Disclaimer: Well, I don't own anything. Just Arlina.
Pretty sure I'm going to regret everything. It's been YEARS since I wrote anything for this site, and I just recently stumbled over Fullmetal Alchemist. This actually started off as a joke so I'll try to keep it as serious as possible, but... AHAHAHA. Ahh. Anyway. It'll follow both animes, while a bunch of other things will be added, 'cause I just can't see how adding another character to the story would keep the plot the same. Especially someone as spastic and loserly as Arlina. Everything is probably going to go straight to hell.
Never, not once, in all fifteen years of my long life, had I ever been treated like this. Not once! I had woken up on a brown leather couch, in an office I had never seen before, my wrists bound. After the initial shock, I had dove straight into getting myself out of it.
I had even resorted to the 'when my father hears about this' Draco Malfoy line. Which, of course, was untrue, but nobody took those sorts of threats seriously when it involved anyone else. Father sounded scarier, and more powerful, than cousin. Though it didn't seem to matter what I said. That bastard and his bastard friend ignored me, through and through. Even if I kicked and screamed or cried and pleaded. Ignored.
I was never ignored. Not ever. Nor had I ever been manhandled, tied up, or threatened. Who did this jackass think he was? Just lounging away in his little chair without a care in the world in his shitty comic convention worthy clothing! Just hanging out, with his buddy. As they both ignored me. There was only one thing left to do.
"You cannot hold me against my will, I am a United States citizen, and as I have done nothing against the law, you have to release me, or provide me with a lawyer." I fumed from my position on the couch. My body was starting to ache and the rope binding my hands together were starting to cut in.
"Kids these days," the second guy with the glasses sighed dramatically, leaning against the desk.
For the last ten minutes he had been shoving a picture of someone in Sir Fuckwad's face. And they had been ignoring me. Like holding me prisoner was a normal thing! Like it was no big deal! Maybe it wasn't.
"I know my rights. I want a phone call. And I want a lawyer present with me. This is unlawful detainment! According to—"
"It doesn't really matter. All your rights are now void." Sir Fuckwad let me know casually, like it was no big deal. "You're at Eastern Command Center, and so under my jurisdiction."
I stared at him, fumbling with my words. What the hell did that mean?
"You have to admit, though, for a kid she's pretty headstrong." Glasses McGee talked like I wasn't even sitting here!
"You keep using that word, but I'm not sure you realize what that means! I am a child! I'm fifteen, I'm a minor! I—"
The nerve! Fuckwad leaned back in his chair, looking so disinterested. What the hell!
"Ha! This is so amusing!" Glasses McGee gushed to Fuckwad, almost giggling and I stared at them both, heat rising to my cheeks in my anger. "You know, she kind of looks like you."
Maybe they were trying to get a rise out of me. For what? A reason to detain me? I bit back an angry retort, trying to squash the rage that had been building. "Okay. May I know where I am?"
"Of course you may! We're at the Eastern Headquarters." Glasses McGee told me pleasantly.
That doesn't tell me anything! "Where? What city?"
I felt like were going around in circles.
"Where is the East City?"
"In the Eastern Area."
Was he making fun of me? I stared at him and he merely smiled back at me.
"We're in Amestris." Fuckwad cut in with a sigh. Where was Amestris? I pulled a mental map out, but the name wasn't ringing any bells.
"Amestris," I repeated, letting the name roll off my tongue awkwardly. "Where is that located near? I don't think I know where I am." Panic edged and I shoved it back, clinging to the anger. I wouldn't give them that satisfaction.
"Oh! I love this! I play this all the time at home with my little girl! Geography, 101! We're in Amestris, boarding countries are…" he looked at me expectantly and I stared back, angry at his mocking. "Creta, Drachma, Aerugo and the East Desert! Past the East Desert is… Xing!"
"You're making fun of me." I understood. This was all a game to them. All of it. They glanced at each other and Glasses McGee shrugged.
"Maybe she has amnesia." Fuckwad stated all calm like and still disinterestedly. I scoffed. Glasses McGee looked at me, now curiously.
"What is your name? What is the year? Where are you from? Can you remember?"
"Oh I see." I growled, embarrassed at my own self. "I'm not telling you anything." Right, because I was going to fall for that. Let's detain some little kid and make her think she's in a country that doesn't exist and then act like she has amnesia to extract information!
What was this, anyway? What could they possibly need me for?
"Well I give up. Are you sure about her, Roy?" Glasses McGee shrugged his shoulders dramatically, looking to who I now knew as Roy. What a horrible name. Fuckwad is much better. "Maybe… we should inform the Fuehrer."
I jerked back at the name, startled. It was like an electric punch to the gut, the surprise leaving me wide open as I gawked at them. Fuehrer. Hitler. Associated with Hitler. Guide. Leader. Germany. The anger scattered violent and I slid off the couch with a painful thump, my mouth falling open.
Oh my God.
Why—Fuehrer? Why would they say that? Germany? Was I in Germany? I froze, stiffening. They were going to kill me.
"I see you have acknowledge the full extent of the situation that you're in." Roy stated coolly, calmly. I lifted my eyes to him.
How was any of this possible?
Was I… really going to die?
I was just home. I was just home… how was this happening?
In the fifteen very short years I had lived, I was facing death. Real death. Fuehrer. My body betrayed me, shaking. Tears burned against my eyes and I blinked them back, tilting my chin upward in a defiant act. I would not cry. Not in front of these two.
"Aw, you're really scaring her." The one with the glasses sent me a side glance. "But for a kid, she's really holding her own. Gotta admit, I'm kind of impressed."
"I want to know how you ended up in the wreckage on the outskirts of the Eastern Area. There were no survivors, except for you. You were completely unharmed and laying on top of a Transmutation Circle."
Nonsensical words were pouring out of Fuckwad Roy's mouth. And yet, the fear was still clinging to me so powerfully I couldn't shake it. My heart throbbed painfully against my ribs, beating so loudly I was certain they could hear it. I could feel the edge of panic biting against me. I couldn't lose it. Not now.
"Maybe she doesn't know anything about the Philosopher's stone."
I blinked, taken aback at the familiar term and realized, a beat too late, that Glasses must have only said it to gauge my reaction, as they both smirked. But why would they want to know about that? And why did they think I would know anything? Was this a Harry Potter reference—
Couldn't be. It would be more Nicholas Flamel. Alchemy. Transmute. What did Fuehrer have to do with this? Nazi. Supernatural. Alchemy. Immortality? Supreme race. Aryan. Aryan. They were dark haired.
They didn't have German accents…
"Roy," I realized slowly, focusing on the Fuckwad who now seemed horribly wonderful as relief broke across me.
I couldn't hold back the tears of relief, of happiness, amusement. Different emotions hitting me all at once that I laughed. Fuckwad looked a bit startled and I couldn't help but laugh harder. The relief and the emotional exhaustion tangled and I sagged, glad for the wall behind me.
"Roy isn't a German name! You guys are speaking flawless English! Without German accents of ve are zee superior race, ja! Ha! Ha! You aren't at all Aryan! I thought oh my God they're going to kill me. Put me in a concentration camp, gas me to death, let me starve! I thought, with Fuehrer and then you brought up the stone, I thought oh God, here it is! The next generation of Nazi régime, searching for the Philosopher's stone to have world power and immortality! Here I am, at the start of maybe another eleven million death count! Oh my God!"
They both flinched and glanced at each other again, as if they didn't think I could see them having silent communications. Jesus.
"You thought we were going to kill you?" Glasses mused, lightly, looking back at me.
"Are you talking about the Ishval Civil War?" Roy cut over him, leaning forward in his seat, finally looking interested in this whole thing. My relieved amusement was turning hysterical.
"She said Germany." Glasses and Roy liked to think I couldn't hear them! Hah! "Eleven million."
"The girl may be from another part of the world we're unfamiliar with, and so have different names. And rumors."
These people! I calmed myself, grinning widely as I leaned against the coffee table.
"I'm talking about World War Two. Y'know. That whole big war that happened in the 1940s? All of Europe was involved, Japan and the United States, total death count around 56 million, I think..."
They glanced at each other and I broke into another round of laughter.
"Jeez, mom and dad, way to have secret eye communications." I was in a much better mood now that I was getting a grasp of where I stood and what my situation really was. I was with crazy people! Crazy, and so far very harmless. They hadn't reacted with anger or even violence (manhandled me a bit, but didn't try to purposely hurt me), and I considered myself lucky. They could've been the delusional and violent sort. I'd go along with it until I could find a way to get out.
Glasses continued looking amused while Roy sighed, annoyed.
"What do you know about the Philosopher's stone? You mentioned… immortality? Do you know that, for a fact?"
I didn't understand this obsession. "No. All I know about it is Nicholas Flamel. And, well, you-know-who thought it would make him immortal, too."
"Who?" Glasses asked and I smothered a grin that was threatening to explode from me.
"What do you mean who? The Dark Lord… I dare not say his name…" I dropped my voice into a whisper, for the dramatic flair. The way Glasses tilted closer, all curious, made me lose it and I broke into laughter. "Oh no, better watch out for Lord Voldemort! He's coming after the sorcerer's stone! He's going to—he's.. I can't… I can't…!"
"This is not a joke!" Roy snapped at me, hands slamming against the desk. I stopped my hysterical laughter, sobering instantly.
"Of coursenot. I apologize. But other than in a work of fiction and ridiculous claims by some French man in the… what was it, the 1500s? It doesn't exist! Alchemy doesn't exist." They stared at me and I quickly backtracked. They were delusional. Fighting against the delusion could get myself in a heap of trouble. "I mean, maybe I don't—I'm not special enough, not worthy, haven't been blessed—I'm just a commoner, really. I wouldn't know…"
I had woken up here, in this office, all tied up. They obviously took me from home—and while it was a relief, yes, that they weren't Nazis, I shouldn't immediately assume I'm safe. They kidnapped me. From my home. Uneasiness fluttered uncomfortably and I shifted, trying to bring feeling back into my numbing legs.
"You guys could just send me back home, and I won't say a word. I know how important, uh, this all is. I wouldn't say anything at all."
What were you suppose to say to unstable people who kidnapped you anyway? They really should have courses on this in school, kidnapping 101, what to say and how to get yourself out of it. I was starting to feel really exposed, all tied up, just wearing a sleeping shirt and my Batman pajama pants.
"Roy…" Glasses' voice took a slight warning tone.
"This is getting ridiculous. I'll show you alchemy." Roy smirked at me. "Brace yourself, little girl." And he snapped his fingers.
And as I expected, nothing happened.
"My God." I faked gasp. "It's alchemy!" Because he clearly believed he was doing something, right? "This is incredible!" He continued to snap his fingers, a look of irritation flaring across his expression.
Glasses busted out into loud laughter so suddenly I actually jumped. "What's wrong, Mustang? Having trouble preforming in front of girls?" I wasn't sure if that was a sexual innuendo but I hoped not, given the fact that I was fifteen, ew!
"Shut. Up. Maes."
Maes was Glasses, perhaps? Either that or Roy was saying a horrible word in a different language. Maybe a crazy person made up language. Black eyes flew in my direction and I almost screeched as Roy climbed over the desk, reaching for me with his white gloved hands. I scrambled, trying to scoot back, away from the mad man as he lunged.
"How are you doing that?" He demanded, hands on my shoulders, fingers digging in, sending my nerves through the roof. I stammered, my breath catching in my throat as I struggled to think.
The crazy was now angry with me, his delusion soiled, and he was violent.
"What are you talking about! I didn't do anything! I watched you—"
"Shut up!" He growled and I fell silent immediately, my eyes widening. I could feel the color draining from my face as fear prickled—the fear that had grasped me before was back with a vengeance. "Don't give me that look! I—"
"Roy—Roy calm down." Glasses—Maes?—was pulling the mad man away from me and I released a shaky breath. "It's fine. You're having an off day!" His gaze tilted in my direction and I forced myself not to flinch away. "Are you alright, little girl?"
I nodded jerkily as crazy person Roy ran his fingers through his already messy dark hair, his face now unreadable. Maes grinned at me, warmly, and I stared at him, unnerved.
"I'm Lieutenant Colonel Maes Hughes, I'm an Amestrian State Military officer and my very rude friend is Colonel Roy Mustang, who is a State Alchemist. Though, I don't think those titles mean anything to you." He laughed, his expression turning sheepish.
Weird how I wanted to like him. This guy was crafty. I needed to keep on my toes. I needed to remember, if he was really friendly, I wouldn't be tied up.
"Military officer." I repeated, slowly, letting the information sink in. Is this what they believed? "I understand." Best to play along. "What does the Military need with a civilian?"
He opened his mouth when the door swung open, nearly hitting me. "Hey, boss, I got the…" in walked a blonde with a cigarette hanging off his lip like he was some freaking gangster from the 1920s! He was wearing the same comic-con worthy blue trench coat as the other two and paused, the door closing behind him as he blinked, eyes turned toward me. His look of utter surprise was enough for me and I immediately burst into tears.
"Thank God you're here!" He was still dressed like them, so asking for help or implying his friends were crazy would probably have him hesitate. As expected he was crouched down in front me, instantly. So worried. So concerned! I cried harder.
"What's wrong, miss? Are you alright? Do you need help up?"
I threw myself into his arms. Just because my wrists were tied, didn't mean my hands were useless. He immediately pulled me closer, arms around my back, patting it comfortingly. "I'm so scared!" Pretend army meant they would carry weapons on them, right?
"Damn it, Havoc, get up!" Roy demanded, agitated.
"Hey, now, just because we don't know who she is doesn't mean we have to treat her poorly. She's just a girl. She's scared!" Ha! My fingers pulled the gun out from its hoister. "Or… not."
He stood up, hands raised in front of him, beige folder under his arm. I pushed myself upward, back against the wall, holding the very old fashioned looking pistol. He backed up and stood between Roy and Maes, who both then raised their hands in surrender. Maes looking amused, Roy just looking annoyed. Bastards.
I half wondered why they didn't draw their own weapons.
I never held a gun in my life before and my fingers shook. Well, actually, most of my body trembled. I was feeling woozy and the room swirled for a few seconds sending a jolt of dizziness through me. I was feeling very drained, weak. I laughed, partly amused, partly out of the sheer ridiculousness of what I've landed myself in.
"Wow I didn't think this through. Not at all." I announced after a moment passed. I wasn't sure what to do now. I had three grown men at gunpoint and no plan.
"I don't think you want to shoot any of us. It's alright. Put the gun down, and we'll talk. Okay?" Maes cheerfully suggested and I straightened, irritated. "You won't be in trouble."
"You are such an idiot, Havoc." Roy was back to looking disinterested and the blonde, Havoc, sputtered, spinning his head around to stare at him.
"She was crying!"
"Can't resist a damsel in distress even the ones we're detaining." Roy sighed, eyes on me. And then he grinned. Grinned. "You won't shoot."
My mouth curved upward, almost sarcastically, matching his. "I'm a terrified teenager who feels threatened, cornered. I don't know where I am, and I believe the three of you are a danger, given your beliefs. I've never held a gun before, I'm unstable, myself. My finger might slip. I might accidentally shoot you anyway."
"Ah. Well. She does have a point." Maes grinned, shrugging his shoulders casually.
"Can't you just… I don't know, set the gun on fire?" Havoc huffed causing Roy to glowering and Maes to burst into laughter. I shifted at the mention of fire, trying to smother my curiosity. I loved playing with fire.
…and it's like they didn't even care I was holding a gun and pointing it at them. Maybe they were used to this sort of thing. Maybe they were really that far gone from reality. Maybe the gun was a fake and they were humoring me.
"He can't." Maes announced, as though it were the news of the news, the bees knees, the juiciest form of gossip. Hello. Gun here!
"What do you mean?"
"Do you have the data I asked you to retrieve? Who is this girl?" Roy snapped and I gave a cry of anger.
"Uh, yeah, it's right here… you know, Boss, I gotta say, this kid is a hell of a lot like you."
"You looked me up…?" I exploded, angrily. This was beyond not okay! Who did these fuckers think they were? This had to be all sorts of illegal!
"You know, I've been thinking the same thing." Maes agreed pleasantly.
"We couldn't find any records of her, but—"
"This is complete Bullcrap! Don't you ignore me! What are you, a bunch of spoiled rich punks gone bonkers? Huh? Is that it? It would explain the costumes and-"
"—well…I decided to expand the search, check for a genetic match." Havoc's voice silenced mine and I blinked at him. Wait. What? "I checked several times, but it keeps coming back the same. The results are in-" I cut him off with a snort.
"What am I, on Maury?" I wondered, sarcastically. "The results are in, you're the father!"
"Yeah, how'd you know?" Havoc asked, surprised.
Silence boomed between all of us and I stared at him, incredulously. Roy ripped the folder from his arm, tearing it open, Maes peering over him, the both of them staring at its contents. What the hell did I just miss?
What is going on?
Maes suddenly burst into tears, throwing his arms around Roy who stood, frozen, folder in his hands. I stared at him, shell shocked. "We're fathers, Roy! Fathers! Together!"
"I-what?" My head was spinning. What the hell was he talking about, genetic match…? And why the hell was Maes crying—why was he crying… people don't just start crying… "You…" I couldn't think. I couldn't think of what to say. How to react. "You took my DNA! Without my consent!"
Best to be angry.
"I took your what?" Havoc frowned at me and I choked on my own anger. Was he serious? He stared at me like he had no idea what I was saying and I exploded.
"DNA! YOU TOOK MY DNA!" I shouted, shaking, trying to calm myself down. I wasn't supposed to lose it in front of strangers, I was supposed to keep my calm. To be in charge of this situation I'd found myself in. But it was like being held at gun point wasn't even affecting them—
"I didn't take anything!" Havoc insisted and I realized, way too late, that they really were just humoring me. Letting me think I was in control.
"Then what the hell makes you think I'm anyone's kid?" I grounded out, gritting my teeth. Why were they just letting me hold them at gun point when they obviously had the ability to either disarm me before I took the shot… or knew the gun was a fake.
"Because you're a genetic match!"
"Which means you took my DNA!"
And what was with this guy? What was the point of arguing this with me, acting like he didn't know what DNA was?
"No, I didn't take anything. A sample of your blood was taken—" I cut him off with an angered cry. They took my blood when I was unconscious! How fucking creepy was that?
"—You drew my blood?—"
"—and ran it through our database. Everyone who legally lives in Amestris is on file, but nothing was coming up for you. So I checked to see if we had any of your relatives on files, and, well..."
Relatives. I fidgeted and stilled, pointedly not turning to look at Maes who seemed to stare at me, like he was observing, like he was trying to catch something. I didn't want to give anything away. I didn't want them to know I didn't have parents—which, of course. They were probably fishing for more information? What better way to throw someone off balance then to say you found their birth parent.
"I just—I don't—this is—stop it! I'm not going to believe any of this." I stammered, trying to calm myself, my shaking. I was feeling worse for wear, light headed and woozy. No, it made sense. Of course they would say Roy was my father, I mean what are the chances that someone did find my birth parents, what would the chances of them being the one who kidnapped me?
"So you see, I didn't steal anything at all." Havoc finished, smiling brightly, as though he won. I could feel a headache coming on.
"You just admitted to taking my DNA." I sighed, becoming increasingly aware of all the little aches and pains through my body. My wrists were rubbing against the rope, burning.
"I don't know what that means! But now I've given you a father so you should—"
It was enough to refuel the rage and I scoffed.
"DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, it's the genetic makeup of all living cells! The sequence of nucleotides determines individual hereditary characteristics!"
"Roy, because you abandoned your possibly only child, she's been memorizing text books!" Maes wailed, shaking the man who was still staring at the folder. Good actor? He looked frozen.
A beat later, I realized Maes was insulting me and I fumed, cheeks heating with irritation. I didn't go around memorizing anything! I just happened to listen to information!
"I don't know what text books she's been reading, I've never heard any of this. I think she's making it up." Havoc dug his pinky in his ear, looking so disinterested and I found myself exploding—this blonde haired bastard seemed to know how to get the best of me.
"WE START THE STORY WHEN MOM MET DAD AND THEY DANCED ALL NIGHT AND HE TOOK HER HOME. IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN ALL THE WINE THEY HAD BUT THEY ROLLED THE DICE AND WON YOUR GENOME!"
"Actually, Roy most likely charmed your mother and was gone a few hours later." Maes.
"Is it in your DNA to have messy hair? Do you just genetically not like brushing it?" Havoc.
I continued on, pointedly ignoring these two rude assholes. I was going to educate these backwater cult fucks.
"DNA, you're in my heart. DNA, in fact you're in every part of my body. Each cell has a nucleus, each nucleus has chromosomes. And DNA, baby, that spells DNA! Guanine met Cytosine, fell in love. And then Thymine got busy with Adenine. They sent the messenger-RNA to the ribosome to make more protein."
"Science, mother fucker." I stated, tilting my chin upward. Swallow the information, you shithead.
"You know, Arlina, you shouldn't swear." Havoc's mouth curved into a smirk and I froze, eyes widening. The shock ricocheted.
"Is that her name?" Maes gushed, pushing past Roy to hover around Havoc, all tears. Havoc's shit eating grin grew as he held out my medical tags between his gloved fucking fingers, letting it dangle and swing.
"Yup! Arlina Grey. I nicked these off her, probably around the same time she was stealing my gun." He stated proudly and I stared at him, the rage building hotly as I tried to wrap my head around it.
"You... You—you tricked—"
"You tricked me first." He shrugged as though that made it alright! I was the hostage here! And this whole time they were all playing me for a fool. I threw the gun at him and he shrieked, leaping into Maes. "H-hey! You shouldn't throw guns! Booooss, tell her! That could have gone off!"
"Obviously I'm missing the joke here! I'll throw all the guns I want! You—you jerks-you're all just humoring me but it won't be funny when I set everything on fire!" I threatened angrily, because just they wait. I would get my hands on something flammable and it would be all fucking over! All of it!
"She's just like her daddy!"
"But you threw a gun at me!"
"Roy, snap out of your fatherly shock! Look upon your child!"
"Because you're an uncultured swine!"
"I've never been called that before... I've also never had a gun thrown at me either. Today is full of surprises."
"You took my tags!"
"Well, you took my gun, little Arla!"
A strangling noise choked out of me as I smothered a scream of frustration. Arla? What the fuck! I stomped my foot. It didn't matter that he knew my name, none of it mattered! This was all bullshit and I wanted to leave. Now.
"It doesn't matter that you know my name, you didn't know what DNA was, you backwater knave!" I bit back and both Havoc and Maes got watery eyed. Like really watery eyed. Havoc clasped his hands together, pressing them against his cheek as Maes—literally got… sparkly eyed. I—I didn't understand—what are they doing?
"The way she insults me! It's so adorable!" He cooed. Adorable?
"She really is your daughter, Roy, there is no doubt about this!" Maes gushed. "Our babies can have play dates!"
I sank to the floor, black spots dancing in front of my eyes, a dull throb thumping against my temple. I was stuck in this place with these crazy people. They were crazy. So very, very crazy. Obviously in a cult. I didn't know anymore.
"How could it says you're born in 1997? You know, it's 1914." Havoc brought up curiously and I sighed.
"What a shame. Loophole. I can't possibly be Roy's child, so I must be his grandmother." I offered wearily. I was tired of this game and their nonsense.
"Nope. Clearly stated you were the offspring of Roy Mustang."
"I just want to leave. Please. I want to go home." I just wanted to go home, away from all this, away from Roy and his strange cult friends and their insanity. I wasn't feeling well and I had hit a wall of stress, spiraling downwards. I wanted to cry and eat things I wasn't supposed to have, like donuts. Or cake. "Please, Roy." If he really believed he was my father, would he let me go?
His head tilted in my direction, but he kept his eyes on the folder. After all this time, and my hysterics, he hadn't looked away once.
"Lieutenant Havoc, escort Miss Gray to the train station and escort her to wherever she thinks she lives." The relief flooded through me again and I didn't think I would survive this emotional roller coaster my body was going through.
"Thank you." I murmured, dazed, relieved. I was sure I would've cried if I wasn't feeling so drained.
"Roy! She's your baby! You've only just been reunited! How can you send her away?"
"Who else knows about this?" Roy asked, ignoring Maes, eyes finally lifting. I was surprised he looked in my direction, and in my tired, drained, emotionally tweaked state I thought, he does look like me.
"Just myself and Lieutenant Hawkeye, Sir."
The same dark eyes, the dark hair, the facial structure was similar. We even had a similar haircut. I'd chosen to keep mine short, a pixie cut, a few years ago. It was just so much easier to manage and it ended up looking a lot nicer than having long hair. But my eyes were lighter than his, so maybe they were like my—no. No.
"We're going to keep it that way."
He was not my father. I had to keep reminding myself that these people were crazy. I'm sure they had purposely lowered my blood sugar to make me feel confused. Weak.
"Allow me to help you up, Miss Gray." Havoc was standing in front of me, offering a hand. Despite myself, I took it. I needed help up, anyway. A wave of dizziness fell over me and I swayed, annoyed as he easily steady me. "You alright? You look pale."
"Fine. I just need to eat, my blood sugar is probably low. It happens." There was no point in accusing them to their faces, not when they were about to (hopefully) let me go.
"These tags," Maes was standing next to me, too, and I wondered when he had snuck up and why I hadn't noticed. "They have the Caduceus on them. Why? Are you sick?"
I stared at him, confused. Did he mean the medical symbol? And, yeah, it stated it clearly on my tags. "Um. I'm Diabetic. It says so on my tags. It's why I wear them, in case something happens. See, my name, date of birth, it informs I'm Diabetic type 1, and the number where someone can be reached in case I'm unconscious and in the hospital."
I grasped onto Havoc's sleeve, feeling hysterical. "Please just stop it. Please, please. Stop acting like you don't know. If I don't eat and it drops more, I'll go into a coma, or maybe have a seizure!" Nervousness flared and I felt the panic spilling over, my heart beat quickening. Shock flashed across the blonde's face.
"Don't you worry your pretty little head," Maes spun me around, guiding me toward the desk, toward Roy, his fingers lightly on my shoulders. "We'll feed you."
"No I want to go home, he promised!" I blurted out as Maes pushed me gently down, my back of my knees caving as I sat down at the desk. The large leather chair threatened to swallow me whole, I felt so small sitting in it.
"Calming breaths, little Arlina, it's alright. After you have some food, we'll take you home." Maes said cheerfully, gently untying the ropes that bound my wrists, lessening the nervousness. "Havoc, get the little lady something from the cafeteria." I pulled my wrists back, fingers rubbing the marks from the rope. It stung, flaring hotly with pain, but I didn't mind. Better be in pain then still bound.
"Sure. Is there anything specific you'd like, Arlina?"
They were being so nice and I didn't know how to handle it. Everything was confused, tangled. Should I not trust this? What if they want to poison me? I didn't know—I needed to eat, and then I'd try to figure this out.
"Um. Some juice, to help raise my blood sugar." I shifted, turning my eyes away from his smile. "Being diabetic means I have to keep my blood sugar level, I need insulin because my body won't make it, and eating things with natural sugar or sweets will raise the blood sugar. It'll make me sick. With medication and insulin I can keep it lowered so I won't die or lose a limb, but I also have to make sure it doesn't get to low or I could, again, die. I have to mind how many carbs are in the foods I eat, no more than thirty per meal, and I have to eat between meals otherwise my blood sugar could drop." My cheeks heated. "I'm sorry I snapped at you. It's okay, a lot of people don't know much about diabetes."
"Hey don't worry about it." He shrugged, hand on the door. "I'll be back in a few minutes."
Silence filled the space and I sat in the chair awkwardly. Maes pulled a chair over and threw himself in it, grinning widely at me.
"So tell me about your mother. Does she ever talk about Roy? Is she pissed? I bet she's pissed."
He was just gushing at me and I didn't know how to handle it. My mind swirled—I knew I needed to be on guard, and I didn't know if thinking they were trying to get information was just paranoia or anxiety led by low blood sugar.
I didn't know what to say or who to trust. "How old are you, Roy?" I asked instead, eyes turning toward the man. "You look young. And I'm young. I'm fifteen. You look like you're in your late twenties. Which means you would've been young yourself. Maybe my age when you knocked someone up, if that's true."
"You grew up without parents." Maes realized next to me and I wondered how he came up with that.
I think I gave myself away with how I worded things. My skin was feeling clammy and I just wanted Havoc to fucking hurry. I couldn't think, I was messing up.
"Who raised you?" Maes just was a bundle of questions and I shakily slumped against the desk.
"I don't trust you people." My voice cracked. I was frightened and I tried to backtrack. "Thank you for getting me food, and thank you for letting me go home."
"Arlina—" Maes began as the door opened.
"I have returned, Arlina, with your food!" Havoc said cheerfully, prancing into the room and setting a tray down in front of me. "I got you a tuna sandwich and some juice. Is that okay? Do you like—" Maes jumped up, grabbing him by the arm and dragging him backwards, out of the room.
"Did I show you the newest pictures of my beautiful little girl yet? Oh she's so adorable!" The door slammed shut behind him.
And I was left alone.
With a guy who was trying to make me believe he was my father. My shaky fingers picked at the sandwich, bringing it to my mouth and chewing. I needed to eat so I could think so I could figure out how to proceed. I mean they said they were letting me go. Which meant, well, I was free. So I didn't have to think any more on it, right?
Roy sat in the spot Maes had been before and slid a map in my direction. "This is where we are. This is the country and the countries surrounding it. I won't prevent you from leaving, and if it comes to it… my home…" he shifted, dark eyes meeting mine. "Is your home."
Between the juice and the bread, I was starting to feel a lot better. Clearer. Less on edge. I found myself staring at a very unfamiliar map, eyes tracing the unfamiliar names, cities. "We don't know each other. If it's true…" we did share facial characteristics. Now that I had looked at him closer, he looked, well, like me. It was almost creepy. "If you are… You don't owe me anything. You didn't know."
"I know now." He sighed. "…I would have been fourteen."
"Do you know…?" I snuck a glance at him, cursing myself for going along with it.
"Who your mother was?" His mouth curved upward, almost apologetically. "No. Once someone is dead, their records are cleared from the files. I don't believe we'll be able to know. I'm… sorry."
I blinked, looking up from the map to him completely. "It's not your fault." His dark eyes sprang to mine, locking, pinning me to where I sat. Dark and serious and so apologetic.
"Yes it is. I can take responsibility of my… recklessness. You… I am so sorry. Arlina, I am so sorry. I'll—" I shoved the second half of the sandwich into his mouth, surprise fluttering across his face. My cheeks warmed. For something I never did, I seemed to be blushing a lot today.
"Your blood sugar is probably low, Roy." I shifted a shoulder upward into a shrug, bringing my legs up onto the chair, sitting cross legged. "Okay. So I don't know any of this," I gestured to the entire map as Roy sat back in his chair, pulling the sandwich from his mouth. "And I don't have to believe you. You could have made this map."
"You need to eat this more than I do." He simply said instead, crossing one leg over the other. I flicked my wrist dismissively.
"I have my slice. I also have orange juice."
He gave me a look of annoyance, tossing the sandwich half back onto my plate. Like I was going to touch that after he'd bitten into it.
"Eating one half of a sandwich isn't a lot of food. You said you're diabetic and you need to keep your blood sugar level." He was lecturing me. Me. When he didn't even fucking know what being diabetic meant in the first goddamn place!
"Well maybe they'd be leveled if you guys hadn't kept me unconscious—or kidnapped me." I retorted, raising my eyebrows sarcastically at him. Roy glowered.
"We didn't kidnap you, you brat! I told you, you were found! On top of a transmutation circle! Thirty people are dead!" He snapped, like this was my fault! Like I was hiding things from him!
"I don't believe anything you're saying!" I slammed my hands against the desk. "This map! Your alchemy! Do you realize what you're saying is crazy? Pure madness! You're claiming I'm—like… ninety years in the past! In the 1910s! It's impossible to time travel, the last time I checked, Roy!"
He bolted out of his chair, hands on the desk, leaning in to glower at me. "I want to know how exactly you block alchemy, Arlina! You will tell me—"
"—Or what? You'll torture me? Is that how your little Nazi military works? Or will you—"
A new, and very female, voice broke through. I, realizing Roy and I were inches apart glowering at each other, quickly sat back down and popped the sandwich in my mouth. A blonde woman, wearing their beloved blue uniform, was standing in the doorway, Maes and Havoc poking their heads through the doorframe. Her brown eyes flickered between us and Roy threw himself back in his chair.
"Lieutenant Hawkeye," he murmured, sounding so disinterested again, like we hadn't been arguing. "This is my… daughter, Arlina."
The sandwich was out of my hands before I could think, smacking Roy straight in the face. He merely sat back, leaving it there. My cheeks burned hotly.
"I WILL BURN YOU TO A CRISP!" I burst out angrily. "The very moment I get my hands on some matches, or maybe some nail polish remover and disinfectant—you are toast! Everyone is done! On fire! Over!" I pointed at the two behind Hawkeye angrily. "I HAVE BEEN KIDNAPPED GODDAMN IT! I. WANT. MY. PHONE. CALL."
"FINE!" Roy shoved the sandwich into my mouth, leaping out of the chair and walking around the desk. He picked up an extremely old fashioned looking telephone and slammed it in front of me. "Be my guest! Call away! Stop telling people I've kidnapped you!"
I blinked, gawking down at the really, really old fashioned thing. It was broken into two parts, one was a black nob that hung, the other was a dial with a black… speaker? What… how was I supposed to use this…?
"Sir, I've returned the machine we found with her. We weren't able to figure out how it works, but-." Hawkeye was saying and Roy flew to her, snatching it from her before I could even see what the hell they were talking about.
He flew back to me, shoving my cellphone in my face. "What is this? Is this how you're able to block alchemy?" I brightened, snatching it from him and hugging it to my chest.
"This is modeled after the Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III and the iPhone, complete with Android technology, a quad-core and the use of voice commands, this baby could be a working A.I if I knew how to make it self-aware." I gushed happily. "I know, I'm a genius."
"An eye-phone, what?" Havoc had wandered in, as he, Roy, Maes hovered around the desk. That Hawkeye girl simply stood back. She looked sane. Maybe she was babysitting them all.
"Doctor, where are we?" I asked my phone instead, smiling smugly. This game was over. And to think, I was almost, kind of, believing them.
"I haven't the faintest idea." The smooth British voice of my phone replied and I stared down at it, in betrayed shock.
"THAT THING JUST SPOKE!" Havoc screeched, leaping back. Fucking idiot.
"What do you mean you don't know where we are? What is my location? You damned technology, there are satellites orbiting around the fucking—"
"—language, Arlina—" Roy.
"—planet! YOU HAVE GPS CAPABILITIES! I shouldn't need to be anywhere near wifi or—why don't I have service? What the hell is going on!"
"I cannot access the internet."
"I'M WELL FUCKING—"
"—AWARE YOU CAN'T YOU BAG OF DICKS!" I let the phone clatter to the desk as I slumped back into the chair, digging my face into my hands. I released a frustrated scream into my palms.
"…So are you going to explain how that talks…? And what it is?" Havoc needed to shut his freaking face. "Is… it a person? Like, I heard of people binding souls to objects, so…"
I giggled. Despite myself, I giggled. Hysterically. This wasn't happening. Not to me. This wasn't possible. "It's a cellphone you dimwit. And no, it isn't a person. The Doctor isn't real. It's a smartphone. I kind of stole the idea from Siri. It's a virtual assistant. It has no feelings, it isn't aware of itself."
"I resent that."
"Shut your unhelp mouth." I growled, slamming my fist down on the phone only to jerk it back, as pain sprang through me.
"Were you able to detect what kind of energy this was radiating, Hawkeye?" Roy murmured and I lifted my head, an idea tugging at me.
"Electromagnetic radiation." I answered for the woman, thoughtfully. "It's a form of energy emitted and absorbed by charged particles. It travels through space…" I trailed off. Give me something, brain. "They transmit…at a characteristic speed… the speed of light." Yes, close. "Travel 10 years at the speed of light, the world ages 100 years. In theory. If you aren't lunatics in a cult and this is the year 1914, that wouldn't explain how or why whoever my mother was managed to travel into the early 1990s. Unless something similar happened to her. Unless this is like the many worlds interpretation and this is a reality split off from my own… We don't have your alchemy, doesn't exist… no…"
No, no, no.
And yet Roy looked so much like me. My phone didn't have service. Couldn't connect to wifi. This phone Roy had was old as fucking balls yet looked so new. They didn't know what DNA was…
"Give me the gun, I'm going to shoot myself in the face." I sighed, holding my hand out. This was the end of the line. I've reached the end. I was done. It was over.
I hissed in pain, holding the back of my head and glowering at Roy who stood over me, a look of utter ire written across his face, his eyes closed, hand still raised. I rubbed the spot he'd struck, huffing. He opened his eyes to glower at me.
"Stop being such a child!" He snapped at me and I growled. "Just accept this!"
"You're the one who hit me, that makes you the child!" I snapped back. "And no! This is insanity! You can't tell me—" I screeched as he grabbed me by the front of my shirt, pulling me up.
"You're here! I'm here! The tests don't lie! I don't know why or how, but I can't deny the facts in front of me!"
I slammed my hand into his face as hard as I could, which hurt a lot, a slid off the desk. Roy hissed, swearing, as he stumbled back into Maes and I glanced uneasily between Havoc and Hawkeye, both looking amused.
And not concerned.
Because I guess fifteen year olds who weigh a hundred and ten weren't something to be concerned about. If only I still had that gun. Or something to start a fire with.
The door nearly exploded open and I screeched in surprise, jumping back into Havoc, who, yet again, caught and steadied me, a flurry of red and blonde pouring into the room. I blinked rapidly, staring at a boy who looked shorter than me, blonde hair pulled back and narrowed eyes—golden eyes. Like he was wearing contacts. Or trying for a part in one of those supernatural films, like in Daybreakers.
"MUSTANG YOU BASTARD!" he exploded only to pause to take the scene, and me, in, which made him look twice, as though surprised. I hastily pulled away from Havoc.
"What do you want, Fullmetal? I'm a little busy." Roy grumbled, his voice sounding muffled and I wondered if I broke his nose. I glanced at him, and he glared back at me, a hand covering his face
"What's with you guys and your fashion sense?" I wondered, staring at the boy's red trench coat. "Is there a trench coat fetish or what?"
"What? Jeez, what's with all the people in here, Mustang? And what's with the girl? She looks like you." All his previous anger was gone, now replaced with a curious lit and I fumed. We did not look that alike!
"For your information, goldy locks! I have been kidnapped and held against my will!" I snapped, irritated. His golden eyes widened in surprise.
"You have to stop telling people that!" Havoc whined as Roy sputtered behind me.
"You—" the boy began, eyes flashing toward Roy.
"Ohh look at us, we're a part of a cult that goes around kidnapping poor little girls! Look at our fake alchemy, it's magic, we're delusional, we're all insane here! If I snap my fingers I can make fire, look at me!" I threw my hands up and Roy was beside me instantly.
"You little brat, when I figure out how you're blocking alchemy I'll show you how fire can be used!" He growled darkly. The boy stepped between us. Protectively?
"What the hell is going on here?" He demanded and Maes threw his arms around Roy, in a fit of tears. Again.
"Roy has been reunited with his long lost daughter!" He gushed excitedly and I flushed hotly, opening my mouth to try to deny it. The boy's eyes widened and he glanced quickly between us.
"Hughes! Get off of me!" Roy swayed, tilting into me causing me to crashing into the kid just as a suit of armor came bursting into the room.
"Brother, what's going—"
An electrical jolt struck me so powerfully my vision swarm, black spots coming in and out of focus and I attempted to breathe in—only to choke, knees buckling. It was like there were bees angrily flying over my head and all the noise besides that fell away other than a terrifying crashing sound. I coughed, gasped and choked, my chest exploding as the cough ripped at my throat. A pair of arms gripped me—
And suddenly the room was dark, so very dark. Lightning swirled all around, screaming—screaming—a creature was reaching out for me, screaming and screaming—those golden eyes with tears, a child—two children—images flashed, violently. I was frozen in horror, nausea assaulting me so hard I thought I was going to explode—and that creature—and the blood—and those children, and the screaming and the screaming and the screaming! Over and over and over—I was frozen, in the dark room, the blood, the missing limbs—and then
It was silent.
And there was a giant rock wall of sorts—the fear flooded and I opened my mouth to scream, but I couldn't move—trapped—so trapped—
I was back in the office. Roy's face hovering over mine.
"Arlina," he was growling, shaking me and I, on the floor, stared at him, my hair sticking to my forehead, cold clammy sweat against my skin, body shaking—remembering the pain that had wracked it only seconds ago. "What the hell was that?"
My mind scrambled to make sense of what I'd seen—those golden eyes—children—creatures—screaming. Horrible, horrible screaming. Horrified, my eyes turned, staring at that boy who stared back at me, eyes wider than I seen anyone's eyes ever go. My stomach turned and I pressed my palms against Roy's chest, pushing him as I turned, puking.
"Wh-what—" I choked, struggling to bring air back into my body, the back of my palm shakily wiping my mouth. I turned—and froze.
An extremely emaciated boy was sprawled out on the ground, half in the armor. A coughing fit took me, horror rising. The boy, the one sitting on the ground beside me, followed my gaze and choked.
"A-ALPHONSE!" He scrambled, and collapsed beside the unconscious boy. "H-he's alive—he's…Oh Al…Alphonse, Alphonse, I'm so sorry, Alphonse…"
I stumbled to my feet. The world jerked violently under me, and I tilted. "What… what the fuck is going on?"
I fell beside the boy, staring down at the younger one—he was so thin, so terrifyingly thin. Almost bones. His blonde hair dirty, matted. I felt bile rise and I choked. I glanced at the kid next to me, but he was frozen, eyes glassy, a strange smile sprawled across his anguished face.
"What happened to him? Why is he like this? What did you people do?" I turned around, unable to look at the two anymore, staring at the four adults that stood frozen. "Call a doctor, you fucking idiots! Wake up! Everyone wake up! Roy stop staring at me and help me, you sorry excuse for a father!"
Roy sprang to life. "Havoc, call a doctor, let them know we're coming, it's an emergency—Maes, help me move Al to the automobile—Hawkeye, bring the automobile to the front of the building. Now!"
The room exploded in a flurry of blue, Havoc shouting into the phone as Hawkeye ran past us.
"He's here. He's alive. Al's here. He's here." The boy kept saying, wide golden eyes full of tears, which fell freely. Jerkily, I realized I had been crying myself and furiously rubbed my wet cheeks. What was going on? "Oh Al, I'm so, so, so sorry. I'm sorry. Oh Al. You're here. He's here…"
"Ed," Roy was quiet, calm. "…It's okay. You have to get up, Hughes and I have to—"
"He's my brother!" the boy, Ed, didn't look away from the boy—Al—on the floor. "I won't—"
I sat, frozen. This kid was having a complete mental break down in front of me.
Maes pulled him to his feet, hands on his shoulders. "Edward, you gotta trust us, okay? It's going to be fine. Al's fine. We just have to get him to the hospital and right now all you can do is sit here for a bit. Okay?"
Ed wretchedly laughed, ripping himself away from Maes.
"I won't leave him! He needs me! I did this! I—"
I almost couldn't take it, the way he was shouting back, his voice twisted, anguished. I staggered to my feet, away from the horror before me, as Maes gently lifted the poor boy and Roy spun around, staring Ed down.
"I am your superior officer and I am giving you an order to stay here. You'll only get in the way, slow things down, and that isn't what Al needs right now." Roy was all flame and fire and the boy—Ed—jerked. "You are to stay here with Arlina until I can send someone back to pick you up. Now shut up and stand back! Havoc!"
Numbly, distantly, I stood as Maes, with the broken boy, hurried out of the room, followed by Havoc. Roy hesitated in the door, black coat over his blue, eyes flickering back to me. He looked like he wanted to say something but instead walked out, the door shutting with a deafening thump.
The silence slid around me like a snake and I tried to keep my breathing even. Anxiously, terrified, I turned my eyes toward the boy, Edward, who was standing. Froze. Lifeless. My heart slammed against my ribcage and I wanted to run—the memories still swirling. He was unstable and it frightened me. Unstable people were dangerous.
"When I tried to catch you," Edward spoke chillingly calmly, his voice soft, quiet. But I jumped, my heart dropping to my stomach. "I relived… some memories. And then Al's body came back." He wasn't looking at me, his eyes fixed on the suit of armor.
"What… what was that…" my voice broke and I couldn't keep back the tears, his image blurring. "Oh my God, what did I see?"
"We just wanted to see her smiling face." He murmured turning toward me. The tears were hot, searing down my cheeks, my chest twisting painfully as agony—hurt—confusion filled me. He stared at me, anguish on his own face. "Our mother. We… tried to do a human transmutation."
I didn't understand and stood, staring at him, crying. I was stuck, my body wouldn't move.
"Transmutation," I echoed blankly, feeling hallow, a rising horror twisting around me. They were all crazy. All of them. "Alchemy? B-but that isn't real… I don't understand… I don't understand. I don't. I don't—"
He laughed, darkly and I fell silent instantly. His mouth twisted in a bitter smile, anger flashing.
"It's real! I lost my arm, my leg—my brother lost his whole body! How can you tell me this isn't real?" He clapped his hands together and I stared at him, stepping backwards. He blinked. And clapped again. Confusion flickered through his twisted expression and I managed to catch my breath.
"Roy…he… he tried too. I don't—I'm sorry… it isn't real for me—it isn't…" but what I had seen. And that circle, and the boys, and that creature. I had seen—was that…? Human transmutation…
Ed collapsed to his knees, white gloved hands planted on the floor. "Alchemy doesn't work near you…" he whispered, eyes wide. So very wide. "And so it negated the toll… you… You brought Al back from the Gate. You brought back my brother's body… Equivalent exchange, my life—it's yours. You brought back Al—"
I wanted to scream. Scream out of the sheer insanity of it all. Scream out of fear, frustration.
"S-stop. Stop! Just stop it! This is crazy! You're telling me because you…" the memories stirred and I choked. "How is that—how did that…"
"We tried to bring our mother back from the dead." His voice froze me again and I realized he was crying. He slammed his fist into the ground. "We paid with our bodies. It took Al's, so I… I bound his soul to the suit of the armor…"
And suddenly, I understood. Suddenly, it just made sense, in a way that didn't. I was confused, but—I understood. I had lost too, and I would have… Even if I didn't understand how this was possible… it was all happening—that boy—this place…
"I understand…I understand. If I had… that power… I would have tried too." I blurted out, his golden eyes flickering up to meet mine. Suddenly, I had to tell him everything. Suddenly, he was the only one who would understand—he had the same pain I had, and I was afraid. I had nothing else. "I don't—I don't know how I got here. They tell me I'm… I'm Roy's kid, but I… I never had parents, I didn't, and who wants to raise a fifteen year old who is all messed up, anyway? I was raised by a cousin, but I don't know if that's even true…"
Once I started, I just couldn't stop. I had to tell someone, I needed someone to know. And after… after witnessing—his memories?—I had to share mine. It would be too strange to know something that awful about someone else without giving back. I couldn't help my own tears, and I let them fall. Hot, fat, tears.
"…She was a good person, and I know she loved me, but she wasn't meant to raise a child. She was never around. So I grew up with another kid who lived next door. We were—he was my brother—and I… he was… A few years ago—I… I had found him…He—he left me…he left me all alone, left me there…and I—he…he killed himself. I would give anything… everything… to bring him back. My body. My soul. I didn't save him. He'd saved me and I couldn't… I understand. I understand. I'm sorry. I don't know how I got here—and I'm scared. And your memories—and my memories—and your brother… I…"
I was trying to calm myself down, my vision so blurry I hadn't realized he rose until a pair of hands rested on my shoulders. I jerked but didn't pull away, wiping my eyes. His met mine, my pain, his pain, tangled, reflecting. And then he smiled.
"You brought me back my brother… " his voice was gentle and I felt myself calming down. "I will do whatever you want to bring you happiness… It's an equivalent exchange, Arlina… You brought me back Al, you brought back his body, and so, you have mine…"
"Are you propositioning yourself?" I blurted unable to keep myself at bay. Ed stood frozen before leaping back, face red, his arms flailing.
"NO YOU IDIOT! WHY DO YOU HAVE TO TALK LIKE THAT?!" He screamed and I laughed, sadly, rubbing my wet cheeks with the back of my palm.
"Because you're being silly and I'm not good at this sad stuff. I saw the worst thing in your memories, I don't know how, and I shared the worst of mine to you. That is an equivalent exchange, right?" I shrugged my shoulder causing the blonde to calm down. "A few hours ago it was 2012 for me. The only thing you can help me with is finding out how the hell I got here, okay? I don't even want to know how to get back. I just need facts."
He blinked, his expression turning curious, then thoughtful. Intrigued. "2012? That's… ninety-eight years into the future—" And he wasn't even questioning it? Just accepted it? I shook my head.
"Not future. We don't use alchemy. That and we don't have the same countries. I'm thinking somehow, alternate reality? Possibly? Roy said they found me on top of a transmutation circle—"
I jumped back at the sound of Roy's voice, turning, finding him standing in the doorway. Oh god, holy shit. I furiously wiped my face clean of any leftover tears, wondering how long he had been standing there. Probably the whole time. He would. He was that guy.
"Havoc is waiting to escort you to the hospital." Roy murmured softly. Edward hesitated, eyes flickering toward me. "We'll catch up with you in a bit."
"Make sure Al's… suit of armor is alright." Edward hurried from the room, one last glance of golden eyes flashing at me before he was gone.
And I was alone.
In the room.
He sighed, shoving his hands in his pockets as he walked in. "I've changed my mind." He began as he walked to me and I stiffened. "I'm sorry. But I… You're staying with me." Surprise flickered, and a sort of—relief? "I was eavesdropping. You don't—even if I funded research to figure out how to send you… back. I won't. I can't. You don't belong there, you belong here. With me. I'm—I don't… I didn't have parents either. You are… my family."
I didn't understand why his image blurred, why the tears were back. I swiped them away, but them kept coming. "You need me." I tried to tease but it fell flat and he smiled. Sadly.
"You need me too."
His arms enveloped around me, pulling me gently to him and I broke down, crying into his chest. I clung to this person I hardly knew, yet knew very well. He was just like me, looked just like me.
"Um. I'm sorry to interrupt…"