was a part of you that remembered the truth and held you back from making a fatal mistake."
Edward realized that there were tears on his face now, and he could barely look his mother in the eye. She had to be ashamed of him.
"Don't make that mistake." He looked back up when Trisha put her hands on his shoulders. "The worst thing you could do at this point is assume they won't forgive you and shut yourself off from them. They understand what's been happening to you, Edward, and they want to help you. The best thing you can do is give them that chance."
She hugged him, and Edward hugged her back, knowing that when he woke up she would be gone. "I don't want you to leave," he said.
"I know. I know you and Alphonse miss me," Trisha said. "But I still love you both so much, and I'm proud of what you've done for others. You have to take care of each other, and don't be afraid to let others take care of you."
"Are you leaving now?" Edward asked, sensing her slipping away.
"Yes. I only came to lift the fog your mind's been in. It's time for you to wake up. The people around you are waiting to see the real you again."
"Wait!" Edward cried, but she was already gone. His arms dropped uselessly to his sides as the hill faded away.
Edward wished the dream hadn't ended. He had wanted to say so much to his mother. But he remembered her instructions. His head hurt, and so did his flesh hand. But it wasn't too terrible. He opened his eyes to find Alphonse, Winry, and Roy all at his bedside, looking at him expectantly. Winry was sporting some bandages, he noticed guiltily.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
Edward carefully touched his head, wincing at the pain. He sat up, and the others leaned back to give him room. "What time is it?" he asked.
"Almost midnight," Alphonse said, his voice full of uncertainty. "You've been asleep since yesterday."
Trisha had been right about the fog. Edward could still feel that sense of anger and disgust as he looked at Roy and Alphonse, but it was toned down enough that he could ignore it. "Al," he said, looking directly at his brother, "I'm sorry."
Everyone in the room looked startled, Alphonse most of all. But he recovered. "You are?" he said, sounding almost excited.
Edward managed a smile. "Yeah. I probably scared you. But I think I'm back to normal now."
"That's great!" Alphonse exclaimed.
"That's more than great!" Winry seconded, hugging Edward. He stiffened up a little, his face turning red, but he managed to tough it out. "You're definitely back to normal," Winry teased when she let go.
"You had us worried, Full Metal," Roy said, leaning back with a relieved air.
"I know." Edward sheepishly rubbed the back of his head. Those feelings were telling him to get up, run. But he wasn't going to. He knew his mother would never lead him astray.
The soldier guarding Envy's cell glared through the small window on the heavy steel door. "What?"
"So how do they plan to do it?"
The guard shifted uncomfortable, unnerved by Envys' creepy tone. "Do what?"
"Serve punishment on me. Earlier today I had nine bullets pumped into my skin, and yet here I am."
The guard flinched, then glared. "Be quiet!" he snapped, turning away.
Envy grinned. Messing with this guy's head was fun. He let another few moments pass. "Hey, you."
"What now?" the man demanded irritably.
"Once I was on a train," Envy quipped, "and this little boy was getting on everyone's nerves. He kept running around, messing with people's stuff, and screaming his age--he was five, by the way--to the world. He tugged on my hair, and I stabbed him in the gut. An Equivalent Exchange, wouldn't you agree?"
The guard looked seriously spooked, and he stiffly turned away. Envy couldn't help laughing. This was hilarious.
The door to the room opened, and both the guard's and Envy's attention were turned to the figure that stepped through. The guard gasped and reached for his gun. "You're not supposed to be down--!"
He didn't get to finish, as Lust's deadly fingernails sliced through his chest and throat. The man gagged and gurgled blood as Lust tossed him to the side. She sliced through the steel door in one quick swipe.
"What took you?" Envy asked as she sliced his chains to pieces. He popped both of his shoulders back into position.
"I had to wait for the commotion to die down," Lust commented. "There's a big hubbub in the hospital wing. Apparently Full Metal's making a miraculous recovery."
Just like that, Envy's good mood was gone. "Dammit," he spat. "All that hard work."
"I think it's time to give it up," Lust said.
Envy sighed heavily. He had enjoyed torturing the pipsqueak, but now it seemed the fun was over. "Fine, fine," he said. "Let's get out of here."
Gluttony joined them, looking suspiciously satisfied. The guard's body was nowhere to be seen.
A teary Major Alex Louis Armstrong burst through the door, practically breaking the wall. "EDWARD ELRIC I HEARD OF YOUR AMAZING RECOVERY AND CAME TO OFFER MY CONGRATULATIONS!" he sobbed, using a hug as an excuse to test the strength of Edward's ribcage.
"Major, please don't crush him. We just got him back," Roy sighed.
"Can't...breathe..." Edward gasped.
Armstrong let go and whipped out a sheet of paper. "Second Lieutenant Havoc wasn't able to come and see you, but he wrote you a note." He took this as an opportunity to rip off his top, pink sparkles appearing around him as he flexed his muscles. "DELIVERING HEARTFELT NOTES IS AN ART THAT HAS BEEN PASSED DOWN THE ARMSTRONG LINE FOR GENERATIONS!"
The other people in the room collectively sweatdropped. "Uh, thanks," Edward said, taking the note as Armstrong continued to flex.
"What does it say, Brother?" Alphonse asked.
Edward read it over first before reading it aloud. "'Hey Edward, I heard you finally came back to your senses. Good job. Jean Havoc'." There was a moment's silence as they all pondered the wondrous simplicity of the "heartfelt note".
"How, uh, sweet," Winry tried.
"He is still recovering," Sergeant Denny Bloch pointed out. His arm was in a sling.
Edward smiled down sadly at the note as he folded the paper back up. "I'll have to go visit him soon. I've got to apologize in person," he said firmly.
Second Lieutenant Maria Ross smiled as she patted his shoulder. She looked all right on the surface, besides the bandage on her cheek, but her shoulder and arms were bandaged under her uniform. "You don't need to apologize, Edward. We all understand."
"Yeah, but that doesn't make it right," Edward replied. "Even if I was crazy, it was still me who did it."
"You guys better take advantage of this while you can," Winry commented teasingly. "Ed never admits when he's wrong."
Roy made a noise of agreement. "Hey!" Edward protested, giving them both a glare.
"At least things can get back to normal now," Alphonse commented to Riza.
"Hmm," was Riza's comment. She observed Winry and Edward arguing, Roy smirking, Denny trying and failing miserably not to laugh, Maria reprimanding him, and Armstrong still flexing.
"...As normal as it can get around here," Alphonse amended.
Roy finally intervened in Winry and Edward's argument. "Now now, Full Metal, you shouldn't argue with your girlfriend. She'll only be here a short while longer."
Riza and Alphonse exchanged quick glances as Edward sucked in a breath.
"WHOTHEHELLAREYOUCALLINGSOSHORTTHATHECANWALKUNDERADAMNDOORWITHOUTDUCKINGHUH? AND SHE'S NOT MY GIRLFRIEND! YOU SADISTIC BASTARD!!"
At that point, everyone in Central Headquarters knew that Edward was most definitely back to normal. As for Winry, she could only laugh and hug Edward again, remembering what Riza had said about Roy and his short jokes. Even Roy showed a genuine smile after Edward's anger deflated.
"It's good to have you back, Edward," Roy said.
Edward looked over at Roy, surprised to hear such a warm tone from him. Then, he smiled. "It's good to be back."
And so, to break up the sappiness, someone meowed. Everyone else looked around in confusion, but only Edward glared accusingly at Alphonse, who was suddenly all nervous. "Al..." he said in a warning tone.
"But Brother, it looked so fragile and cute, and it was getting cloudy!" Alphonse protested.
Zilo: (sobbing) HE'S OKAY NOW!
Chizi: Well, everyone, it looks like the plot has come to a close. But before we sign off, we'd like to know: would you like to see an epilogue, where Edward goes to get the documents that Envy and Lust stole? Or do you think it should end here?
Zilo: Let us know, because if we don't get feedback, we're going to do what we want to do, and it might not be what you want to do!