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29 October 2010 @ 09:25 am
Fic: Face Your Demons  
Title: Face Your Demons
Author: inulovinkit
Series: manga/brotherhood
Word Count: 2,972
Rating: PG-13
Characters: Ed
Summary: After being impaled and blacking out in chapter 76, Ed's subconscious decides it has a few things to say to him.
Warnings: language, some scary imagery

Photobucket



He wasn’t in pain anymore.

Everything felt…calm. Serene. Content. He knew he was safe; he didn’t have to worry.

There was nothing to worry about.

He floated across the endless white space. His eyes were closed, but he could still see it; he was still a part of it. White, empty, nothingness.

His toes were cold. He opened his eyes. He was naked, but there was nothing wrong with that; no one was around to see him. But why were only his toes cold, when the rest of him was…?

Briggs. That’s right, he was in Briggs. He remembered that outfit he wore; his usual black pants and shirt and vest, but with a bit of fur trim to his red coat. When he thought it, he found himself clothed in it. But there was a big red stain on his coat?

Yeah, he was in Briggs…And he had been fighting Kimblee…and a beam had hit him. Impaled him. He lost a lot of blood and…

And…?

Where was he? He wasn’t in Briggs…This place sort of reminded him of the Gate.

Was that where he was, the Gate? No, he didn’t think so…the Gate had that creepy Truth hanging around it. Truth wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to mock him, especially not now.

His wound was pretty bad, wasn’t it? Well, that’s what he got for not being careful…At least the others were all right…

Somehow, he knew they’d be okay. Major Miles would look after them. Al would look after them. They would be all right…all of them…

And then he got a flash of someone—someone he recognized, but at the same time, their name eluded him. Just a silhouette, and a smile. He should know that smile. But their name—

He hoped, whoever they were, that they’d be all right. They had to be.

...Snow?

He looked up to see those white flakes falling softly down from the sky…wherever it was. He reached out a hand, his human one, this time, and felt the cold, wet flakes drop into his palm.

He liked snow. They hardly ever got it in Resembool. Except that one time when they were kids. They made huge snowmen and rolled around making snow angels, and then got into a snowball fight with all the other kids. He remembered when Granny dragged them home because he threw a big wet one at the neighbor kid that had been eyeing up—

Eyeing up…who…?

His feet met the ground, crunching the snow beneath his boots. He walked, not sure where he was going, but he trusted himself to find the way. There was something waiting at the end. Someone was waiting for him.

The snow suddenly turned to rain; large drops that splashed from above and hit him like big, wet tears.

Crying.

Was someone crying?

He couldn’t make any of them cry. Not over him.

The snow vanished, as grass formed under his feet. Soft grass. Wide open country…Resembool.

These clothes were too hot for Resembool…and suddenly his red coat and black jacket vanished, leaving him in only his black shirt.

He saw those fields he knew…those fields he played in when he was young…his old house, the one he had burnt down…

And his mother.

She was there, laughing as she hung laundry on the line, as two golden haired little boys played around her. After another laugh, she looked right at him, with a soft smile.

“Mom…” he heard himself whisper.

And she still smiled back, “Edward. You’ve grown up.”

“Mom!” He reached for her, just wanting to hold her—desperately hold on to some part of his past. But the second his fingertips—fingers made of cold metal—touched her, she vanished. “Come back!

The sky became dark; he was not at his house anymore. It was also a place he knew—the graveyard. Looking down, he saw that simple, worn stone that was familiar to him in childhood;

Trisha Elric

1878-1904


Nowhere on the stone did it mention her life. Nowhere on the stone did it mention she was a beloved mother, much missed. Nowhere did it say all the wonderful things she did—like comforting Al when he was scared during a thunderstorm, or the way she would always remember to give him juice instead of milk at dinner, or how she would smile at them with a smile that let them know they were loved—All it had was just her name and dates. Insignificant things!

He heard a sniffle. Beside him was a small boy he knew well. A little boy curled up against his mother’s gravestone, taking comfort in a last vestige of her. A small boy that would sneak out of the house at night and cry. He couldn’t cry during the day because his little brother would see. He didn’t want his brother to see.

He was the man of the house now; he couldn’t cry. He couldn’t show weakness. He had to be strong.

Strong enough to take care of everyone.

“You’re not strong.”

Ed turned; the little boy was gone. Now it was sunset, and someone stood between him and Granny Pinako’s house. Someone he knew from memories that gave him a bad taste.

Hohenhiem!” he snarled, fists clenching.

Hohenhiem looked at him behind thick glasses with eyes narrowed in spite. Displeasure. Disgust. “You’re not strong at all, Edward. You’re weak.”

“I’m not weak!” He wanted to punch him. Pound his face in! But he couldn’t move. He was stuck there just like he was on that day, unable to move and forced to listen.

“You can’t protect them. Not until you learn—”

“I don’t need to learn!” He wanted to turn and march on his heel, leaving that bastard in the dust. He didn’t have to listen to this! What did a bastard know about his life? Nothing!

“You do.” Hohenhiem stepped closer, tall and intimidating and glaring down like he thought him no more than a bug to be squished. “Because you don’t protect them because you want to do it. You protect them because you know it’s your fault!”

“My…” His mouth felt dry. And then the sky became dark. Sweat beaded on his forehead and his stomach churned as he realized— “No…”

Edward…

He was in that room again. Dark and musty and the smell of burnt hair in the air—The iron taste of blood was at his lips, and he fell to the ground without a leg to support him.

Edward…

Tears filled his eyes. “No, stop—!”

Edward!

A slimy, rotting hand grabbed his wrist and pulled him forward. Golden eyes flew wide open in terror as he was forced to see it—see the empty eye sockets and upside down face as it opened its mouth and grinned wide and lopsided. Blood oozed from every orifice, and it took a ragged breath like a death rattle. Its open rip cage heaved, and then it screamed.

LOOK AT ME!

As the creature—the thing that was supposed to be his mother— held him captive, Ed saw someone else watching him from behind it. Someone reaching a hand out and screaming, but no sound could be heard. “Al!”

And then as Al opened his mouth to scream again, he dissolved into nothingness. “Al!

Hohenhiem was there. And he looked down at his son—bleeding and terrified—with only contempt. “How many more will die because of your selfishness?”

Then he saw them all, one by one, as they flashed before his eyes. Nina, laughing and playing until she cried out as she disappeared from existence. The slicer brothers, ripped to pieces by Lust and Envy as he could only sit and watch. Hughes, winking back before he was struck down with a single shot. Greed, and his gang in Dublith, ripped apart by a rain of bullets. Ling, grimacing and writhing in pain while Ed worked to free himself from Envy, but nothing—he could do nothing—he never could do anything—!

“All of them are dead, and you couldn’t lift a finger to save them! How can you say you’ll protect them when so many have died already?”

Ed couldn’t look back at him, feeling the tears welling up. “No, you don’t…you don’t know anything—!”

“You’ve failed, and you’ll fail again!”

No—I—!”

He was forced to watch as it played. Al’s armor body melting as his soul disappeared forever. Mustang shot by one assassin’s bullet. Hawkeye taken down by an army firing at her; fighting to the last. Ling impaled on King Bradley’s sword, his own falling slack in his grip. Then there was a flash of a girl with blonde hair screaming as someone came up behind her, and Ed burst free of his captor, “STOP IT!

He was at the Gate of Truth. His footsteps echoed as he turned in the endless white, to see someone he knew well standing behind him.

“That’s why…you have to save me.” Al’s body said, pointing a thin, gnarled finger at him. “Because if you don’t, your soul will never be saved.”

Hohenheim was there, folding his arms in disapproval. “You’re not worth saving.”

Hohenhiem’s glasses faded away, and his clothes changed to those robes that the creature beneath Central wore. “What have you done to deserve saving?” Father laughed at him. “All you’ve done is cause trouble and gotten people killed! All you bring to others is pain and death—!”

Ed took a step back, but his legs felt heavy…He stumbled back, into the cold, unforgiving stone of the gate. The gate shook and slowly opened with a creak. Ed gasped and tried to move away—far away from that place, but laughing tentacles of blackness burst out and grabbed him…pulled him down…down…And he was surrounded by suffocating dark and eerie shrieks and his name being called out by mocking shadows, “Edward…Edward…EDWARD!

Then he remembered something…something that from what seemed like ages ago…

“Your hands aren’t meant for killing. The save lives…Stand up! Walk on two legs!”

Golden eyes snapped open, and the blackness faded.

His falling slowed, until he landed on his feet back on that white plane. Hohenhiem was there, smirking at his visible fear. But then Hohenheim seemed to evaporate on the wind—and now it was Envy’s turn.

Grinning wildly, Envy laughed. “You’ll never save them! They’ll die and it’ll be your fault, Edward Elric! Who would trust you to save them, an alchemist that can only destroy what everyone else holds dear?”

Ed felt something in his metal hand. He looked down. His eyes widened as he saw it.

A Philosopher’s Stone. Glowing red, and twinkling alluringly. It was there. Tempting him.

It was made of human lives...human lives...It was wrong...

But...

He could save them. He could use this to save everyone! There would be no more need for pain—no more need for suffering! He could do it! A stone could do it! The ultimate alchemic powers could do it! They would all be—!

Envy’s pupils were reduced to slits as his demented grin opened wider. “You’re pathetic, Edward Elric! You’re nothing without your alchemy! Just a hopeless, weak, scared little boy!”

His automail arm and leg burst. Metal pieces and chunks flew in the air, falling too far away for him to gather them up…too far away to be fixed…Clutching his empty arm socket, Ed fell to the ground, unable to stand. Unable to crawl.

As his head landed on the ground, his eyes caught the red twinkle of the stone. It was still there. He reached his hand out. He could take it. He could fix himself and then the rest of them. It was his only hope.

If he didn’t have it, he would die here. He couldn’t die. He couldn’t die—!

His fingers were so close…so close…his middle finger brushed the stone. Yes! Yes!

Then Envy’s foot crashed down hard on his hand, breaking his fingers while he cried out. “I told you, you are nothing. You can’t do anything to save yourself, or anyone else. Why don’t you just give up?”

A single golden eye looked at the figure of Envy as he continued to smirk, standing triumphantly at his defeat. Give up?

Give up…

He let out a breath, and his eye closed. Give up…

He could do nothing. Every time he tried, he was led to failure. Time was running out—and he’d fail before there was anything he could do to stop it. He couldn’t even save one little girl. How could he save the whole country?

He was just a kid…just a useless kid who had no place trying to be a hero. He didn’t deserve to be the hero…They were all right…he didn’t deserve saving…it was his selfishness that got him there in the first place…

Why try to fight fate? He deserved this punishment. People like him didn’t deserve happiness…He would try, and no matter how hard, he would still fail. He should just take what he could get…

He remembered that nice place he woke up in. Silent. Calm. Content. No worries. Peaceful.

It was nice there. He could just stay there. Away from it all. There he could forget…he wouldn’t be around to mess it up for everyone else…

Just what he deserved…

“That’s right, Alchemist. Know your place.” Envy removed his foot. Though the hand Envy had stepped on was bruised, broken and bleeding, he felt something underneath his palm.

Something metal. Sticking into the skin.

Cracking his eyelids open, he slowly pulled his hand towards him, managing to turn his palm over to see what it was that he held so tightly in his hand.

Small pieces of metal…silver…tiny silver earrings.

Earrings…

Her earrings.

The ones she gave him…because she trusted him…

Because they had a promise.

His automail…she built it better than this. It wouldn’t break this easily…

“Accept it,” Envy continued to smirk. “You can’t save anyone.”

Golden eyes flickered up, now lit with a new fire. “Yes I can!

He clapped his hands—somehow his automail had reformed—and blasted away that pretender with a flurry of rock spikes.

Envy screamed in pain as his face re-formed with red sparks, as Ed got to his feet, pocketing those earrings.

“I can do it!” He told the homunculus, clapping his hands again. “Because they believe I can! I made a promise!”

He sent another wave of spikes, and Envy held out his fist and blocked them with ease. When the dust cleared, Envy had vanished. Now Greed stood in his place; the new Greed made by Ling.

“A promise, yes,” Greedling smirked. “But can you keep it? Or will you disappoint her again, like you did so many times before?”

Her…?

“Ed…”

He sucked in a breath as she appeared from nowhere; as if she had been there all along. She was not mean and mocking like the others; all she did was walk towards him, holding that warm smile he knew so well.

What is she doing here? She wasn’t supposed to be here…this was a place for demons, for fears and nightmares…she belonged in a world of light, of happiness and laughter.

Not here, with him.

“Winry…” He whispered, as she came up to him.

“Ed,” she smiled softly, reaching a hand out to touch his cheek. “You need to wake up.”

He hesitated. What if he broke her last promise?  “I break so many promises…I want to save people, but...”

She put her hands on her hips and leaned closer to him. “Ed, you’ve saved so many people already…You’ve saved me twice, remember?” she smiled. He blushed a little bit. “I know you’ll do it again.”

'I want to..."

“You will,” she smiled, reaching and taking his hand. His metal, imperfect hand. The hand she had made with as much love and tenderness as she could. She dropped something into his palm. It was those little pieces of silver, those earrings. “Because you made a promise.”

Her hand closed his fingers around the earrings. Her earrings. Their promise. “I did.”

She nodded. "And I know you'll keep it."

She gave him an arm and a leg to stand on. She gave him his life back when he had lost all hope. And now she was doing it again.

With that arm and leg…he would save as many people as he could. She smiled again, and he couldn’t help it. He smiled back.

“Besides,” she said cheerfully, as she began to fade from view. “If you don’t wake up, I’ll be sad.”

“Sad?”

She wasn’t the only one who would be sad.

“There are a lot of people waiting for you to get your bodies back.” Lieutenant Hawkeye had said.

“I’m not getting my body back, unless you get yours back, too.” Al told him.

And then her face broke into his mind, clear as day as she promised him, “You promised me the next time I would cry, I would cry tears of joy!”

Cry…

He didn’t want to break that promise, did he?

He felt himself flooding back to life, as all the pain and cold and scent of blood and sweat hit him at once. He formed a fist with his human hand, punching the ground below. It was still pain, but this time, a sweet pain.

Though his throat hurt from the cold and his mouth was clogged thick the rusted metal taste of blood, but he still managed to rasp out, “I’m not gonna…make everyone…cry…over me!”
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fractured_chaosfractured_chaos on October 29th, 2010 04:37 pm (UTC)
This was incredible! Yes, Ed my be a kid, but I think with the responsibilities he's taken on, even a hardened adult would still have to deal with this kind of uncertainty and fear. You played this very well, keeping him in character, while illustrating his fears.