A/N: Okay, so I wrote this as a chapter for my good friend and wondrous sounding board MoffandAvencore's really awesome series Crimson and Gold, which is a series of Ed!death fics. So, please enjoy. I felt so bad after this one. :'(
The first thing Roy noticed as he rose to the brim of consciousness was the cold. It was all over him, invasively penetrating every crevice of his exposed and unexposed skin, while simultaneously submerging him in its frigid dryness. The second thing he noticed was the enormous discomfort his body was currently in. His muscles ached, especially his arms, which he noticed with a slight, experimental tug, were bound behind him with ragged, scratchy rope.
He coughed as awareness slithered stubbornly into his uncooperative brain.
His eyes fluttered open of their own accord, and even though not but a dim, reddish glow met his gaze, he still winced at the pain it caused in his head. At first, everything was blurry and hard to discern, hazy, replicating flashes of light and dull colors. He had to squint his eyes shut and swallow down a parched, burning throat in order to quell the sudden bout of nausea which assaulted him. His stomach roiled for a few more moments before he managed, with several deep breaths and sheer force of will, to calm it down.
Keeping his eyes closed, he struggled through the groggy sluggishness of his brain, taking quick assessment of his physical state. He was met with a wall of indistinguishable injuries and incongruous aches and pains. The pain, though generously spread through his entire body, was mainly centralized at his ribs and the right side of his skull, where he could feel a warm stickiness clinging to the soft flesh of his temple. From what he could tell, the wound wasn't bleeding any longer. Small mercies, he thought bitterly.
Unable to ascertain exactly how badly he was injured, or any way he could improve his situation, he instead scoured his mind, still clouded by a fog of exhaustion, for any memory of how he'd gotten here. Images flashed through his brain: A dark street, a moonless, cloud-covered night, a swirl of movement from the shadows. A battle took place, he remembered vaguely. Well, that explained the bruises. But, not how he was kidnapped. He must have had his gloves with him, it would have been an easy…
But then another image pierced into his memory. A short, raging body, a flying red tailcoat, a blonde head.
Roy's back instinctively straightened, eyes flying open despite the pain it sent stabbing into his skull. It took less than a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dim reddish light of the room he was in. His vision autonomously absorbed his surroundings, the closet-like space made of granite walls, coated in a layer of filth and smelling heavily of sweat, blood, and antiseptic. It was barren, not even a window cutting through the musky, shadowy quality of the air. The only light available was from the dangling, naked bulb hanging from the ceiling, and the narrow sliver snaking out from under the one, rotting wooden door.
But Roy's eyes were immediately locked on the form across from him.
Ed had been stripped of any attire, other than his black t-shirt, and off-white underwear, both of which clung to his sweaty skin, displaying the abnormally small, yet subtly muscled physique. Streaks of dirt and several scrapes marred his skin, and a narrow gash was cleaved along his left bicep, but other than that, he seemed fairly unharmed. The thought made something hot untangle in Roy's chest, and he breathed out.
Shifting agitatedly in his seat, he quickly roved his gaze around the room, and leaned forward,
"Fullmetal," he said in a strained whisper. Ed's head hung limply over his steadily breathing chest. His hair fell unclasped in a tangled, golden disarray, hiding his face from sight. He didn't answer, at first. Roy tried again, raising the volume of his voice infinitesimally, hands clenching into fists,
Ed groaned, head swaying to the side as he regained consciousness. A section of hair shifted at the movement, revealing a bleary, dilated eye. Drugged, then. Or, maybe a concussion. Neither possibility particularly suited Roy and he frowned, absentmindedly calculating how much drugs a body of Ed's size could tolerate.
"Colonel…?" Ed croaked sluggishly. Roy rolled his eyes, but winced at the pain it caused,
"About time you woke up. It's been days,"
Ed's eyes widened in alarm, and his face paled considerably,
"Days?" he swallowed. Roy felt a twinge of guilt. He probably should have known that a concussion would have waned Ed's ability to detect sarcasm.
"No-I mean-probably not. I can't be sure, the blood hasn't completely dried yet," Roy grimaced in frustration, hating the way his words didn't hold their usual steadiness and clarity. Damn, his head hurt.
Ed looked up at Roy's words,
"Blood?" his eyes scanned Roy's frame, as if for evidence, eventually landing on the blow on his head. He glared tiredly, head falling forward, "Idiot bastard," he grumbled quietly. Roy scowled, irritation flooding his features. Why did he…?
And then he remembered. Ed, trapped in the arms of two burly men, the nozzle of a gun pressed to his temple even as he struggled and screamed angrily at Roy, "What are you doing?!". Roy had had his glove on, his fingers poised to snap, but at seeing Ed, he'd hesitated. After that, there was a pain, and then darkness, and Ed's voice calling his name as he sunk into unconsciousness.
"You shouldn't have stopped," Ed griped, "You should have just done it. Now we're both stuck," his eyes were still dilated and glassy as he stared at the ground. Roy felt a stir of sympathy. Ed was most likely disoriented and in pain.
Roy was too, of course. But that really was irrelevant, considering he was the superior, and Ed the subordinate. And Roy didn't let his subordinates think they were going to die when he had every intention of getting them out.
"Fullmetal?" he said. Ed seemed to have lost focus, his eyes flitting around aimlessly as his mouth hung open slightly. The beginnings of fear were creeping onto his brow. Roy pursed his lips, and said firmly,
Ed looked up at him, gaze unfocused, and Roy looked at him earnestly. His voice was harsh and reproachful when he spoke, brooking no argument,
"We're getting out of here. Both of us, in one piece."
Ed was silent at first, but then seemed to realize Roy was waiting,
"Yes, sir," he grumbled, and Roy nodded in satisfaction,
"Alright. Now, I want you to check yourself, find out if everything's working properly. I need to know what might handicap our escape."
When the time came for them to run, and Roy would make sure that time came, then he would need to know if Ed was at full capacity.
Ed understood, and began methodically stretching his muscles, and wiggling his extremities, searching for anything that would hamper his ability to move. As he did, Roy did the same. Aside from the occasional wince of pain, and the odd bruise and scrape here or there, Roy didn't find anything. When the opportunity arose for them to run, he would be able to.
Ed bit his lip, considering,
"I'm fine, though I think a few of my ribs might be bruised," he scowled at Roy's raised eyebrow, and amended much more quietly, "…okay, cracked."
Roy nodded, then closed his eyes. Several moments of silence passed. Ed fidgeted, never having been the patient type,
"Well?" he prompted. Roy cracked one eye open,
"Well what?" Ed frowned,
"What now?" he strained against the ropes which bound his wrists to the arms of the chair. Roy sighed exasperatedly,
"Now, we wait."
Ed looked extremely dissatisfied at this answer, and slumped in his seat, pouting. Roy smirked, but his smile faltered when he saw Ed begin to squirm agitatedly, gaze rolling anxiously over the room.
Roy could recognize fear even in those most adept at hiding it. He decided to have mercy,
"I need time to think of a plan," he added, and Ed's eyes refocused on him, "Opportunity won't be enough to get us out of here, we need a strategy." Ed said nothing, but furrowed his brow as if he were thinking very hard, his face still lined with a stubborn worry. Roy wasn't sure what compelled him, but the words left his mouth before he could stop them,
"I'm going to get you out of here and back to Al, Fullmetal. Mark my words, I won't risk that boy's wrath."
Ed snickered, then abruptly sobered and stared into his superior's eyes. Roy was surprised and slightly alarmed at what he saw in his subordinate's gaze. Trust, complete and unquestioning.
And then the door opened.
"Oh, how sweet," a voice cried in icy joviality as the man it belonged to slunk into the room. Roy stiffened, and saw Ed recoil backwards into his chair, hands tightening on the armchairs as his face took on a mask of anger and obstinacy. Roy sent a silent message to him not to do anything stupid or reckless.
He almost snorted at the unlikelihood of that happening.
The man closed the door behind him, and Roy got a good look in the flickering light. He was a slightly paunchy, grey-haired man with an average face and unremarkable features, which were currently twisted into an ugly smirk, though his eyes shone with a cold hatred. He was plain, forgettable, anyone you might pass by on the street. The thought sent a chill up Roy's spine.
"Good evening, gentleman," he stated, folding his hands in front of him. He just stood there, facing Roy, as if Ed didn't even exist. His beady eyes bore into Roy, his gaze impenetrable, his lips still quirked in a slight, malicious smile. His expression was unreadable, no discernible thoughts were shown on his face. Other than the stark naked hatred burning through his pupils. It was unnerving.
Roy returned the look in equal measure, keeping his face carefully impassive as he was appraised.
"You don't recognize me, do you?" the man said. Roy narrowed his eyes,
"I don't know you," he replied. The man cocked his head and laughed. It was a flat laugh, with no trace of humor, or even amusement. Roy felt unease squirm in his gut.
"Well," the man said, and turned around. He opened the door, and another man walked in, this one tall and burly looking with a long scar running jaggedly across his face.
"I suppose it was naive of me to think I would have made an impact," the man continued, closing the door after his henchman. He reached inside his worn jacket, and pulled out what appeared to be something like a small crowbar with a screw on one end. He twirled it in his fingers, then inclined his head at his henchman. The henchman nodded, then stepped behind Ed's chair. Ed seethed and tried to pull away from him, but the henchman grabbed his shoulders and slammed him against the back of the chair, holding him in place even as Ed struggled and snarled. Roy stiffened and strained against his bonds,
"What are you doing?" he said. The man ignored him. With surprisingly gentle hands, he gripped Ed's automail arm, and inserted the device into the gap between his metal shoulder plate and the few, layered sheets of steel along his upper bicep.
"But you see," he said, working for a moment before, somehow, managing to pry off one layer of metal, then let it clatter to the floor as he started on the next. He moved methodically and casually, with an eerie calm and contentedness that sent a wave of anxiety crashing over Roy. Ed's eyes went wide as he fought against the hands holding him down, and he cursed at the man, even as he pried off another piece of Ed's arm,
"I've always had this thing for negative attention," the man held up the next piece of metal to the light, inspecting it with inquisitive interest, "I suppose that's partly why I married an Ishvalan girl," he dropped the piece of metal, watching it with a careless disdain as it clattered on the concrete, "Oh, but she was very beautiful," his voice was wistful, his eyes far away as he paused in his work. Roy felt a sickness slither into his gut.
The man shook his head, seeming to come back to the present, and reasserted the screwdriver into Ed's automail, oblivious to the fear and rage warring on the boy's sweaty face,
"Ah, but that was partly what got me through the war. Her beauty, external and otherwise."
He finished disassembling the metal beneath Ed's shoulder, and Roy swallowed past a lump of dread at the sight of the inner workings of Ed's automail, normally hidden by the metal casing. The gears and hinges worked and shifted as Ed continued to pull and twist, but Roy's eyes were plastered in horror to the bundled nest of taut, exposed nerves arranged in a neat, glistering row.
The man sighed in satisfaction at his job, then turned back to Roy and reached into his jacket for a handkerchief. He dabbed his face as he spoke,
"Yes, she and my son were everything to me," he finished wiping off the perspiration, then stared into Roy's face intently, as if expecting some kind of response or hint of recognition. But his brow fell in disappointment when he didn't find one,
"But, of course, my desire for attention goes back farther than that," he looked up at the ceiling with a look of nostalgia, "When I was young and rebellious, I studied alchemy for awhile, just to spite my parents," he chuckled, then dropped his gaze to the ground, "Oh, that really killed them."
He paused, a smile lingering on his lips as his eyes clouded with remembrance. Roy swallowed, searching wildly with his eyes for some means of escape, something to-
"But, what I really remember from that time were the laws of alchemy," the man suddenly continued, and began moving again, "Because, you see, they fascinated me. They seemed to stretch past just the plain of science and alchemy, and claim ground in all realms of life," he held out his hand to Scar, and the henchman obediently pulled something out of his pocket and handed it to him.
The man fiddled with it for a moment, continuing his monologue. Roy felt the beginnings of fear stirring inside of him, and he cast about for some kind of salvation.
"Equivalent exchange," the man said, almost reverently, "They really drill that one into you, don't they? All the books, all the teachers. They claim it isn't just a law in alchemy, but in everything. Everything that is lost must be replaced. Anything taken comes at a price. For awhile, I thought it was about equal trade," he slowly raised his head, eyes boring into Roy's with an intensity that almost burned, "But now, I realize it's more about justice."
Roy couldn't speak. He waited. The man stared.
"That's what I was thinking about," the man said quietly, eyes never leaving Roy's even as he shifted his weight and leaned in towards Ed. Roy began struggling, "That's what I was thinking about, as I lay bleeding beneath a pile of rubble, forced to watch as you killed my only son in cold blood."
Roy couldn't think. A thousand images of all the countless lives he had stolen during the Ishvalan war flashed through his mind. One was hardly discernible from the next. How much pain had he caused this man? Panic seized in his chest.
"So you see," the man said, a wide grin splitting his lips as a malicious glee filled his eyes, "This isn't really my choice." He took the device in his hands, a hooked, barbed scalpel, designed for cutting cables, and placed it beneath one of Ed's tightly stretched, exposed nerves. Ed's eyes flew open in terror, and though he kicked and struggled, he couldn't escape the giant hands holding him down. Horror rendered Roy mute. The man continued,
"You're the one who tipped the balance," he looked up and locked his eyes on Roy's, a manic joy blistering his mad gaze, "I'm just the one who's righting it."
In one arrestingly swift, decisive motion, he yanked the scalpel through Ed's nerve, slicing it in half.
Ed, against all thoughts of possibility, somehow managed to keep from screaming. His neck bulged with blue veins and bursting tendons as he raised his face to the ceiling and struggled to breathe through clenched teeth. His hands gripped the arms of his chair so tight his fingers began to bleed. He wheezed and gasped through his agony as he trembled.
Roy strained against the ropes, the cords raking through the raw skin and torn flesh,
"No!" he cried, yanking and struggling to no avail, "Stop!"
The man just smiled maniacally, and reached down to cut the next vein.
The second time, Ed began thrashing, and couldn't draw a breath through the pain. Roy cursed and spat at their kidnapper, every obscenity he knew flying from his drawn, pale lips.
The third time, Ed started screaming.
"STOP!" Roy shouted, "For the love of god, just STOP!"
The fourth time, Ed's voice cracked and gave out. Roy began begging,
"Please, I'll do anything. Do anything you want to me, please!"
But the man ignored him. He cut another vein, and this time Ed's mouth just hung open in a silent scream of unvoiced agony. He continued to shake and seize, convulsing as his eyes started to lose focus.
Roy didn't know what he was saying. He pleaded and swore and shouted words of revenge to his captors, feeling his insides tear apart as Ed suffered through the unbearable pain.
The man cut another vein, and this time Ed's body just weakly twitched a few times, before he let out a shuddering rasp, and went limp. His eyes fluttered closed as his head lolled forward onto his chest. His fingers loosened their grip on the chair, and lay still.
The room fell silent.
Roy couldn't move. The curses died on his lips as the breath caught in his throat. His heart stuttered as he stared at Ed's chest, waiting for it to rise.
The man smirked in satisfaction, and with a carefree whistle, spun on his heel towards the door.
A rage, darker and hotter than the abyss of Hell ignited inside of Roy. A smoldering fury enveloped the core of his being. And he began to tremble. His onyx eyes burned with a terrifying loathing like burnished metal and black ice.
The man didn't get far. He opened the door, and a chorus of voices and pandemonium immediately erupted into the room.
Roy felt his insides soar. Riza.
The man snarled and conjured a gun from his lapel. Almost instantly, three bullets slammed into his chest. His face contorted in an expression of shock and anger, then he collapsed backward and was still on the floor. Roy felt a dark satisfaction bloom inside of him, but his eyes remained locked on Ed's unmoving form, horror and panic brimming in his chest.
The henchman folded his hands behind his head obediently and slunk down against the wall, face stoic.
"Untie me, untie me!" Roy demanded, thrashing against the ropes. He caught a glimmer of blue in his vision, and felt Riza's warm breath against his neck as she cut through the ropes.
Roy lunged forward, despite the pain that pierced him in several places at the abrupt movement. His hands scrabbled uselessly against Ed's bonds as he fought to untie them.
"We have to get him down! NOW!"
Riza rushed forward and knelt as she began sawing through the ropes. In moments, they snapped and fell away from Ed, and Roy struggled not to be sick as the boy limply rolled forward into his arms at his prodding. He lay Ed down flat on his back, and jabbed two fingers into his jugular.
"Damn it," Roy spat and bent over. He plugged Ed's nose and blew into his mouth, watching as the small chest rose and fell artificially. He straightened, then stacked his hands atop Ed's heart and began movements up and down with his whole body. He kept up a steady rhythm, teeth bared in a stubborn snarl as he continuously bit back waves of despair and resignation.
He felt for a pulse once again.
"Shit, kid, come on," he blew into his mouth again, ignoring how cold Ed's skin had become, or how lifeless his face was, and began pounding at his chest again.
No heartbeat, no breathing.
"Sir…" Riza said tentatively, her voice wet with emotion. Roy ignored her.
"Come on," he growled, "come on," Ed's body jolted in response to his harsh compressions, "come on!" Roy felt a rib or two snap beneath his palm.
"Sir!" Riza wrapped her arms around him, pulling him back, restraining him. Roy fought and swore,
"NO! I told him I'd get him home! I told him!"
"Roy!" Riza cried, and it sounded as if she were beginning to weep, "Roy, he's gone! Let him go,"
"No," Roy choked, a sob breaking through his chest as the strength seeped from his body. He fell backwards into Riza's chest, and her arms tightened around him. His eyes began to burn.
A cold silence fell over the room, filled only with the colonel and lieutenant's harsh, exhausted panting. Roy stared uncomprehendingly, eyes wide and disbelieving, at Ed's corpse, at the scraggly mess of golden hair splayed across the filthy concrete, at his lax, dead features and ghostly pale skin. At those limp arms and legs and still, unmoving chest, filled with naught but stale air and cold, passive blood, lying dormant in veins connected to a quiet heart.