Ed sipped his coffee, letting the strong, black drink work its magic as he watched the street through lowered lashes. A couple of young women giggled to each other, blushing and raking his slim form with longing looks as they slowed their hurried pace. It wasn't that Ed ignored their admiration; he was oblivious to it. His eyes may have been taking in the world but his mind was busy at work, pondering the scant evidence they had found in the cemetery.
Those who knew him would have been surprised to see Ed so thoughtful. Even now, teetering on the brink of adult-hood, his actions were often impetuous and poorly planned. He was expected to rush into things head-first without giving a second thought to the consequences. Still, he at least had the sense to know when the situation called for a different approach.
Grave robbing was a vile crime, regarded with horror and distaste by most. Even if someone had seen what had happened they were likely to deny witnessing such sacrilegious behaviour. It was this stoic silence that was giving Ed difficulty. As discreetly as he could, he had put the squeeze on a few people he could rely on in Central, quietly asking them if they had heard anything that might be related to the unusual events at the cemetery. No one had an answer for him. Their eyes were blind and their ears deaf. That in itself was suspicious enough.
With a sigh he put the empty mug down on the table and got to his feet, turning up his collar as he stepped out into the rain. Thick clouds had rolled in from the west, bringing downpours with them. Raindrops bounced off the pavement, splattering in puddles and muffling the sounds of the city with their continuous rhythm.
He had sent Al off separately, knowing that the younger man had his own contacts. Al's likeable nature and quiet charm always endeared him to people. There was hardly a barman or waitress in town who wouldn't give him a free lunch along with all the latest word on the street.
A derisive snort escaped Ed's lips, oddly loud in the peaceful precinct. He didn't have time for charm; he barely had time for manners. His brother eased through life with a gentle smile, but Ed preferred the more volatile approach.
Passing an open alley mouth he hesitated, letting his gaze take in the dank, shadowed depths. There was one more person who might be able to tell him something. A burly barkeeper called Dane in the shadier part of Central was often privy to the secrets of the underworld. He was normally fairly tight-lipped, but he owed Ed a favour or two.
A lone alchemist in this part of town was practically begging for trouble, but Ed's lips twisted into a feral grin, and he straightened his shoulders. He would not come across anything he couldn't handle.
The rain ran off the overhanging roofs, sending torrents of water smattering into the ground. Rubbish and detritus clogged the drains, turning the narrow warren of alleyways into a foul marsh of discarded refuse and filth. His steady stride did not falter as he marched through it all, not letting his eyes linger too long on the bundles of rags and soggy cardboard shelters that nestled in the gloom.
A sibilant sound, much like a rush of indrawn breath, made Ed hesitate. His fists clenched in his gloves as he looked over his shoulder, and his eyes narrowed at the sight of the two thugs who leaned against the wall. They were not common tramps or mindless thieves. Their bearing was too military, and the knives in their hands were well kept. The blades gleamed in the sullen daylight, held ready to cut and maim with the flick of a wrist.
'Alchemists aren't welcome 'ere,' the taller one sneered. His face was a network of scars. Some were fine white lines while others were still red, open wounds. 'You must be lost, boy.'
The other one had circled to Ed's side, making it impossible to watch them both at once. 'Normally we don't kill little kids, but I guess we ain't got a choice.' The joy in those words was stomach turning, and Ed felt his back teeth clench in anger. This one had only one pale eye, and a greasy patch covered the hole where the other had been. 'Besides, you're sticking your nose in where it doesn't belong.'
Lightning quick the two of them leapt, their movements surprisingly agile as Ed jumped out of their way. With a swift clap a crackle of power transmuted his automail arm, and Ed felt a flush of satisfaction as the sleek limb elongated into a long, steel point.
Two blades met with a clang, metal scraping on metal as one of the thugs put his weight behind his thrust. Muscles tightened and strained as Ed struggled to block the blow, narrowing his eyes against the rain. His boots skidded in the wet, and behind him he heard the whistle of something passing through the air. With a quick twist he wrested himself free in time to dodge another swing. There was the soft sound of ripping cloth, and Ed cursed as a piece of his coat fluttered to the floor.
A fist swung out of nowhere, landing squarely over his left eye and sending stars shooting across his vision. In one fluid movement Ed dropped to the floor, letting the weight of the blow bear him down. As quickly as he could Ed lashed out, brutally accurate. In one sweep he had knocked the taller man's legs out from under him, and smashed his fist into his jaw as he fell. Bone crunched painfully, and Ed knew that his flesh hand would be bruised for days.
There was nothing but a grunt of pain from the assault. What would have knocked most men unconscious barely seemed to faze this guy. Blood trickled from the man's mouth, and he spat a gob of saliva and tooth fragments, wiping his lips on the back of his hand.
Ed scrambled to his feet and dodged away, turning his back to the wall so that he could see both of them at once. They moved like tigers closing in for the kill. They had been trained for this. There was no trace of uncertainty in their frames, only a sickening joy at their strength. He was beginning to think that maybe this hadn't been a coincidence. They seemed suspiciously well informed for two cut-throats.
The first man lunged again, the knife already swinging down in a fatal arc towards Ed's neck. In synchronised perfection the one-eyed attacker slashed his blade upwards, the point aimed to slide under Ed's ribs.
Without conscious thought Ed clapped his hands together, returning his automail to its original state and catching a wrist in his metal palm. With a sharp movement he spun out of the way, pinning the scarred man's arm behind his back and twisting it painfully.
A soft sound like tearing velvet caressed the air, and Ed flinched in surprise. The blade clattered to the floor from senseless fingers, sending a melody of notes echoing down the alley and bouncing back again. In his arms the thug had stiffened, the tendons of his neck standing out in a spasm of pain as his partner's knife finally came to a halt under his ribcage.
For a moment, the three of them stood in a frozen tableau, unable to comprehend what had happened. With one last gargling sigh the scarred one in Ed's arms went slack, the subtle tension of life fleeing his body as blood welled from his torn belly and dripped on the floor. The wound was decimating and deep, and the one-eyed man had frozen in shock.
His hand was still on the hilt of the knife, now covered in blood and gore. His eye was wide with horror, and with shaky, stumbling movements he began to back away. Ed watched, still unconsciously supporting the body's weight, as the dead man's partner turned and fled, his footsteps booming along the alley in his haste to get away.
The first, vivid instinct was to give chase. Ed's human leg ached with the adrenaline and the need to run somewhere - anywhere away from here. With a massive effort he fought down his natural reactions. He would catch up with the other one later. For now there were more practical concerns.
Ed gently laid the body in his arms on the ground, keeping his eyes away from the foul, gaping wound that had ended the man's life abruptly. Without a thought he stripped off his coat, using the torn fabric to cover the gruesome epitaph of an injury. It would do, at least until he could send a team out to dispose of the body.
Guilt, ugly and brumal, reared its head. He always aimed to disable any assailant, but more and more over the past year he had found his choices narrowed down to a situation of kill or be killed. Part of him murmured excuses, but the truth of it was that it was his decisions that left corpses, rather than prisoners.
A glimmer of something caught his eye, and he saw a large ring on the man's left hand. It occupied the middle finger and gleamed a rich, butter gold. As gently as he could he eased it off of the swollen digit, twisting it over the joint. The metal was still warm, and he stared at the flat surface. Two small letters were engraved in the metal: a "V" superimposed on top of an "N". His first thought was that it was a wedding band, that wasn't right. Jewellery on the middle finger was a symbol of ambition, not commitment.
Getting back to his feet he touched his eye gently, hissing as the tight, swollen skin sparked with pain. 'Crap,' Ed murmured softly, blinking away tears. Couldn't the idiot have punched him somewhere that it wouldn't show?
With one last look around Ed shoved his hands in his pockets and walked away, letting the vicious swirl of excitement in his blood slowly abate. The lack of adrenaline left him drained, and guilt dragged at his emotional core. More than once he found himself poking his black eye with exploratory fingers. It wasn't the first he'd had, and it would not be the last, but that didn't stop it from hurting.
It didn't take him long to reach the dingy bar he had been heading for. Its name, The Grindle was carved haphazardly above the door, deep scored lines in the brickwork. The dilapidated building was a hangout for roughs and hookers; dangerous in the daytime and deadly at night.
Slipping around the back, Ed tapped on the door, knowing better than to walk into the bar. He doubted he would get out in one piece.
After a few seconds the door opened a crack, and a suspicious eye peered through. Before the owner had a chance to react Ed crammed his boot in the gap, not blinking as Dane tried to slam it shut again. 'The sooner you answer my questions the sooner I'll go.'
'You've got a nerve,' a big voice grumbled, and the door eased open to reveal a hulk of a man. Dane's shaved head was covered in tattoos, and blank grey eyes stared out of a chiselled face. He crossed his brawny arms and glared down at Ed, his lips pulled back to bare his teeth in an unfriendly grin. 'Don't you know if you're seen here they'll be pulling your body out of the river?'
'Then I won't be seen.' Ed shrugged dismissively, grimacing as a whore shrieked with laughter from the grimy depths of the bar. 'Someone's been robbing graves at the military cemetery. Know anything about it?'
Dane straightened and glanced back over his shoulder at his oblivious patrons before nodding once. 'Don't know who's doing it, but things are twitchy. Too many people asking too many questions.'
'No one's mentioned anything about it other than that?' Ed asked disbelievingly, rolling his eyes when the massive man shook his head. 'Fine, what about this?' He pulled the dead man's ring from his pocket, holding it up to the light. The engraved letters stood out clearly, dark lines at the heart of the yellow band.
Dane paled, his tanned face turning a sickly white as he stared at it. He pushed his hands out in front of him as though trying to keep the innocuous piece of jewellery at bay. 'Get that out of here! Where the fuck did you get that, anyway?'
'None of your business,' Ed snapped. 'What do you know?'
'Nothing. I know nothing.' Sweat beaded Dane's shaved scalp, and he licked his thin lips nervously as his eyes darted around in his head. 'I know nothing,' he repeated.
'Just give me a name, Dane,' Ed said softly, 'and I'll be out of here.'
The big man rubbed nervous fingers across his lips before bending down, bringing his head to Ed's level. 'Vivus Nix.'
Ed frowned in confusion, moving his foot as the door slammed shut hard enough to dislodge some tiles from the roof. They cracked on the pavement at his feet and lay there, vivid terracotta fragments in the monochrome rain.
'Vivus Nix?' Ed repeated to himself, shaking his head in confusion. Was that even a name? Was it one person, or a group? The military presence in Central meant that gangs were few and far between, but they did exist. Whatever this "Vivus Nix" was, it had terrified the unshakable Dane. That was definitely something to keep in mind.
He wove his way back through the maze of alleyways without incident, letting the rain brush his shoulders with chilly kisses. His black top was soaked through, and his automail arm was exposed for everyone to see. Transmuting the blade on his hand had laid waste to yet another glove, and with a sigh of irritation he pulled his flesh hand free of the white confines.
He did not know why he bothered. The gloves and long sleeves had been a mask for his frail self-esteem in the past, hiding the irregularities of his body from the world. Now it did not seem to matter what people thought of him. The array forever scarring his forehead was enough to make people pass a judgement: attention seeker, masochist, rebel - he'd been described as a lot of things. In the end he had come to realise that people would judge him by his appearance no matter what, but he still wore the gloves and coat like some kind of shield. It was a uniform of a different kind.
When he emerged on the main streets the sun was starting to set. Summer was fading away, and the clouds overhead brought a false night with them. Water dripped from Ed's hair, trickling down his neck and between his shoulder blades. His clothes were saturated, but he ignored it. There was no point in drying off or seeking shelter. He wasn't going to get any wetter, so he may as well endure it.
At least the day had not been completely wasted. He had learned something, although whether it related to the grave robberies or not he had no idea. Whoever the culprit was then they were good: good enough to hide their tracks and smart enough not to take anyone into their confidence.
Breaking into a jog he rounded his shoulders as a sharp-toothed wind blew down the road. The cemetery occupied a large expanse of peaceful land near Central Command, untethered by buildings and undisturbed by the bustle of the living.
Black gates, well oiled and cared for, marked the boundary, and Ed eased them aside with care. Despite the secular nature of the graveyard, it still maintained some kind of holy hush. Everyone earned respect in death, and Ed gave it willingly, doing nothing to break the peace.
Al was huddled under the branches of the yew tree in the centre of the necropolis, a silhouette against the dying light. Breaking into a quick jog Ed made it to his brother's side, ignoring the first trembles of a chill that danced across his skin.
'I can't believe someone would do this,' Al said in way of greeting without even glancing at his brother. His voice was thick with disgust; his normally benign lips twisted into a grimace of horror. 'Why can't they just be left to rest in peace?'
Ed looked out across the rows of tombs. Normally the place was pristine. White headstones stood proud and strong, immaculate in any weather. The grass was kept short and lush. He could grudgingly admit that the military took care of its own, even in death. No grave went abandoned or unkempt. When the names on the memorials were lost in the murk of the past and all relatives had long since moved on, there was still someone to tend the tombs.
Now upturned soil marred the landscape, and gaping holes in the grass screamed their accusations. At least five bodies had been stolen. Some, like Hughes, could be nothing more than bones by now. Others had barely had a chance to settle in their caskets.
Straightening up, Ed fought back a wave of nausea as his stomach rolled greasily. When Mustang had explained that Hughes's grave had been violated the mission had taken on a new slant. What was mundane became personal. Neither of the Elrics had been there for the funeral. They hadn't even known that Maes had been killed until well after the fact. In a way this was recompense. Hughes had done so much for them in those first, difficult times. Now it was their turn to repay the favour.
Mustang's taut expression flashed in Ed's mind. His eyes, so dark they were almost black, had been neither supercilious nor calm. In their depths had been a quick, hot rage, hemmed in at all sides by the dark waves of remembered grief. Ed could rant and rave about the bastard's smugness, but he had not got through the past few years without seeing what lay beneath the surface of his superior officer. Gestures, once one-dimensional and off-hand, took on a new layer of meaning as time had passed. If he was younger he might have considered the mission a punishment: a tiresome obstacle in his path. Now he knew better. Roy could have chosen any one of his aides to investigate, but he had chosen Fullmetal.
Perhaps the bastard trusted him after all.
'Did you find anything?'
Al shook his head. 'No one saw anything. Everyone seems to be just as shocked as the military.' He glanced at his brother then, straightening in surprise as he took in Ed's dishevelled experience and blackened eye. 'What happened?'
Ed shrugged nonchalantly, pulling back from Al's gentle touch with a grunt of pain. 'Just a bit of trouble. I'll send clean up to deal with it later.'
Al frowned at his brother, knowing exactly what wasn't being said. 'How many dead?'
'One.' Ed did not bother to explain the situation. It would only come out sounding like petty excuses, and Al knew him better than to think he had killed in cold blood.
'Are you hurt anywhere else?' Al grabbed his wrist, looking at the grazed and swollen knuckles of Ed's left hand and probing gently, checking for broken fingers.
'A bit battered. It's not important.' Ed smiled reassuringly, flinching as his bruised face throbbed. 'I didn't find out much. Some people knew that it was happening, but they didn't know who was behind it.' Leaning back against the trunk of the yew tree, he scowled. They had already tried to find a pattern to the desecrated graves, but none was apparent. This morning he had asked Scieszka to find the history of those who had been buried there. If anyone could find an element of commonality it would be her. The young woman's agreement had been forceful and unhesitant. Ed had no doubt she would have the information he had asked for by dawn.
'Mustang thinks the remains may be being used in alchemy.' He scowled. 'I hate to say it, but I think he's right.'
Al ran a hand through his hair, dislodging a shower of raindrops as he screwed his eyes up in thought. 'I suppose it's too much to hope that it's just anti-military?'
'Where's the graffiti and the destruction?' Ed asked. 'Why stop at five graves? Why go to the effort of digging them up when you could just smash the headstones?' He shook his head, wrapping his arms tightly around him as the encroaching dusk made its presence known. 'No, this was too deliberate. Perhaps it's some kind of revenge, but even then I have my doubts.'
The two brothers stood in stiff silence, both lost in their own horrified thoughts. The mortal remains of a human were a powerful component of a wide range of alchemy, but their minds kept returning to one possibility. 'Human transmutation?' Ed asked quietly, speaking the bitter words in his mouth. 'Do you think someone's trying to bring them back?'
Al frowned, scuffing the toe of his boot against the grass. 'Why take five at once? It seems - desperate.'
'People who attempt human transmutation are desperate, remember?' Ed pointed out, rolling his head on his shoulders as he tried to relieve the tension that was knotting his back. 'But you're right. Why wait so long to attempt it? Hughes's body wasn't the oldest that was exhumed.'
Ed looked up in surprise as his brother put his hand on his shoulder, pulling him gently away from the pillar of bark that supported his weight. 'We can think about this in the dry. You look like you're about to catch your death.'
'Oh, and you look much better I'm sure,' Ed grumbled, eyeing his brother's rain-slicked t-shirt. 'If we go back I'll have to tell Roy that I've found nothing.'
'Roy?' Al raised an eyebrow at the familiar term. 'I didn't realise you were on a first name basis.' The grin on his lips widened as an unfamiliar blush crested in Ed's cheeks, warming his chilled skin.
'Oh, shut up. I can't call him "bastard" all the time.' Ed pointedly ignored the mischievous glint in his brother's eyes as he picked his way between the graves. Al seemed to have the good sense to hold his tongue, and Ed struggled to calm the heat that dusted his cheekbones.
The ground squelched underfoot, and he passed the scattered mounds of earth at the side of an open tomb. Perhaps it was morbid curiosity that made him hesitate and step closer to the edge, but in the blink of an eye he found himself staring into the darkness. There was no coffin in its shady confines; nothing but earth and water lay at the bottom of the pit. Ed felt his skin crawl at the thought of being buried in the damp, uncaring earth. Logically he knew that the dead had no opinion one way or the other, but the idea sent icy fingers across his living soul.
A subtle shift beneath his feet was the only warning he got before the soil folded under his weight like soft clay. Staggering back he tried desperately to find a strong foothold on the bedraggled grass. His boots slithered clumsily, and with a choked gasp of horror he slipped into the waiting pit.
He hit the bottom with a painful thud, feeling the flesh parts of his body pang with the impact. His forehead connected with a protruding bit of flint, and a hot trickle of blood seeped down his face. The coppery tang of it assailed his nose, and he shuddered at the disjointed memories of horror that the smell invoked. The thing they had brought back in their attempts to transmute their mother, injuries too countless to list, the final sibilant slice of Envy's blade....
'Ed?' Al's voice was laced with alarm. The thud of approaching footsteps slithered to an abrupt halt, and Ed looked up to see his brother staring down at him in horror. Al's normally healthy complexion had paled to a ghastly white, and he wondered what thoughts were flashing across his younger brother's mind. 'Ed, say something!'
Spitting dirt out of his mouth Ed ran his tongue across his teeth, making sure that none of them were loose. Eventually he managed a quiet, 'Ow.'
Al breathed a sigh of relief and knelt down, careful not to get too close to the lip of the hole. 'What are you doing?' he demanded, the worry ebbing away towards morbid humour, 'trying it on for size?'
'Very funny,' Ed grumbled, carefully propping himself up on his elbows before getting to his feet. His head throbbed from the movement, but nothing seemed to be broken. Looking around at the four walls he sighed, glowering at the blank façade of soil. He couldn't get out unaided. How easy it would be to end up trapped, unable to claw his way back to the surface.
Realisation struck in a blinding flash, making him pause. 'Hey, Al,' he began, pushing aside the insidious fear that seemed determined to break apart his train of thought. 'How do you sneak through the streets of Central carrying five coffins?'
Al's good-natured face crumpled into a frown as he considered what his brother was saying. 'You could put bones in a bag,' he pointed out, 'but a coffin or a just-dead body would be more difficult to hide.'
'Whoever is doing this isn't working alone, are they? There's got to be at least two, and there might be more.' Ed bent down to examine a cluster of footprints in the grave's base. They were set in deep as though their owners had been trying to lift a great weight above their heads. Even the rain had not quite washed them away, sheltered as they were in this cradle of ground.
With a heavy sigh Ed clapped his hands together, pressing them to the damp walls and watching with some satisfaction as a series of handholds sprang into being. The hole was only six feet deep, and on a dry day he could have hauled himself out. After all he wasn't that short. Today was a different matter. He knew without trying that he would find no grip on the rain soaked walls.
Al reached down a hand to help him, and Ed felt a tremor of relief at the warm vitality of his brother's grip. Something about the cemetery set his teeth on edge and made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. His little trip into the grave had not helped either, and his mortal frame seemed to be suffering under the sombre influence of the place.
'Let's get out of here,' Ed muttered, glancing down at his mud-soaked clothes glumly. 'Do you think there's any way we can sneak into Central Command without being seen?'
Al took one look at his brother's appearance and grinned, shaking his head ruefully. 'No chance.'
Heaving a sigh Ed trudged away, hearing his brother laugh quietly at the comical squelching of Ed's boots. Despite himself he smiled. Al's mirth was a balm on his weary soul, and the prickling sensation over the scars on his body reminded him, as always, that it could have been so very different.
The walk back to the command building was quick. The streets were empty, bar the occasional car that splashed through the puddles. Few people bothered to dare the downpour, choosing instead to conduct their business indoors. By the time they climbed the steps and reached the shelter of the daunting building Ed wondered if he would ever be dry again. His skin felt cold and clammy, and he could not ignore the lingering, febrile heat in his cheeks. His head felt muzzy, and the cough that he had held under tight control all day was threatening to make an appearance.
Picking up the pace he made his way through the corridors, ignoring the incredulous looks cast in his direction. Al kept up with him easily, giving a smile and a wave to people he recognised as they barged their way towards the busy haven of Mustang's section.
The idle evening chatter fell into shocked silence as Ed shoved the door open and stomped in, drips of rain and mud trailing behind him. He didn't hesitate or even acknowledge the astonished faces around him as he stormed through and into Mustang's office. He didn't want to have to answer their questions or acknowledge his carelessness. If they found about him falling in that grave he would never live it down.
Slamming the door behind him, he winced as an answering throb of pain ricocheted around his head. A tight sickness returned in his stomach and he shut his eyes, trying to find his balance as he struggled to get his body back under control.
When he looked again it was to find Mustang considering him curiously from the fireside. A warm blaze crackled merrily in the grate, and Ed wondered if he had been playing with the flames. Pyromaniac. Still, the heat was too much to resist and he propped himself against the mantle, letting some of the chill in his bones seep away.
'You're dripping on my carpet, Fullmetal.' The words were entirely unamused, and Ed resisted the urge to wipe his boots on the expensive rug at the hearthside.
'Like I give a damn, bastard.' His voice cracked painfully, and Ed winced at the sound. Rather than indifferent he sounded pathetic. Not the impression he was aiming for.
Mustang's eyes swept over him, taking in the mud that covered his subordinate clothes and the heavy presence of blood and bruises. The scrutiny was intense, and Ed found himself shifting uncomfortably and trying to contain his embarrassment.
'Most alchemists would make sure they were presentable before reporting to their superior officer.'
'Fuck that,' Ed groused. 'You're presentable enough for the both of us.' The backhanded compliment slipped out before he could stop himself, but he studiously ignored the smug smile on Mustang's face.
'There was more than one person digging up those graves,' he began. 'I'd say there were at least two or three of them. Maybe more. They were organised, and put a lot of thought into it. The graves weren't chosen for convenience, but I don't know why it was those remain in particular they took.'
Mustang stood stiffly by the fire, his back rigid and his eyes blank slate. To the casual eye it was simple military training that influenced his posture, but Ed could see the tell-tale signs of emotion: a tightly clenched jaw and the faintest narrowing of those exotic eyes. His uniform had been pressed at some point during the day, but although the rumples had faded from the cloth there was still a vaguely haggard air about him.
'Is that it?' Roy asked smoothly, his words heavy with their usual arrogance. 'I wonder that you bothered to report to me at all.'
'Because you bitch if I don't,' Ed snapped, his tenuous grip on his temper gone. He knew he had failed, but the arrogant idiot didn't need to rub it in.
'Oh, I'm not the bitch in this relationship, Fullmetal.' The words carried the faintest rumble of a growl, and one ebony eyebrow quirked upwards.
Ed blinked, knowing that Roy couldn't have intended that to sound as strangely sensuous as it had. He opened his mouth to give a sharp retort, but his words died as his chest convulsed painfully, and the hacking cough returned full force. He clapped his flesh hand over his mouth instantly and crouched by the hearthside, not caring what Mustang thought of his alarming behaviour. His throat was burning with the pain, and he felt the warning stab of agony begin to crawl across the geometric arrays that scarred his body.
He did not notice Roy crouch at his side and jumped in fright when his wrist was snatched into a tight grip. Crimson specks of blood stained his palm, gleaming lewdly in the firelight. Roy froze, his brows drawing down into a frown as he stared.
Ed tried to pull his hand away, grimacing as Roy's fingers tightened around his flesh, holding him steady with a firm pull of his own. The man's eyes had darkened with anger, but as he stared wordlessly into the older man's face Ed realised that there was something else there - something he had never seen in those irises before.