I've been reading Fullmetal Alchemist fanfiction for quite some time now, and finally decided to write one of my own. Please excuse me if the characters seem OOC. It's my first time, so I'm just getting the hang of it. If you're wondering where the idea came from, imagine getting two feet of snow and being stranded at home with nothing but a computer and a TV to occupy your time. So what do I do? Write fanfiction of course!
I actually had no idea what was going to happen with this story when I started writing it. I just thought, "Hey! I could have Edward try to find his way through a storm!" And then I thought, "But why would he be going through a storm? Hmm, how about to find Al? But then…why would he be trying to find Al? Hmm how about a train accident?" And so, the plot sort of…wrote itself. By the way, if any of you are wondering why I haven't updated my Rurouni Kenshin fanfic yet, believe me, I'm working on it! Look at my profile for further details.
Disclaimer: I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist or any of the characters used in this fanfiction. They are all property of their respective owners.
Written by: ZukoFlame
Edward knew the cold wasn't good for him.
He knew that if he continued much further, his automail ports would freeze, and the frostbitten skin where the metal attached itself would be permanently scarred. He'd heard of people's skin turning black when the weather got this cold. People with frostbite like that would usually have to get the limb amputated. Edward wondered briefly if it would be possible to remove more of his shoulder than had already been lost.
"AL!" His voice had gone hoarse long ago, but either he hadn't noticed, or simply didn't care. He pushed his vocal cords to their limits, his shouts now full of desperation and verging on maniacal.
He should stop. Find shelter. Anything. But he couldn't. Not now.
Using a great amount of effort, he lifted his head, fighting against the strong winds that were pushing up against his small form. He pushed onward through the sea of white, his eyes mere slits as he tried to protect them from the relentless snow that slammed into his face. Snowflakes had crystallized onto his eyelashes, and his hair had frozen in a haphazard way. Some of the strands from his bangs had been plastered onto his cheeks with snow, and his braid whipped around in the air like a wild horse's mane, the blonde sheen almost completely shrouded by a thick coating of white.
It was so cold.
Edward attempted to pull his coat closer to himself, but his flesh hand had gone almost completely numb. He was also shaking terribly, which further decreased his coordination. After a little while, he managed to finally get his fingers curled around the red fabric, and with a stiff jerk, burrowed further into the cloak. His lower abdomen was throbbing dully again, but that soon would pass once the cold penetrated enough into his shirt to numb the pain. Edward wasn't sure if he should find that as a consolation or not.
But then again, he wasn't quite sure of anything at the moment. Edward dipped his head, trying to keep his hood from being pushed back by the wind. He'd heard somewhere that the fastest way to lose heat was through your head. Although, he doubted that was the worst of his problems when he had two large pieces of metal attached to his skin.
"ALPHONSE!" His voice was screeching now, but it could barely be heard above the howling wind that beat at his eardrums and drowned out everything else until it was all just one loud unbearable noise. He closed his mouth and tried to swallow, but his throat was raw and absolutely burning. He winced when he finally forced a bit of moisture down his throat, hoping that in time that too, would numb from the cold.
He opened his mouth to call for his brother once more, but all that came out was a strangled whisper, the sound resembling that of an old man struggling to speak his final words. He tried once more, but his voice did not return. "Al," he managed to choke out before biting his trembling bottom lip. He clamped his eyes shut for a few seconds before opening them up again and taking a deep shuddering breath. He had to calm down. He took another deep breath, attempting to clear the fog in his head.
Edward blinked once, twice, but the haze in his vision didn't clear up. Perhaps he'd been screaming so much that he hadn't been able to take in enough oxygen. It was a ridiculous thought, but he supposed that it was possible. Edward took three deep breaths, his lungs filling up with the freezing air. That seemed to help a little, and as he took a look around, he began to notice some red dots that contrasted sharply with the snow around him. Red dots…Edward squinted his eyes to focus, finding that a trail of red was following him though the snow. Odd. He thought on it for a moment, his sluggish brain working to make sense of what he was seeing.
"Oh," he mouthed when realization hit him, a stupefied look on his face. So he was injured then. He hadn't felt anything, so the cold must have been numbing the pain. He looked down at his trembling body, hoping to find the source of the injury, but couldn't see much except for his snow packed cloak and boots buried underneath a sea of white. Well, that didn't matter now. If he was injured, then fine, but he had to find Al.
"Al…" He was somewhere out here in this blizzard, perhaps buried underneath all of the snow, helpless. What if the snow wiped away his blood seal? Edward hugged himself even tighter, barely suppressing a shudder at the thought. Edward had to find him before that happened. If his brother died, it would be all his fault. Oh God…Al…please…please be okay. I'm so sorry…Edward bit down on his chapped lips and pushed himself forward, straining his eyes to look for any sign of his brother's suit of armor.
"Are you sure you didn't see him?" Colonel Roy Mustang stood at the scene of the train accident, watching the rescue team pull the passengers out from the overturned train.
"I'm sure. No sight of any short blond-haired kid. Let alone one wearing a red cloak." Mustang frowned, his brow creasing with worry.
"Thank you. You'll let me know if you see anything?"
"Of course." And with that the conductor went on his way, going to speak to some of the other passengers. Roy stuck his hands in his pockets and looked out at the blizzard from underneath the large shelter he'd transmuted—a simple cave-like structure he'd created from the side of the mountain—and sighed, his breath coming out in a visible puff.
"Colonel!" Alphonse called from where he was leaned up against the side of the makeshift cave. Unfortunately for Alphonse, although his blood seal had remained intact, the bottom half of his right leg had been crushed in the fall, rendering him virtually immobile. "Did they see anything? Anything at all?" Mustang turned to the worried suit of armor and shook his head slowly, looking back at the hectic scene before him. Alphonse made a small worried sound that sounded similar to a whimper, then followed Mustang's gaze. Although they were sheltered from the storm, the cold really wasn't helping the situation at all. But as soon as Mustang had arrived at the scene, he had made sure to start a fire to keep the rescuers warm while they worked to pull the few remaining passengers out from the wreck and into the shelter he'd transmuted.
Truth be told, it would've been a whole lot worse if it hadn't been for Edward's quick thinking. The train they'd been on had struck a patch of ice on its way up a steep mountain pass, and had temporarily stalled. Unfortunately, as the passengers waited for the crew to fix the problem, the train had slowly begun its way backward, the wheels grinding on the tracks as the brakes attempted to keep them from rolling. But it was too cold, and the brakes had frozen, their only function being to slow the train down from its inevitable descent. What was worse—there was a sharp turn about halfway down the mountain, and as the train picked up speed, it became evident that there was no way it was going to stay on the tracks as it made that turn.
It didn't take long for the passengers to realize that the train was going to derail, and almost immediately, Edward was out the window and onto the roof, followed quickly by his brother. Edward had used his alchemy to transmute the metal on the roof and bend it down the sides of the train and onto the wheels, forming an imitation brake. Alphonse followed his brother's example and did the same, and together they'd stopped the train from flying off the side of the mountain. However, the train had been moving too fast to stop entirely, and so had fallen over on its side as it screeched to a halt. The strong jolt had sent Edward and his brother careening off of the roof, both of them going in opposite directions. Alphonse hadn't gone very far from the train, but the same couldn't be said for Edward. Roy suggested that perhaps Edward had fallen down into the ravine, something that the rescue team had investigated. What the team had found was a ripped piece of red cloth and to their horror, a few spots of blood, but no Edward. There was evidence that he'd climbed out of the ravine and was on the move, but from what Roy could tell, he was going in the completely opposite direction.
"I'm going to look for him." Roy looked defiantly at the blizzard, eyes narrowed. "At the rate they're going, the search team won't get to him in time." Especially with his automail. It so cold…
"I'm coming with you." Alphonse stated, balling his leather hands into fists. "Colonel, please fix my armor." Mustang turned towards the suit of armor and shook his head sharply.
"I'm sorry but I can't do that."
"It is not up for debate," Roy said sharply, taking Alphonse slightly aback. "Edward is the only one who can do that type of transmutation properly, and I will not risk doing it myself."
"But sir, I would be a great help!" Alphonse pleaded, "You know I can't feel the cold, and I don't get tired!"
"I'm not doing it Alphonse." Al was silent for a few beats, struggling with what he knew was common sense and his own conflicting emotions.
"But…but Brother could be—"
"Alphonse." Roy put his hand on the boy's armored shoulder, causing the younger Elric to raise his head and look into the colonel's eyes. "I'm going to find him." And with that one simple statement, Alphonse suddenly felt at ease, despite the horrible odds they were up against. The colonel had promised, and Alphonse believed him.
"Lieutenant," Mustang turned towards Lieutenant Hawkeye, who had been standing afar off speaking to one of the members of the search party. At hearing the colonel, she turned towards him with a salute. It had been she who'd been the first to notify him about the accident. It had been a relatively slow day at Headquarters, but once Hawkeye had received the distress signal from the overturned train and learned that it had in fact been the very train that the Elrics had been riding on, she hastily told the Colonel. Roy outwardly appeared more angry than worried about Edward—seeing as how he'd decided to travel in the middle of a snowstorm—but Riza knew better. She knew that the colonel genuinely cared about the boys' welfare, and so she had suggested that they see the situation for themselves—a suggestion that Mustang gratefully took. The two had left Headquarters immediately, and had arrived at the scene of the accident not too long ago, hearts sinking when they realized that although Alphonse was relatively fine, Edward was nowhere to be found.
"I'm going out on my own to find Fullmetal. Please make sure that the passengers get out of here safely." She frowned at that before speaking.
"If I may say so sir, going out in this blizzard is not advisable. You have a better chance of getting lost than of finding him." Mustang sighed and dug his hands further into his pockets.
"I know that." But if he dies out here…I'll never forgive myself. "But if anyone of us were more equipped to deal with this weather, it would be me. At least I can provide some warmth in this freezing hell-hole." Hawkeye gave him a sympathetic look and then nodded solemnly, knowing that the boy meant a lot more to Roy than he would ever care to admit. Over the past year or so, Roy had come to be a bit protective over the two boys, especially Edward, always calling to make sure he'd reached his destination, and having Edward personally report to him after every mission. It was Roy's own way of showing that he cared, despite the rather insensitive way he normally treated his most hot-headed subordinate.
"Be careful sir." Mustang knew the meaning behind those words, and it was much more than Hawkeye would ever be willing to say out loud. Please come back safely. None of us want to lose you. Mustang attempted what he thought was a reassuring smile, and Hawkeye returned the sentiment, her smile looking more worried than anything else.
"I will." Then with a salute, he exited the cave and into the clutches of the storm—the wind whipping at his face and making his eyes water. If anything's happened to you…I swear. You'll have one pissed off Colonel Roy Mustang to deal with when we get back. But in spite of Roy's attempts to feign annoyance, he was in fact absolutely terrified. Roy could only hope to the God he didn't believe in that the kid was still alive.
Edward wasn't sure how much longer he was going to last in this cold. From the time he'd been thrown off the train to the time when he'd finally come to, the storm had picked up tremendously, and the snow that he had not too long ago been admiring was now stinging his cheeks and stealing what little warmth was left in his body, all the while making the visibility drop to no more than an arms length.
A surprisingly strong gust of wind blew, and he hunched over in a feeble attempt to shield himself from the cold that was eating through his clothes and biting into his flesh. He tripped on a stone that had been hidden under the snow, and with limbs too numb to move in time to break his fall, he fell face first in the snow, suddenly feeling a pain in his lower abdomen.
"Al," he breathed, not quite knowing what else to do.
He lay face down in the snow for a while, the howling wind whipping around him, blowing off his hood. Once snow began to pile up around his ears and neck and the cold became too much to bare, he found the strength to push himself up onto his knees, pulling his hood back on. Then there was that dull throbbing in his abdomen again. He supposed he should take a look at that. With stiff fingers, he pulled back his cloak, gasping as the cold seeped through. But as he looked at what had been the cause of the pain, his eyes widened and his breath hitched in his throat.
Oh God oh God oh God oh God oh God…no…oh God no…
He'd been impaled. Completely. By a piece of metal. A freaking piece of metal.
Edward swore as he inspected the wound further, panic welling up inside of him. It was a relatively thin rod—most likely had flown off the train when it overturned— and it only stuck out about three inches from where it had buried itself inside him. No wonder it had remained so conveniently hidden underneath his cloak. "Damn…" I…I should probably pull it out. I don't think I could bleed to death in this cold. He wrapped his trembling fingers around the offending rod, tugging at it slightly. The pain was excruciating, but he bit down hard on his lip to keep himself from screaming. The rod hadn't moved any further out from his abdomen. "No…" It was frozen. The rod had officially frozen onto the surrounding skin, making it impossible to take out unless he practically ripped it out of his flesh. Even in Edward's slightly delirious state, he knew that doing so would be a bad idea.
A very bad idea.
Taking a deep breath, he pushed himself onto his feet, bracing himself against the wind that threatened to push him back onto the ground. He wrapped the cloak tightly around himself again, his breathing shallow and erratic. Gotta keep going…He forced one foot in front of the other, trying to push the knowledge that there was a piece of metal sticking out of stomach to the back of his mind. It wouldn't do to start panicking now. He had to find Al. God…he hoped Al was alright. He pulled in his breath for one final attempt to call his brother's name, but his voice was completely gone, and the only sound that managed to escape his mouth was a rasp no louder than a whisper.
Angry tears began to cloud up his vision but he quickly blinked them away. Keep moving…just keep—huh? Edward almost fell over when his automail leg refused to bend. No. No way. Edward tried jiggling the leg, but the joints refused to move. No freaking way. Edward tried and tried again, frantically trying to get the prosthetic limb to obey his commands. But it was no use. His automail wasn't moving. "Damn it!" The curse didn't do much to express his anger and frustration, for it barely came out as more than a whisper. This only served to anger him even more, and he found the strength to pull his left leg forward manually using his arms. He wasn't sure how long his right arm was going to last before it too shut down, so he couldn't waste any time. The adrenaline rush from his anger pulled him forward for about a minute, but it eventually died out, leaving Edward panting and shivering.
Why was he so tired all of a sudden? He fell to his knees in the snow, curling in on himself to preserve some warmth. It was soon a struggle to simply keep his eyes open, and he found that he was he wasn't shivering much anymore. After another minute of struggling, he finally collapsed in a red heap. God, he was so tired. If only he could rest…
"No!" he croaked, fumbling to push himself off the ground, but lacking the strength to do so. "I can't…I can't die…" His hushed voice choked with sobs as he fell back to the ground, unable to hold himself up any longer. "Al…" He managed to say before his amber eyes drifted shut and he fell into unconsciousness.
"Fullmetal!" Roy called into the storm with his hands cupped around his mouth, hoping that his voice could be heard over the raging blizzard. "Fullmetal!" Roy drew the word out as long as he could, shouting at the top of his lungs. Seriously, where was that kid? Roy was trying very hard not to start panicking, but it had been fifteen minutes since he'd gone out in the storm, and he'd seen no sign of Edward. Of course he really hadn't been expecting to find any, seeing as how the snow drifts were doing a very good job of covering his own footprints, how much more for someone who had already passed by this way.
Roy should probably head back. The cold was starting to get to him, and he knew that becoming hypothermic would certainly not help in trying to find Edward. It was true that he had an advantage out here in the cold—being able to warm himself up every once in a while—but even that he couldn't do too often, for fear of getting his gloves wet, rendering them useless. He should let the rescue team handle it. They were obviously more skilled at these types of things. And yet…the stubborn pride in Roy wouldn't allow him to give in. He'd promised Al that he'd bring Edward back, and by God he was going to do it.
Roy squinted his eyes to see through the snow that swirled around him, the snowflakes moving so fast that they blended together into one moving white mass. This was not good. Edward could be buried underneath all of the snow. Roy knew he wasn't going to find the kid this way. He could try melting the snow surrounding him in one huge blast, but if Edward was indeed buried underneath it all, the blast would surely kill him. So that option's out. What next? Roy thought sarcastically, although inside he was absolutely terrified.
"Fullmetal!" Roy tried again, the only response he received being the whistling of the wind. "Damn it Fullmetal, where the hell are you!" Roy kicked at the snow, the object of his frustration, only to lose his balance, the wind pushing him over. He fell face first into the snow and cursed again, raising himself up onto his knees. Just as he was about to stand to his full height and resume he search, he froze, eyes widening in horror as he took in the sight of a piece of red cloth sticking out in the snow. There was only one person he knew who wore that shade of red, and only one person stupid enough to be out here in this blizzard. "Fullmetal…oh God…" He trembled as the possibility that Edward was dead underneath all this snow passed through his mind, but he quickly dismissed himself of those thoughts and began to frantically wipe off the snow that had almost completely buried his subordinate. Once he'd gotten enough of it off to see Edward's face, his heart leapt to his throat and he swallowed hard. Edward wasn't breathing. "No," Roy rasped, gathering the boy into his arms and pulling him out of the snow entirely. He held him to his chest and put the boy's face against his neck, hoping to feel at least a small exhalation of air on his skin. Roy waited, holding his breath, and then, he felt it. It was very slight, but it was there. Oh thank God. Roy heaved a sigh of relief, closing his eyes for a few moments. He's not dead. Roy huddled his burden against his chest, unable to contain a small yelp at how cold the child was. Wait a minute. There was blood in the ravine. He must be injured. Roy searched the boy quickly for any sign of injury, something peculiar catching his eye. What the…Was that a piece of metal sticking out of Edward's shirt? No way…Roy lifted the boy's shirt to get a closer look, then cursed furiously.
"Damn it Fullmetal! Only you could manage to not only find yourself out in the middle of a blizzard, but manage to impale yourself as well! You idiot!" Roy's heart seemed to be beating out of his chest as he quickly examined the wound, coming to the same terrible conclusion that Edward had. There was no way he could take it out while it was frozen like that. Roy had to get Edward to shelter, and fast. There was no way Roy could risk the trek back to the site of the train wreck. Edward would surely be dead by then. Roy swallowed hard at that thought, then took a quick look around. No caves. Well, he'd just have to make one then.
Roy walked up to the cliff face and carefully set Edward down next to it, taking off his brown coat and laying it over the child. Mineral alchemy wasn't his specialty at all, but he still knew how to do the basics. He reached into his pocket, hand trembling from the cold, and took out a piece of chalk. He brushed back some of the snow to expose the rock, only hoping that the chalk would still write despite the moisture on the stone. He drew the basic circle on the stone, but it was shaky, due to his shivering hands. He wouldn't be able to draw it any better than that, so he could only hope that the circle would still work. He then took a deep shuddering breath, and placed his hands on the array, letting the alchemy do its work.
He was warm. That was the first thing that Edward noticed as his mind began to slowly come back to life. Was he dead then? Edward had always thought that when he died, it would be as if he were sleeping for all eternity. So then, why wasn't he sleeping? As his mind began to whir with these questions, he became aware of a sharp pain in his abdomen, as well as a dull throbbing in his shoulder and right above his knee. Okay, so Edward was fairly certain that one didn't feel pain in death either. So that meant that he was probably still alive. He moaned softly, opening his eyes halfway, blearily trying to take in the scene around him. It was all a bit blurry, but he could see that he was next to a blazing fire, and definitely not buried underneath a foot of snow. He blinked a few times to clear up his vision, noticing that he was in fact inside of a cave, swathed in blankets.
Curled up next to someone.
Next to a man.
Edward's eyes widened in shock and with a yell he quickly pushed himself away from his dozing superior, waking him up in the process.
"What the hell Mustang?!" Edward yelled, but putting his hand to his throat when his words came out as nothing more than a croak. Mustang blinked his eyes in confusion for a few moments, then looked up Edward, who appeared to be fuming. It took all of Roy's self control not to jump up and hug the boy who had not too long ago been in the clutches of extreme hypothermia. Despite this, Roy quickly put on an air of annoyance and folded his hands against his chest. He wouldn't let Edward know how worried he'd been.
"Well excuse me for saving your sorry behind, but you would have frozen to death without me giving you some of my body heat. Believe me, it was not something I enjoyed. But if it weren't for me you'd be one frozen, not to mention dead alchemist. Although I can't say I was expecting your gratitude." Mustang smirked, but his smile quickly faded when he saw that Edward wasn't looking at him at all. He was staring out into the blizzard, a lost look on his face.
"I…I really almost died, didn't I," Edward whispered, slowly turning to look at Roy, the harsh reality of the situation slowly sinking in.
"Yeah…you really had me scared for a while there." Mustang looked solemnly at Edward, whose eyes widened in shock. The last person he'd ever think of being worried about him was Mustang. Sure, the colonel always seemed to be concerned about his welfare—whether or not he arrived at the place he was traveling to, for example—but Edward had always attributed that to the fact that Mustang was responsible for him, and so was really just trying to save his own hide from the higher-ups. But now…here he was, safe, warm, and most of all, alive, all because of the colonel. Al would surely—
"Al!" Edward stood up with a start, but quickly doubled over in pain, clutching the spot where he'd been impaled.
"Fullmetal!" Roy rushed over to Edward and forced him back down onto the makeshift bed—composed of his coat—a worried look in his eyes. "Keep still. You're in no condition to be going anywhere." Edward panted and held his abdomen.
"But Al…I have to find him…" Roy sighed heavily.
"Al is fine."
"He—he is? You found him?"
"Yes, he was found not too far from the scene of the wreck. He's perfectly fine." It would be better if I didn't tell him about Alphonse's damaged armor just yet. He'll find out soon enough. Edward let out the breath he didn't know he was holding and sank back down on the ground, closing his eyes as relief washed over him.
"But unfortunately, the same can't be said for you. Are you aware that you were impaled? I don't even want to know how the hell you managed to do that Fullmetal…I managed to get the metal rod out and wrap up the wound pretty well, but you'll still need medical attention. Your automail ports were also frost bitten, unsurprisingly." Roy looked out towards the storm, seeing that it was finally starting to let up. "Once this storm passes by we'll head back to the tracks. Another train should be waiting there to take us home by then."
"Mmm." Edward closed his eyes snuggled up into the colonel's coat, breathing in deeply. It smelled faintly of mint…and aftershave. It was a strange combination, but it was the colonel, and Edward couldn't help but feel safe.
Mustang sighed, a slight smile on his face when he saw that Edward seemed to be drifting off to sleep. "Sleep well, you little twit." Mustang said with a smirk, leaning up against the cave wall, feeling absolutely exhausted. Today, he'd almost lost Edward. And for the colonel, it was a frightening thing. There had always been the risk of Edward losing his life—the kid found himself in the hospital often enough—but it hadn't seemed as real as it had today. He'd almost lost Edward. His hot-headed, loud-mouthed, most disrespectful subordinate had almost breathed his last because of a snowstorm. A freaking snowstorm. Roy chuckled darkly at the irony of it. A boy who'd gone up against homunculi and serial killers almost losing his life because he got stuck in a blizzard. It was too much.
And yet, as the blizzard began to die down and the fire waned, Colonel Roy Mustang found himself crying silently with head bowed and hands folded over his chest, the strong composure that he'd built up during the day finally snapping like a string drawn too tight. He'd almost lost Edward. But he hadn't.
And that made Roy feel like the luckiest man alive.