Series: Fullmetal Alchemist
Words: 3,515 (17,548 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.'
Previous Chapters:Prologue - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3
There was nothing but darkness, an impenetrable black in every direction. It wasn’t an ominous sort of darkness; it was quite peaceful in a peculiar sort of way, and so Edward was content with it. Here there was no time, no matter, nothing at all, and so he was vaguely startled when a shape emerged from the darkness.
It was a wolf, gray and black and peering at him with yellow eyes that seemed to glow. Edward thought he should probably be alarmed, but he couldn’t muster the energy to care, and so continued to watch placidly as the creature approached. It came within a few feet and then sat back on its haunches, cocking its head and regarding him with an intelligent stare. Edward blinked---
---and became the wolf, staring up at the human who watched in mild curiosity. They regarded each other for a long moment, and the more time passed the more the line between man and beast blurred, coming together in double vision as he regarded himself from two sets of eyes.
Between one heartbeat and the next, they vanished, and Edward stared down at a body he could not see and wondered who he was.
Awareness came to him slowly, as though he were clawing his way up through a thick, heavy fog that kept dragging him back down. Slowly, slowly, the fog retreated, and he became aware of his body, a dull throbbing pain that hurt everywhere, spiking in time with his breathing. He became aware of the cold, hard floor beneath him, the stink of too many animals in too small a space, the touch of another living creature.
A rumbling growl became a snarl as he leaped up and away from the other creature. Too slow in a body that felt all wrong; he stumbled, falling against cold bars, muscles screaming agony. The creature moved toward him and he growled a warning. He was weak, too weak to fight and he couldn’t help the relief when the creature stopped, drew back.
Gaze darting around the small space, he searched for an escape and found none. A sound, and he tensed, crouching down as best he could and rumbling another warning. The animal was not prey, but neither was it predator. He did not drop his guard. Not-predator was less dangerous, but less danger was not none at all. He dared to look away, to peer between the bars into the dark beyond; there seemed no escape from this trap.
His head snapped back to the other animal, but something...something seemed familiar. Slowly, cautiously he stretched a little, scenting the air between them. The other creature smelled of anxiety, almost overwhelmed by the stink of illness. Beyond that, the scent of the animal was strangely familiar, yet he could not place it. Something told him there was no danger in that scent, and he relaxed slightly, confused.
The scent brought with it a plethora of images, starting and stopping in no coherent pattern; a scattered slideshow of places and faces he felt he should recognize. Try as he might, he couldn’t quite grasp the meaning of it all, and then the images were gone, chased away by a wind-but-not that settled inside him. It was cool and placid, soothing away the startled fear and confusion.
Pack, it asserted.
The other creature hadn’t moved, and so he allowed his attention to shift instead to the curious wind. It made no sound, spoke no words and yet somehow still seemed...confident.
The scent was familiar because it was the scent of a pack mate. The knowledge came to him suddenly, and he knew in a distant sort of way that it came from the wind. It seemed to have a much better grasp of the situation, so he yielded to it.
It was an almost physical jolt, and then the wind was gone and he wondered briefly if they had ever been separate. He dismissed the thought as inconsequential and sat back to study his pack mate, no longer concerned now that he had been identified. It was a peculiar thing, he mused, studying the creature. This male was most certainly pack. He was also undeniably human, and that was strange. Humans were the reason he was here; stealing him away from his pack and his home, putting him into a tiny box and giving him food that made his head all wrong. There had never been any humans in his pack before, and he could not quite remember when that had changed.
He peered down curiously. That was another matter. Had he always been male? His memories could not seem to form any sort of agreement on the matter and he let it drop. It made very little difference, really.
"Edward, please." The strain in those words drew his attention back to his pack mate. Now that he was paying attention, he was troubled by the smell of anxiety and illness on the other male. He lurched forward and stumbled, growling at unresponsive limbs. Nothing seemed to be working the way it should. After a moment he managed a limping gait and shuffled over to his pack mate.
Limbs trembling from the small exertion, he half collapsed against the other. He had meant to offer some sort of comfort, but he hurt badly and he was so tired, and instead curled up beside his pack mate with a heavy sigh. A touch on his head, and he made a sleepy, pleased sound.
"Ed? Say something, please. Let me know that you’re still in there." The anxiety was still there, sharp and pronounced.
All he could manage was a weak nudge at the leg his head was resting on before sleep claimed him.
He awoke disoriented, flailing weakly and promptly stilled at a touch on his head. He peered up at his pack mate, breathing heavily, and could not quite remember what had startled him from sleep.
The other male kept making that sound, and something told him it should mean something to him. Ed. He turned the sound around in his head a few times. Ed. He frowned. Edward. It tickled at the edge of his consciousness. Edward.
A name. His name. The realization triggered a flood of memory, a pained sound escaping him at the onslaught. He couldn’t quite seem to hold on to any of them; it was like trying to catch water in his hands. He clung to his name in the midst of it all, a raft in the storm. He was Edward Elric. That was important. It had to be remembered.
Eventually the flood slowed and stopped, but when he examined the aftermath, none of it seemed to make any sense. His head throbbed fiercely, and with a pained sigh he pried open his eyes and met the worried gaze of the other male.
He snatched at the knowledge, drawing it close to him. He was Edward, and that was Roy. With slow, steadfast determination he plucked bits of himself from the wreckage of the flood and held on tightly. It was by no means everything, but enough to restore a little of his sense of self; something that had been buried deeply beneath the alien mind that was now a part of his.
With a growing sense of horror, Ed realized what had been done to him.
It was hard to keep his thoughts in any sort of order, alien impulses and instincts battering the tattered remains of his sanity like a sail in a storm. He was tired, and it was so hard to keep his head above the roiling sea of strangeness that now occupied his mind. Edward wanted to talk, wanted to offer some reassurance he himself did not feel, but every time he opened his mouth the sounds that came out were nothing like words. Nothing human at all.
Everything came and went in chaotic waves, and Edward struggled to keep himself amidst it all. Roy’s constant presence and his scent seemed to calm the chaos. Roy was pack, pack was safe, and that feeling made it much easier to think. It was as if there were two minds in one head, clashing and tangling, the force of one nearly burying the other. He couldn’t seem to figure out which way was which, and one moment Roy was Roy, and he next he was pack, and the longer this confused circle went on the less and less Edward could figure out which way it was supposed to be.
He leaned heavily against Roy’s side, eyes closed. His head felt as though it were being torn in two, one side screaming that he was human and the other asserting that he was no such thing. He swallowed heavily several times, and at length he managed to find the words that had eluded him. "Hurts," he rasped, and his voice was deeper and rougher than it should have been.
Roy startled, but to Ed’s relief the anxiety smell lessened. The arm around his shoulder tightened and Edward took the opportunity to squirm a little closer. The contact was nice, it helped, it calmed the storm in his head a little. "What hurts?" Roy asked softly, relief coloring the words.
That was a stupid question, Ed thought, and for a wild moment he wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. "Everything," was his reply. That was just pain though, and pain would go away so he added, "Head. Thoughts." It was so hard to convey his own thoughts when he could barely hang on to them himself, and speaking hurt. It was as if his throat no longer worked the way it should.
Roy seemed to catch his meaning, and the anxiety smell intensified, and a whine tore itself from Ed’s throat before he could stop it. He didn’t like the anxiety smell, didn’t like his pack mate’s distress, and he pushed himself up and nuzzled Roy’s chin in an effort to soothe him.
Roy stiffened a bit, and then relaxed. "I’m all right," he assured, voice strangely tight, his scent belying his words. "I’m just worried about you."
Edward was distracted by the sound of footsteps above, and he growled when the light flicked on. A moment later a man in a familiar white coat appeared, and all thought was washed away by rage, and he threw himself against the bars, snarling. The man started, taking several steps back, and he felt a vicious sort of satisfaction. The man was prey, and the stink of fear was evident, and if only he could get out he’d give the bastard every reason to be afraid.
The bastard seemed to recover from his surprise, but the fear smell was still strong and Edward growled as he came closer. The anger was fierce, the urge to kill stronger, and he slammed himself against the bars again, snapping and snarling. Black hatred surged, and Edward wanted the bars gone so that he could rip out the bastard’s throat with his teeth.
The man, for his part, remained carefully out of reach to Ed’s mounting frustration. "Well," he said at length. "It appears that I was successful." Edward slammed himself into the bars again, mindless of the pain.
Something touched him and he snapped savagely before he realized that it was Roy. He settled slightly, feeling guilt that he had nearly bitten him in his anger. With one last impotent snarl at the man outside the cage, he shifted back to Roy and settled once more at his pack mate’s side.
This seemed to interest the man. "Oh, how fortunate. It seems he has retained some measure of affection for you, General. It appears you’ll be of some use after all."
Roy seethed with barely controlled fury. "Why did you do this to him?" While he was relieved that something, at least, of Ed remained, there was no telling how deep the damage went. It was beyond cruel. Ed was resting against his leg once again, eyelids drooping, and Roy worried that he couldn’t seem to stay awake for more than minutes at a time.
"Why?" the other man said, and Roy was surprised. He hadn’t expected a response. "He murdered my son, that’s why."
"What?" Roy blurted, shocked. He wasn’t sure what he had expected to hear, but that wasn’t it.
Glasses was oddly calm, glancing at Ed before returning his attention to Roy. "Not just my son, but thousands. Fathers and husbands and sons, all murdered in cold blood."
Roy shook his head in disbelief. "Edward would never--"
"But he did, General," the other man cut in. "It has not been so long that you could have forgotten what happened in Liore. When your young friend lured thousands to their death to make for himself a philosopher’s stone."
For a moment, Roy could only stare. They had spent the last months in captivity only because the man was grossly misinformed. It would have been funny if it wasn’t so horrible. "That wasn’t Ed. It was Scar."
"The rogue Ishbalan, yes. I am aware that it is the military’s official stance on the matter, but I’m no fool. The man would not have had the knowledge to create the stone, but beyond that don’t you think it’s telling that the only survivor was Edward’s own brother?"
The bastard’s mouth was set in a firm line, and Roy realized in dismay that no matter what he said he would not convince the man of the error of his assumptions. Even if he could, the worst of the damage had been done, so Roy merely sighed and looked away. Edward had fallen asleep again while they spoke.
A few moments passed in silence, and their captor said, "I was curious to see if he would kill you, but it appears not. It is better this way, I think. When I force him to watch while I kill you, perhaps he will better understand the pain of having someone he cares for murdered. The brother would have been better, but you will serve." He smiled, and the sight was chilling. "It is nothing more than Equivalent Exchange. He will suffer as I have suffered, he will lose as I have lost."
Roy refused to look at him, but he couldn’t stop the shiver that ran down his spine. It wasn’t unexpected. He had known on some level that his time was limited, but he hadn’t expected it in this fashion. The notion of being put down like an animal was bad enough; but Edward being forced to watch? It made him ill to think about. Roy stared down at the dirty blond head beneath his hand and realized that their time had finally run out.
Havoc bounced his knee, alternately staring out the window at the countryside whizzing by and looking over the car packed with soldiers. Only a few more hours he told himself, trying to soothe his nerves. A few more hours and they would arrive, and he could finally do something. After all the damned waiting and wondering he was privately itching for a little action. He just hoped he found the two of them in one piece.
There was a discreet cough, and Havoc looked up to find one of Keats’ men standing beside him. The man offered a lazy salute before taking the bench across from Jean uninvited. He tried to keep the mistrust off his face and quirked an eyebrow at the man curiously.
"Ah, sorry to bother you Lieutenant," the man said, not sounding sorry in the slightest. "I just wanted to have a word with you before we arrived."
Jean said nothing, and was privately pleased when the man fidgeted slightly.
"I was told to inform you that we have reason to believe that there will be research of a very ah, sensitive nature at the target’s home, and that we--"
Jean was getting sick and fucking tired of other people telling him how this was going to go down. "I don’t give a shit what you think we’re doing, Sergeant, but I can assure you that the rescue operation is my first priority. Once we get our men out of there, I don’t give a damn if you want to strip the place down to its foundations, but I will not compromise the rescue operation over research of any nature, sensitive or not," he barked. "Understood?"
He received a mumbled, "Yessir," and a sullen glare before the man slinked away. Jean watched him go with savage pleasure. Keats was going to be pissed, especially if he didn’t get what he wanted out of it, but Jean was caring less and less. Let the man court martial him, he really did not give a flying fuck right this moment.
He returned his gaze outside, and noted sourly that the sky was dark and heavy with rain. It would be just their damned luck if the sky decided to dump on the operation. Of course, in his experience mother nature was often a bitch, and very rarely accommodating. He sighed as a fat raindrop splattered on the window, followed closely by its fellows. Well, so much for hoping.
He glanced at his watch. Only two hours. He could manage two hours without going crazy, Jean was sure of it. Pretty sure anyway. Moderately sure, at the very least. He sighed, resting his head against the glass and wishing he could wind down enough to catch a nap before they hit Dover.
Edward was woken once again by an unwelcome presence, and he grumbled as he cracked an eye, peering beyond the bars of the cage. It was not the man from before, but someone else. He struggled with the name briefly before he managed to grasp it.
It was Bear, and Ed could only think of a handful of times he had seen the large man without his master. Maybe Glasses had sent him alone in the hopes that it would prevent Ed from getting so riled up again. Privately, he was glad. The more he slept, the more he seemed to find a balance in his mind, but it was a precarious one. Edward had the distinct notion that it wouldn’t take much to tip him over at all, and he had no desire to go through that horrifying loss of self again. It was bad enough as it was.
Bear beckoned to him, and Edward stared in disbelief. What more could the bastard possibly want of him? Bear opened the cage but made no move to remove him, and Edward found himself against the back bars before he had realized he’d moved. He didn’t want to go out there. He stared at Roy with rising anxiety. He didn’t want to be separated from his pack again, not again. He growled uncertainly when Bear moved. He didn’t want to hurt the man either.
The smell that came from Bear was an unnatural, confusing jumble of human and something else, and Edward realized that they were the same. That Bear had been put through the same hell he had experienced, and had not come out of it half so well. Bear moved again and he whined, hunching down. Not again, not again. He wouldn’t go, he wouldn’t. Victim or not, Edward would take off his hand before he allowed the man to touch him.
He sidled closer to Roy without ever taking his eyes from Bear. There came a touch at his shoulder, and words he couldn’t quite make sense of. He wouldn’t go.
Bear seemed to understand this, and after a moment of confused thought, closed the cage once again and vanished back up the stairs. Edward relaxed marginally, but he was not gone more than a few moments before he returned with a peculiar looking gun. Edward barely had time to growl before the weapon went off, sharp pain blooming in his chest. He stared down in shock, some distant corner of his mind noting that it was not a bullet, but a dart. He stumbled, limbs going weak and unresponsive, falling against Roy when they refused to hold him any longer.
He lay there, still conscious but paralyzed, and Roy made a valiant effort to prevent Bear from taking him, but in his weakened state he didn’t present much of a barrier to the larger and stronger man. Bear gently removed him from the cage, and Edward stared at Roy with a low whine.
They did not go far; Bear simply moved him across the way, depositing him in the cage that had been vacated by-- he shut the thought down, struggling with traitorous limbs, unable to make anything move. The cage was closed and locked, and Edward stared across the short distance that separated him from Roy. The other man was speaking again, but the words made no sense and Edward whined, rising anxiety tipping the careful balance in his mind and washing him away.