- Annie -
. p r o l o g u e .
This Is the Way the World Ends
Before the accident, I mistook the dull throb in my chest for excitement. Only afterwards did I recognize it for what it was.
A sign—a signal—a message—a sixth sense that told me that something horribly and unmistakably wrong was going to happen. Sometimes it was my lifeline; others, it was my sense of direction.
As you backpedal from the danger, the ache fades; as you near it, it grows steadily more painful into a tight cramp that seems to be right on your heart.
Anybody would seize this signal to save themselves and continue their adventure through life selfishly—anyone with common survival instincts and a brain, anyway. But anyone that actually knew me would know that Edward Elric's last priority is himself; anyone that's ever seen me would know that Edward Elric's first priority is his brother Alphonse. And anyone that's ever heard of me would know that Edward Elric is the most stubborn person in all of Amestris. His pride bows to no one, and absolutely nothing is impossible when it comes to saving the innocent and the weak and protecting those you love. (On a deeper note, the only family and friends you have—and the dearest things to you—are what you must defend at all costs.)
After all, "Alchemists be thou for thy people," right? I am the "Hero of the People," aren't I? The "People's Alchemist"? Huh, all titles, that's all any of that is...it only runs as far as my annoying instinct to help everyone.
Child prodigy, huh, right. Isn't someone like that supposed to be a genius? My intelligence runs about as far as school subjects. An inquisitive mind, and figuring out mystery books just past the second chapter (he's the murderer, moving on). I hardly know anything about the real world. Though, could it be said that I know too much? I've been shown the Truth, infinite knowledge, right? It's not that I know to little, it's that I know to much. Far to much for my own good.
Does that make any sense?
Still, I should have recognized the situation... I should've realized who the bastard really was. No, what the bastard really was. I know that Al did, he was giving me uncertain glances and muttering the occasional "Brother..." and "I don't like this..." or "I don't have a good feeling about this..."
God dammit, why don't I ever listen to him? Come to think of it, he was saying the exact same things during the accident. Before, even. I never did get a verbal "I told you so!" from him, did I? Though, it could be said that the hollow, intimidating suit of armor housing the soul of the sweetest, smartest, most amazingly gentle ("We can't leave him out in the rain! Fur only goes so far to keep the cold out, brother, he could die!") boy in all of existence... That was a sort of reminder, couldn't it be? Nonverbal though it may be, it was the greatest reminder of "You fucked up and this precious boy is paying for it!"
Heh, my reaction was exactly the same as back then. I shot him a reassuring smile and an absolutely arrogant "It'll be all right, Al!"
Ff, It wasn't all right, though, was it? That much is clear as fucking glass. Sure, me and Al were both clearly worried about this man's poor dear wife, and I guess I passed off my sixth sense as a 'sign that there really is some woman that's gotten kidnapped'.
I'm such a fucking idiot.
We followed him into the alley (could the situation be any more obvious?), Al sending me uncertain glances as we go.
Dammit, Al's the genius, not me. Why don't I listen to him?
An ambush. A fucking ambush. Oh, believe me, I know what you're thinking "Pff, this is the Fullmetal Alchemist and his little brother! They've lived through hell! They can take a few normal human muggers." Well, sorry, you're as wrong as your assumption. This isn't just a few normal human muggers. This is several normal armed human murderers. And with—what, twelve against two—we only lasted five minutes clawing through the ambush before they ran away with our money and we were left bleeding on the cold wet pavement.
"Alphonse?" My voice came out as a concerned whisper.
Tick... tick... tick...
Tick... tick... tick...
Again, no response.
I struggled desperately to get to my knees, blood splashing on the pavement as it gushed from my abdomen. I scrambled forward to his side... It didn't look like he was breathing and there was a deep (deep) slash in his chest.
Frantically, I pressed my fingers to his neck, searching through the warm liquid for a pulse.
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
As first instinct, I immediately put my hands together, hyperventilating as I hurriedly pressed them to his chest—thinking of nothing else.
The familiar colors of a transmutation shot up around me.
The silver clock hanging from my belt loop stopped ticking, and dark spots hurriedly flittered across my vision before it went completely black. I vaguely felt a slight, dull pain (an echo, like when someone's far away and you can just barely hear them) in my back and a sort of throb in my head. It hardly registered that I had fallen. My brain slowed as well as my heart rate... (It's odd, you never really notice it when you're not thinking about it—but as you're dying, it's painfully obvious...)
Suddenly, everything came to a stop.
[Eleven hours, forty-six minutes.]