Another Run of Events
Chapter Eleven
Combat Vector Field

- mirage -

"You're doing it wrong," Ed said, raising his voice in hopes he would break the tension he felt mounting dangerously. Envy was turning screw after screw, but with this comment the screw driver stopped, and the thing looked up with a bit of surprise. "You're doing it the slow way," Ed said, managing a snotty tone. "Because you're an idiot." Envy seethed and snatched the front of Ed's shirt yanking him flush to the table. "Get off!" Ed yelled, shoving at what looked like his own chest, before spitting. With one arm locked to the table there wasn't much to do and he hocked a loogie and shot it into Envy's eye in defense.

"Ah!" Envy jerked back with disgust and wiped at his eye. "That's disgusting!"

"I'll do it myself!" Ed grabbed the discarded screwdriver and began frantically disassembling his own hand. Even if he only had one after this, it was better then being connected to a workbench!

Envy was disgusted with Ed's ability to function in a situation he thought would have crippled the boy. He watched the screws drop from Ed's hand with growing hate. It was clear that Ed was nervous with his arm locked to the table, that the room itself made him anxious, but Ed was focusing through it, and when the last screw disconnected the metal hand dropped like a dead fish and left a stump in its place.

"You're taking this well shrimp," Envy said, trying his best to whittle away at the discipline Ed was holding himself to. It was not as firm as Ed would have liked, and even this comment made the boy bristle, but removing Ed's hand was not having the effect Envy had hoped for. Envy had intended to emphasis the handicap and force the disability into Ed's face so the boy would mentally weaken himself, but instead Ed only seemed angry. Roy knew he was the only one in the room who could see Ed's level of comfort dwindling. Since Ed had been secured to the table he had grown quieter and was sweating lightly.

"There," Ed said, throwing the screwdriver from the workbench before grabbed his own hand and throwing it at Envy. "Think this is enough to bother me!" Ed was furious, and Roy could see Ed's growing nervousness becoming a rabid desire to attack like a bees nest being shaken. You could only disorient the bees for so long, and Roy felt like Ed was going to come swarming from his self restraint as soon as he found means to do so. "I'll beat your pathetic face in!" Ed grabbed at the vice and forced the handle down to free his arm. "I'll beat you into the ground!"

Envy stood up snarling and took a step back to lunge at Ed. That step looked to be about twenty five inches, and with the additional space horizontally, and approximately 39 inches vertically, Roy shot a stream of burning fire forward with the intent of catching the thing's shoulders and head.

Ed dropped to his knees and covered his head with his single arm unable to tell how high the flames were above him. Roy fired for only a few seconds, long enough for the fire to hit the other side of the room and singe some of the metal equipment and leave a few things smoldering, but as soon as he was certain the creature had moved he stopped.

"Get yourself free!" Roy ordered. Ed looked to the far side of the room where the fire had hit with disbelieve it wasn't burning before pawing at the vice to release himself.

Seconds after the fire stopped the Homunculus abandoned its full Edward-flesh body and returned to a thin and slender self wearing a black ensemble with hair like a spider plant. "You act quickly," Envy congratulated Roy. "And look how angry Fullmetal is." Envy laughed to himself. "He's still going, with one hand down, and we're still moving! Don't you just love him!"

Ed ripped his arm free of the vice panting. He turned around to look at the creature which was standing along the fall wall in front of a tool board of ratchet sets and screwdrivers. "This is Envy's popular form Roy," Ed said, gesturing to the creature's new design. "Take a good look." Roy was fascinated with the intense change from Edward's grade school body to what seemed to be the taller frame of an older adolescent.

Envy was unmoved with this comment and looked at the automail stump hanging off Ed's side. It was awkward now, the loss of the hand turned the impressive arm into a useless piece of metal which looked almost frightening.

"That looks truly hideous Edward," Envy said, glaring at the arm with disgust. Ed looked down at his arm with discouraged acknowledgement and flexed it once before letting the stump hang from his side with a heavy sigh.

"Roy, what are you waiting for," Ed said angrily, returning his gaze to Envy. "Blast him!"

Roy didn't answer this. Like the screwdriver, Envy had acquired what looked like a fat remote in the move from the workbench and began fiddling with it. The creature was ignoring them for the moment, and this would be a perfect time to attack had it not stopped directly in front of a shelf of solvents Roy recognized as incredibly flammable.

"Roy!" Ed snapped, looking over with a wild hand gesture meant to motivate Mustang. Roy didn't want to verbalize why he was stalling because that meant informing the creature he couldn't attack that portion of the room. He wasn't ready to release such an explosion with them so close and with Ed having only one arm. He gave Ed a stern glance. In the adult world this glance was an alpha command, a clear and simple I know something you don't, so let me lead, but to children, this was the obstinate look of an adult disagreeing. Frantically Roy tried to think of a sign he could give which Ed would understand. He had to analyze the situation here, he had to analyze the field of combat. Their terrain was foreign and did not look safe, there were chemicals, sharp items, and dangerous tools and resources in this room which implied they should not go sending them into the air, setting them fire, or work around them haphazardly without some type of plan.

There was also the pending notion of backup. Havoc was also in this building, and Fuery was somewhere. Being so short staffed, Roy was reluctant to start an out and out war, let alone and out and out explosion, with just him and Ed. The creature had proven to at least be simple minded in the fact it acted confident only when it seemed to, or did, have the upper hand, so watching it stand calmly, slapping the side of a remote it couldn't seem to work, told Roy he needed to know more about what he was doing since he could not release large bursts of flame.

"You're looking rather confident colonel," Envy said, stealing their attention. "Back up," Envy said, and Roy was confused with the tone because it sounded like advice and not like an order. Envy lifted the remote slightly and pointed it toward the ceiling. "I admit I have no idea how this works." Roy glanced around trying to find a piece of equipment which indicated it matched the remote. With such close quarters combat, generous collection of metal scraps, and large pieces of machinery he felt at a loss as to which one this could be, or why holding this made the thing so giddy. Was the remote going to activate something near them?

Ed was not as patient. "What the hell is that!" Ed demanded. Envy ignored this and smacked the remote down on the near by work bench before giving it a shake like he was trying to find the prize inside. "Fine!" Ed said, bringing the stump of metal to his other palm. "Taking my hand didn't do a thing!" Ed let loose a row of spikes and Envy broke out laughing and shot to the right.

"Ed, dammit!" Roy yelled, when he watched the concrete of the floor collide with the wall inches from the solvents. "Be careful!"

"Feel like earning your paycheck and backing me up!" Ed yelled, running after Envy. Ed clapped and threw his hands against the workbench along side of him and flipped it up. The metal tools on top fell to the floor and the top portion of the table separated into spears and fired forward. Envy ran dodging them all before grabbing a five gallon bucket of shellac paint and tossing it forward. Roy was doing what he could to keep fire from the mix, but he saw the creature's intent and sent out flames. Shellac was flammable, and it was flying toward Ed and would cover the boy on impact making it harder for them to use fire with Ed running around like a gasoline soaked rag.

Roy's flames hit and the bit exploded outward in a violent ball of fire. As fast as the content could burn the ball was shrinking, and Ed ran from it as it sent comet sized lumps flying in the boy's direction. Burning bits of it splattered to the floor setting flammable parts of the destroyed tool bench on fire and Ed kicked a piece with the automail and sent it back Envy's way. "Try not to take me out Roy!"

"Ed, half of everything in here is flammable!" Roy yelled, unable to bite his tongue any longer. Ed just wasn't getting that!

"So aim!" Ed yelled, sending more spikes across the room. They hit the far wall and smashed the windows out and destroyed every workbench in the way.

Envy cheered when the glass above them came down like rain. "Careful Fullmetal Alchemist!" Envy laughed. Roy was back far enough the glass was only bouncing about his ankles, and Ed had used his metal arm to shield most of him before ducking under a workbench for cover. "You're making so much noise all your backup will arrive and we won't have any fun!" Ed scrambled out from under the table and the sound of the glass crunching under his sneakers made it sound like he were walking on snow. "That nice lady the First Lieutenant was here. You should give her a gold star colonel, she figured me out first."

Roy felt his rage return, and he curled his hand into a fist. Envy was standing along side a tank of compressed oxygen, and he couldn't fire.

"Did you hurt her?" Ed asked, sounding worried. Envy shrugged and pinched a toggle switch on the remote. Flicking it repeatedly he looked upward for a reaction. "She doesn't have anything to do with you and me Envy."

"She's fine," Envy said casually. "She'll recover." Roy didn't know how to take that answer, but he wasn't willing to ask questions the way Ed did. He didn't trust what the enemy reported to him, and he knew it would work against him if he lost his head. "You know I really only waited around here to see you Ed, and I will admit that." Envy broke a wide grin. It was too large for a human face, and swept from side to side with too much teeth and too much gum. "I imagine we came for the same purpose. To find out what was happening, right?"

"Are you making the substance?" Ed asked, far too engaged for Roy's comfort. Ed was speaking with the enemy as if there were more than just a chance it wouldn't lie to them. Ed was having conversation as if it may in fact tell the truth, and if it didn't, they would be able to tell it wasn't. On the battlefield this is what soldiers referred to as, letting the enemy get inside your head. Instead of establishing that everything the enemy said was lies, you were filtering through, and the uncertainty this could develop was dangerous.

"Ed, leave it alone," Roy warned. Ed glanced quickly to Roy with surprise, but Envy ignored this.

"It's a basic transmutation and it's done with a circle and everything," Envy said, reporting as if this were old news. "One transmutation to destroy and one transmutation which is activated upon completion of the first to generate the salt material we all discovered through a combination of the rubble being dismantled and one or two hard to decipher added ingredients."

"What type of added ingredients?" Ed asked, captivated with this idea. Roy too, was shocked the enemy was giving them what sounded like an accurate report.

Envy shrugged. "It's different every time, and it's not hard to figure out. You would have done it if they had attacked while you've all been out here camping." Ed frowned with annoyance. If this was the truth it meant Envy was an inconvenience and nothing more. "Or if you weren't preoccupied with other things, like growing," Envy teased. Ed snarled, and Roy glanced cautiously toward the boy. Now was not the time to be taken with short jokes! "Okay, so now I have to ask Fullmetal," Envy said, adopting a bit more excitement in tone. Roy felt the conversation shifting. "Which is more conductive, your arm or your leg?"

"If you knew there was no new substance out here, then why stay?" Ed asked, sounding angry. "What for? There isn't anything here for you. It's a waste of your time!"

Envy smiled, holding the remote slightly extended with his finger resting on a large green button. "Isn't it obvious! I stayed out here to see what you humans were going to do!" Envy broke out laughing.

"That's such crap!" Ed yelled, stepping forward aggressively.

"No, really!" Envy insisted, continuing to laugh. "I mean, why not?" Envy gave another shrug. "It was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed myself." Envy gave them both a wink, and Roy felt himself desire to step back. The creature was growing giddy the way it did with the blade of a knife in his neck. Discretely he looked around for impending danger, but he couldn't see any. "You don't think I stayed on the side lines do you?" Envy asked, tapping the button lightly with his finger. "Oh no, Fullmetal. I joined in." Envy lifted the remote and showed it to them both with a wide grin. "I've figured this out by the way," Envy said, before returning it to a casual grasp and laying his finger back over the green button. "I had the pleasure of crossing paths with each and every one of you as you worked, you just didn't know it! I was all over the place, impersonating all sorts of schmucks in this town! And I must say Fullmetal, I really enjoyed spanking your cocky ass to tears."

Ed jerked with these words as if they held an electrical current and shook him. Roy felt the impact as well, and it was something intense and appalling. He was more bothered with the notion this thing had been impersonating individuals without detection, and actually had manipulated them, more specifically to humiliate Ed in such an abusive way, then he was with the notion their preliminary scouts could not determine the order of transmutations which caused this entire investigation. There was just something creepy and alarming about a shape shifting enemy with the patience to lure Fullmetal into a situation where it could force him to mentally and physically surrender, even if only for a moment, and even if it required the boy to remain unaware. Roy looked quickly to Ed with concern, because he wanted a very real and very permanent separation between Ed and this thing, but Ed went berserk with Envy's confession.

"You son of a bitch!" Ed screamed, charging forward full speed with rage.

"Ed stop!" Roy yelled, rushing after the boy.

Ed ran to Envy and threw his broken automail forward to impale the creature, but Envy ducked and jumped almost too ridiculously fast to see. It was agile beyond belief and propelled itself at least seven feet into the air where the room's construction provided nothing abnormally flammable. Roy didn't need another chance. He sent fire after the thing in shots the size of beach balls. He made them intensely hot and hallow so on impact the pop would spread the flames upward and downward on the thing's body. Envy was fast, missing them by a hair so round bouts of flame hit the back wall.

"Out of the way Ed!" Roy yelled, sending the fire balls forward. Ed jumped back, catching one with his automail leg and from the knee down several inches of the metal turned red with heat but didn't melt.

"Way to warn me!" Ed yelled running for cover, and fanning at the metal which would be sensitive while in a malleable temperature.

Envy ran to a thin tank of oil and stood on the top grinning. "You really are the Flame Alchemist!" It cheered, and then all at once it was in Roy's face and up against him. Roy felt his breath catch, and he heard Ed whirl around when Envy seemed to suddenly disappear. "That was impressive," Envy said kindly. Ed was yelling obscenities but Envy wasn't listening. Roy felt the blade against his neck and knew it felt confident once again because Ed was unwilling to attack them both. "Unfortunately, I need to restrain your hands after that little stunt." Envy was standing in front of him, and it gave a shove forcing him to take a step back in order to absorb it. He would have sworn it had grown taller, and wondered briefly if it had done so simply so it could stand on its own two feet and look him in the eye.

Envy backed them into the wall and smiled the smile of someone on top. "I know what you're thinking," it said softly, too low for Ed to hear. Roy could literally feel Ed's building anxiety with their private conversation. "You think help is coming." This was true. "You think your blonde smoking Lieutenant is coming, or that the woman is coming." He hoped to god Hawkeye was coming. "You're thinking, the Fullmetal Alchemist can take me, and your position is not as precarious as it is." Envy's hand slid over Roy's ammunition glove and tugged gently at the finger tips until it slid off and fluttered to the floor. Roy cooperated, he did believe Ed could hold his own, and he did believe that he was capable of beating this thing even with the steps it was taking. "Funny thing about you humans is you often don't understand your positions even when you're in them." Envy led Roy's hands up one at a time and fastened them to a thin copper pipe which ran along most of the wall using bits of twin which were hanging from it. The area where they stood was covered with a special paint splattered mat. It was easy to understand things were often hung here and painted, or hung here to dry.

While Envy spoke Ed quietly crossed the room until he was a few feet away and carving a transmutation circle into his automail with a scrap of metal. Ed was getting ready. Roy wasn't certain for what, but in his peripheral he could see Ed readying his stance and raising his arm, and he couldn't take it. He felt since they had been discovered, he was first a means for transportation to the group, then a bystander while it targeted Ed, and now again he was being moved out of the way. He was not the target. The message was clear: Ed was the target. Knowing the creature would understand what he was doing, he turned his eyes to Ed and again told the boy through his eyes to leave. Ed shook his head, holding his metal arm outward like a sword.

"God dammit," Roy said angrily. He understood he now looked like a hostage, but that was not what he felt like, and he had been a hostage before. "You obey my orders," he said, placing as much threat into his eyes as he could.

"Remember what I said about possibly not obeying your orders Colonel?" Ed asked, sounding a bit nervous. Roy was using his angry-colonel tone, but Ed looked worried with Roy's restrains, and unwilling to abandon him in order to leave.

Envy did not take long to tie knots, and as soon as it was done it moved its thumb to the green button on the remote it held and pressed it. Immediately something in the room began a low mechanical hum, and Roy glanced around with uncertainty before he felt his belt buckle move. His metal belt buckle.

"Ed!" Roy snapped, turning vicious eyes to the boy. "Get out of here right now!" Ed looked flabbergasted with this order. "Right now!"

"I can't!" Ed cried, looking concerned he was being forced to be so insubordinate.

"Oh no, he's right, you should," Envy said, turning around to face Ed with a wide smile. Down the front of the remote were two rows of buttons. The first started with the large green one which was now lit, and under it were several smaller ones Envy began pressing. "One, two, three, green, green, green," Envy said, happily punching them in. "Three buttons is not so strong." Ed was watching this looking clueless. "Four, five."

"Ed!" Roy was furious. "I order you to retreat!" Ed sent worried eyes toward Roy growing panicked. Ed couldn't act on this order because in his youth he didn't understand it. He didn't understand how in war you ordered people away for the good of the mission, or to save themselves. Ed only understood his own childish version of nobility, and that did not fit on the battlefield. "You're not leaving me, dammit!" Roy yelled, with Envy giggling and working the remote as fast as he could. "I just need you to retreat! It's a magnet Fullmetal! A magnet!"

Ed's eyes widened with immediate horror. "Envy!" Ed yelled, looking around wildly for whatever magnet Roy thought put him in danger. Ed ran to the nearest bolted workstation and grabbed onto the leg. "Where is it!" Ed asked, scanning the heavily stocked, and now chaotically destroyed room.

"Not down here honey," Envy said, snickering and unable to contain his pleasure even as he spoke. Ed looked to Envy with an expression of true rage and true fear, but Envy was simply bobbing his hand in an upward point. "Up there!"

Ed looked up and directly overhead hung a large circular magnet with the diameter of a small pool or trampoline. Roy was startled with the mass of it, and alarmed with the weight he imagined it had and the fact it was hanging over there heads while they blew up parts of the room and possibly whatever was holding it there. Thirty feet up it looked like a large black moon, and he envisioned it sucking up a car.

Ed was staring upward in terrified shock as Envy lit up the buttons beneath the large green one until the metal scraps began wobbling and then suddenly they were sucked upward and collected about the bottom of it in violent clanks and groans.

Envy made a face of disagreement. "Darn, I didn't want those there." Envy turned off a few buttons and the scraps dropped to the floor and showered Ed who dove under the workbench he was hanging onto for cover. The minute the magnet reduced in strength Ed was up and charging at Envy. "What are you doing!" Envy laughed, hitting the buttons and Ed, who was running at them, began slowing until he was sliding backward to the pull of an unseen force.

"Envy!" Ed yelled, forcing his automail forward and in a slow lift as if to bring it down like a hammer. "I am going to pound your face in!"

"With what arm?" Envy laughed.

Roy was horrified with the sight of Ed nearly stationary and struggling to keep his arm lowered when it wanted to pull above his head.

"Now Fullmetal, did you help make the transmutation that covers itself with a second reaction?" Envy asked, sounding almost thoughtful. Ed was struggling with his arm. Roy could see heavy strain breaking out about Ed's forehead in light perspiration as his face turned read. It took Envy a moment to understand Ed was too preoccupied to answer, and he reduce the magnet. Ed dropped to his knees panting when his arm sunk down and hung off him as if it had been over stretched. "Did you?" Envy asked. "Can you take credit for that?"

"…Maybe," Ed said, panting. Ed grabbed his automail shoulder and continued catching his breath. "You think I did it?" Ed asked, before breaking a fast smile. "You thought I did?" Envy's face darkened when Ed chuckled. "Thought you'd been out smarted again, did you?" Ed rolled his metal shoulder before resting his hands on his knees and pushing himself to his feet.

"When I got here, you guys were already here," Envy said, sounding mildly annoyed. "And it's a little hard to imagine you were really all fooled and couldn't see that someone was simply ransacking your pathetic base. You've been out here for two weeks!"

"After us, huh?" Ed asked, wiping his mouth with his flesh hand. "How long did it take you to figure this all out then?" Ed asked. Envy snarled. "Were you worried?" Ed asked smugly. "That us humans made something that you didn't know about? A chemical you didn't know about?" Roy could see Envy's agitation rising and he looked up at his hands. The twine was tied tight, so wiggling free would not be discrete. With Ed talking, and Envy's information the situation was coming together and Roy now understood their insignificant base was targeted because it was insignificant, and this was nothing more than a burglar's research. The combination of two transmutations with a product meant to disguise the alchemy while simultaneously dissolving evidence and fingerprints. They had been lured the same way this thing had, and while they had not yet been able to find their enemy, he imagined to this Homunculus, it must have looked largely like they were the ones orchestrating all this with their constant surveillance, and their own attacks on the base. However, it wouldn't have been able to believe this for long. While it might have assumed the Fullmetal Alchemist, who appeared to be strutting around, was the creator, a few run-ins with Ed would have revealed differently.

"No one knows it wasn't you tiny Alchemist, so I can still take out all of my anger on you," Envy sneered.

Ed ignored this, and Roy wasn't certain how much of this Ed was putting together while still engaged in conversation.

"I bet it hurt that corpse you call a body when you touched it," Ed said, tipping his head down and smiling at the creature who stood enraged with the remote. "Just like salt thrown onto a slug."

Envy slammed his fist down on the remote with anger and the pad lit up under his hand. The magnet responded instantly, and for a moment Ed's angry expression disappeared for a wide eyed look of panic before he was gone. The automail jerked over his head almost too fast for them to see and sucked Ed right to the magnet.

"Fullmetal!" Roy screamed, in absolute shock. Ed had been ripped off his feet and the automail was hungrily flush to the magnet with Ed dangling thirty feet up like a rag doll. Even from the floor the metal arm could be seen stretched outward in a gray line before Ed's head was bent painfully to the side as the shoulder socket was hugged to the metal. The angle of Ed's neck was so extreme Roy felt his mouth dry up and he stared for a long moment in perpetual fear just the impact of the magnet to the automail could have broken Ed's neck.

Envy also seemed surprised with the power of the magnet and stared up in fascination. After Ed disappeared a long pause of silence swept the room until Envy spoke. "That doesn't look good," Envy said, walking forward to stand beneath Ed's swaying body. The thing lifted its hand and thoughtfully drummed its fingers to its chin. "Are you conscious up there Fullmetal!" Envy called.

Roy felt the stun of his emotions giving way to rage and he threw a furious glare toward the half dressed boy. "Are you trying to kill him!" he screamed, yanking downward on his wrists.

Envy looked over with a gaze of slightly railroaded disinterest. "Well," it said calmly, before looking back up. "No, not exactly."

The phone on the back wall began to ring, and Envy went to it with his eyes trained on Ed as if any moment Ed might do something when instead he looked unconscious.

Roy ripped downward on his wrists with an urge to kill boiling up from inside his stomach and flushing his limbs with heat. It was an enveloping emotion of uncontrollable insurmountable proportion and his head felt as if it were ringing when he stretched up to his wrists and bit the twine to chew his way free.

Envy picked up the phone slowly. "Hello?" The things eyes didn't leave the magnet for a good minute. Then Envy turned his attention to the remote as if there were a button to reactivate Fullmetal. "No, he's here with me." Envy turned off two buttons and looked up for the magnet's response but nothing happened. "He's still alive. The brother doesn't seem to be here either, but who cares. It's no fun to play with a suit of armor." Two more buttons were turned off and Ed's shoulder let loose and dropped the boy a foot from the magnet. Ed's elbow was hanging on strong, and the sudden detachment scared ice into Roy's veins. If Ed fell while unconscious he wouldn't even try to save himself and the fall would be fatal!

"Stop turning it off!" Roy screamed.

Envy glanced over to Roy with the phone talking in his ear. "Can you hold for a second?" Envy asked the line, before sitting the phone down and cupping a hand around his mouth. "Hey Fullmetal!"

"If you weren't trying to kill him, what the hell were you trying to accomplish!" Roy yelled, struggling with his restrains. "If you weren't trying to kill him, how could you be so careless!"

Envy picked up the phone ignoring this. "Am I going to be in any trouble if I accidentally killed him?" Envy asked. "And I didn't set the house on fire either, they did that themselves."

Roy felt himself loose control. The heat inside his body was becoming flames all about the back of his neck and he knew what it was at once. It was wrath. A hot and blinding rage he had not felt in years. It gripped him like a seizure and he braced his body and yanked downward on his arms with such sudden strength and intensity, Envy lowered the phone from his ear with a look of confusion.

"Colonel, I don't want any trouble from you," Envy said angrily.

Roy felt like telling the thing he was going to kick its ass up and down this room when he was free, but his body was in such strain he couldn't speak. The phone line was telling the Homunculus it was time to leave, and Envy was arguing it had not had enough time to play. As if tormenting the students in this school was fun. As if running amok and wasting their military time and money was a game. As if torturing a young boy with the vision of what he didn't have, and threatening his well being was a god damn joke. Roy was just about to start swearing viciously and in way he had not done since he was twenty six and would have one too many beers, when he saw her.

In the far right corner of the room, along side what looked to be a large hanger door capable of opening and closing, was a thin entrance door with an even thinner window slot at eye level. The narrow slit of glass provided barely any light to the previously darkened room and had not been noticeable. In fact, Roy imagined he never would have noticed it if it were not for the sudden movement inside it, and if that sudden movement had not been a familiar pair of feminine eyes.

From in-between what could be no more than three inches, Hawkeye appeared as a worried gaze, a few strands of blonde bangs, and a gun. Roy physically choked on sight of her. Hawkeye!

Her eyes met his almost instantly. Somehow, she knew where he was. Without a glance to the entire room she looked right at him as if the connection, which was born on the battlefield years ago, pulled them together like opposite ends of a battery. She found him even before she found the enemy, and he was determined to tell her all she needed to know.

Hawkeye's eyes flashed with relief when she saw him, but Roy's tightened into a ferocious gaze and he threw it toward the Homunculus with everything he needed her to understand written across his face. He was certain she would see it, and he was thrilled she would act on it. He looked at that thing talking on the phone with only one thought. SHOOT. Shoot to kill. KILL. KILL. Shoot to KILL!

He wanted it dead, and Hawkeye followed his gaze and disappeared from the window. Seconds later her bullets flew threw it. The first hit the thing in the arm, the second blew the phone into pieces, and the third hit the wall when it moved.

Envy tore away from the door, but it didn't stop her. She fired at the doorknob and kicked the door in. With a small laugh Envy looked back to the Flame Alchemist tied to the wall and offered the same playful solute Tommy had given Havoc. "It's been a pleasure Colonel." Hawkeye started shooting before it finished speaking, and a slug hit the wall inches from Roy's left ear. It splattered sheet rock onto his smile, because he felt safe with her bullets.

Envy was on the move. He deliberately threw the magnet's remote at the ground so it smashed, and went running for the exit.

Roy yelled the only order ringing through his head. "Kill him!"

Hawkeye was firing rapidly, and her bullets sprayed up the side of the wall and across the closed door as Envy bounded and jumped his way there before diving into the hall.

"Sir!" Hawkeye called, running to Roy while reloading.

"Go after him!" he ordered fiercely. She was startled with his venomous tone, but only for a minute. Then she slapped a new cartridge in and took into the hall. "Get him!" Roy yelled, craning his head toward the door while pulling on his wrists. "Kill him!" He yanked down with all his might, until he felt his spine pulling painfully and his wrists started to bleed. "Fullmetal!" he yelled loudly, dropping his weight to hang from his arms and using his legs to push himself forward. "Fullmetal!" With no luck he grabbed the pipe and curled himself up so he could press his feet against it and kicked. If he could weaken it he could bend it forward, but the pipe seemed rooted in tight. It seemed nothing would budge, either the twine or his hands would have to be cut off.

Ed startled to consciousness almost thirty feet up when his body burped itself back to awareness and vomited. With the force of it he cried out the noise of someone unprepared to vomit and it echoed about him. Then he emptied his stomach and everything fell to the floor and splattered.

Roy was trying to chew his right wrist free when it sounded like someone dumped a small bucket and he looked up in time to catch Ed's first beginning movements. Ed reached his flesh arm up to the magnet and felt the hard metal surface with his vision swirling in every direction and something warm leaking down his forehead.

"Ed!" Roy yelled, stopping all movement. "Edward!"

Ed looked towards his name, and the colors of the room made a foggy picture of tiny things below him. He wasn't exactly sure where he was, or what was happening, but he was certain he seemed to be hanging off something, and Roy was talking to him.

"Get," Ed croaked, voice raspy. "Get me off this." Ed smacked his palm weakly against the magnet. His mouth tasted disgusting and he wiped at the vomit down his chin. "Get me down."

Ed's voice was small so high up, and Roy nodded in affirmation. "I am trying," he said, putting as much reassurance into his tone as he could muster. Just hearing Ed's voice crippled him with relief. Suddenly he realized how little he'd been breathing while struggling to get free and his lungs were hungrily sucking air.

Ed was continuing to move, and felt about his head before pulling his hand back when his fingers became wet. His palm came back bloody and Ed hoped his pounding headache was simply because he was hit with this magnet and nothing else. With his neck aching he looked at his arm. The automail seemed to have compacted in on itself with the magnetic pull and looked run over by a car. "Roy," Ed said uneasily. His arm seemed to be what was holding him in place, but he could feel the magnet trying to pull his leg upward and he didn't want it to succeed. If it did this to his arm, it was safe to say it might do the same to his leg, and it was one thing not to have an arm and entirely different not to have a leg.

"Ed, try and stay still," Roy said, wiggling his right wrist from side to side. The twine was giving out the slightest encouraging bit, and he planned to rip his hand out as soon as he was able.

"It's just my arm keeping me here," Ed said, nervously. Even with his vision hazy he could tell there was quite a distance below him.

"Ed, don't move," Roy said firmly. From the doorway he heard Hawkeye yell. It was her startled cry of surprise, but her bullets followed so he wasn't worried. She released almost a full clip and he heard something collapse. It was loud and the vibration came through the wall and floor. That seemed a little excessive and Roy reached back up to chew at the twine. He wanted out now!

Hawkeye was yelling as if she had found someone, and for a moment Roy thought she was yelling at the Homunculus before Havoc's voice joined hers. It was a relief to hear Havoc, but their tones were panicked and Roy felt like a leashed dog. His men were all fighting and where was he!

"What's going on?" Ed asked, sounding half asleep and scared. "Are we under attac—still under attack?"

Roy stopped chewing only to give an order. "Do not move." It was very direct, and he could hear Ed beginning a sloppy rate of breathing as if this disturbed the boy. Ed lifted his hand back up to the magnet and felt around for anything of use but it was a perfectly clean surface with the exception of some of the other scraps. Carefully he felt over a few, and they were basic metal spare parts, some flat and flush to the magnet, but others with sharp corners and twisted shapes.

Roy heard Hawkeye returning in a run and stopped trying to free himself. She came around the corner with her shirt splattered with blood tucking her gun into the back of her skirt. "Sir!" She shut and locked the door behind her, and he didn't find this reassuring. "I am so glad you're safe."

Roy smiled despite it all. "I could say the same to you." She came at him with a knife and cut his hands free. "There is a remote broken about the floor. We need to find all the pieces to it. We need to repair it." He lowered his arms slowly. They were incredibly sore and temporarily weak from the strain of pulling with everything he had.

Hawkeye looked down at the smashed bits about her feet before back to Roy. He could see the concern in her eyes. He saw her look at the cut on his neck and felt her anxiety he had been tied to a wall, but he didn't have time to address this. He dropped to his knees and began scooping the remote shards into a pile. "Where is Havoc?" he asked.

Hawkeye dropped to her knees and began helping. "Further down the hall injured. I couldn't move him, Fuery is doing it." Roy felt relieved both Havoc and Fuery were together. "I am a little uncertain with what's happening here, but I am sorry I am late sir." Hawkeye was dressed in civilian attire wearing a pink fitted dress shirt, knee high jean skirt, and boots. Partially coated in blood, which did not seem to be hers, she looked like a injured shopper or school teacher rather than a soldier. "Havoc took a blow to the head, but I think he'll be okay." Roy gave a nod and continued working. He was frantically grabbing pieces, and Hawkeye was slowing down as she studied this with a look of concern. His urgency made no sense to her. "Sir?" she asked, waiting to be told what was happening or what they were doing. "Sir?" Roy seemed absolutely consumed in his task. "Are you all right?" she asked, feeling true concern blossom.

"Yes, don't worry about me Lieutenant," Roy said absently, stretching to the right for a scattered button. When he returned she grabbed his hand to stop him, and he did. He lifted his gaze and hers was full of worry. Above her left eye was a streak of blood as if she'd touched herself with a bloody hand. The sight of this blood on her face made his duty feel like a thousand bricks. It was his job to protect her the same way it was for him to protect all of his men. "We need to find these pieces now." His obsession over the remote was scaring her and he could see it. "A Homunculi was here," he said, grabbing a shard of plastic and scratching the array he would need into the floor. "I have a fantastic story for you."

"Sir," Hawkeye said, sounding none too convinced. "I found Havoc and Fuery, but I've been unable to find…" As if on queue Ed broke into a stomach clenching gag and emptied his stomach again. It fell in a splatter only five feet from Hawkeye, and she startled. She yanked her gun out and aimed at the tiny puddle while scooting from it. "What is…" she whispered, before jerking the gun upward. She was aiming at Ed and the moment she realized it was him her mouth dipped open in a state of horror and she scrambled to her feet clutching a hand over it. "Oh my god," she gasped, looking quickly to Roy for explanation as much as help. He was sitting in the rubble of the remote with his one wrist bleeding and his clothing a wreck.

"This controls the magnet," he said. He didn't follow her gaze upward. He didn't want to see Ed dangling in pain when he couldn't yet get to the boy.

Hawkeye's eyes dropped to the sea of parts with new commitment, and for a moment she bent down to continue, before changing her mind and standing back up. "Ed!" she called, tucking her gun into the back rim of her skirt. "Ed, don't worry, we're going to get you down!" Roy could hear the panic of the exigency in her voice, but hoped that all Ed would notice was the fact it was shaking.

"Don't stand…under me," Ed mumbled, holding his metal shoulder with his flesh arm. "I am…throwing up." Ed sounded apologetic as much as he sounded upset, and Hawkeye's face caved with sympathy.

"Oh sir," she whispered, sounding heartbroken.

"Hawkeye, please," Roy said, closing his eyes. He had seen her expression cave like this only once before.

Three days after Ed became a state alchemist they had been packing up for the day when, from his office window, she had seen three soldiers who were not fans of little kids outranking them, shove Ed into the ground and hold him there. Roy remembered this day clearly, because Hawkeye's first response was a sighed disappointed and scolding, "Oh." As if the immaturity of some soldiers had not fully sunken in for her. Then suddenly, she was fanning her hand towards him saying, "Sir, get over here quick." Roy went to her side and looked out at the square beneath his office.

Ed was stomach down in the lawn with one soldier keeping him in place with a boot on his back and the other crouched in front of his face talking and holding Ed's head by his hair. When the soldier began trying to press Ed face first into a puddle of mud with Ed struggling to stay above it she asked, "Aren't you going to do something to stop this?" in an accusatory tone.

The fact Roy said he was not, because soldier hazing was accepted, was a tiff they battled for the next three days. Then he broke down and assured her he would interfere if Ed was involved. She was not comfortable with the older soldiers inflicting older soldier pranks on a boy half their age, and while Roy thought sheltering Ed from this behavior would make Ed weaker, he understood not sheltering Ed from it made his right hand Lieutenant unhappy with him. Hawkeye was angry when he didn't stop what she called bullying, and when Ed was finally released she had watched the boy stagger up wiping clumps of mud from his face and spit out the alchemist watch he had just earned. "Oh sir," she had said, caving to that sympathetic face. "They made him eat his own watch." She found this heart breaking, and she covered her mouth the same way she did when she looked up and saw Ed's tiny growing body hanging off a busted metal arm and attached to a magnet.

Forcing this memory away Roy raked the broken remote into a pile of rubble with shaking hands. She was helping along side of him when he sparked the array and the remote assembled incorrectly.

"We're missing pieces," Hawkeye said, looking about while keeping her hands carefully in front of her. The pads of her fingers were scratched and bleeding like his from carelessly grabbing broken fragments as fast as possible. "I don't see anymore!" Hawkeye rushed to the first workstation and dropped back to her knees. Frantically she knocked aside the scattered tools and bits of the room they had blasted apart searching for anything which looked like remote.

"All right, I am going to transmute myself something to get up there with, and get him down," Roy said, pushing to his feet overrun with adrenaline. This remote was taking too long.

"What?" Hawkeye asked, sounding startled from where she was half under a workbench. She looked back at Roy with confusion. "If he's attached to the magnet how are you going to pry him free?" Roy had not thought of this. "Can he move his arm?"

"Ed! Can you move your arm?" Roy yelled up.

It was hard to tell if Ed's eyes were open or closed, but after a brief minute of rough breathing Ed answered. "It's broken."

"Can you move it?" Roy asked, uncertain what broken arms entailed.

"I feel really, really, nauseous," Ed said, sounding uneasy with this confession. "I don't really want to move at all."

Roy stepped back to the half assembled remote and picked it up. Most of the pieces had been found so it appeared recognizable, but the frame was crooked, and some of the buttons were missing. Of what was there, he hesitated to press anything in case the magnet turned off.

"Sir, can you transmute something in case he falls?" Hawkeye asked, climbing up from the floor with her legs and skirt powdered with sheetrock dust and debris. "Ed!" Hawkeye called, backing away from the magnet to better see him. "Can you transmute something to attach yourself to the magnet."

"My arm is attached to it!" Ed yelled back angrily. "I can freaking…I can't freaking!" Ed kicked a bit and his body swayed. The movement sent him dry heaving and Hawkeye looked worried with this response.

"He hit his head," Roy said. "I think he's a bit disoriented."

"I am not disoriented!" Ed snapped, before puking up a small mouthful of stomach bile and emptying that toward the floor. "Get me down!"

Roy turned the remote over in his hands and looked at the back in hopes there were some type of helpful directions, but as soon as he flipped it Ed cried out.

"Ah!" Ed yelled, groaning painfully. "Turn it down! Turn it down!" the magnet was humming and Hawkeye was horrified.

"Sir!" she cried.

Roy flipped the remote back around and the buttons Envy had initially lit up were again lit with the next one flickering in and out with malfunction. "It's broken," Roy said quickly. "I think it might still be sending signals out." The flickering button lit up entirely and the second started flickering. The minute it did Ed screamed.

"Turn it off!" Ed cried, grabbing at his shoulder when it was sucked back to the magnet.

"Sir, stop it!" Hawkeye cried, rushing to Roy's side and looking at the remote. "Ed, we're not doing it!"

"Stop it! It's tearing my arm out!" Ed screamed, sounding wild with pain. Roy felt his temperature plummet. Was that a real thing? Could the automail be ripped back out?

"I am going to smash it!" he ran to the nearest workbench and threw the remote down. In the dust and wreckage which had scattered around on top of it he grabbed a large metal wrench and swung it into the glowing buttons. The remote was still malfunctioning when he prepared for his second swing. The current flickering button lit up green and the next began blinking in and out. With the new power to the magnet Ed's automail leg was sucked back into the metal tossing Ed's body against it and knocking the wind from him. Ed choked before struggling. With either side of his body pinned the rest of him was held painfully hanging from the metal appendages and beneath part of his lower back was a sharp metal scrap jabbing him.

"Hurry! It pulled his leg in!" Hawkeye cried, watching this with wide scared eyes.

Roy beat the remote with hammering swings so the buttons popped free and rolled away and the bulk of it became a heap of plastic and metal scraps, but this didn't improve things. The magnet was no longer turning up, but it wasn't turning off either.

Roy ran to the wall closest to the magnet and used the wrench to scratch a transmutation circle. "What are you doing?" Hawkeye asked, temporarily lost as to what to do.

"Making a ladder." Roy threw the wrench aside and sparked the ladder into life. It grew outward from the wall and lead to the ceiling. "Ed I am coming up!" he yelled, climbing quickly.

"Wait!" Hawkeye called, running to the far side of the room. Roy was several feet up and stopped to look over his shoulder impatiently. In heels she was only slightly slower than she was without them, and she struggled over the workbench Ed had destroyed and the glass all over the floor before grabbing a rolled bungee cord. "Take this with you!" She was coming back quickly and Roy extended a hand for it.

"I am going to turn it off," he said, slipping the cord over his arm.

"I know," she said, already on the same path as him. "When you do Ed will drop." She gave him her knife and he began his climb. He was quick and in seconds he was parallel to where Ed was hanging. Thirteen feet up he began to hear the soft groaning sound of metal collapsing in on itself, and by the time he was close enough to look Ed in the eye, he could see the boy's leg crunching inward slowly. He was shocked, and for a moment he stared at the leg that was slowly shrinking before looking to Ed's closed eyes. Ed's expression was tight with pain and it scared him. "Fullmetal," he said softly.

Ed opened his eyes the tiniest amount and looked at his arrival and the ladder with great need. "How is that going to help?" Ed asked, voice heavy with strain.

"I am going to get you down," he said firmly. He was going to make this happen. He glanced again at the leg. "Can you feel that?" he asked, hoping Ed could not, and being unable to imagine what it would feel like to have part of you compact in on itself.

"Please get me down," Ed said, forcing a weak optimistic tone. "I don't want to start crying in front of Hawkeye."

Roy reached forward and took Ed's flesh hand which was hanging limply from where Ed was pinned. He squeezed it warmly. "I am going to climb on top of it." Ed gave a weak nod. "You might feel it move, but it seems stable. We're going to secure you before we deactivate it, understand?"

Ed smiled weakly, and answered just as his ankle crumpled into a twisted metal shard. "Okay I got—ah!" Ed cried out, wincing deeply and the sneaker on the automail leg slipped off and fell down to Hawkeye. The metal ankle and foot had become nothing but a twisted shred. "I got it, I got it," Ed said, breathing deeply to combat the pain. "Yes, I got it." Ed took his flesh hand back and made a thumbs up.

"Ed, you keep it together," Roy said firmly, looking at the blood on Ed's forehead and in his hair. Ed broke out nodding and followed it with a few quick nods. "Keep it together!" Roy resumed climbing. "Talk to Hawkeye, you look at her and let me know if she gets blurry."

Hawkeye was listening intently from where she stood below. "Ed, look at me," she called up. "Hang in there."

Roy climbed high enough he could see the top of the magnet and as he suspected it hung from a center cable several feet from the ceiling with a few running wires. He reached for it and stabilized a grip before getting himself high enough he could jump on. The addition of his weight caused him to swing a bit and Ed promptly threw up. Hawkeye was kind about this, and Roy pulled himself to the center of the magnet listening to what he believed was her sweetest tone.

"It's okay Ed." She was trying to keep conversation since Ed was barely making any. "If you're sick, go ahead and puke, we don't mind."

Fuery arrived at the door and Hawkeye's sweet tone disappeared. She took out her gun and let him in. With Roy pulling wires away from the main magnet cable he listened to them discuss what was going on. Fuery was injured, but not badly. He'd bandaged Havoc and stopped the bleeding, put Havoc in a secure spot, and scouted the area briefly before risking a trip to their room. Hawkeye was pleased and asked about Havoc's wound and the creature's whereabouts but all seemed good.

"Sir, we don't think it's here anymore!" Hawkeye called up. "Permission to evacuate?" Evacuation never sounded so sweet.

"Granted!" Roy called, singling out a blue wire and pulling it from the magnet. "I want us to leave as soon as possible!" Roy unraveled the bungee cord and fed a long piece down to Ed. "Ed, wrap this about yourself and make it tight."

"Make what tight?" Ed asked, sounding sleepy.

Hawkeye left with Fuery and locked the door behind her.

"The cord," Roy said, sitting with the magnet's main cable running up between his legs like a tree so his weight would keep the magnet steady.

"I can't grab it."

"How far away from you is it?"

"A few feet."

"If I swing it can you reach?" Roy asked, stretching forward and jostling the cable so it would swing. "Ed?" He jostled harder, careful not to grant the cord enough momentum it might whip Ed in the face. "Ed?" Ed wasn't answering. "Ed, focus with me!" Roy snapped.

"I am!" Ed cried, sounding wild. "I only have one freaking hand! I can't move! What do you want! Get it closer!" Roy moved the wire with greater force. "Roy!" Ed yelled angrily.

"What!" Roy snapped, with panic mounting.

"You have to get it closer! My leg is busting! I am not going to have a shoulder! Swing the fucking rope!" Roy stopped swinging the cable and sat up. Quickly he threaded more than enough cord for Ed into a pile and cut a section for himself. "What happened?" Ed called, sounding worried. Roy took the smaller piece of cord he'd severed and began tying his waist securely to the magnet's cable. "Roy? Where did you go?" It took a moment to make all the knots and then he pulled on his end firmly to test it. "Roy!" Ed called, trying to keep it together. "What's going on!" Tied securely, Roy began a slow and even belly crawl toward the edge of the magnet. "I don't believe this," Ed whined, sounding completely overloaded. "I don't freaking believe this."

Carefully Roy pulled himself to the edge and lowered himself over so his head was hanging off. Ed appeared upside down with his metal appendages tight to the magnet and the flesh pieces of him hanging down like ornaments. "Ed," Roy said kindly, feeling patient and friendly. Ed startled with the close proximity of Roy's voice and looked over. The top of Ed's forehead had dribbled some blood down his face and his right eye was squinted cautious of it. "You're doing great," Roy said sincerely. "I am going to hand you the cable." Ed reached his flesh arm forward, but even like this it was a struggle. Ed's arm was short, and with the automail locking him tight to the magnet he couldn't even wiggle. "Get it around your waist." Roy fed the cable to Ed's flesh hand and watched Ed struggle to thread it behind his back. The automail had curled awkwardly as if it had been exposed to intense heat. The individual digits had crushed into jagged blobs of steel, and Ed's ports were throbbing.

"I can't tie it," Ed muttered, bringing both ends of the cable together with his flesh hand and holding them looking defeated. "Roy," Ed said, looking over at Roy's upside down head and puff of hair. Roy looked like he had been electrocuted with his hair standing on end. Ed smiled faintly before releasing the cable and reaching to his knee. Carefully Ed grabbed a screw which was being forced out of its socket and began unscrewing it with his hand. When it released a small part of Ed's knee plate dropped down to the floor. "Can you find that for me?" Ed asked, bringing the screw to the cable. "When we get down?"

Roy wasn't going to lie. "No," he said. Ed was drawing a small transmutation circle into the cable with the screw as a pen, and Roy's answer brought another pained smile.

"I am going to charge the military to replace it." Ed bonded the cable with alchemy and then dropped the screw to the floor as well. "Okay I am ready." Ed shared a quick glance with Roy before closing his eyes and letting his head hang because holding it up was exhausting.

"Just sit tight," Roy said, climbing back up. Hawkeye returned when he was just reaching the cable again. She informed them they had the car and everyone was in it and waiting. Roy slipped the knife into the magnet's cable and prepared to cut the blue wire. "Ed, you've got some slack up here, so you'll fall a few feet, but not far."

"You're going to catch me, right?"

"I'll think on it." Roy pressed the blade to the wire and cut. The magnet shut off, Ed dropped, and Hawkeye screamed. As predicted the cable became taunt and Roy began hauling it up. It took nearly two minutes before Ed became visible as just the top of a blonde head. "Grab the magnet," Roy said, voice straining. Ed's single flesh hand came up and slapped the clean metal surface, but that was all Ed could do.

"Pull me up," Ed whimpered.

Roy struggled, Ed felt like a stone locking down his fishing line, and with the cable about Ed's torso the rest of Ed was literally in the way. Roy pulled slowly, careful not to put too much force on Ed's middle. With the angle, if the cord wasn't going to pull Edward up, it would just squeeze the boy harshly. "Ed, can you get yourself any higher?" This wasn't easy without Ed's participation. Ed didn't answer. "Ed, can you try?" Roy anchored as much of himself and the cord he held to the magnet before reaching forward for Ed's hand. "Take my hand," he said, fingers outstretched. Ed lifted his head and peeked over the top of the magnet. "Take it." Ed reached. "Make this work Fullmetal," Roy said adapting his colonel tone. "Get it together, and take my hand." He stretched as far as he could. "That's an order." Ed was struggling before this statement, but with it, Roy could feel Ed wiggling and trying to get his body up high enough their fingers could interlock. Ed's movement was not enough to jostle the magnet but Roy could feel slight vibrations when Ed gave a kick with his flesh leg and pushed himself high enough they connected. "Good," Roy said, dragging Ed up the side of the magnet by his arm. "Are you okay?" He pulled Ed forward gracelessly and it was like dragging a corpse. Ed's body was shaking and disoriented from the fall. The automail was twisted, and part of it was scraping at the top of the magnet with the movement. With exhaustion in his arm Roy pulled Ed to him and let Ed topple onto part of his leg and hip before wrapping his arm about the boy and squeezing. "Are you all right?"

"I threw up," Ed confessed, sounding ill. Roy chuckled. He held Ed as tight as he thought he could. "Some hit Hawkeye I think." Ed seemed to be breathing correctly, and he was making full sentences. What a relief. "Ah, everything hurts."

Roy disengaged enough to look down with a smile. "Can you see straight?" Ed nodded sloppily. "Can you move your arm?"



"No." There was blood about Ed's forehead and in his hair. "It feels hot all inside my thigh, I think it's entirely crushed." Ed's leg looked as if it had been fed into a trash compactor. "And I can see but…lights seem bright, and sometimes thing get blurry."

"I think you're going into shock." Ed was trembling constantly, and Roy didn't share this.

"You'd think it'd numb the pain," Ed said, cracking a weak smile. "What a bust."

"Can you hang on to me?" He began untying himself from the magnet. Ed gave a weak nod, wiping at his mouth and accidentally smearing blood onto his chin. "You're going to get on my back and we're going down the ladder," he said, scooting forward. Ed was not opposed, and climbed on as much as a person with one arm and one leg could. This was barely anything in comparison to the weight of Ed's broken metal appendages, and Roy grabbed the flesh arm Ed wrapped over his shoulder and hung on tight as he neared the edge of the magnet.

"Don't drop us," Ed said, becoming nervous with the space between the magnet and the wall. "Roy? Don't drop us." Roy was stretching forward over the edge and reaching for the ladder's rungs with Ed breathing heavily. With his fingers in aim he tipped their weight forward and caught the ladder rung with Ed squeezing the life out of him with a single arm. Moving the rest of them onto the ladder was difficult, but with his grip he was certain they wouldn't go down entirely.

"Holy crap," Ed rasped, still shaking when Roy managed to move them entirely onto the ladder at a height that was more than intimidating. "Don't drop us. Don't drop us."

"Stop looking down," Roy said, focusing on his grip. He moved one limb at a time, but even this minor movement caused Ed's flesh leg to continuously slip lower. "Ed, you're loosing your grip." Ed's hand tightened at once. "With your leg." Each step down caused it to slip that little bit more. "Don't panic when you loose it."

Ed's leg slid off almost on queue and Ed did panic. "Shit!" Ed cried, pressing his face into Roy's shoulder blade. "Let's transmute something! I want to transmute something!"

"Sir!" Hawkeye called up from the floor. "Are you all right!"

"Fine!" Roy called, continuing steadily. "We're not transmuting anything, we're two humans climbing down a ladder and humans have done this for centuries," Roy said firmly. He didn't know what he could transmute to get them up and down safely without destroying anymore of the room. He wanted Ed moved as little as possible and with the boy on his back, he would be able to descend and then walk them both to the car without ever putting Ed down.

"I can't hang on!" Ed yelled into Roy's back. "I am slipping!"

"You're not going to fall, I am reinforcing your arm."

"I am going to be sick," Ed cried, sounding overwhelmed.

"Ed, shut your eyes and let me do the work on this one," Roy said angrily. "Now focus."

"I am going to puke."

Roy felt Ed's grip loosen a bit and he panicked. He couldn't support Ed without some of Ed's help! Quickly he looked down, but there was still twenty feet to go. At the base of the ladder Hawkeye was staring up and holding either side of it as if to steady them. He met her eyes for only a moment, but immediately she looked to Ed with concern.

"Ed!" Hawkeye called up. "I am going to call Alphonse. Would he be home now!" Goodness she was quick.

"My…" Ed muttered, lifting back to consciousness. Roy felt Ed's grip tighten back up and he did his best to hurry. "…the…area code," Ed muttered, before swallowing. For a moment Ed was simply breathing, before fighting his way back to coherency. "I thought you said I couldn't call him!" Ed was mad. "Because of the area code!"

"The colonel is going to authorize it."

"All because of a little head injury and crushed automail!" Ed dropped his forehead back into Roy's shoulder to rest. Roy found it humorous Ed was aware he had a head injury.

"Ed, you're almost at the bottom," Hawkeye said, sounding compassionate. Roy couldn't wait to reach her. "When you're in reach I am going to grab your hips." Roy kept descending and within a few rungs he felt Hawkeye's grip slide about Ed's hips and steady the boy. "Are you bleeding anywhere Ed? Are you all right?" She was doing the list, even now.

"I don't think so," Ed rasped. "But I might be. Some of me I can't feel well."

Roy dropped to his feet with a heavy sigh and stood for a moment to rest. His limbs felt watery from the strain of the magnet and the stress which came from descending thirty foot ladders with adolescences riding you.

"Ed, everything is going to be all right," Hawkeye said softly, before appropriately firming her tone to address Roy. "Sir, let me keep him steady and you can slowly turn around." She didn't want Ed on his back and Roy was coming to that conclusion too. He gave a nod, and with Ed's palm gripping the top of his shoulder, Roy slowly turned to face Ed while she kept the bulk of his weight in one place.

Ed was wincing when they came together, and Roy shifted the boy up to his shoulder trying to keep his arms away from the metal. "This is…" Ed rasped, hissing painfully as Roy managed a delicate hold of him. "Undignified."

"Hawkeye won't tell," Roy said, following her quickly to the door. She lead them quickly through the hall with her gun raised and ready, and they had driven the SUV right onto the schools' walkway and to the main doors. All she had to do was open the main entrance and there was the idling car with the back passenger side open.

Fuery was inside bandaging Havoc's head with the man unconscious. With their arrival he came to them immediately. "Take him from me," Roy said, transferring Ed forward.

Fuery wrapped his arms about Ed's chest and took Ed's weight into the car. "Is he unconscious!" Fuery called, sounding panicked.

Roy climbed in quickly. The back of the car was a mess of medical supplies and he slapped them off the back seat with Ed managing his pain with closed eyes and deep Tai Chi breaths. Hawkeye was in the driver's seat and pulling away before Roy even had the back door closed.

"Grab Fullmetal's bag, and give him to me," Roy ordered, extending his arms. Fuery handed Ed over, and Roy took him like a bride trying to cradle Ed's twisted arm. "Ed." Roy leaned into Ed's line of sight, and Ed cracked an eye. Hawkeye was driving at an outrageous speed and she flew around the side of the market and slid them all to the left.

Ed cursed with the movement, and the jerk of the car coming to a stop. Immediately Hawkeye was out of the car, and Fuery followed her.

"Grab some water!" Roy called after them. That was all he felt he needed to add because they knew what to get and what was needed. "Ed." Roy turned his eyes back down to Ed's bloody face. "It is just Havoc and myself in the car." This was as private as it was going to get. "Are you in a lot of pain?" He stroked his hand down Ed's thigh until it became metal and felt for any damage.

"I'll manage," Ed whispered, flinching with the exam. "Try not to move the automail."

"We're going to take it off you." Roy was feeling all about the bottom of Ed's thigh, but it seemed unharmed outside of how it suddenly turned into twisted bits of steel. "It is painful to have taken off?"

"If you do it right, it's not, but I don't think it's going to come off easy like this." Ed licked his lips with Roy feeling down his shoulder and chest. "If it won't come free, just give me something to bite down on when you pull."

Fuery returned and climbed into the back like an explosion. He tossed a bag forward into Havoc's unconscious lap, and was immediately reorganizing the medical supplies.

Hawkeye returned to the front and glanced back once to make sure everyone was still in the car before looking to Roy. There eyes met for just a moment and then her foot hit the gas petal and she took off.

"Hawkeye!" Ed yelled, when the quick reverse bent Roy forward even as he tried to brace himself. "You're driving like a maniac!"

Hawkeye ignored this and Fuery was up and reached over Roy to drag Ed's bag out of the back. "Ed, you want any water?" Fuery asked, dropping it along side Roy on the back seat.

"I need some pain meds. Can I get morphine?"

"I don't want to give him anything until we've reached a hospital," Roy said to Fuery, watching the man rip open a pouch of bandages.

"Sir, we should give him something," Fuery said, sitting the open pouch on Ed's stomach before dragging the black vinyl bag of mechanical supplies from Ed's bag. "If not medical, then at least some Scotch."

"Stop talking about me like I am not here," Ed snapped, breathing roughly with his pain. "The hospital is going to give it to me anyway. They always do. They knock me out for this shit." Ed lifted his hand and smacked Roy's chest playfully. "Stingy Colonel." Roy looked at Ed's forced smile, it was full of pain, but strong. "Haven't you ever been shot before?" What a question.

"Ed, listen," Fuery said, dragging Ed's fat automail manual out of Ed's bag and placing that on Ed's stomach as well. "How much of this can you talk me through." Ed chuckled bitterly, and tipped his head back. The automail was hanging off Ed's flesh body like sharp broken car parts. Could you talk a doctor through digging a bullet out?

"With or without the pain killers?" Ed asked, using a cold angry tone.

"Half," Roy said quickly. "Give him half."

Fuery was flipping pages in Ed's manual. While scanning the book he wiggled his hand into the open bag of supplies and grabbed one of their individual morphine doses. Ed reached for it at once.

"Give it to me, I know how," Ed said firmly. "I want it in my ports."

"Half Ed," Roy said firmly, when Fuery handed it over. Ed brought the single plastic tube to his mouth and ripped the top off with his teeth before aiming at his cloth covered shoulder.

"Get my shirt out of the way," Ed said, nodding quickly toward the cotton. "Hurry up!"

Fuery was sitting on his legs before them, and immediately raised to a kneel and ripped a Bayonet knife out of his boot. "Do you have extra clothes in your emergency bag Ed?" Fuery asked, slipping the blade into Ed's shirt and ripping it up at an intimidating rate. Ed kept perfectly still and looked wearily to Fuery who ripped Ed's tee shirt off in easily manageable shreds.

"That's why they…call it an emergency bag," Ed muttered, before tossing his hand forward in a block when Fuery slipped the knife into the pant hole of Ed's gym shorts and went to yank it up. "Are you serious!" Ed squeaked, closing his eyes with panic. "Get that knife out of there!"

Roy intervened and nodded toward Ed's bag. "Fuery." Roy pushed the knife away. "Grab him something else to wear." He looped his thumb into the rim of Ed's shorts and pulled them down Ed's right hip. "We'll get you undressed," he said softly. Sliding his fingers to Ed's left hip and doing the same. Holding Ed upright, he only had one hand as well. "Try to endure it."

Ed opened his eyes and looked more at ease without Fuery's knife before glancing bashfully toward Hawkeye. Roy had to smile. "You know we've come a long way Fullmetal," he said pulling Ed's shorts to his knees and revealing the boxers underneath. "And yet there are still surprises." He laughed softly, adjusting Ed's shorts off his bandaged knee before pulling Ed's boxers up above the start of the automail. Now the obstacles which had been in place between them just two weeks ago seemed silly. Did they really waste so much of their energy with all that?

"Don't get too sappy on me colonel," Ed teased, voice raspy as if with a cold. "I am not bleeding out or anything." Ed plunged the morphine into his shoulder with a deep sigh of relief before regarding Fuery with a nervous eye. Fuery had not put his knife away and was using it as a tentative bookmark in the automail manual while flipping pages wildly. ""You know…I had…heard rumors you were…good with a knife," Ed said, brining the morphine administrator to his thigh and pricking it very close to the metal port.

"Yeah?" Fuery asked, sounding pleasantly surprised.

"Focus," Roy snapped. "What part of the manual do we need to look at Ed?" Roy asked, looking at the open pages in front of him. They were filled with small text and tiny mechanic diagrams.

"I've never looked at it," Ed said softly.

"Fuery, put the knife away," Roy snapped. To have it open, and so near his stomach in a moving car made him nervous. Fuery slipped the knife back into his boot and grabbed the wrench which was inside the vinyl sack with Ed's automail manual. "Ed, recommend a section," Roy ordered, pulling his eyes from the manual and looking at Ed's relaxed expression.

"Well…" Ed managed, voice faint. "I feel…so….so much…better."

Roy looked at the empty morphine injection in Ed's thigh. "Dammit Ed, what did I say?" Roy snapped.

"Remember what I said about…" Ed whispered. "…possibly not listening to…your commands on…"

"Shut up," Roy ordered, yanking the tiny needle out of Ed's thigh and giving Fuery a cold look. He worried about the pain killers allowing them to do things they shouldn't. That with Ed too drugged, pulling, or twisting, or unscrewing certain things which they should not touch would go unregistered until the drugs wore off. "This is why you are to deliver it only," Roy said, annoyed he let Ed get his way yet again. What a push over colonel he was.

"Sir, if they're really going to give it to him at the hospital it can't really hurt," Fuery said, trying to stay optimistic.

"They're not going to," Roy said angrily. "Fullmetal is a manipulative liar when he wants to be."

Fuery looked to Ed for confirmation and Ed gave a sleepy nod. Kneeling in front of Ed's half dressed form holding a wrench like a scalpel and the manual like it was a Bible, Fuery did not look impressed. "Sir, maybe you should do this," Fuery said, sounding uneasy. Roy thought that he could do it, he felt capable of unscrewing Ed's limbs if that was what it had come to, but he didn't want to. When he considered the situation, unscrewing things would be the easy part, holding Ed would not be, and he wanted to be the one to do it. "I've never really done anything like this, sir."

Roy looked at the large wrench in Fuery's hand. Ed's mechanic was skilled. She had made an intricate piece of machinery, and remembered the convenience of real life, and the changing facets of the military. The automail could come on and off with one wrench: genius. Along side the extra clothes and toothbrush Ed had brought, his emergency bag held a manual and single wrench. The tools to the automail, all that was needed.

"In fact, the men don't even let me change the oil in the transport." Fuery said, sounding worried.

Ed might have been medicated, but with this news he lifted his head a bit and looked at Fuery with a bit of disbelief.

"I am going to hold him steady, all you need to do is unfasten the bolts," Roy said trying to stay optimistic. If one adolescent girl could do it, so could they. "Hawkeye?"


"Keep us steady." She must have been doing at least eighty. "And if there is anything coming to disrupt the drive, warn us."

Roy slipped his hand beneath Ed's flesh thigh and its temperature suggested a wound. Carefully he lifted it a few inches and the hunk of metal which was once an impressive leg came with nothing other than a small clanking shift to the side. With the impact and strength of the magnet several of the bolts they were looking for were already pressing from their holds and Fuery lowered the wrench to one with a nervous hand. Roy had assumed removing the twisted metal would bring relief, and his very first thought upon seeing it damaged was to have it removed, now he also realized removing it might bring pain.

"Fuery," Ed said, stopping the man. Fuery looked at Ed's exhausted expression, and Ed forced a smile. "Righty Tighty Lefty Loosey."

Fuery smiled in return and wiped at the sweat growing across his brow. "Just…tell me if I am doing this wrong so I don't injure you further, okay Ed?"

"There's really no wrong way to do it," Ed said, closing his eyes and bracing himself. "Unless you're an idiot." Ed lifted his hand and tightly gripped the front of Roy's shirt. With the morphine Ed held on tight and Fuery worked diligently for the next hour.

When all was said in done Roy found himself lying across the backseat of the car with nothing but Ed's weight on his chest. Ed was dead asleep, curled up at Roy's side with his torso sleeping on Roy's to keep the arm port elevated, and Fuery's jacket rolled under his leg port to keep that upward as well. In his sleep, Ed held tight to Roy's shirt.

"We're an awfully sorry bunch, aren't we," Roy said softly. Havoc had remained unconscious since the trip and Fuery had moved the parallel chair and was sleeping with his legs propped up on Havoc's unharmed knees. The only one awake was Hawkeye, and with Roy's question, she glanced into the rear view mirror and looked back at him.

"Sir?" In the mirror the great Flame Alchemist was stretched across the backseat looking exhausted and much in need of a stiff drink and shower. Ed was only partially visible as a sleeping head of blond hair and tiny gripping hand.

"A bunch of fools to fall prey to basic alchemy and then…come stumbling back like this." Roy laughed to himself. He lifted his hand and rubbed at his temples before resting his arm over Ed to hold the boy. Beneath his finger he could feel the steady rhythm of Ed's heart, and it made him smile. Ed's ports were bandaged as if they were flesh wounds because it made them all feel as if they had done something when really there was nothing that could be done. Ed looked puzzled when Fuery began doing so but didn't protest. The only thing Ed requested was new pants, after loudly whispering in a medicated daze that he didn't want Hawkeye to see him in his underwear. Roy knew she must have heard this, and he also knew she would pretend, perhaps to her grave, that she didn't, because she was kind at heart.

"We may not have accomplished everything we had illustrated Colonel, but might I say, we accomplished some unplanned goals which," Roy saw her eyes move to Ed's sleeping face, "which are equally as important." She had the strength to sit up and drive when they did not, and she gave him enough peace he felt he could rest with her awake. "What we indirectly accomplished might even be more important than what we planned to." She sounded humored with this idea, and Roy looked down at Ed when Ed shifted the tiniest bit.

Ed said his ports were itchy, and this made no sense. After the detachment they put Ed's broken appendages in the back, and Ed was ready for sleep. "Roy?" Ed muttered, abandoning the grip he had on Roy's shirt and sliding it to Roy's collar before taking hold. Roy was silent, and waited for the rest of Ed's question before realizing Ed was still asleep.

This made him smile with a satisfaction that until this night he did not know he desired, and did not know could satisfy him. His name had come first. His name had come before Alphonse's tonight. He had filled a social void. He had proved he was something, and shown he was important. Silently Roy brought his fist up and back for a personal score. Where he thought he might fail, he succeeded. When before he thought he paid enough attention, and held his own enough with the boy he had found he hadn't. When they started this mission they were two entities working toward the same goal, and Ed was isolated, and he was burdened. Now they held two different goals as part of the same entity, and Roy felt a respect and commitment that was newly founded but enjoyed.

Inside his mind he stood confidently before his lobby chair, and at his side, Ed did the same before his own.

"Sir?" Hawkeye said, looking at him through the rear view mirror. "You're smiling sir." She sounded perplexed, but with her words, Roy let it grow.

"Goodnight Hawkeye." He closed his eyes and slid his arm more securely about Ed's chest to keep Ed warm. "It's been a long day." He yawned heavily. He felt at peace and filled with a pride and calm excitement he didn't truly understand. "Wake me up when we get there."

Tomorrow was in fact another day, and of course to save them all from their own gullibility, there was lots of bullshitting to be done. All in all case closed, it was just another run of events and luck just happened to smile on them, even if it was in a very ironic and twisted way.

Well everyone…that was the end. I really hope you enjoyed it, and to anyone who read the original 2008 version, I hope this one appeared much improved. I am sad, even though it's in a good way, to have this story end. Now it will be buried in pages upon pages of FMA stories, and hardly anyone will find it. :(

To those of you who read, I am honored for your presence: thank you. Here is my upcoming activity for the next few months. My goal is to write for my own pleasure and your own entertainment, and to show you what I imagine exactly as I imagine it and to emotionally move you with the same precision.
11/17/12 – FMA: One shot: Office Conduct
11/30/12 – FMA: One shot: Hazing
12/14/12 – OHSHC: One shot: Smoking Is For Poor People
12/24/12 – FMA: One shot: Christmas

Then!-To kick off the New Year, I will release my baby: The Silent Heart. It will show you the intimate world of Hohenheim's Germany, how obscurely a person's love can translate into their actions, and what life can be like for Ed living as a handicapped individual just shy of the year 1915. Another Run of Events, the story you've now completed was 223 pages…The Silent Heart is 347. I promise it won't feel like a long read, it took every word, and every page to build for you the place I want to take you.

1/1/2013 – FMA: Multi-Chapter Story: The Silent Heart, Chapter 1: Memory of the Enamored. I hope that many of you will stop by and visit.


***Please leave a review*** (you have read all the other chapters...and may not have reviewed them...but you can still change this!). If you have Followed/Favorited this story...or read all the way to the end...please take one moment to leave evidence you were here. Stories are not easy to write.

We're trading, you and I. I've given you this story...see if you can give me one word of response to it. : )Your valued comments can be placed in the box below. THANK YOU again for your time. I hope to see you in the future, as I will continue to post new work. [Please check out my profile if you're interested, I'd love to have you.]