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Nequitia Est Manus

Chapter Text

 

 


 

 

He startled with a gasp before liquid golden eyes fluttered open only to force themselves shut moments later at the sight of the blinding lights. His metal hand made its way up from his side where it lay to his head, trying desperately to block the light as he continued to groan.

Ed's eyes snapped open as a dark chuckle permeated the room, the young blond sat up and gazed at the sight before him, golden eyes widening in utter terror. He continued to stare at the creature- no, God before him, its gleaming white teeth grinning at him just like he remembered from so many years ago and the same default position he seemed to favour in place.

"Now, what's this? You're not even trying to get your body back, are you?" Truth smirked, a maniacal tone shifting up from somewhere deep in his throat.

The deity made a show of looking far more enthusiastic in his fingernails than he should be - if he had any Ed thought- as he pretended to pick dirt from underneath them.

Ed fixed a glare at the immortal being before him as he sat down, taking his time to lower himself as he felt his bones ache. His joints creaked as finally placed himself on the ground and sat in a position much like Truth. Ed rubbed his flesh hand on the back of his head where a bump that felt like a watermelon lay, hidden beneath the deep tresses of his golden ponytail.

"Ha, like I would ever come here to make that mistake again."

"Interesting. Well then, Edward Elric, tell me, why did you come here?" Truth glanced over at him, a hint of curiosity taking hold in his tone, for once his attention solely on the blonde brat before him.

"I was trying to escape."

"Escape what? The military, people, the disillusions of reality, life in general- then again, if I were as short as you, I would try to escape that last one." Truth offhandedly commented, his grin growing bigger as he watched the little runt grow more enraged before him.

Ed felt like punching the prick before him but if he had a lick of common sense- which he did, thank you very much, Colonel Bastard- then he wouldn't lose it in front of an actual god, whether he believes in said douchebag or not is another thing, but, regardless, he really didn't want to die today, so he would play nice...for now, that is.

"From that Homunculus, that fat one, Gluttony, he swallowed Ling and me whole! And that bastard Envy was there too! I thought you would know more about them, given their leaders plan to try to upsurge you and sacrifice the whole damn country! Aren't you supposed to be omniscient or something?"

If he even had one, Ed could've sworn that Truth's face had darkened but he knew it had from the way Truth's crossed arms tensed and how his gleaming smile seemed to grind down on one another. For a moment, he could've sworn he heard the teeth rub against one another and had to surpass the feeling of his spine-tingling.

Truth looked over at the alchemist before him, a shadowed aura giving way to a curious one as he took in the blonde before him...almost as if he was finally noticing the blonde's presence before him.

"...humans are such fickle creatures, I'm sure you know that by now, but they'd rather ignore my warnings...after all, ignorance is bliss...which begs the question how do you know of this? Humans don't see what they don't want to believe, poor things they are, but you seem to have an uncanny knack for sticking your nose where it doesn't belong...seeing things others have chosen to ignore."

Ed remained silent for a moment as he stared at the being in front of him before he cleared his throat, thoughts disrupted as he focused back on reality, "I mean I didn't know what it was all about until I got stuck in Gluttony's stomach...but once I did, it was almost child's play to figure it out... now, an eye for an eye: why haven't you done anything?"

"Oh, surely you must jest! I have my own rules, my own guidelines, if I don't abide by them, what is the point in creating mankind? You must save yourselves, I can't do everything for you, you wouldn't learn if I did. Yes, I can talk, warn, give advice and take back what was once and always will be mine, but I can't interfere directly. I'd need a third party, someone to execute it for me, a human willing to do it."

At this point, Truth trails off and gives the elder Elric a look over, shuffling around him, lifting his ponytail and shifting his head all while he continued to mutter under his breath. At this point, it's only when Ed is about to deck the ever living shit out of him- God or not, he does know that personal space is a thing, right?- does Truth relent and steadies himself in front of Ed.

He rubs at his chin, tilts his head and gives him a once over before stating ominously, "Unless..." and leaves it at that.

Now, let it be known that Edward Elric is no dumbass, no matter what Colonel bastard the says behind his back, and that, reasonably, he is, for all intents and purposes, a genius. That was a fact. However...that didn't mean it didn't take him a moment to truly process what the egotistical asshole in front of him was actually implying.

He couldn't actually be suggesting that, right?

Right?

"What are you doi-!"

"Hush, I'm thinking. I'm considering it. I'm interested. Yes, you'll do nicely."

"...what just happened?"

"I thought it was obvious, I want you to be my third party and get rid of this 'Father' character and his Homonculus."

"What part of that was obvious?" Ed muttered under his breath, eyes wide and disbelieving.

Truth looked at him as if he had grown a third head and muttered in an astonished voice, " Dear me, look at you. Your so...jaded. I truly envy you."

"You, envy me?"

"You mind...it's so placid, straight forward, barely used. It must be relaxing."

"I would ask a god, any god really, to save me from you but oh, look, here he is standing in front of me and it's just my luck that he's a gigantic prick!" Ed whispered.

"So, you'll do it then?"

"Me? Are you kidding? Hell no! I'd probably fuck everything up, scratch that, I will fuck everything up! I'm the last person you want to help save a country filled with millions. No, no way am I doing this!"

 

 


 

 

 

"I can't believe I'm doing this," Ed protested under his breathe.

 

 


 

 

 

The 15-year-old grumbled as he trekked through the streets of Central, a black jacket and hood covering his face from any prying eyes and curious ears, not that Ed really believed anyone would recognize him down here in the Red Light District.

Though on the city maps it's officially known as the Canal District, no one would believe that Edward Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist and Hero of the People would be slumming it down here with the nitty and gritty side of town where bars, brothels and shady people thrived.

Ed travelled through the back alleys and dimly lit streets in case there was something out there because Ed doesn't think he can sleep without one eye open. Not after the night that he's had, not after the truths he learned and the monsters he's faced.

No, right now Ed's damn glad that he's a paranoid bastard.

Now if only he could find that damn bar the Colonel mentioned. He hadn't been paying attention, too busy trying to focus on writing something down in his notes but as the Colonel walked Ed to the train station after he had become a state alchemist, he mentioned a safe haven.

A place to go if no one in the military could be trusted and Ed either couldn't get to the Colonel or couldn't tell him what he was doing. Ed hadn't put much thought into it before, never really believing he'd need to go to her.

But, regardless, alongside gun control, the art of disguises and emergency first aid, one of the many things Mustang drilled into his head was the location of Madame Christmas's bar.

 

 


 

 

 

Ed let all doubts wash away as he pushed open the heavy oak door of the bar, soaking up the bright lights, the sounds of people fiddling with small knick-knacks and the sharp smell of cigarettes wash over him. He took a deep breath and suddenly, he was back home: watching Winry tinker with her automail, the smell of Granny Pinako's pipe and the brilliant sunrise of Resembool's countryside rush through him in a swirl of memories.

As fast as it had come, it was gone and he let his golden eyes flicker across the bar, taking in the multiple exits, the possible weapons and more importantly, the patrons. It was empty, but none of its regulars seemed to mind, and it was classy. That much was true.

All the girls- escorts as Winry would call them- dressed in elegant dresses that clung to their bodies like a second skin and wore their hair in elaborate styles. Shiny jewelry hung off necks and ears like decorations from a Christmas tree and they wore heels of different shapes and sizes, each giving them new heights that allowed them to give off a power only they could give.

But the person who truly caught his eye was the woman behind the bar. She was in her late 40's no older as her sleek black hair suggested, she was rather big boned and wore a deep purple dress covered in a fuzzy overcoat. She wore two necklaces, one of them was made of pearls and another made of gold.

A mole made a stark contrast against her pale skin from where it rested beneath her bottom right cheek. Her lips were the colour of blood and a cigarette- the one he smelled earlier his mind supplied- hung from her mouth, much like Havoc's did.

She was more than just a brothel and bar owner and he knew it the moment her eyes laid on him, familiar dark black eyes that burned like charcoal eyed him as he approached the bar and flipped off his hood, revealing his golden hair and youthful face. It took him a moment but Ed finally recognized where he's seen those eyes before.

Colonel Bastard.

Huh, so that's why he drilled this location into his head. She's his relative, probably that aunt Riza mentioned. Madame Christmas, Roy Mustang's aunt and the only place Ed found himself turning too in his time of need.

Ed let himself slink into a bar seat and set his arms atop the bar, his chin propped up on his hand and his other resting nonchalantly atop the shiny wooden counters. He let his golden eyes glance over at Madame Christmas, eyeing her and every other occupant in the room as he began to tap his finger on the wood.

 

 


 

 

 

Madame Christmas eyed the little brat in front of her, the one who strut in and placed himself at her bar. She knew for a fact he wasn't legal and the last time a child his age was allowed in her bar was when she was raising Roy.

She looked over at Vanessa and let her eyes flicker over to the back where her gun was, the one that Roy gave to her before he was deployed for Ishval. The young blonde nodded briefly and made her way to the back as she strode over the little brat. She stopped in front of him and let herself look over him once more before she opened her mouth to speak before she was interrupted.

 

 


 

 

 

"Shots of Whiskey, please?"

Ed held back his smirk as he eyed her startled expression and eyed her up, noticing the nod she sent to the older blonde who had made her way to the back...oh so he was a threat, was he? Oh well.

"Are you even legal brat?" Madame Christmas's gruff voice asked him.

Without blinking, Ed threw his state alchemist watch and gazed on with fond eyes as she caught it with one hand, barely even flinching as she did it. "There's only one state alchemist who's as young as you...what's the Hero of the People doing here ordering a drink? Better yet, does Roy know you're here?" She asks as she pours him his shot and passes it to him.

"Nope," he answers before knocking it back. "That's actually why I'm here Madame."

"Oh?"

"...I need your help."

Madame Christmas eyed him with her small beady eyes," Why are you coming to me? Shouldn't you be going to Roy? He is your superior officer after all."

Ed didn't say anything, he merely grabbed a note from his pocket and pushed it towards her. He grabbed another one of the shots lined up in front of him before knocking it back. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched as she picked up the thin paper and read it, her eyes briefly widening before she sighed and grabbed the last shot he had in his hand and chugging it back herself.

She set the small shot glass on the counter top, "I know Roy said you were a handful, but dear god kid, you need help."

Ed barked out a laugh," Trust me, god will definitly be no help to me. You're the best thing I've got, so, what'd'ya say? Think you can help me?"

Madame Christmas let a small smile grace her lips and Ed was stunned at the resemblance between Roy and her at that moment that he almost missed what she had to say to him, "Yeah kid, I think I can help you. But I've just got one thing I've gotta ask you."

"Shoot."

"Who knows about your little plan?"

"Including us, it'll be six."

"I'm gonna take a guess and say Roy isn't included?"

"No, and he can't ever know. No one can ever know. Right now, my friends, family and the military will be hearing the news about my death. How I sacrificed myself for my country, my people. Hell, I'll probably be promoted, not that it'll do me much good. But in order for this to work, Edward Elric can't live. I can't complete this mission as myself, there are too many eyes looking at my every move for me to take action. No, I have to become someone else. That's why I needed your help. You're my only hope, Madame Christmas."

She didn't say anything, merely handed him another shot which he took gratefully before she leaned back and crossed her arms, eyeing him as if contemplating what to say next to him...or rather ask.

"If you don't mind me asking, why? Why all the secrecy? This mission...what's so damn important?"

Ed grabbed the shot from the counter and gave her a grateful nod before downing it in one go, "The military's been compromised from the inside, from the very heart of the nation. Anyone who ever finds out too much gets killed...Roy knows this...or rather he was close to figuring out the truth before I went missing and 'killed'." Ed made air quotes as he explained.

He was treated to the sight of Chris's eyes widening as she dropped a glass on the floor, not even noticing it shattering at her feet or hearing the concerned calls of her girls and it took her several moments to process what Ed had just told her. He could see it in her eyes as the gears turned and her eyes light up in understanding before they darkened as the severity of his statement went through her head.

"Roy was right, you are a complicated brat. Vanessa, take him upstairs and put him in Roy's old room. You can crash here tonight, I doubt you have anywhere you can stay what with you being 'dead' now. Get plenty of rest, the real shit show is only the beginning."

Ed gave her a tired salute as he slipped off the bar stool and stumbled a bit though he managed to catch himself. He followed the blonde who gave him a friendly smile that he made an effort to return. Just as they were about to head up the stairs, Madame Christmas called out to him, "Hey brat!"

He stopped with his back turned towards her, "Just promise me something?" she asked.

"Yeah?"

"Promise me you'll keep him safe...Roy is all I have left in this world."

"...I promise."

"Thanks, brat...now scram!"

Chapter Text

 

 


 

 

 

Ed stirred to the sounds of Madame Christmas's girls hustling and bustling about, sunlight gushing through the curtains and a headache pulsating within the confines of his head. He wrapped himself in the duvet, waves of nausea adding to his misery before he attempted to open his eyes. A groan tore its way from his lips as he did so and no, just no, he wasn't ready to deal with this now.

He fell in and out of consciousness more times than he could remember but he knew some time had passed by the time he woke. After a few more minutes, Ed finally felt brave enough to try and open them again. He raised his heavy eyelids half way only for them to fall shut. Yeah, no. He could be a coward right now, his brain swirling as the memories of last night and his meeting with Truth resonated in his mind.

Ed was more aware of his cracking headache than the layer of dehydrated saliva that coated his cracked lips. He smacked his lips and his stomach turned in an unfriendly way.

A repetitive knock cut through his dark thoughts and Ed began to sit up but gave up halfway and dove under the snug and warm covers of his bed, his flesh hand brushing the last few grains of sleepy sand from his golden eyes and a yawn escaping his lips as he did so. If the world wasn't ending, he knew he could've stayed under these covers forever.

The door cracked open before a gentle, melodious voice cut through all the chatter from downstairs and the pounding in his head, "Mr.Alchemist, may I come in?"

"Ugh, yeah, come on in." Ed managed to crack out from beneath the thin blankets.

The large wooden door creaked opened to reveal Vanessa. A tray was in her delicate-looking hands and what looked like his breakfast sat upon it; a steaming cup of coffee that roused the sleep from him and a plate of what smelled like bacon and eggs caused his stomach rebel against his better nature. Feeling his stomach protest to the smell, Ed tried to get himself to move towards the bathroom he noticed last night.

He raised them again and swung his bare feet to the wooden flooring; it was cold in an unforgiving way and if Ed wasn't already worried about so many other things at the moment, he would have shrieked like a little girl and jumped back into the welcoming covers that called to him from his bed.

Once on his feet, the room swayed almost causing him to lose balance and he reached out for the wall. His hand slipped along the high sheen paint and he sprawled onto the carpet with a crashing thump. The room swirled before becoming stationary again and he used the bedstead to pull himself to standing.

The sight that welcomed Vanessa was one of the younger blonde sailing past her to get towards the conjoining bathroom and hearing him empty his stomach into the polished toilet bowl.

Against her better nature, Vanessa let a snicker escape her as Ed made his way back into the room, hair a mess, dried drool shining on his face and cracked lips smacking on one another as he stumbled back into the room. He proceeded to trip over the odd knick-knack and object that was thrown haphazardly into the room by Roy back when he was still living with them. Chris just hadn't had the time nor enough worry to straighten the room up after he left for Ishval.

Ed stopped before the bed before falling face forwards and it was then that Vanessa let herself bark out of laugh at the sight of him. Ed lifted his head and gave a half-hearted glare before the sun hit his glassy unfocused eyes and he groaned, letting his head fall back into the covers.

"What'daya wnat?" came his muffled voice.

"I brought you your breakfast. The Madame asked me to tell you to straighten up and then you'll be getting to work. She asked me to ask you what to call you?" Vanessa told him, voice to preppy for him this early in the morning.

Ed turned his head to the side and paused for a moment, lost in thought, before he spoke, "...call me Trick."

"Trick? Is that like a last name or something?"

"Yeah, something like that," Ed told her.

Between the pounding headache, Ed closed his eyes and tried to think of anything else but the last 48 hours. In his mind, he saw flashes of blonde hair and blue eyes and blew out a breath of air as he tried to move on from those memories.

Vanessa nodded before she set down his tray on the wooden end table near the bed before she disappeared into the hall only to come back a few moments later. Towels alongside a few bottles that Ed assumed were some soaps before she bid him farewell and left him to his own devices.

 

 


 

 

Al didn't know what was happening, one moment he was following Gluttony to his 'Father', the next both Ling and Envy burst from Gluttony's stomach in a show of red alchemical light, blood and guts. And Ed didn't come through. His brother hadn't come through. Al knew if he had a body, he would be hyperventilating right now but he didn't, so he didn't get that luxury.

Then a big fight happened and Ling sacrificed himself to become the Homonculus Greed and he was shoving the little black and white cat and Xingese girl into his armour as they slept having over exhausted themselves fighting. After the dust settled, Al was left standing surrounded by immortal beings with not so innocent intentions and he had no idea what he was doing.

All he could think of where his brother was? Where could he be? What if he was hurt, bleeding somewhere in a dark back alley with no one to help him? Al found himself being led down a dark, wet tunnel that seemed to go on forever by the homunculus Envy. It seemed to be hours before the two of them stopped in front of an elevator and Envy clicked something before he turned to look briefly at him.

"Just get in." He said before he entered the elevator. After a moment, Al followed Envy's order and once he entered, Envy pushed a red button and the doors shut before them.

The elevator began to rise up through the shaft and Al tried to keep himself occupied by looking anywhere other than Envy before he couldn't help himself and looked over to see an unknown soldier, so common and human-looking that Al could see why Envy hadn't been caught up until now by anyone.

A ding resounded through the elevator before the doors opened to reveal a familiar looking hallway to Al and it was enough to make him pause in shock, however, Envy had no such problems apparently as he walked through without blinking at the change of scenery before them. It took him a few seconds before he could gather his bearings and he left the little elevator behind.

"Is this...?" he let the question trail off.

"Central command? Why yes, it is." Envy asked as he looked back at him before an evil grin overtook his face and looking at it now, Al could see Envy shining through the soldier's human appearance.

"Come on, I need to take you to see Wrath, he'll be taking over babysitting you now. Right, this way." Envy led them down long twisting hallways and passages before they stopped in front of a set of large intricate wooden doors with shiny golden doorknobs. Envy opened the door and gestured for Al to follow him.

Al stepped inside almost to step back in shock as Bradley and Mustang were shown to be sitting across from one another, but he shook off his shock as he moved closer. Al approached the table as Mustang turned his head forward once more and closed his eyes and kept his arms crossed.

Bradley- no, Wrath, looked towards the two and narrowed his eye when Envy didn't leave right away. "Where's Fullmetal?" he asked in a no-nonsense tone.

"Dead."

It only took one word to shatter Al's world into a million little pieces. And no amount of alchemy could fix it again. He knew that but at that moment, Al wished for more than anything that it did.

Because human transmutation couldn't bring back the dead and even if it could, Al could give nothing.

He had nothing left.

 

 


 

 

 

Mustang barely had time to register that before Envy and Wrath were talking again, nonchalant and uncaring that everything in his world turned upside down. If Roy thought his world was turned upside down before, it had nothing on what he was feeling right now. The little brat was gone? Impossible. It just didn't seem real. Then again none of this did and yet...it was.

"What happened?"

"Well, the only way to get out of that fat bastard's stomach was to perform a reverse human transmutation to open the failed gate he had inside. The blonde brat warned us that it could rebound on him...guess it did, because he didn't come back with us. We don't know what exactly happened, but we know he's as good as dead, whether he's still stuck inside, stuck inside the gate or simply dead. We'll need to find another sacrifice. Better start looking!" Envy gave a shit eating grin as he waved them all goodbye.

A pit of dread seemed to drop in his stomach as Roy looked back to Bradley with eyes reflecting his days from the war and a heavy heart weighing down his shoulders. Now was no time to mourn, not here, not now.

Bradley turned and looked at them both, "Now, let's discuss business then, shall we?"

 

 


 

 

Ed stumbled his way down the stairs, dried hair pulled back into a messy bun and a fresh pair of clothes that Vanessa snuck in earlier when he finally made his way into the shower. He wore a pair of military blue sweatpants and a black tank top that somehow fit him perfectly and Ed had the sneaking suspicion that these belong to a certain Furher Bastard back when he was young, but he didn't say anything to Chris when he walked into her bar barefoot with his travelogue in hand.

He hopped onto one of her many maroon leather bar stools and caught the steaming cup of coffee she slid him from down the counter where she was pouring her own. She looked up, took in his appearance and gave an approving hum. Ed picked it up and began to take a sip.

"You'll need a makeover," she commented absentmindedly, watching with amused eyes as Ed did a spit take all over the counter at her comment.

"Excuse me!" Ed hacked out.

"You're dead, aren't you? And as far as I know, from what Roy told me, only you and you're brother have golden hair and eyes," she answered.

"So what, you're gonna dye my hair black or something?" he cried.

"Heavens no, that's a bit extreme and what happens when the dye starts to come out? People will instantly know you dyed it when your blonde locks start to show. No, I think we should dye it a different shade of blonde, that way when it starts to come out, it won't be as noticeable. I can get Vanessa to go get you some different shades for you to choose from."

"What about my eyes then?"

"That's easy, coloured contacts and just to sure, we'll get you some fake glasses to complete the look. I was thinking about a shade of blue or brown. The hair you can get away with being somewhat blonde but your eyes will have to change."

Ed took a deep breath as he shuddered, gears turning in his head and mind racing a million miles an hour. He turned and looked her in the eye, "Ok, okay...do I have to cut my hair?"

Chris waved her hand in a dismissive wave, "Nah, you can keep it. If anything, from behind people might think it's you but the more you subtly change your appearance, the easier it'll be to fool them when they actually see you. They'll think its a trick of the light and wave it off as nothing. By the way, 'Trick'?" she asked.

"I don't know if you can get me this, but I'll need a military licence. Lt.Colonel Patrick Mors."

"A Lt.Colonel, huh?"

"Rank means nothing to me, however, I want to be as far away from my old identity as possible. By the way, I'll need to be outfitted with some new automail."

"New? What kind of new?" Chris asked.

"The Northern Type."

"North? What's up North?"

"Allies."

 

 


 

 

Mustang watched as Al ran away from the room as fast as he could with his money, leaving him standing alone in the hall. The boy had been given a state alchemist's watch and a renewed hope after their conversation with Bradley...Ed might not be exactly dead, they just didn't know for sure that he was alive either.

And Al thought that maybe if he went with May on her journey, they could find the philosopher's stone together and he could pay a toll to grab his brother back from the gate...but before that, he left to tell Winry the news.

Mustang sighed, a swirl of emotions inside him raging as he walked down the halls absentmindedly before he remembered something very important...it was on the tip of his tongue...usually, Riza would remind hi- oh...

 

 


 

 

"Lieutenant!" Mustang shouted as he came to a stop.

Armstrong's massive figure appeared towering over Mustang, his face stoic and his eyes shadowed over, "Is there something troubling you, Colonel?" He gruffly asked.

Mustang deflated and turned to the wall, putting his hand on it and bowing his head. "You seem slightly discomposed," Armstrong said. Mustang turned and gave a half-assed glare.

"Just how do you expect me to appear? I had hoped a young woman would be standing there, not a mustachio, muscled man." He said as footsteps were heard.

"Colonel," Riza said.

Mustang looked up to see Riza in front of him. He gasped. "Lieutenant."

"I was getting worried," Riza said before snapping back into respectfulness. "Sorry." She saluted. "Lieutenant Hawkeye, reporting back to post from latrine break, sir."

"Major Armstrong happened to be passing by. He was nice enough to watch my post for me." She dropped the salute and turned to Armstrong. "Thanks for everything, Major. I appreciate it."

"No trouble at all," Armstrong said. Mustang just stared at Riza. "So you didn't run off?" Riza looked at him. "Someone once told me to never give up, no matter what and once was all I needed."

Mustang blinked, surprised in his eyes before it melted away to a warm fondness for the woman before him, "Just don't ever tell me you wished you'd run when you had the chance." He turned around but looked over his shoulder at her. "Alright?"

"It's too late for regrets." She said before walking over to him.

Roy stopped about 12 feet away from her before he turned around and called back, "Oh, and Lieutenant?"

Riza turned towards him," Yes, sir?"

"I have some troubling news to tell you later. Could you gather the old team together at the usual spot? I have some things to tell you all."

"Of course sir."

 

 


 

 

Al stood awkwardly inside the phone booth, letting the phone ring as his ears- metaphorical- began to pound. He had already called Granny and Teacher, heard yelling, screaming and promises to help him find Ed. Now, all he had to do is deal with Winry.

The phone finally connected and before he could even get a word through, a soft "Hello?" reached his ears.

"Hi, Winry."

"Al!" she happily greeted him. "Its good to hear from you. Are you okay? Where's Ed? Is he there?"

Al swallowed before he spoke, "Well, you see..."

 

 


 

 

Ed was fiddling with his new hair and glasses as he fought the urge to rub his eyes for the fifteenth time in the last hour since he had gotten his new hair colour and glasses. They were a lot like the ones Riza wore when undercover and his hair was almost the same shade as Aunt Sarah's. His eyes were blue like Winry's and his sighed as pulled back his hair into an elegantly messy bun.

He was wearing the uniform Chris managed to get him- don't ask him how she got it so fast, he didn't want to know- though he took it off just before he came down again and pulled on Mustang's old sleepwear. He now definitly knew that Furher Bastard was completely nuts because how could anyone leave these clothes behind, they were so soft!

Ed hopped on the bar stool and nodded thanks to Vanessa who passed him his glass of whiskey. Just as he was taking his first sip, the bell rang and Ed briefly turned to look at the newcomers and proceeded to choke on his drink.

Why? Because Mustang and the team just walked into the bar.

Chapter Text


 

 

 

Ed knew.

He had known. Really, he had. 

He had known it would happen, known it was coming, whether he liked it or not.

Known the moment he asked Truth that question. Deep down, he knew. He may not have thought much about it, but he had known. 

He had known when Truth asked him, had known when he denied it, knowing he would probably fuck it all up, knows when he ultimately accepted the burden because he was a self-sacrificing idiot who couldn’t bear to place this burden upon anyone else. After all, look at what happened to Al, to Hughes, to Marcoh.

He couldn’t let that happen to anyone else. 

He wouldn’t let it happen to anyone else.

He was smart. A genius. Proclaimed with pride by his people, stared with envy by his fellows and smiled at lovingly by people he knew he didn’t deserve.

He didn’t deserve them, but he had them. And somehow along the way, he took that for granted. 

He remembers the way Izumi has smiled at him, how gentle her voice would get, how enraged she would be and how caring she was when she thought he wasn’t looking. How he called her mom in his head and called her teacher in the same tone he would when he called out to his mother.

And he knows it was foolish but sometimes, when it was late at night and he laid awake unable to sleep, he’d think of Izumi and how she was so different yet so much like his mom and he falls asleep to her gentle smile and dreams of them both.

He can remember the way Sig would gently pat his head, never remarking his small stature, only how big he had grown and how he cared for both him and Al in his own way.

He remembers Granny, the smell of her smoke pipe and the sharp wit that spits like fire from her mouth as she talks. How she can whip insults and comments around as easy as she breathed out from her pipe and the endless nights she spent working with him during his recovery.

He can see Winry, tinkering with whatever project she had, how happy she was to see him every damn time. Even though he never called, never visited and never wrote her letters, she never stopped smiling like it was yesterday and how she would throw her wrench with an amazingly scary amount of accuracy and wondered why she treated him as if he hadn’t fucked up everything. Because he had, he did, he still does.

He remembers Riza’s gentle smiles that she sent his way, the soft fondness that entered her hardened eyes when she looked at him.

Remembers the way Havoc favoured one pack of smokes over another, his jokes he tried not to laugh at but would sometimes crack a smile, the way he called him “Chief!” with such genuine respect.

He can see the way Fuery would send him shy smiles anytime Ed talked to him, had seen the gentle ways that reminded him of Al when he first snuck Black Hayate into command. 

He remembers the way Breda would offer his food whenever he found himself in the office, remembers the way he would always give his silent support against the Furher Bastard whenever the bastards back was turned. The way he helped him fact check and give him a hand in the library.

He can remember all the facts that Falman gave out, the way he was such a stickler for the rules yet seemed to lighten up when it came to Ed, how he seemed to make exceptions and could recite any rule for Ed when he was arguing with the Colonel Bastard and needed to one-up him. 

He remembers the way Al calls out to him with such adoration, such genuine love that it makes him fill with guilt, wondering how he could ever forgive him. How he couldn’t hate Ed with every fibre how his being? How he wasn’t able to experience all the joys he was supposed to because Ed, his big brother, his protector, had fucked up. 

He can almost feel the way the Colonel Bastard would send him that smug smirk, eyes so dark that it was unbelievable how expressive they were, how much emotion he showed. He hears the insults, the snide comments and the way he would make a joke only to watch with fond eyes as the blonde would blow up in rage.

He remembers the almost gentle touches of comfort, the head pats, the light touches on his shoulder and the hugs he gave when Ed needed them, especially after Nina. He remembers the way he would yell at him, so concerned and upset it reminded him of Hughes as a father would. He remembered sometimes thinking as he stared at the stressed man in front of him if that was what a father was supposed to be like. 

He remembers all these little things and finds himself drowning in a sea of guilt.

And yet, that still didn’t stop him from being startled. 

From feeling an overwhelming amount of guilt that made it hard to breath when he glances over and notices them.

Sees them all together, without him and knows from the solemn look in the Colonel Bastard’s eyes that he was about to tell them about Ed.

And he mourns. A gut-wrenching sob wants to pull itself up from his throat and makes him want to scream himself hoarse.

Because he had known. 

And he still did it anyway.

 

 


 

 

Ed observed with steady eyes as Roy- and since when has he started to refer to him as Roy in his mind?- led the group to a table in the back, conveniently close enough for him to hear their conversation. 

He made himself look busy as he grasped the discarded pen that laid off to the side on the wooden counter. He plucked up his travelogue and made a show of writing in it when he was actually taking notes of their conversations. 

He watched as they sat down and looked around the bar at the patrons before they almost catch him staring and he made himself busy by pretending to scribble something down neatly in his journal.

Vanessa delivers him a meaningful look that Ed caught and proceeded to scoff at. It wasn't like he knew the bastard would come here, really how could he know? 'Then again' his mind whispers, ' you knew about everything else.' And just like that, Ed knows this is not gonna be easy. He had known that, of course, but...

"Colonel, what are we doing here anyway?" Fuery asks, tone curious and just...tired. As if he couldn't be bothered to deal with all the problems life kept throwing at him and fuck, Ed just knows it's gonna get a whole lot worse once this conversation starts going. 

"I've called you here today because we've gotten an update on Fullmetal," And, as if it was some magical spell to make all the shitty things in life all better, the team perked up: Riza's eyes shined, a fond smile came across Breda's face, Falman straightens his back and Furey gains a hint of excitement that he was lacking before.

Fuck.

Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit oh si-

He didn't want to watch. He didn't want to see it happen. Didn't want to watch as those sparks, those hopeful eyes finally ready to hear some good news...only to be crushed. He had known. Why didn't he do anything? Can't they see him? He's right there, he right here, he had known. He had kno-

“The Chief? What happened? Where is he?” came a flurry of questions from the group. 

But it was the quietest one that tugged at Ed’s heartstrings. It was hard to hear since she spoke in such a soft concerned tone.

”Ed... is he okay?” Riza spoke.

Mustang clearly felt the same by the way he grimaced at her tone. He didn’t take him long to recover though if the steeled eyes and a deep intake of breath were any indications. Ed carelessly placed his arm upon the counter and allowed his head to rest on it, enabling him better access to the conversation about to take place nearby.  

If Ed hadn't known how badly he messed with the people he loved by putting them through this before, he wasn't even prepared for it to actually happen.

 

 


 

 

"Well...Fullmetal- no, Ed, he's been officially declared MIA, presumably killed."

 

 


 

 

Silence. Absolute silence.

Ed didn't know how, why, or even anything outside the sudden, roaring rush in his ears. The silence had turned into a weapon. A bomb that goes off in his ears continuously, one after another, uncaring for the distress he's in or the fact that it's all real.

It's all real.

This is his reality.

There was no turning back.

It hits him, then and there, sitting on a beat-up leather stool, Chris's favourite brand of whiskey in hand as he wears Mustang's old clothes and talks with Chris's girls like they were his team, as he listens with both ears wide open as his team wail and sob and lose their ever immaculate composures. They've never done that; not really, never for anything other than brief smiles and Ed was certain that there were never any silent tears or never-ending cries before. 

Look what he's done, what he's made, what he's caused. This was his fault.

All his.

He caused this, he did it without a second thought and why?

That had to be the worst part because at the end of the day; he didn't even know why. He just did it. He did it without considering anyone or anything in his life. Something Ed realizes that he has a bad history of doing and knows that he really hadn't thought it through.

Because if he had...if he had taken a second and stepped back...maybe he wouldn't be staring at Hawkeye, who has tears in beautiful brown eyes; eyes that would smile at him even as her face remained as cold as ice. 

Maybe he wouldn't be watching as the Colonel clenches his fists as he trembles, trying to keep it all down and bottled up inside because that's what he does. It's all he's ever done and without Hughes...no one had realized.

He wouldn't be watching from a bar as Fuery shakes in disbelief, as Falman becomes slowly more depressed and as Breda goes quiet, ever easy-going smile lost as he gains a solemn appearance.

He wouldn't be watching from across the bar as if a glass wall separates him from them, from his life, his family. But it was there. It might as well have been. Maybe then it would make it easier; knowing he could at least try breaking down the wall instead of waiting from afar with dark thoughts that weigh heavy on his mind and a drink in his hand.

You reap what you sow. It taunts him in his mind, on repeat, like a constant noise in the back of his mind ready to creep out at any given moment when he lets his guard down.

A glass wall separates Ed from everything he's ever loved, known and wants more than anything in his short life and he can't even be bothered to try to break through.

The sledgehammer was right there; just a couple steps and he could put this whole facade away, say he ended up coming out somewhere different, that it just took him a while to get back and why were they crying? Didn't they know it was his fault but he was back? Look at him; he was fine. Wipe those tears away, Lieutenant. Please, someone, notice me. Can't you see me? Look at me! Please...someone...why can't you see me? LOOK AT ME DAMMIT!

The sledgehammer was right there in front of him and he didn't break the glass wall even as his mind screamed and his ears continued to echo out bombs that went off faster than Hawkeye's gun.

Because he hadn't thought it through. 

And he didn't even know why.

 

 


 

 

The never-ending static is like a battering ram against his eardrums and the room spins as Ed begins to breathe in heavily because it was all his fault. And he had known. Hadn't he? Why didn't he think it through? Why did he do this? He doesn't know why and it's killing him because he had known.

He risks a glance over to his team and catches sight of Mustang trying to calm down a distressed Hawkeye as the others hang their heads and clench their fists yet Ed can't hear a thing- a deafening silence rings through his ears and his vision spins before he's forced to closed his eyes in pain and hang his head again

Loud booms echo through his ears and Ed swears that time slows to a stop as the noise rings in his memory before it all comes crashing down as his gravity lurches forwards and the room spins and its too much, he had known, he didn't think it through, he doesn't even know why he did this, why had he don-

"'Trick?" a warm soothing voice cuts through the bombs that continue on repeat like background noise; muted yet alive all the same. He startles when a small delicate hand places itself on his shoulder and Ed looks over to see Vanessa; a small smile on her pale plump lips and a shine of concern and worry in her big glistening blue eyes.

"You've been staring off into space for about 20 minutes now. I just locked up for the night."

Ed took in her gentle appearance and her kind nature and simply fell into her arms. He could tell she was surprised by the way she tensed but it left him warm inside when she quietly opened her arms and shifted him so that she could hug him tighter. He lifted his arms that once felt like lead and encircled them around her; letting her warmth and her love surround him, shifting its way around him until it covered him like a blanket and for the first time in what felt like years, he felt safe.

He didn't know how long they stayed like that but after what seemed like hours, Vanessa finally broke the tender silence they shared as she asked him in an even softer tone than he's heard before"...I know its not my place to ask questions, hell, I don't even know who you really are Trick, but, I just wanted to ask...are you okay?" 

He took in her question and thought back to the past few hours, days, weeks, months, years...everything that's happened, every tragedy, struggle, hardship and disaster. He thinks to the night that he ruined his brother's life. He thinks back to Hughes death to Maria Ross to Nina...he thinks of every failed attempt, every death that he could've prevented and every mistake he's made. 

"No," he breathes out from where his face is tucked into her neck. "No, I'm not okay, V. I don't think I've been okay for a long time. I fuck up everything I touch and I ruin the lives of those I love, why can't I ever do anything right? I try so hard, all the fucking time, but it never makes any difference..does...does that make me broken, V? Am I broken?"

Vanessa breathed in, silent for a moment as she started to rock the both of them back and forth. "No, love, you're not broken. I think that you forget that you're human. It's okay to make mistakes. You need to let go...Let go, Trick."

And with that, the dam burst. He didn't make a sound aside from the small sniffles and hiccups he let escape in his moment of weakness. Tears fell like a waterfall from his eyes and he couldn't stop them. At first, the tears were meagre and soundless but as the seconds ticked by, his cries grew louder until he was sobbing, gasping for breath as he cried in between the breaths of air he managed to suck in.  

Vanessa's arms tightened around him as he continued to wail; shoulders trembling, hiccuping as his heart bled and gut-wrenching sobs forced themselves out of him like the full force of a bomb, unyielding and uncaring of whoever it hurt.

"I can't stop. It won't stop. V, I can't stop crying. Why won't it stop? I want it to stop! I can't stop crying a-and...it hurts! It hurts so much. It's like my brains on fire and my heart is beating too fast...i-it won't stop, make it stop!"

"I...I just can't stop.' Ed hiccups. "It hurts too much...I don't even know what happened...a-and I can't think! I need to think! But my head keeps swimming and my heart aches and it hurts...so bad! It feels like it was ripped out of my chest and its... its just...so much pain. How could I even think of that? They acted like it was no big deal, that I could get it done easily like it was no big deal, okay? But it's not, it'll never be easy! To them, this is just something I need to do...like it didn't matter that I have to watch as everything I've rebuilt for him crumble, but it does! It matters...Al matters...he's the only family I have left, my little brother, my everything! "

"I knew, I really did and I still did it and now? Everything is fucked up and I have to watch them mourn me and why can't they see me, V? Don't they see me standing here? Please, just someone see me! I did it anyways and I didn't think and I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHY! I-I don't know even know why I did it anymore and I don't think I ever knew in the first place...and I...I-I...I don't want to be broken anymore...I just want to be me again. Is that too much to ask?"

"No, sweetheart, it's not. It's not..." she trails off as she hugs him closer to her and that's when Ed feels it. 

Tiny drops of water still warm hit the top of his head and he's startled to realize that the tears are coming from Vanessa. He knows when her shoulders start to shake and the tears continue to stream that she's crying just as much as him.

It's not fair that he's broken.

But he is. 

 

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

Ed knew he should have felt more relieved when he woke up the next morning. Really, he should.

But he doesn't. 

And he doesn't know why.

 

 


 

 

By now, Ed had gotten used to his new glasses and the eye contacts. He had grown used to the new uniform, the hair and the fact that he practically lived in Roy's room. He had become used to the curses that fell from Chris's mouth faster than he could blink when she's realized that he'd gotten into her liqueur cabinet again.

Grown used to the way V would place her hand atop his and give him a sweet smile, the way the girls treated him more like their kid brother rather than a soldier who had needed Chris's talents to help him. Had gotten used to the dim lights, the thick smell of Chris's cigarette, the taste of his favourite brand of whiskey and the way that Chris's record player seemed to be on nonstop throughout the odd hours of the day.

He had even grown used to being called Trick.

But he hadn't grown used to the fact that he was dead.

That the team were being split up, that Al had to tell Teacher and Granny Pinako and Winry that he was dead. That to Sig, Gracia and Elicia he was gone. That he couldn't even be seen looking at them from afar lest he risks getting the Homonculus suspicious. That he had gone to an automail mechanic and was outfitted with Northern Automail by someone who wasn't Winry.

He wasn't used to it. To the lies, the secrets, the liqueur and the weight of it all.

He found himself looking in the mirror after he changed that morning and stopped dead at the sight of his appearance. It wasn't that anything was wrong with it. No, Ed was many things but a slob had never been one of them. Sure, he can tough it out just as much as the next guy but if he can, he'll clean himself up. It was a habit mom had instilled into him and Al as young boys and something Izumi and surprisingly enough Mustang had continued throughout the years with them all.

It was the fact that Ed didn't recognize the person staring back at him through the mirror. 

He waved a hand and was startled to see the reflection wave back in the same way he had. And that's when he realized it. It was him. That was him. That was him.

And suddenly it was real. 

This was real.

His once golden blonde hair was now a champagne blonde and pulled back into a messy bun and his bangs farmed a face that seemed thinner than it had been before. It emphasized his cheekbones and enhanced the other sharp features that he inherited from his mother. Instead of liquid gold eyes, a deep navy blue that seemed to glimmer from behind the semi-rimless frames that were perched atop his nose gazed back at him.

His right arm gleamed a different colour; it was still silver but it still felt wrong. It all felt wrong and he knows that if he were to lift up his military standard pants, he'd see a similar looking automail leg. His shoulders seemed broader with the uniform on and the tassel annoyed him, if not for the golden colour it sported then for the way it mimicked his racing heart. Mocking him. A reminder that at any moment he could be caught and it would all be over for them. 

The black boots on his feet shined in the light and it made him ache for his old shoes; the uniform colour taunted him for something he couldn't have, a life he willingly left behind. For reasons that he had known but still didn't know why he chose. 

The bags under his eyes were more pronounced than from the sleepless nights he'd have while in the library. He could almost smell the thick scent of the books, the numerous paper cuts he'd get flipping endlessly through the yellowed pages, the way his eyes would strain from the continuous researching and the way his body would sag in exhaustion when he allowed himself to release the tension in his shoulders.

He remembers the way he would glance around before he did that; checking for Al, to make sure he couldn't- no, wouldn't see Ed that way. And yet, somehow, he looks more worn now then from all those nights among the books. And it scares him. 

Because he doesn't recognize himself when he looks in the mirror. 

 

 


 

 

"Chris, I'm heading out now. Did they come in ye-?" Ed steps into the dining room of the bar as he shrugged on the uniform jacket he took off upstairs only to blink when he notices that the girls are looking at him in disbelief.

"What? What are you all looking at? Is there something on my face?" Ed got a sinking feeling in his chest when he notices that their looks of wonder were slowly turning into small grins of...something. Now that he thinks about it, it kinda looks like that one smirk that Mustang would give him when he would...oh no.

V sauntered up to him and placed an arm around his shoulder an evil grin stretched across her pale lips, "So, Trick, who knew you could clean up so well?"

The other girls laugh and another girl, Clarisse, remarked, " Our little Trick is growing up!"

"Just look at his cheeks, they're bright red!"

"Ahh, is he blushing? "

Before Ed could blow up at them, a cough interrupted the girls teasing. All of them turned to see Chris coming out from behind the bar, in her arms a note, a gun and its holster and an id badge. " Are you done?"

Ed rolls his eyes fondly at the girls who shuffle away from Chris's gaze except for Vanessa because she's a little shit (he's so proud!). He makes his way over with Vanessa still locked around him like the damn spider monkey she was and grabs the outstretched items from Chris' grasp. He opens the note and memorizes the location and time within before catching the lighter Chris threw into his outstretched hand and setting it aflame.

"Here's the bare essentials, kid. Your contact got them to me not long after I sent the message. You should be meeting them at that spot in half an hour." Chris takes a drag from her cigarette as she finishes.

"Thanks for everything Chris, it really means a lot." Her eyes softened and her hand came up to ruffle his hair.

"Don't be a stranger kid." Ed smiled before turning to hug Vanessa who tightened her hold and placed her face in his neck.

"Trick, promise me something?"

"Anything."

"Don't go and get yourself killed, you're my little brother, 'kay?" she whispered in his ear, low enough for only the two of them to hear.

"I promise. Bye, V."

"See ya, Trick!"

 

 


 

 

Ed grumbled as he made his way through the crowds and shuffled past the sea of bodies until he found himself seated in a dainty chair at some old fashioned cafe that usually only old ladies at. He looked around subtly before taking a small sip of the tea- seriously tea where the fuck was the coffee, huh?- as he waited for his contact. 

It couldn't have been more than 10 more minutes before an older lady with absurdly red lips relaxed into the chair across from him and subtly pushed over a plain white envelope. Ed cracked open the seal and peered down to see the official ID card he needed for his badge. There was also a small notebook with the pencil already attached, a lighter, a silver whiskey flask and his transfer papers alongside a formal letter of recommendation to Fort Briggs.

He nodded to his contact and the two began to walk down the sidewalk in silence until Ed couldn't see any people around, " I really appreciate this, sir."

"Think nothing of it. I knew something was up when I got two separate calls from my former subordinates, both with clear messages; they needed help and the military was clearly going to give them none. First you then Mustang. What is this plan of yours anyway? Was it so bad that you really had to fake your own death?"

"Worse."

"I see."

" What's my assignment?"

"Officially, you'll be my assistant who's heading up North to Fort Briggs under the guise of preparation for the Annual North-East Training Exercise and discussions with Major General Olivier Armstrong and Major Miles. North Command has already been notified of your arrival tomorrow and an envoy from Fort Briggs will pick you up there. Don't try to go up there yourself, they'll think you're a spy and you'll never gain their trust then."

"Of course, sir."

"Now, get moving. Your train leaves in half an hour. Your bags have already been sent up there and it should've arrived in your room at Briggs by now." 

Ed nodded before turning to leave when Grumman spoke, "Lt.Col.Mors, try not to die, please. I'm an old man and I don't need something like that on my conscious."

"You got it." Ed gave a mock salute as he made his way in the direction of the station with his hands in his pockets.

Grumman watched him leave with a small smirk, "Cheeky brat, reminds me of Roy."

 

 


 

 

Al walks with Izumi around Dublith as they wait for his train to arrive so he can head North. 

"So, you've decided to head North then Al?"

"Yes Teacher, Major Armstrong told me that his sister could help. She's a General up North and if anyone can help, it's her."

"If you say so Al, I guess this is goodbye for now then?"

"Yeah, it was great seeing you again..." Al trails off.

Izumi sees Al's hesitance and lifts her hand to cup the cheek of his helmet, turning his head to look at her, "Is everything okay Al?"

"Teacher...?"

"Go on."

"...do you think brother is proud of me? For doing all of this?...for doing what he would've done?"

"I think that he would be so proud of you Al. All Ed ever wanted for you was to be safe and happy and if doing this helps, well then I think you'll make him happy, knowing you can do this, that it wasn't all for nothing."

"I-I...I just don't want him to be upset with me. I know he's still there, he has to be, because he promised that he wouldn't leave me alone again and brother always keeps his promises...but I don't want him to be disappointed."

"I don't think Ed could ever be disappointed with you Al, maybe a little upset because he worries so much about you. Ed would never admit this but he's honestly a pretty selfless person. Sure, he's not like this with everyone, but he always is when it comes to you. That boy would move heaven and earth for you. He's always tried to take care of you, even before your mom passed away and I don't think he ever really stopped trying to take care of you even as you boys grew up. He never stopped loving you because he's your big brother and you're his entire world."

Al bends down and wraps Izumi in a hug placing his helmet in her neck as he starts to sniffle, "Thank you, Teacher."

 

 


 

 

Kimblee watches as Envy grows quiet and wonders briefly what the Homonculus was contemplating when Envy glanced at him through the rearview mirror and spoke abruptly, "Kimblee?"

"Hmm, yes?"

"I have another task for you as well." Envy looks back onto the street as he leaves Kimblee to process his request. Kimblee didn't know what else he could possibly want from him but it must be good.

"Go on."

Envy's lips stretch into a manic grin as he briefly glances back at Kimblee through the mirror, "I knew I liked you for a reason. I don't know if you've heard but the Fullmetal Alchemist has recently gone missing, presumed dead."

"No, I hadn't, after all, not many options to read while locked in isolation. What of it?"

"Officially, he ended up in Gluttony's stomach with a Xingese Prince and me. Gluttony is a failed portal of truth and so the kid hypothesized that he'd need to do a reserve human transmutation to get us out. However, he warned us that it could backfire on him."

"So, what is it you're exactly asking me to do?"

"We want to find out what happened. If he really is dead, fine, we can adjust the plan, but if he's still stuck in Gluttony's stomach and there's a way to get him out, we need you to find it. He's very valuable to us. Hell, maybe if you do a good job, we'll throw in an extra stone for you in the end. What'd'ya say, eh Kimblee?"

"Sounds like an offer I can't refuse, count me in!"

 

 


 

 

Far away from plotting Homonculus, blondes with a fondness for drinking, a cross-dressing general and a housewife comforting her pseudo-son, a figure stood atop the Briggs wall.

Her long blonde hair billowed in the wind and she snapped her eyes open to reveal an icy blue glare that could freeze a bear in its tracks, "Hmm, when did you say that envoy was arriving again?"

"Tomorrow morning, sir."

"Good, I want you to pick them up and bring them to me."

"Sir?"

"Miles, I have a feeling things are about to get interesting." A devious grin tugged itself on her pale plump lips and all the soldiers standing guard nearby shivered at the sight.

'She's smiling?!?'

Miles looked at his commanding officer and simply sighed, 'Of course now she decides to get into one of her moods. It's gonna be a long day tomorrow.'

 

 


 

 

Meanwhile, in a train heading towards Northern Command, a young blonde suddenly sneezed.

 "Are you alright kid? Don't tell me you've already got a cold, we've only just crossed the border into Northern Command territory." One of the soldiers, Major Finnegan, asked, concerned.

"I'm fine, it's just a little sniffle." Ed waved him off.

"You know Trick, they say every time you sneeze, someone's talking about you."  A female soldier named Second Lt. Dawn pointed out.

"Don't be ridiculous Dawn, if that were true, then I'd be sneezing all the time." he retorted as he rolled his eyes at the audacity of even the notion of that being possibly true.

"Yeah, don't joke, guys who would know him? He's so short no one would be able to see him, let alone remember his name!" First Lt. Warren boasted.

Ed tried to keep himself calm, he really sounded like himself when he got angry and that would defeat the whole purpose of faking his death and drinking himself to an early grave. Though a tick mark appeared on his forehead as his eyebrow twitched.

"You do realize I'm your superior officer right, First Lt. Warren?"

"Oh yeah, I kinda forgot he was our superior." Finnegan murmured to Dawn who nodded. Warren just laughed, "Ha! Like hell a pipsqueak like you has a higher rank than any of us!"

Ed's eye started to twitch as he brought out his flask and knocked back a swig of Chris's good whiskey. Warren, however, noticed and angrily exclaimed, "Hey, you can't have that, your underage! Captain Simmons!"

Ed watched as Simmons came to stop in front of him and gave Warren an exasperated look, "What is it First Lt.?"

Warren pointed at Ed who only took another swing from his flask, "He's drinking booze! Not only that, but he keeps claiming he's a higher rank than all of us on the train."

Simmons than noticed Ed for the first time and smile, "Oh, hey Trick, how are you?"

"Oh I'm good Dave, how's the wife and kids?"

"Great, Tommy made the soccer team and Lucy spoke her first words the other day. Karen was practically sobbing when she pointed at her and said 'Momma'. Hey, we still on for poker at Chris's when you get back?"

"Of course, could never let you down. Say hi to the family for me will ya?"

"Can do, see ya later Trick!"

Warren looked at Simmons in disbelief," What about the booze? And the rank?"

"Oh, Trick is actually a Lt. Col so he's allowed to drink on the train since he holds a high enough rank. Good day."

"...what just happened?"

"Dave is a good friend of mine, we met after I found Tommy wandering the streets lost and helped him find his parents. We just hit it off and the rest, as they say, is history."

"Wow, you two must be good friends, how long have you known each other?"

"About a week."

"That's it. I'm done, I'm too old for this shit." Dawn muttered as she got up. 

"You're only 23!" Finnegan called after her as he followed.

"Exactly!" she shouted.

"...how...why...what just happened?!" Warren muttered staring at Ed.

Ed merely raised his flask, "Don't look at me! All I did was sneeze."

Chapter Text


 

 "Don't go giving me any more grey hairs brat!" Dawn fondly called as she made her way over to Simmons. 

"You're 23, Dawn!" Ed replied cheekily. 

A middle finger answers him.

"Dear god almighty, that woman is overdramatic some days," Finnegan muttered under his breath.

"Some days? Try every day!" 

"Amen to that,"

Suddenly a voice calls from behind them, "I can hear you brats!"

"GAH!

Ed didn't jump thank you very much.

It was merely a slight lifting of his heels while his toes stayed on the ground; they never even moved. Movement? What's that? Ed's never heard of it and neither has his legs. As if his feet would participate in such heinous and disgusting acts of depravity. What is this the stone ages? Get that shit out of here right now!

His mother raised him better than that. He was many things, but a filthy, depraved, weak, animal who jumps at the sight of yet another motherly figure who can beat his ass seven ways to Sunday and then do it another 30 times and still have time to fool him into thinking she wasn't dangerous? As if!

Now, Finnegan on the other hand?

Finnegan jumped 3ft in the air. He shrieked like a little girl. Wait, no, scratch that- that's insulting to Elicia and all the other little girls like her. He's on another level of embarrassing and it tugs at his heartstrings to know that poor, defenceless Finnegan was obviously either not raised right or an idiot.

And since he's met his mother and she's a sweet caring soul who bakes you cookies and takes your side over her own son even though she's just met you three seconds ago...then it clearly means that Finnegan is an idiot. Not that that was anything new or anything but it was nice to get confirmation. It's just sad to know that yet another soul is still clearly stuck in such simpler times.

Look at him; making progress and shit!

Maybe it wouldn't be as hard as he thought now that he's out of the city and away from everyone...maybe this could actually work...

 


 

It did not work out.

 


 

"Oh fuck me...fuck me!

It fucking sparkles. What kind of snow sparkled like that? Was...was it supposed to do that? How does he know if this is normal? This is what he gets for thinking he knew better. Sure, he was born in North City and they lived there for a couple of years, but they moved shortly after Al's 2nd birthday.

They hadn't been back since and all Ed could remember from his time there was that it was white. That's it. Just white and a blur of faces...sometimes blue- like the military uniforms and even a mess of other languages. He can barely remember the words now, but sometimes, when he was younger, he'd catch his mother singing a song that he couldn't understand. He could remember the way she always seemed to be reading books in another language or how she would sometimes speak to him but he couldn't seem to understand what she was saying.

He always knew his family wasn't fully Amestrian- have you seen that bastard Hohenheim lately? The fucking man's face practically cries out "look at me I'm obviously foreign" just as much as it screams "punch me" over and over again.

Hell, Mustang clearly wasn't and neither was Sig or even Uncle Yuriy! Mustang was clearly a bit Xingese if his eyes had anything to do with it and Sig had admitted that his father, whom he takes after, was from Aerugo and Uncle Yuriy's father was from Drachma.

As for his mom? Well, he had never asked and by the time he had questions she was long gone, but before he burned down their home, he'd found a box of her old things from her life in the North. It had pictures of people he never remembered seeing, of books he didn't understand and family heirlooms he had no idea even existed.

All of it was foreign. Not a single thing was of Amestrian make and all of it was from family, of life before them, before Hohenheim, before she settled down. Back when she was young and had dreams, a family he never met, a history he never knew. It hurt. Knowing they had a family out there, one they hadn't met and probably never would hurt. More than Ed would care to admit. He didn't know what it was at the time, but he saved her things and locked them up in a safe at the bank. 

He even kept the photo of her with her family. The one she had kept out on her bedside table in her last few months. Her parents- his grandparents his mind whispered- and siblings, maybe some aunts and uncles. Or cousins. He never had any of these options. Only Al and Mom. And then it had just been him and Al. He wanted so badly to get to know them, but he couldn't, even with the mess of names written hastily on the back. Because he couldn't understand it. 

He had always been frustrated about that particular detail but every time he had asked his mother, she had only laughed and tousled his hair before a coughing fit would overtake and he'd forget; too concerned with her health than some half-forgotten memories of languages he didn't understand and a photo of a family he never knew. Of the colour white that seemed to blur over his memory.

Now he knew why. It was fucking everywhere!

What was he thinking? Forget the Homonculus finding him out; the fucking snow was gonna stop him in his tracks! Fuck this shit; where was Chris's liqueur cabinet and V's hugs when you needed them?

"Is something wrong?" 

Ed's thoughts are shaken by the deep baritone voice that came from behind him. He whirled around to see a taller man, dressed in the standard military blue and a puffy black coat to brace against the cold with. His grey hair contrasted nicely against his lightly tanned skin and it was pulled back into a high ponytail that stuck out at the back. His eyes were covered by a pair of dark tinted goggles.

"Peachy," he replied.

"Are you Lt.Col Mors, by any chance?" The man asked, stepping up from behind him, all in perfect militaristic ease that clearly came with years of practice.

"Who's asking?"

"Major Miles, I was sent by Major General Armstrong to pick you up from the station when you arrived and ensure you reached Fort Briggs safely for the training talks between the General and yourself."

"She doesn't take chances." The now known Miles replied without hesitance.

"Ahh, a paranoid bastard? Well, who am I to judge? I'm probably even more paranoid than her." Ed laughed, strained and oh so tired, as he subtly pocketed the photograph in his back pocket.

Miles raised an eyebrow at it but didn't mention it and simply grabbed Ed's bag and led him to a sleek black military issued car. Ed followed diligently as he could with the whirl of emotions rushing inside him. Between his mothers past, his own mission, the Northern Wall of Briggs and even his own connection to the North, Ed doesn't quite know how he's gonna handle his first meeting with General Armstrong.

He just hoped he could get them to listen.

 


 

 

Yeah, fuck this, why hadn't anyone ever told him how fucking scary she was?!?

 


 

 

"So, Grumman couldn't come himself? What, is the North to good for him and the rest of those twits down East?"

Ed stared at her wondering if she really meant it. He subtly looked over to the side where Miles stood dutifully and arched a perfectly sculpted eyebrow at him, silently asking if she was serious.

Miles let out a barely audible sigh and if his goggles weren't there, Ed knows he would be able to see the look of someone who was done with everyone's shit and he almost cracks a smile at how alike both Armstrong and Miles were to Mustang and Riza.

"I'm waiting, soldier!" she snaps.

"No ma'am, but General Grumman is unable to pull himself from Eastern Command what with the sudden transfers. Due to these, Eastern Command is down on manpower and as such, is unable to attend these discussions unless he wishes to abandon his post... sir." Ed responds, painfully biting down on his cheeks.

He didn't trust himself to not smile with the thoughts of Riza and his team on his mind.

"Transfers?" she questioned, voice still cold as ice, but if Ed listened carefully, which he did thank you very much, he could hear a hint of curiosity and an edge to it. Ahh, so no one told her.

"Yes, shortly after Brigadier General Hughes' murder, Central pulled in the heavy hitters from Eastern Command, specifically Colonel Mustang and his team. However, not too long ago, the Fullmetal Alchemist, Colonel Edward Elric, went MIA while on a mission and was officially declared dead, most likely murdered. Mustang's team was broken up not long after that and scattered to the four regions of Amestris...actually, now that I think about it, it was before they had even declared Colonel Elric missing." Ed told her, willing his eyebrow to not twitch in front of them.

He still can't believe that they promoted him to the same rank as that bastard and he couldn't even use it to rub it in his face! Stupid Truth, stupid Father and fucking Mustang with his smug bastard smirk- argh, fucking assholes! Ed watched as a range of emotions crossed her face before she looked him in the eye and asked another question in a sickly sweet tone that nearly made him shiver;

"That's a lot going on down South, but enough about that, what about this Fullmetal Alchemist and Mustang?"

Ed shifted on his feet, careful to not let his automail bang on the floor before he answered her, "Scar, the State Alchemist Killer, is a prime suspect in his death and the military are declaring it as such. However, personally, General Grumman doesn't believe it's him. It's not his MO and we haven't found a body like in his previous killings. It just doesn't work. Not only that but he hasn't been able to contact Hawkeye or even Mustang for that matter." Ed sent up a silent prayer that Riza wouldn't kill him for this.

"Oh, and why is that?"

Nope, nope, nope, just NO! He did not like that fucking tone! She was way too fucking curious now and it fucking showed! 

 


 

 

He was so fucked.

 


 

 

"Hawkeye is his family, sir. And he hasn't been able to speak with her after she and the rest of Mustang's team were separated. Not only that, sir, but Mustang was investigating the same thing that Brigadier General Hughes was before his death and shortly after this happens. He doesn't think it's a coincidence, sir."

 


 

 

So undeniably fucked.

 


 

 

"Is that so?" she practically purrs.

Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shi-

Her eyes take on a hardened glint as she finally asks the question he knows she's been leading up too. "Tell me then, Lt.Col. Mors, what was it that they were investigating? Did they ever find what they were looking for?"

'Deep breaths Ed, she might not kill you for this next bit.' he thought as he looked her in the eye and steeled himself, body going tense and he knows when she sees it because her cold eyes flicker in surprise for just a moment before the frown on her face hardens and she leans forwards, ready to tear into him at his next words.' Here goes nothing.'

"I can't answer that, sir."

"I am your commanding officer, answer the question!"

"I understand that sir, but with all due respect, I'm afraid I can't do that, sir."

With that, Ed walks forwards towards her desk, surprising both of them when he pulls out a piece of paper and begins to scribble down on it. Once he's finished it, he holds it out to her and waits until she's grabbed it before he even thinks of letting a little bit of the tension in his body release itself.

'General,

I'm afraid the military high command is compromised. Hughes was killed for finding out and Mustang was threatened with the lives of his team to keep his silence ensured.  I can explain later, including everything you need to know and more but until you can find a secure room where you're certain none will be able to overhear us, I can't risk the lives of your men. I've managed to keep under their radar but if these people ever found out I told you, they won't hesitate to kill everyone here. '

After a few moments, she stood up suddenly and walked over to a furnace before throwing the paper inside before whirling around to face Ed with a cold look in her eyes and tense look in her posture that wasn't there before. "I understand, forgive me, I'll get Miles to take you to your room while you stay with us. We'll resume our talk later, is it okay if Miles gets you?"

He got what she meant instantly; 'Is it okay for Miles to be listening in on this?'

After his nod, nothing changed about her appearance but Ed could've sworn he saw a flicker of relief in her eyes and that's when he realized it. He had thought it before, but he hadn't really connected it until now. Armstrong was a lot like Mustang and Miles like Riza. Mustang was lost without Riza and vice versa if what Al had told him about her reaction to his death in Lab 5 was to say anything.

"Miles, I'll leave you to it then."

 


 

 

Miles was silent as he leads Ed to his room and by the time they had reached it, a tension between the two had reached a staggering point that drove Ed mad with how stifling it was. If he wanted Armstrong to be on his side, he needed Miles and vice versa. Without either one of them, the other wouldn't do it. Well, Armstrong would, but she wouldn't trust him and neither would the other Briggs soldiers. 

"Here's your room Lt.Col." Miles stiff voice broke him from his thoughts. He nodded in thanks, something the older man returned before Miles turned and left. Ed was about to do the same before he stopped and looked back, "Hey Major?"

Miles stopped froze in his tracks and he didn't even turn his head as he responded, "Yes, Lt. Col.Mors?"

"I know it doesn't make much sense right now but I promise I'll tell you everything." He could tell that he didn't believe him so Ed took a step forward, letting his automail leg clang throughout the deserted hallways and watched with a wicked sense of satisfaction he hadn't felt since before this whole mess started when Miles turned his head back with surprised eyes and mouth open a little.

Ed could practically feel the way Miles looked down to his leg and then back at him before Ed banged his automail arm on the wall and heard it echo through the halls. He looked Miles in the eye and gave a small smile.

"Do you trust me, Miles?"

"I just might, Mors."

"Good, then know when I say that I will win the trust of you, the General and every Briggs soldier stationed here even if it kills me."

"You know, its scary," Miles said.

"Why?"

"Because I'm starting to believe it."

Chapter Text

 


 

 

It was the dead of night. The moon shined brightly from the night's sky, stars twinkling in the distance and Ed finds himself staring up at them for hours on end, sleep eluding him; his mind ran a million miles an hour and nothing he ever did calmed it.

He had only gotten back from Northern Command about 2 hours ago, working late to plan for the training exercise and he returned to Fort Briggs around 3 am. He tossed and turned around in the military issue bed before he finally reserved himself to another sleepless night. Or, well, morning to be accurate. He'd spend all day and night working on the plans, trying to incorporate a plan for the Promised Day when it came.

With a sigh, he pulls himself up from the concrete slab they called a mattress, careful to not make much noise and alert any of the guards he's sure Armstrong's posted outside his room. He grabs his long champagne mane and twists and turns it until it sits innocently atop his head aside from the few stray hairs that frame his gaunt face. 

He pulls his knees up to his chest and simply stares at the madly twinkling lights up in the sky, the odd bits of snow fluttered across his window; pushed, pulled and taken wherever the howling winds willed it so.

They were so free...so far out of reach...so safe from all that happened down here on the ground. From all the pain and suffering. From the sacrifices that people had to make. From the choices that people make to protect themselves and those that they cared about. Without realizing it, he starts to absentmindedly rub at his right shoulder, feeling the slight bumps from under his fingerpads.

Ed traces the pattern of skin over and over again, reliving the memory of that night in his head, the way he looked down in horror at his side: blistered, burned and so horribly defaced. They would never be smooth again. They would always be an ugly red colour. He remembers what Granny Pinako had told him; that the skin underneath had gotten infected. The skin was horribly mutilated and he didn't even realize that he had started to cry until the first few wet hot tears splashed onto his scarred palm. 

What would they say; knowing he willingly did this, willingly faked his death and abandoned them all for a half baked plan some prick of a god he didn't believe in asked him to do?

These scars were the ones that made him the Fullmetal Alchemist, Hero of the People and Edward Elric. The metal leg was the one Winry made so he could stand on his own two feet again, so he could fix all the pain he put his baby brother through. His eyes were the ones that marked him as a child of a lost nation from a past long forgotten by the people of today, the ones that caused Furher Bastard to offer him a place in the military. His callouses marked him as Teacher's student, the one she housed, taught and loved. 

He looks back down at his flesh hand: calloused and covered in scars. His metal hand was had been in a similar state. It was difficult. To look at his automail only to see a different arm. It wasn't the right shade and the model was different. Don't even get him started on the fact that it was clear. Scratch free; no nicks or indents that covered Winry's make. A clean slate.

But he didn't want one. A clean slate that is.

It was bad enough between the fake death, new name, the hair dye and contacts. Or the new rank and uniform and glasses. But his automail? That was the only thing about him that never seemed to change. And even when it did; it was always Winry's. But, now it wasn't. Not anymore. He wasn't Edward Elric or Edoardo as his mother would sometimes whisper in his ears as he fell asleep. He wasn't Fullmetal, Ed, Edward or even Brother. He was Trick now.

He was Trick.

And didn't that hurt?

He wasn't ready to let it go; his old life, his friends, his family. All the people he's met, saved and had adventures with. He wasn't ready to let himself be dead yet. But it felt like it. He felt dead. Looking at the shiny new automail limbs, he didn't feel like Ed. He felt like a fake, an imposter, a trick. 

Ha! And wasn't that ironic? A trick; that's what he was. A trick of the light, an illusion to fool others; the ones he cares about and his enemies. He wasn't Edward Elric. He was Trick. 

His molten gold eyes trailed down to his side and traced the length of the fierce red scar, one that circled around his mid-thigh all the way around. It was partially covered by the automail covering it and his stumps ached. He then pulled up the shorts he had worn to bed and looked down to his leg, now healed, but covered by a large jagged scar that was pale in some areas but still a deep angry red that would never go away in others. He was littered with scars all over his body.

But they meant something. It meant something.

He had gotten each and every one of them from protecting Al, saving him, keeping him alive to live another day, so he could see the day he grew into a wonderful young man with liquid golden eyes that practically sparkled with intelligence and fluffy golden hair that reminded Ed that he was his kid brother. To see the day when he could hug him and feel his beating heart instead of cold metal and a hollow interior.

And his new life? This new identity he had? Sure, it may not be the greatest for his mental health, but if it meant that Al would be safe...that they all would be safe...

Well, he would do it over and over and over again if it means protecting him.

Because he was Edward Elric. The Fullmetal Alchemist. Mom's little man. Hero of the People. A member of Team Mustang. Chief. V's little brother. Chris's biggest migraine. Brother. Ed. Edoardo. Patrick. Trick. 

And no matter what name he wore, they would always be his family.

Always.

 

 


 

 

Molten gold eyes flutter and a groan pulls itself from his mouth as Ed registers that everything; his whole body from the tips of his toes to his long thick champagne mane of hair, even his teeth, just aches. As he starts to pull herself up, a hiss tears itself from his lips as a sharp pain erupts from his stumps. They ache and throb in a way he hasn't felt for a long time. Not since after he first got them. A bright light hits his face and a grunt of irritation makes its way from the bottom of his scratchy throat.

He raised his heavy eyelids half way only for them to fall shut as a single beam of light that managed to peak through his curtains hits him in the eye. He groans as he tries to wait for the dots of colour dancing across his vision to disappear. When the dots finally disappear, Ed opens his eyes and stares at the plain concrete walls of his room. He looks towards the curtains and finds them to be black; charcoal that reminds him of Chris's eyes with the streams of sunlight trying to break through from them.

Ed raised his legs and swung his bare feet to the concrete flooring; it was cold in an unforgiving way and if he wasn't already worried about so many other things at the moment, he would have shrieked like a little girl and jumped back into the welcoming covers that called to him from his, admittedly, crappy bed. He sucked it up and padded over to the window, throwing the curtains open.

Daylight gushed through the curtains bathing Ed in its warm rays. The sun continued to set, unwavering in its duty while Ed watched, completely enthralled, as its rays hit the frigid land. It's streams of light reaching every nook and cranny in the North, the snow lighting up like a thousand crystals. It made it look as if it had been set ablaze and Ed found himself utterly captivated by its beauty. It looked like a forest on fire and if Ed hadn't known any better, he would have been worried that all the snow would melt.

Leaning forwards, Ed watched as the night's sky began to poke its head out and he was baffled that no one had come to wake him all day. It wasn't like he was off the hook while up here in the North and Miles even said the lastest he would let him sleep in was 2 o'clock if he was pulling all-nighters. Which he had been, again.

Ed noticed that the darker storm clouds had begun to recede and left only lighter ones; the ones that let out a simple rain of flurries. So, there was a storm earlier and he slept through the whole thing. He wondered why Miles hadn't woken him and resolved to find out later after he grabbed a late supper.

He had been at Fort Briggs for about a week now and had come back late yesterday after spending time with Simmons in Northern Command. He actually did have to do the training talks like Grumman had said and had been going back and forth for information and contact with the eccentric old man. Ed pulled his hair back and weaved it into a messy bun, uncaring for the way the little hairs poked out and gave him the appearance of a med-student living off ramen cups and no sleep.

He put on the contacts and his glasses before grabbing his uniform pants and putting them on. He tied his military issued boots and a black wife beater that he put on over his bare chest. He holstered his guns, yes guns, as in plural because Chris found out he left the extra two Hawkeye had given to him years ago when he first started in the military and sent them up to Northern Command through express delivery under Grumman's name.

Ed began to shuffle towards the door, grabbing his military jacket and the other items Grumman had seen fit to give him before his departure. He left his cold barren room and walked through the endless monochromatic halls of Fort Briggs intent on finding Buccaneer and seeing if the man wanted a bite to eat.

 

 


 

 

Rafael Alberico was a simple man. He was a soldier; a first lieutenant by his own skill and merit. He served under Captain Buccaneer and Major Miles and was proud to call himself a member of their team. His twin, Niccolo, worked alongside Neil and the other engineers as a mechanic, keeping Fort Briggs alive and heated. He wasn't as comfortable serving as a soldier against the Drachmans.

Personally, he didn't see it as an insult to his Drachman and Aerugoian heritage when he battled either of them on the front lines or in Fort Briggs. His mother with her dark skin and even darker hair gave the colouring he and his brother inherited and hid fathers sharp jaw and elegant facial structure allowed him to call himself a pretty boy if he was 20, as he wasn't, many called Niccolo and him handsome men nowadays.

He thought himself simple, even if his family wasn't. His mother, Sofia Alberico, came from a wealthy family in Aerugo near the border the separated the country from Amestris. His father, Viktor, came from Drachma to her country looking for work. He wanted to sever himself from the war between Drachma and Amestris and his only other option was to find work elsewhere.

The two met and had a whirlwind romance that ended with the two wanting to marry. As cliche as it was, his mother's family forbid it and the two ran away. They settled in Amestris, in a small sleepy town called Resembool and within the year, gave birth to his older sister, Candia. A little babe who took after their father's colouring and blinked up at them with ice blue eyes and white blonde hair that curled as their mothers own dark brown did.

However, their happiness was cut short when his uncles were found snooping around town. In order to prevent his mothers return to Aerugo, they moved to West City and had him and his brother 2 years later. He didn't really remember what it was like living there as they moved again to North City when he was 3. His sister liked to tell him it had sprawling countrysides and friendly people that reminded his mother of her home.

Shortly after they moved into their home in North City, they had Patrizia; a fair skinned child with their mother's green eyes and dark brown hair. Two years after her, they had his youngest sister, Valentina, who not only acted like his hotheaded mother but was practically her carbon copy. They never moved after that, choosing instead to stay in the North and it suited them.

They were happy; they laughed, cried, smiled and spoke curses in their parent's mother tongues when they thought no one else was around. It was a good childhood, a happy one, but not all happy things last. They grew older and Patrizia fell in love with a man who never stayed anywhere for more than a year. Their mother wasn't quite ready to let her go yet, only 18 as she was, and they fought.

And then Patrizia left. 

He caught her doing it. He watched her as she packed and even helped her when she asked him to hand her things. He gave her small things from their childhood; books in their parent's mother tongues, toys they never quite got tired of and family heirlooms that were given to him as the eldest son.

He hugged her before she left, whispering in her ear how proud he was of her, how much he loved her and a million other things that came to mind as he held her.

He watched her as she left, closing the big wooden door behind her, a smile lighting up her beautiful face when she saw her lover waiting there outside for her, an older man with golden sun-kissed hair and fiery eyes the burned like liquid gold.

He sat at the kitchen table with a steaming cup of coffee in hand as he watched the clock tick by, seconds turning to minutes turning into hours. He sat there until the sun began to rise and he heard his mother's footsteps move around her room as she got up and ready for the day.

After that, he left out the wooden door Patrizia herself had gone out of only hours before. He leaned on the walls of their childhood home and took out a cigarette and a lighter. By the time he had finished his first drag, he heard it.

His mothers scream.

Rafael had continued his cigarette, listening inside the house as his mothers scream woke everyone else to find Patrizia's bare room. He didn't know how long he had stayed outside but by the time he finished his smoke, he ended up walking around town without a care, not wanting to go back home and face their persistent questions and prods as to where she was.

To where he had been.

Why he hadn't stopped her.

He must've walked for hours and by the time he got back home to a grieving mother and angry siblings and a solemn father who he had no doubt known what he had done, he was an enlisted man.

He left not even two days later.

And the years past, he had gotten married while stationed down South and moved back home with his darling Isabella to a home that was less broken than when he left it. One that was not whole; but getting there. Children's laughs and their sounds of playing filled his childhood home as his mother surrounded herself in grandchildren and other family members. 

The hole Patrizia had left never quite filled; something he felt with each passing day as he tries to search for her. Was she happy? Did she have any children? Where was she? They were all questions Rafael knew he wouldn't get answered but sometimes he would stare up at the ceiling and wonder.

Wonder what would have happened if he had stopped her... if he had just asked her to wait to say goodbye to everyone else...would she have been a part of their lives right now? Would they have been whole again?

He didn't know, but that didn't stop him from trying to find out what happened to his baby sister after she left. His train of thoughts was broken when an alarm blared overhead.

"Lieutenant Elric!"

"Yes General?"

"Quit twiddling your thumbs over there and get going!"

"Yes, sir!"

"And someone find me Mors! Tell him to get off his ass and come help!"

 

 

 


 

 

 

Ed hadn't been doing anything when he heard it but as he walked the halls coming back from the mess hall with a couple of other soldiers who'd just come off their shift, the alarm blared.

His blood ran cold and he barely registered the fact that he was running towards Development as he skidded through the hallways and pushed past soldiers on his way down. He kicked open the door using his metal leg and they opened with a bang causing everyone from Armstrong and her group to the engineers to other soldiers apart of the Development department to look up and see him practically hanging over the ledge.

He noticed that besides Miles, Armstrong and Buccaneer, two others looked at him with particular interest. A soldier standing guard off to the side of Armstrong and what looked to be the guy's twin down with the engineers. He had no idea who those two were but it was obvious they thought they recognized him from somewhere. Though he doesn't know where.

"GENERAL!" he called out as he hopped over the ledge and began to run towards her. He landed in crouch, putting most of his weight on his metal leg and paid it no mind when it let out a small creak at the pressure it was under. As he stood up, the Homunculus- Sloth? Pride? Who knew anymore?- threw a bunch of rubble at a group of soldiers and engineers causing them to run in a panic. Just as he was about to save them using his alchemy- screw the consequences and saving a trump card or whatever Mustang would call it- when blue lightning shot out from behind him and a large stone hand blocked the incoming debris.

Ed stiffened from where he was beside Buccaneer as he stared at the person who saved the soldiers. 

Al.

He swiftly hid behind the towering man, earning himself an eyebrow and watched as his baby brother ran over to Olivier. "It won't work!" Al shouted. "Try whatever you want to, but he won't die!"

That definitly caught her attention, "He won't?" She asked, voice growing cold. Ed swiftly made his way up the tank and perched himself behind the General, who noticed him and simply nodded but Al clearly didn't see it as he was preoccupied when Buccaneer stepped forwards.

"Just what are you saying? How does a kid like you know something like that, huh?" Buccaneer demanded.

Al looked down at his feet, "Because of -…"

It was clear to everyone that Olivier wasn't taking it because she banged her sword's sheath into the side of the tank and barked out, "Drop the act! You will answer all of my questions clearly and completely."

"First off, how do you know about that thing? Are you a Drachman spy?" she asked. Sloth was shown with the sheath of her sword pointed at him. "Is that thing a spy?" Sloth pushed a pipe down and looked around.

"I really doubt it," Ed mumbled from behind her. She ignored him in favour of glaring at Al and asking him, "Does that thing know you?" 

"Eh, no," Al said. "Apparently not."

"What is that thing?" she demanded. Sloth lifted a tank and looked under it. "I can't answer," Al said, voice meek and strained even through his helmets voice.

"Who does that thing work for?" 

"I can't answer that!" Al shouted.

"Why can't you answer me?" she commanded, voice as cold as the ice and snow of the border she guarded.

"I can't answer," he said. After staring down at Al for a few seconds, she shifted her stance and opened her mouth, "This is my last question. Are you on our side or are you in league with that thing?" 

"I'm not with him. I don't want to see anyone here get hurt." Al replied. "Then tell me what that thing's made of."

"His body structure and composition elements are probably the same as a human's," Ed piped up from behind. His voice got the attention of everyone, including Al and Falman, something he wished hadn't happened.

"The same as a human's, huh?" Olivier repeated. She looked down. "Buccaneer. Bring me some tank fuel now. We're going to douse it." she ordered.

"Sir," Buccaneer simply said.

"I told you! It won't work, General." Al said. "Set him on fire, but he still won't die!"

"I understand. I learned from our last attack that we can't kill it," she said. "The best that we can hope for is to stop or delay it." She continued before looking to the side at Sloth. "So we'll have to hit it with something even stronger than fire."

Ed smirked and when he gave her pleading puppy dog eyes, Armstrong merely sighed before rolling her eyes and nodding at him. He grinned as he looked over at Al and gave an evil grin, one that he hoped wouldn't remind him of Ed.

"Now you get to see the Briggs way, kid."

 

Chapter Text


 

 

 

"Okay, what next?" Al questioned as he gazed at the Homonculus from down the hall.

The group cornered Sloth into an elevator alongside the General and her tank before hightailing it out of there with the tank fluid. Buccaneer then led Falman, the twin soldiers and himself to the stairs, fuel-filled jerry cans in each of their arms. The captain guided them down complex twists and turns as he navigated his way through the unending halls of Fort Briggs.

"Hey Buccaneer wait up!" a voice called out. It was hauntingly familiar and Al whipped his head around- hoping, dreaming, wishing that it was him please let it be him he knew he wasn't dead he promised - to see a shock of blonde hair. His ignited hope seemed to drown a little when he took in the young soldier's other features.

The sight that greeted him was one so similar to his brother but yet so different. While the soldier's blonde hair was about the right length, it wasn't the right shade. It was a champagne blonde, one that resembled his late Aunt Sarah's own hair and instead of expressive molten gold eyes that Al's been accustomed to looking for guidance to over the years, a pair of deep blue- almost navy- looked at them in a calculating gaze.

He had his older brothers height but not his build. Where Ed was short and muscled, something that reflected with his frame, the man was thinner in areas his brother never had been before. Dark bags, even darker than the ones his brother sported, sagged under his shrewd eyes and unlike his brother's favoured braid or even ponytail, it was clear the man preferred the messy bun he wore.

He had broad shoulders and a lean body if the way the uniform hugged his body in some areas said anything. Not only that but the guns holstered at his sides and the distinct lack of his brothers automail limb tapping away as he walked wasn't there either. But the biggest evidence was the uniform itself; his brother would rather drink milk than wear the damn thing. He had some, of course, but after burning the first 15, Roy caught on and stopped getting them made for him.

The real question was; if he wasn't Ed, then who was he?

All he knew was that the soldier had to know about Father's plans; that much was clear. How else would he have known the Homonculus's genetic makeup if he hadn't fought one of them before?

He didn't have much time to think about it as Sloth made his way out of the elevator and fell into Buccanneer's carefully planned ambush. Al helped douse the giant in the tank fuel and looked at the grinning faces of the soldiers around him in confusion.

Sloth couldn't die; so what was the point?

As if to answer his question, the elevator dinged behind them and both Buccaneer and the unknown soldiers smirked before moving off to the side, saluting as they did so. Falman and himself watched in an awe-inspiring horror as it opened to reveal the barrel end of the prototype tanks from Development.

The young blonde turned towards the cold-hearted general, "Sir!" he saluted. As he did, his navy blue eyes seemed to twinkle with mischief and his lips upturned into a smirk.

Al's heart stirred as he saw his brothers smile in the soldier. He shook his head to clear the memories swirling around in his brain. He shouldn't have such thoughts; they were popping up everywhere he went ever since he heard of his brother's assumed death.

"Sleeping Beauty, make sure nobody gets in my damn way!" she barked and without another word, she fired. The missile went flying and slammed into Sloth's stomach, sending him flying out Gate 8's doors and he stopped at the railing, denting it in the shape of his over-muscular body. "Hey!" she shouted. "One more."

"We're out of ammo," Liran shouted in reply.

Falman looked at them before grabbing his gun from his holster, something that 'Sleeping Beauty' himself copied. "Well, in that case." Both of them fired a few bullets out into the gate. Al thought for a second they were aiming for Sloth when he saw it. One bullet hit an icicle, and the other hit the one next to it, knocking them down. Sloth didn't notice until both icicles crashed onto his head, one after another. "Pain." He moaned. "Ow."

Both Al and the twins rushed forwards, legs up as they slammed them into the still dazed Homonculus. It had the desired effect as it sent the oversized giant tumbling over the damaged railing; he fell into a free fall and smashed into the mounds of snow that billowed in the northern wind below them. The twins, one a soldier and another an engineer, alongside Al looked down over the rail.

Without looking, both of them fist bumped one another as the soldier hissed out in an enthusiastic voice, "Nice!" A pang struck through Al as he looked forlornly at the brothers, now wishing Ed was here to share this moment with him. It should have been the two of them beating back Sloth together. It only steeled his resolve to find his brother.

"That fuel is specially blended for the cold." Buccaneer's voice said, making Al and the twins look over his shoulder at him. "It will vaporize almost instantly, and as it evaporates, it will sap his body heat."

"This blizzard will help too. It will freeze him." the blonde soldier pipped up as he made his way to the railing.  "Right down to his brain." He peered down to see the fuel have its desired effect, causing a merciless grin to take hold over his features as he stared down at Sloth.

Armstrong hopped out of the massive tank and walked up from behind the blonde, icy blue eyes hardening as she took in the Homunculus's frozen form, "You can sleep there until spring, monster." she spat out. She then turned to Buccaneer, "Alright, Buccaneer, now take these two away."

The man simply saluted her, "Sir!"

Al stared at her in shock, frozen long enough for the twins to tie a rope around his hands and begin to take him and Falman away to the cells beneath Fort Briggs. When he finally found his voice, Al let out a small cry and turned to her," B-but we helped you!"

"You were forced to," she retorted. "That was just the excuse you needed to fight, right?" her voice took on a dangerous tone as she continued. "Besides which, I'm not letting you go anywhere until you explain exactly what that thing was and what it wanted,"

Ed watched them go from his place by the broken balcony with a longing in his eyes before he closed his eyes and sighed. He walked up from behind Armstrong and waited for her to acknowledge him once she had finished speaking to his brother.

"Sir, I can help answer some of those questions you have." It hadn't even been a second after the last few words left his mouth before she turned to him with stiff eyes and frown marred on her pretty face.

Ed flinched at the sight of her eyes; he had worked so hard to gain her trust and now in her eyes, he was no better than Al who simply showed up on his own- something he still had to figure out.

"Explain." she hissed out.

"I think its time we had that talk, don't you agree sir?"

 

 


 

 

 

Ed found himself being lead inside a darkened room by Armstrong and Miles who kept glancing back at him curiously every chance he thought the General wasn't looking. Surprisingly, it was enough times to irritate him to the point that he was about to revert back to his old habits and snap at the man. However, not only would that blow his cover, but it also wouldn't be fair to the part Ishvalan man who he'd come to see as a friend in the past few days.

Armstrong locked the door behind her and Ed glanced back at her, “Where the hell are we anyway?”

”Quiet Mors, we’re in the most secure room in the country.”

”Then why the hell is it so dark?” he mumbled under his breath.

It apparently wasn’t quite enough as Ed could see from the corner of his eye Miles cracking a smile under his ever-present mask.

“And I say; let there be light.” She retorted, a bite building in the back of her throat as she flickered on the lights.

The room came alive as it was bathed in the single light coming from the ceiling. It was a bedroom. There was a plain bed- though it looked far comfier than any of the military issued beds he’s seen- and a few simple pieces furnitures such as a coffee table and chairs and bedside tables.

What drew his attention was the large ornate mirror standing off to the side of the room beside the matching dresser and closet doors.

It suddenly clicked in his mind that this was a girls room. One that didn’t share and was obviously for someone of a higher rank. It was her room. He whirled around to face her and pointed a gloved finger at her unimaginably smug face.

”Thi-this is your room!” He shouted at her. Miles was unsuccessfully trying to bite back the chuckles building up if his broken mask of a calm and stoic soldier was to say anything.

Armstrong didn’t even bother trying to hide her glee; her icy eyes melted as she took in his reaction and the way the corners of her mouth twitched up into a smile said it all.

”Yes, now get moving!” She barked out. Ed has to wonder what she meant before she was pushing him towards her closet and Miles opened the doors helpfully.

He didn’t know why they were going to hide in here; it wasn’t even big enough for one person let alone three! It was practically barren aside from the military regulation uniform and some gear to brave the cold, there wasn’t a single personal thing in her closet. Ed didn’t know why it surprised him so much. He kinda expected it to be honest.

Armstrong ignored his questioning gaze and bent down to push the uniforms hanging on the rack back. All it revealed were a set of hooks holding scarves and other jackets she couldn’t on the rack. He didn’t bother to try his small gasp when she grabbed one of the hooks and pulled down on it, revealing it to be a lever of sorts. From behind the wall, Ed could hear the twists and turns of cigs and other gears as they worked open a trap door, big enough for even Buccaneer or Al to get through.

He peered down to see a set of metals rungs leading down into the darkened hole. A push from behind caused him to stumble forwards as he fell, grabbing onto the ladder when he recovered.

“Get moving brat!” Armstrong called as she began to make her way down, Miles following after her as he closed the door. While he waited, Ed looked around to see the bare essentials; some chairs, food, water, weapons, a coffee table and of course, hard liqueur.  A whole cabinet full.

When they finally reached the bottom, Armstrong lit the candle in the coffee table and gestures for him to sit on the couch facing her. She herself sat down in the rooms only chair; regal and poised in her alter ego as Queen of the North with Miles standing dutifully behind her.

"Starting talking," she orders briskly.

Ed stared the two of them, wondering just how exactly he was supposed to explain all of this. This nightmare. This unbelievable situation he's found himself in. This undeniable truth he's had to face. He stares down at his hands and gently pulls off the glove covering his flesh hand.

"What are you doing?" Armstrong asks, a note of confusion buried deep beneath the growl building up in the back of her throat.

He ignores her as he takes off the one covering his metal hand and then begins to unbutton his uniform jacket with deft fingers that don't halter as he sees her gaze. Once he's done that, his glasses come off and he neatly puts them off to the side where he then starts to pluck the coloured contacts from his eyes. He can feel the moment they realize they had been lied to, the tension so thick and opaque he could practically breathe it in.

Ed looks up with molten gold eyes and can see the surprise in his comrade's own eyes. From the slight increase in her own icy blue to the sharp intake of breath from the man behind her, he could see it all; every detail, inconsistency, all of it. It was like breathing again. Being Ed again. Being himself.

Being me.

"My name's Edward Elric, the Fullmetal Alchemist, and I need your help."

 

 


 

 

 

"So, let me get this straight; you faked your death to protect your friends, family and comrades because you found out the military's been compromised and you know they aren't afraid to kill and you came to me because you can't go to anyone else without the military finding out?" Olivier asked him, straight-faced as she stared deep into his golden eyes. Behind her, Miles was pacing back and forth, a frown set on his face and look of concentration on his face.

"Essentially."

The two continued to stare at one another in silence before Miles broke it. He suddenly made a beeline for the liqueur cabinet and Ed watched in a barely contained awe as he proceeded to grab the strongest bottle and didn't even bother to pour himself a glass before he knocked it back.

"I-is he okay?"

Armstrong waved a hand, "He's fine. Back to the point, how was it you managed to convince them you were dead exactly?"

Ed started to answer, but he never let his eyes stray from the Major," Well, in alchemy, when you commit the taboo-"

"Human Transmutation, yes, I know."

"Well, you meet Truth. He's basically what we would call a god, the creator of our world and everything on it." In the background, Miles made a pained sound as he knocked back another shot. Ed continued on anyways," He's basically the one who's allowed us the use of alchemy, we've never actually owned it or discussed it. It's his power, his and his alone; he just allows us to borrow it. But he has rules for us. Alchemy is a wonderful thing, yes, but when we tread into gods domain, we get burned for our insolence."

"And you know this how?"

He cracked a pained grin as he lifted up his pant leg and gestured to his automail," Well, how do you think I got this? Al and I...we missed our mom. We just wanted to see her smile again and we thought we could do it. In the end, Al lost his whole body and I lost my leg."

"I sacrificed my arm to attach his soul into that armour you see now. But it's not permanent; it can reject him at any time. That's why when Mustang found out what we had done...he offered the military's resources so we could find a philosopher's stone...so we could get our bodies back."

"I met Truth again. He was still an asshole but me being the naive brat I was yelled at him," Miles choked at that.

Ed ignored him as he continued, "Asked him why the hell he wasn't doing anything. After all, the end goal for Bradley and his partners is to become immortal...to beat god and take what is his. He just looked at me as if I was an idiot. He told me he wasn't allowed to interfere, something about interfering with his purpose for creating humanity...he'd need a third party." At this, Ed trailed off.

"And naturally you accepted, I assume." He didn't speak but nodded and looked up at the ceiling of the bunker for a few minutes as he took out a photograph before turning his molten gold gaze back on her.

"I didn't realize what it would do...faking my death like that...it's been a rough couple of week, but for him, I'd do anything. I just keep looking at this picture and thinking of Al, knowing that when its all said and done...we can be a family again." Armstrong eyed the photograph and motioned for him to hand it over," I don't see you in here."

"That's my mom's family. I never met them, she ran away from home and she died from the plague when I was about 5...about a year after Hohenheim abandoned us...I can't read the names on the back...she wasn't Amestrian...at least her parents weren't." She let out a pleased hum as she turned to the back and read the names, her eyes widening at the sight of them.

"Miles, come here. Tell me, do you see it?"

Miles stopped what he was doing- having a mental breakdown -  and starred down at the smiling faces of the family of 7. He looked over at the names on the back, taking in their names with cold eyes, entirely focused on recognizing them.

"Alberico..." he mummers softly in the entirely silent room.

"Well, do you recognize them or not?" Miles looked into the golden eyes of his friend, someone he's grown to trust with his life and the lives of his family and lets his own trail down to the names on the back.

Sofia.

Viktor.

Candia.

Rafael.

Niccolo.

Patrizia.

Valentina.

He looked back at Ed, his own red eyes searching through the expressive molten gold of his friend and he found himself thinking, ' It's no wonder I thought he looked odd...gold suits him...'

"Miles."

Miles thought to his friend Rafael; with deep green eyes that always twinkled with mischief but held a deep sadness in them. One he saw in Ed's eyes looking at him now. He could see Rafael's features in him, something the man obviously shared with the boy's mother for it to pass onto Edward.

He saw the same will to protect his loved ones; the one that made him the soldier he was today.

"Please!"

It was like staring into a mirror as he looked at Ed. He didn't know how he hadn't seen it before. Or maybe he had and he just chose to ignore it...maybe he didn't want to see the mess it would assuredly bring.

Maybe he always knew, knew something was wrong with Ed and hadn't wanted to acknowledge it...because that would mean more heartbreak...more grief...more death. And that was something that Miles wasn't ready to let happen to the 15-year-old pleading in front of him, not like he let happen to his friends, his family, his people.

But that wasn't for him to decide. It never was and it never had been. He had no right, but some days he liked to think he could protect them all. That he wouldn't fail them as he had with his people...but that was a naive dream for the innocent and Miles hasn't been that way for a long time. He's starting to think he never was.

"Yes."

Chapter Text


 

 

"Yes."

 

 


 

 

It was just one word. Just one. It only had one syllable. One vowel. The 'y' didn't count since there was an 'e' already. It was just one word.

Yes: a noun meaning to give an affirmation to a question and or statement.

Just one word. It was just one word.

But it changed everything.

 

 


 

 

 

Ed gave a shaky breath as he brought his hand- not flesh. Never his flesh hand. It's been so long since he's felt it ...the callouses, the little nicks and bruises and even the scars that litter it like paint splatter- up to his forehead as he sucked in the air just as fast as he breathes it out. It was like a battering ram to the chest but as the minutes ticked by, the pain lessened and the roaring silence that rushed through his ears, that drowned out the sights and sounds of reality, began to recede.

Absentmindedly, he swallowed down that tight feeling that rose up in his throat, one that kept getting smaller and smaller until a hand came down on his back and suddenly- he could breathe. 

His ears ring and the world spins and in a daze he attempts to get up, holding onto the seemingly simple yet intricate wooden table beside the couch he was sitting only moments beforehand. Ed can see his lips move, he can't quite make out what he's saying, but as he gets louder and louder, the ringing in his ear dissipates.

He can barely understand when he cries out his name- not Trick, no it wasn't Trick anymore, it was Ed, he was Ed again and it shouldn't have felt that nice to be him again but it did- but then a gloved hand reaches forwards and takes a hold of his naked shoulders and shakes him.

He snaps his head to the side and finds himself peering into the gleaming red eyes of Miles. His eyes, usually so apathetic and covered in his goggles why were his goggles off he never takes them off, were alight with fear and worry, but a hint of resolve behind them. 

"-d! Edward! Can you hear me?"

It was like a fog had lifted and quickly he tried to find something to say, anything at all, to reassure him that he was all right when he blurted out the first thing that came to mind, "Miles!" Instantly, relief swam in his oh-so-red eyes as he stared at him, a hint of exasperation behind them.

When Miles smiled, so tired and anxious, that it was then that it hit him as Ed stared into his concerned wine-red eyes; the care and worry he held in them, all for him, all for Ed. And suddenly he was back in Eastern Command; with Hawkeye who'd hover over him when she was concerned in her own angry mama-hawk mode, with V who would speak in gentle tones and hang off his neck like the spider monkey she was, with Maes who used to drag Al and him after a mission back home to Gracia and Elicia who offered their hearts and home with open arms, with Chris who wouldn't speak and simply poured a glass of their favorite whiskey.

And Roy who would stay at his bedside whenever he was in the hospital from his latest mission, who would tease him all day long and push his buttons, who would ruffle his hair and sometimes even re-braid it for him when he's too tired and sore to do it himself, who would sometimes slide a plate of food to him when he was researching at the library or rare books from his own home library and would drape the blanket he got specifically for Ed when he fell asleep on his office couch...

He's reminded of all the people at Fort Briggs who've adopted him, both Trick and Ed, because he was still Ed just as much as he was Trick now. He thought of Armstrong who came up with a colorful collection of nicknames for him and would play chess when both of them had moments to spare, he thought of Buccaneer who he went sparring with and had talks of automail late into the night.

He thought of Bobby, Patricia and Neil who he discussed engineering with at lunch in the mess hall. He thought of Mick and Roach who he practiced at the gun range with.

With Miles who would smile and laugh at his jokes, who would sit in silence with him as they stared up at the stars like Chris, who would ruffle his hair like Roy, who gave advice like V, who stood watch over him like Hawkeye, who took him under his wing when he arrived like Maes...

So, as he looked into his concerned eyes, he realized something; Miles and Armstrong were his new Hawkeye and Colonel Bastard...worse, they seemed to realize that and had no problems with it...in fact, he's pretty sure they're trying to unofficially adopt him like Riza and Mustang are...and he finds he doesn't mind it. Not one bit.

"You okay Ed?" 

It was just a little thing, but it made all the difference. He was Ed, he had a name that his mother gave him and one that Al and Izumi and so many others cherished. He was Ed. And Miles knew that. He accepted it. And that made all the difference. He tried to calm down the building tightening seizing knot that gripped his lungs in a vice like grip and breathed before looking down at the floor, messy bangs falling down over his eyes like a curtain as he tried to calm himself. Then the sound of Armstrong clearing her throat cut through the room as reality sunk in. 

"Yeah," he swallowed, voice meek and barely a mummer," I'm good, thanks Miles...uh, you said you knew them...w-who are they, if you don't mind me asking?"

The look on Miles face was something Ed thought he recognized but just as fast as it came, it passed as he took a seat next to Ed on his couch. He leaned into the couch, his posture losing its prim and proper structure, and rested his head on the back of it. His goggles sat in his lap, innocent and not on his face why weren't they back on, before he opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling of Armstrong's bunker. His gloved hands played with the goggles in his lap as he fiddled with the lens and appeared deep in thought. The silence seemed to go on forever if not for Armstrong barking out,"Miles, spit it out!"

It seemed to snap him out of his funk- Funk? Where the hell did that come from? Fucking Mustang and his old fogey language fuck him for getting to rub off on him and he wonders why he fights with him at every turn- as he snapped his head up and breathed in deep. He gestured for Ed to pass the photograph of his family over to him.

Miles' wine-red eyes skimmed over the picture resting on the woman. He pointed to her, with her dark curls and bright gleaming green eyes and dark tanned skin. "This is your grandmother, Sofia Alberico. She's from Aerugo which is where she met your grandfather,"

Miles gestured to the man beside her; at least a head taller with silvery blonde hair, fair skin and ice blue eyes. He didn't have a bread and was clean shaven. Where most men were strong muscled, he had a wiry build with lean muscles indicating a runners build and broad shoulders to accompany them. "His name is Viktor and he's from Drachma. He left home when he was about to be enlisted and emigrated to Aerugo where he met your grandmother."

Next he pointed to the oldest child, a young girl with his grandfathers coloring and his grandmother's features,"This is your Aunt Candia, she is there first child and the only one to inherit Viktor's drachman coloring. She's married to Julio and they have one child, a daughter, Giada. She's pregnant though, about 3 months."

He then motioned over to the only sons, identical twins. They had lighter skin then Sofia but her dark brown hair and green eyes." These are your uncles, Rafael and Niccolo, they actually work here at Fort Briggs. First Lieutenant Rafael Elric serves under Captain Buccaneer and his twin, Niccolo is an engineer with Bobby and the others."

"Rafael has a wife, Isabella and they have 3 kids. The youngest is Laverne, a sweet little girl who is too smart for her own good. Then there's they're twins, Felix who prefers books and likes his peace and quiet and Elara who is as bright and loud at her father, she goes on a different adventure everyday. Niccolo married his husband Peter last spring and they've recently adopted a little girl named Anya."

He paused as he pointed at the next girl, with fair skin and green eyes and light chestnut brown hair and its like the air was stolen from him, "This is Patrizia, your mother...I'm guessing by the look on your face, she didn't go by that name?"

Ed reached out with a shaking finger and gently traced his mothers smiling face,"No...she went by Trisha Elric. She settled in Resembool and had a life with Hohenheim there...she came back to North City when she was pregnant with me. We stayed until after Al turned two...I don't remember much, just languages I don't understand and a mess of white...lots of white. I can barely remember the words now, but sometimes, when I was younger, I'd catch her singing a song that I didn't understand. I can remember the way she always seemed to be reading books in another language or how she would sometimes speak to me but I couldn't seem to understand what she was saying."

"Did she ever call you any other name other than Ed?"

"Sometimes...especially in the last few days before her death, she'd get delirious and call me Edoardo and call Al Alphonso. Other than that, she kept her life before us locked up and packed away...this photo was one of the few things she kept out on her bedside table, but that's about it..."

Armstrong was silent through his explanation before he sat forward and gestured to the last child, a little girl who was a carbon copy of his grandmother, what with her big green eyes, darkened skin and curly dark brown hair, so dark it almost looked back. "Who's she?"

Miles looked at her with something in his eye, a warmness that wasn't there before and a softened edge in his sharp eyes. He looks at her smiling face, her pudgy legs peaking out from her dress and the two pigtails in her hair with a fondness he had never seen before," She's the youngest daughter, born about two years after that. Her name is Valentina and she's as strong willed as her mother and sisters before her. She never listens to anyone and if you try to tell her otherwise, a book or the nearest object, usually an alarm clock or lamp, will be thrown at your head. She doesn't take no for an answer and she's too smart for her own good with a mouth to back it up. It gets her in more trouble than it should. She can't sit still for her life and she changes hobbies and careers like hairstyles."

Ed looked at him and was about to voice his thoughts when Armstrong beat him to it,"How do you know so much about them?"

"I was a childhood friend...we lived down the street and we stuck together, being some of the only kids with immigrant families...we weren't as welcome, myself with my Ishvalan coloring and them with their Drachman heritage. After your mother left, the family broke apart. Your uncle Rafael let her go in the middle of night and two days later he left an enlisted man...met his wife down south and moved back up here just before the Ishvalen War of Extermination began. Your uncle Niccolo took it hard; with both Rafael and Patrizia leaving...so he took an apprenticeship in town and was eventually hired by the military."

He took a shaking breath before he continued," Candia didn't take it well...she's not good at expressing herself so she just gets angry instead. She can be cold and indifferent too, after years of being bullied by the towns people...her siblings all took after their mother but she looked like Viktor, was practically his copy and so they knew she was Drachman, that his blood ran strong through her...she wasn't welcomed in town...she was cold to me when we first met, thought I was like everyone else until I showed her my eyes. I became friends with them all through her. She's my best friend...instead of a maid of honor, I was her Groomsmen of Honor at her wedding..."

"Your mother leaving had to hit your grandmother the hardest. She wasn't ready to let any of them go, she valued family strongly and while she loved your mother and blessed their union, she knew that Hohenheim wouldn't stay in the North for long and that your mother would follow him..she didn't like everyone being separated after the fiasco with her own family...it was eerily similar and it broke her. Your grandfather took it best, he understood the need. Patrizia was too much like her mother to listen to them.."

After he finished, it was silent. Ed processed everything he just heard and found himself with one burning question...something he had noticed but never asked about...it gnawed at him, until it became to much and before he had even realized it, he was calling out,"Hey Miles?"

The older man looked over at him from where he was staring at the photo," Yes?"

"Can I ask you question? I just noticed something earlier in your explanation and its been bugging me."

At the man's nod, he takes a deep breath before opening his mouth, "When you were talking about Aunt Valentina earlier...you got this look in your eye and you talked as if you knew her better than the others, even better than Aunt Candia, your best friend...why is that?"

He could tell Miles was surprised; the sharp intake of breath, the dilated pupils and widening eyes, the way he snapped his head to look over at him, the tense posture he adopted as soon as he heard his question. Miles knew something and he hadn't told them for a reason. He knew Armstrong saw it, the way her icy blue eyes widened in delight, a cat-like smile stretching across her pretty face. She leaned back in her chair, her one leg crossed over the other and the side of her head came to rest on her arm, a lazy and relaxed position that only she could manage to make regal and over-powering to any who saw it.

"Oh? Do tell Miles...I can see it in your eye...you don't want to tell us, but you can't hide it forever...it is the boy's family after all?"

Miles slumped in his seat, a defeated look coming across his face and a sigh being released heavily into the air,"Okay fine, I do know Valentina better, but that's to be expected considering how close we are..."

"How close it that exactly?"

"..."

"Miles, talk."

"Valentina...she's my wife."

Chapter Text

 

 


 

 

Ed stares at Miles, big molten gold eyed unblinking as the man gazed back at him. A tense silence, one so thick and opaque that he could practically breathe it in, threatened to choke him to death as it slowly covered the room.

It was a suffocating type of silence. The one that could strangle you at a moments notice and you couldn’t do a damn thing to stop it. His ears rang and a faint popping noise seemed to go off like bombs in his ear. He vaguely heard a clock chiming in the background and wondered how he hadn’t noticed it was in Armstrong’s bunker beforehand.

”Well,” Armstrong drawled from her throne. “ This has been nice and all, great chat, I’m sure, unfortunately, Miles has to head down to Northern Command and it’s already 6:30." Both men turned to looks at her, Miles with an uncertain look in his red eyes before understanding filled them and Ed with a raised eyebrow.

"Now, I know we learned a lot of things, like how Miles obviously has a lamp fetish since your aunt loves to throw them at him- repeatedly, might I add- and you’re a short midget, but can we get back to the part where we move forward with your little plan so I can kill the damn prick sitting on our nation's throne and become Furher?” she continued, unconcerned with the matching tick marks both Ed and Miles sported.

"Miles," she barked suddenly." You need to go investigate Kimblee!"

"Wait just a fucking moment," Ed pipped up from his earlier rage. "Kimblee? As in Solf.J.Kimblee? Mass murderer and genocide man that's supposed to be serving life in prison and the Colonel Bastard was trying to get executed for the last 12 years because he's a danger to public safety!? That Kimblee! Why the fuck is he free?!"

"Yes, I believe it is that one. Now, I'm more concerned with who Colonel Bastard is...tell me more?" Armstrong leaned forwards.

Ed waved her away with his metal hand, "Ahh, it's my name for Roy. I do it just to piss him off. Riza seems to think it's funny so I like doing it...it makes her smile more...and Roy didn't mind it as much after Hughes...I think it reminds him of a time when he was still alive and would join in with me." He got quiet after that.

"Maes? That was the man who died because of the Homonculus, yes? Mustang seems awfully fond of him."

"Maes was his best friend. Met in the academy and they served in the war together...before any of this, Roy resolved to never let another Ishval happen again and he realized the only way was to become Furher...Maes and Riza were the first to pledge their loyalty..."

Armstrong leaned back into her throne with a thoughtful look on her face. She observed the way Miles naturally inclined himself towards Ed and how he allowed it. She went over the way he talked about Hawkeye, Mustang and this Maes character...a few moments went by before she uncrosses her legs and suddenly stands up.

"Ed, I've decided to help you. On the condition, that you'll support me for my claim of Furher after I kill Bradley!" she asked him, imposing in her stance and conviction in her voice. 

Ed looked at her, unable to hide the surprise in his molten gold eyes and his jaw dropped a little. He had to admit; he was not expecting that. Not at all. He half suspected her to ask him for favours given his connections with so many political figures in and out of Amestris. And since Grumman and her were the only ones of the High Command not corrupt, there wasn't a lot who could run for Furher so quickly after Bradley's death.  

"So, let me get this straight. You want me, Ed, to support you for the position of Furher after we kill said man and I reveal myself to all of Amestris that no I wasn't really dead and have to explain to all the women in my life why they shouldn't kill me for doing this plus my brother, Mustang and basically every other parental figure who's unofficially adopted me, which includes the two of you by the way, and you think this will go over well?"

"Well, when you put it that way you mak-"

"Okay, I'll do it."

"e- wait, what? You'll do it?

"Yeah."

"Just like that? Knowing all this, you'll still support?"

"Well yeah, it's not like I have anything better to do. Life's been a little too quiet now that that idiot prince Ling is gone and I'm bored."

"You're bored?"

"Did I stutter, sir?"

Olivier looked at the young man before her, intense molten gold eyes rolling at her semi-baffled expression- she knew he was even doing it if he tried to hide it. 'Such a cheeky little thing' she observes. 'Then again he was under Mustang's command so it's not that far-fetched that the man's personality would rub off on him at such a young age...at least that's what Miles said.'

Ed brushed a stray strand of champagne blonde hair out of his face and gave her an unimpressed look.

"No, I suppose you didn't, little one. Now, are you ready to get started then?"

"Lead the way, Furher Armstrong."

"Watch it, brat!" she growled out, a tone of fondness in her voice.

She watched him leave with Miles first as her assistant began to berate him for swearing so much. Her icy blue eyes took in his appearance and she just knows that a 15-year-old boy his size shouldn't be so skinny, not when he must be getting all the exercise he needs fighting his way across Amestris. 'He said I was a parental figure?... As if! I gave up on being able to have children a long time ago when I became the Northern Wall of Briggs...but maybe...if I had a son...I'd think I'd want him to be like Ed...yeah, that sounds nice...'

 

 


 

 

"It's huge." The crane carrying the pipes lowered onto the floor as Olivier, Buccaneer, Ed and some other soldiers stood around the giant hole Sloth had made in the lowest level of Fort Briggs.

"A platoon could fit through the hole." Clarink continued. "It curves gently then continues on for a long way. But there were no signs of anyone in it."

Armstrong narrowed her eyes at the hole and gazed at Buccaneer out of the corner of her eye. "Lower some horses," she ordered, voice final and tone drawn up tight, giving nothing away.

"Yes sir," Buccaneer faithfully replied. She turned her heads towards him. "And I want to see the Elric brother." She ignored the look Ed gave her and instead strode away, not waiting for him to catch up with her as she did so.

 

 


 

 

"This is a serious tunnel," Ed said. He was riding next to Armstrong, her face set into a permanent scowl as she narrowed her eyes at the tunnel, as if it was a personal offence and stain of existence against humanity...which to be fair, it kinda was.

"I still can't believe that an intruder was able to get this far through our defences." she spat out.

This evidently got Al's attention. He looked up at them from where he was between Rafael and shit what the fuck how hadn't he noticed him earlier-he looked back at the two of them, taking in his Uncle's features and thinking back to what Miles- or is it Uncle Miles now too?- told him about his family, about the one he hadn't met. He could clearly see his mother in his uncle and was hit with a sudden pang because he looked a lot like Al...Obviously, his mom and her brothers shared the same facial features and he always knew Al looked a bit more like their mom but right now it was hitting him more than ever.

"So has anyone else ever made it into the fort before?" Al asked, making her look at him.

"No, not in all the time I've had command here," Armstrong said as she looked forward once more. "But once, nearly twenty years ago, there was a strange incident where the mountain guard was attacked in the middle of winter."

"Apparently, a mysterious woman stole food and supplies for a full month." she continued, uncaring for the way both Ed and Al flinched violently and looked anywhere but at her. Both her and Rafael shared a look at this and vowed to get the story from the two teens.

A scary looking Izumi with an evil grin in place appeared in Ed's mind with hellish fire surrounding her. "I survived for a whole month in the Briggs mountains!" Izumi's voice rang through his head. Ed and Al, who were sweatdropping, were unknowingly thinking the same thing. 'It was Teacher.' Both boys thought to themselves.

"This should be far enough," she announced to the group.

She looked over at Al and gave him a subtle glare, "You, dismount," Olivia said, making Ed glance at her. She ignored him in favour of Al who looked at her with a confused expression on his helmet- how was he doing that?-" Hmm?" Al said.

The end of Olivier's sword connected with the ground between her feet with a dull thud. "Now then," she declared with Ed standing beside her while Buccaneer and Rafael stood on either side Falman and Al, who both still had a rope tied around their waists.

"We're safely away from any prying eyes. You can tell me everything without fearing discovering. And I mean everything." Al gasped but Olivier paid him no mind as she continued, "Don't hold anything back. Yesterday I asked you about that monster. Remember what you said?"

"I can't answer." Olivier's voice mocked, making Ed's brow furrow from where he was at her side. "You refused me, and that even as a hint, is a dangerous thing to do."

"I told you to answer my questions fully and completely. At great peril to yourself, you neglected to do so," she said.  "I think there's something you're trying to hide and you'd risk your lives to protect it." Olivier paused...probably for dramatic effect. "Something or maybe someone."

Armstrong stared darkly at Al, "This time, don't lie to me." She said in a low, commanding voice. "I want the truth." Ed looked down for a moment before gazing back up at her. "We need your help, General." 

 

 


 

 

Olivier's gloved hands rested on the hilt of her sword as she began to tap one of her fingers against the back of her other hand. "The Philosopher's Stone, Homunculi. Fuhrer King Bradley, a mysterious man called Father, corruption in the senior staff."

"There are hostages involved as well," Buccaneer pipped up from beside Al's left side.

"Your childhood friend, the automail engineer, and all Mustang's men. We've done some joint training with eastern command over the years. So I know Officers Hawkeye and Havoc." She put a hand to her chin. "And I'd hate it if we lost either of them."

"I would like to help them," Olivier finished. "And, uh, what about Colonel Mustang?" Falman asked nervously. "Yeah, I couldn't care less about him," she deadpanned ."I'd just as soon see him fall from power. That would eliminate another rival."

Armstrong suddenly stood up. "Never mind him. The question is what do we do next?" She pointed a thumb over her shoulder. "This tunnel here, I would like to know what you alchemists make of it. Brat, get to it!" Ed looked up sharply at that, a tick mark on his face, and immediately set to work. He placed one his gloved hands on the track and the other on the tunnel floor.

"First of all, the tunnel probably didn't originate in Drachma," Ed finally announced to the waiting group. "This is just my guess, but I say chances are we'll found it's dug in the shape an enormous circle."

"Why?" Buccaneer asked.

"It has to do with alchemy. In our field, a circle is the symbol used to control power." He looked down at the map and pressed his pencil into his chin. "I need to look at this more closely." He stared the map before blinking and gasping as Ed circled Ishval.

"Lieutenant Falman," Ed said. He lifted his head up from where he was busy studying the map intensely to look at Falman, who turned to look at him. "Can you list the major events in Amestris that were accompanied by bloodshed?"

"By bloodshed?" Falman repeated. Falman approached him and kneeled. "What are you getting at?" he asked. He gasped before he pointed somewhere on the map, "First there's July 1588. In Riviere."

"Okay, Riviere," Ed said as he circled it. "Next."

"October 1661, the Cameron uprising." Falman pointed at it on the map as Ed circled it. "February 1799, the Soapman incident, there in Fisk." Falman moved his finger along the map. "March 1811, The Wellsley incident."

From the side, Armstrong 'hmmed' as she watched them continue on without a care in the world. "October 1835, The First Southern Border War in what is now known as South City."

Al, Buccaneer and Rafael leaned forwards, intrigued with both men's ramblings. "Then in 1911, there was the Second Southern Border War in Fortsett."

"What about Pendleton in the west?" Ed asked. "There's been fighting with Creta," Falman said as Ed circled it. "A lot of soldiers have died. And then, later in 1914, there was the Liore insurrection There were many causalities."

"What?" Ed asked.

"An insurrection?" Al asked surprised. "But why?"

"I don't understand. Brother and I exposed the fake priest in Liore and then Brother reported it to Eastern Command immediately." Al said.

Falman looked over at Al with something akin to pity in his eyes that made Ed clench his fists tightly, which Armstrong gave an approving hum at once she saw his self-control. "Yes, you did. But the Central forces came in and ran out the troops from the east. After that happened, Liore just fell to pieces," Falman said.

Ed bowed his head with his hand grabbing at his hair. "Oh no. Damn." He muttered, closing his eyes. "No time for that," Olivier interjected. She stood and gave a comforting squeeze to his shoulder when Ed turned his head to look at her. "Back to work, Trick."

"Alright, fine." He said as he turned back around and circled Liore. "And now. We just connect the dots." Ed said as Buccaneer, Al, and Olivier moved in closer to watch. She didn't bother covering the bit of surprise that came over it when she looked down at the map. "How is that possible?"

"It looks like the transmutation circle from the fifth laboratory," Falman said.

"Is that so? The Philosopher's Stone array that draws power from human lives." Buccaneer commented offhandedly."If they make a Philosopher's Stone with something this huge, how many will have to die?" he asked them all.

Ed played with his pencil while his automail hand rested on his chin as he leaned over the map, after a moment his eyes widened. Ed tapped the map with his pencil. "The first of the conflicts happened in 1558."

"Right," Olivier stated. "It was just after the founding of Amestris."

Falman put a hand to his chin. "They attacked Riviere. That was the neighbouring country at the time, and then the military…" He paused and picked up the map. "Wait." He was looking at the map closely. "That's it."

"It was the military. They were involved in all of it." Falman continued as those who didn't know gasped in surprise."Each incident was a coup d'état or insurrection. Like in Liore. Forces from Central would be sent in and they would make everything worse."

Ed blinked and then frowned, deep in thought as he ran it through his head and asked the question on everyone's mind. "It's been going on that long?"

"We kept growing. Our country started out as a small nation, but we expanded as we took over more and more neighbouring countries." Armstrong started."That was all to create this circle."

"So that means, not only are they planning to use this country to do whatever it is they're doing, but they actually created it in the first place for that single purpose," Ed stated.

"My country," she said as an ugly look passed her face and her fists gripped the hilt of her sword tightly. Ed looked up at her and gave a small nod of his head, letting her he knew she wasn't alone and that he was there to support her bid to become Furher before Mustang did. He felt bad for doing so, but he knew Mustang wasn't ready yet to become Furher, maybe in 10 years but not now, not while grief clouds his mind a fire rages in his heart.

Al turned his head. "Do you think General Hughes…?"

Ed looked up at that. "Yeah, before he was killed, he must've seen the transmutation circle. He was serving in the court-martial office. He had all the information about the military incidents. He would have known that something wasn't right. That must be why he…"

"I'm sorry, but who are you exactly?" Al asked suddenly, unable to keep his curiosity about the mysterious champagne blonde in any longer.

Ed looked up at him, dark blue eyes blinking up at him as if he was stupid before he sighed in exasperation at his brother." My name is Lt. Colonel Mors, I was a friend of your brothers and his intelligence network stationed in Eastern Command. After his death, Grumman got suspicious and sent me up here to gather allies with General Armstrong."

"He never mentioned you before!" Al said, getting weirdly defensive before Ed remembers...oh yeah he's dead and Al is probably really sensitive about it...'Jeez' he thinks.' It's just like when Winry throws wrenches at me...I'll have to tread carefully.'

"Your brother was a very private person and he didn't like to involve you in a lot of his affairs with the military. Before his death, he told me everything, because he had a bad feeling. It isn't that uncommon for soldiers to have a confidant both in and out of the military. One for personal affairs and others for military ones. You were his personal and I was his military. Mustang relied on Hughes for both his military and personal...Armstrong, you got a confidant?"

"Of course, Major Miles is my military and personal. Buccaneer?"

"Major Miles is my personal and you sir my military."

"Major Elric?" Ed asked. He could see Al whip his head around to look at Rafael and knew that even if he couldn't comfort his brother right now, he could make him happy. Even if it was just for a little while.

"Miles is both my military and personal."

"Your last name is Elric?" Al asked him.

"Yes? First Lieutenant Rafael Elric. And you are?"

"Alphonse. Alphonse Elric."

Ed could see Rafael blink in surprise, his jaw dropped a little before he closed his mouth and swallowed down the lump building in his throat and asked the one questioned Ed was waiting for him to ask."Do...do you know of a Patrizia? She sometimes went by Trisha...she's my little sister, please, I've been looking for her for the last 18 years after she left home...d-do you know her?"

"Yeah, I do! That's my mom! Hey, you do look familiar! Mom had a photo of her family on her bedside...but brother had it last I knew...and he's dead now..." Just as Al got more and more depressed, Ed popped up from his seat and moved over to Al and his uncle.

"I think I have what you're looking for."He made a show of digging around in his pocket before grabbing the photo of his family and handing it over to Al. "Here. Ed gave it to me, asked me to look into the names and see if I could find out whatever happened to them for you guys. It was gonna be a present for you...a vacation after you got your bodies back...to see your last living family...besides your father, that is." He lied smoothly.

Al grabbed it with shaking hands and looked up at him," T-thank you Mors! You don't know how much this means to me."

"Believe me, it was the least I could do for you."

"As sweet as this is Mors, I do not like this." Armstrong drawled out from behind them all. Ed turned and raised an eyebrow at her which she ignored, "As far as I can tell, there's only one place left."

Her face grew angry as she continued, "If you're right about your theory, the next place they're going to hit is right here in Briggs. Those bastards in Central. What kind of dirty plans do they have for my fort?" she growled.

The sound of hooves echoed through the cave, "General!" A soldier shouted, making Olivier turn towards him. "You're needed back at the fort. Lieutenant General Raven from Central is here to see you."

"It looks like our time's already up," she announced, sounding exasperated. Ed looked at her.

"Excuse me, sir." Olivier looked at him, angry eyes softening just a bit. "I'd like to ask a favour of you," Ed replied. She looked at him with a slight hint of surprise in her eyes. "Do you think you could con some information out of General Raven?"

 

 


 

 

"General Raven, sir," Miles said behind Raven. "I'm terribly sorry to have to ask you to wait."

Raven turned to face him. "No, please, don't worry about it."It's my fault for dropping in like this."

"General Armstrong should return at any moment now," Miles said. "This way, please."

"Oh," Raven said with Kimblee behind him. "And as you can see, I brought a guest with me. If it's not too much trouble, then perhaps you would be so kind as to show him around the fort." Raven stated.

Kimblee grabbed his hat. "I'd appreciate it." he took his hat off to show a cruel smirk on his face. "Thanks, Major Miles."

Chapter Text


 

 

Stuck in the dainty supply closet that he found himself in, Ed wondered how it ever amounted to this. How one little question could ever lead to this. How asking "why?" got him from one trainwreck to another. It was almost laughable now that he thought about it; questioning everything was something alchemists just did. Questioning life itself was what they lived for.

They just couldn't help themselves and Ed was no different. He could never stop thinking; his brain ran a million miles an hour at any given moment and everything he came across he either studied, questioned and found an alchemical purpose for. He never could stop himself.

Roy did it sometimes, he'd notice. Ed would be in his office, lying on the couch reading or writing notes in his travelogue. He'd look up to find the man looking off into a random space; starring at nothing and everything. He knew the look in his eyes, it was the same one Ed got.

The same one that bastard Hohenheim got sometimes from his few memories of the man. Teacher did it as did many other alchemists he's met over the years. They just did it. And look where that got him?

He found himself squished inside the small room surrounded by allies who didn't know the truth, a family he couldn't touch and a plan to sacrifice the entire country by a genocidal maniac to stop. 

Rafael and Al hadn't left one another's sides since they found out about their new-found relation and Ed found his chest tightening into a small ball of...something whenever he thought of them or even looked at them. Buccaneer and Falman were beside him manning the wire Armstrong was wearing and Ed knew he'd owe her everything if they could actually get through all of this...maybe a trip to Chris's was in order.

He could catch up with the girls, hug V in what seems like forever. Raid Chris's liqueur cabinet. He let the memory wash over him. The sound of Chris's music rang in his ears, the feel of V's sweater on his skin and her heartbeat against his chest, the sight of Chris's smile and the taste of his favourite whiskey. As it surrounded him in its embrace, he started to imagine everyone there with him.

Not just Chris and the girls, no, Mustang and Hawkeye and the team were there. So was Teacher, Sig and all his other friends. Winry, Granny Pinako, Denny and Al. His friends up North, his mothers family, Armstrong and Uncle Miles. His cousins and everyone else he loved and met and protected with the price of his life. All of them, his family, in the one place he felt the safest in a long time...yeah, that sounded nice.

"Winry's apple pie," Al's voice broke the memory, making Ed look up from the ground. "That was the first thing I wanted to do when I got my body back. But now, even that much may be out of reach forever...espcially since Ed's gone now..."

"You'll have all the apple pie you could ever want," Ed blurted out, not thinking, still stuck in the memory. Everyone was looking at him, eyebrows raised and a question ready to leave their mouths, just on the tip of their tongues.

"What are you talking about Trick?" Buccaneer asked, finally breaking the silence.

"Ed...he wasn't just my confidant...I met him before either of us were apart of the military...I was in Central when he came in to take his exams, I found him asleep in the library while working a night shift. We got to talking and eventually, he became my friend...he inspired me during a time in my life where I had nothing to show for in my life... no feats ...nothing...said I would do great things one day...after he became a state alchemist, he got me a job as Grumman's secretary. I eventually became his intelligence network. I owe him my life. I promised him that I would do anything to make it up to him...you know what the little shit told me?"

"What?" Falman asked.

"He told me; 'Protect him, make him happy and keep him safe for all the times that I can't and I'll consider us even'. I promised him, I swore on my life...so when I say you'll get all the pie you could ever want; you're getting it."

Al was silent as he stared at him and Ed could feel his breath shortening, the memory of a life he could never have might never have again stuck on replay in his mind and his chest just grew tighter and tighter and tighter until- 

He looked away and shushed everyone, hearing the faint static over the radio as Armstrong worked her magic.

 

 


 

 

"I apologize for the chaos, sir." Olivier's voice came over the stereo. "We were attacked yesterday."

"By who?" Raven asked, smug ass voice still as irritating even through the static. "I think it's most appropriate to call it a monster," she answered. "But fortunately we were able to fend it off."

"A monster," Raven repeated. "What do you mean?"

"We killed it, but it didn't die, sir." 

Raven chuckled, sounding like many of the fucktards that called themselves villains that Ed wondered how no one noticed it up until then. "Is that so?"

"I suspected that it originated in Drachma, but the younger Elric brother," Olivier said and at the mention of the Elrics Raven stopped drinking and became more alert. "Didn't I mention? The late Fullmetal Alchemist's brother is here."

She picked up her own teacup again if the slight clinking was anything to go by. "I found it disturbing. He seemed to know about this monster. But they wouldn't talk."

"Obviously if we have a State Alchemist's brother doubling as a spy for Drachma, that's a serious problem. I've locked him up. I've been told the late Fullmetal took his brother on missions and it's possible he learned so many things from simply this, whether Fullmetal knew or not is another matter we'll have to get out of the younger one."

"Perhaps you'd like to speak with them." she continued.

"Certainly," Raven said as Ed, Rafael Al, Buccaneer, and Falman gathered around the speaker and lantern. "They won't tell you anything?" 

"Correct. He said he came here to research living transmutation or something," Olivier replied. "What could be more suspicious? I distrusted him instantly."

She paused for a moment before speaking again, sounding so meek and fragile that Ed was unsettled by it- she was Major General Olivier Mira Armstrong and she shouldn't ever sound like that."I had thought about torturing him to get the information. But I am a woman after all. The thought of hurting that little boy." she rested, "Let's just say I couldn't stand it."

Ed, well, let's just say he couldn't help it. He snorted and before long he was laughing, desperately trying to hide his giggles behind his gloved hand. Both Al and Falman looked at him as if he'd grown another head, Rafael stared at him with a grimace as he knew what he was laughing at and Buccaneer grinned up at him, his fist out for a fist bump which Ed returned enthusiastically. 

"Now that's rich." Ed breathed out in between his giggles as he tried to catch his breath. 

"She would've tortured you in a second and not thought twice about it," Buccaneer said as the two shared another laugh at the looks of horror and disbelief coming from the other two before him.

Raven's laugh echoed over the speaker, interrupting their festive mood and ruining the moment. "But General Armstrong, aren't you known as the Northern Wall of Briggs?" he asked condescendingly. "Walls aren't as soft as that."

Olivia chuckled over the speaker, sounding as weak as she was before to everyone but both Buccaneer and Ed could hear the tone hidden underneath, one promising vengeance and death to the man before her. "You know General Raven, at my age most women are expected to have had a child or two at least. Unfortunately, I'm well past that now."

"Come now. Surely men are lining up to have children with you," he claimed.

"Hardly, sir," Olivier responded. "I'd hate to say, but like everybody else, I'm growing older. And my body is too."

Ed and Al leaned in closer at those words, eyes narrowed as they tried to hear if he would take the bait, unaware of the way the three older men looked at them with questioning looks on their faces. Buccaneer narrowed his eyes, a question forming in his mind as he looked at the two before him...

'Trick said he was an only child but looking at these two...Sir said there was a threat to this country, one unknown to everyone and orchestrated by the higher-ups, I mean, look at the dumbass Raven, falling into her trap like that...and that he was 19...but most teenagers can pass off for older age and it's not like the military cares, after all, I was 16 when I enlisted and I knew I didn't look like a 19-year-old but they didn't even bat an eye at me...is it possible?'  Buccaneer thought.

Falman meanwhile looked at the two boys and could only see Ed in every little thing Trick did, 'He looks so much like Ed...no, stop it Falman, he's gone and he wouldn't want me to pin after something that isn't there! He'd want me to protect Alphonse and help everyone else!'  he reflected before he shook his head.

"That Drachman monster though. It had an outstanding body. An immortal body. Like something from a dream," she continued.

"What if I told you that very soon it wouldn't be a dream anymore?"

"Tell me, General," Ed could practically hear the shit eating grin he no doubt wore at this very moment, "Would you be interested in a legion of immortal soldiers?" 

'He took the bait.' the men all thought.

 

 


 

 

Stuck inside that little room with a disgusting piece of human filth, Olivier wondered how she got herself in this mess. Life was fine without plots of demons that hid in the dark, with genocidal maniacs who threatened her country and a monster on her throne. Life was good with just herself and her men, with Miles and Buccaneer and her Northern Wall of Briggs. Everything was fine without the small brat.

Except...it wasn't, not really. Life from before Ed seemed duller when she looked back at it now. She never had this much fun before he arrived and she can't remember the last time she's done anything remotely exciting in years. It was...nice to have a change for once. The little brat had somehow wormed his way into her heart and she's never been this fond of someone before, other than her own men.

Is this what her mother meant when she said she'd understand when she had children one day? 

Raven appeared in front of her, leaning into her face. "Never dying or getting old." He rested his hand on top of hers before rubbing it perversely, "You want it to, don't you?"

In the back of her mind, she screamed in outrage at his audacity, 'What I want is to kill you!'

"Hmm?" 

Her grimace changed to a smile as she said gently, "Oh, it's just such an incredible question. I don't know what to say."

He lifted up her hand. "Well, are you interested or not? There are only two answers."

She hoisted her other hand and pushed Raven's away as she spoke, voice commanding respect and practically promising danger for him if he continued with this charade of his. "It is intriguing. Can you tell me, General? On the day when this dream comes true, will my men share in this gift as well? Or is it only for me?"

"I can tell you when the time comes," Raven said as he stood up. With one hand resting on her chin as she watched Raven, Olivier thought of the many ways she could murder the prick without getting caught and most of them involved with her getting away with it.

'Does that mean they are no guarantees until then?' she thought. Raven sat back down, smiling. 'If I buy into this, I'll be forced to facilitate whatever dirty plans he has for Briggs. And if I refuse, I'll just be swapped out for some other pawn.' She lowered her hand from her chin. 'Probably demoted.'

'So, do I accept his offer or not?' 

A rapid pounding could be heard from the doors as it broke her concentration and she found herself wanting to promote whoever was on the other side, "Excuse me." Olivier said as she stood up. 'Thank god for small miracles' she thought as she opened it.

"Yes, what is it?" she asked. The soldier saluted. "I'm sorry to disturb you, but the underground tunnel advance team…" He froze as he caught sight of General Raven and started to lower his hand.

"What's this about an underground tunnel?" Raven asked, smiling as he did. 'You dumb fuck, no one believes that old smiling grandpa routine for a moment, if I wanted an old pervert with grabby hands I'd find one of the old fucks down at the local pub'

"Speak, soldier," she demanded.

"Yes, sir."

"Something's happened to the advance team." 

"Very well," Olivier replied. "I'll be right there."

"I'm coming too," Raven spoke up.

 

 


 

 

 

Al, Falman, Rafael and Buccaneer stood up. "Right, let's move," Buccaneer said as the three started to move towards the door. As they did, Ed stayed kneeling on the ground as he looked around quickly. "Hold on a sec." He told them softly.

They stopped before they turned to face Ed who came towards Al with a bag in his hand. There was a flash of blue alchemical light as the bag turned into a rope which twirled up as Ed pulled his hand away. "Sorry, kid, but it has to look convincing." He then proceeded to tie Al up.

The five of them made their way out of the tiny room, Ed leading then while Buccaneer, Falman and Rafael all held parts of the rope as if they were restraining the big suit of armour that was Al. As they walked down the long winding corridor, they met up with Miles and his guest.

"Buccaneer, what are you doing?" Miles asked.

"Prisoner transfer, sir. I'm moving the Elric brother from the east cells to the west." Buccaneer replied.

"May I ask who this is?"

Miles gestured to Kimblee, "This is Mr. Solf J. Kimblee. He's General Raven's honoured guest." he answered.

Kimblee lifted his hat to show off a predatorial grin on his face, "Wait, did you say the Elric brother? You mean the Fullmetal Alchemist younger brother?"

He lifted his hat off his head. "Nice to meet you. I've heard so much about your brother, the late Fullmetal Alchemist. I'm so very sorry for your loss."

As Al replied with a monotone "Hello." Ed starred at Kimblee with a bored, annoyed look, hoping the intensity of his hatred for the man would make him burn where he stood...Unfortunately for Ed, he wasn't Mustang and it wasn't working...pity, he was feeling like setting some things on fire.

Miles turned to look over at Ed, "Trick, General Armstrong wants to see you. She should be around here somewhere."

"Aye sir, I'll see you all during dinner then?" He adjusted his glasses, letting the glint cover up his eyes as he did.

"See you then, Trick.” Miles nodded to him as he took his leave.

Walking away from them and heading down to the lowest floors of Fort Briggs, Ed couldn't help fiddle with his glasses, 'I hope Uncle Miles is alright...he seemed tense...and what about General Armstrong? She's stuck with that wannabe villain fucktard. And let's not forget about Al and my new found family! Geez, I need a drink.'

Chapter Text

 

 


 

 

Roy stood in the empty room. He stared at it with sharp charcoal eyes that analyzed too much and a mind that ran a million miles an hour. His shoulders felt weighed down and his heart heavy.

He wasn't like the others but like the boy with hair that looked like it was spun from pure gold and eyes that seemed to spark brighter than the flames he made. He wore his heart on his sleeve and that was something most didn't realize.

He loved fiercely, protecting those he deemed his and loved them as much as the aunt who raised him and the girls he called sister. He loved them all like he would family, not just a friend, not just a subordinate. Never lesser than him; always equal in a way others weren't. He wouldn't trust someone who wasn't equal to him to watch his six and he wouldn't ask them to risk their lives if he knew they weren't in it like he was. 

And his flames always protected them. Always. Because while they were all equal, he worried. He sat back and stared into the empty spaces of a room and wonder, he'd toss and turn throughout the night wondering if they were safe and it was always something that was on his mind. Just like he told Maes so many years ago, he'd rather kill himself than let any of them get harmed.

But he had. He let it happen. He left in that damn car with Riza and Knox and left him all alone. He trusted him to take care of himself, to get the job done...but he was blinded by grief. Because if he hadn't been, if he had been thinking straight and had protested more, well then maybe he wouldn't have had to bury an empty casket.  

He looked around the room, messy and then clean in some areas and it was just so much like him that it hurt. His desk had a pile of books, all on the theory of alchemy and its properties of course, and scrunched up balls of paper. Alchemical equations were hastily written on the pad of paper with an inkwell Falman had gotten him for Christmas last year. 

The walls were lined with bookshelves and a large cork board filled up one of them. The bookshelves were filled with even more books however some items such as photographs, boxes and other knick-knacks he had never even seen before collected dust on them. The corkboard held files, photos and string connected them all. Off in the farthest corner was a small dainty bed and on its bedside table was a coffee maker. 

"It's time sir," Ever dutiful, Riza stood in the doorway of the room. Her hair was down and she wore her civilian clothes as he did. The light from the hallways bathed the room in light and just showed how empty it was...how devoid of life...

"I'm...I'm just not ready yet Lieutenant...I just keep thinking he'll burst into my office, yelling at me or I'll look up from my paperwork expecting to find him asleep on my couch or reading one of the many books I get for him...and then I remember and i-it just hurts."

"I understand. We can come back tomorrow and do this if you want sir?"

He was silent for a moment, staring into the empty room of a boy who was too smart for his own good, too bright, too sad, with eyes of molten gold and of a son that wasn't of his blood but was his all the same. Riza and he may not be able to be together with each other the way they wanted...to have a family...but they had him and everyone else and that was enough.

But now it was all gone. Broken. A piece missing.

"...I don't think I can do this today, Riza." She walked forward, closing the door behind her as she did, and wrapped him in her arms. He let himself go willingly slack in her arms, his face buried in between her shoulder and neck, breathing in her scent as he struggled to keep the tears at bay.

"It's okay to be sad, Roy...I miss him too...he was our son and they took him from us... but we can't keep going on like this. We have to be there for Al. He's our son too and he misses his brother just as much as us. And no matter what, we'll win this for our boys."

"For our boys." he agreed. He let himself hold onto her for a few moments longer as they lingered in their eldest's room. "You go on ahead. I'm just gonna clean it up a little."

She pulled back from their embrace, arms still around one another, and gave him a look." I know, I know, he hated it when we touched his things but do you know how many times I told the little brat to pick up after himself? And it's not even his bedroom! This is just the storage unit that he converted into an office."

"Fine, I'll see you tomorrow then." With that, she leaned up and gave him a peck on the lips before slipping out of his arms. He stood there until he heard her car come to life and drive away from the storage unit. He turned on the lamp and slumped down onto the dainty little bed's covers with a sigh.

He put his head his hands, trying to block out the images of Ed and all the times they had together. The moments of them all as a family, the lunches in his office and the little ways he and Riza parented both boys. The shopping both of them did where they'd lose themselves for hours in between the shelves of alchemy books and how Riza and Al would have to drag them out.

He looked up, his head resting on his hands and stared around the room, taking in all the imperfections, all the items and everything that was his. It simply screamed Ed. And it hurt so much more because that was his son, his, and they took him from him. Just like they took Maes. Just like they took his Queen. Just like his Pawn, Rook, Bishop and Knight. They took it all and that wasn't something he was willing to let slide.

It was time to get to work.

Roy stood and was about to walk out the door when a glint caught his eye. He turned to see the only frame on his son's desk. It was one of those new and expensive frames that held multiple photos, the biggest being one of Ed, Al and Winry as children.

The second biggest was one of the team and another of Maes and his family posing with the boys. There was one of Trisha and the boys all smiling. One of Pinako and another of their alchemy teacher, Izumi Curtis, and her husband, Sig. The one the pulled at his heartstrings was the one of Riza and him with the boys, all smiling as the posed for the picture with Maes, Gracia and Elicia.

However, it was the last one that caught his attention.

The last photo showed Ed and another boy, just a few years older, one with dark navy blue eyes and light blonde hair. He wore a white collared button up and black suspenders to match his equally black pants. His dress shoes matched his pants and the brown leather jacket in the background finished his look. His sleeves were rolled up to his mid forearms and he had a pair of glasses on his face that seemed to glint in the photo. They had their arms around one another and looked to be in the library. 

He carefully opened the frame and grabbed the photo from its place. He traced his son's smiling face and turned the photo around to read the writing on the back.

 

5. August. 11.

Edward Elric & Patrick Mors

National Central Library

Central City

Acta deos numquam mortalia fallunt

 

 


 

 

"We lost all contact with the advance team that was sent down to search the tunnel. Shortly after, Smith's horse returned." Was all that Ed came to hear as he entered the room.

"Sir," he saluted as he took up his post at her side just as Miles usually would. The only indication she gave him was a nod before going back to the conversation, something that Ed tried to his best to keep track of but he just couldn't. Not with that old pervert staring at him from behind like the creepy fucker he was.

"It came back with what we assume was his arm." Henschel finished dutifully. He released his stance as he saw Ed and appeared to relax a bit. It almost pains him to admit it but it took him a moment to remember that he and Henschel played cards with Smith all the time in the mess hall between shifts. Internally, he was glad to bring some relief to the man and resolved to not let any more of his friends suffer a fate such as his.

"Just his arm," Olivier repeated, looking at the stretcher out of the corner of her eyes. She regarded Ed doing the same and knew it was bugging him just as much as it was her. She shifted back to Henschel. "Where's the rest?"

"It's still missing, sir." He looked down and off to the side. This caused both Ed and Armstrong to follow his gaze. "And his horse can't lead us back." The horse in question was down in the hole with a few soldiers around as it struggled against the reins that were tied to a pole. "It's too terrified to be of any use."

"Henschel, get a rescue party," Olivier ordered, eyes set and determination gleaming brightly within.

"I'm afraid you can't do that, General Armstrong," Raven said, making Armstrong and Henschel look over at him. Ed growled at the sight of him, low enough that the fucker wouldn't hear but enough that both Olivier and Henschel looked over at him briefly with small grimaces as they felt the same.

Raven walked up from behind them as he picked up Smith's wrapped up arm. "That tunnel is too dangerous." He turned around, his face straying from his normal 'punch me' smile yet Ed found this one he wouldn't mind beating in either. Both were as equally annoying if you could believe it.

"What have you done with the immortal monster you were telling me about earlier?" He struts towards them all only to come to a stop before Olivier. He could tell from where he stood that she was having trouble not killing him and Ed found it in himself that he couldn't blame her. 

Raven leaned down into her face, still holding Smith's arm in his gloved hand. "Put him back and seal the tunnel's entrance, General."

"But there are still–" Henschel began and Ed shook his head at him, trying to tell him to back off before something bad happened.

"I am speaking to the General." Raven interrupted. "See I know northern law. Obey strength and obey the power. Isn't that the way it works?" With that he walked away, throwing Smiths' arm into the hole and left the room.

Ed looked down at Smiths' arm and then the horse as he clenched his gloved fists at the sight of the bloodied bandages. He ground his teeth, making them creak from beneath the weight of his grinding. Olivier put her hand on his flesh shoulder grounding him back down to reality," You need to calm down Ed. I know it makes you angry, I feel the same, but we won't be able to get anything done with him still here. Don't worry, I have a plan."

He looked at her as the anger in his eyes dimmed at her words," Fine. But at least let me shoot the bastard before you kill him."

"No promises," she said. He raised an eyebrow at her which she held for a moment before she sighed and looked at him," Fine, but if your uncle asks, I didn't have anything to do with it! I'm not dealing with him mother henning you as he does with everyone else! He still hasn't gotten over the last time I let one of you do anything fun! "

He shot her a brilliant beaming smile. She merely rolled her eyes and pat him once on the shoulder before walking off.

 

 


 

 

"Obey the one who holds the power." Kimblee leaned his arms on the railing as he watched. "They call her the impregnable Northern Wall of Briggs, but even she yields to authority. Well, that certainly is the wisest approach."

Miles's face betrayed nothing to his comment, causing him to smirk a little. From the side, the elevator dinged and both men turned to see its door open and reveal Sloth, somewhat unconscious and surrounded by soldiers. "Oh, so that's the monster," he remarked.

Sloth stopped in front of Raven, Olivier and Ed and it took all of his self-control to not jump down there and keep both the General and his nephew from harm. Oh, and he was close to shooting Kimblee himself. From down below Sloth groaned as he started to push himself up. 

"Well, good morning, Sloth. Did you have a good rest?" Raven asked.

Sloth turned to look at him. "Who are you? I'm still sleepy."

"You'd best wake up. There's still a lot of work to be done here." Raven replied. "Pride explained it to you, now didn't he?"

Sloth began to get up groaning he did. "I guess. What a pain," Sloth repeated as he started walking forward. "Oh well. I have no choice." Sloth approached the makeshift building to get to the hole in the ground. "Such a pain. But I forget, why is it a pain again?" he rambled on.

"Too much of a pain to remember," Sloth concluded as he jumped and landed in a crouch and started to dig once more. Raven stood above the hole, watching Sloth begin to work and turned to all the soldiers, workers and engineers. "Not to worry," Raven said. "He's a chimera doing some work for the Central forces."

From beside Olivier, Ed snorted before muttering, "Are you sure about that?"

"He's helping to make this country even greater than it already is." Raven continued, having not heard his words. Olivier's arms crossed and her custom glare in place, with Buccaneer and Henschel standing behind her.  "Of course it's still a top secret operation." He smiles and raised his hands. "So close this hole and guard our secret. I'm counting on you, soldiers. Its people like you who make this country what it is."

 

 


 

 

It had only been a few days since General Raven arrived and yet it showed.

News of Armstrong closing the hole spread like wildfire and some of the soldiers from Northern Command showed up, one by one replacing some of Armstrong's loyalists. It took all he could to reverse the transfer, working round the clock and keeping the rumours from erupting into physical altercations and trying to make sure the verbal jargon they spit out about her became mummers, barely heard and muffled before they could grow into something more. Something damaging.

Ed had to become his Uncle Miles; keeping Briggs in order as Armstrong played to Ravens tune.

At the same time, his uncle had taken to keeping an eye on Kimblee and more than once Ed was sure he saw Miles sprinting around Briggs because he lost the man. Kimblee was a slippery snake, that much he knew.

He also had to keep Armstrong from killing Raven, surprisingly, as her nerves kept getting shorter and shorter every time the man opened his mouth and spoke. It didn't help that he kept touching her. The way he was doing it would be considered sexual harassment and if anyone of lower rank were to do it, Mustang would've made it so not only were they dishonourably discharged, but also serving jail time. Sometimes up to 10 years.

In fact, some of Raven's men he brought with him started to act like him. Not his bodyguards who seemed to hold a greater disdain for the man than even Armstrong herself. No, it was the slippery weasels like Private Balazs that really pissed him off. He was a greasy rat who couldn't keep his mouth shut or his hands to himself. 

He found himself more than once stopping several soldiers, mostly female, from killing the man after he touched them inappropriately. But he couldn't kill him. As much as he wanted too, he was Raven personal assistant and thus, untouchable. And the rat knew it. Oh, how he longed to place a bullet between the weasel's beady little eyes. Maybe break a few arms. 

Currently, he stood off to the side, just behind Armstrong as she and Raven watched the cement be poured over the hole. The workers pushed it to all the corners and made it smooth as they worked on it. On Raven's other side was Balazs.

"You see, General. We are the chosen ones and we will receive immortal, near-godly, bodies. We'll rule the entire world." Raven told her. Ed had to hold back a snort because he knew for a fact that she couldn't wait to kill him. She closed her eyes and 'hmmed' as he continued, "The name was Smith, wasn't it?" He asked. "There was nothing we could've done to save them."

She opened her eyes. "Those who aren't chosen, will they be sacrificed for those who are?"

"Yes, the survival of the fittest," Raven said. "The weak will become the foundation of the country, and the strong will take their rightful place on top."

"Is that what happened in Ishval?"

"Indeed. They were part of the plan. They were weak and deserved to perish for the good of their betters."

She was silent for a moment before she spoke again, "When did all of this begin?"  

"From what I hear when the country was first founded," Raven said. "And now my generation shall preside over its completion."

Raven turned to Armstrong and put a hand on her shoulder, rubbing it like the perv he was. "I'm grateful for your assistance. You're a true servant to your country. I'll speak with my superiors about preparing a seat for you."

Olivier smirked. "There's no need."

"What's that?" Her sword was pushed out of its sheath and blood splashed into the air as it was lodged halfway through Raven's arm. The fucker screamed and he closed his eyes to listen to it because he had been dreaming for this moment to happen.

Ed let an, admittedly, evil grin show on his face and Balazs watched in horror as his boss was skewered by Armstrong's sword.

"Which arm did Smith lose in the tunnel?" she asked. "The left or right."

"I believe it was the right, sir," Ed replied without hesitance, coming up to her side faithfully.

"Thank you, Trick."

"Anytime sir,"

"Wait! What are you…"

"Growing old is truly terrifying, isn't it?" Olivier said as the soldiers and workers around the two just stood there watching. "You would know, General. Before you became so afraid of your own mortality, I'm sure long ago, you had an earnest love for your country."

"You…You can't." Raven said as his hand twitched repeatedly. "You were going to be one of the chosen ones. You would have been one of us."

"I don't need a new seat from you." She opened her eyes to glare at Raven. "You're going to lose the one your mouldy ass has clung to for too long." She ripped the sword out of his arm. "Right about now!"

Raven stumbled back, anger shining on his face. His uninjured arm dived into his coat. Olivier charging at him with her sword ready to swing down. "You old traitor!" She screamed as she brought it swinging down. A slicing sound was heard as Raven, who now had a gun in his hand, fell back with blood spurting out of his body. He fell back into the cement as it began to cover him. "But immortality… was right before…our eyes." 

"General, you are among the weak who will become the foundation for this country." She ran a gloved hand over the sword to clean up the blood. "Literally." She slid her sword back in its sheath. Raven's face sunk farther into the cement. "I was going to…to be im–" His face sunk farther in with the cement covering it and filling his mouth, cutting him off as he vanished from sight completely.

Bobby, Niccolo and the others began to lift their tools cover the cement when Ed raised a hand stopping them which made Olivier turned to look at him. "Why are you stopping them? Don't tell me your upset I killed the perv!" she asked as she took off her now bloodied gloves and threw them in with the cement.

"No, I'm not upset you killed that pervy old fucktard!"

"Well, then what's the holdup Trick? I have shit to do and Kimblee's still here, unfortunately!" she growled.

"You said I could shoot the bastard!" he waved his hands at her, motioning to the tomb of General Fucktard.

"Oh, I completely forgot. I truly am sorry Trick, however, he was pissing me off. But, if it makes you feel any better, you can have the assistant if you want?" she apologized. At the mention of his person, Balazs cried aloud like the coward he was and began to run away.

"Apology accepted, sir" Without looking, Ed whipped out his pistol from behind his back and shot the shitty excuse for a human in the kneecap, causing him to fall to the ground and shriek pitifully as blood spurted from his leg.

"Nice shot, kid."

"Thanks, Riza taught me!"

"Well, she is the best sniper the military has to offer. I'm sure she'll be proud."

"Yeah, she's a good mom," Ed replied as he blew over the top of the smoking barrel.

He holstered it as he walked over to the still screeching man and dragged him by the hair back to where Armstrong was. He threw him to her feet and Ed looked down at him, his face impassive and his dark blue eyes clear of emotion, "You know," he starts, digging his heel into the bullet wound causing him to scream." I almost pity you...almost being the key word; because then I remember you were working with those fuckers who killed my friend and then I feel nothing." 

"Please, I don't want to die, I'm sorry!"

"Oh, don't worry, I won't kill ya. I got better morals than that." At those words, Balazs calmed down. "Really?"

"Yeah, that's why I'm gonna leave ya to all the women you've harassed since you came here. Roy was always a better dad than that bastard Hohenheim and if there was one thing he taught me; it was to share. Have fun girls!" He called as said women came upon the screaming man and began to beat him senseless.

"Don't take too long ladies or else the cement will dry. Then you'll need a new place to hide the body!"

"We won't Trick! "

"Thanks again!"

"Let's have coffee later, ok Trick?"

"It's no problem, don't mention it."

"Now that that's done, get in touch with Major Miles," Olivier said.

"Sir," Buccaneer replied. As Buccaneer pulled out a new pair of white gloves, Armstrong looked at her men. "The rest of you, we have work to do." Buccaneer held the gloves out to her. "General."

He shoved his hand in his pockets and followed Armstrong and Buccaneer as they began to make their way out. "I want that concrete nice and level," she ordered as they left.

 

 


 

 

"Please wait, General Armstrong," Henschel said as he struggled to catch up to them all. She turned the corner, unwilling to wait for him. 

"We have to search for Smith and the others before we seal it." he endured as he rounded the corner much like she had before he froze in surprise at what he saw. Both Buccaneer and Trick stood next to a trap door with Olivier in front of them.

She turned to him with a deadpan expression before bluntly stating, "Trick saw this coming, so he made us this secret passage into the tunnel." she continued as Buccaneer grabbed the door handle and opened it.

 

 


 

 

Ed was walking the halls, keeping an eye out for Kimblee and his goons as Armstrong and the rest of them dealt with the trapdoor he made earlier. He walked silently, passing Kei who came from the direction of the cells. He paid the man no mind, even as they exchanged greetings and went on their way.

As he wandered around, he bumped into someone's chest which sent him sprawling to the floor. "Sorry," he murmured an apology. He looked back to see four hulking figures that he hasn't seen around the base before. They were decked out in full winter military gear and were looking at him strangely as if they knew him from somewhere but he didn't know where he could have possibly met these guys. Maybe they saw him at Chris' pub and just remembered him?

"I don't think I've seen you four around here before," he remarked.

It took a moment for one of them to respond, but the one he bumped into shook his head after a moment, causing his dreadlocks to shake with him, "No, sorry, you wouldn't have. We just arrived, I'm Jerso." He paused as if to see Ed would recognize it before the moment passed and he gestured to his buddies, "These guys are Zampano, Darius and Heinkel."

"Where'd you arrive from? I know you didn't come in with General Raven and his men...and they all left after his disappearance. Only Kimblee stayed."

"Kimblee called us in and told us to escort Miss. Rockbell to the Fort safely." They parted to reveal Winry and it was like everything shut off. His breath was stolen from him, his lungs seized up and his eyes blinked in shock as he stared at her. His legs locked up and his mind went blank and he opened his mouth to say something, anything, but no words would come out. He watched as she bounded forwards, a bright smile on her face and her hand out to shake his in slow motion as if it was a movie. "Hi!"

He blinked at her, dumbfounded because here was his crush, his childhood friend and his almost something that they never got to explore because he left for Central and then he was dead and now here she was in front of him, but it wasn't him, was it? This was Trick. And Trick wasn't friends with Winry. He wasn't a childhood friend, wasn't her client who she made her best automail for, wasn't her almost-boyfriend who left because he got recalled to Central, wasn't her anything before he went and faked his death.

He was Trick. She was Winry. And they weren't anything, virtual strangers, until now.

"Uhh, hi, Lt.Col, uh no that's not right. No, I'm Trick, that as in my name is Patrick but I don't like it much so I'm Trick and my last name is Mors but that sounds too weird because it sounds like Morse as in Morse code so nobody calls me that but everybody calls me Trick and you are extremely beautiful, and I'm sorry, I'm rambling aren't I?" 

He was mortified. When had he turned into a bumbling fool around her again? As Ed, he wasn't like this but he wasn't Ed right now, was he?

He heard her laugh, full and bright and beautiful and just as he remembered, so he looked up to see her smile and his breath caught in his throat at the sight of it. God, when was the last time he heard her laugh? Seen her smile? It felt like a lifetime ago and yet he'd missed it all the same. He'd missed her, missed them, missed their talks, their laughs, their hugs and the late night kisses that were stolen when they thought no one was around.

They kept it unofficial. He didn't want her to wait up for him when he could spend his life trying to bring Al back and she didn't need a target on her back as the Fullmetal Alchemist's childhood sweetheart. They agreed to that but it didn't mean he didn't want more. But they agreed Al was more important.

Her career was more important than what could have been so they resolved themselves to stolen kisses and late night phone calls and hugs where they stayed embraced longer than what was strictly necessary.

"It's fine," she waved him away." I haven't laughed like that in what seems like forever. I-I needed that. Someone dear to me passed away not to long ago and I just haven't been myself lately." she told him and just like that he was reminded of it.

"No problem...um I'm Lt. Col Patrick Mors, but everybody calls me Trick." he finished lamely...god he felt like such a loser right now...

"Winry. Winry Rockbell," she replied, holding out her hand for him to shake.

"How do you do? If I may ask, what brings you here Winry?" he asked, trying to play it cool and knew he was failing by the way the four men next to them snorted and snickered at him. Assholes.

"I'm here to see Al, do you know where he is?"

"Yes, right this way. Why don't I escort you all?"

"Oh, thank you, but you don't have to!"

"Really, I insist, you can get lost here easily, after all, General Raven and his assistant disappeared." From behind the talking pair, the four unknown chimeras shared a look and raised an eyebrow, not willing to believe Raven really disappeared but that guy was a dick so they didn't really care.

 

 


 

 

Roy stood in the middle of Investigations, dressed in his civilian clothes and a photograph clenched tightly in hand. It was the middle of the night, so only the midnight shift was on and as he looked around, he couldn't seem to find the one person he needed to talk to."Colonel Mustang, what are you doing here sir?"

He whirled around to see her." Sheska, just the person I was looking for!"

"Oh, what did you need?"

"You used to work at the library, correct?"

"Yes, and after it burned down, Ed got me a job here under General Hughes." Roy closed his eyes in pain at the mention of his late friend and son. "I remember, I was going through Ed's personal effects and I found this. Do you know who this person is?" he showed her the photograph.

She took it in her hands and her big brown eyes widened so he continued talking," On the back, it says Patrick Mors, but I've never heard of him before in my life. Do you know where I could get into contact with him?"

"Yes, but I haven't seen him since before the library burned down. I don't know where he's been for the last couple of years. But I can give you his last known address if you want?"

"That would be most appreciated." Once she was done writing it down, she handed him the folded note and he took it, pocketing it and the photo into his back pocket swiftly. He slipped on his coat and was about to run out the door when Sheska called him back.

"Yes?" he asked.

"Sir, if you can't find him there or anywhere, you should know that he went by a nickname."

"Oh? And what would that be?"

"Trick, sir, he went by Trick."

 

Chapter Text

 

 


 

 

Roy glanced at her from the rear view mirror of his car as he spoke, "Kimblee?"

"Yes, I heard about it from a friend of mine who's working as a nurse at the base of the mountain," Madeline replied as Mustang rested his arms on the steering wheel and his head on them. "She said he was admitted with serious injuries, but after General Raven came to visit, he recovered right away."

Mustang shifted his arms a bit. "Raven and Kimblee."

"That's all the information I have for now," she told him with her eyes closed. A bit of shuffling made her open her eyes to see Roy facing her with an envelope in his hand, one that outstretched to her. "Thanks a lot. Tell me if you hear anything else." She made to leave when he stopped, "One second please."

"Yeah Roy?"

"Can you tell the madam I'll be by sometime this week? I need to talk to her about something important." She gazed at him for a moment, staring into his eyes almost as if she was searching for something before she smiled, something small and sweet like the ones from his childhood. "Sure, I'll tell her."

Roy then got out of the car and opened her door for her, helping his sister out and letting her gather her bearings before he let go of her hand. She began to walked away, only to turn back and wave in one of her fake cutesy poses that he despised, "It was really nice seeing you." He hated seeing them act like that. They were his sisters; they were beautiful, fierce, intelligent women who could outshine any of the men they serviced. They didn't deserve this life but at least they were under the protection of the Madam. It was a whole lot better compared to even 20 years ago.

He remembered when he was younger and his aunt hadn't been the Madam but one of those escorts.

She'd come home with bruises and he resented it because his aunt was anything but weak and yet there was no one who would speak up for her and the other girls- after all, why would the military care about prostitutes and their well-being? If you were from the Canal District you were either a criminal or dead. He was one of the lucky ones. His aunt worked extra hard to keep his education up. If she hadn't, he wouldn't have been able to afford his apprenticeship under Master Hawkeye and he wouldn't have accepted an illiterate student.

As he waved Madeline off with a frown on his face from his thoughts, a short stout woman came up to him with her flower cart in tow, "Nice? That's not much to go on." He looked down at her and took in her appearance, there was something familiar about her but he couldn't just put his finger on it. "A bouquet of flowers might help you next time."

He closed his eyes and turned his head away. "Eh, I'm better off without her, but thanks anyway." The woman glanced down. "When one woman leaves you, another may find you." She reached towards one of the flowers just as he closed the open door of his car with a small push.

"I have a message for you from Olivia Mira Armstrong." The woman stated as Roy shifted to look at her. She turned to face it with a smirk on her wrinkled face. crow eyes around her eyes from smiling so much and a delicate flower in hand. "Colonel Roy Mustang, right?" He blinked, looking at her for a moment before he smirked, "I'll take every flower you have in that cart."

 

 


 

 

Miles would deny it to the end of his dying days, because damn it, he wasn’t overprotective! He wasn't. Really. Sure, he might hover, lecture, clean up and fuss over the soldiers of Fort Briggs, but overprotective? Mother hen? He wasn't any of those things, no matter what his darling Valentina and General told you. Valentina would tease him, saying she didn't need to have any children since he seemed to adopt everyone he ever met. His General, on the other hand, would pout at him and deny the fact that the one time she let Buccaneer and the engineers do unregulated experiments in the Development Department.

And he didn't hover! Setting that fire went against regulations and the fire was so big he was just...concerned...for their well-being. Especially Niccolo and Rafael, ever the pranksters even 20 something odd years later...after all, his Valentina would have his head if he let anything happen to them. He was just being a good brother-in-law and husband. That's it. Nothing more nothing less. And he would deny it to his ending days.

So when those four soldiers, hulking men bigger than Buccaneer and under Kimblee's command came to Fort Briggs escorting Miss. Rockbell...well, he was just interested in the wellbeing of the entirety of the Fort...that's it. And then he was reminded that his newly discovered nephew was here, well both of them, and he was running around after Kimblee and left his poor- sweet, defenceless Ed with Armstrong and then Raven and his greasy assistant disappeared and he just knew his boss had sunk her claws into him. Converting him to the dark side and he just knew it was too late for him...but there was still time for Alphonse to be saved and that gave him hope.

And now Kimblee's loyal dogs, as they were so fondly dubbed, had arrived with Winry and Armstrong was busy and no one could stop Kimblee now...you could see why he went grey in the first place, right?

He snuck around the base and found himself coming to one of the platforms situated high up from public view. He firmly believed Olivier only put them up here so they could spy on the guests they so rarely got...but now it was if they were Northern Command, people coming and going as if they owned the place! 

Kyle, one of the workers who helped level the concrete down below, seemed to have the same idea as him if his crouched position and binoculars were saying anything. He didn't seem to have noticed him which suited Miles fine as he came to a rest near him and crouched down right beside him, all without the man taking notice.

"I can't see, hand them over will you Kyle?"

The poor engineer practically jumped as he whirled to the side and saw his boss in a similar position. He didn't speak, simply slid the binoculars over to his gloved hands and pulled out a smaller pair seemingly out of thin air- he believed it was magic, but Ed says it was pockets- and they watched as the four heavy men walked through the fort without a care in the world, unconcerned with the glances, whispers and craning necks trying to get a glimpse of them. He didn't know why everyone thought they were big scary silent men and women who were tougher than northern bears and were monsters, well they were but they were also the biggest gossips in all of Amestris. 

After all, with a leader like Olivier, who depends on her trek to becoming Furher on knowing anything and everything going on around the whole country, you would assume it would rub off on them...it worked a little too well in his opinion.

"So what's the story with these guys?" Kyle inquired as he looked over at Miles for a second, the two of them lounging over the railing without care.

"They showed up under the pretext of escorting Miss Rockbell, but I'm not buying that. They only answer to Kimblee."

The engineer seemed unimpressed with his response as he glanced back at him for a second before turning back to peer through the binoculars. Miles, ever-dutiful and a gaze that could put Hawkeye to shame, spoke without looking," What's with the look?"

"What look, sir?"

"Don't give me that, you gave me a look. What's with it?"

"It's just...this wouldn't have anything to do with Trick sir?"

Miles whipped his head so fast he was afraid he had gotten whiplash, "What? Why would Trick have anything to do with these guys?"

"You mean you didn't hear sir?"

"Heard what man?"

"He was seen talking to Miss. Rockbell as if they were old friends."

 "Sir?" Kyle turned to see an empty space where Miles once was and if he squinted, he would swear a dust trail was visible as it leads further into the Fort. He sighed as he picked up his binoculars and put them away," He's such a friggin' mother hen, he should just adopt the kid already!" he murmured to himself as he got back to work.

 

 


 

 

He should have been paying attention but he wasn't. 

He knew better than this or else he wouldn't have lasted this long as he was. It had been easy to be distracted. after all, he was showing Winry around after a day full of action, lies and half-truths. If he wasn't so distracted with everything going on around the Fort then maybe he would've noticed, but he hadn't. So, it was no surprise that when his automail leg finally broke from the strain he had put it through, he wasn't prepared for it and promptly fell flat on his face while he escorted Winry from the cells. 

He felt the spring snap and then suddenly he had a face full of genuine Fort Briggs Concrete, recently cleaned by Bob the custodian. He liked Bob, he was a nice man, married a sweet girl named Leslie and they had three kids, all adorable little shits. Little Bobby Jr., Caitlin and Sandy. He was middle age, had sunny blonde hair and a 5 o'clock shadow and bright icy blue eyes. He was friendly enough and kept the whole Fort clean, spick and span. He somehow managed to clean the Fort in one day, every day and never missed a day of work. He also seemed to prefer the lemon scented waxing scrub apparently.

Ed vaguely heard his fake name being called as Winry, Rafael and apparently Niccolo too- when the fuck did he show up?- ran to his side. Kimblee, the fucker, just stood off to the side, an amused little smile on his fucking face while Darius and Heinkel, lazy little shits they are, simply stand off to the side as they try to, and failing miserably, by the way, keep in their laughs at him face planting.

Winry reaches his side first, "Oh my god, Trick are you okay? What happened?"

Ed tries to lock up the small feeling in his chest, the one that feels warm and cuddly inside from the concern he hears in her voice, as he pushes himself up from the floor with his arms."It's fine. I'm fine. My leg just broke."

"Your leg?"

"Yeah, its automail. I couldn't get to my normal mechanic before I headed up North and I guess it broke from the strain of fighting that intruder a few days ago."

"Oh, well I have my tools with me. I could take a look for you if you want?"

Before the word 'no' can pass his lips, Ed looks up and sees her eyes, ones bright and shining with a feeling of being lost and wanting something they could never have again and that's when he's reminded that she's probably not done any jobs since his 'death'...and something in him breaks and he sighs as he smiles at her, one so small and tired and just resigned to his fate, as he says," Yeah, I'd like that."

He wouldn't admit it, but the smile she gave him was the greatest thing he's seen in a while.

 

 


 

 

Ling didn't know how to feel.

It was simple as that and it didn't take any amount of stubborn pride to admit that. He would speak freely about it because it troubled him so.

Living as one of the 50 heirs of Xing was troubling. You were either killed by one of your many many siblings or lived long enough to become the Emperor or Empress. It was a simple fact. But first, you had to survive to make it long enough to be crowned. That required bodyguards, training and that was all in between lessons on politics, history, royal etiquette and so many more subjects that the list went on and on. Even thinking about was giving him a headache.

But with all those lessons, the assassinations and politics, it didn't leave enough time to make friends.

It was either they were scared they would be killed by another heir or heiress in order to hurt you or you simply didn't have the time. You were ostracized but revered. Feared, but their saviour. The one who would save their clan and keep them safe for as long as you lived. It was a lonely life and the only one he could've called a friend was Lan Fan, but as his bodyguard, she too had to watch from behind a glass wall the separated him from everyone else.

But...Ed, Ed was the only friend he ever had really. His first friend. His best friend. For all the yelling, curses and fights they had, it was closest Ling had ever felt human in all his life. And it was precious to him. But like all things precious, it was also fleeting. His first friend, his only friend, was gone, because of a bastard who feared death and wanted to control the world. He was like Greed in many ways, but while Greed sought after large armies, jewels beyond compare and immortality, Ling was after something different.

He sought the protection for his people, the reform of his country, the arms of Lan Fan- someone he could never have- and his only friend with hair that was spun from the sun itself and eyes of molten gold. 

But now he had none of that.

He'd let Greed do whatever he wanted, but only if he helped him take down Father. Only if he helped him save a country that wasn't his own.

Because Ed asked him to, his final wish and Ling wouldn't be able to live with himself if he didn't do it. He wouldn't be able to look Lan Fan in the eye if he didn't, wouldn't be able to take the throne with the guilt weighing down his shoulders, because how could he promise to become Emperor and save his country when the only person that made him feel like he mattered had asked him to save Amestris and he hadn't?

The answer was easy: he couldn't.

So he mourned, he thought, he resolved and he planned.

Until the day he could fulfill his promise. Until the promised day came. Until he could look Lan Fan in the eye and said he did it. Until he could tell Alphonse and his family that his brother was avenged. 

And so he waited.

 

 


 

 

"So, Trick, how'd you get an automail leg if you don't mind me asking?"

Ed was lost in thought. Hearing her hum as she worked on his leg, the familiar feel of her hands as she tinkered with the metal and wires was something he sorely missed. It was enough for him to almost miss her question but when he did hear it, it startled him. He blinked up at Winry, a little surprised before he sighed.

"I don't mind, but really, it isn't anything interesting. I was just a kid and I was being stupid. We lived in a mining town, and all the kids used to play in the abandoned mines. My mother must've told me a million times to not play in them, but I didn't listen. One day, while we played in the mines, an old explosive was left behind. We don' know how it really happened, but it went off. I was in the mine shaft when it went off. I was the only one trapped and I was there for 3 days before they got me out. The tissue in my leg was long dead by the time they got me out. They had to amputate it. "

"That's awful," she remarked and he could feel the curious stares the others were giving him.

"It's fine, I've gotten over it. Ed really helped a lot. I was drifting around for years, unable to get a job in my hometown because of my leg. It rained a lot and my port would always ache. I finally settled in Central and got a job at the library. That's where I met Ed. He really inspired me and eventually convinced me to try for the military as an aid...he even got me my current job as Grumman's personal assistant. I've been there ever since."

He heard a sniffle and turned his head to see Winry wiping away a stray tear, "Yeah," she laughed shakily," that sounds a lot like Ed. God, he was such an idiot, but he never gave up on people. Even when he claimed he hated them. I'm sorry, it's just been rough for me...well for everyone I know."

"C-could you tell me what he was like?" Rafael asked, unable to keep his curiosity in check. He rubbed the back of his head when he saw everyone staring at him," It's just Alphonse keeps mentioning him, saying he died but that's about it." 

"I'm sorry, but I don't think we've been introduced?" Winry asks, directing it to Al, who's been silent up until now in the corner.

"Oh, sorry, these are Rafael and Niccolo Alberico, otherwise known as Rafael and Niccolo Elric."

"You mea-?"

"Yeah, turns out mom had a few more secrets than we thought. Remember that photo mom had of her family on her bedside?"

"How could I not? All three of us must've tried to read the writing on the back for hours on end, but we couldn't because it's in a different language. It used to drive Ed nuts, he could read, write and speak four different languages but it was in the ne language he didn't know."

"These are the two boys from the picture. Her older brothers...our uncles." Said men cheerfully waved at the dumbfounded blonde before them.

"Oh...well welcome to the family!" Winry stood up from where she was seated and held out her hand to the two men.

Niccolo stepped forward to shake her hand, "You're Miss. Rockbell, correct?" 

"Yeah, Winry Rockbell, Granny and I are friends of the family. So, you're Auntie Trisha's brothers?"

Rafael shook her hand as he asked, "Yes, could you tell us about them? Al doesn't like to talk about it."

"Well, Aunt Trisha was always there, as long as I can remember. She never left town, aside from when Ed and Al were born."

"What do you mean?"

"Oh, well, when she found out she was pregnant, she and Hohenheim went North and stayed in North City for about 4 years, long enough for Ed and Al to be born. Al was 2 I think when they came back. When Ed was 5 and Al 4, Hohenheim left and about a year later, Aunt Trisha died from a plague that passed through the countryside with the Ishvalen War of Extermination. My parents were doctors in the war and treated everyone, be they soldier or Ishvalen. They died before they could come back. Then Ed and Al left to train under their teacher, Izumi Curtis...they suffered an accident shortly after they got back. A year later, Ed joined the military and they've been travelling ever since...had been travelling..." she trailed off.

The room was silent as Ed watched his family lose what little light in their eyes at the mention of his death and his hand clenched tightly on the sheet on the bed beneath him. And it nearly killed him because he wasn't their older brother, their nephew or boyfriend. He was a stranger who knew that man. 

And wasn't it ironic? The person who by all accounts was said to hate people craved them more than ever now that he had gotten his wish?

What a joke he was.

He just needed to move. Say something, anything really because it was watching Roy tell the team about his death all over again. He wanted to reach out, put it all away, hold her in his arms, safe from Kimblee and the rest of the world. She was so close, he could almost reach her. He wanted to hug his brother and never let go, tell him he was a sorry a million times and feel that it was never enough. He wanted to get to know the uncles he never knew and a family who had never given up hope on them. He wanted to be back home with Roy, Riza, Granny Pinako, the team and Teacher. He wanted it all and so much more.

And then it was gone and he was left all alone again. 

Kimblee stood up and put a hand on Winry's shoulder, gently telling her in a soft simpering voice that it was time to take Al back to his cell and Ed felt a wave of anger that seemed hotter than the flames Roy made when he snapped his fingers at the sight. He wanted to do so many things to Kimblee for all the strife and shit he was putting Al and the others through but no other desire than the one to kill the man was what he wanted. He could imagine it now; punching the ever-living crap outta him. It made his blood boil, knowing that man was close to his family and manipulating them. Trying to weasel his way in while they were at their most vulnerable. 

And he couldn't do a damn thing but watch it happen.

The only solace he found was when Kei and Buccaneer arrived, taking his precious people away from the douchebag as Darius and Heinkel took Al away back to his cell. Ed sat up from where he was, swinging his legs over the bed and onto the cold floor, his automail leg making a clunk noise as it hit the concrete.

Just as he was about to stand up and leave, he froze as he realized there was still someone else in the room with him. He turned around slowly to face the man and caught sight of the razor-sharp smile he tried to hide beneath the hat on his head. "Well then," he spoke, voice like nails and Ed could practically hear the grin in his tone...he couldn't help it though when a shiver crawled up his spine seeing the mans reflection in the nearby mirror. "Your little upgrade's all taken care of and out of the way."

"What do you want Kimblee?" he growled out, trying to restrain himself from punching the man for what seemed like the millionth time today.

"Hey now, no need to get feisty, wouldn't want for your little friends to get hurt now would ya, Trick?" He froze as he started to shrug on his military jacket, the blood in his veins running cold at the man's words. 

"So why don't we find a place to sit down? I'm eager to discuss our business."

 

 


 

 

 

"Is that so?" Roy asked the woman before him. "Sounds like things are getting out of hand up north." He looked at her closely as he tried to remember where he'd seen her before. It was on the tip of his tongue and it was practically driving him insane.

She nodded as she began fixing up different bouquets, "Indeed. They could use an offensive lead by now."

"The Fort Brigg's strong suit is defence," she picked up a different flower, looked at it before shaking her head and putting it back to pick up a bright yellow tulip, one the shade of Riza's hair and Roy was vaguely reminded that he needed to speak with her. He hadn't even gone home yet, having gone to talk with Madeline as soon as he left the storage unit. “But you need more than defence if you plan on being the one to make the first strike."

"With the offensive expertise of your eastern forces, Madam Olivier believes they have a chance." Roy thought it over, the words weighing over him just as heavily as the photo in his back pocket. It seemed to weigh him down the more he thought of it, taking in his sons smiling face and a boy he didn't know but who might have the answers.

"I'm honoured that she would choose me as her partner in arms," he replied civilly, mind occupied on other things as he tried to focus...but it got harder with each day. Without Riza and everyone else, it seemed as if the weight on his shoulders got heavier and it showed with the baggy eyes and the slow pace at work.

"Oh no." The informant said, surprising Mustang out of his pity party. "Madam Olivier needs the strength of your army, not you." He sighed at that because yeah that sounded like Olivia, always insulting him and always threatening to run him through with her sword. "She said you might as well just get lost."

"Uh-huh," he numbly said as he closed his eyes. "I have to ask. It's kind of risky telling me this. What's stopping me from warning Fuhrer Bradley?" He looked over at her, a fake ass grin taking over his face, which he knew she could see through the moment she turned over at him. She simply went back to her flowers, expertly making another bouquet and putting it off to the side.

"Well, you are." she spoke, "She assured me you weren't that kind of man." She turned around with a smile and another bouquet. "Well then, that will be 35,000 cens please." She held her hand out.

Roy closed his eyes and fumbled around for his wallet. He opened it to grab the money and found himself gazing at the photo he took from the storage unit, Ed's smiling face staring back at him. His hand hovered for a moment and traced his smile before the informant's voice rung out, "Looking at a little kiddie, eh? I thought you didn't have any children."

He stared at the photo with a hand trembling," Yes, two of th-" he stopped himself," one now actually."

"Oh?"

"My eldest passed away recently," he admitted, still lost as he looked at it. "I'm sorry for your loss, how did it happen?"

"I-he um went out one day and..." he coughed." He just never came back. We buried an empty casket last week." He stared at it for a little while longer before he remembered where he was and held out the bills out to her. "I appreciate it," he told her earnestly.

"Hey, wait," Mustang called, getting the informant to stop. "Who are you?" The informant turned part of the ways around and untied her bandana that her hair was wrapped in. "Oh, just someone who's served the Armstrong family." 

She turned around fully and pulled the bandanna down to reveal her blond hair with a part of her hair curled at the top that had sparkles around it. "For generations."

"Well, Hughes," Roy mumbled to himself. "It's safe to say that our closest allies may invariably turn out to be the same people that we fought side by side with out on the battlefield."

"But," he stated. "What do I do with these flowers?"

He stopped for a moment as he stared at them all, a thoughtful look gaining on his face as he started to put all the flowers in the back of his trunk, ignoring all the women gossiping about him as they stared. He got in his car and drove away off into the night.

 

 


 

 

"You've got a job for me?" It was too good to be true and yet Ed knew it wasn't. This would not end well for him and he knew it.

"That's correct." Kimblee said. "And it's a few jobs actually." He held up three fingers with a smile. "Three." He lowered two of his fingers. "All from the Fuhrer."

"First off, he wants you to hunt down Scar." Ed frowned, not really getting where Kimblee was going with this. "You just find him and I'll take care of the rest." He really didn't like the bastard's smile either, it unnerved him and he wished he had Hawkeye or Roy to back him up because Kimblee was unknown to him. And he hated being in the dark.

"Secondly, he wants you to locate Dr. Marcoh who has very likely fled with Scar." Ed let his cobalt blue eyes flicker to Kimblee's hand where he held up two fingers as if he was a little kid...it made him want to punch his greasy face even more. "And last but not least," the man paused for dramatic effect. Bastard. "He wants you to carve a crest of blood here."

"Crest of blood? What's that?" Ed lied, trying not to panic.

"Don't play dumb with me 'Trick'" Kimblee mocked. "Did you really think I didn't look you up? Up until two weeks ago, you were Grumman's personal assistant. Now you're up here, practically running Briggs in Miles stead and you have Armstrong's ear. She would've told you what that dumbfuck Raven asked of her before she killed him. Oh don't look so shocked, if you really think I didn't know about that little tidbit, you're more stupid than I realized. Armstrong's a smart girl and with you to help her, the two of you would've figured it out. Now, by the will of his majesty, Furher King Bradley, you are hereby ordered to crave a crest of blood here at Fort Briggs...you know, just like I did in Ishval, simple?"

He opened his mouth to tear a new one into the prick before him when Kimblee tutted, "I wouldn't do that if I were you because otherwise all your new little friends here at Fort Briggs just might find themselves becoming apart of that crest you need to make. You're in no position to refuse: so you better take a good long look at your situation and decide which is more important- your pride or your comrades?"

Ed stared at him for a moment longer before he closed his eyes and sighed, "Fine...but let me tell Alphonse and Winry."

Kimblee's eyes showed a flicker of surprise which was gone as fast as it came, he leaned onto his arm, inspecting his nails as if Ed wasn't worth his time of day," Why them?"

"I was good friends with Edward Elric, he made me promise to keep them safe should anything happen to him. I take that job very seriously Kimblee, so let me talk to them."

Kimblee, asshole he was, simply waved a hand at him, "Fine, but get going."

 

 


 

 

"Winry," Ed said. He turned his head slightly to look at her. "You were only brought to Briggs as a hostage."

"A what?" Winry asked. She looked at Al. "What does he mean, Al?" She looked back at Ed. "Are you joking?"

"Listen, I've been ordered by the Fuhrer to fulfill my duties as a human weapon." he paused as he continued to stare at them, trying to gouge their reactions to what he was about to reveal."In other words, they're ordering me to help them commit mass murder." 

At this, Winry looked up sharply at him, "Why don't you just refuse?" 

He looked at her and then Al, trying to convene his words in a way she would understand...but he just didn't know how to say it. "I see," she said closing her eyes, "I won't cry." She said. "I won't." She tightened her fingers as she blinked back her tears, "I'm just upset at myself for being so naïve."

Al clearly didn't get the message and it hurt Ed to know that they didn't have that instant understanding with one another anymore, it hurt to know his own brother didn't see Ed and only saw Trick, he saw a stranger where his brother stood and it made his chest tighten in an uncomfortable way that made him want to clutch at his chest.

"Why? Why do you care so much? You don't even know us? You were just brothers friend, one he didn't even tell us about!"

Ed closed his eyes and tried to will the eyes away, he breathed in heavily as he steeled himself. "Because he made me promise to protect you two if he couldn't...there are things Ed found out that he didn't share with you. You could be executed just for knowing these things. He knew the risks, he played the game but he made sure all of you were taken care of, ensured you were protected before he entered this shitshow that I've gotten myself into. You need to stop looking into this Al, or everything we've been working towards will have been for nothing." With that, he walked away and out the door to see Kimblee loitering around like an annoying dog.

"It's settled," he told him.

 "I'm in, alright?" Ed said. He walked a few steps closer to Kimblee, keeping his eyes trained on him. "But finding Scar is the first thing I want to do." "Oh yeah?" Kimblee asked. "Why's that?"

"Scar is the one who murdered Winry's parents. They deserve vengeance." Ed said as he and Kimblee walked off.

"I see." Kimblee said. "Fine with me."

 

 


 

 

"This is the general vicinity in which Scar was last spotted," Miles told Kimblee, Ed at his side and Al behind them. "Then that's our first stop." Kimblee said.

"Hey," Winry shouted, grabbing the three soldiers' attention. "Make room for one more. Come on, Al. Scoot over some." 

"What are you doing, Winry?" Ed all but shouted.

"I'm sorry, Winry." Kimblee said, trying to sound all sweet and simpering but it didn't even phase the girl for one second. And Ed was once again vaguely reminded why he was in love with her. "But you need to wait here at the fort. We're not going for a picnic."

She gave him a look that said she didn't give two shits before smiling brightly, "And neither am I." Her toolbox rested on her lap with her hands resting on it. "I just performed a complicated upgrade on his automail," She turned to Kimblee, "that I never  done before." 

"What if there's a malfunction?" Winry asked. He was vaguely reminded of the acting she used to do as a child and then remembered that even his mom was fooled sometimes and it stirred something warm in his heart at the thought of it. "It would tarnish the Rockbell name if I'm not there to fix it."

"Do you even realize how obsessed with your job you are?" Ed spoke up, trying to keep the act up of two bickering teens and it felt good to do it again. "You're a workaholic," 

"And proud of it to," Winry replied.

Kimblee put a hand to his hat as he sighed.

"This has been my family's business for four generations," she continued.

"Very well then. You can join us." Kimblee sighed, resigned to his fate. "I guess I can allow you to."

"Oh yeah, totally," Ed rejoined. "Four generations of gearheads." At this, Kimblee practically made a sound of a dying cat and slowly backed away from the car as Miles watched on smiling devilishly.

"There's nothing wrong with that." Winry snapped before they growled at each other.

This was nice, Ed decided with a small smile tugging at his lips, one that Winry mirrored on her own face.

Yeah, this was nice.

 

 


 

 

 

"Sir, what am I doing here? I've had a very long night." Riza asked him as he drove around Central city during the early morning, where the first rays of light barely reached over the building tops.

He smirked, "What? I can't cheer you up after the scare with Pride earlier?"

She shivered at the reminder," Please don't, it was bad enough for me to call you to have you pick me up. Now, where are we?"

"You'll see," he replied cryptically as they turned a corner and came up the hill to a very familiar place. Riza felt her eyes widen at the sight and she turned to look over at her lover," What are we doing here Roy?"

A smile tugged at his lips as he turned to look over at her, eyes full of love and adoration for her, "Oh, so I'm Roy now am I?"

Instantly, a blush spread across her cheeks and he chuckled, one from deep in his throat and full of joy and Riza felt her breath catch, wondering when the last time was that she had heard that laugh. It felt like forever since she'd heard it, let alone seen it. It must've been before...her smile dropped and her eyes dimmed. Roy seemed to know what she was thinking because he reached over and grabbed her hand in his. His hands were warm, covered in burn marks, scars and callouses from endless hours of paperwork and it was such a familiar weight that it brought calm to her instantly.

Roy parked the car and he practically raced over to her car side, opening it up with an overdramatic gesture and held out his hand for her. She accepted it gratefully and he covered her eyes, leading her away from the car and onto the soft grass beneath them. "What are you doing Roy?"

"Hush, its a surprise."

She felt him stop her in front of something and he let go of her head to a sight that made her eyes water with unushered tears at the small simple grave.

Lt. Col. Edward Elric

1899-1914

Loving Son, Brother & Soldier

Roy came up from behind her and put an arm around her shoulder, where she then let her head rest on as she started to cry. Surrounding the grave, Roy put all the bouquets, planting them into the grounds and arranging them into a perfect mess of colours that it was too much for her. He rubbed her shoulder as she continued to cry, "This must've taken you hours Roy."

He didn't speak for a moment as they looked on at his grave and from behind them, the sun finally rose up from behind the horizon signalling a new day to the citizens of Amestris, though the two were content to stay right where they were. He turned his head and pressed a kiss into her temple, his own tears barely kept at bay, and whispered," He was our son too..."

 

Chapter Text

 

 


 

 

Roy quietly stumbled through the doorway with the slumbering woman in his arms. Tear stains streaked her flushed cheeks as she slept peacefully in his arms after their visit to Ed's grave. He wouldn't admit it but he growled as he tripped over Black Hayate who had come barreling through the halls of his master's small apartment when he heard the jingling of keys in the door. 

"Down Black Hayate! Go away!" he hisses as he fumbles for the knob on her bedroom door.

He quickly enters and tries to close it shut behind him as the small dog begins to paw at the door, his soft whines accompanying them. Roy leans against a nearby wall when a soft sigh comes from Riza. He looks down to see her snuggling into his chest and smiles at her before he hears the clacking noise of nails as Black Hayate leaves.

He pushes himself off the wall, mindful of Riza who sleeps unaware of the world outside and makes his way to her bed. Slipping her gently under the covers, Roy tucks her in and traces her cheek with his gloved hand and a fond look flashes across his face at the sight of her sleeping peacefully. He leans down and presses a kiss onto her temple for a moment, a single tear running down his cheek before he pulls back and brushes her hair from her face.

"I love you," he whispers as he begins to stand. He makes it all the way to her door before starring back at her, the light from the hallways illuminating her face and with one last look, Roy leaves the apartment.

 

 


 

 

"We got a report on someone matching Scar's description." Miles' voice rang out. "We believe he was heading here."

"An abandoned mining town?" Captain Fucktard asked. From beside his uncle, Ed scowled at the man when out of nowhere a blow came to his side courtesy of his uncle. Agony exploded from his side as he wheezed out in pain, his metal hand coming up to rub it as he tried to get control of his composure though he was clearly failing when Kimblee looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

Miles then proceeded to smile sweetly at Kimblee when the man turned to him next and murmured low under his breath, that damn smile still present holy fuck it was terrifying oh god why was he one of his parental figures everyone else combined was terrifying enough, "I swear you're worse than Armstrong!"

"That's right," Miles replied, ignoring Ed again having felt his scolding was enough for now. "Baschool's pretty much a ghost town since the mines were closed. Plenty of buildings to hide in."

"This could be tricky." Kimblee said. When his uncle turned away from him, as did Kimblee, he stuck out his middle finger in full view of everyone. From around the courtyard, snorts and giggles and coughs were heard. Jerso, who was one of Kimblee's bodyguards today, choked on a laugh and started hacking while Zampano, who also had guard duty, tried to keep a blank face.

Miles raised an eyebrow at the two men before turning back to Ed only to see a middle finger flung in Kimblee's direction...Ed looked at his uncle and then his middle finger and back to his uncle before swiftly hiding the 'offending' hand and giving his uncle an innocent grin...wow, he must be getting shitty at this because Miles did not look convinced at all! The man's eye was twitching like crazy as he sighed before he whirled around and caught up with Kimblee once more.

"We'll need to split into search parties." His uncle told him. He then turned to the scattered and still snorting group of soldiers. He gave them the Unimpressed Mother Hen™ look which caused most of the men to sober up...some idiots just sniggered and Ed himself was holding his breath to stop himself from laughing. "All squads are to contact us here immediately if you spot Scar."

"Yes, sir!" The soldiers replied.

Ed watched as Darius and Heinkel, who got to play babysitter for Al, walked away with his little brother and his other uncle, Rafael. Niccolo stayed behind at the Fort to keep watch over the remaining bulk of soldiers that Kimblee's had shipped in from Central. Miles gave Ed a nod and soon he was off on his own trying to find Scar before anyone else did.

Should be easy, right?

 

 


 

 

This, Ed decided, was complete and utter horse shit.

Who decided to make it so backwards and in the far lands of Tim Buck Too that he couldn't even see where the fuck he was anymore?

He couldn't even hear any of the soldiers marching around in the snow or the yells of Kimblee and his men! Oh god if he got lost and his uncle had to rescue him he'd never live this down. He wandered around the back alleys of Baschool hoping to find a familiar path or at least a set of footprints! Anything really would work! Eventually, he gave up trying to find his own way back and started to absentmindedly hum some song he once heard his mother listen and sing to while she cleaned around the house. 

Ed let himself get lost in the memories of just watching her; it was about 3 months before that bastard Hohenheim left them and he woke up earlier than he usually would. He remembers hearing a faint sound of music coming from downstairs and resolved, all of 4 years, to find out what it was.

'Never thought that you would be standing here so close to me'

He stumbled and fumbled down the wooden stairs of his childhood home and somehow made no noise even when he tripped over one of his wooden blocks. He walked down the hallway, seeing a light shining from the kitchen and shadow moving about inside.

'there's so much I feel that I should say but words can wait until some other day'

Ed remembers peeking his head inside, the music slow and sweet to see his mother, in her normal lavender dress and hair pulled back in a loose ponytail and Hohenheim in his slacks and long golden hair pulled back from his face. They were wrapped together in each other's arms, swaying gently to the music coming from their record player. 

'It's been a long, long time Haven't felt like this, my dear'

His mother had a small smile on her face, serene and calm and happy in a way he'd never remember seeing her like again after Hohenheim left. She held onto him like a lifeline, swaying to the music and her head in between the crook of his neck, like two pieces of a puzzle.

'Or just how empty they all seemed without you So kiss me once, then kiss me twice'

Hohenheim was also peaceful for once, his lines of stress and worry, the bags under his eyes and awkward stature fell away in his mother's arms, he let the tense posture he always seemed to hold melt away while he was with her. His mouth was fixed in a permanent small smile, one as peaceful and soothing as his mothers, and it was n't that hard to see how perfect the two were for each other. They complimented each other perfectly and in some ways, the made it harder to hate the bastard.

'You'll never know how many dreams I dreamed about you'

It made it harder because his mother loved him so dearly, yet he left. And she waited. And waited. And waited until her dying breath. With a sad little smile, one that had been so happy not even a year before in a tiny kitchen, dancing in candlelight at midnight to a song they swayed so sweetly so gently too. It hurt to know that not even 3 months after that night would she never wear a smile as calm and peaceful until her death.

 

'So kiss me once then kiss me twice Then kiss me once again It's been a long, long time Long, long time'

Ed was lost in the memories of his mother, so much so that when he suddenly slipped on a patch of ice in one of the many back alleys, he was so unprepared for it. His head hit the soft snow with a THUD and pain erupted from his side where Uncle Miles elbowed him earlier and Ed knew he must've landed on a rock or something to piss off the bruise there. He blinked a few times as the snow he kicked up fell onto his face and in his slightly blurry vision he could just make out the silhouette of a figure. 

"Nice to see you again, Fullmetal. I got your message."

"Scar...would it kill you to use my codename?"

 

 


 

 

 

Elsewhere around Baschool, Miles suddenly whipped his head around and gazed off in a random direction of an empty sector. One of the soldiers noticed his furrowed expression," Sir, is everything alright?"

He stared for a moment longer before he replied," Something's..off."

"You think something's about to happen, sir?"

"Yes.."

"Will Lt. Col. Mors be the culprit sir?"

Miles sighs," He usually is."

He then proceeded to stalk off in another direction, schooling his features as he tried to find Kimblee and keep the man from going off on his own. It was bad enough the bastard kept getting away from him in Fort Briggs but to lose him in Baschool...well that was one nightmare he didn't want to think of. He really wanted to kill the man but resorted to a few glares and threats that were disguised as small talk and 'advice'...

 

 


 

 

Roy looked at the wooden door of the apartment in front of him. 

6B5 

He was slightly skeptical that this was the right place. Maybe Vanessa got it wrong? Madeline wrote down the wrong address? His aunt had an off day? Because here he was, up 6 flights of stairs and down 5 doors and found himself staring at the slightly chipped rust red painted door with the numbers ' 6B5 ' in bronze metal on the front of it.

Boarders with the same colour outlined the door and small rug that was a plain grey was at its doorstep. The stairs were a light oak wood and the flooring matched it, but neither were too old nor too new. The hallways were coloured a light grey and the lamps that went up down and walls were either broken or flickering wildly except for the occasional few brightly lit ones.

He hesitantly knocked on the door and waited a few moments hearing the footsteps walk towards it. The little knob turned and the door swung open to reveal a young man, no older than 18 with ash blonde hair pulled back into a messy bun and deep navy blue eyes. He had on a simple pair of black slacks and penny loafers to go with his white button-up shirt. He left the first few buttons undone and his sleeves were rolled to his mid-forearm. 

"Hello, can I help you?" the man spoke in a clear crisp voice, one befitting of someone with no issues and nothing to hide. 

"Patrick 'Trick' Mors?" The teen nodded, clearly confused.

Roy held up the picture of him and Ed and Patrick's eyes widened, "We need to talk." 

Patrick looked at him and then the picture, gulping as he tried to school his face and failed, miserably. He shuffled on his feet, clearly loosing whatever confidence he had to hide his secrets, and gestured for Roy to come inside," Come in."

 

 


 

 

 

Ed sat across from Scar, watching the man as he processed what he just told him, from Truth to Bradley, the Homonculus, Father and the higher-ups and faking his death and eventually making his way to Fort Briggs to get the support of General Armstrong...Scar opened his mouth to say something when the door slammed open and two figures made their way inside.

"You must be Scar," Jerso said as he came through the small dust cloud they made when they entered the room."We'll need you to come with us. Mr. Kimblee is waiting for you."

"I'm impressed with your tracking skills." Scar replied.

Zampano stepped in from beside him and caught sight of Ed and raised an eyebrow at him and then Scar, "Kidnapping kids now Scar? Despicable!" Ed, who had jumped up when the door was busted open, felt his eye twitch, a vein popping up on his forehead at their comments,'They may not have called me little, but a kid? Seriously!'

"Hey, do I look like a kid to you? I'm your superior asshole!" He was ignored as they continued on with their conversation as if he wasn't even there.

"But do you honestly think that the two of you are going to be enough to take me against my will?" Scar asked. "We'll see, but we do have a slight advantage," Zampano said. His hand came up to remove his glasses.

They spread their feet and their bodies tensed up. Their backs exploded into a rapid expansion before Jerso's eyes started to glow white. Jerso grunted as his body grew and his skin turned yellow. His head got bigger as did his body, which resulted in his shirt tearing off of his body. Zampano's body turned gray as his face was contorted into one of an animal with sharp teeth as his own shirt tore off of his body because of the rapid growth he went through.

"Let's just see how this plays out," Zampano said.

Scar raised a hand, eyes narrowed at the two chimeras in front of him. "Chimeras, huh?" His hand tensed up. "Let's go!"

Chapter Text

 

 


 

 

Patrick 'Trick' Mors didn't expect much when he opened his door.

He was an unassuming young man with his blonde hair and blue eyes, just another one of Amestris's youth who inherited its generic colouring. He hid his sharp features and oh-so-intelligent eyes behind a modest and uneasy smile. A mask of a shy cowardly boy who was an assistant to a government official and worked a dead-end job at the local grocers in his off time.

It was a boring life; they thought it was a slow, menial job that bore no fruits of labour and if you weren't an informant in the Fullmetal Alchemist's spy network; then they'd be right. How lucky it was for Trick that he was apart of it. Scratch that; he was the network.

Ed left it in his capable hands as he continued his journey to find his brothers body and while he mostly operated in the East, not exactly the gossips hub of activity, it made him unassuming. It made them unassuming. Because no one would suspect a hotheaded loudmouthed pipsqueak like Edward Elric to have a spy network covering the entire country. They wouldn't expect him to have the countless lives he saved and the numerous allies he makes to become his network.

Didn't expect that through small acts of kindness, he built the country's biggest intelligence network. A network that he was working on expanding into other countries.

Edward Elric was many things; Hero of the People, the Fullmetal Alchemist, a student, a friend, a brother, a son and a lover. He was so many things, but he wouldn't be Ed without his alchemy and he wouldn't have learned it from a book if he wasn't intelligent.

There was a spark of something in those molten gold eyes- a reflection of a mind that worked a million miles an hour and never stopped thinking. It shined brighter than the gold in his eyes or that sun that was spun into his hair. And Ed wasn't just going to stop because Roy Mustang became his superior. Because this 'Father' character told him too. Because everyone said he shouldn't get involved. They should've known better.

Trick was prepared for anything and everything; he's spent years building Ed's intelligence network and he knew from the start when Ed saved his life that he would do anything for him. He would make sure Ed was prepared to play the game and to do that he needed to take all precautions. Why do you think he moved to Central while Ed galavanted around the country pretending to be him? No stone was left unturned and nothing was to be taken for granted. He never let himself be lulled into a sense of security. Because then he got sloppy. Then he'd make mistakes and he couldn't afford to do that. Not with Ed on the line. 

So why, pray tell, was Roy 'I'll light your funeral pyres' Mustang in front of him demanding answers?

His eyes flickered over to the man sitting across from him. The other man sat cool, calm, collected even. Ever the soldier. He was sure that Major Armstrong would be shedding tears at Mustang's manly stance or so he assumes, he only knows what Ed's told him of the man. He's incredibly buff, is very, very loud and he shits you not, the man sparkles. Yes, sparkles.

Mustang, on the other hand, is the very picture of an attractive, sophisticated man in the prime of life. With his dark, intruding eyes and clean-shaven, youthful visage, the infamous colonel attracts a great deal of attention from admirers. His dark hair was free of greys and the other signs of stress that most of the high-ranking officials seemed to collect over the years. He was young; in his prime and a model soldier. It was no wonder that he was promoted- especially since he knew how to play the game.

Roy was known for a new lady on his arm every other week and he was a loud boisterous young man with large ideals that most officers said were too big for him. He would crumble they'd whisper. He'll fail, they say to one another. He'll never make it to the top, they reassured themselves.

But that was their mistake; Trick could see it. He could see where they went wrong. He had almost done the same when he first met Ed. But one look in his eyes and he knew. He knew he'd beat the odds. One look into Mustang's eyes and he can see the same thing.

There's a fire in those eyes and wherever he goes, Roy will leave a trail of fire in his wake. He'll leave them all in glowing awe; leave the rest of the players on a pyre as he rises through the ranks, burn those that get in the way of his goals and spark a revolution from the incandescence of his actions. A snap of his fingers will light the ignition and Roy Mustang will leave them all in a blazing inferno.

That much he knew. And it scared him...because Ed was the same. The same fire burned in the molten gold of his friend's eyes.

Trick let himself trail over the figure in his living room, the man eyeing the pictures and possessions he had. He let his eyes wander down to see the previously steaming cup of coffee on the table separating them. It was left untouched; had gone cold in the time the two men eyed one another.

His own foot tapped continuously from where it rested on the floor as he scrambled over the picture of Ed and himself in the library. One of two copies in the whole country - one of which sat on the mantlepiece of his fireplace. The other was in Ed's possession, probably in his office or bank knowing his best friend. However, one of those two copies was missing, evidently. And since his copy still rested where it's been for the past 3 years that means Ed's was gone.

Good news; he found it.

Bad news; it was currently grasped tightly in the hands of the Flame Alchemist, Ed's adoptive father.

"I see," Mustang began from his seat. He stood up and walked over lazily over to the mantle of his fireplace." that you knew my subordinate." The Colonel picked up the matching picture and gestures to him.

Trick almost rolled his eyes. If he was anyone else, this 'my subordinate' business might've worked, but he was Ed's best friend and his goddamn intelligence network. Ed shared everything with him. Including the not-so-subtle ways that Roy and Riza adopted and brought both Ed and his brother in their lives. Roy Mustang was fooling no one.

"Please, just stop with this whole" he waved a hand at him." whatever this is. Ed was my best friend. He was your son; don't even try that bullshit with me."

Mustang blinked at him for a solid 5 minutes as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing," So, you know about all that...what else do you know?"

"Let me put it in plain terms to make this easier to understand; I'm his intelligence network. I have eyes and ears across the country and I hear everything. There isn't a place where I don't know what's going on. Ed never went anywhere without all the basics. I told him everything."

"How can I be sure of that?" Mustang's eyes narrowed at him in suspicion and Trick really wanted to sigh because like really dude but he knew Ed would kill him if he gave Mustang sass when he was in a time of mourning. 

"I was Ed's...what do you guys in the military call it? A confidant?" The Flame Alchemist at this point turned back to place the picture frame back on the mantle. He stayed there for a moment longer likely taking in Ed's appearance.

"I was his military and personal. Al was a personal one too, no doubt about it, but sometimes his military life crossed with his personal and there were just some things Ed couldn't tell his brother; not without involving him in the game." Mustang tensed at this and whirled around to look at him with frightened eyes.

"He was doing what?" he hissed out...almost like an overprotective momma cat over her kitten...huh wasn't that an image?

Trick shrugged, "There was a lot of things Ed did you wouldn't approve of. Having an intelligence network and manipulating the politics of this countries government wasn't at the forefront of my mind when I thought of things you'd disapprove of your son doing. But hey, what do I know?"

"What do you think would be at the forefront of my mind?"

"I don't know; the fact he drank sometimes or how he and Winry were an item."

Mustang sighed as he pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration," That little shit's still giving me headaches even from beyond the grave."

"Yeah, it's funny that you mention that, but I think you need to come with me, "Trick gave a nervous laugh as he rubbed back of his neck. 

Roy looked at the young man before him, eyes narrowed in suspicion before he sighed," Fine, but we're going to have to make a quick stop."

 

 


 

 

Ed clicks his tongue, watching as the three men before him lunged at one another. He feels his ire growing when Scar punches Zampano in the face, sending the boar-man sprawling to the floor in a crumpled heap. Jerso, seeing his partner's limp body, let out a shout and spit out a glob of saliva towards the Ishvalen. Scar ducks, narrowly missing the attack and gazes back at the wall where the eyes the glob of spit slowly beings to slide down it.

He narrows his eyes in anger and turns slowly back to the two chimeras, watching warily as Zampano stands up from his spot on the floor and how Jerso loses his relaxed stance. "You should be out cold by now!" he snarls.

"I'm not that easy to take down, you bastard!" Zampano roars as he pounces. Scar makes to dodge the man when Jerso makes a similar warcry and rushes forwards, body-checking the Ishavlen into the stone wall behind them. Scar groans in pain before slamming his hands down onto Jerso's head, dazing the chimera enough to let him go and back away from him. The red-eyed man sweeps his leg under an incoming Zampano sending him sprawling to the floor. 

Off on the sides, Ed watches in anger as all three grown men proceed to fight with one another. Never really any delivering any fatal blows but enough to incapacitate any one of them for more than a day if they continued on like this. As he watches them throw kicks to the back of the head, a punch to the stomach, ramming one another into a wall or pillar, his anger begins to rise.

It's when Zampano is thrown into a wooden crate and a piece of the lumber goes sailing past Ed, barely missing his head, does he finally lose it. Eyes narrowed, Ed pulls up his sleeves to his forearms and stalks forwards, a glint in his eye and fingers aching to do something anything. He almost lets himself fly into the fight, ready to beat the ever-living crap out of the three men when a gleam catches his eye.

He breathes deeply through his nose and whips out one of his guns not needing to check to know it's his gleaming silver Beretta Pico that he's pulling out from its holster. He doesn't even hesitate before shooting at the three men. All three froze from there fight when three bullets whizzed past them, narrowly missing their heads, and embedding themselves into the stone wall behind them.

"Would you three stop acting like fucking children!" Ed barked out.

From the shadows, Winry and Al raced into the room staring them all with frightened expressions at Ed and it took him a moment. It took him a second to realize that they were scared. Not just of anything, but of him. Of the picture, he must have painted. He knew he didn't look like the friendly if mischievous Trick they knew. This Trick had abandoned his coat and uniform shirt, allowing them to dry off to the side when Scar first found him.

This Trick was in his black shirt, showing off his many guns and the intricate way the holsters hugged his body. They had known he was armed. But knowing and seeing were two different things. Seeing him standing there with guns all over his body, an angry gleam in his eye and the smoking barrel pointed at the three grown ass men was different from the Trick they met. Was different to the Trick they became friends with and trusted.

Before he can even open his mouth, to think of something to say to them, anything at all, his uncle walks in and just stops short at the sight. Ed can just see it now, his oh-so-red eyes trailing the bullet stained wall to the frozen statue like men to the frightened looks and the smoking barrel of Ed's still raised pistol. He nods at Ed and he breathes a sigh of relief.

"Sir," he replies curtly, holstering the pistol in its holster, his lower back.

"That's close enough," Miles tells them as another soldier walks in from behind him.

"You brought her here, Major?" Ed asks, a hint of protectiveness in his tone and a subtle note of tired. Just tired.

"What are these creatures?" One of the soldiers asks, not really waiting for a response but still curious enough to voice his thoughts aloud for them all to hear. 

"I guess they're the result of some ungodly experiment by our superiors." Miles answers. "Tie them both to that column."

"Right away, sir."

He turns towards the still stunned Ishvalen, "And as for you Scar."

"I regret having to treat one of my own people so harshly," Miles says as he raises a gun towards his kin. "But I can't just let you walk away. Not after what you've done."

"Your own people." Scar repeats incredulously.

"You two can leave," Miles tells both Winry and Al. "We've got it from here."

"Winry!" Al said as he put a hand to her shoulder she continues to move towards the captured man. "Stop Winry. Stay back." 

Trick watches from off to the side, his bangs overshadowing his fake eyes that are the same as his Aunt Sarah's and fights back the itch to drag her away and tell her everything. To hug her and keep her safe from everything that's happening in the outside world. But, if he did that, he'd never forgiver himself. Because she needed to do this. If he can't be there for her as Ed, her childhood friend and almost something, then he could be here for her as Trick. Strong, silent and supportive. And that's all she needed from him right now.

"Let me go. It's alright," she tells Al, his bangs overshadowing her eyes as she trembles, trying to stay strong despite everything.

"Miss, you need to stay back," Miles said.

"Just let me," Winry said. "Please understand. You have to let me talk to him."

Al makes to grab ahold of her when Ed places a hand on his shoulder and looks his little brother in the eye before he shales his head at him. "But-!" Al starts when Ed interrupts. "No, Al, she needs to do this. Between Ed being gone and all this, she needs to have some closure in her life." Al stares at him for a few moments and if he didn't know his own brother any better, Ed could've sworn Al was going to ignore his advice anyway.

"Why?" Winry asks."Why did you kill my mother and father?"

"There's nothing I can say that won't sound like an excuse." Scar replies. "And nothing can change the fact that I am responsible for their deaths."

 

 


 

 

'Riza?'

Rain splashes against the glass pane of the bedroom window, the wind howling quietly from outside and Black Hayate whines as he hides under the bed. The room was dark and unforgiving, cold in a way it shouldn't be as the storm rages on outside.

'Yes, Ed?'

She tosses and turns underneath the thin covers of her bed. her hair was undone and splayed out across her pillows in a rampant manner. The lumpy mattress did not help as she continued to have flashes, memories, of a time long ago and a boy with hair spun from gold and eyes brighter than the sun and a smile worth more than anything in the world.

'C-can I call you mom? Not all the time! Just...just in private...please?'

Flashes of a laugh like honey and warm glowing skin tinted red on his cheeks either in anger or embarrassment she didn't know which. She turned, restless in her uncomfortable bed as more memories continued playing in her mind. She remembers the feeling of his skin, so soft and warm, of scars and callouses and nicks and dents.

'I'd love that, Ed.'

She remembers the hugs she gave him, the tears staining her shoulder and the kisses she pressed into his temple. She remembers determined eyes, burning like molten gold and thinks of similar eyes, the eyes of her love, so dark and piercing, reflecting the burning inferno he snaps into existence at a moment's notice. Not even a flinch at the screams.

'Mom.'

Oh, god the screams. The explosions, the burns and the bodies. All of it flashes through her mind, she can see it now, oh so clearly now, that endless wasteland, filled with nothing but fire, blood, screams and bullet holes. Her fingers twitch in her sleep rhythmically pulling as the bullets fire off one by one never-ending why doesn't it end can't they see it hurts too much inside oh god there's so much blood- 

'Mom'

Why did it hurt so much? All she could see were his eyes, his beautifully gorgeous molten gold eyes, oh so bright and so alive and can only imagine that light dimming, gunshot bleeding from his chest and his body falling back into the abyss, never to be found as she watches that empty casket enter the ground all over again.

'Mom'

She sees flashes of his face, so bright and full of life as gunshots ring out and the casket lowers, empty and he wasn't even there for them to bury, and the gunshots get louder and louder and she can feel it; back when the bullets had ripped through her too. Except she came back. She came back from the war. Her baby, her son, her Ed...he didn't.

'MOM!'

Letting out a silent scream, Riza bolts up from her bed, the lightning flashing from outside, illuminating the room in its glow as thunder roars. She stares for a moment before she starts to cry, clutching her stomach as she sobs. She gasped for breath, gut-wrenching sobs working themselves up from deep inside as she cried out for a son she didn't have anymore. A son she lost. A son she wanted back in her arms again.

She could hear a pounding in her ears on repeat, like a never-ending boom that faintly sounds like bombs, explosions that Kimblee used to slaughter all those people, those men, women and children and tears fell freely from her eyes as her sobs grew even louder. She can't breathe, she can't think or feel and she doesn't want to. It hurts too much.

All those children, those babies with bright eyes and trusting smiles and parents who loved them and a land soaked to the brim with their blood and she can't stop feeling the bullets ripping through her. Of feeling the pain as they entered but never exited. Of waking up to a world of pain and a doctor who only patched her up enough for her to continue on. To continue killing all those innocents.

Her sobs crew, her throat raw and her eyes a blurry mess as she continued to cry, Black Hayate whining as he nudges her with his snout. She was so caught up with her memories that when two familiar arms reached around her middle and pulled her close she didn't even think.

She just clung to him, held him close to her so she could feel his heartbeat, know he was alive and in her arms and he wasn't going to leave her all alone again. Her face rested in the crook of his neck and she was sure she had ruined his clothes with her sobs and tears. She clung to him like a lifeline and for a second, it was enough. 

" I miss him so much why'd they take him from us, Roy? Why'd they take my baby?" she sobbed out, voice muffled as her face remained pressed into her neck.

"Shhh, I've got you. It's okay; I'm here." his voice, deep, calm, familiar and safe whispered in her ear, barely tickling the shell of it. He turned his head, pressing a  kiss into her temple as he rocked them back and forth.

 

 


 

 

An explosion ripped through one of the buildings, sending dark smoke into the air.

"What happened?" A soldier shouted.

"That's where Major Miles was." Another soldier said.

There was a brief sight of blue alchemical light flashing along part of the building before another explosion rocked the building, sending a lot more dark smoke to fill the air, causing some soldiers to run from the building.

Coughing was heard before Ed appeared from the building. "Damn it." Ed cursed, glaring out of the side of his eyes at where he just came from.

"What's going on in there, Lt.Col.?" Kimblee asked

Ed whirled around, a snarl on his face and an arm raised for dramatic effect," You bastard. "This is all your fault, Kimblee! You were supposed to be watching Winry!"

Kimblee stood there blinking in surprise with a couple of soldiers behind him, staring in shock. One of the soldiers looked up at the roof then back at Kimblee. "Mr. Kimblee, look up there on the roof."

They all looked up at the roof in unison to see Scar standing there with an unconscious Winry under his arm.

 

 


 

 

Trick led Mustang through a back alley, a sleeping Hawkeye in his arms, tear-stained cheeks and her dog, Black Hayate following faithfully from behind. He pushed open the big wooden door and gestured for the Colonel to enter. Not even a few steps in, Mustang stopped and looked back at Trick with narrowed eyes.

He continued walking, not waiting up for Trick, almost as if he knew the way around this place and as they reached the bar, he jogged forwards, wanting to explain Roy's presence to the Madame.

"Roy! You're back!" Was the sound the greeted him. He walked into the room to watch as the girls of Madame Christmas's bar flocked over to the soldier, Hawkeye still in his arms and Black Hayate being picked up from Vanessa.

"I know Madeline said you'd be by sometime this week Roy, but I didn't think you'd be bringing your lover alongside with you." Madame Christmas drawled out from behind the counter, her signature cigarette hanging from her lips. He stepped out from behind Roy and saw her eyes widen.

"Mor-?"

"He knows Chris. We've gotta tell him. Everything."

"Everything?" she repeats.

"Everything."

"Oh, the brats not gonna like this."

"He'll get over it; just buy him that whiskey he likes."

 

Chapter Text

 

 


 

 

"Tell me something, Kimblee." Scar's gruff voice rang out to the scattered soldiers below him with Winry still seemingly unconscious in his arms."Do you remember when we first met?" 

Ed could see it in Kimblee's eyes; the passion, the fierceness and most of all, the wrath in those dark eyes. Ed found himself seeing the other cues; the way the older man's jaw ground itself, his clenched hands and tense body. No, Kimblee didn't answer Scar; he was far too angry for that. "It seems we changed places." The Ishvalen continued on, uncaring for the way the Crimson Alchemist slowly but surely lost his composure.

"You shouldn't be so confident!" Kimblee spat out in disgust almost as if the words had left a foul taste in his mouth.

Ed flickered his navy blue eyes upwards, eyeing the storm that was slowly but surely coming there way. He let them trail back down to the suit-wearing alchemist taking in his stance and readied himself. The question was; would Kimblee take the bait?

He ran towards the man grabbing him by his suit jacket and sending the man down to his eye level, "Kimblee! Damn you!" he snarled.

"Stand aside." Kimblee snapped, taking off his gloves.

"What are you doing? Stop! Stop this now, Crimson Alchemist!" Ed shouted, sounding hysterical by now and he knew it was getting to the Crimson Alchemist. "Can't you see Winry's up there with him? I won't let you attack."

"Why can't you just stay out of the way?" Kimblee growled voice filled with annoyance and his fury-filled eyes trailed down to meet his own defiant ones clearly ready to reprimand him when the older man's breath caught in his throat.

Kimblee stared down into eyes made of a never-ending blue, cold and unforgiving in their fury. They blazed like a raging inferno only...colder. Ed pulled Kimblee down, even more, letting his mouth get close to the other alchemist's ear before whispering, voice frigid and gruff in his fury. He slowly slipped his pistol from its holster and pressed it painfully into Kimblee's abdomen causing the man to stiffen.

"If you ever open your mouth to contest me again Crimson Alchemist then you're going to wish you were facing those fucking Homonculus and their genocidal maniac they call Father. You may have thought you had something over me, but you forget yourself, Major. " he spat it out like a curse.

"I agreed to those farce demands from that second-rate dickwad, not because of duty or any sense of honour but because I made a promise. I made a promise to a dead man who would've brought down this entire operation you think you've kept a secret if those two were ever hurt. So, shut up, listen and close your goddamn mouth before I shut it for you! " He pulled back and looked the older man in the eyes. 

"Now, I can never be the wrathful warrior Edward Elric was if he ever thought his precious baby brother was going to be hurt, but I do have every single eye and ear in the country watching us." At this revelation, Kimblee's eyes widened. 

"Don't look so surprised Mr.Kimblee; Elric had friends in both high and low places. They wait. Looking for the slightest hint of hesitation from you and then it's over."

"You wouldn't! You can't! You must be bluffing!" Kimblee hissed back at him, suddenly gaining a spine after the last few moments. Ed simply stared at him with apathetic eyes as the barrel of the gun began digging painfully into the man's abdomen.

"Ah ah ah," he tutted."I thought I told you to keep quiet."

"Try me, you little shit!" Kimblee suddenly snarled out, his anger and fury bleeding through plain as day.

"No, you don't talk to me like that. You may think you're the biggest threat out there, but I assure you Mr.Kimblee, you cannot possibly fathom the lengths I will go for them; I will bring this country crumbling down in my rage and your so-called employers will topple down with me. Do we have an understanding, Mr.Kimblee?"

A moment passes as he lets his words sink into the older alchemist's mind, the cold barrel of his gun still digging painfully into him, but the man doesn't respond. He doesn't even register the way Ed's stiff and calculating eyes, eyes filled with a cold fury and protectiveness of Winry and Ed, are trained on him. Watching him for any sign of a reaction. Ed sighed as he shook his head regretfully," I was hoping I wouldn't have to do this."

Before Kimblee could even look up at him, a question on his lips, Ed stepped on the man's foot catching him off guard and pulled him down by the tie, a gleaming knife taking its place at Kimblee's throat.

"I said; Do. We. Have. An. Understanding?"

"...yes." Ed promptly released his hold on the man, swiftly placing his knife back into its sheath as he stepped back, a calm and serene smile on his face. Ed then spoke lowly, only enough for Kimblee to hear, "Now, I expect you to get Winry back at any cost- you may be in Father's pocket, but wouldn't it just be a shame if I were to expose everything he was working towards to the entire country. Make no mistake Mr.Kimblee, I don't wanna cause you any trouble, but it's your choice."

"So, I suggest you choose wisely."

 

 


 

 

"Young girl, you have every right to pass judgment on me." Scar said.

She didn't anything as she turned her back on him and began walking towards one of the broken crates, shifting the rubble around before she seemingly found what she was looking for and came back to his side, a roll of cream coloured cloth used for bandaging in her slightly trembling hands.

"Your arm," Winry stated as she crouched in front of him. "You'll die if we don't bandage it." She wrapped the bandage around his arm.

"Winry!" Al cried.

"Quiet, Alphonse. I think…I think this is what my parents would've wanted." Winry continued. "Mom and Dad saved his life before after all. There has to be a reason for that."

Scar stared at her. "Does that mean you're forgiving me?"

At this declaration, Winry glanced up sharply at him, an angry look settled deep onto her face, the raw fury contorting her pretty features. "Don't get me wrong. I don't forgive your wanton murdering."

A little while later, Winry stood up from where she had been bandaging Scar's arm and stepped back to admire her handiwork. Ed looked over at her and noted her glistening blue eyes and fought every urge to run over to her and never let go. Not again.

"Winry," Ed said softly.

"It's alright," Winry murmured. "I won't cry. I promised Ed that the next time I cried they would be tears of joy." Winry told him, her big blue eyes still glistening with the unshed tears she so clearly needed to let go.

"Should we contact headquarters, sir?"

"Yes," Miles replies.

"Major Miles, wasn't it?" Scar asks his uncle. "Can I ask you something?"

"What?" 

Scar raised his head and opened his oh-so-red-eyes, "Earlier you said I was one of your people."

Gun still pointed at Scar, Miles began to speak, "That's right. I'm part Ishvalan on my grandfather's side." He reached a hand up and removed his glasses to show his red eyes. "I wished we didn't have to meet like this, red-eyed brother of mine."

"How can you bring yourself to be a part of the Amestrian military?" Scar asked.

"My objective is to work from the inside to change how the people of this country view the people of Ishval." Miles retorted.

Scar's eyes widened, "I don't think that great a task will be easy to accomplish."

"I'm an Ishvalan pebble tossed into the ocean of the Amestrian military," Miles said. "Maybe in time, the ripples I create will become great waves." He put his glasses back on, "And do you want to know what the most ironic part about is? It was an Amestrian who set me on this path in the first place."

Scar glared down at himself as he clenched his fists in anger, "Look at me. I'm a festering wound of hatred born of the great Ishvalan war." He looked back up at Miles. "I am thankful that there is someone like you out there.

"Major," A soldier said as he walked over, causing Miles to take his eyes off Scar.

Miles took the phone offered to him and held it up to his ear. "Copy. Major Miles here. We captured Scar. We're holding him in area D. Inform Kimblee."

"Whatever the circumstances may be between us, I cannot let you go," Miles said. "You must accept judgment."

"Hold on!"

"Who's there?" Miles shouts out into the shadows. From the doorway, Dr.Marcoh and May appear.

"May!" Al shouts.

"Dr. Marcoh." Ed breaths.

"Please don't take Scar as your prisoner. We need him." Dr. Marcoh tells them all.

"Deciphering notes, huh," Miles says as Dr. Marcoh's holds out the notes to the 1/4 Ishvalen.

"Yes! It's groundbreaking research that tries to fuse Amestrian alchemy and Xingese Alkahestry." May explained

"But all of the important parts are unreadable, written in ancient Ishvalan." Dr. Marcoh said before looking over at Scar. "Scar's the only one who can make sense of it." He looked back at Miles, who was still pointing his gun at Scar. "Don't you see?"

"Hmm." Miles looked over at May, a pensive look on his face while Ed stood off to his side, trying to hold himself back from blurting out something to the good Doctor. "So you're the Alkahestry girl? I have orders to bring you back to the fort."

"Me? But what do they want with me?" May asks scared. She jumped behind Dr. Marcoh to hide. "Don't worry. You'll receive a warm welcome I'm sure." Miles said.

Miles turned his head and put a hand to his chin. "Now, let me think here. Scar needs to be kept free and it would be just as bad if they found out Dr. Marcoh was here as well. Alright, I think it might be best if we took you back to Fort Briggs to hide you from senior military staff."

"But we also have another problem," Ed finally spoke up.

"What is it Trick?" Winry asks.

Before he can open his mouth, his uncle interrupts, "I heard they're using the Rockbell girl as a hostage against you." May and Dr. Marcoh turn to look at Winry. "If we act now, we can disgrace Kimblee and find someplace to hide her where they can't touch her."

Miles raised his gun once more and pointed it at Scar, "Listen up Scar. If you're willing to work with us, I'll postpone your judgment day. Well?"

"It doesn't look like you're going to give me any other choice." Scar tells them."Yes, I'll help you decode the notes."

"I have your word on that?" he uncle presses, trying to make sure the other Ishvalen wouldn't betray them at a moment's notice.

"You do. I swear on my Ishvalan blood. You can trust me, my red-eyed brother."

"We have a deal then," Miles agrees. "My apologies, Ms. Rockbell. You'll have to wait a while before we can punish your parents' killer." 

"Fine." She said with a slight nod.

Miles then notices that both Zampano and Jerso were now waking up, "Right, I almost forgot about these two freaks of nature." He looked at his men. "Dispose of them."

"Yes, sir." The soldiers saluted.

"Hold on a second," Ed said as he and Winry turned to face Miles. Al stepped forward and spread his arms wide. "Wait!" Al said. "You don't have to kill them."

"I see no reason to let them live," Miles said before turning to look at the soldier. "Kill them." 

Al took another step forward. "No! A life is a life! What better reason do you need than that?"

"Humph, showing us mercy. How adorable." Jerso said. Zampano turned his head.

"You're just a sentimental fool. We didn't ask for your help, did we?"

"Look at these bodies." Jerso says."What kind of future can we have? If you're gonna kill us, do it."

"I don't understand," Al spoke. "Don't you have families? Loved ones?"

"Sure we do," Jerso admitted.

"But as soon as we got these bodies, they were all told that we were dead," Zampano added. "And to them, we are." 

"Don't you want to see them again?" Al asked.

"Even if we did, how could we go back to them like this?" Zampano replied.

Al scoffed. "So you don't want to get your original bodies back then. You're content the way you are now, is that it?"

"No, how could we be?!" Zampano said angrily.

"Of course we want our true bodies back." Jerso snapped back.

"There's your answer. I don't want to hear a bunch off fatalistic nonsense. Why not live and learn whether there's a chance of getting your bodies back?"

"How could you possibly know what we're going through?" Jerso asked.

From the back where the others stood, Ed snorted and gave Winry a look which she returned with a small smile, "They are so screwed." 

"And what chance do we have of going back?"

Al angrily shoved his helmet off, showing the armours hollow shell as her roughly declares, "Well, I'm going back. No matter how long it takes, I'm not giving up!"

"Major!" the soldier with them calls out. "It's not good. A snowstorm."

"We can't complete a snowbound march with this equipment," Miles said. "We have no chance of reaching the fort." 

Winry turned to Ed. "What do we do now?"

"This is a mining town, isn't it?" Yoki asks them all blandly."Why don't we just go in the underground tunnels?" 

"What's wrong?" Yoki asks as he looks around fearfully at the awed expressions he's getting from them. He raised a finger. "I mean, this is a pretty large mine, right? So surely there's a tunnel that can take us beyond the mountains? Uh…I think."

"That's it!" Al and Ed shouted.

"Mr. Yoki!" May yells out excitedly.

"Hey," Yoki said, chuckling as he put a hand to his chin. "Give me some credit. This is what I did for a living."

"He's right. The tunnels come out passed the mountain." the soldier confirms.

"Right," Miles says, "Once you run into Briggs soldiers, just hand them this." He closed the book and held it out to Dr. Marcoh. "I've explained our arrangement so you shouldn't have any trouble with them."

"Thank you. But there's still the matter of the young Ms. Rockbell. She can accompany us to the fort of course, but when word gets out that she's missing, won't Alphonse be the first people they suspect?" 

"I can handle myself." Al protests.

"No," Miles shuts him down, slightly switching into Mother Hen Mode, not that the man noticed but both Ed and the soldier did as they hide a giggle behind their fists at the man's overprotectiveness. "This is Kimblee we're dealing with. He's very skeptical. He's automatically going to be suspicious of whatever we tell him."

"Um," Winry said, causing Al to look at her. "I hate to be the one to suggest this. But, uh," She turned to look at Ed. "What do you think Kimblee would do if I was suddenly taken hostage by Scar?"

"You want him to kidnap you?" Al asks her in slight disbelief.

"Hold on, Winry," Ed said. "You're saying…You want us to let him go?"

"Right, Scar runs away carrying me," Winry explains. "Then Trick, you and the others try desperately to stop him, or at least that's what you pretend to do." She looks at Ed and Al. "You understand?"

"You can't do that!" Ed is practically shouting at this point. "You're crazy!" 

"Well, I don't have a choice, do I?" She throws a hand over her chest. "I'm hostage either way so I might as well get to choose my capturer." 

"But he's a mass murderer. There's no reason for you to be risking your life!" Al argues.

"Don't you get it? It's time for you to learn that you don't have to do everything alone."

"Make up your minds." Miles pipes up from behind them. "The storm is coming in. If we don't hurry, we won't be able to get out of here."

The soldier by the window looked towards the group. "I can see Kimblee's forces now."

"Us too," Jerso speaks up from his bindings.  "Please, you have to take us with you too. I know you don't trust us. So I understand if you want to keep us tied up. Kimblee shows no mercy to troops who fail to accomplish their mission."

"One way or the other, we're dead," Zampano said. "Besides. We don't want to give up either."

Al makes a happy little sequel and Ed turns to his uncle as he whispers, "There's no point anymore, Al's all for it and if you can't handle my puppy dog eyes, you'll never make it past 5 seconds of Al's."

Marcoh asks them, "How do we know you mean that? You realize if you do anything to obstruct us the whole country could be destroyed. Including your families and everyone you care about."

"Wait! Hold on! Just what are you saying?" 

"I don't understand. The Central forces weren't told about any of this." Jerso said.

"Please, we need to know me. What's going on?" Zampano pleads with them.

 

 


 

 

"You're sure about this?" Miles asks for what Ed believes is the millionth time in the last 5 minutes.

"Yeah, I'm sure everyone will feel a whole lot better if we're tied up," Jerso tells them gratefully.

Miles turned to look at Scar. "Alright, Scar, give us a good performance."

"I know what I'm doing." He replied harshly. 

"And you will keep your oath, your solemn word as a true Ishvalan." Miles bites back to which Scar just nods solemnly.

"Excuse me, miss." The soldier said quickly to Winry. "Your ears."

She gives him a confused look, "Your earrings are made out of metal. If you don't take them out, you'll get frostbite." The soldier explained. "Oh," Winry breathes out as she started to remove her earrings.

She turns to Ed, "Trick! You hang onto these for me. There very precious to me, Ed gave'em and I know you were a good friend so I trust you to take good care fo them for me. I'll see you back at the fort."

She turned back around and jogged up the stairs leaving a solemn Ed who looked at her with eyes full of sadness and shoulders tense as he fights the urge to hug her and never let her go again.

 

 


 

 

Riza stared down at her hands, taking note of the nicks, scars and callouses on them. She was distracted that much was true. Ever since her nightmare last night, she couldn't get Ed out of her mind and it was killing her. She had been doing so good, trying to stay strong for Roy not even realizing that maybe, just maybe, it had been the other way around.

A hand placed itself over her fiddling fingers and Riza looks up to see her love, Roy, smiling at her fondly as the two waited for Madam Christmas and this Trick character to get on with all these secrets. In truth, Riza just wanted to go home. She was just so...tired. All the time. Emotionally drained and she was barely functioning as it was. Nothing they would tell her could give her what she really wanted. They couldn't give her back her sons, her babies, her Ed.

"Can we get on with this? It's been a long..." her love trailed off, sounding just as tired as she and Riza knew it wasn't much, not with she herself being just as much of a mess, but she scooted closer and placed her head on his shoulder. Their hands lay in her lap as she traced the scars on his palms and while it wasn't much; she could feel Roy lose some of the tension he held.

"'A long' what, Roy?" His aunt Chris asked them. 

"It's been a long month, Madam. I have no doubt that you already know, but..." Roy trailed off once more, his eyes losing focus and his hand tightening in her own. "But our eldest passed away recently and we...we haven't been taking it very well. And with everything else, it's just making it harder on us."

Madame Christmas 'hmm' as she took a long drag of her cigarette, blowing smoke out into the empty room as her dark eyes took in their haggard appearances. "Yes, I know, the brat mentioned it before he went off galivanting with my favourite bottle of whiskey." She laughs, one so gruff from years of unused, and it startles them.

"Look, I'm going to be blunt, but I was opposed to not telling you two from the start, but the kid insisted, saying he didn't want you guys to get hurt. I don't think he really thought it through, but then again, he was your kid, so there was no use in telling him no; he was too much like you to listen to me."

Riza blinked, her confusion plain as day," I'm sorry, but what are you talking about?"

"Your brat, Ed."

"What about him? He's dead Madame and a week after we have to bury his empty casket, you're spouting nonsense." Roy tenses as he speaks to his aunt, form his side, Riza begins to shed a few tears.

Madame Christmas rolls her eyes," That's the thing Roy-boy, he isn't."

"Isn't what?"

"Dead."