Chapter Eighteen: Preparations

"Come on Shinobu," Miyagi said. "Concentrate."

From the other side of the small clearing, the blond boy glared at Miyagi's sightless eyes.

"That's exactly what I'm trying to do old man!" He retorted, crossing his arms over his chest. Miyagi sighed patiently and gestured for Shinobu to attempt transformation again, all the while making a mental comment about stubborn brats.

Shinobu closed his eyes and bowed his head, trying to reach deep inside himself and tap into his powers. He felt a flutter inside his chest and grasped it and suddenly felt his body morph and shrink in size.

A few seconds later, Miyagi felt a tiny object land on his shoulder and he carefully lifted his hand and felt the perfect aerial form of a robin.

"I did it Miyagi!" the little bird exclaimed. "I did it!"

"Great job Bu-chin," Miyagi praised. "Try out your wings."

The little robin tottered to the edge of the man's shoulder, and with a little difficulty, managed to start flying around the clearing.

"Should I try something bigger now Miyagi?" Shinobu asked as he morphed back into his human form. "I think I could."

"No, let's hold off on training for a bit," Miyagi replied. "I need to talk to you about something."

The two sat down on a nearby rock and Miyagi sighed, trying to think of the best way to approach the subject.

"Shinobu," He finally began. "Alpha revealed his plans for our primary assault to me, Beta, and Delta early this morning."

"What? Why did he tell me or Misaki?"

"He's going to talk to Misaki himself, and suggested I do the same with you. He's…He's asking a lot of us Bu-chin, and I need you to stay calm, all right?"

Shinobu's eyes filled with worry, but he replied with a steady voice.

"I will. What's the plan?"

"Alpha wants you and me to break into Korovin's lab and destroy it."

Shinobu's breath caught in his throat and his face grew pale as that monster's face flashed before his eyes.

"N—No way," He choked out, his panic steadily rising. "I c—can't do it!"

"Yes you can, Shinobu," Miyagi said, finding the boy's hand and grasping it firmly. "If we work together, we can put an end to that bastard's sick experiments. Don't worry, Alpha's plan is well prepared and I'll be with you the whole time."

"How can he do this to us?" Shinobu sobbed.

"Because Alpha knows that you need closure. We both do. And there's something else…"


"I've had a vision," Miyagi smiled. "The mission goes perfectly. In fact, we don't even see Korovin. Be brave Shinobu, we can't lose."

Shinobu looked at Miyagi, daring to hope that his lover's words were true. After a few minutes of worried ruminating, the boy leaned over and hugged Miyagi, burying his face in the man's chest.

"Okay," He creaked out, a shiver coursing through his frame as he said it.

"Good boy," Miyagi murmured, kissing the top of his head.

"As long as I have you, Miyagi," the boy said, closing his eyes. "Everything will be okay."

Shinobu snuggled closer, but had he glanced up at that exact moment, he would have noticed Miyagi's face did not match the promise of his words.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

Hiroki's handgun barked as he shot at a nearby target. Once the clip was out of bullets, he reached to his holster and deftly shoved another into the gun, not so much as looking at Nowaki. The giant was leaning up against a tree with a sigh on his lips as he watched his lover batter the target with bullets. And when Hiroki ran out of clips, Beta finally spoke.

"Hiro-san, are you okay?"

Hiroki stamped one of his heels as he realized he had run out of bullets and headed over to a weapon crate to grab another gun.

"I'm fine," He replied tersely, slinging a rifle over his shoulder. But his furrowed brow and storming indicated otherwise.

"Hiro-san," Nowaki said. "I know you're angry with Alpha, but it's for the best."

Hiroki gritted his teeth but didn't look at his lover.

"For the best? He's leaving me behind to rot instead of letting me get the payback I deserve."

Nowaki frowned at Hiroki's declaration of revenge and silently mused that his lover's fiery vengeance had probably been taken into account when Alpha drew out the battle plans. But he was glad for it. Alpha had stationed the two of them as an outside diversion while he and Digamma infiltrated the base and destroyed it.

Nowaki had thought it was a good idea for them to split into groups, and even more so the idea that he and Hiro-san would be on the outside, but his lover had other ideas. Hiroki had been furious that he would not have the chance to face President Usami and Korovin and wreak his revenge, and also that Misaki was taking his place at Alpha's side.

Nowaki sighed again and looked over as Hiroki spoke.

"I just don't understand," Hiroki snarled. "That idiot won't even make it inside without my help. He's useless with a gun and can barely even walk these days. Even if that brat could carry him his super speed wouldn't make much of a difference."

Hiroki brought the barrel of the rifle back into firing position, but stopped as he felt Nowaki's hand touch his shoulder.

"Hiro-san," the giant quietly pleaded. "Put the gun down."

"I'm not done, Nowaki," Hiroki growled. "Let go."

"No," Nowaki said, quietly but firmly. "I'm not going to. I'm never going to let go of you. That much I can promise. Even if Miyagi and Alpha and everyone else leaves you, I'll still be here."

Hiroki lowered his laden hands and slowly turned around, his sienna eyes shimmering with feeling.

"You fool," He muttered, trying to keep the emotion out of his voice. "I... already knew you'd always be there for me."

Nowaki's cerulean eyes lit up with endearment and he wrapped his arms around Hiroki's shoulders, and even though the smaller man didn't hug him back, he understood.

"Everything's going to be fine Hiro-san, I promise. After all this has passed, we can get away from here. Maybe get a house by the sea and go back to our lives. I know how much you've always wanted to write a book."

A crooked smile surfaced on Hiroki's face as he remembered that long forgotten dream. Nowaki didn't see it, but it was there nonetheless. Who knew? Maybe the picture his lover painted would become reality. But there was much to be done first, and many, many things that could go wrong.

Misaki watched as the sun began to set beyond the mountains, staining the rock with orange and yellow. He sat on the edge of a cliff top, staring out into the valley. He had spent the entire day training with Alpha and the others, but even as night crept in, he didn't feel tired. His mind was awry with thoughts, feelings, worries, all intermingling into a pool of doubt.

Tomorrow they would launch their biggest assault on the FMA, and the teen clasped his hands together as he tried to remember all the components: Beta and Delta's long range diversion, Gamma and Epsilon's attack on Korovin's lab, and their own mission: to face Alpha's father and set the master computer to self-destruct, destroying the entire base. It was all so much to take in.

Misaki stared down at his lap with a quiet breath, closing his eyes as he hoped that after tomorrow…everything would truly be over.


The boy turned around and felt relief course through him as he saw Usagi-san standing nearby. Akihiko came over and sat next to him, wrapping an arm around his shoulder. Ever since the two of them had talked alone that night, Alpha had been a little clingy whenever they were together. Misaki didn't mind, as the touches were actually rather comforting, especially in light of such dire circumstance.

"How are you doing?" Akihiko asked quietly. "I wasn't too hard on you today, was I?"

Misaki shook his head.

"No, your advice helped me out a lot. I think I can actually run faster now."

"Good," Usagi smiled. "Do you think…you'll be ready for tomorrow?"

Misaki's eyes fell a little at the question and he smiled soberly.

"I—I think so. It's just…I feel so small against them. I'm only one person, and a young one at that. How do I possibly stand a chance?"

Misaki let out a small gasp as Usagi reached over and tightly embraced him, kissing the side of his face.

"Everything will be all right, Misaki…I promise you." Akihiko murmured, holding the teen to his chest. After a second, Misaki relaxed and hugged him back, the coolness of Usagi's body quieting the heated pounding of his heart.

"Usagi-san…will you er—uh sleep with me again tonight? Er—I mean not sleep but uh—"

Akihiko smiled as boy flushed a lovely shade of crimson and chuckled under his breath.

"I know what you mean," He replied, brushing a strand of Misaki's hair away from his eyes. "But for now, I have something I need to do. I'll be back in a few minutes all right?"

Misaki nodded and Akihiko got up, starting to walk down the path again. But as he went, he heard the faintest of voices come from behind him.

"Nii-chan," Misaki whispered. "Soon you'll be able to rest in peace."

Usagi-san disappeared and a sober Alpha resurfaced, his face and eyes looking as ill as his body felt. He carefully slid into a thicket out of sight and rolled up his sleeve, glancing at his upper arm which was riddled with pinpricks.

He sighed and took a loaded syringe out of his pocket, gritting his teeth as the needle slid into the skin of his arm.

Yes Misaki, he thought as his mind began to fog over. Soon Takahiro will be avenged…

Akihiko slid to the ground as the potion began to take effect and wreak havoc upon his weakened body, but it was nothing compared to the needle lodged in his heart. And for now, his only consolation was that after tomorrow…everything would truly be…over.

Thank you guys for waiting so patiently for the updates :) Sadly this story is reaching it's climax, but I hope to make it epic and satisfying for you all.

bed of nails and sandpaper, Keira-Kinover Mar, Artemis Fortune, seshomaru94, hiyokocchi, Alana-kittychan, pengwens, KiyameHikari-chan, JoanIncarnate, Ayame-san, aokochan17, and my dear Cerberus- thank you all for your incredible reviews and support and just being awesome readers. They make me so happy! You guys rock!

Stop. Battle time! XD Coming soon.

With love,