Disclaimer: I don't own that FMA and I sing it in my own way!
Killing the Phoenix
"Set me free… set me free… What does it mean?" Edward paced the library, unable to concentrate on his research. It was mind numbingly simple but also so complex he wanted to rip his hair out. The girl was here, somewhere, remembering her life like he was, maybe even having the same twisted delusions. Who knows?
Or, this could all be just the last bits of his sanity finally crumbling away.
Edward punched the wall. He had to stop pretending none of this was real. He couldn't just keep going day by day, assuming his weird dream would end. This was his life now and he had to make a choice. Edward already knew the choice was made but he had to say it. He had to accept it. He had to believe.
"I believe…" He waited for something, not certain what, but something had to happen to confirm that something knew he believed. He tried repeated himself more firmly. "I believe." Still nothing apparent yielded from the silent shelves. Edward growled and punched the wall again. "I fucking believe now show me a sign, fuck!"
"I would assume faith doesn't work that way, otherwise it would be called 'certainty,' now wouldn't it Fullmetal?"
Edward whirled instinctively into a defensive despite the fact the voice was familiar.
Roy Mustang's smirk faded as he looked Edward over. Edward could never read the bastard but that didn't matter. Edward knew enough about him to know where his face was to punch. How dare Mustang interrupt his moment of insanity!
Emotions out of control, Edward knew this could get bad very quickly. Normally he didn't care about consequences but it was as if she were there with him, telling him it wasn't worth Al's disappointment. Besides, Edward wanted to beat the crap out of Mustang while the man could fight back with all he had. He wouldn't be able to use his flames in the tight library shelves.
"What exactly is going through that thick skull of yours?" Mustang's tone was neither prying nor condescending. It actually had a faint hint of concern, which in turn concerned Edward.
"Wha do you mean?" Edward asked incriminatingly, only realizing afterwards how stupid he sounded.
Mustang crossed his arms across his chest and raised an eyebrow, waiting.
In another burst of insanity Edward asked, "Do you dream?"
Expecting some smart-ass remark, Edward braced himself to let his fist fly.
Mustang surprised him with a simple reply of, "every night."
Taking advantage of this strange occurrence of getting actual straight answers out of Mustang, Edward ventured another question. "What about?"
At this Mustang smirked and put on one of his ignition gloves with the elegance of a magician. He leaned against the wall and gazed at his glove for such a long time that Edward wondered what it was he was actually seeing. Edward thought of throwing a book at Mustang for obviously ignoring him but then he spoke. "Fire. I dream of the Fire."
And with that Mustang swept out of the library leaving only the wooshing air from his pant-skirt in his wake. Edward felt conflicted. In any other tone he would have assumed Mustang meant his flame alchemy or even just fire in general but something about his tone made Edward look in Mustang's vacated place, wondering what he was really talking about.
Roy sat down hard in his office chair. Did what happen really happen? What was that even about?
He didn't know and felt like a child, all questions without a clue as to where he could find answers or even if there were answers to be had.
"Why did I even mention the Fire?" Roy asked the empty room. When it answered back he did not even flinch.
"Because you know where to find me, you just won't look hard enough." A girl he knew all too well sat on one of his lampshades in the corner farthest in the room. Her brilliant purple eyes flared in the grey dim lit office.
"Valerie," Roy acknowledged with a nod, "I never thought I'd see you again."
She took her long golden hair over her shoulder and began to braid it loosely before replying. "I live within you. You see me because you wish too. I'm not a real person, as you well know."
Opening the false bottom of his desk drawer, Roy pulled out his scotch and a well used tumbler. He took his time pouring the amber liquid into the glass, pretending he was a lone or perhaps accepting that he truly was.
Valerie appeared subtly on the edge of a stack of folders, floating bare millimetres from their caramel brown surface. "Why did you name me Roy?"
He took a sip and turned to view the darkening parade square. Roy spoke more to his glass than to the apparition. "Well if I must speak to you, then you may as well have a name I can curse later."
"Or perhaps so you can run from something you accepted greedily as a young man. Remember, you were his age when I came to you too."
Roy could hear the smile in her voice. He remembered. Roy remembered being lost and alone in a new country. He remembered losing his parents in the crowd, not knowing the language being yelled and screamed around him. He remembered the explosions and chaos but most of all, he remembered the Fire.
It was the civil war torn Amestris erupting around him as his family fled from their equally carnage riddled homeland of Xing. With no government to hold Amestris together, she fought amongst herself as her neighbours picked at what was left unprotected. That was before King Bradley stepped forward and offered a solution, to channel all of the war and chaos to abolish the Ishbalans.
He was sixteen when he ran into a burning building to escape the militia bent on policing their town with their own set of laws that had one focal point: foreigners were the route of all problems and therefore needed to go. His pursuers balked at the rising flames and left him to be burned alive.
Roy remembered cough and his eyes blurring. He remembered the unbearable heat and his blood boiling. A beam fell in front of him, blocking his escape then another fell to trap him completely. Helpless and afraid, Roy reached out his hand in dire hopes that something would reach back and save him but nothing did. He only saw those eyes; rimmed with tears and full of utter sadness without hope. Those purple eyes wanted to save him.
Feeling a calm he thought unmanageable at that time, Roy had told the eyes not to cry. Everything would be alright in the end.
"Please, don't cry for me. Everything will be alright. I'll wait for you."
Roy snapped out of his memory with his own words and glared at the girl now sitting right in front of him on his desk.
"See," she whispered, "you are not so old as to forget seeing me in the fire. I watched you die and was helpless but you gave me hope that things would be alright once more; that you would find me again. And you did."
"I found nothing. You are just some manifestation of my loneliness, or maybe even the child inside of me who still believes in dragons, magic and a true love that conquers all. I don't fucking care anymore. I thought once I gave into you, you would leave." Roy downed his scotch and poured another, unhampered by Valerie.
Leaning down to be merely a breath away from his face, Valerie whispered. "You know very well it wasn't me you gave into but what I am a manifestation of and that is not any of the foolish things you just listed. I am your fundamental love for Edward Elric and I will never be gone until you find him."
"I DID!" Roy exclaimed and sat back in his chair roughly. "After Ishbal I saw Edward Elric in that goddamned wheelchair, all broken and without a prayer. You were there!"
"Yeah, I was," a too familiar voice said from his doorway. Edward leaned against his doorway in his ever present red coat and black leather pants.
Roy blinked repeatedly at the sudden change in circumstance. His new bottle of scotch was empty, Valerie was gone and Edward had heard who knows how much of his crazy conversation with a girl who didn't even exist. Worst of all, his mind was too tired and too alcohol addled to come up with a likely story to cover all that was taking place so Roy chose to remain silent. It was the safest route.
Edward walked heavily over to his couch and plopped down on it, not meeting his eyes. The blond sighed and lied on his back with his hands over his eyes. "I keep having these dreams," he stated simply, "of a life that is not mine. I find a small girl who needs me and look after her in a time long before this one. Her appearance shifts and changes throughout the dream but our relationship stays the same. With my 'dream' place in society, I am able to help her in ways she cannot help herself and as a result she grows up by my side."
Groaning slightly, Edward stretches on the couch. Roy chooses not to comment, still thinking silence is best.
"I fall in love with her but it is forbidden for some fucking reason. I don't really understand the dream, only that because of me, she is killed before my eyes. She dies in a fire and I need to know: is that your fire?" Edward looks at him from underneath his hands with heartbreak, confusion and accusation in his eyes.
Roy, flabbergasted, returns, "Wait, you think I killed your dream girl? I think you fail at dreaming Fullmetal because if you knew even half of it, we wouldn't be having this conversation." Urged on by the alcohol, Roy kept going. "You see the girl in you dream is just a figment of your imagination to cover up the truth you have to find for yourself. Like my girl resembles you because that's who she's meant to represent."
Sitting up entirely, Edward looked at Roy long and hard. "What are you talking about?"
Digging around in his drawer for more alcohol since it was the only way this situation would have an upside, Roy continued blabbering. "Because my less-thick-skull-than-yours can see that there is more here than just silly dreams. I used to dream of a girl who's form constantly changed too. She guided me through a strange dream life and taught me all I knew in that sleeping world... or something." Digging deeper, Roy finally found his flask. Not certain as to what was inside, he gave it a cautious sniff.
"Stop fucking around," Ed exclaimed, "and explain all of this in god damned Amestrisian!"
Roy was thinking about sharing his precious flask with Edward since the kid was in the same twisted situation he was, but upon reflection Roy thought he needed the flask more since he had to deal with Ed on top of everything else. This whole thing had gone from bad to worse. First he got too close in the library.
"I swore when I found you I would be different." Roy said more to his flask than to his intended audience. "I saw her in the Fire when I was young, but it wasn't actually her. This girl we both see isn't the one we are really dreaming about. I figured that out during the war in Ishbal. My dreams became more vivid until the formless girl took shape. She was actually a young man with long blond hair. It was you Ed, but not as you are now. You were older and wearing different foreign clothing. The strangest part of it all was I didn't discover you in Resembool until over a year later."
Edward just looked at him unblinkingly. Roy felt like he needed to stress further the strangeness everything. "Don't you understand Ed? I knew you before I even met you. How do you think I was able to manipulate you so easily from the very start? I dreamed about you every night in some fashion since I was a boy and the dreams didn't stop until you came to me with your automail, demanding to be a State Alchemist. And don't deny that you dream of me too."
Roy waited for the sudden outbreak of curses, rejecting the statement but they never came. Edward crossed his legs and look intently at the floor as his mind appeared to race.
"So... the girl I watch die is you?" Edward asked slowly as if the words hurt. His face was twisting in what Roy could only perceive as disgust.
Having had just about enough, Roy snapped, "Yes! For fuck's sake. Now get out so I can forget this whole thing ever happened."
"But—" Ed interjected.
Edward ran out as if lit on fire and Roy felt like helping that analogy become a reality and mask his breaking heart. He didn't know how he had expecting his afternoon to evening to turn out but this certainly wasn't it. Edward's outright reject may not have been spoken but it was written all over his face. Roy slammed his head hard onto his desk.
He should be an adult about this and realize that Edward was just force feed a lot of serious information at once and as a teen was unable to process it like an adult. That in order for Ed to believe him, he would have to dream more vividly and perhaps was unable to do so. Roy knew there were many more possibilities he should consider before he let his heart sink.
The logical part of him knew this was all magical nonsense that would only hurt him in the end but the younger man in him still saw the boy from his dreams thinking: Now it's my turn to guide and protect you. I found you at last and now everything will be alright.
Except it wasn't.
Roy had screwed it up somehow, just like he had with everything else in his life.
"Really though? What had I wanted from him anyways?" Roy tried to ignore the little voice in his head that was not Valerie, but his own.
Love. Love is what I want.
Ed ran through the trees against his will. The branches whipped his face and shoulders as he was once again a guest in the mind of the other Edward. Ed could be subject to his host's emotions and sensations but had no control over their body or mind. Tonight he was in the same forest he was every night for the longest time.
Smoke peaked through the trees signalling his supposed destination. Ed tried to through the other Edward's thoughts but could only hear his mental voice saying: please god, please no!
Breaking free of the pines Edward rushed through a field and into a small town, leaping and dashing like his life depended on it. Edward had the feeling it wasn't his life at stake...
Pushing and shoving the every growing crowd aside, Edward waded his way to the front of the sea of villagers. His eyes drew immediately to the fire. It was slowly building to a roar and Ed felt the approach of where he always awoke. Purples eyes would pear at him from between flame tongs and then the dream would end; only this time the smoke was too thick.
Edward's thoughts were of frantic sorrow and panic. Soldiers pushed him hard onto the ground with the staff of their spears. The wind then picked up and Ed as well as Edward looked at the clearing smoke. Ed's heart stopped when it wasn't the purple eyes he saw but dark blue ones.
A teenage Roy Mustang was looking back at him.
Edward snapped awake in his bed panting violently. Shaking he looked into the darkness of his room and could still see those eyes, that reassuring smile and Mustang's outstretched hand, reaching for him. Edward felt the hot tears pour down his cheeks as his mind processed the last words the dream Mustang said.
Edward found himself repeating the same words over and over, "Please, don't cry for me. Everything will be alright. I'll wait for you. I'll wait for you. I'll wait for you. I'll wait for you..."
He got up and pulled on his boots and coat, having slept in his clothing Edward was ready to leave in a manner of seconds; which he did. Sprinting haphazardly, much like his other dream self, Edward booked his way out of the military dorms. Jumping over hedges and diving past oncoming cars he was like someone possessed. Edward ignored the pull and release of fabric when an uneven fence decided to keep a piece of him. Edward ignored the yelps and exclamations of the people he jostled and sometimes knocked over.
Coming to a park Edward had to stop. As fit as he was, his destination was farther than desirable. He leaned against a tree for a moment then walked in a circle with his hands on his head so that he wouldn't cramp up. He paused to look up at the night sky.
"What am I doing? This is stupid... and surreal." Edward let his hands drop limply, regretting only that his automail arm banged into his side.
Edward nearly jumped out of his skin when none other than Roy Mustang answered him with, "Nothing anyone with common sense would do."
He was sitting on the park bench not too far away, eating a danish. Some part of Edward that was hungry noted it was lemon while the rest of his crazed thought crashed to a sudden halt. It was him, the man from his dream... but not. This was Mustang who just clouded his mind right before bed. That's the only reason he dreamed of him... right?
"You look like shit." Mustang peered over his shoulder at the park clock. "It's fuck-off o'clock I see. Shouldn't you be in bed?"
Edward grasped at the frayed strings of phrases he could and should say but they fell apart before reaching his lips, leaving him silent. Mustang turned back away from him, viewing the rest of the park and Edward knew he had to act fast. Like always it was all up to him to change a bad situation into one in his favour and just like on any of his missions, he tackled this challenge the same way, head on with as little thought as possible. If he thought of just how crazy what he was about to do was, even the great Edward Elric would balk.
Edward sat down on the bench. Mustang's close proximity washed a calmness over him he had never felt before. Encouraged by this, Edward took the older man's hand.
"I don't know what to do or what this all means," Edward stroked the back of Mustang's hand with his thumb, "but everything will be alright now. You don't have to wait anymore, I'm here."
This is all based on a dream I had. It was a lot more fucked up than this and this story does it no justice. I'm still getting back into my writing groove so be merciful.
-rix the demon