Topazia: ...damn, I must have rewritten this at least ten times before I was even remotely satisfied with it.

Chapter 4: Things that go bump in the night

The ceiling of my office swirled in a wave of colors as I leaned back into my chair. The plush brown leather seat creaked angrily at the abuse. It was the kind of sound that warned you that if pushed a bit further, disaster might strike. It was a lazy day in my opinion. The sun outside rained down glorious rays of light that heated the large open windows of my office as well as the room itself. The sky was a rich deep blue that was occasionally interrupted by a few thin clouds.

There were several things that I could imagine doing at the moment; none of those things involved work. Sadly, I had just recently returned and already it felt like it was time for a vacation. Don't you just hate that? In the middle of my musing, a sound caught my attention. It was the soft tapping of china on hard oak wood. Clink.

Leaning forward again, my eyes focused on Riza. She sat the coffee cup in front of me, along with napkins and a saucer. I didn't have to ask to know that it was made just the way I like it; exactly two spoons of sugar, and two spoons of cream. "Thanks." Just the smell alone was enough to tie my stomach into pleasurable knots. I couldn't describe it, but there was just something wonderful about the first cup of coffee in the morning.

She nodded quietly as I grabbed the cup and took a sip, rolling my eyes up to study her face. She remained blank as ever despite being under my tender care for about three days. Not that I minded. Riza was not the type of woman to easily assimilate to the masses. I preferred her this way. God knows we needed someone else intelligent other than Fury and myself. If she was bothered by my careful examination, she never said. Instead she began laying out several sheets of paper and photos in order. She was very particular about being organized; yet another plus.

Just from looking at her, you'd never be able to tell the difference. However, I had known her for years. Every now and then her left eye would twitch and the muscles in her jaw would shift like she was fighting to keep her face clear. Riza was in pain. Of course, I knew that without having to watch her face. You see, I was the one that inflicted said pain upon her. So terrible of me, I know.

She cleared her throat suddenly. I blinked, bringing my attention back to her face. She gave me stern eyes. Eyes that clearly said: Don't worry about it. With a lazy shrug of my shoulders I smiled, leaning to the side so I could rest my chin on the palm of my right hand. "What do we have here?"

"I fetched the finished police reports like you asked me." She responded, motioning to the line of articles on my desk. I've taken the liberty to go over all the information and sorting out the useful from the unneeded."

"Did you now?"

"Yes." She pointed to the first file on the far left. "They're in order from the first murder all the way to the most recent. Each case have images, and even a few witness reports, when those reports could be obtained. Most of the locals-"

"Didn't hear anything." I finished for her.

"Correct." The office was silent except for our own voices and the occasional sound of pens scraping against paper. Each individual had their assignments for today. We couldn't afford to relax as much today. While I'll admit that things were slow, there was still a good amount of paperwork to be done. The crime rate decided to shoot up over the past few days. From the looks of things, it didn't seem like it would lower anytime soon. The wave of murders plaguing the city was thought to be carried out by a group of men by local police. I for one knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was the work of one man. After the culprit had successfully evaded the police, there became a general outcry for the military to help bring the one responsible to justice for the sake of the people.

"You've organized this quite nicely." I said shifting through the information. "According to this, you've found similarities between each case?"

Risa nodded. "First, each victim was obviously female, as you can tell from the pictures. Also, in each file, every woman had a name card in her possession."

"Is that so?" Obvious was a strong word. The first thing you noticed from the pictures was that the bodies had been reduced to raw meat. Only after a few minute of staring could you piece together the smaller details.

"Yes, they were all workers from Angelic Perfection."

How unnerving that the world wasn't safe for even prostitutes. Ironically the first thought to pop into my head was Edward. I for a moment I wondered how he felt about all of this. After all, I was staring into what was left of one of his co-workers. "That place again. What happen, did the murderer have a bad experience?"

Jean chuckled. "A bad experience with a prostitute Colonel? What would you know about that?"

I smiled, leaning back into my chair again. "I know plenty Havoc, tell you mother she was overpaid." The room erupted into that masculine laughter that's sometimes shared between men. Even Fury had to chuckle quietly to his self. Hawkeye simply shook her head. I bet money she considered us all idiots. It must certainly be interesting for her, being the only woman and all.

"If you're finished?"

"Yes, please continue." Stifling another smirk I focused back on the matter at hand. Riza pulled to information of the most recent murder in front of me and flipped through to the pictures. "I noticed something different about this woman's ID."

Staring into one of the ID photo I saw a lovely redhead with light, bouncy curls and mischievous green eyes. It was the type of gaze that would promise a man anything if the price was right. Her makeup was light and artful; just right. Beneath the image was her name. To the right was the Angelic Perfection logo, the alchemic sign for perfection, as well as the name. Beneath that was the letter's VIP written in gold. "VIP?"

"VIP is a acronym that stands for Very Important Person, sir." Farman's voice sounded crisp and clear as he recited the definition word for word. "VIP is a title that that signifies favoritism usually within businesses or social groups."

I rubbed my temples. "Yes, thank you, but I already knew the definition." One day I swear I'd get him piss ass drunk; bet he'd lighten up then.

"I apologize." With that said he returned to his work.

Basically, there was a single murderer on the loose targeting prostitutes from Angelic perfection. The bodies were always found in strange places, meaning that they were most likely killed someplace in secret and discarded away from the actual murder scene. There were still a few questions I needed answered before I could organize a team. I'd most likely end up setting up a trap to lure the murderer out into the open. However before I did any of that there was something nagging me.

There was one place to go when you needed information fast. It was a good source, not to mention one of my favorites. The information source was very reliable and the advice was profound. At the moment, I needed advice. "Hawkeye, handle my calls and take messages while I'm gone. The rest of you, continue your paperwork and finish any other projects you were working on."

Riza raised her hand for a salute. "Sir."

"I'll have the new transmitter radio repaired by the end of the day." Fury smiled.

"Good, it's about time we got a second one." With that said I grabbed my coat and headed for the door.

The door closed behind me with a crisp sound that echoed into the bright hallway. The walls were painted white and decorated with various paintings and plaques. The floor was black marble that had been buffered to perfection so that it reflected everything like a dark mirror universe. Overhead large chandeliers dropped warm yellow light from above.

My destination was on the other side of this building. Hughes and I worked in separate departments, but if I ever needed information, it was a simple matter to pay him a visit. The hallways were quiet as usual. The traffic flow was almost nonresistant. It looked like a slow day for everyone. It was rare to see the halls this deserted.

The building itself was fairly large, however it was only about a six to ten minute walk, give or take various distractions. You always knew when you neared Maes' office. Obviously there was his name plate outside the door. However, before you noticed that, the first thing to grab your attention was his voice.

Even with his door closed you could hear him, and when it was open the affect was even worse. This particular visit the door to his office was closed. I stood outside for a moment, fighting the slight curl to my lips. The muffled voice on the other side sounded too joyful for the normal dismal work environment. My guess was that he was on the found with that Gracia woman. I knocked, two sharp taps and the noise inside paused. "Hold for a second doll face, come in!"

Opening the door I stepped in and closed it quietly behind me. "Hughes, I know we've been friends for ages but I can't accept pet names from men." His office was the typical hardworking man's office. The hardwood desk and high back leather hair. Opposite from the desk were two plush chairs for when he expected company. His desk was in modest disarray. To say that it was messy would be a lie, but it wasn't exactly neat either. It was a nice combination of both.

"Oh, it's just Roy." He continued after a minute. Just Roy? I was THE Roy. "Yes, he pays me visits sometimes." I settled into one of the chairs in front of his desk. "Well, it's because I'm so gosh darn important, that's why!" Have you ever witnessed something so disgustingly cute that it just might rot your teeth? This was a prime example. Being in the same room while the lovers were chatting it up on the phone was giving me a horrible case of diabetes. "Of course, we have a dinner date, remember?" Diabetic coma in 3…2… "But hey doll face? I have to go for a bit, this might be important. I'll talk to you later." Damn that was close.

He hung up the phone and straightened in his chair so he could face me. Every ounce of joy melted from his face until he wore a mask of contentment. It was a pleasant face he used to greet people that came to his office. In some ways I guess you could call it one of his many business faces. "A dinner date? You two are certainly close." I smirked.

Hughes shrugged, removing his glasses for cleaning. "Yeah, well…what can I do for the flame Alchemist today?"

"The usual." I answered.

"I'll see what I can do."

"I came across something interesting today. All of the victims all work at Angelic Perfection."

He stared at me for a moment. "Yes, every victim was a worker from that house. That's pretty much the only pattern though."

"Has Gracia ever mentioned anything about a VIP pass?"

"A few times." He answered. "One of the girls had one?" I nodded. "Do you think it may have something to do with the case?"

"Not particularly. This was something I was curious about."

Hughes twirled the frames in his hand for a second and then placed on desk. "The VIP pass is given to hard workers. They are apparently picked randomly. If they accept the title, they are allowed to service more of the company's important clientele."

"Important clientele?" I asked.

He shrugged, giving me one of those belittling smiles that told me I had said something silly. "You were there. What do you think it means?"

"Smart ass." I leaned to the side, shifting comfortably into one side of the seat. "The military certainly enjoys the place." Maes smiled at me. It was a face that could mean several things. At the moment, none of those things were probably relevant to my recent case work.

"Was there anything else Roy?"

"One more thing."

"Business or curiosity?:

I watched him pick up the glasses and settle them back onto his face. "Business, I can't always play you know?" Again he smiled, leaning back in his own seat while he waited. "How many killers do you think are on the prowl?"

"According to my information only one." He answered.

"Hmm, is that so? Looks like we've come to the same conclusion."

"I think it's a single person committing these murders. A few of my superiors wants to send a entire team after a group that doesn't exist. I can finish the job with two people." It felt good, having him confirm my suspicions. Sometimes it took hearing the facts from someone else for you to believe them.

"I hope I'm included in that number."

Standing I smiled, making sure to push the chair back into place. "I try to include you as long as your schedule is free. We'll start setting things in motion two days from now." With that I turned for the door, waving over my shoulder.

So far so good, most of the paperwork was finished. Fury was completing every small project I tossed his way. Breda was on standby incase I needed him to travel. Riza was awaiting orders. Jean was ready for anything and everything. All of my pieces were in place. I just had to move them. In a few days I'd have Riza accompany me with Havoc as her backup. Maes would be there to tie up the loose ends.

The plan seemed so smooth, so perfect nothing could possibly go wrong. So what does one do with all their free time when work was slow you ask? Mild curiosity caused me to leave the government offices behind for the inner city. I just felt like dropping by to see how Ed was doing, that's all. Well, that was the initial plan anyway. When I got there I quickly learned that he wasn't home. How I was I supposed to know that he went into work today?

Waking up was a troublesome thing, especially when you weren't ready to do so. Edward Elric found himself in exactly this same situation. He awoke in slow, steady stages. His eyes slowly fluttered open, settling into a half mast position so that the room was blurred by sleep and his long lashes. After a minute or two he yawned, stretching like a content cat under warm blankets.

He could probably sleep for another four hours but something had interrupted his sleep to begin with. What was it? "Sleeping beauty finally awakes I see." The voice made him sit up in bed, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

"Gracia?" That's right. He was at work. The dark floral print walls and dark wood furniture slowly came into focus. She stood quietly on the opposite side from the bed, her back leaned casually against the room's door. Her outfit consisted of a lavender blouse and a black knee high skirt.

"Who else would check on you like this?"

Ed laughed, scratching at his hair as the last haziness of sleep left him. The last thing he remembered was taking a customer to this very same room. Specific features about the man were hazy. Ed did remember he was tall and slender with dark hair, or maybe not. The only thing that description did was remind him of Roy.

Although that may be because the whole time he was working today, the flame Alchemist was all he thought about. Roy just recently returned to his own line of work. How was that going? "How long have I been asleep?"

"About three hours. It's almost midnight." Gracia smiled, moving from the door to sit at the foot of the bed. "Business is slow. You should be getting home now. Alphonse is probably worried sick."

"Yeah. I know." He glanced over at the nearest nightstand. "I don't even remember falling asleep." A discarded wad of money sat on the dresser, a tip from his last customer. For a good price anyone could come in and buy his love and attention. For that hour, the customer was the most important person in the world. However afterwards they were quickly forgotten. It was nothing personal, just a fact of life.

Lately Ed found himself trapped within the walls of Angelic Perfection. Not because he wasn't allowed to leave, he simply couldn't afford to leave. Alphonse was due for a doctor's visit. The medicine required to maintain his health was very expensive. On top of that, the younger Elric recently had a steady decline in health. He'd most likely need a stronger dosage, which of course would mean more money.

The teen shifted on the bed, moving the blankets to make sure he remained covered. The concept of modesty almost seemed ridiculous in their profession. However, out of all of the workers that crammed together with their clients in this one building, she was the only one he felt the need to be decent around.

Gracia's face was serene. She sat at the edge of the edge of the bed, running her fingers over the bed's comforter. It was a nervous habit. "Be careful on the way home, alright?"

"Me be careful? Shouldn't I be saying that to you?" the blond chuckled. "The killer isn't after men. Are you sure you'll be alright?"

"I called Maes a little while ago. He'll be here to take me home soon. But you walk home Ed. Please be careful."

He stared at her for a moment. Edward loved Gracia, that much he was certain. She evoked warm feelings within him. Pleasant sensations that he thought had died along with his mother. To him, she was like a precious older sister. "Alright, I promise then."

That one sentence was enough to make her smile. It lit up her face like she had swallowed pure joy. It was contagious and soon he was smiling too. "Thank you." She stood then, smoothing her skirt as she made her way back to the door. "Goodnight Ed." It wouldn't be too out of character for her to pay him a visit, just to warm him about the dangers of a prostitute murdering psychopath.

Looking around he found pieces of his clothes discard in various places. His boots lay in a discarded heap at the door. They were the first things to go. Next, his shirt had been carelessly tossed to the floor a few feet away from the bed. His pants were tangled somewhere in the sheets.

Ed slowly crawled out of bed, gathering each article of clothing to throw them back on again. He didn't even bother straightening the wrinkles. Lacing up his boots he headed for the door. Gracia was right about one thing, business was certainly slow. Some nights were like that. He made his way through the houses twists and turns, bumping into various workers and a few customers.

The place seemed slightly lonely, the usual hum of constant movement just wasn't present at the moment. Apparently even the house itself was able to grow tired. As soon as the teen walked through the front doors, the night air greeted him. The sky was so black the stars shown like embedded diamonds. They would lose their glow once he ventured further into the city, but for now he would enjoy their company.

Sounds of his breathing and the soft scrape of his feet against the ground were the only sounds around him tonight. It was late enough for even the crickets to be silent. The stillness followed him even into the city. The only difference was that at least there were lights.

Shoving his hands into his pants pockets he hummed a random tune. Anything was better than the city's silence. As he traveled from one street to the next his mind settled on random thoughts. Alphonse was a constant worry, of course, but with the extra money he was bringing in they would manage. Gracia occasionally came to mind. Lately she had a glow to her that always made him smile like a goofy idiot. One day he'd surely have that happiness too.

Finally, his thoughts settled on Roy. Sadly, it was too late for a house visit, he'd love to stop by right about now. There was still a lot more he wanted to know about the Flame Alchemist. What were his hobbies? Was the rest of him as soft as his lips? What where his-

"No stop!"

Edward froze, stopping a few feet away from a alleyway. A streetlight rained down a circular beam of light, illuminated a few inches of the alley. The rest was swallowed by darkness. There were scuffling sounds of movement, however the voice was not heard again.

Thinking quickly he pressed himself against the nearby wall and drew in a few deep breaths. Gracia had mentioned a murderer, hell everyone had heard of it buy now. Damn and it was just his luck that he stumbled across the bastard. Was it too late for the woman? "No time to puss out now. I don't think I could sleep tonight if I did." A little verbal reassurance sometimes goes a long way. He carefully slinked into the alley. The darkness temporarily blinded his sight, but his ears still functioned. Just up ahead there were still signs of movement. Something, or rather someone was scuffling in the dark.

Ed moved lightly on his feet, stepping carefully to avoid any sudden sounds. If he got to the killer undetected, he could probably take them out. If he made any noise and was caught, it was all over, he'd probably get injured or even killed. Something fell at the end of that deep darkness and the sound of something dragging made him freeze in his tracks. His heart racing he started to crouch down into a hiding place.

There where footsteps, so light that they clicked on the pavement. That gave him pause, but not for long because soon after a body slammed into him and together they fell to the ground. "So…scared, I was so scared."

For a second he was dazed. The body that clung to him shivered as if a source of heat had been forcibly sucked from their very being. His face and shoulders were covered in hair although the color was unknown in the dark. A slight fragrance filled the air, most likely a perfume.

"It's alright now but," he scanned the dark looking for signs of movement, "we'll both get caught at this rate." Did she manage to knock the killer out by herself? If so, he could probably get her to safety first and then notify the authorities.

The body cuddled against him shifted suddenly, wiggling in his arms. "You're very brave." Edward loosened his grip.

"Oh, well tha-"

His vision exploded into tiny flashes of white lights and for a moment there was no sound. Even in the dark his vision spun. "Or you're very foolish." He felt cold, or maybe that was the ground. It was hard to tell at this point. The side and back of his head throbbed angrily and the muffled sound of his attacker's voice only made it worse. Edward groaned, blinking a few times to clear his head but no use. He was being moved. There was laughter, and then nothing but sweet, welcoming darkness.

I found myself in a room, or perhaps a bomb shelter, it was hard to tell the difference. The walls were plain and empty; the only thing that made them even remotely interesting was the fact that they were red. It wasn't just any red. It was the color of fresh warm blood.

Outside this room bullets were a constant background noise with the accompaniment of random explosions. Every now and the room would rattle. There were no windows, there were no doors. It was terribly empty with me at the center. My arms had been bound behind my back with chains that extended to the floor. I felt like a offering to some god of war.

Again the bullets sounded, this time a scream followed shortly after. The wall before me shifted as if it were made from some bendable material. It stretched inward towards me, forming a face that gaped wordlessly at me. There was no sound, but in my mind and soul I could still hear the screams.

Shaking. I was shaking; my entire being felt terribly cold. It was a sensation that could best be described as being submerged in some of the coldest waters this country had to offer. The more the battle sounded outside, the more faces began to appear on the blood red walls. They gapped at me, their empty eye sockets wide. If given the chance, there wasn't a doubt in my mind that they would breach that wall for me. After all I, no, we; the military had taken so many lives.

How many families did I slaughter in a day? How many lovers were permanently separated by my hellfire? How many children lay broken before my feet? The thought alone became too much to bear. Slowly but surely my head lowered towards my chest. This room was maddening, yet somehow fitting. Only a madman would have done those types of things and escaped clear of conscious.

The air filled with a soft chuckle that made me twitch. It was a familiar sound that seemed to fill me with warmth. "Edward?" my head raised, following the line of his slender body until it settled on his round face and oddly colored eyes.

"Colonel Mustang?" he smiled like a cat with cream, a completely contented gesture amongst all the chaos. How could he bare to stand there like that? Couldn't he see the room as I saw it? "Of course I see it." He smiled, leaning in close so that his words were spoken to my left ear.

I inhaled deeply. He had a strange mixture of scents. There was a hint of burning candles, and even incense battling for dominance with the smell of cheap cologne. Next there was a less harsh scent. It was soap of some kind. But beneath that was gentle breeze that caresses the skin on a sunny day and finally Ed. The pure essence of Edward Elric.

He had a slightly sweet smell to him that was diluted by the presence of sweat. It was as if I could reach out with my mouth and taste his skin to find the oddest flavored candy in the world; surprisingly salty first, but sweet later. Suddenly I felt so calm.

"What are you doing here this is..." But I trailed off. This was no place that I could think of.

"This is what?" he smiled. "This is only what you make it."

Looking around the room my heart began to sink again. Why in the hell would I possibly make something like this? "I don't understand."

"Only because you don't want to." He answered, walking carefully around the room. He moved as if transfixed by the horrific faces. Perhaps to him they were the most beautiful things in the world. "They are beautiful," He answered, "but all aspects of life are beautiful don't you think?"

I shook my head. "Stay out of my thoughts."

"I can't help but hear them when they're so loud." He walked the entire room, carefully examining each face before he returned to me again.

"What do you want?"

"Nothing." That same smile never faltered.

"Everyone wants something."

That statement earned me a laugh. "Do they now? I guess if I had to pick." the teen leaned in so that his face filled my vision. There was something in that stare that made me flinch, but I did not look away. "I'd have to say I'd want you." What the hell did that face mean?

"That's not funny."

"I guess not." He said with a shrug. "You know, everyone does things they're not proud of." He turned suddenly, like a restless child so that his back was in plain view.

"And why do you care?"

For a moment the world seemed to hold its breath. The grotesque faces on that blood red wall stopped moving, frozen in their various positions. The sounds from outside the room ceased. Everything was still.

"Because," he started, "you're the first one to treat me like a person." He turned again, and this time I knew the meaning behind the look on his face. It was mercy; pity for a man that had done so much wrong. Standing before me he was telling me to forgive myself. Hearing it from him almost made it seem easy.

The room warm, blurring until there was nothing left but hazy images and his scent. I felt light headed, like I was breaking the surface of water after being submerged for so long. The sensation startled me and I sat up suddenly, looking around.

That's right, I was at the Elric's. The apartment looked just as plain as it had the last time. Holding my head, a soft groan escaped my lips.

"You're awake now?" Alphonse's face stared down at me curiously. He was a mirror image of his brother, they both shared the same golden blond hair and honey colored eyes. Their expressions and personalities were quiet different, but the resemblance was obviously there.

I sat up slowly and he moved back to give me some room. "Yeah, I didn't know I feel asleep. I'm sorry Al."

He shook his head, moving slowly back to his place on the second couch. He hobbled on his feet as if ever step taken caused him some form of pain. It was one of the reasons I had stayed. Edward Elric hadn't returned home from work and his younger brother wasn't feeling well. The younger Elric eased back onto the second couch, curling into blankets until only his head was visible. "Ed still hasn't returned yet." He muttered softly.

"Does he always work this late?" Warm. I was so warm. Looking down the source of the heat came from Ed's red jacket. It had been laid across my upper body like a makeshift blanket. That would explain the scent from my dream.


Shit. My eyes traveled to the nearest wall clock. It was 4am. "What could be keeping…?" the thought trailed off, replaced by a new more sinister one. Every victim of the recent murders came from that damned house. What if he were caught up in it somehow? "Alphonse, I'll go get your brother. Wait here for me, okay?"

"Take care." He turned on his side, disappearing completely beneath his blankets. Perhaps he felt that bad, or maybe he just didn't know about the murderer lurking about. I didn't question it. At the moment my only concern was trying to reach Ed in time. It had be decided that we would move in a few days to capture the culprit. Damn it, don't you just hate when plans change?

Ed awoke to the sound of soft humming. His head felt terribly heavy. His arms had been bound high about his head; his feet barely touched the ground. The last thing he could honestly remember was that woman.

That's right, whatever happened to her anyway? Looking around proved to be a difficult task, his head throbbed something terrible. Just from that sensation alone it was obvious the area would be sensitive to the touch. But what happened?

The room itself was very cold, cold enough to send his breath scattering in white puffs of smoke. He wasn't the only thing left hanging. As far as the eye could see, the area was covered with hanging beef carcasses. They dangled lifelessly from their hooks. The meat was terribly red, so red that it made his head hurt. Directly across from him was a wooden table and a chair. It seemed out of place to have such thing in what could only be a freezer, but he would question it later if he managed to survive.

The humming grew louder accompanied by the steady sound of footsteps. A lone figure sauntered into view. Thick brown hair hung over round shoulders, hiding the face from view. A large tattered dress adorned that slender frame. The fabric hung low on one shoulder, exposing the slightest bit of shoulder.

"You," Ed struggled against his chains, "you were with me in the alley right? What happened? Who are you?"

The figure said nothing at first and then slowly a hand reached up, intertwining fingers in to the brown hair. "I'm the person that controls your life at the moment," the voice started off wispy and then gradually dropped to a smooth tenor, "but you can call me Barry." The wig was pulled effortless from the man's hair, revealing short, dirty blond hair beneath.

Edward froze, his face stricken with silent horror. His captor laughed manically, a sharp abrasive sound that cut through the stillness of the freezer. "Yes, that's right boy! Fear me, it's so much better that way!"

"You can't be serious?" the teen squirmed. "You're the one that's been hunting the girls!"

Barry shrugged, laying various tools out on the small wooden table. "You have a very interesting shape to you. From a distance you looked like a young woman." He sighed, letting his fingers linger on a meat cleaver. "Ah, well, a prostitute is a prostitute I suppose."

Just from watching him a few moments Ed determined a few things. First, the killer was easily distracted as long as he could continue to play the part of the helpless prey. Second, the killer was fairly skilled with knifes. From the looks of his surroundings he was most likely in the freezer of a butcher shop. He just hadn't expected the killer to be a actual, well, butcher. If he survived this he might just give up meat for a while.

"But why do something like that?"

The man paused turning to give him a condescending look. It was a glance usually given when a person asked a immature question. "Why do anything in life?" he giggled.

"Okay, wrong question then. What made you start?"

"But that's the boring part! Who the hell cares why I started." He spun suddenly, swinging the cleaver out towards the young boy's abdomen.

Edward screamed, wiggling his body away from the deadly slice. "Please," he gasped, "if I'm going to die anyway, at least tell me that much!"

The butcher had the nerve to look thoughtful. Leaning against the table he sighed, scratching his head with the dull end of the blade. "I'm a married man, well I was at least. I think it started there. Or perhaps I was wrong. I've always loved cutting things up. So perhaps this started in my childhood."

"What happened?" As long as he could keep calm and distract Barry, he could figure out a way to escape.

"My mom was a single parent, a lovely thing; so lovely that she was paid for her love every night. There were so many men." He smiled.

"So your mother was a prostitute?"

"Oh yes, first before all things, even before her own son she was definitely that."

"That's sad to hear, I'm sorry."

He shook his head. "Oh, no, no; there's no need to apologize. She came home with a drunkard one day and he started to beat her. So I figured, I'd play the valiant son and save her."

"What happened?"

"I hit the bastard with a cast iron skillet." He laughed, looking down at his hands as if they were covered in pure gold. "There was so much blood! But, mother never thanked me. She beat me instead. After all, I never offered her anything but another mouth to feed, or so she said."

"That's awful."

"Yes it is, so I hit her too." He made the movements in mid air, clenching his fist like he was holding the skillet. He would turn to the side as if he were preparing to swing a bat and then let go. After a few giggles he changed positions, holding his hands above his head for a short pause before swinging down repeatedly. "The police thought the man beat my mother and I in turn beat him saving her life. They were so wrong."

"So that's why you started killing?" Edward twisted his wrists. Just a bit more and he could possibly transmute his way out of this.

"Well, ironically when I got older I would kill just to kill. It was like scratching an itch." He smiled again. "Until I met my wife, then for a time I felt truly happy." The butcher giggled again, staring into Ed's stricken face. "But even that didn't last long. Even my sweet Yvette had multiple lovers. That's when I started killing prostitutes. But that's enough talk for now."

He smiled, walking over with the cleaver in hand. Ed watched it carefully like a mouse trapped by a cunning cat. Barry started humming again, laying the blade against his prey's neck. He applied pressure until blood flowed against the smooth metal. It wasn't a lot, just enough to color the blade.

"That's what I want to see." The butcher stared at the life fluid like he'd memorize everything about it in that one instance. "This is truly the best part, don't you think?" he asked, bringing the blade to his lips to lick it clean.

The teen twitched, his heart fluttering in his chest like a trapped thing desperate for escape. Watching Barry lick his blood wasn't the most disgusting thing he had seen, there had been much worse. It was the expression on the man's face as he did it. It was the face of a stricken man; a desperate look of a man that had a terrible addiction.

In that one moment alone Ed also knew that Barry would do more than kill him. That was too easy. The man would do just as his name suggested, butcher. In one last attempt he struggled, maneuvering his wrists for his escape. The bindings that held him to the hook were to tight for him to simply wiggle loose. His only other option was alchemy.

His fingers fumbled, brushing against the cold metal of the hook. Okay, he had the substance he wanted to alter. Now he had to figure out what to do with it. Barry inhaled deeply, a casual smile settling onto his face. Damn, that was never a good sign. Time was running out, he did the only thing that came to mind.

Twisting his wrists so that his hands faced each other he clapped, igniting the catalyst that would ensure his escape. For a spilt second the world seemed to pause. The only thing that mattered was the drum of energy between his palms and the hook that dangled him like the beef carcasses surrounding him.

Ed reached out to touch the hook, forcing that creation energy into the metal. At first there was nothing, the hook gave way, receding into the ceiling. The teen tumbled to the freezer's floor but quickly recovered, stumbling to his feet.

Barry had the grace to look dumbfounded for a second. "A alchemist?" he mused. "And a whore at that; I'll cut you open just to see what makes you tick." He advanced forward, stopping as the spot where the boy hung a second ago shuddered violently. Steaming hot water erupted from the hole as if on cue, raining upon him like hot, furious rain.

The man shrieked, stumbling backwards in the slick mess until his back hit the wooden table. "This changes nothing boy!" he shouted. "I'll find you just like I found the others." He finished the sentence with a maniacal giggle that sent shivers down Ed's spine.

It had been a simple matter to use the hook to connect to one of the water pipes. Heating it up came next. However the heat was just a temporary distraction it would probably not last for long. On top of that, the hot water meeting with the cool air of the freezer created a small problem. A light mist started filling the room. It covered the freezer until it covered everything with a light haze. Barry was right about one thing, this was his freezer, he would know it well enough to find him in no time.

However when it came to that, he wouldn't be unprepared. Ed found a empty hook and transmuted it into a makeshift blade. Anything was better than nothing at the moment. He crept quietly through the many rows of meat, eyes darting back and forth. Every passing shadow made him jump. Barry himself had become virtually silent, making it hard to determine his location. If Ed called out to taunt him, his location could be blown. Of course there was always the option that the butcher already knew his location and was just watching, waiting.

That thought sent his heart rate skyrocketing until the beating in his chest became a almost constant pain. He paused, taking cover behind one of the many hanging pieces of meat to recover. It was simple. He would have to find the exit and escape before he was caught. On the other hand, the exit would probably be where Barry was waiting for him. Either way the freezer was one big trap. Standing still wouldn't help him either. Besides, he was beginning to get too cold, and not just because of the freezer's temperature.

After a moment Edward pushed on, creeping along until he met with one of the cold walls of the freezer. At this point all he had to do was follow the wall until he met with the door. It would be wise to continue to use the carcasses for cover though. With that in mind, he crept carefully in and out of the meat maze. At one point he even dropped down to his knees, trying to catch a glimpse of the butcher's legs. The mist made it almost impossible to distinguish. It would be foolish to attack something based on a assumption. He'd be fucked if it was wrong.

In the distance he could see it; the shape of a door. It seemed so close, but the fear of what may lay in waiting for him made it seem much further. Carefully he began to inch closer, taking small steps only after carefully peeping to make sure the cost was clear.

Despite his good fortune so far, it was hard to completely shake away the feeling of dread. The teen ducked suddenly. Barry's meat cleaver sliced through empty air. Something told him it would cut just as easily through him as it did meat. Rolling to his feet, he stood on wobbly legs. Barry cackled, jabbing the knife in the boy's direction.

Ed would hop back occasionally swinging the cold carcasses into the butcher's path. The man kept coming, alternating between graceful swipes and smooth lunges. He threw his entire weight behind his weapon crying out in glee when one strike left a gash along the boy's arm.

The blond stumbled backwards until his back smacked against the metal door. Barry cornered him, lips curling into a sinister smile. "All this running really has your blood pumping I bet." He chuckled.

It was then that the teen chose to remember the transmuted knife. In his moment of panic it had simply become another part of him; something to cling desperately too. Now that he was cornered, with no easy escape he would use it to its full advantage. His breathing came out in stuttering breaths. Every heavy rise and fall of his chest made the mad man before him stare as if he beheld precious gems. Nothing Barry was thinking about was on the outside though.

That look of hunger had nothing to do with Ed's looks and everything to do with his heart as it beat and pulsed furiously in its ribcage, as well as the blood that flowed in his veins. Barry reared his arm back, eyes wide with excitement.

The only thing Edward could do was raise his weapon and brace for impact; well, that and pray.

She stared down at the shop disdainfully, brushing strains of hair carried by the wind from her round face. "That butcher will be the next pet." She stated more to herself, than to her skinny companion.

"Only because he keeps killing what we have to work with." Came the answer. "He's taking out cheap materials."

"Cheap materials are something that can be easily found Envy." She gently wrapped her arms around her body, just below her breasts. "But this one is different from the women. The Butcher we can send there."

Envy stared at her for a moment. "I suppose so, I don't really see what's so important about that brat anyway." For a moment he let his gaze wonder elsewhere. "He isn't one of us."

"Maybe not, but our orders were clear. Continue to supply what he needs until you're told otherwise."

"And what about the whore Lust?" This time he nodded towards the shop. "Wasn't he important? I don't he can be useful dead."

She simply smiled, eyes gazing off into the distance with vision much sharper than that of a normal human. There were cars racing through the quiet city streets. They grew closer by the second. "I don't think we have to worry about that at all."

Topazia: ...poor Ed...