Ok, out of love for all you reviewers I have a contest for you, the person to get review #75 will get a gift, I will write you a oneshot with your choice of characters in either the Bleach, or FMA world. (I got this idea from on one of the stories I followed on here, and since I was able to receive a wonderful story from the author by reviewing at the right time, I have decided to pass the idea forward and offer it to you guys) I will write pairings or gen, het or yaoi (obviously) and will go as far as M for rating. No abuse, no non-con or anything like that though.
You have to be logged in to review though; if you're not logged in I won't be able to message you to let you know that you've won.
Good luck everyone! And without further chatter, May I present to you chapter 16
The first time it had happened was the night they had tried to bring their mother back, and he had given a limb over for him without thought or concern for himself. He had agreed to make a complete philosophers stone when Lust had taken her claw to Al's blood seal, and although there was the sickening disgust of using people to do it, he had still said yes, although he was happy he had made his decision in the end not to do it. When Scar had found them on the street and blew up the side of Al's armor, he'd bartered a deal with the Ishvalan in order to save his little brother and didn't feel remorse, although he knew he probably should have. He tried to give up his own life in order to get Al back after he had found out what his younger brother had done when Envy had killed him, and still it was the right thing to do. He even destroyed the transmutation circle without care of his body in the training grounds in order to make sure Al wouldn't go where Ed couldn't follow; because that just wasn't the way it was going to be.
Every time it was the same, and every time it felt like the last. Al dying simply wasn't an option. It never would be, and it wasn't now. Without Al he was a hollow shell. A pointless existence.
He stood rigid in the park while Rukia and Orihime talked low and urgently as he tried vainly to piece this puzzle together. If you want your brother back, you know where to find him. That was the words Ichigo had said to him, the message Envy had given him. If they were in Amestris he would've had an idea, or at least options to look. The mansion at Dante's place, the underground city, the fuehrer's office, abandoned warehouse 5. But here? He barely knew this place. He and his brother had only been here for a few short weeks, where as Amestris had been his home for his whole life, had travelled it many times over, knew the landscape and even knew what kind of people would give him the answers if he looked in the right places.
No one here knew Envy so talking to people here felt useless. Not that talking to Mustang's men back home would be much more useful. Well they would have been able to supply him with options and backup for when they found him at least, Ed corrected grudgingly, and Havoc and Hawkeye would both have jumped at the chance to use their shooting skills, not to mention Mustang showing up to steal the show with his flashy flame Alchemy. Thinking about that gave him an unexpected flash of homesickness and he pushed his thumb and finger to his eyes to try and focus.
What he needed to do was get inside Envy's head and figure out where the hell he would have taken Al and Uryuu. The only problem was that Envy was bat ass crazy and would take them anywhere. But now that he thought on it, he would probably want a place that was strategically good for him. Nothing out in the open, that was an automatic cross out. He didn't care about people, he had heard the homunculi putting down humans time and time again, so maybe some public building? No, he decided. People would probably get in the way, and although he wouldn't mind killing a few of them, too much attention might screw up his plan.
No, Envy would want somewhere out of the way so once he got what he wanted he could fuck off as quickly as possible. Outskirts of town then. Or maybe-
His thoughts completely derailed suddenly as his body shook with a strange sensation, and he wasn't sure how to put a name to it. He frowned deeply, absolutely perplexed as to what the hell just happened. The closest thing he could match the feeling to was the first time he tried touching his brother's armored hand after he had become the philosopher's stone. It was overwhelming with power and gone just as fast as when he yanked his hand away from Al.
Deep unease seeped into him, and hard on its heels came utter panic. If this feeling was residual energy let out when Al died… He darted frantically to and fro, unable to really focus on anything. No. no no NO! Envy, if you killed Al… His breath stalled in his lungs, and he could feel his knees almost buckling under the weight of his thoughts.
"Was that hollow bait?" Rukia asked blankly, looking off into the distance.
Orihime came up alongside her looking fearful and pale. "I think it was. Oh no!"
"Hollow bait?" He asked wearily. He had to keep reminding himself that they had never felt the dizzying power of the philosophers stone, never saw Al glowing red through the seams of his armor, never felt the sickening vibration of countless lives in his hands when he had tried to use Alchemy near his little brother.
Rukia nodded. "It's a long story, I'll tell you on the way." She took out a small candy dispenser and popped a single green ball into her mouth. A small shiver of energy could be felt along Ed's side closest to the brunette, and suddenly there were two Rukia's, one wearing the school uniform and the other wearing shinigami robes.
"Chappy, head to Ichigo's and stay safe." She said urgently to the school uniform version of herself. Chappy nodded and took off down the street.
"This day just keeps getting better and better!" Ed grumbled. "You're sure it was this hollow bait and not something else?"
Relief wiped away the tremble of his limbs, washing over him like cool spring water. Al was alright, and that made everything bearable again. His thoughts cleared somewhat before his frown returned. "Why the hell would anyone want use hollow bait at a time like this?"
Rukia looked puzzled. "I don't know, but we have a direction where they might be now, or at least know the person who snapped it, and as far as I know there's only one person in all of Karakura that knows how to make them. It's Quincy technology." She pointed with a delicate finger towards the industrial area of Karakura on the other side of the river, near the outskirts of town. Ed had only been there once before with Ichigo and it was at night time then, so saying he knew where he was going was an exaggeration to say the least, but if Rukia's senses were sharp enough to sense the direction, then maybe the closer they got the better her senses would get in picking it up.
The redhead slowed and looked worriedly into the sky overhead. "They're starting to show up."
Rukia looked in the same direction and Ed followed their line of sight to a small speck high up in the clouds where a black dot of something marred the pearl grey-blue color of the overhead sky. "Orihime, you should go to the shoten and see about that map." Rukia said, turning to the other girl. "Ed and I will head towards the direction of the bait. People might be showing up there in need of healing so it's probably best you go there for now."
"Rukia, you know I can help! I can fight too." She argued earnestly.
Rukia placed a small hand on Orihime's shoulder. "I know you can, but your healing powers are much more important right now. Please?" She asked. Orihime's face fell slightly but nodded nonetheless.
Ed stepped up alongside Rukia, giving Orihime an encouraging smile. "I'll also need that map, and once your there you can call Rukia to let me know where the hell we're going."
"I guess you're right." Orihime agreed, albeit reluctantly. "Be careful you two!" She gave both of them a searching look before running off across the park towards the shoten.
As Orihime took off out of earshot into the distance he turned back to Rukia. "Her powers involve shields, and Tessai has enough knowledge to be able to heal people up in a matter of minutes. Why didn't you ask her to stay?"
"Sometimes you're too quick for your own good." Rukia mumbled, flashing him a quick rueful smile. She glanced back at Orihime's retreating back for the second time that day, a saccharine smile gracing her lips that was just a little bit sad. "She's strong, and has good fighting skills. But she doesn't have the heart of a warrior. Not like us. Her gifts lie elsewhere."
"Not like us." Ed echoed quietly. Her words took him back to another time, another place where a young black and pink haired woman, broken and lost stood before him on the steps of a false god's fallen temple. She became someone that was strong in both will and hope, with the ability to change her entire town and had done it without a single violent action. "I think I know what you mean."
Rukia turned towards him and the smile faded, replaced by something harder. She drew her sword in one smooth, fluid motion, the afternoon light glinting white sparks along the blade. "This won't be pretty Ed, and it's not going to be easy getting there."
Ed clapped his hand, creating his sword from his automail hand. "Tell me something I don't already know."
Rukia stepped towards him until they were bare inches apart and touched the side of his face softly, her thumb tracing the side of his cheek before falling away. She looked like there were so many things she wanted to say, and Ed could see a myriad of emotions flitting across her features: affection, fear, worry, and finally determination. He wanted to say so many things to her right then and there too, things like 'I wish you didn't have to fight' or 'I don't want you to get hurt' or maybe even 'I'm sorry for bringing all this shit down on you' but the words stuck in his throat, and in the end simply nodded at her. Somehow she understood, showing him with a soft lifting of one side of her mouth in a wry, understanding smile. Words were too much for right now, they would save them for later.
"Let's go." She said softly in the end, and as one they turned towards the hollows.
Chad stepped up to Uryuu's door, pulling the little key he had been given on a strictly "only in case of emergencies" basis and unlocked the door, Ichigo standing close behind him.
"You have a key for his apartment?" Ichigo asked, a single orange eyebrow rising in question. His voice dripped with meaning and Chad's face warmed a little more than he had expected. He gave a half shrug and placed the key back in his pocket.
"Just in case." He replied, echoing the exact words Uryuu had said to him when he had been given the key, which in all honesty was given to him even before he and Uryuu had become anything more than… What they were now.
"You two are moving way too fast." Ichigo shook his head and pushed past Chad, opening the door and stepping through.
Chad's little smile froze on his lips before fading away completely.
The apartment was a complete disaster. Sand and water mixed together, making a muddy pool over the entire kitchen floor. The table was knocked to the side, an impressive two inch burn mark on the face of it. The couch looked akin to swiss cheese, the living room was littered with broken glass, the wall looked dented and one of the windows had been shattered.
If he had been worried about Uryuu before, it was nothing compared to how he felt now. He knew Uryuu didn't need any protecting, and it was one of the things he liked so much about him, but it didn't ease the tight knot his stomach had become.
Ichigo gave a low whistle at the mess, turning in a slow circle to assess the damage of the entire place. "I never thought I'd see the day where Uryuu's apartment looked messier than my room."
Chad only nodded sadly, not trusting himself to speak around the tightness in his throat quite yet. He looked over everything once more, trying to see if there were any traces of Uryuu being injured. He couldn't see anything of any real use, except for when he stepped into the tiny bathroom and found a towel with dried, rust colored stains on it.
"Found this." Chad said as he stepped back into the living room. He held the item carefully in his large hands, cradling it as if it were something precious. I promised Abuelo I would use these hands to protect…. He reminded himself, because at that moment all he wanted to do was find that creature and kill him, and not out of protection but cold, hard revenge for putting him and the ones he loved through all this worry and pain.
Ichigo looked from him to the cloth, then back to him again. "We'll find him." He said quietly, and Chad nodded again, swallowing down the dull, hollow feeling inside.
He and Ichigo suddenly turned toward the window, looking out to the windy late afternoon day.
"What the hell?" Ichigo said. Chad knew the feeling, it was the same one he felt the day his powers manifested, the day he saved Ichigo's sister from the hollow he could barely see and Ichigo's dad had to heal him up in their little clinic on the bottom floor of their house.
"That IDIOT!" Ichigo yelled, stepping closer to the window and scowling for all he was worth. "What the hell is he even thinking! I'm gonna ring his stupid Quincy neck for this."
"We know where to go now at least." Chad replied quietly. He placed the towel on the coffee table, turning fully to Ichigo who looked as pissed off as he had ever seen him. A thin veil to cover up the worry and concern he knew Ichigo had for his family and friends.
"Yeah, and we're gonna have to fight an army of hollows just to get to him."
"We can take them." He lifted his arm, giving his friend a thumbs up. Ichigo rolled his eyes. "And besides, it's a start. C'mon." Chad closed his eyes and let his arm change into the armor and that strange dark feeling surrounded him again, just like all the other times. When he had originally figured out his ability it was hard at first to get it to work, but the more he used it the easier it became, until it was as natural as breathing in and out. A part of him he always had and never realized. He wondered silently if this was what Ichigo felt when he put on his hollow mask, or when Renji went bankai. Did they have that moment of strangeness that melted into rightness when their powers manifested too?
He looked over at Ichigo. They never really had to say anything to each other in the quiet moments just before a battle, which was good for Chad. He wasn't really all that good at saying things, he liked to let his actions define him instead. Explaining things meant people could misunderstand, doing however, never left the other person in confusion.
He climbed out Uryuu's broken second story window and landed on the ground, his friend flashing beside him at the same time. They broke into a run, Ichigo's zanpakuto and his arm at the ready.
Envy stood slack mouthed in the semi darkness of the warehouse, watching the creature that just tore through the roof with its razor sharp claws defy gravity and walk upside down on the inside of the ceiling. It looked like a dog of some sort, black and large though it was and more like the size of a huge wolf. It sniffed at the air with its white washed, bone-like nose before jumping and landing sideways on the wall nearest him to howl inarticulately towards the boys, its sharp teeth shining eerily in the half light.
"If you don't let us go we're going to die!" Al shouted, his voice cracking on the last word.
"Not happening." Envy growled. If he were to let them go who knows what kind of crap they would try to pull. But the mention of hollows – whatever the hell those things were – had Envy trying to think of a way to keep these boys intact while still getting the Fullmetal pipsqueak to give Hoenheim over without any further problems. Doing that while this thing hung off the side of the wall however, was becoming more and more of a problem.
Without warning the creature lunged towards the humans tied up in the centre of the room, screeching again with its cries ringing off the walls, this time in triumph. If it were any other time, any other place Envy wouldn't even have batted an eye, and would have watched in mild amusement at the humans getting devoured. But this wasn't any other time. It was here, now, in a place where Hoenheim was practically within reach, so close he could taste it, as sweet as revenge could ever be. It was the end he'd been dreaming of for countless years, decades, centuries even. There was no way some pathetic little monster was going to get in the way of that.
Envy cursed loudly and jumped between the bone-masked creature and the boys. Instinctively he changed form from Dr. Marcoh back to himself with purple eyes, long hair and black clothes. He also changed his uninjured right arm to match Greed's shield. Although it wasn't as strong as the other homunculi, it was still strong enough to do some serious damage. He pushed at the creature hard enough for it to slam back into the wall. The dog like monster collided with the thick concrete and let out a pained squeak as the mask shattered into tiny pieces that faded into nothingness, its body doing the same only a second after.
"What the fuck?" The more time he spent here, the weirder shit got. He turned his arm back into his own, completely baffled at what he just saw. "What was that?"
"Haven't you been listening at all?" The Quincy kid replied, glaring hatefully towards him, "They're hollows, they're like you, they aren't human, and thanks to you the entire town is in danger."
"They don't look like homunculi at all." Envy retorted, looking suspiciously at the spot where the creature had disappeared. There wasn't even a burn mark or a dent in the wall, nothing to prove this creature had existed at all. How the hell could this even happen?
"Different worlds, different monsters." The kid shook his head to try and get his hair out of his eyes, failing miserably. "That was only one, and because of what you've done there's going to be a whole lot more."
Al stared at him imploringly. "Which is why you need to let us go."
"Screw that." Envy spat. "The more you ask me, the less likely I am to do it. You ever thought of that?"
"And what's that going to accomplish?" The Quincy sneered. "In a few minutes this room will be flooded with them. It would only take one to kill us, and there's only one of you."
Envy turned to him in frustration. "Fine then. Tell me how to turn it off."
The Quincy looked on in absolute disbelief, and he opened and closed his mouth a few times before any sound came out. "Turn it-? This isn't some video game; once it's been done it can't be undone!"
"The hell it can't. Tell me!" Envy snapped and took a few long strides towards the boys, deadly intent written in the hard lines of his body.
Al squirmed in his seat, looking like he was trying to get out again. "He's telling the truth. Why can't you see that?"
"If he made it then there's gotta be an antidote or something."
"No antidote, no cure, no nothing." The brunette said in low, hard tones as he looked him in the eye. "You're in over your head Envy, and it's all your fault."
"Bullshit! You skinny little asswipe, tell me how to undo it." This wasn't possible. The kid had to be lying. Like Alchemy, if something could be done, it could also be undone, all it took was someone who was willing enough or scared enough to do it, and if the former wasn't possible, than the latter option would be a good plan B. Envy had all sorts of ways to scare people.
He stomped towards him, changing the shape of his arm so that he was holding a sword, long and deadly sharp. He took a handful of black hair and yanked his head back none too gently, pressing the blade to his pale, vulnerable neck, just enough for him to feel it. Blue eyes widened in fear, but he kept his mouth a firm line saying nothing.
"You need me, remember?" Were his only words. Envy brought his face close to the Quincy and smiled.
"Technically, I only need him." He replied with a nudge toward Al.
"Behind you!" Al shouted. He pivoted and came face to face with yet another creature, this one almost human like with thick muscled arms and horns on its mask. Only through the training he had gone through with Dante and the multiple centuries he had been alive made him fast enough to avoid the snapping mouth and angry fists of the monster. The sword in his hand became a useful weapon and he slashed hard at the hollow, completely severing its head and part of its shoulder from the rest of it.
Once again the creature disappeared, and Envy shook his head. This wasn't right. This wasn't how creatures were supposed to die. There was always something left behind, even he knew that. Without there being something, where was the proof that it existed at all? Where was the body, the shell in which they were housed? It made no fucking sense at all. Even homunculi left something behind.
"Make them go away." Envy growled, his back still turned from the boys so all he could see was the dull grey concrete walls surrounding him, hear the far distant howls of the creatures that were just like this one, possibly coming closer to where they were now.
"Uryuu already told you, you can't-"
"I said MAKE THEM GO AWAY!" He screamed. He slammed his fist into the ground, denting the floor beneath him.
"It doesn't feel right killing your own kind, does it?"
Envy spun around, glaring towards the Quincy. "They aren't like me."
"You never saw what you looked like after you came through the gate, did you?" Al Asked. There was something about the way he asked it, something in his voice, the way he looked at him and the stillness in his body that made something inside shiver and crack.
"It doesn't matter what I looked like! I can make myself into anything I want!" He shouted back. To prove his point he shifted bodies, changing form from one to the next, using the many faces he had chosen to wear over the centuries he had lived, finally settling back into his usual form.
Al still hadn't moved, and his piercing gaze was so much that Envy couldn't even return it. "Changing your face doesn't change who you are Envy."
"Shut up! I'm not like them!" He cried. And it was true, because he was nothing like them. They disappeared, which meant they were nothing, and damn it, Envy was something. He was a homunculus. He was stronger than humans; better too, able to live without the constant shadow of death plaguing his doorstep. He had the agility and experience of many of them put together from the long years of his life. He didn't have to deal with petty things like attachments and friendships. He didn't need them. He had seen humans fall prey to those emotions time and time again, become weak and pathetic because of it.
He was stronger, better, smarter. These little fools had no idea what they were talking about. He was about to tell them exactly that, but the sound of breaking glass shattered his thoughts, and he turned to watch another creature climb through the broken window high up on the far wall.
He would kill all of them. He decided it then and there as he watched the thing scramble into the room and land hard on the floor as it prowled towards the boys. If they were all gone, then no one could compare him to these stupid non-existant creatures. He would still be Envy, the greatest homunculi of them all, and nothing would be able to change that.
He created the sword again, and with bared teeth and a feral growl, he attacked the creature before him.