A/N : This is a lengthy chapter, and the last one too! Lots of scenes, explanations, I hope you like it! :D
Thank you to everyone who reviewed/ favourited/ followed/ read the story!
Oh and because I forgot to state it previously: Criminal Minds and Fullmetal Alchemist - both very awesome shows - sadly do not belong to me. Never have, never will.
On with the story! :D
Ed really didn't want to have this conversation here. So he was actually relieved when the police came in.
"Perfect timing," he said aloud, fully meaning it, although everyone took it as a sarcastic comment from him.
Oh well, they did arrive REALLY late at the scene.
So they went back, dropped off Envy – Tom, he reminded himself – at the hospital (with a number of security guards as well- not that they'd be any good if they were attacked) and finally met the other members of their team at the police station conference room.
"Guys, what happened?" JJ asked as soon as they came in, bruises on every one of them, including Edward. "I mean, we know what happened, but what really happened?"
So he sat down while agents Hotchner, Reid and Morgan filled the others in on what they saw at the school. For their part, the others started staring at Edward – discreetly, of course – to the point that he started to get uncomfortable.
"So…?" Reid began, looking at him expectantly when they stopped their tale.
No avoiding it now.
Ed took a deep breath and began.
"Alchemy is the science of understanding, deconstruction and reconstruction. What I did there, that was just me manipulating the objects around me- breaking it down to its components, and then reshaping it into something else. Yes?" he looked over Reid as everyone practically overflowed with questions.
"You speak of 'alchemy' as a science. But isn't it a dead art? Turning lead to gold? And it's supposed to take years to perform alchemy, theoretically, and even that is done by complex arrays, from what I've read," Reid said.
"Maybe it's a dead art here, but where I'm from, it's actually pretty common. Of course, turning lead to gold is against the law, and as for your other question, the speed depends upon the alchemist and the transmutation. And I don't have to use arrays or transmutation circles. It's one of the reasons I'm a –" he stopped short, wondering if he'd gone too far. Surely he didn't need to tell these people everything.
"You're a-?" asked JJ.
"I'm a State Alchemist. It just means I passed this very prestigious exam and I… work for the government. Just- just research. On alchemy. They let me do anything I want because I'm actually the youngest State Alchemist ever-" he really needed to think faster – all he was doing was giving up more information about himself , "- as I passed the exam when I was twelve. Oh and each State Alchemist has a special name."
"Fullmetal," said Morgan.
"Uh- yes. I didn't think you'd remember that. The Fullmetal Alchemist. That's my name in the – government. "
" 'Fullmetal' ?" asked Prentiss. "Were they referring to your – "
"My automail, yeah. They have a strange sense of humour apparently," Edward pulled a face.
"So you had this 'automail' when you gave the exam? If I may ask, what happened?" she asked.
"It was an accident. An alchemic reaction went wrong, and I lost my right arm.." he paused.. "and my left leg," he finished.
Someone gasped around him but he didn't look up.
Reid's head was swimming with the fact that there actually existed something that was basically a lore. Alchemy is real?!
"My neighbours, they make the best automail in the country, so I asked them to make me these," he showed his arm around – and quite proudly too.
His neighbours… the same neighbours that took him in! Was this when they took him in? Was he all alone by then? His parents gone? Before he was even twelve? Reid felt a stab of pity for the young boy.
"Hey Edward? Can you... can you show us some 'alchemy' then?" asked Garcia from the laptop.
Ed smiled. He's been asked that way too often, Reid realised. Ed brought his hands together and clapped them to a chair. There was a flash of light and the chair was shorter by an inch, and in his hand Ed held a small wooden rose, carved with such precision that Reid really had to wonder about his skill. He really is a prodigy. That's what his stories seemed to imply, didn't they?
Among all the flutter and the ooh-ing and aah-ing, Rossi brought them back to the point, "So Edward, how do you know the Unsub?"
Everyone was back into business-mode.
"Yeah, we never imagined the Unsub to be a young girl."
" 'Young girl'?" Ed scoffed. "Her name is Lyra. And she's not what she seems to be. I know you won't believe me but she's actually quite – mature.." Ed tried to put this forward as simply as possible. "She's.. well… it may seem far-fetched, but her body has been taken up by another person. Dante is hundreds of years old.. and so.. your profile wasn't all that wrong.. right? "he finished lamely.
"Has it something to do with the Philosophers' Stone? You mentioned it there, when you basically implied that you weren't from our world," inquired Morgan.
"You guys really do listen remarkably well, don't you?" said Ed, rather ruefully. "I guess I believe that. Since being here, I've come to realize that I recognize none of the countries here, the technology is completely alien to me, and if I were to say "Amestris", you wouldn't realize what it is, would you?" He took their blank faces as a signal to continue, "That was the name of the country I'm from. But you haven't the faintest idea about it. Not to mention, no one here does alchemy. Now, I don't even know how I can. But I believe I'm on the other side of the Gate. This is a different world from my own, where there's no Philosophers' Stone."
"The Philosophers' Stone? You mean like Harry Potter?" asked Prentiss, smiling.
"Essentially, yes. The Philosophers' Stone is a legendary stone, occurring in many old tales. It supposedly brings many things to its possessor, but most versions state that it gives them lead from gold, as well as immortality," stated Reid, looking at Ed for verification.
"You're right, it does give immortality. Which is why Dante created one- with some help. But it demands a horrible price for it, something that no one should ever give- " he stopped short, looking down, and his fists curled on his side. Memories of that horrible day came back to him, when after days of working over Doctor Marcoh's notes they'd finally uncovered this terrible secret.
The others didn't miss his sudden stiffening.
"Ed what- what is the price?" asked JJ, mainly to make him start talking again, but almost too scared to ask.
Ed put it bluntly. "Human souls. Sacrifices. Lots and lots of it. They killed thousands to make it. And when she was running out of its power, she decided to have one made again… But now she's here, which means she probably got killed there…" he was talking more to himself now.
Trying to hide his horror at the disturbing information he'd just got, Hotch asked him, "So, you think she's trying to create one here? A Philosophers' Stone?"
Ed looked up out of his reverie. "No, I don't think that's it." That seemed to relieve the FBI agents a little, at least a mass genocide was not being planned.
"She was killing the Homunculi – or at least who she believed to be Homunculi- "
"Sorry to interrupt, but what's a 'Homunculi' supposed to mean?" asked JJ.
" 'Homunculi' are created humans. They are the result of human transmutations gone wrong. Dante has used these seven Homunculi to do her bidding before. Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Pride, Greed, Wrath.. and Sloth.." Ed tried and failed to not falter at the last one. Thankfully for him, no one seemed to raise it up just now.
"So she used them, and now she's killing their- counterparts? What's made her go against them?" pondered Rossi.
"Is it revenge? Did anyone of them betray her?" Prentiss asked Ed.
"Maybe she believes they still serve her. She said something to the effect of 'Equivalent Exchange - their life for mine' . So maybe she believes they are supposed to die for her," guessed Morgan.
"Why all of them for her, though? Does she think she's superior to them, that seven people need be sacrificed for just one of her?" JJ said.
"If she still sees them as Homunculi, it's possible she values herself above them all," said Hotch.
"I think it's a little bit of everything," said Ed quietly.
Everyone turned to look at him again. He really was getting tired of this.
"I don't know for sure, but I think she's dead. No, she's definitely dead. It's the only way to land up in this world- to die in ours. Yes-" he added, knowing the question would be coming, "I died too. Killed by Envy, incidentally. Anyway, so when I left, maybe someone betrayed her, maybe one of the Homunculi. Got her killed. She was dying anyway, with her Stone almost finished. So, she came here, and now she wants to go back. So why does she start killing her Homunculi? Random? No. She has a plan. A way to go back. A deal with the Gatekeeper? A powerful alchemic array? Probably both. I have to find out what her plan is. And then…"
Ed looked up. "Stop her."
Reid went inside the small room where Ed was sitting. Researching. Looking for anything that might help them figure out what Dante's plan was.
"Need any help with that?" Reid asked the boy, seeing him struggle with the laptop.
"Yeah, how do you make this damn thing work?!" Ed burst out, looking quite worn out, and very irritated.
Of course he didn't ask for help, Reid thought. He's too proud for that. Now, though, it seemed Ed was at the end of his fuse.
"What are you looking for?" Reid asked him, taking a seat beside him.
"Just any books or research published on alchemy here. Well, and then sort out the real from the fake. But I can't work out this… demonic machine," Ed rued.
"You know what we could do? Let's ask Garcia to work her magic," Reid whispered conspirationally.
An hour later, they were working through piles of published material on alchemic science, dating back to the previous century. Who even made E-book versions of these? Reid wondered. Ed was selecting and rejecting books just a few seconds into each title, and Reid really felt he wasn't as useful as he wanted to be, even with his crazy 2000 words-a-minute reading speed. Till now though, they had only picked out five books which showed promise for further study. Something about most of them being "full of crap", as Ed put it.
"Okay, now we have these books from the fifties. They're not in downloadable form, so we'll just have to decide if they're worth our time from their titles and synopsis. Any particular ones stand out?" Reid asked, and then read aloud their titles, "A Study on the Nature of Matter, by Prof. G. Fitzgerald, Alchemy and its Uses, by M. , The Basics of Alchemy- the Arcane Art, by Dr. Howard L. Fogg, Mysteries of our World- Alchemy, by Maya Saunders, Discovering Alchimie, by Prof. Jorge M. Hasselhorf, The Science of Alchemy, by Prof. V. Hohenhiem, Understanding the Secrets- what? " Reid asked, looking up as he sensed Edward suddenly stop moving.
"The last author- was it- Van Hohenhiem?" Ed asked, his voice quivering.
"Yes- Edward, what is it?" Reid asked, worried now.
"Then that's the book we need," declared Edward.
"Are you sure? You haven't even read it yet. I'll order it if you want, but- how can you be certain of its authenticity, that it's not just another of those 'hocus-pocus' books, as you yourself put it?"
"I'm certain because… because I know - knew - the author."
"Knew him? Ed, are you sure? He lived more than –"
"I'm sure. He was my father."
It turned out that the one book Edward needed wasn't easily available. But Rossi was able to pull some strings and within 24 hours they had the book in question.
The BAU agents had been surprised, to say the least, when they learned of Edward's supposed 'father'. But they added it to the pile of weird that was going on here. Their Unsub- this Dante woman- hadn't been seen since that day in the school, but they knew it was only a matter of time before she showed up again. It was probably her injuries – and Edward, the Fullmetal Alchemist- that was holding her off for now.
Edward had been holed up in the little room for the whole day now, studying the book. Apparently, it was written in code. Unsurprisingly, Dr. Reid was there along with him, helping him figure it out. The agents had no doubt they would succeed, but time was of the essence.
Because apart from the looming threat of another attack by the Unsub, it was the police and public that was getting antsy. They knew they couldn't leak out the details of this case to anyone. They generally never did, but this case in particular had to be kept extra secretive. Hell, they weren't even sure what they were going to report back home. But as of now, they hadn't told anyone of the identity of the Unsub, only her general description to warn the public, and they'd especially refrained from disclosing Edward's involvement. Which meant he got strange and even suspicious glances whenever he moved around the police station to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water. He never complained though, and the agents could see that he'd experienced this before.
There were so many things they still didn't know about the boy. His fighting skills, for example. And there was a very important part of his life he wasn't telling them, they could make that out. They just hoped it wasn't relevant to the case or the Unsub.
"That was Strauss," announced Hotch, walking into the conference room of the police station, where his agents were gathered. "She wants to know why this case is taking us so long. There's other cases piling up."
It was a grim situation, but if orders came from above, they knew they'd have to leave this one unsolved. And there was the matter of what will go in the report if they did solve this.
It was the middle of the night when Reid and Edward finally found something.
"That's insane!" Ed exclaimed. "Its as if he knew- "
"Knew what, Ed?" asked Reid, running a hand through his dishevelled hair.
"As if he knew we'd land up here. I'd land up here. That I'd die. He's left this message for me to find, a way to get back. This array here," he pointed to the circle he'd made, folding and arranging the designs on various pages of the book into a perfect array, "it's incredibly powerful. I can feel it, though I've never seen anything like it before. Hohenhiem probably worked it out here- " he stopped as a thought suddenly hit him.
"And what of the victims? Does it require any sacrifices?" Reid asked, as the thought of another bloody aspect of alchemy came into his mind.
"No, it doesn't say so," Ed replied, flipping through the decoded message he'd written out.
"Then why did she kill all those people here?"
"I- I don't know," confessed Ed.
"So how does this help us again?" Reid wondered.
"It does, because it means we can send her back."
They were prepared this time.
As Edward had predicted, she came after Tom Nevy again, who was still recuperating in the hospital. The night was quiet and most parts of the only hospital in this small town were empty and unoccupied now. Which is why they heard the crash of the window pane throughout the corridor, and then rushed inside as soon as possible.
There she was, standing about a foot away from the teenager in the bed, a curiously shaped dagger in her hand and blood on her fingers. Her own, no doubt, as she'd used in every ceremony.
Her eyes narrowed as she took in the agents, all with their guns drawn at her, and finally came to rest at Edward.
"Still here, Edward?" she cooed.
"I don't get it, Dante," he replied, coming straight to the point.
"Oh, but you won't dear. After all, you are his son. It's a shame really, what with all this talent. For you really do have a gift, just like dear Hohenhiem of Light. But you'll never be a great alchemist. You just don't have the stomach for it," she taunted him, as she started to move forward.
"Don't move!" called out Hotch from his position, aiming his gun just a little higher, as if to emphasize his point.
"Oh and you have new friends!" she exclaimed to Edward, who just glared at her. "And what about your old friends? Your little tincan of a brother?"
"You shut your mouth about Al!" Ed shouted, and the agents sent a worried glance towards him.
She laughed freely. "See, after Envy here killed you, didn't you leave your poor little brother all alone? Or is he going to be a dog of the military too, eh? Stay among friends?"
"Why did you kill those people?" Ed asked her, getting back to the point, and refusing to be goaded or distracted.
"Because of Equivalent Exchange, Edward. Turns out, there really is no way around it in his world. Such a useless little world this is," she sounded disgusted.
"This world may be flawed, but ours wasn't perfect either. Ours is an imperfect world too. What happened there, what we allowed to happen – it was our mistake – our – " he sucked in a sharp breath and closed his eyes.
"Remember something, dear?"she mocked.
"My… mistake… he said… I have to fix my mistake…"
"Who said that Edward?" Even if he hadn't recognised the voice as JJ's, he would've known this wasn't Dante from the tone in which it was asked. Low, worried. For him, he realised. And that made him open his eyes and answer.
"I remember it now. The Gatekeeper. This is why I have my alchemy in this world. I have something to do. I always knew it, but just couldn't remember it earlier. I have to fix my mistake."
"Yes, and I'm fixing mine, don't you see? I should've finished those Homunculi when they started getting out of hand. That gluttony! I've been saving him for last," she said, a frenzied look in her eyes. "So that's my secret then. My reason – my mistakes. That's why they had to be destroyed. But let's talk about you, shall we? What is your mistake, Edward, son of Hohenhiem? Was it dear Sloth- oops, I already took care of that for you! Or is it your poor brother in that ridiculous suit of armour? Your limbs? My, my, you have made some pretty grave mistakes for one so young," she spoke, almost reproachfully.
"You know, it is neither of those." He replied quietly, and before she could blink, he had clapped his hands and put them on the floor.
And the whole room changed. The white paint of the hospital room dissolved into powder and as it settled down, the shape of a giant transmutation circle came into view. It started on the roof, made its way down the walls, and was spread out on the entire floor.
"WHAT IS THIS?" she cried, and clapped her own hands.
And nothing happened.
"You're right," said Edward, "I am his son. And so, I was able to decipher his work, and find the hidden meaning you weren't, even though you probably decoded it too. This circle here," he pointed to the roof directly above her, "will bind your alchemy. Not for long, but I don't need much time anyway."
At her shocked expression, he continued, "You say this world is flawed for its limitations. Well, this is the only reason I'm able to bind your alchemy. Equivalent Exchange. If that's what you were looking for, you didn't need to kill all those people. You only needed yourself. And as for me, I don't need…Sloth, or Al, or anyone else. For my mistake, was letting you get away. For letting you create a Philosopher's Stone on my brother! For letting you kill all these people here. For not stopping you when I should have. And so I have to fix my mistake. I have to take you back."
She smirked then. "Back to Amestris? Well, you're welcome to. I've been trying to do that all along."
"No, not there. I only have to take you back to the Gate."
Edward clapped his hands to the floor a second time then, and the room was filled with a reddish glow, interspersed with blue light. Dante's face showed fear, but Edward's face showed only resolve.
He turned back to look at the people standing behind him one last time, and then all of a sudden he wanted to explain it to them. They looked at the glowing circles warily, but looked alert as Ed turned towards them. And then he spoke:
"Thank you, all of you. I know there's many things I never got around to telling you but... I hope you will forgive me. You believed me, and helped me, and cared for me when you didn't have to. I can never repay this debt I have and…"
"Edward. Its alright. It was a pleasure and a delight in knowing you, and these last few days were the most extraordinary days of our lives," said Reid, with feeling.
They could see his edges blurring right now. If he'd been wearing glasses, Reid would've taken them off and cleaned them vigorously. As it was, this was happening in plain sight.
"You truly are remarkable, Edward," said Morgan, as the boy showed signs of tears in his eyes. His body was completely translucent by now.
"Hey Ed, don't worry about us. Get back to your little brother, yeah?" said JJ, smiling, as Edward all but vanished.
"Yeah, his name's Alphonse. You'd have liked him."
And with that he was gone.
Everything was white.
Edward could distinctly remember every time he'd been here, and he hated every one of them.
But this time, he wasn't alone. No, a few paces to his right was someone sitting down, kneeling. Dante.
"Look who's come back!"
The voice seemed to come from everywhere, and nowhere.
"I must be allowed to go back!" Dante almost shouted from beside him. "I have fixed my mistakes- most of them- and I have given more than equal to the Gate! Send me back to my world!"
It was almost funny, seeing her reduced to nothing but a petulant child in front of the Gate. Almost. For he was here too, and nothing could be funny in this universe of white.
"You activated the circle? And you completed your task. I must say, your price is enough too, Mister Alchemist."
"What do you mean? You can't let HIM go! I PAID THE PRICE! I DID THE WORK! I AM THE ONE WHO MUST BE ALLOWED TO GO BACK!" she bellowed, to the voice at random.
And then Edward spoke: "Don't you see, Dante, you have no idea of the price he wanted. You have disbalanced our world long enough with your biggest mistake- the Philosopher's Stone."
"Mistake? That's my biggest achievement! My biggest success!"
"And it is WRONG! Wrong to exist, wrong to be used. It has taken away the concept of Equivalent Exchange in our world. And the Gate wants nothing but balance. A price for everything. Bringing you here was the price for me to come here too. And even though I don't know if I can go back – "
"You will, Mister Alchemist. Your price is right here."
And with that Edward was plunged into the darkness again. He could hear the faint screams of the woman and the sounds of thousands of creatures laughing and chattering as he lost himself.
Edward Elric lay still on the floor. In opening them, he discovered that he had eyes. His whole body, in fact, seemed unharmed. Well except for the automail, which still hung heavy beside him.
But the world wasn't white anymore.
So I am somewhere.
Profound as that thought was, he still didn't know where he was. Which world he was in. So he decided to find out the only way he could – get up and walk.
There was a problem there though – he was in a box. With a clap of his hands and a flash of light he was out of the box – coffin – and read the nameplate on his own grave:
The Fullmetal Achemist
b. 1899 – d. 1915
A son, a brother, a friend.
May you find happiness where you are.
He did not need to look beside him to know this was where their mother was buried.
Resembool. He was in Resembool.
He was home.
He did not know how long he stood there, just taking in the air and the feeling of being alive in his own world. He couldn't remember anything so calming as the cool evening air in Resembool. He should know- he'd spent countless days and nights here, in this very place.
And so it was almost dusk when he heard someone squeak and drop something behind him. Turning around, he almost fell down when something collided into him. Someone, he realised. Someone very small, someone very familiar.
A/N : That's all folks! ;) I'm so proud of myself, I actually finished it! And just two days before my finals too!
Thank you for reading and please don't forget to leave a review! ^_^