Disclaimer: I Don't Own FMA In Any Way.
Rating: PG-13 and Older Due to Bad Language, Some Sexual Themes, Scenes of Torture and Violence.
A/N: Sorry for the late updates, guys; things have been pretty crazy XP I'll try to update as soon as I possibly can but, please, be patient.
Ed awoke the next morning, vaguely remembering the events of the day before until he had awoken fully. Stepping out of bed, he sat on the side and stretched his arms above him, letting his flesh arm and his back crack comfortingly as he did. He let out a relieved sigh before reaching over to his combat boots and pulling them on. Afterwards, the blonde stood up, quickly getting a feel for his still-tired leg and his Automail limbs. Yawning and rubbing his tired golden eyes, he headed towards the door of his bedroom.
Reaching down to the knob, he turned it and pulled open the door. When he looked up once more, he was surprised to see a certain crimson-haired scientist leaning on his outer door frame, his arms crossed.
"Sir," he breathed, somewhat nervously as he could read some anger across the expression his master was giving him.
"You were not given permission to sleep here yesterday," Aden clarified, his emerald eyes glaring at the young man before him.
"I…I apologize," Ed replied. "I…I was tired…I thought I could get a few minutes rest but I must've dozed off more than I would've liked," he quickly made his excuse and gave it, making sure to show full signs of composure as he did. Aden shrugged, slightly unsure before getting off the door frame and letting his arms fall to his sides. His eyes stayed unsure and slightly upset.
"I suppose I can't do anything then…besides, you didn't run off," he stated as he turned around so his back was facing the Elric. "You're off the hook; I understand what it's like to feel tired," he told him and then walked down the hall towards the stairs. Ed silently let out a breath of relief before stepping out of his bedroom and following after Aden. He figured he should be a little more careful as to where and when he decides to fall asleep; apparently, he needed permission. He figured it must've been one of the young man's 'safety precautions' for new slaves.
Kind of annoying, if you ask me, he thought rather annoyed. But then he remembered the day before; many of Aden's previous slaves were State Alchemist's and even people who performed Alchemy. Alchemists could easily escape by using their ability and knowledge while others just managed a way out using their wit. Not to mention, the Valince did state, when Ed had first arrived to his home, that he had problems with defiant slaves in the past. That immediately gave Ed reason to understand these rules; so that Aden could keep a closer eye on his property.
Ed's eyes became stern as he climbed down the stairs but he forced his emotions aside; he couldn't give Aden any sign that he may have done something wrong. Showing anger meant that the Elric was upset with the scientist, which he was, but he didn't want said scientist to find out why he was angry at him. It would just tick Aden off that the blonde had the audacity to snoop around. Right now, Ed was just trying to stay alive; after what he had read last night, he knew Aden's full potential and didn't want to risk getting any new scars. He already had enough as it was.
"23," Aden called, causing Ed to look up to him.
"Yes?" he replied curiously.
"I want you to clean up around here a little bit. I'll be in the kitchen and then I'll be heading back upstairs to my study. Once you're finished with your task, I would like you to meet me up in the lab," he explained. "And no tricks; I don't want to have to hurt you, Fullmetal." Ed's eyes widened slightly; that was the first time that Aden had called him by his State name. He brushed it off for the moment and nodded.
"Yes sir," he replied, using the casual voice he tried to use in the office back at Central. "May I ask why?" he questioned, however. Aden grinned at him.
"You'll see soon enough," was all he replied before walking to the swinging door that led to the kitchen an disappearing behind it, leaving behind a pondering Edward.
What could that lunatic want with me? He asked himself. He thought for several moments but to no avail, unless it was something negative. The blonde then decided to, forcibly, ignore his inquisitiveness and followed Aden's orders and begin cleaning. After a few moments, the red-headed scientist walked out of the kitchen once more, with a sandwich on a plate in one hand, as he headed towards the stairs and climbed up them, heading towards his study, Ed figured. The Elric huffed out a breath of annoyance and continued with his current task; sweeping.
As he was doing this, he came up to a window, with bars on the outside, of course. Ed, nevertheless, looked out of said window, seeing the bright, shining Sun with some white clouds passing by or over it. His eyes drooped somewhat; the day looked the exact opposite of what he felt at the moment. He was angry, of course, for finding out what Aden, and the country of Xerisa, was doing to the lives of innocent people. He was sure there must be slave drivers who didn't treat their slaves like this but; of course, there were also the ones that did.
Ed was also upset that he wasn't able to neither hear nor speak to his young sibling, Alphonse, and his best friend and mechanic, Winry Rockbell. As far as he was concerned, they were still safe in Central, under the roof of their home while Winry attended customers and Al was following orders from Colonel Mustang. At least, that what he hoped; since he was miles away from them, it wasn't exactly the easiest thing to decide if the two were well or not. That was what always made him think of negative things. Hell, for all he knew his home could've caught fire; Winry could've been hurt by her Automail or a bad customer who was after more than just merchandise. Alphonse could've been sent on a field assignment and gotten much more than he had bargained for; he was an Alchemist and easily an open target to anyone who despised Alchemists or the military, seeing as he was a lieutenant and a brother to a well-known State Alchemist.
Edward shuddered at the thought and he forced those feelings out of his mind. He didn't want Al to be hurt because he was his only little brother and living relative. Al still had a full life ahead of him, seeing as he was only seventeen years of age with only a year of finally getting back his body. Ed was so happy that his little sibling was in his rightful body, feeling the things he should be feeling and showing his emotions just as he should. His smiles were very precious to Edward and he was so happy to see his face grinning at him as Edward himself grins at times.
Although the two brothers were very different in the way they acted, they looked very much alike and sometimes had the same mannerisms or traits. Ed would smile one way and that same smile was passed down to his brother. The same also goes for his grins or even the way Ed hangs his golden bangs in front of his eyes to hide the golden orbs within his head. Al somehow had a knack for pulling off that trick as well, even if his bangs weren't as long as his brother's. And when Al got angry at Ed for whatever reason, the elder Elric saw the same anger burning in the younger's eyes than the anger that was seen by many in his eyes.
Edward sighed, discontent. He missed his younger brother so much and was very worried; he wondered if they were as concerned as he was. That was when he remembered Winry. Looking up through the window once more, Ed's eyes stay gloomy as his thoughts trailed to his blonde Automail tech. If there was one thing that Ed could admit openly, to himself anyway, was that Winry was a very strong and independent young woman with a personality and arm to match. How that arm had thrown her ever-trusty wrench towards his head ever so many times before and still did.
It was just the way their relationship worked, although very painful to his skull. Anger, punishment, and then forgiveness; that was the usual order of their bickering and it hadn't changed much since they were fifteen. Though Ed did notice that Winry's wrench-hurling had reduced somewhat over the years and they didn't argue as constantly as they did before. He managed to converse with her more than he usually did. Whenever he returned home, he was kindly greeted by the young woman's smiling face and sweet voice asking him how his day was.
On top of that, he himself would return the favor with his own special smirk and ask her back. His Automail tune-ups and upgrades were either comfortably silent or filled with their voices talking from one to the other. The Elric always looked forward to his tune-ups in the past because he was able to see his friend and purposely see how cute she got because of how she worried about him. Now, he looked forward to them even more because of their conversations and, for his own pleasure, the fact that she still wore her black tube top and light kaki overalls. The truth that the little tube top had gotten tighter and her young, female curves had progressed well over the years was enough to keep him interested in the two Automail limbs attached to his body.
Aside from all that however, he just missed her. He admitted to himself a long while ago that he had feelings for her and had come to terms with said feelings. He couldn't, however, find the courage to confess to her. As strong as he was, the last thing he wanted was to tell her and be rejected in return, only to never speak to her again. No, he just denied anyone that asked if the were together and grown comfortable with being 'just friends,' no matter how much he wanted it to be more.
Ed sighed. Things weren't looking so hot for him right now and he just wanted to go back home to his brother and friend. He didn't ask to become a slave nor did he want to be one; it just happened by a strange turn of events. He promised Winry tears of joy many years ago; what would happen if she never saw him again? More tears…of sadness.
The very picture of her crying because of him was enough to make his heart ache so very much. He didn't want that for her, or his little brother; he needed his younger sibling just as Al needed him as well and he also needed to have Winry by his side. Not just for the Automail but for everything else she gave him; her smiles, her voice, and her strength…her love…he needed it all. The blonde Alchemist shrugged and lowered his head, his eyes closing sadly while his bangs created a shadow over his eyes. He just wanted to go to the place he had finally come to call home.
His brows tensed as he looked up once more his eyes opening determinedly.
Just a little longer, he thought. And I'll make my escape…Aden won't know what hit him. He grinned and continued his task without another thought.
Ed was soon finished with the order given to him. He put the broom back in its place and climbed upstairs before walking down the hall and walking up the smaller staircase which led to the lab. He knocked on the door three times but heard no reply. The blonde knocked again but came up with the same result. He raised an eyebrow, curious as to his master's whereabouts.
As if on cue, he heard steps coming up behind him and looked over his shoulder to see the red-headed young man. Edward nodded once at him, a simple greeting from one to another. Aden nodded back before pulling out his keys from his right pocket and opening the door to his laboratory. Aden stepped in, followed by Ed, before the young scientist closed the door once more. The Fullmetal Alchemist looked around to the room he had been sleeping in the day before.
Everything was still in place; from the shackles that had held him to the several metallic tables lined up against the wall and in the center of the room. The only difference that could've possibly been made was that, perhaps, a few chemicals or substances had changed places, though Ed wasn't sure; he didn't study the room so thoroughly to be able to remember it perfectly. He turned to Aden, intrigued as to why the Valince would bring him here. Aden, of which, seemed to be dedicated to something on one of the tables. Edward raised a brow.
"Sir?" he asked, causing the redhead to turn his head over his shoulder. "May I ask," Ed continued. "Why you asked me to come here?" Aden gently placed down what he was tinkering with before turning around, fully, to face his slave.
"I have a small evaluation tomorrow from the people who give me my funding," he explained. "I need to show them my research. It's kind of like what the military holds for you State Alchemists; an evaluation once a year to prove you're worthy of the money they're giving you." Ed's eyes grew more interested at the words coming from his master's mouth.
"What…what do you have to show for this year?" he dared to ask, his voice somewhat shaky. Aden grinned before turning back to what he was messing with. After a few moments, he looked over his shoulder once more, his emerald eyes half-lidded but a slightly cynical grin across his features.
"It's the same thing I've been using on you," he explained silently, his words causing Ed widen his eyes curiously.
"What do you mean?" he questioned. Aden swiftly turned around and pointed a gun at Edward's neck. Ed's eyes widened further and he dare not move. The color of his eyes grew small as he waited for a shot to ring out but his ears never heard it and he never felt the pain at his neck. He looked up to Aden, his eyes returning to normal but staying tense, as he awaited an explanation. His golden eyes saw the redhead grinning as he aimed the pistol with both hands firmly on the handle.
"The first-ever pistol-shot tranquilizer," Aden replied finally. "Until now, tranquilizers had to be shot from air rifles. What I've done is basically eliminate the need to carry around a heavier weapon and given the ability to use two at once. This tranquilizer shoots out just as fast as it does from an air rifle but it's handier for people who don't want to have to own a rifle and are more pistol-based." Ed was quite impressed, although slightly freaked out. A tranquilizer that was shot through a pistol instead of a rifle; it certainly was an improvement for anyone who not only preferred tranquilizers over actual guns but, as Aden stated, for anyone who liked smaller guns better.
Rifles varied in weights from three to six pounds and sometimes even seven or eight. The same went for air rifles. Ed knew this because he had sometimes taken to go to the shooting area with Riza to do some shooting and spiff up his aiming, and have some fun, not to mention. Riza had showed him everything from Amestrian Eagles(?) to Berettas to AK-47's; he knew most of them by the way they looked and their weight. Even he could agree with Aden; pistols were much lighter and it was also easier to move around with them. It wasn't that he didn't appreciate rifles in any way; he liked their feel and had even been able to overcome the recoil that many struggled with.
Ed came back to the situation at hand; he still had a pistol loaded with tranquilizer ammo aimed towards his neck. Swallowing a minor lump from his throat, he spoke up, finally.
"OK," he said. "Why'd you ask me to come up here then?" he questioned Aden.
"I just wanted your opinion," the emerald-eyed man replied as he pointed the gun downwards. Edward mentally sighed, relieved, and gave his thoughts on the young man's creation.
"It really is quite handy, sir," he said. "I know what it's like to carry around heavy weaponry and also find pistols to have their advantages over rifles," he explained. "Congratulations," he added, showing a small smile to the scientist.
"Why thank you, 23," Aden said back. "Let's just hope those bastards providing my funding feel the same," he muttered afterwards.
"It's really impressive, Aden," Ed dared to call him by his first name. "Why wouldn't they feel the same?"
The Valince didn't really care that his slave had called him by name and he looked back to him.
"They've always been quite oppressive of me," he replied finally as he looked down to his creation with saddened eyes. "The only reason they really fund me is because my older brother insisted and put out the good word for me." This interested Ed; Aden had a brother? He stayed silent and waited for the redhead to continue.
"But they don't like me very much because of my age; they say I'm too young to be able to amount to much and that I can only come up with amateur creations…I've proved them wrong, however," he stated doggedly.
"Just how old are you, if may ask?" Ed asked suddenly. Aden looked back to the blonde.
"I'm currently eighteen," he replied. "But my funding began when I was first became a teenager, which is why they think I'm too young. Even now when I'm two years away from being twenty, they still treat me like I have no business as a scientist," he explained, his grip tightening around the handle of his gun.
"How old is your brother?" Ed questioned.
"He's fourteen years older than me, being thirty-two," The young scientist replied.
"Do they treat your brother the same?" the Fullmetal interrogated softly.
"No, he started at a normal age and they think he's got 'more experience,'" Aden replied. "I don't hate my brother in anyway, Fullmetal, but I wish they could see that I'm the one with more experience; I started at the age of thirteen, for heavens sake!" he yelled out heatedly. The Elric felt some sympathy towards the Valince but still had anger within him from what he had read from the boy's file the day before. He wasn't sure whether to stay away or try and console him. He sighed silently; he would stay silent. Aden had been through some crap in his life but he messed with human lives; he didn't deserve consoling. The hell he had lived through didn't make up for the hell he had put his slaves through.
Equivalent Exchange, after all.
Alphonse couldn't believe what his commanding officer was telling him. The young Elric's eyes were wide and tense as his breath and hands were shaky. How could Mustang hide all of this from him? How come he didn't see it coming before it happened? Just because he was young, didn't mean he didn't have the right to this information.
Edward was missing.
"But…how? How could he be missing?" Al demanded angrily into the phone. He heard Roy heave a sigh.
"I'm not sure, Alphonse; now that I'm certain something's not right, I'm going to interrogate the officers that had traveled with him, along with that damn general," Mustang replied irately as well.
"Why didn't you see this coming, damn it? Now I don't even know of my brother is alive or dead! Damn it, Mustang, why'd you hide this from me?" the younger Elric demanded, half angry, half ready to start crying slightly.
"I'm sorry, Al…I understand how hard this must be for you," Roy said, trying to keep a cool tone
"I'm going on my own search party, Colonel, and I'm not going to wait for your approval! I need to find my brother, whether you care or not!" Al stated, his voice becoming angry once more.
"Don't accuse me of not caring, Second Lieutenant! Edward is one of my most skilled Alchemists, damn it!" theColonelsnapped back at the younger heatedly. "And I understand what it's like to fear for someone who is close to you! I once had a good friend who was almost like a brother to me and I lost him!" That statement caused Al's eyes to widen as he remembered the death of Maes Hughes and that said officer and Mustang were very good friends. His gaze dropped sadly and he immediately felt sympathy towards his commanding officer…and friend. He also felt sorry for even thinking that the Colonel wouldn't care about his elder brother's safety.
"I…I'm sorry, sir…" he mumbled apologetically. "I…I didn't mean…I'm sorry." He didn't even know what to tell the man. It stayed quiet for a few moments as Al held the phone at his ear, hoping to hear a response soon.
"It's OK, Al," Mustang said finally. "And don't worry; you don't need my approval to start your own search party, you already have it." Alphonse widened his eyes before smiling slightly.
"Thank you, Colonel," he said appreciatively. "I'll be sure to contact you if I find anything out," he explained.
"That's all I ask," Roy replied. "And Alphonse?"
"Yes sir?" the younger Elric questioned.
"Be careful," the ebony-haired man said sternly. "And, when you find your brother" he continued.
"Tell his sorry ass to stay alive."
(?) Amestrian Eagles: This gun is actually what we call the 'American Eagle.' I simply changed the name to fit to Edward's universe but the American Eagle does, indeed, exist and, if I do say so myself, it's a pretty powerful gun even though it's a pistol. Look it up yourself, you might agree with my opinion that it is a pretty cool weapon.
A/N: WOOHOO :D New chapter X3 Please R&R, constructive criticism, no flames ;) thanks!