I'm very sorry that I hadn't updated since…well, forever. I have no excuse. But I'm back :D. This chapter was beta-tested by Calamus (Thanks again!).
Lyra almost jumped out of her bed. A blonde man had opened the door of the room in which she was locked in and closed it once he was inside. She sat up in the bed and watched as the man grabbed a chair and dragged it until it was in front of her.
Those dark eyes stared at her for a brief moment before he sat down but, before he could say anything, Lyra smiled maliciously.
"I had the feeling you'd be coming any day now" she said hurriedly.
The man smirked, "Of course I would."
"I'm surprised that they didn't recognize you though," Lyra added, "Your disguise is pretty bad."
"I beg to disagree." The man pulled on his blonde hair, revealing a wig and the black hair underneath, "I think my performance was very convincing."
The woman almost laughed, but instead shook her head and averted her eyes.
Roy, on the other hand, frowned and threw the blonde wig at her. "You're going to tell me how to bring Edward back."
"I got nothing to tell you, Colonel. Nothing you don't know already."
Mustang gritted his teeth, but he tried to calm down and sighed. The anger inside him was burning like never before, almost at the point where he was unable to control his emotions. "You're going to tell me everything, you hear me? Everything."
Lyra smiled, but she remained quiet. The woman could see the threat on the man's eyes and she'd better not try to fool him or the Colonel would do whatever it took. Whatever.
"Tell me about the array." Roy began leaning back in his chair.
"You should have let me kill him." The woman growled closing her eyes. They snapped open when Roy grabbed her by the collar.
"I don't care that you're woman, so don't test my patience," he hissed, throwing her back.
Lyra clenched her fist, but the look in the man's eyes frightened her. "Fine." She finally said looking away and folding her arms, "I found the array in an old book as a hypothesis, never tested before. I found it in the Military's secret archives, actually."
Mustang raised a brow. Inside the Military's archives? So that was the reason he found the array so familiar. "How did you find something like that?"
A smile danced in the woman's lips, "Kimbley found it."
Kimbley. Of course. "And still you thought of betraying him. You must be stupid."
"That's none of your business, Colonel."
Roy smiled back at her and glanced at the window, the only source of light at the moment. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised. You were willing to kill a little boy for your own desires."
Lyra narrowed her eyes and drew closer to the man, "For the record, even when I wanted the boy to fulfill my own wishes, I was doing this country a favor."
The Colonel's eyes twitched, but he managed to remain calm. "Enlighten me please."
"When I found out he was Hohenheim's son and somehow had the power of the stone, I wanted it of course. Not only for my personal desires, but also because if that power happened to fall in the wrongs hands, it would be dangerous for everyone. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone" she remarked.
However, Roy threw a sarcastic laugh, "Of course."
"You can choose not to believe me, but it doesn't change the facts," she continued undisturbed. "However, as you should know already, my men failed to bring me the boy and he fell into Military hands. That was when I decided to play my part as a scientist so I would be close to him."
"That's where you witnessed what he could do, didn't you?" Roy asked bitterly, which made the woman smile.
"Of course, it was amazing," her eyes shone in excitement. "That was when I began researching how to extract that power from him and Kimbley found that array."
Roy's fist clenched. However, it wasn't the time to lose it. "Why didn't you try to do this before then?"
"Honestly? Because I got scared," she said as she was mocking her own cowardice. "He couldn't control his alchemy and I wasn't certain I could. The transmutation could have gone wrong and killed us both. I though about killing him again since I knew the Military knew more about him than they should but, then, you showed up in the scene."
The Colonel stared at Lyra's eyes emotionlessly. If he had known all this at that moment….
"When my men got me out of jail, I researched you. The great Flame Alchemist, one of the best State Alchemists ever, Hero of War, attached to the kid and willing to train him to control his alchemy. Even when I ordered one of my men – Tucker if you remember – to kill him, I decided I would give him the chance."
"I should kill you, right now."
Lyra winced at the evident anger in the man's eyes. "But then you'd have nothing. You'd have to start from zero again,"
"Don't test your luck, woman," he hissed, narrowing his eyes. "Now, tell me what I want to know."
"How to bring him back?" Lyra said, bored. "Of course I don't know how to do it. I never thought of it. Why would I want to bring him back?"
Roy threw her a look, "You don't know."
"I don't know" she repeated. "I have no reason to lie to you now that I know you won't allow me to lay a finger on that stone ever again."
The Colonel clicked his tongue, "I'm guessing you're quite frustrated since you weren't able to complete it."
Lyra's eyes snapped open and wide, "Hold it right there. I didn't make a mistake if that's what you're thinking; not even your foolish attempt to stop me has anything to do with this. If I had succeeded, the stone would have just disappeared. "
"As far I know, the Philosopher Stone was shining crimson, not dull red" Roy said sarcastically, with a smile dancing on his lips.
"I'm telling you, I didn't make a mistake during the transmutation," she assured him quite offended by the insinuation. "My guess is that Hoheheim did something so if anyone found about his son, that person would never get the stone."
"That's kind of obvious at this point." Roy stated leaning back on his chair again. He was pretty sure this was going nowhere since she seemed as confused as he was.
Lyra's eyes finally began to show the desperation she was feeling. "I'm sure he was confident I would find the answer."
The Colonel snorted, which made Lyra flinch. "Yeah, sure."
"Well," she continued, "in short, I don't know how to bring your little precious boy back."
Roy narrowed his eyes and stared at her for a moment, watching how she smiled maliciously. She was telling the damn truth. "The secret files you found," he began again, "were they in a book with a black leather cover?"
Lyra's eyes twitched. "So you know about it."
The Colonel stood up and kicked away the chair as he headed to the door.
"It's impossible, Colonel," Lyra told him when he was about to leave the room, making him stop.
"I thought it was impossible to suck someone's life away," he glared at her. "Excuse me for hoping I can undo what you did."
"The Military will get that stone if you are not careful enough. I tried to avoid it, let's see if you can." She smirked as she warned him. "I won't be held here much longer, and then I'll find you. That stone will be mine."
"Come on, do you think your 'union' will do anything to get you out of here after what you did to them?" Roy almost laughed. "I would be more worried about Kimbley. He'll probably try to kill you."
"I don't care about that." She hissed suddenly, clenching her fists. "I need to get that stone no matter what. I want Hoheheim back with me."
Roy threw her a cold stare. "Are you really that stupid to risk everything for a man that probably didn't love you as much you think he did?"
"HE LOVED ME!" She cried. "OF COURSE HE LOVED ME!"
"He had a son with another woman." He knew he shouldn't be provoking her, but she deserved it. She deserved even more than this. "Call me skeptical."
The Colonel saw how she fell on her knees and tears began to run down her cheeks. "He loved me. We planned our life together and I will bring him back to me." She looked up, her brows deeply frowned. "So don't get attached to that stone."
Roy threw her a look over his shoulder, but he just left the room and closed the door behind him.
Riza glanced at the window when she noticed a Taxi arriving at the hotel. Roy had been gone for almost 4 hours and she was getting worried; he should have been back already. But the person coming out of the car wasn't Roy. She sighed and leaned back in the chair, still staring at the window. The fact that she couldn't know if Roy's disguise failed and he had been captured was getting on her nerves.
However, the sight of Edward sleeping reminded her that she had another person to protect at the moment and she had to be as alert as she could. The kid had been sleeping since she got there and, apparently, he had no intention of waking up soon. Riza turned toward him and watched the blonde snore quietly, like nothing had happened. But it was obvious that the situation had changed; more precisely, Edward had changed.
She couldn't tell why exactly, but it was obvious Edward was different from the kid Roy had brought with him. This kid had changed the Colonel's life and, why not, everyone's lives. But now they had lost him, and Riza was afraid they would lose Roy, too. Her heart felt like it was being squeezed.
The Lieutenant wiped a golden lock away from Edward's face and smiled warmly when it twitched at the touch. However, she had to jump from her seat and grab her gun when the doorknob moved; then she relaxed when she heard keys moving. The door swung open and Roy got in quickly, locking the door again behind him.
"Colonel," She said, putting down the gun, "I didn't see you taxing arriving."
He nodded as he dropped his coat, "I didn't come by taxi, sorry about that."
"So," Riza began when Roy sat down in the bed at Ed's side, "What did you find out?"
The Colonel remained quiet for a moment staring at Edward, emotionless. She just waited until he had his thoughts sorted out. "I need to get that book," he said flatly.
"But Hughes said–"
Roy shook his head. "We have to look for it. It's the only chance we've got. That woman didn't know anything useful."
Riza gave him a significant look, "You're not suggesting that we break into Headquarters, are you?"
"No, of course not." Roy grabbed his jaw. "Because they don't have it."
This time, the Lieutenant just stared at him waiting for an explanation. Just the day before Hughes had confirmed that his house was searched and the book was nowhere to be found, so why did he say…?
"If they'd found it, they would had started looking for me and Hughes would have known. They haven't, so they didn't find anything incriminatory."
Of course. Riza took a deep breath and took a seat, now more relaxed. One thing less to worry about at least, or so she thought.
"I'm pretty sure I had it at home," Roy said in low voice with his hand still on his jaw, "So that means…"
The blonde woman blinked a few times, but when Roy's charcoal eyes rested on Edward, she knew exactly what he was thinking.
"He must have taken it, but now we can't ask him," The Colonel hissed dropping his hand, which had turned into a fist.
Riza's eyes saddened. Even thought Edward could be conscious, he didn't talk at all or seem to understand when he was being spoken to. So, even if Roy asked, it would be useless, and that was killing him. Suddenly, a knock on the door made them both flinch. The Colonel stood up and approached the door to take a look through the peek hole, and then he immediately opened it.
"Hey Boss, I brought some food," Havoc cheerfully said, getting inside the room with some bags. However, his mood dropped when he saw Roy's hollow smile.
The Lieutenant placed the bags over the table and glanced at the kid, "Still sleeping, is he?"
Riza nodded. "Did you get any information?"
"Sure I did," Havoc said as he took a seat and grabbed a cigarette... which was snatched by Roy quickly. He only growled in response. "They still think we're in the North; the Major General is being questioned, according to Major Armstrong."
Roy gave a dark chuckle. "She is so going to kill me."
"Falman said officers went to your place one more time," Havoc continued as he grabbed a piece of bread, "But they left empty handed again."
Riza's eyes widened. "They went again?"
"Yes, Falman now is watching your house. Breda and Fuery have asked Schieska to look for the book, but she is pretty sure there's no copy left at the National Library
Roy glanced at Havoc and drew a smile, "I don't deserve such loyalty."
Havoc shrugged. "Maybe you don't," he began as he pointed a finger towards Ed, "but he does."
The Colonel chuckled and then stood up walking toward the window. Both Lieutenant just followed him with the eyes waiting until he said something. "I should go home and look for myself."
Riza shook her head, "You can't do that unless you're sure you will find it."
The dark haired man took a deep breath, "I have some secret spots that I'm sure they didn't search. I don't remember hiding the book there, but I should check them anyway."
"It's too risky, Boss." Havoc warned him, "Like Falman, someone may be watching your house."
"I'll be careful." He said flatly as he grabbed the blond wig, "Please, take care of Edward."
Both Lieutenant just sighed and nodded watching how the Colonel hurried toward the door and left the room.
And he was careful. He got inside from the back of the house and did his best to search with the lights off, but since he opened one of his secret spots – moving a piece of wood of the floor – he had to use a hand lamp. As he took out the documents he had hidden, his hopes of finding the book there were vanishing; the only stuff he had there were his research about the human transmutation, from when he had still been convinced he could bring his parents back from the death.
His face grimaced at the memory remembering how he had really believed he could bring them back and how he had cowardly dropped everything… from fear. Although he now was sure he had made the right decision, he couldn't help but feel like a damn coward.
Trying to sweep those thoughts away, he put the piece of wood he had removed back in its place and hurried upstairs to the room he used as a small warehouse, he removed another piece of wood and grabbed some documents but he immediately sighed; the book wasn't there either.
He sat down in the floor and leaned his back on the wall. He had to think clearly; if Edward grabbed the book and the Military already searched the entire house and it was nowhere to be found, where could it be then?
"Think. Think." Roy whispered bumping his fist against his forehead a few times, "What would Edward do with that kind of book?"
He probably should have hidden the book better, but it had been a while since he took it that he forgot. Idiot. Well, he couldn't do anything about that now and he better focused on finding it. However, he suddenly stopped at the sound of something hitting the window. He hid and took a peek, but he sighed when he saw Fuch scratching the window trying to get in the house.
"Hello there," he greeted the fox as he opened the window, "You shouldn't be here." The animal approached Roy and he petted him. The fox seemed fine so Pinako's kids should have been taking good care of him. "You're lucky one, aren't you?"
Roy stood up and walked around the house, his arms folded. He had looked everywhere he could think of inside the house, so it had to be somewhere else. Damn it.
"You should go, Fuch. I don't want Alphonse or Winry to come here."
The fox just stared at him so he sighed and patted the animal. He would have to go back empty handed; it was too risky for him to be there when anyone could get inside.
"Don't follow me, alright?" the man warned it as he walked toward the back door. However, when he was about to twist the doorknob, he heard something at the front door. "Damn!"
Roy jumped to hide himself behind a book shelve and took a peek to see someone at the window figuring out how to get in the house. Fortunately, it was just Alphonse looking for Fuch.
"Fuch!" He heard the kid whisper through the glass. "Are you there?!"
He saw, slightly amused, that the kid seemed to be worried, so he decided to step in and let Al notice him inside. The kid's eyes widened for a second as Roy walked toward the door and opened it.
"Mr. Mustang!" Al muttered almost stammering. Roy wasn't supposed to be there and less with Fuch at his side! "Hi! I thought you were up North."
"I was indeed. And everyone thinks I'm still there, so this will be our secret, ok?"
Alphonse stared at him for a moment, but then he smiled and nodded, "Ok, I won't say anything. I just came to look for Fuch. Now I understand why he came."
Roy grabbed the fox and handed it to Al. "I won't come in a while, so please take care of him for a while."
"Why? Will you go back to the North?" The kid asked with a hint of concern in his voice.
"Not precisely, but I'll be back soon. You should go home now."
Al just nodded again and turned around as he headed toward his home, but then, Roy flinched. "Alphonse! Wait!"
The kid looked back and approached Roy again, but he saw, confused, how the man kneeled and signaled him to get closer.
"I wanted to ask you something." He almost whispered. "Did Edward show you a book that it was supposed to be confidential?"
Alphonse flinched at the question and blinked a few times not sure what he was supposed to say. Will it get him in trouble?
"I don't care that he showed it to you, I just want to know if you happened to know where it could be." Roy explained when he noticed the hesitation in the boy's eyes.
Finally, Al nodded unsure. "He showed a book to me and left it at home."
His eyes twitched and felt strong feeling of relief on his chest. How come he didn't think of this before? "I'll need it back. Someone is going to pick it up later, ok?"
"Ok, Mr. Mustang." Al agreed still uncomfortable. "I'm sorry, I meant to return it before, but you were gone and–"
"It's ok, Alphonse, really." Roy assured him, placing a hand on the kid's shoulder, "Just don't tell anybody you had it. It was my mistake and it could be dangerous if someone found out. Now go home."
The boy nodded with a faint smile and turned around to leave. Roy then got inside the house and closed the door quickly to leave through the back door.
"Are you sure nobody saw you?"
Breda narrowed his eyes and snorted. "Yes, I'm sure."
Riza just bit her lip. She hadn't agreed to ask Breda to go and pick up the book in the middle of the day, but Roy still had done it. Of course she was as desperate to bring Ed back as he was, but they were hanging by a thread there. A dangerously thin thread. She saw how Roy opened the book and began to go through the pages, stopping here or there occasionally.
Finally, the Colonel stopped and held the book tighter, reading as fast as he could.
"Did you find it?"
"Yes," he nodded, "I'm pretty sure this is the array she used. I need to check it with the other books I brought."
The three just watched how Roy opened a few more books and began to compare information. Breda and Havoc looked at each other.
"I should go. I have to help Fuery intercept the Headquarters communications," Breda announced as he grabbed a bag.
Riza nodded. "Be sure to call if you hear anything significant."
Havoc stood up. "I'll go too. I'll be with Falman."
Both men left the room and Riza closed the door. She wasn't sure if she should stay or not, but seeing how Roy was so lost in the books, she decided to stay. She took a seat on the bed and watched how the Colonel went through pages and pages, making notes every now and then, so she remained silent.
When Roy opened his eyes, he straightened up violently and looked around. When he had fallen asleep? What time it was? He glanced at the clock and it read 10:34 at night. Well, he had only slept an hour at least. He sighed and sat down to fix the mess of books and sheets he had made. However, he suddenly stopped when he noticed he was being watched by Edward. The kid was standing on his left just staring at him like he was curious, but since he didn't wear any expression, he wasn't sure what was he doing there.
"Hey kiddo, how long have you been there?" Roy asked him trying his best to give him a warm smile. He glanced back, noticed Riza sleeping in the bed and then looked back to the kid.
Ed blinked a few times, but then he took a seat at Roy's side and threw a look to the book over the table. Confused, Mustang reached the book for him to place it right in front of him. Much to his surprise, Edward grabbed the book and opened it. Was he…?
No response. Roy scratched his head and opened the book he was supposed to be reading when he fell asleep. He began to write some notes, but he noticed Ed doing the same. What was he doing? Still baffled, he continued his labor only to see how the blonde was doing the same as him, his eyes bouncing from the book to him.
"You're just doing what I'm doing." Roy said to himself in a pity voice, but still, he managed to smile to the boy. He felt how his heart almost squeezed when Ed imitated his smile. Well, at least it was something. However, he almost jumped when the kid flinched violently and his eyes widened. "Edward? What's wrong?"
The blonde glanced at Roy. "The Philosopher's Stone." He said with an empty voice.
The raven-haired man stared at him for a brief moment, trying to deciding whether he had hallucinated or not. "What?"
The child didn't answer, but he furrowed his brows. Roy grabbed him from the shoulders with his eyes wide open.
"The Philosopher's Stone? Do you want it?"
In response, Ed stood up and walked across the room to one spot in a corner. Roy hurried after him and removed a piece of the wooden floor where he had hidden a little box with the Philosopher Stone inside. The moment Roy opened the box, the kid snatched the stone.
"What do you want to do with it?" He asked the blonde although he knew it was in vain.
Edward held the stone for a moment just staring at it, but then, he offered it to Roy.
"Me?" The man glanced at it briefly not convinced. He didn't like to have that in his hand, but Ed insisted, moving the stone closer to him. "Alright."
Roy moved his hand toward Ed, his eyes shifting from the kid to the stone. He didn't know why, but he had a weird feeling about this. And he wasn't wrong. The moment he touched the Philosopher Stone, everything went black.