I would seem that I need to type faster, because that took way too long. God, it's late again! I'm so sorry!

Now, I didn't notice until a few days ago that the darn editor took out my tumblr URL, so here it is (take out the spaces). If you'd like to follow me, you can. You might just learn a little more about both myself and the story... and maybe you'll get an extra-special hint. For those of you who want it, here it is.

The wishing apple is a fake .tumblr .com

Please, one at a time! (Just kidding)

Now, I've also noticed that the server/whatever loved to chop away at my sentences, so if you see any mistakes, please feel free to PM me, and it will be swiftly corrected!

Well, there you go. There it is. Go read. Now.

Dusk

Chapter 28

Seven Days, Part II:

G o l d

Everything… is so white, so new, empty and quiet. There are no sounds but a hollow echo… everything is so…

Hazy…

Where… am I?

What is this darkness?

THE PIT OF DESPAIR

The boy heard himself gasp, and soon the silence was broken.

Who's there?

The white void became hazy with a dull miasma as though haunted by spirits. He could feel the break of silence echo everywhere, but was it he, or someone else who shattered it? Was it a being from the thick fog who spoke to him, or was he conversing with himself? He felt himself blink as reality itself was broken, and two figures arose from the cloud of desolation. Their hair was long and flowing, its original colors lost to a certain emptiness that lingered everywhere in this isolated space. They were both gray like ghosts of the damned, floating on like wandering curses. Soon, the boy was confronted by Misery, and Lament.

You… what are you doing here…? What… what is this place?

They flowed into each other like the sea and the shore, like the inevitable smoke that was lost to him. The two beingsthat appeared before him opened their deep pools of gray behind thin lids of wax. One of them spoke, her usual personality lost to the gray of their destiny.

"This place… was once the Pit of Despair, Edward. This is your heart…" one of them, Lament said softly.

Why… why is it so white? What happened to… everything?

"The Pit is no more, Edward. All that remains is your now brittle and fragile heart." Misery replied, her tone the same as the other.

But…why? Are the evil things gone?

"Both evil, and good, Edward."

"It is… the strange device they are using on you. Everything is becoming submerged in this void of white, hidden deep within your heart. Your memories, your intentions… your very emotions have been frayed by this inception."

My… memories…?

"Edward." Misery said, sternly. "They see your memories as only a hindrance to your story. They are tearing them from your heart, so that they can use you."

Use me? Wait… what's… What's my purpose?

The white void began to darken into a certain shade of black, and everything became tinted with this dark deception. The two figures also, began to vanish from the smoke that spawned them.

"Misery… we have to go. There isn't a heart to hold onto anymore" Lament said, her voice solemn and despairing. With a grim nod from the other the two figures turned to dust, and Edward fell back into a deep slumber…

The man in the swallowtail coat stood silently behind his maiden in red, a hand on his heart to signify his loyalty, and the sight of true intention.

"The time for the boy's awakening is growing ever closer, Milady." Andwith this hollow proclamation, dark smiles were shared among them.

"Have you any other news for me, Grimsley? Surely his progress is acclimating Despair?" she spoke sternly as she stabbed a fork into her slice of pound cake.

He smiled, as a crow. "But of course, Milady…That day grows nearer as the clock strikes the hour."

And somehow, in this room full of white walls and bright lights, their hearts were shrouded in darkness.

MADNESS RISING AT /39%/


THE THIRD DAY

The group awoke to a fairly uneventful morning. Jean Havoc was scalded in the shower, and a deplorable Matthew was forced to run to the café for a few fixes of Earl Grey, as the ever-forgetting 'Lady Alice' supplied but one bag of his preferred brew. Colonel Mustang cursed to himself at the boy's stubbornness, which, to his chagrin, was nearly as bad as a certain Fullmetal. ..

Fullmetal… that name set a spell on his tongue. His mouth filled with bitterness as he spoke that name again. 'Fullmetal'. It was the embodiment of everything he loved about the boy he could almost call his son. He was full… full of heart, full of courage, with an arm made of metal. But as the days went by, that cold metal faded with warm compassion. Was it his flames, or the fire that burned in the boy's spirit, that melted that heart so seemingly full of steel. Perhaps he would never know.

And yet still, he spoke that name again, almost as for Edward to hear in a whisper faraway. 'I miss you, Fullmetal.' 'Come back to us, Fullmetal.' 'Come on home, Fullmetal.' This was but a tragic fantasy for the man, to see his son again. But he had that feeling in his stomach, that green emblem of hope that burned him too… Sadly, the boy was not around to hear that distant calling, because Roy failed him... as a Colonel, as a man, and as a father…

And that damned name left a sting in his mouth again. And again.

As soon as the boy had his fill of fancy teas with lightly buttered toast, burned to a crisp, he was able to speak of heavy matters that weighed on all of them. Of the boy, of their hope, of that Alice, of the future.

"Alright… Matthew. We all know the risks to going straight to the heart of all of this… but I…" he looked at his subordinated, who all had their gazes fixed on him. "No… all of us, are willing to take those risks, to save him. Please… tell us how we can." The man's eyes were pleading and begging, dark pools of shaded glass.

The boy was silent, if not for a moment then an eternity with the heavy silence. But soon, that silence was broken by jaded glass that stared him in his deep blue eyes.

"You wish to know how to save him?" the boy asked, serious.

"Yes!" the team replied.

"I must warn you, there's a good chance you'll all go mad. Why, it wouldn't surprise me if you started clawing at your throats before we reach the front gates."

"That's just a risk we'll have to take!" it was Havoc this time, whose voice resounded like thunder, in a miasma of cigarette smoke, to Roy's chagrin.

"Havoc is right, Matthew. Even if we have to claw our way out of that abyss, we'll do it for Edward." Hawkeye spoke with heavy words.

"If you have to descent to the depths of despair for him, will you?" the boy asked, eyes closed with a final cup of tea in his hands.

"Absolutely! We'd do anything for him!" Naturally, that was Hughes.

The four adults were silently waiting for the boy to reply, sitting almost at the edge of their seats, at the edge of the world waiting for a way to end this misery.

"Alright" he spoke with finality, to which the adults began to smile.

"However, there is something else that must be discussed beforehand. We cannot go and save him until we… understand him. To have him escape this fate, we have to know exactly what that fate is. Well, you do. I already do."

The group was silently waiting for the boy to speak again.

"Tell me… Colonel Mustang. Do you remember?"

"Remember? Remember what?"

The boy closed his eyes as to recite a prayer. "…Never Trust your eyes alone. Look with a different glass, and you will see the Truth in steel and stone. Hold close what you hold in your hand, for the Truth will lead you to Alice's Wonderland."

"Wait… we solved that already! Edward jumped off of the bridge-"

"That was merely coincidental, Colonel. Even if that was the riddle's true meaning, that is only one line. Let me ask you this, Colonel. What is it that you held in your hand?"

"The lens?"

"Yes, you did. That was the first meaning of this riddle. But that, however, was not her only intention."

"What I hold close in my hand…"

"Do you mean… Edward?"

"Correct again, Mustang. Let me ask you another question: what is it that, when dealing with madness as this, one must use instead of their eyes?"

"Uh…"

"To put it simply, how did you connect with Edward? How did you change him? There is something inside of you, inside of everyone, that can destroy the madness."

"Hope?"

"One cannot see with hope." He deadpanned. The man thought for a long and hard minute, searching inside of himself for the answer to this mystery. It was then, as his eyes were closed, that he could hear his steady heartbeat. He had the answer.

"It's…" Roy slowly put a hand to his chest. "It's my heart. I have to let my heart be my eyes, and lead me on the right path."

"That it is. Now tell me, mustang. What does one use stone for?"

"For building and construction, Right?"

"Yes. Go on… What do you build?"

"Bridges?" Roy was, with all honesty, at a loss. Sad enough, he wasn't very creative with solving riddles. Something in his gut told him that by the time all of this was over, that would be something he would know all too well. Damn this kid and his riddles.

"That was the original meaning, but Alice has ways of using ambiguous riddles." He added with a slight smile. There was a thick and thoughtful silence among them, suddenly burst by the wisdom of Riza Hawkeye.

"Castles." Riza said, as struck with sudden inspiration. "You build castles with stone." Everyone looked at her, and Matthew looked was surprised by her answer. He looked upon her with a puzzled glance, and then smiled as a cat.

"Well done, Lieutenant. I suppose you really are as capable as they say. Yes… In fairy tales and novels, the primary building material for towers and castles is in fact stone. The point is… Edward is being kept within such a place, a certain castle, yet… he is no damsel in distress."

"What is he then?" Roy asked, bemused.

The boy's eyes darkened as his words thickened the air around them. "He is a dragon that is about to be awakened." Their eyes spoke volumes of their emotions as their voices died in their throats, filled to the glance with horror and shock. Roy's, however, was struck with a certain resurrection.

"W…what?" he spoke softly, haggardly, as though hit with a physical Truth.

"Yes... Never before has this group been able to get this far in their mission. Edward is the last in the line of many. He is in fact a… a Madness Project."

"Madness Project?"

"It is the principle research of the group."

"Who exactly are they?" Matthew's eyes darkened with cerulean intensity as he fought the emotions that boiled his soul.

"They are a group of people who search for a new life. Like everyone in Amestris, like everyone in this world, they are searching for their destiny. They believe that change can be brought about only by this madness, this never-ending Despair. They are called the Pallet Group."

"Pallet? You mean like a color pallet?" Riza added, thoughtful.

"Exactly." He concurred with a push of his glasses."Whether by coincidence or by nature, everyone in this group, in both appearance and personality, is akin to a color; the Madam is red, Grimsley is black, Tina is grey, and so one and so forth."

"What exactly are they trying to do?" Hughes asked.

"They are using the madness within Edward to open a portal to a new life." He made a motion with his hands.

"Portal?"

His eyes grew wide as he stood firmly from his chair, he leaned his arms forward and brought his face not an inch from Colonel Mustang's. His deep blue eyes bored into Roy's own as uttered that final, accursed phrase with haggard tones and cold Roy shuttered as he heard them, from the truth they brought and the cold of his soul.

"The Truth will lead you to Alice's Wonderland."

The atmosphere darkened as Roy began to quiver, feeling a darkness lingering in the air around them. He spoke, carefully. "W-Wonderland?" his dark eyes were wide as he could see the despair.

"Yes. Wonderland."

"Alice... and Wonderland…"

"Ehe…" he snickered softly under his breath as he suddenly took his seat, his demeanor changing like the wind, with a push of his glasses.

"However, there is something that you need to know about her. That Alice."

"What about?"

"Alice is not the girl's true name." he said, almost casually.

"What?!" the other four stood. Matthewpeered his eyes to the left, like a hawk, and motioned for the group to take their seats again.

"Alice…" he started in almost a whisper. "Is merely an alias, created to both serve and destroy the Rose and the Dagger."

"Dagger?" Havoc had a thousand questions in his mind as it spun around in thoughtful circles.

"Yes. Actually, you've met him before, but he is long gone."

"Who?"

"Delbruck, the Cerebral Alchemist."

"You mean he-"

"He was the head of Pallet Group."

"And the Rose?" Roy asked, truly wanting to know who he was allowed to kill, who his next target was.

"Tell me…Colonel…" he began with a trembling hand on his chin. "What happens to r-roses?"

"…I… I don't know what you mean…"

"They are…ehe…"

"…"

"They are painted RED." The boy began to laugh, the legs of the chair nearly bouncing with his tremors. The boy was like an earthquake, in motion and simply unpredictable.

"Oh… oh no…not...again..." Matthew began to pant as he unhooked his shirt cuff and quickly took out a little case. He opened it, revealing a little white pill. He slipped it hurriedly into his mouth and swallowed without water.

"Madness… suppressant? Just who are you?" Riza asked, almost accusatory.

"As I told you, I am M, Matthew, friend and ally of Lady Alice."

"Madness of this kind doesn't just happen... That's what I've been wondering, Matthew… What happened to you? What the hell did they do to you?!" Roy stood from his seat to bring the boy a glass of water, hurriedly getting it from the faucet, hesitant to even take his eyes off of the boy. He gave him the drink, which the boy took graciously. After a moment, he answered with tired, but hopeful eyes.

"As I said… Pallet had a way of using… its own members for experiments." He said, out of breath.

Roy's eyes trembled at the thought. "You mean…"

"Correct again, Mustang." Matthew slipped a hand to his dark hair, and moved his bangs to the left, revealing a red tattoo, a clover.

"This is the price I must pay for my boastfulness. I believe you alchemists refer to it as equivalent exchange..."

"What are you talking about?"

"It's simple, really…I was stupid… I tried so hard to protect her… that I resorted to hurting the innocent and the fallen… I was blind to my sins, and that's all there is to it. Now I must atone for my misdeeds, by helping the boy, Edward of the Gold, return to the light."

"Gold…?

"It would seem that time can't erase the things that I've done… so I have to do what I can to move forward and… chase away the trouble I've caused. Maybe… maybe now I can save people… instead of hurting them. With your help, of course…Colonel… and…Alice too."

And the girl shuttered behind the door.


The boy and his prey emerged from the deep forest in the depths of the early morning, with the sunrise appearing as an eerie symbol for what was to come. He entered the White Castle with a bounce in his step and a woman upon his back, deep in hypnotic slumber from his gleaming blue eyes. He walked with joy as he stopped at the wide and rusted gate.

"Milord! Milady! I've returned with the doctor! Aren't you happy with me? Look! See?I've done it! Just as you asked of me! Isn't today just wonderful? Milord!"

The crow-like man emerged from the wide white door with a smile plastered upon his face. "Marvelous! Simply Marvelous, Donovan! You've done well!" he reached around a tiny black hatch to his right, revealing a turntable and a lever. With a slight press of the needle, and a turn of his hand, a music akin to a soft and melodic waltz began to play. Soft like pillows and and round, until the gate began to open in tune of the unseen dance. The boy, even with the woman on his back, was able to hop to the melody of the jolly tune. It can be noted that the boy was far stronger than he appeared.

"I've prepared for you Forêt Noire Gâteau, as a reward for your accomplishment!" the man bellowed proudly.

"Milord?! Really, you mean it?" the boy asked with glee and wonder.

"But of course, Donovan! I mean everything I say… do I not?" he asked with a friendly chuckle.

"But of course you do! You're… you! You'd never lie! Well, not to me, anyway."

"Naturally. You are our ally in this fight for happiness, my boy." He pat the boy upon the head and smiled as a raven.

With a curt smile, the two descended through the door, down flights of stairs and elevators, into the depths of the castle. The pair hung on rails as firemen, as skillful acrobats as they made their way to the Treasure the only way they knew how. The boy, at least, was blinded by a sense of merriment as he balanced his friend upon his back, and danced with his other in a menagerie of bliss and wonder. No matter how rusted this depth of the castle was, it still looked brand new to Donn, with the way the rusty pipes and ladders shimmered in the dark, when that one glimmer of light would reach them. And with a slight thud, the pair reached the Ground, and through a bolted black door, was elegant tile and grandeur once again.

"Come now! It's time to show you what we've in store!" Grimsley smiled at the boy, giving him a pat upon the back.

"But where shall I put her?" he motioned to the Doctor with a genuinely concerned glance.

With a nearly unnoticed sneer, the man took the woman into his arms. "Worry not… rest assured, I will take care of her. We have a room, already prepared! Fit for her comfort."

"Really?" his eyes sparkled. "I'm glad she'll be happy. And what of the boy? Is he doing well?"

"Naturally, he and the Madam just finished supper! Maybe you two can… play together later."

"You sure? Oh Joyeux! Today just gets better by the minute!"

"Indeed it does, Donovan. Well, I've left the cake in the Mandry for you. Enjoy to your delight!"

"And what of you, Milord?"

"Why…" he chuckled. "I've some other business to attend to…"

"Oh… alright then! Good luck, Milord!"

"Indeed." The man said as the boy left with a bow. The thick black hatch closed up as Grimsby boarded a platform, an elevator without doors nor wall, a single little place for feet to stand upon their descent into the heavens. With the doctor upon his back, he let out a laugh.

"Now, dear doctor. I've plenty of hospitality in store for you." He sneered, laughing as the platform took them to the height of the Castle. He hopped off after a minute or two, and found a perfectly clean and bleak room, covered in a thin layer of gloom. "And here…" he chucked the woman inside. "Is your guest quarters! Not so meddling now, are we? Well, I'll get it out of you, every last piece of information you have… I'll make you tell me everything with the most beautiful pain you can imagine… by this night I shall know of that wretched Cynthia, and that rotten Alice! Why, you should feel honored!" he slammed the latch with a resounding lock, descending the poles with limber arms and legs as he grinned and laughed at the thought of making her scream.

How he wanted to see that sight again.


The Fourth Day

"Alice! I told you already, you can't just sit about like this!" Mikuru opened the curtains with fervor as the girl behind her screamed.

"Get thee back, Satan! I speak the word of the lord upon my tongue!"

Mikuru rolled her eyes at the other girl, with a huff of breath. "There will be none of that, Alice." She pointed to the window. "That, my dear friend, is called sunlight, not hellspawn. It's good for you, believe it or not." Mikuru said with a fold of her arms. Alice groaned as she put a pillow over her own head.

"Damn it, Mikuru!" she exclaimed as she threw the stuffed abomination across the bedroom. "I hate it when you get like this!" the girl toppled out of the covers in a blind fury as she made to close the curtains. She changed her voice to that of a poorly-performed Asahina. "Oh, yeah! My name's M-m-m-mikuru and I'm so damn moè it gives me stomach cramps! I always sit with my legs so close together I crack a bone! My voice is so high and obnoxious that nobody takes me s-seriously!"

Mikuru, in turn, blushed madly with a slight, angry flair of her nostrils. "I'm not that different outside, Alice! I'm still like that! W-well, not like that, like me."

"Tch. Liar."

"Shut up!"

"Make me!"

"Go brush your teeth!"

"Go choke on one!" Alice stormed out of the room in an angry huff. Moments later, the faucet in the bathroom resounded throughout the little apartment as the girl muttered obscenities through the little bubbles between her teeth. With a sigh, Mikuru made to cook breakfast. Naturally, she should be mad. And she would be, if this weren't a daily occurrence for them. Because everyone knows that 'Lady Alice' isn't so ladylike before she has her morning tea and pancakes. It's a living, she assured herself as she sprayed the pan.

Conversations at the Mustang residence continued on as normal. Breakthroughs, although seldom reached, were miracles in and of themselves. Matthew would speak of finding the Truth, while Havoc and Breda searched the house for pills and vials. Hawkeye was run amuck getting the brat tea, while, or course, Hughes did absolutely nothing. Yes, indeed, it was a usual day in the life of Roy Mustang, resident bachelor. Overall, the Fourth Day was absolutely, completely, wonderfully normal.


The Fifth Day

"Madness_Rising is at 78 Percent, Milady. Perhaps it is time to enact the next step in our procedure. We may wish to begin the Mentality Coding. As… you may be aware, it would seem that the Mustang fellow has begun to catch wind of what we're up to."

"Oh, let him whine, Grimsley, let him whine! I'm simply too tired to deal with his kittle, dumb heart. I want to hurry up and get there, Grimsley. Will you take me?"

"But of course, Milady. I'll take you as far as the ocean reaches, to every corner of this night sky. I'll take you through eternity, through hell should you ask it of me."

"Through Hell?" she asked, with a chuckle. "Now why would I want to go back?"

"Pardon me, milady. It would seem that you've been damned before. How thoughtless of me." He sneered, politely.

"Oh…Take me somewhere I can see the flowers grow." She said with a roll of her bright red eyes.

"Certainly. I shall continue his treatment, Milady Rose."

"Do so without fail, and we can despair again sometime."

"But of course." He agreed with a bow. "I would expect nothing less." With a turn of his coat, Grimsley departed from the white and hollow dining room, leaving his lady of red to sit and ponder upon a slice of cake. She smiled as she heard the bolted door close tightly. "Ah… so it would seem that it's nearly time to go…"

The white-haired man sat and stared at the boy for yet another day as the number to the left continued to increase.

MADNESS RISING AT 26%

MADNESS RISING AT 39%

MADNESS RISING AT 52%

He did nothing but study him: his heartbeat, the way his hair would flow through still waters, the was his eyes would never open. Or how his arms would flair when he was to despair. Other than the bad dreams at first… he felt nothing at all.

He came into the Castle Five Days ago yelling to the rafters, like a little hellion. Spitfire he was, he wouldn't even let Grimsley speak. Tied up and helpless in the corner of the room, Edward had acted like he had a gun… an arrogant, rude and demanding boy with embers for eyes. They had kept him in a small, white cell for his first night, tied his mouth when he wouldn't shut up. But, that first night did not go as Sir Grimsley had planned… when the nightmares began to capture his thoughts. He would scream in his bindings for the other man, for the woman with chestnut hair, for a past that he could never erase. They should have expected nothing less from the Final Dreamer… They couldn't afford to wait when he was tainting his own mind with bad dreams… as it had seemed that the blood was beginning to wear. The Rose had decided it be for the best they begin treatment right away, what, with his sour attitude, and later his nighttime screaming. The boy simply wouldn't cooperate. And for four long days, as that man and his allies planned for the boy's salvation (at least, that's what the White-haired man assumed), Edward stood in still waters, flowing like time itself in a still-less state of erasing slumber.

It was then that the White man was caught in his musings by a certain crow. "Ivory! Sir Ivory! I believe it time we get this circus going! Mustang will be here in two days!"

The man looked up, and spoke in dull tones. "But how do you know that?"

"How?! Well, that damned Matthew's probably with them! Him or that damn Alice! This is an operation that takes weeks! Weeks! And I'll bet that little bastard told them to come in seven days! How are we supposed to complete him in three days?! Tell me!"

"We continue as planned… right?"

Grimsley deadpanned. "Ivory."

"Sir?"

"Do you even know what in the Hell you're doing?!"

"I do."

"Then act like it! Now, what shall we do?!"

"Deplete waters at six parts Despair, Milord. Those were your orders, as I recall." The other man growled in his throat. "Why are you so damned useless… Nevermind my orders, we start this now!"

"Sir." Ivory stood from his chair and approached the boy in the glass. He paused, opening his eyes a second time. Softly, he spoke.

"It is time…" he pulled a lever. "To wake up now…"The waters drained as the boy appeared to drown. He slowly began to fall from suspension as the waters faded. The man in white softly pulled the boy from his chamber, and held him in his arms. The boy was not breathing.

"Why isn't he breathing?!"

"He cannot. Not yet, anyway. His lungs are filled with the solution. I will change his lungs back to their usual state." He said, a matter of fact. He waved his hand in front of the boy's chest in a dull wave, as though to greet his beating heart.

"Call thy name, Hollow the Ivory… open your eyes… and see the light."

The room was still, only for a moment, as the boy began to cough.

"He can now breath air again, Milord. You may start treatment in one hour." He said, softly.

"I'll start it now." He took the shivering boy by the scruff of his neck, taking him into one of the back chambers. Oh, how much fun he would have.

As Ivory heard the loud close of the door, he sighed in his mind as he wondered of simply nothing.

She couldn't help herself. She couldn't help it at all, her need to stand behind the door. She had to hear him, his voice, his words, his anything. Oh, how she wanted to hear his everything. And yet, no matter what, she couldn't bear to open it. It was a box of sorts, yet she was no Pandora. But an Alice, or at least, an Almost Alice… an explorative and curious girl who sought the Truth within the box, that endless stream of words behind the door.

Nevertheless, she couldn't bear the Truth he spoke.

1, 2, Truth

8, 2, Truth.

I can't…

I can't do it… I can't face them like this.

The almost Alice was caught in cold chills as she envisioned the sight beyond that door. It had only been days, and yet, she was dying without his sight. She had to see him, his face at least or at most. Maybe later… she thought as she snuck away without a second thought.

Damn it. It would seem her cowardice has overcome her explorative sensibilities. Still, even while panting in the Colonel's yard, behind the alley way across the street, behind the sign at the coffee shop a few doors down, she couldn't bear to be around herself. With an aurora of curious glances and petulant glares, she tried so hard to blend in. And yet, she didn't want to. Behind the lamp-post, the door, the sign outside of the coffee shop, she wanted to be Alice.

Every moment of every second she took a breath, she wanted nothing more than to be Lady Alice, the girl who baffled the city with break-ins and mysterious fires and 'accidents'. Oh! How she wanted to be the talk of the town! Yet still, her heart was filled with that certain negativity that made her fumble in her journey to become so strange. Although, even after blushing as she hid behind the sign at the coffee-shop, she still couldn't face her friend. She had assured Mikuru that she would go. She had promised her to apologize for staying away for so long. Well, promises be damned, she didn't want to. After all, being a teenage girl is rather complicated, especially if you have a habit of burning things to the ground.

Nevertheless, she knew that she had to face them eventually, all of her fears and humiliation aside. Not to mention, her bright purple dress was attracting a little too much attention, as people continued to whisper about why on Earth a girl was hiding out in the open of the sidewalk.

'Kids these days. Always up to something.'

With a deep breath of courage through her nose, she marched with wide steps back to the street, still attracting stares with her peculiar and awkward gait. These steps, however, soon began to get smaller and smaller the closer she became to the large house of Colonel Mustang. Her nerves were getting the best of her she… had failed in protecting his beloved son! How could she even call herself an Alice?

And there he was, sipping tea like a regular Wednesday. Damn him and his wandering lips. Damn him and the way he pushes at his glasses when he talks like Harvard. Damn the way he smiles as he talks so fondly of something she just can't seem to read his lips- damn those too. Or, rather, she already did. Very well then, damn the words she cannot read! How she wanted to understand them!

Get a grip, Alice. You can do this. They'll be mad, yeah, but you can't let that stop you-of course you can oh God get me out of here- no stop it! Idiot!Idiot! Shut up already-!

She raised a shaking hand to knock, shudders racking her nervous form. She held it there for a firm eight seconds, knowing that she was going to knock. Mark the action and the girl she would. However, the door opened with a hurried brush of wood, revealing a blond man holding a cigarette. With a squeak, she hid to the left, hoping and praying he would not catch her in the act of almost apologizing. Almost being the key word here, as still, she hadn't the nerve to knock.

The man walked three paces forward, eyes on the prize in his hands.

"Damn prude. 'No smoking in my house! That stuff'll kill ya, you know!' Jeez, what a bastard. God, I need a smoke."

He ruined my entrance for a smoke? Well who's the real bastard here?!

He took a heavy puff of the bitter and toxic aroma, breathing out puffs of grey in wisps of relieved tension.

"Damn, I'm tired. Kid'll short-circuit at this rate, what, with that mouth of his." He took another blissful drag. Even the girl was tempted to steal one, but with self-restraint and the thought of her lungs, she decided against anything risky. He turned slightly, almost in her direction. She shuttered and hopped to the side of the house, back to the wall as she took in a nervous breath.

"Hm?" he looked around, with a roll of his eyes. "Damn squirrels." He took his blue eyes back to his smoke, to which the girl let out the breath she barely registered she had even been holding. Havoc's eye traveled to the source of the sound, to Alice's chagrin.

"Could've swore I heard something…" he began to walk towards her.

Damn damndamn!Gotta act fast… let's see…! She looked around for anything that would help her not be found. The only thing around, however, was an old ladder. Aha!

She climbed the ladder to the top, yet when she looked down, the man wasn't in sight. With a nervous 'huh?', she looked around, only to find that he had gone right past her. Idiot.

Just as she muttered the word under her breath, the ladder gave an unhealthy creak as it shook slightly from the weight it was holding. Stupid ladder! Trying to retain her balance, she waved her arms about in slight panic as the thought of falling had not yet occurred to her. Even with her troubles, she couldn't make a sound.

The man looked around, trying to figure out what, if anything, was out of the ordinary. In a last-ditch effort to retain her balance, Alice latched onto the roof, holding out her arms at to catch herself. She looked to the ground, only to see that the man wasn't paying her any mind.

He's… dumber than I thought. Thank God.

Realizing that her gloves wouldn't be white much longer, she attempted to make her way down while she had the chance… that, or wait on the ladder until the bastard went in the house. And it was then, as she began to gripe again, that she leaned back a little too far, and the ladder began to head south, towards the ground.

Damn it!

With a slight bounce, the girl managed to keep the ladder stable, about four inches away from her desired distance to the house. She looked down again, only to see that the man had pulled out another cigarette.

Damn you! How many of those things are you going to smoke! They'll kill you-

-Then… she heard a crack. With trembling eyes, she carefully looked down, only to find that her precious ladder was cracking under her weight, right down the middle. Almost as though some twisted wind or fate was causing this. However, things only got worse for the poor girl as, with another resounding hop, the ladder shuddered as it cracked again, leaving the girl caught between two wooden poles that used to be her refuge. Her legs were moving apart slightly as the ladder wanted to fall to the ground. Yet with all of her ornery strength, with a huff, she pulled them back together, and made to get to the backyard. With a stumble of wooden poles, and with a certain gymnasiatic gait, she sauntered nervously around as though she were on fragile stilts. Her cheeks were becoming red with her efforts, as she meandered so close to the man who lingered around smoke and easy-going breath that she thought her capture was inevitable. However, the man was dumber than the ladder on which she stood. Yes, he did turn around and find that a ladder suddenly gone missing was rather peculiar, yet after denoting its sudden vanishment to the 'damn squirrels' once again, she reasoned that it be best to hide in the Willow Tree until the stubborn fool leave. After yet another few minutes of practical and clumsy hide-and-go-seek, she stilted until she made it to the deeply rooted refuge. With a final puff of grey and a bemused scratch at his scalp, Havoc finally descended into the house, an action which prompted the girl to use a string of words that best not be repeated in script. With an angry scowl, the girl sat in the tree and plotted her next move.

The boy awoke in a room was cold. It was cold but he felt a scorching heat. It was like ice and fire, all at once, burning his cold and complacent flesh into a trace from which he could not escape. He wanted to leave, because he was afraid. Afraid of the unknown, of that little light that rotated in those little circles that seemed to elude him with the way it swayed so hypnotically. The light was far, but it encroached ever closer with that certain intensity that he was afraid of. He could hear words. They were whispers, stinging his ears as the cold approached him closer and closer. It lingered like that awful cigarette smoke... he breathed it in and was sick and scared. He saw a light. A figure in the shadows.

The time has come, o- malay, o- kallah. The time has come to bring the gold.!

Aria esta… cantia dia… mio callora… distia mia…

This was a voice, like the Black Voice itself, the one which told him to kill and again as he would sway his shoulders. It called and lingered and stung his ears like the cold and dark cigarette smoke. It was there and so was he and he couldn't stand it. The light spun in a dance, a circular motion and he was freightened. He called out but couldn't speak a word. He shuddered as the cold bit at his throat through the metal around his neck. It drained the warmth from his soul as the light spun around and again. He heard those words, entranced as a spell to forget and never forgive, to let the dark inside… his heard was enthralled by the voice that spoke of the future, of their perfect world. Yet still, he was scared… so scared… so little in that chair…he heard a voice in his ears and called out without his tongue.

Roy…

Roy…

Alma dia… lorosa tia… cantia dia… distia mia…

R…y

R…

Who…

Aria esta… cantia dia… mio callora… distia mia…

is he…

And who…

ESTIA MIA… CANTIA DIA… FILOSA DIO… KALLEIA DISTA…

am… I?

He choked from the frigid waters as his head was submerged… and again… he could faintly hear himself coughing, crying as his head was submerged again. He cried for it to stop… he wanted so badly to breathe. The voice told him to stop… to think… to move on…

Stop… think… move on…

STOP THINK MOVE ON

FORGET ABOUT THAT COLONEL MUSTANG

His head was submerged again, the hand on his hair this time. The man didn't even use the levers… he took the boy from his binds and tried to drown him himself.

Please… stop…

STOP! THINK! MOVE ON!

He was so cold… he had finally stopped shivering. His eyes went dull as, at long last, the boy had finally forgotten his own name. His hands lay limp at his sides as his breathing was faint. The man smiled as he took him into his arms, as a boy, reborn.


Miss Tina Grey, a familiar woman who loved hate and hated happy endings, sauntered through the streets of Central City to find a certain Alice. This was today's objective after all, in spite of the fact that she 'didn't feel like it'. However, after about fifteen minutes of absent 'Here, Alice. Come on, Alice. Get your ass over here, Alice', she decided, upon her discovery of a lost cause, to take a four hour break for coffee, after which she ran to Grimsley with the news of how the girl had made herself simply untraceable, with the most sad and melancholic expression known to any thespian who could cry on command. Yes, with a pout and soon, a laugh, Grey decided to go up to her room to take a well-deserved nap. Damn that girl and her stupid purple dress. She moaned in agitation as she shoved a chocolate covered donut into her mouth.


The man in the swallowtail coat walked slowly into the White Room as he held the Golden Boy in his arms, smiling with slight disbelief. The Rose sat upon her thrown-like chair and looked down upon him with crimson eyes. "And what have you for me… Grimsley?"

"Milady…It would seem, Milady, that the boy is finally ready… I… I almost can't believe it… I say the name, and he doesn't respond…" the man placed Edward upon a pedestal, akin to Milady Scarlet's. "Look. His eyes are opened, but he does not see… I think the treatments have finally worked…"

"Oh? So… our dawn is approaching fast… how lovely this day turned out to be." She arose from her seat and walked over to the pair. "His eyes are dim, but his soul still burns… the perfect amount of Hope and Despair…"

"Hurry, Milady… Call to him… hear the nothing for yourself."

She embraced his shoulders as she looked the boy in the eyes. She took in a breath. "Edward."

"Edward" A little louder.

"Edward."

"See, Milady! He moves not! The name he once knew has been forgotten forever!"

"So the Despair has overtaken him… so, Grimsley… What of his new name?"

"I have, indeed, given him a new name, as befitting our Order. Watch." This time, the man embraced the boy's shoulders, the black piercing the dulled gold.

"Gold" There was a flicker.

"Gold" a little louder.

"Gold!" His eyes came to life, if only a little. This time, he stared at the man… he knew he was there, in that room of white.

"Your name… do you know it?" the Madam was nervous… anticipating the boy's words.

"I do not believe that he can speak yet, Milady. Give him time… Listen… listen to me." The boy looked up at the man, like a small child, like an infant who was born, looking at eyes for the first time. Grimsley smiled.

"Your name… is Gold… You are Gold… Listen to my words… you belong with us…" his eyes were honest as the boy took in his words with wide, wondering eyes.

"G…"

"Yes, yes! What is your name, child?!" The Madam asked, excitedly.

"G… go…"

"No rush, love… just take your time." Grimsley consoled the boy, kindly. The eyes were warm and dull, like a rusted wonder of natural beauty. It was a sight that stole the breath of both of them, making them stare in awe and adoration of their new kin… of the brother born today.

He moved his lips, opening as if he was learning to breathe. "G-go…"

Both of them embraced the boy, holding him close with warm arms and hearts. He closed his eyes as he felt it too… their hearts burning with that certain passion. To find the truth… to find their reason to live…He basked in their warmth like the sun itself, and with weak arms held them just as close.

"Go… Gold…"

The Madam and the Crow alike were crying now as they seemed to become whole. Now all that was left

Was to create their Wonderland.


Dusk

Chapter 28

Seven Days, Part II:

G o l d

END

Next Chapter: Seven Days, Part III

Hopefully, I'll type the next part a little faster than three months. I apologize once again for the delay. See you all so very soon!

Did you find the allusion?

Did you like the confusion?

Is it me that you hate,

For making you wait?

I'd love a review

Even if it's rude

So Goodbye for now!

OhHolyCow!