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Many thanks to Orange Singer, Took-Baggins, Bar-Ohki, D3athrav3n, and Asj Johnson for reviewing!

Baggins: You'll see this chapter!
D3ath: That is a mystery yet to be revealed. Hopefully Envy won't be too tight-lipped about it.
Asj: Aha! You noticed! And, er...I certainly HOPE your vision problems aren't caused by Abnormalities!

Chapter time!

"Of course, you know Edward is legally blind," Trisha said.

I nodded, wondering what that had to do with anything.

"He wasn't born that way. His vision was fine. He didn't have any health problems that would cause deteriorating eyesight. He should have lived his entire life with normal vision."

Trisha paused, and I realized she was waiting for me to get something. So I took a guess. "Then...does that mean his, um, condition was Abnormally caused?"

"Yes," Trisha said.

"Damn," Marta commented.

Alphonse set a glass of water next to his mother's elbow. She thanked him and he went back to the fridge. "It was six years ago," she went on, slipping into storyteller mode. "Hohenheim and I had just sent Alphonse off to summer camp. Edward had been upset because he hadn't gotten to go."

"How come?" I asked, slipping into listener-with-questions mode.

"Hohenheim and I had decided that Edward should finally learn the truth. We were going to show him the other side and begin his Abnormal training. Edward was disbelieving at first, but when he was shown proof he got excited, realizing that this was the secret in our lives. He was eager to learn everything, so we took him on a routine mission to fix a malfunctioning portal. It should have been perfectly safe, a way to ease him into the world.

"It turned into a fight for survival. A terrible, horrible day I will never forget for as long as I lived."

11: Unbreakable Bond

Six years earlier

"Okay, so then what's this do?" Edward asked, pointing up.

"This—" Hohenheim reached over his son's head to touch the long beaded cord "—is a signaling device. It's used to open the portal to the correct place so you come out where you want to."

"How does it work?"

"You touch your nose and close your eyes, then spin around three times and say, 'Magic cord before my face, take me to the perfect place!' and then—"

"Dad!" Edward scolded.

Hohenheim smiled, ruffling his son's hair. "Nothing gets by you, son."

"Well that just sounds dumb," Edward replied, reaching up to fix the hair his father had mussed.

"Do I want to know what you two are doing over here?" Trisha said, walking over. She sounded stern, but she was smiling, so they knew she wasn't really mad at them. "We're supposed to be working, dear."

"Work's no fun if you don't have fun," Hohenheim said with his usual logic.

"I just wanna know what everything is and how it all works," Edward explained.

"Even we don't know all that," Trisha told him.

"But you know more than me! So how about this? Is this the actual portal?"

Trisha looked over to where Edward had pointed and nodded. The "portal" was actually a long, tall pole that looked like a regular streetlight, except where the light would have been was a square box about the size of a human head, which looked like a cross between rubber and steel, about twenty feet off the ground. The fifteen-foot cord dangled from the bottom.

"It doesn't look broken."

"It's an internal linking malfunction," Hohenheim told him as Trisha started to examine the pole.

Edward looked confused. "That's just fancy talk for it doesn't send you to the right place," Hohenheim clarified.

"And it's our current job to figure out the problem so it sends others where they want to go again," Trisha added.

"'s some maintenance job?" Edward sounded disappointed that there wasn't anything particularly exciting to it.

"Believe me, son, it's the boring jobs like these that keep this side of Central running smoothly," Hohenheim told him.

"I guess...but you guys said you were peacekeepers, or whatever that term was you used. Don't you ever get to fight crime or something?" Edward asked.

"Someone's been reading too many comic books," Trisha commented as a panel that blended in with the pole flipped open at her telekinetic touch.

"Once we get it running again, we'll use it to go home, and you'll see how important it is to keep these things in working order," Hohenheim said.

Edward did look appeased at the prospect of using the portal once it was fixed. He stood next to Trisha as she pointed out how the portal worked on the inside.

Suddenly, Hohenheim spoke, and his usual cheerful goofball tone was gone. "Trisha," he said.

The one word was enough to make her pause, one arm instinctively reaching out to circle Edward's shoulders. "What is it?" he asked, confused. His senses weren't Abnormally enhanced like his parents'.

"Where?" she asked.

"Near. Getting closer. At least two," he answered.

"Is there time to move Edward?"

"No. They banked on that."



Their odd, fragmented conversation confused Edward even more, but he understood that something serious was going on and kept quiet.

"Edward," Trisha said, "you need to stay close to me until I tell you to run, all right?"

Edward swallowed. "Okay," he said, sounding a little nervous.

Trisha smiled down at him. "Don't worry, we're going to be all right."

Hohenheim turned then, moving to put himself between Trisha and Edward and whatever was approaching. Edward held onto his mother's arm, scared at what might happen but also curious.

The area they were in was a reasonably large clearing in a circle of tall brick buildings. From the alleyway between two of the buildings, a figure emerged. It was a pale-skinned woman, contrasted with her dark hair and equally dark dress. Her whole appearance screamed evil.

"Well, well, if it isn't Hohenheim of Light and his family," the woman said in a smooth voice.

"And here I thought vampires didn't come out in the sunlight," Hohenheim said.

"You've insulted me," the woman said, pretending to be hurt. "If I wore pink would you call me a fairy?"

Hohenheim smiled. "Depends on the shade of pink. Now if you'll excuse us, my family and I will be going now."

"But you just got here." The air around the Elrics seemed to chill suddenly. Hohenheim glowered at the woman, and she smiled blandly. "Certainly you can stay and talk for a moment?"

"We don't want any trouble, Lust," Trisha spoke up.

"But I want trouble." The air got colder. Edward's teeth started to chatter. Trisha's arms tightened around him protectively.

"You asked for it," Hohenheim said with a world-weary sigh.

Suddenly, the wall near Lust exploded, obscuring her in a cloud of dust and debris. The cold air vanished. Trisha released Edward and pushed him in the opposite direction. "Run, now!" she said. "Get back to the station we came from!"

Edward stumbled, but caught himself and started to run. He glanced back fearfully and saw Lust dashing out of the cloud, unhurt. The ground near her feet exploded again, but she dodged it and extended her hand towards Hohenheim and Trisha. Her nails extended, suddenly, quickly, like deadly lances. Trisha stepped in front of her husband, and the dangerous nails were suddenly diverted into the ground.

A thud made Edward whip his head around, and he skidded to a stop as he saw his path was blocked. A tall figure, as pale as Lust, with very long dark green hair held back with a headband, loomed over him with a smirk. "Where you going, kid?" the figure said.

Edward sucked in a breath and stepped backward fearfully. Two more explosions sounded behind him, but he didn't dare take his eyes off this new threat. "Wh-Who are you?" he asked.

"Me? An old friend of your parents'. Call me Envy."

"I-I d-don't want any trouble," Edward said, repeating what he'd heard his mother say. "Please just—let me go."

"Afraid I can't do that." Envy reached forward with amazing speed suddenly and grabbed Edward's arm. Edward, seeing that he couldn't talk his way out of this, proceeded to set his mind on getting away and kicked Envy in the leg. Envy didn't even seem fazed.

The ground between them exploded suddenly. Edward was knocked backwards and felt Envy's grip release his arm. "Edward!" Trisha yelled. A strange force suddenly wrapped itself around Edward's middle and pulled him safely out of the resulting cloud. He felt his mother's arms circle around him and latched onto her. "Are you all right?" Trisha asked worriedly.

"I'm okay!" Edward told her.

Hohenheim was in front of them again, now facing Envy. Trisha turned, keeping Edward between herself and her husband, to face Lust, who was on their other side.

"You know what we want," Lust said, her hands on her hips.

"Hand it over and we'll go away," Envy seconded.

"You know we won't do that," Hohenheim said gravely.

"Would you really condemn yourself and your family so easily?" Lust said with a cold smile. "Sooner or later we'll get our hands on the Stone. Either we'll have it and you're all alive and healthy, or we'll have it and you're not. What will your choice be?"

The ground around them exploded. Edward, though blinded by the dust and debris, felt his mother's hands pulling him in a direction, so he held onto her and followed, stumbling over a few things that felt like rocks. "You fools!" he heard Lust yell angrily, and the atmosphere grew colder again.

"Wrath, now!" Envy's voice yelled.

Edward kept following his mother, holding a hand over his mouth to keep from coughing. Suddenly she cried, "Oh!" and her hands yanked away from Edward.

"Mom!" Edward exclaimed, reaching to find her. His grasping hand found nothing. "Mom!"

"Let them go!" Hohenheim's voice shouted.

"We told you what your options were, and you chose to ignore them," Lust's voice said smugly.

Something gritty wrapped around Edward's feet, tripping him in mid-run. He fell heavily on his knees and elbows, scraping them on the ground. "Mom! Dad!" he cried.

There were more explosions behind him, then some rather evil-sounding laughter. "You brought this on yourself!" Envy's voice said.

"Give us the Stone and maybe they'll live," Lust's voice said.

Edward didn't hear Hohenheim reply, but a nearby scream made him freeze, a chill running down his spine. It sounded like his mother.

"Trisha!" Hohenheim's anguished voice cried.

"Your son will be next," Lust's voice said.

Someone's hands grabbed onto Edward's arms. The hands were smaller than Trisha's, and really warm. Edward tried to pull his arms free, but the grip was too strong for him. He tried to see through the fog, but could only make out the shape of a face surrounded by wild black hair.

"One last time, old man, give us the Philosopher's Stone!" Envy's voice demanded.

Another explosion shook the ground beneath Edward. He managed to twist his arms free and yanked his feet out of whatever held them. The figure that had grabbed onto him reached out again, and Edward tackled them. They both landed on the ground heavily, the figure's breath being shoved out with a painful-sounding "Oof!"

"Run!" Hohenheim's voice shouted.

There was an electric crackle, and a flash of light from behind Edward. He jumped up and whirled towards it. "Dad!"

"Get out of--!" Hohenheim's voice was cut off by a loud crackling and rumbling, and the ground shook so violently that Edward was knocked off his feet again. He heard his mother moan in pain somewhere near him.

Trisha paused in the story, putting her face in her hands again. I glanced over at Alphonse and saw that he was still standing in front of the fridge with the door open. I saw the side of his face glisten and realized he was crying.

"Was...that when...?" I ventured hesitantly.

"I was in too much pain," Trisha said, letting her hands settle back on the table. "Wrath has the ability to meld with and manipulate matter. He had done something to my insides that left me immobile in agony. Then he opened the ground, which swallowed my husband whole. He buried him alive."

I gasped. Even Marta was shocked into silence.

"I only know this because Edward told me. The next parts of the story are from him."

Edward was able to raise his head, even as the ground shook under him like an earthquake. The cloud was getting clearer, and he could see Envy and Lust now. He saw his father also, trying to stand. His glasses were gone, and blood was running down the side of his face.


The ground wasn't shaking for no good reason, however. A final earsplitting crack tore through the air, and the ground beneath Hohenheim heaved abruptly. Hohenheim stumbled, and it opened underneath him. He fell through and was gone in an instant.

Suddenly the shaking stopped. The crack closed and smoothed, as if nothing had happened there. Edward realized that the ground had eaten his dad, and his fists clenched. He suddenly felt angry, angrier than he ever had before. He didn't know why these people were attacking his family, or what this Stone thing they kept saying they wanted, but he was tired of being scared of them!

Envy was the closest. He was holding up some liquid corked in a vial, examining it. "Hey, I think that this—"

He wasn't able to finish his sentence, because Edward tackled him. Edward had gone to football camp four times, and the only way he had survived being mauled during games was to become a proficient tackler. And he threw all of his strength behind the one that knocked himself and Envy down.

The surprise attack caused Envy to drop the vial he had been holding. It shattered on the ground. The second its contents touched air, they exploded. The spontaneous combustion engulfed Edward and Envy.

"...What was in the vial?" I asked.

"An experiment of Hohenheim's," Trisha answered. "I'm still not precisely sure what every ingredient was, but one of them was a bonding agent that conjoins and intersperses any significant liquids. It's used to properly mix Abnormal potions and such. There was also an exploding agent that ignites from contact with any sort of liquid: water, sweat, tears..."

Trisha looked upset as she told me this. "Then was that know..." I didn't finish, but pointed at my eyes.


The first thing Edward heard upon returning to consciousness were several very angry voices. It sounded like an argument. One of the voices, the loudest, was speaking very quickly, and it sounded like, swearing a lot also. His body, he noticed, was aching all over, and his eyes were burning so badly he didn't dare open them.

"How could you be so careless?" the second voice said.

"SHUT UP! JUST SHUT YOUR DAMN MOUTH!" the first voice yelled again.

"What are we going to do? That agent is irreversible! You're stuck with him!" the first voice yelled.

"YOU THINK I DON'T KNOW THAT?! DAMMIT TO HELL!" the second voice yelled.

"What will we tell Pride?" the third voice yelled.

The rest of their argument was lost to Edward as he lost consciousness again.

When he woke up the next time, the pain in his eyes was what got his attention. The rest of his body hurt, but his eyes felt like pure bleach had been poured in them. He weakly raised his hand to cover his eyes.

Through the pain, Edward could feel the vibrations in the ground from someone walking around nearby. It felt like they were stomping, actually.

It took Edward a while to realize that though his eyes hurt the most, the pain in the rest of his body wasn't so minor after all. He felt burning and stinging in a lot of places, and soreness as if he had bruises. His chest was the only thing that didn't hurt.

In fact, he couldn't feel it at all.

"...Dammit...ow...oh, hell..." the voice that had been screaming and cursing before was mumbling. Edward felt tears squeezing past his closed eyelids and running over his nose and dripping into his hair, but they didn't alleviate the pain in his eyes at all.

Then he felt someone shake him. That made his body hurt more, and he wanted to tell them to stop, but he couldn't seem to get his mouth to work.

"Hey. Hey! Wake up!" the voice snapped at him. It sounded out of breath. Edward still couldn't get his mouth to answer.

"Damn, he must be dying. Look, you little punk, you are not going to die, you hear me? If you die, I die, and I'll kill you myself first before I let you die. Dammit, where's a stupid doctor when you need one?"

"My house..."

Edward brightened inside when he heard his mother's voice, though it was weak and strained. "What did you say?" the voice near him said.

"My house..." Trisha grunted in pain as she got herself into a sitting position. Her body was still feeling the residual effects of Wrath's attack on her, and every movement seemed to irritate the injuries. "Get him to my house," she said, wincing at the resulting pain of movement.

"So, Envy carried us both back here. I had just gotten a shipment of general healing potions from Paninya, so I was able to save Edward from dying, and consequently Envy. Unfortunately, the damage to his eyes was impossible to completely reverse for some reason, so he didn't end up blind, but his eyesight became very poor."

"But...I don't understand," I said. "How would Ed's dying make Envy die?"

"Hmm. How to describe it right...Marta, maybe you can help. Have you ever heard of a blood bond?"

Marta tilted her head. "Yeah, I've read about that."

"What's a blood bond?" I asked, even more confused.

Marta twisted around to face me. "It's like this. You know all the legends about vampires and dragons and junk like that, right? Well, there's a few legends we Abnormals have also. There's one we've got about how, way back in the day, humans used to use a technique known as a blood bond to keep vampires from killing them all. They'd capture a vampire, and mix its blood with the blood of a random human's. That connected them on a physical level, so that if one of them died, the other'd immediately keel over too. Doing that was supposed to keep vampires from killing humans, because then they risked losing one of their own, or even killing themselves."

"Oh." I nodded. I kind of got it.

"Well, that's something like what Edward and Envy have," Trisha told me. "The bonding agent connected them physically and Abnormally. The agent is split into two parts—one part in Edward, one in Envy, fused with the Abnormalities in their systems. It's designed so if one part of it is damaged or dies, the other parts react in kind, damaging or destroying any and everything they're bonded with. Since Edward already had a high level of Abnormal substances in his system, and Envy is an Abnormal, the bonding agent is connected to everything in their bodies—nervous system, blood vessels, brain function—everything."

I was able to connect the dots now. "So...if one of them dies, the bonding agent shuts down everything in the other one's body, which kills them."

Trisha nodded.

"But I still don't see why Envy didn't just, like, kidnap Ed and lock him up somewhere. Why did he decide to switch sides and help you guys?" I asked.

"Actually, I don't know that myself. You would have to ask him, if he would tell you," Trisha said.

"What if he's playing a spy or something?" Marta asked.

"It's possible, but not likely. He seems to be genuine friends with Edward."

I was surprised at that. I wondered why Envy had become friends with Ed, or why he hadn't tried to just escape in the first place.

"Well, thank you for telling me," I said. It had definitely cleared up a few mysteries for me. Unfortunately, now there were more questions I didn't have answers to. "So now what do we do about Edward? Are we gonna go look for him?"

"Tonight we'll prepare, and tomorrow we'll set out," Trisha said firmly.

"And the lady on the phone?"

"She's an old friend of Mr. Mustang's," Alphonse said suddenly, sitting down at the table with a platter full of plastic-wrapped sandwich triangles. I'd almost forgotten he existed, I'd been so wrapped up in the story. It occurred to me that while all of this had been going on, Alphonse had been merrily at summer camp. What had coming home been like? His dad gone, his brother half-blind, and some weird guy suddenly living there.

"She used to be a war strategist," Trisha told me. "Then she retired after she turned 25."

"She retired at 25?" I said in amazement.

"Officially she did, but she still does different jobs," Alphonse said. "And she's very skilled."

"Is she an Abnormal?" I asked.

Trisha shook her head. "She inherited Abnormal abilities, however, so she's very skilled with weaponry. She'll be here tomorrow morning to help us save Edward, and Envy if they've caught him as well."

I nodded, reaching for a sandwich. "So what's our game plan going to be?" Marta asked, waiting for me to unwrap the sandwich so she could steal a piece.

Trisha looked at Alphonse and nodded. Alphonse nodded back, then turned to us all. "Here's what we're going to do," he began.

Rescue mission time! Anyone who guesses who the lady on the phone was gets...a cookie!

Well, see you next time, eh?