Well, welcome back my old people... and maybe we'll get some new ones. Here is runner-up number two in the vote you all took at the end of Believe In Me.
Happy days? Let's hope I can pull this one off right. Hehe..
Roy came to, gasping and choking for breath as he numbly rolled over onto one side. His fingers clutched at the soft loam, the dirt damp and cold to the touch. The feel of the dirt made him open his eyes slowly in confusion. The lids felt heavy, almost as if he'd been drugged to sleep and was only now coming out of a comatose state. He had fallen asleep in bed, hadn't he? So why was he lying in the dirt?
The pain in his chest was oddly gone, even his brief coughing fit had produced not even a remote twinge of the pain that had been plaguing him for weeks. He hadn't even coughed up any blood, which was even stranger. He could breath easily now. But he couldn't just stop being sick like that, could he? No one had even known he was ill, he'd hidden it well. So if he was no longer sick, what was he?
He wasn't… dead? Was he?
Flopping over onto his back again he blinked up at a twilight sky. The stars were just beginning to shine against the backdrop of the dark purple and black sky. What clouds there were, were mere wisps drifting lazily along on the updraft. There was a faint rumbling sound in the far off distance, it sounded like vehicles.
Slowly he eased himself up into a sitting position, wincing somewhat as he felt his body ache in the places the ground had pressed awkwardly against his body. Putting a hand to his head he rubbed at his temples to try and gain some clarity of thought.
Clarity of thought came as a jolting shock as he happened to look down, and realize why he was so cold.
His pajamas were gone.
He wasn't sick anymore, and his clothes were missing.
Roy wasn't sure just how much weirder this could get.
He looked around quickly, seeing that he appeared to be alone in the middle of what was not much more than a misty, ploughed dirt field. Well, alone aside from the dairy cattle that wandered across the way beyond a short stone fence.
Somehow, exposing himself to cattle didn't exactly thrill him. And he was wondering just why in the hell he was naked. And another thing, where was he? He didn't recognize this place at all. None of the land features, not even the stars. Which was very odd, he decided, as he gave them one last confused look.
Perhaps this was just some strange dream?
Yes, that had to be it. It was just a strange dream, a very strange dream. And a bit annoying actually that he'd have a dream where he was actually naked, but instead of the one person he'd want to be in the dream with him, he had a bunch of dairy cattle. There was something cruel about that.
Roy reached over, and pinched himself, hard. He'd learned years ago that his physical body actually carried out what his mind dreamt. Hence all the reasons he'd woken up in time to experience the end results of his more erotic dreams in their full end glory. And all the reasons he'd sometimes found himself doing naughty things to his pillows, the exact things he'd been doing just then in his dreams. Curse him for having continued to buy feather pillows and get jabbed awake by the sharp end of the feather. So pinching himself in his dream would have the same result. Pinch himself in the dream, his physical body would also pinch his inner thigh in a very brutal way, and he'd be waking up any…
Wait… why wasn't he waking up?
Roy looked down to see an angry black and purple bruise beginning to form. Okay, so that hadn't worked. How very unkind of his body to finally go against its normal routine just in time for his dream about dairy cattle who were probably hoping for a show.
Well, there was another way around this. If this was a dream, he should be able to take control of it, right? Just nudge his conscious forward a bit, he'd done it before, and dream some clothes onto himself. That at least might take care of part of this problem.
So he focused, hard.
Roy growled under his breath something that should never be repeated in front of small children. Okay, so this dream was persistent. Suddenly he yelped, clutching his head as a monotone voice sounded in his head.
"This is NOT a dream!"
Somehow, he didn't feel like arguing that point. Especially when a strange sensation of reality, the kind you feel when you're awake, smashed into him like a caravan of bricks. Rubbing his head tenderly he gave an uncharacteristic whining sort of sound.
So if this wasn't a dream… had he been kidnapped? Kidnapped, unclothed, and left in a dirt field nearby a pasture of dairy cows? As far as he could tell, he hadn't been raped. Wouldn't that have been the topping to his- wait, evening?
Roy looked up at the sky, and around again. The moon was rising, and twilight had given way to midnight blue and black. When he'd gone to bed, it had been past midnight. So why was the sun setting again so soon? Unless he'd been unconscious for almost an entire day.
Slowly he stood up, only stumbling a bit to do so as his muscles decided at the last minute that they'd start doing their job. He brushed the dirt off his body as best he could, still looking around at his surroundings. Still only he and the dairy cows.
But if this wasn't a dream, he could find some organic matter and transmute some clothes for himself. Even without his gloves, he could still draw circles. He needed to definitely get some clothes. He couldn't go streaking around the countryside amidst the morning milk.
So Roy began making his way over to the cows, who lowed at him sleepily and blinked at him with their big cow eyes. Cows had the most pathetic looking eyes, and their big wet noses.
"What are you looking at?" Roy growled at one of them who seemed to be eying him with detached interest as he squatted to dig a transmutation circle in the grass field. Clothes, he needed clothes. He was feeling violated, by cows of all things. With the circle complete, Roy blew a hot breath on his cold hands to warm them some before placing them to the ground.
Roy gave the circle an evil stink eye look and tried again.
"What the-" A cows moo cut off the rest of his sentence. Roy glared at the offender.
He checked the circle, everything was correct. So again he tried. Still, nothing happened.
"Okay, this is not good." Roy groaned as he flopped back onto his back in the middle of the cattle. "I've been kidnapped, stripped, and my alchemy isn't working! This is-" and so Roy began venting just what this was, to the interested cattle audience.
Finally he finished his ravings, and got up. He couldn't just lay here, that was stupid. He needed to do something, and preferably the first thing would be to find some clothes.
Which is how thirteen minutes later, Roy Mustang was streaking through a grass pasture after nightfall at a run. It felt refreshing to be able to run again, though he would have rather been running with all of his parts not flying free in this cold air. But run he did, rejoicing in the fact that he seemed to be able to run again and not double over coughing up blood or fainting just three minutes in. He ran all the way to a dark farmhouse adjacent to its companion red barn.
There was a spot in the dirt driveway where a car obviously parked, as the section was stained from the fluids it had leaked at one point in time. The car was not here, which meant that the people who lived here were not here. Which meant that Roy would have no trouble getting into this house to find something to wear before getting the hell out of here.
And go… where?
Where the hell was he supposed to go when he didn't even know where he was? He supposed that inside he might find mail, that would at least give him a town name. That was something more than he had now to go on.
Roy was out of practice at breaking and entering without alchemy, which still seemed to be null as far as producing it went. Something that unsettled him greatly. He stared at the door before looking around for a suspicious looking rock, or flower pot, or something. People always kept spare keys in those places, places they thought they wouldn't be found. Yet everyone hid their keys in the same place, which Roy thought rather defeated the purpose of hiding it at all. You might as well just hang it on a nail on the doorframe with a note reading "Help yourself".
He saw no promising objects, and so felt around on the top of the doorframe.
"Aha!" Roy gave a cry of triumph as his fingers brushed cool metal. Bringing the key down he fit it into the lock… only to discover that the door had been unlocked to begin with. "Brilliant." He rolled his eyes, and chucked the key over his shoulder and stepped inside.
Once inside he shut the door quietly and found a kerosene lamp which he lit after a few fumbling moments. The dim glow of the firelight bounced off of the sparse furnishings, all looking aged and well worn. The photographs were black and white, or sepia if they were considerably aged. But he was not here to take in his surroundings.
Roy quickly toured the farmhouse until he found a bedroom. There he rummaged through the closet until he found a pair of denim jeans and a white t-shirt that fit him nicely. He drew the line however at pilfering the underwear he also found. There were suspicious stains, and he was not about to test those waters. He did however chance the socks, and then later the worn sneakers that he managed to cram his feet into. But he did not plan on staying in these clothes. There had to be a store somewhere.
Which was why he took some unfamiliar monetary bills from the bedside table. He would have liked to say he had every intention of paying the money back, but he really had no clue.
Going back downstairs, the money shoved into one pocket, Roy rummaged through what appeared to be today's mail. According to one letter, he was in a place called Surrey, England. He was about to claim he'd never heard of the place, but then something in his memory lit up.
England was one of those countries in that Europe place. The one Edward had been sent to by the Gate. The one… "Holy shit."
Roy sat down sharply in a reed and rough hewn wood chair as he stared at the letter. It couldn't be… but it was. He was in the world Edward had gone back to. Somewhere, somewhere Edward was in this world. He had no idea where, but he had to find him.
Casting the letter aside, a corner of a newspaper caught Roy's eye. By its prominence on the table, it seemed to be today's issue. Which meant that if that was the case, today was September 13, 1950. And even better, the forecast for tonight and tomorrow seemed to be clear with little chance of rain or clouds.
Which would explain that by the time Roy set out of the house on foot to follow the driveway to a road, the clouds moved in from the east and it promptly began to drizzle. He grumpily decided that the people who predicted the weather in this country were morons.
Roy sighed, and kept trudging up the road. He really needed to find a store… these shoes were not working for him at all. And he suspected he might need a jacket.
Edward cast a dark stare out the large panes of glass that were nearby, giving him a view of the tarmac where several airplanes were moving around slowly as they made their way to the correct station so passengers could load.
"Brother, is something wrong?" Alphonse asked as he sauntered up, his suitcase in one hand, the other shoved in a pocket.
Edward turned, and shook his head. "Just glaring at the rain. I get tired of it sometimes. It makes my automail act sluggish."
Alphonse smiled sympathetically. "Well I just hope my plane doesn't end up wanting to wait for an hour hoping the rain abates."
"They're not that moronic… usually." Edward smirked, and stepped over to hug his brother. "You have fun in Toronto."
Alphonse hugged him back, "I will. Don't work too hard while I'm gone."
Edward pulled away with a smile. "I shouldn't need to. There's only a press conference tomorrow morning."
"Now boarding flight 391 to Toronto," crackled a voice over the loudspeaker, "Gate 23-A."
"Go on." Edward grinned at his brother. "And bring me back a polar bear or something."
Al laughed, and retreated backwards with a wave. "See you in two months!"
Edward waved, and waited until Al had vanished from view before turning around and heading for the terminal exit. He wrapped his military style black jacket with silver fastenings around him tighter as he emerged outside into the cold and damp air. Fighting back a shiver he made his way down the sidewalk, heading back to the parking garage.
He found his government car waiting where he'd left it, gleaming black under the dim lights of the garage. As he had clearance to park anywhere with his plates, he had chosen to park practically right on the exit, on the fire line. Not that he was lazy, but he hadn't wanted to deal with a long walk through the parking garage at night.
Getting in he started the engine and pulled out onto the road.
It was a slow drive home in this weather and with the traffic, but Edward eventually turned into the gates of his small chateau. He got out to unlock and shove them open, before having to shut and lock them again once he'd driven his car through. Sure, he could have mechanized it, but he felt that was lazy of him. He parked in the small one car garage he'd had added to the small estate home, and got out.
He cast another dark look at the rain before he went through the side door to enter his home.
He hadn't bought this place, but it was deeded to him. He had been given it by his boss, along with the car. Though while he was allowed to keep the house should he ever retire, he was not allowed to keep the practical and functional government car out there taking up room in his garage.
Edward made his way up to his room where he quickly stripped out of his damp clothes and put on a robe and the black slippers with bunny ears that everyone loved to make fun of. He didn't see why he shouldn't be allowed to own something cute.
Fighting back a yawn Edward went out of his room and to the small library with the glass windows forming what should have been the outside wall. They stretched all the way across, and up and down, so that it looked almost as if you'd walk right off and into the lawn below. It was those windows he walked up to so that he could look out at the rain.
It would be lonely not having Al around for two entire months. He hadn't been alone like this for a very long time. And the people who would come calling as they did almost every day so that he never had any peace, would not bring him the same sort of comfort Al would. None of the people here understood him like Al did. With them, he had to watch what he said. He had to watch everything he did, lest they suspect he wasn't being truthful about his past. With Al he didn't have to.
It was times like this when the world turned dark and cold, and rain poured down from the sky, when Edward felt the most alone. This big world, but he felt entirely alone. He missed so many people… even though their faces were here. It didn't make things any less lonely.
Edward's eyes darkened at the memory of that, and he turned away from the windows with a ragged sigh. It had been a long time since that had happened, he should be over it by now. After all, it hadn't even really been him. But it had still hurt. Only his loyalty to a person and not a face had kept him from going over the edge.
Feeling rather moody because of the rain, he headed to bed early in hopes of sleeping himself into a happier mood. That and getting some sleep. He couldn't show up with circles under his eyes and acting grouchy to the press conference tomorrow. Somehow he doubted that would go over well. Especially when foreign diplomats who still passionately loathed him would be in attendance.
Crawling under the thick and plentiful covers he turned off the lamp on his bedside table, hoping his demons would not haunt him this night. Hoping that tomorrow would go off without a hitch and life would go on as normal.
If only he'd known his life was about to take a turn far from normality, he might not have gotten any sleep at all that night. But for tonight, he rested without concern or knowledge of one human being in a town not too far from London. A human whose only mindset was to find him.