Series: Fullmetal Alchemist (Animeverse)
Words: 1,331 (1,331 total)
Warnings: Slash, swearing
Status: In Progress
Spoilers: Yes, up till the end of the series.
Summary: Ed and Roy find themselves in the hands of a madman with a vendetta, one with a very unique idea of what constitutes 'Equivalent Exchange.'
Dichotomy (dahy-kot-uh-mee) n.
1. Division into two parts, kinds, etc.; subdivision into halves or pairs.
2. Division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups.
Edward lay curled up on cold concrete, listening to the even breathing of the man beside him. The wet, alarming rattle that accompanied every breath had not gone away, but at least Roy was sleeping. He hadn’t slept enough lately, and Ed knew that was his fault. Roy worried too much about him, and that worry kept the man awake long after Edward had passed out from exhaustion or pain. In spite of everything, he was glad the general was there, and he couldn’t help but feel a stab of guilt at being so selfish. Roy was his anchor; talking to Edward during the long dark hours, the sound of his voice a comfort Ed could not have done without.
Roy’s voice held the despair at bay.
He suspected it might be the same for the general; that having Edward to look after, someone to talk to outside his own head was what kept him sane. They kept each other from giving up, each reminding the other that there was a world outside their prison, and that even if the rest of the world forgot them, there were a handful of people who would never stop looking. It was a slim hope really, and Ed was pretty sure he and Roy were doing nothing but exchanging their self-delusions, but it was better than sitting alone in the darkness, waiting to die.
Edward shifted and stretched cramped muscles as best he could in the too-small cage, careful to avoid jostling the man beside him. If he looked hard enough, he could barely make out the steady rise and fall of Roy’s chest; everything beyond was swallowed in darkness. Outside the cage was a quiet medley of sound, animal noises belonging to the occupants of other cages in this strange prison. Ed had seen a few when the lights were on; the wolf directly across from them, birds and reptiles and other things glimpsed when they dragged him from the cage for his ‘sessions.’
The cold floor was leeching away any heat he might produce, leaving him chilled to the bone. Ed pulled the oversized shirt his wore over his knees in an attempt to capture some warmth. The shirt belonged to Roy; his own clothing had been taken and not returned after his first session. The thin fabric did little to keep him warm and he shifted closer to Roy, torn between not wanting to wake him and the need for warmth and human contact. Roy usually insisted that Ed keep the dirty, threadbare blanket, but after the general had fallen asleep, Ed had carefully tucked it around the older man. Roy was sick; he wasn’t.
The debate was solved for him when Roy suddenly rolled onto his side and coughed, a wet, chest-deep hacking that sent a prickle of fear up Edward’s spine. He wasn’t sure what was wrong with Roy, but the sickness seemed to be in his lungs, and Ed was terrified the other man was going to die. The fit passed, and Roy groaned and rolled on his back with a muttered curse. Without a word, Ed slipped beneath the small blanket and curled against Roy’s side, tucking his head under his chin. He was long past any sort of embarrassment over the close contact.
Roy shifted slightly and wrapped an arm around him. “You’re freezing,” he said, concern coloring his words as he rubbed Ed’s arm, trying to warm him.
“Yeah, well, I’m not the one who keeps trying to cough up a lung,” Ed snapped, worry making the words sharper than he had intended. “You need to keep warm more than I do.”
A gentle touch on his hair. “I’m not going to die, Ed,” Roy said, addressing the unspoken fear.
“Who said I was worried?” he demanded weakly, curling closer and snaking an arm over Roy’s chest. More than anything, Ed hated how helpless he was. He fought them when he could, minor rebellion that never got him anywhere. The loss of his arm rendered his alchemy useless, and there was nothing he could do for Roy but try to keep the man warm and tie himself in knots with worry. After their ordeal, Edward found himself much closer to the general than he had imagined possible, and the idea of losing Roy frankly terrified him.
Roy said nothing, merely held him tighter in response.
Light flooded the room and Edward started awake, blinking owlishly at the sudden brightness. He hadn’t meant to fall asleep. He sat up, trading a glance with Roy and waited to see what the day would bring. Sometimes, they were ignored in favor of other experiments. Sometimes the tall, thin one, the one Ed had dubbed ‘Glasses’ would just talk; the ramblings often mad, but some days frighteningly sane. Often, they took Ed for another torturous session.
The sound of footsteps and a moment later, Glasses crouched in front of their cage, smiling. Ed tensed; that smile usually did not bode well.
“Good morning Edward, General,” he sang, mad brown eyes finding Edward’s.
Ed met that gaze steadily, practically growling out his hatred of the man. Unease gripped him; something was different today.
“Did you sleep well?” The man asked, “I do hope so. You’ll need your strength today; it would be a shame if you died.” Edward froze, eyes darting to Roy for a brief moment. That wasn’t part of the pattern, and it made the hairs on his neck stand on end. Glasses was always rambling about revenge; would this be the day he decided to kill him?
“The problem with this procedure,” Glasses continued, motioning to the mountain of a man --the one Ed thought of as ‘Bear.’-- that served as his assistant. “Is that the fatality rate is very high. You will die eventually, of course, but you have not yet suffered enough. Not nearly enough.”
Ed fought down the dread that threatened and shrugged out of Roy’s shirt. He always left it behind when they took him, otherwise he likely wouldn’t see it again. Glasses pulled a gun out of his coat and trained it calmly on Roy. A simple way to ensure cooperation on both their parts. If Ed fought, Roy died. If Roy fought, Roy died.
Sliding around Roy towards the door of the small cage, he paused when the older man reached out and grabbed his wrist. Run. Roy mouthed, his back to their captor so he wouldn’t see. Ed scowled and jerked his wrist from Roy’s grip, angry that the general thought he was coward enough to make a run for it and leave the other man for dead. Screw him and his martyr complex anyway; they got out together or not at all.
He could say none of this however, and so he settled on a glare and a muttered, “Keep warm,” as he knelt by the door, waiting. Bear unlocked the door and caught Ed’s arm in a strong grip, helping him out before slamming the door shut again with a sharp clang, the lock clicking back into place.
Glasses returned the gun to his pocket and stood. Ed kicked at the bastard hard out of pure spite, snarling when Glasses stepped easily out of the way. He frowned, annoyed. “You should be conserving your strength." The smile returned and Ed shivered. "You’ll need it.”
Ed stumbled when Bear suddenly nudged him toward the lab and through the door. A vague fear heavy in his gut, Ed twisted in Bear’s grip, trying to get one last look at Roy. His eyes met the older man’s worried gaze for a brief moment before the door slammed shut.