Notes: As I warned in the summary, this is contains body horror. It's a spoiler, but the body horror in question is very unusual male pregnancy. As in, the kind that causes his organs to be messed up and for him to be in a tremendous amount of pain. For those of you squicked by the idea of a man growing female reproductive organs or hermaphrodite content, you'll be glad to know that the pregnant man in question is, in fact, fully male all throughout this fanfiction. :) This is not a romance story and the focus is more angst/medical/alchemic/Pyro is a sick little bastard than anything. It's not a happy "pregnancy". This is not a "yaoi" or "mpreg" story in the typical sense. There will be non-detailed male/male sex later in the fic, but as far as I've planned, no real pairings or romance, though there may be HughesxRoy, I guess, if you REALLY squint.
Okay, bum-coverage complete! :D Onto the fic! As always, I will do (almost) anything for reviews.
Colonel Mustang had no reason to be wary when he first entered the building. The case seemed to be the same as any other involving minor degrees of alchemic mischief: a few bored alchemists with twisted inhibitions using an otherwise innocent-looking building to conduct experiments without State approval or inspection.
From his subordinate's report, Mustang had learned that there had been no signs of illegal human alchemy – nothing that would neither benefit nor harm the State. It'd been a disappointment, as these things often were. For him, the reward for a good bust was State recognition and credibility. For the Fullmetal alchemist – and the one he'd put in charge of investigation – it was valuable clues in finding ways for him to correct his and his brother's damaged bodies. In a way, and for different reasons, they both relied on the taboos and foul play committed by many of the less-than-credible alchemists they fought to capture.
Edward Elric stood beside him now, and without the presence of his brother, the boy seemed even more unusually small than usual, seeming to shrink into the shadows of the hallway, arms crossed and his body visible tense with unease. While Mustang had never been particularly emotionally perceptive, he had a feel for the kid's anxiety, and frequently found himself walking next as if to stand in his brother's place, silently taking his side should Edward need him.
While the two of them hated little more than spending more time in each other's presence than necessary – Edward, far more than Mustang – they were still paired as a team, and were likewise obligated to function as one. On the few occasions they worked together on cases, they often shared a strange camaraderie – one not unusual for men brought together by their shared duties.
The building was fairly large, as far as these things went, and, strangely enough, nearly empty. The Fullmetal had reported that the inhabitants had been taken completely by surprise and thus had no time to cover their tracks, which left them both to wonder why so few remnants of their experiments remained.
The finds had been disappointing, Edward had reported, and, on top of that, a mess. Mustang didn't envy the investigation officials in charge of collecting the specimens, many of which were long-since dead attempts at chimera transmutations. The few that were alive – and with all of their internal organs being internal, at that – looked like little more than animated disasters.
"I'm sure you've come to the conclusion that this isn't everything, huh?" Ed asked suddenly.
Mustang shot him a smirk. "Obviously. It's likely that this building is just a red herring. Any valuable research – if any – is likely being held at a different facility, if not several."
"Guess you've got the ability to figure that much out. I've gotta say, I'm impressed," Ed replied with a small snort. "We'll check this place out again, find what we can, and then interrogate the guys I captured."
"You're telling me what we'll be doing, now? Wow, Fullmetal, I guess you've landed a few promotions. You've got to tell me your secret." Mustang laughed a little, easing up as the two made their way into the room that had most resembled a lab.
The first thing Mustang noticed was the smell. The room did not smell unpleasant, and that was what had surprised him. There was no sense of abandonment to the room, and unlike the halls before it, it lacked the musty, vaguely decay-like smell he'd come to associate with the place. While the rest of the rooms had very little in and around them save for a few composed arrays, the circles on all four walls of the room had been covered in a messy, childlike scrawl. From several of the walls hung different layouts of alchemic compositions – mostly biological, and, from what Mustang could tell, though several of them were of human systems, none of them could be linked to taboo practices. He'd studied similar diagrams before he'd received his certification. It seemed elementary.
Edward, on the other hand, seemed deeply interested in several of the formulas drawn out on the far walls. The younger alchemist had quickly crossed the room to the far side, were several loose sheets and posters had been messily tacked to the wall.
"Mustang, are you getting any of this?"
The Colonel sighed. "Fullmetal, we've been over this. Human anatomy is far from my specialty. Though, from what I see, there's not very much to get. These depictions are the learning foundations for children."
Edward shook his head, gesturing to several different processes and runes laid out. "Normally, I'd say the same, but for such a basic formula, it definitely has some strange processes. I'd say it's encrypted, but that just doesn't add up, since the only conclusions I could draw to decipher it would be far too easy to come to, and those conclusions wouldn't make any sense." Edward turned to him then, face almost glowing. "That's exactly it. This is the process for transmuting a code. DNA. You said it was the learning foundation for children, and you weren't far off. It's a foundation for children – creating them."
Mustang blinked. He'd never doubted his own abilities as far as alchemy was concerned, but when it came to quickly deciphering things outside his realm of expertise, it tended to take him hours, not seconds. His not having a particular knack for biological alchemy was no secret, and he'd never been particularly embarrassed to ask his junior officer for advice or even admit inferiority. Hell, as long as he bested the kid where it mattered, he could have cared less about his pride as an alchemist where Fullmetal was concerned. "...As in...?" he asked after a moment, still not understanding exactly what Edward meant.
"Think about it. The process is simple, and so is the outcome, but it's the outcome that contains the code to create life. It simulates natural conception through alchemy. They were likely using this place as a breeding facility for those monsters," Edward explained.
Mustang frowned. "Judging by your lack of enthusiasm, I take it it's nothing that can create a human life?"
Edward shrugged. "Technically, I guess not. From what I can tell, it just uses the body's compounds to create reproductive cells. I'd imagine none of those poor beasts were very fertile." He frowned. "...But what I don't understand is why they couldn't use a much easier approach to correct their chromosomes or increase fertility. The latter can be done through traditional medicine, like the Lieutenant Colonel's wife..." He trailed off then, appearing to be staring at another set of formulas.
At that point, Mustang found himself being slightly intrigued. "Well, I'd imagine that if the creatures were truly sterile..." he began.
Edward shook his head, wordlessly interrupting him. "And the formula acts to progress overtime as the cell develops within the body. It's as if it writes a biological code for a fetus to follow from conception until birth, which the body should already naturally do. It doesn't just protect against infertility, but miscarriage as well," he went on.
"Oh," was Mustang's simple response. And then he gave a sigh before sliding a hand into his pocket and leaning back. "Such things were commonly experimented with several years back, as I'm sure you've read. As with any alchemy involving human life, it's highly illegal, but I'm positive these methods have been used for animals for years."
His companion nodded in agreement. "Still... It strikes me as a bit strange, with how this is all laid out. It's been thought out extensively, but it just doesn't add up when you apply it to an animal, human or living pretzel. There are all kinds of things in here that seem just... random. Things dealing with the digestive tract and muscle structure. It likely wouldn't have any kind of significant effect. It's a jumble of garbage. Tch, it's probably useless."
If the Fullmetal alchemist said an alchemic composition was useless, then it was most likely useless, Mustang reasoned. After a few minutes, he could see exactly what Edward meant. Even he, after close examination, could tell the processes didn't add up. He sighed. "Well then, mystery solved. Check around some more."
The two of them turned away from each other and went to separate ends of the room to do just that. Mustang made haste of the easy inspection, checking through squeaky drawers and knocking for secret compartments, quickly growing bored with the disappointing lack of finds. Still, he was impressed, and almost glad that he and the kid had gone this long without bickering. Where alchemy was involved, it was clear that the two of them made an exception and let like-mindedness overrule pride. He chuckled internally at the thought, and, distracted, was taken aback by Edward's sudden yell.
"Colonel! What the hell is this!?" Ed cried, pointing at a now-broken vial that had crashed onto the floor beside him.
Roy rolled his eyes and quickly strode over to him, mentally preparing a stern lecture. "Dammit, kid! Be more careful. I know you're not clumsy." As he approached Edward, he had to wonder what it was that Edward wouldn't be able to identify, being as capable as he was, but then chalked it up to his being taken aback by the crash. But as he drew nearer, he smirked, and he knew exactly why the Fullmetal might have a hard time identifying this substance.
"That would be semen, Fullmetal," Roy told him, trying his hardest not to smirk. The resulting cry of disgust made it hard for him not to outright laugh.
"That is disgusting! That's- ...Hey, how come you could indentify it so quickly, Colonel?" Ed didn't allow time for him to answer before cracking up.
All right, so Edward had had the last laugh. He sighed. "Very funny, kid."
"No, I'm serious! I want to know! Is it something you see around you often? Can you identify it by taste, too?"
Roy shook his head, straightened himself and crossed his arms. Hadn't they come here for a purpose...? "If I knew anything about how it tasted, then Lieutenant Colonel Hughes would have already told you and half of HQ about it, just like he does with every single other bit of incriminating information he finds about me."
Ed snapped. "Damn. You're right. ...Still..." He glanced back at the broken vial. "...What do you think it'd taste like?"
No matter how much he knew Edward said these things just for the purpose of catching him off guard, it always worked.
"...Fullmetal, how the hell to you expect me to answer that, and, furthermore, what kind of question is that?" Roy responded.
"Well, forgive me for trying to lighten the mood," Ed grumbled, barely concealing his smirk.
"Don't be ridiculous. Our work here is done, and it does not involve discussing how semen tastes. ...And for your information, I've heard it tastes somewhat salty," Roy said. Well, he thought, that might shut the twerp up. Mustang had never tolerated childishness from his office very much, though they often defended themselves by saying they were merely picking it up from the Colonel himself.
"Hm... I guess that sounds about right," Edward concluded simply, as though they'd simply had a discussion on the best way to transmute granite. "All right, let's get out of here."
"Again, do you really think you should be giving the orders, Fullmetal?" Mustang teased.
He went to rest his elbow against the wall, and at that moment, Edward opened his mouth to reply. Roy didn't hear him; the circle behind him lit up suddenly, then expanded in a brighter, forceful burst, throwing him back and almost off of his feet.
"Woah!" Ed exclaimed, quickly stepping back. "Hey, Colonel, are you o- ...What happened?"
Mustang blinked, feeling as dazed as he figured he must have looked. "...I think the circle you were looking at has been set up to react to touch without being activated by the one touching them. It's a common defense method."
He couldn't be sure, but several similar tactics had been used during the Rebellion. Some circles were simply land mines set to react to body temperature, whereas other, unrelated arrays were often, to an extent, protected by a reactive formula.
Edward frowned. "Jeez. That's what I figured. I guess they're protective of their garbage, if they set their research up to attack people." He snorted then, and turned to the doorway. "Well, just give me your authority and tell me when we can get out of here, Colonel."
"The sooner I have some peace and quiet, the better," Roy mumbled in response, not paying the array a second glance as he straightened himself and led the two of them back out into the hallway.