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chauni

Between Pluto and God

chapter 6.

Hohenheim lingered on the street, ignoring the people who
milled past, too caught up in their own world to pay him any like mind. It had
been several days, and though the bruise had faded, the flat sheen that had
settled over his eyes had not, would not. His lips were pulled tight, thin,
and the wind blew a few loose strands of hair away from his trimmed cheeks.
A random damp page from yesterday's paper skipped, twirled, and struck his calf,
soaking his pants, before skittering away. He didn't need to look down to know
what it said, to know that a traitor had been caught, someone conspiring against
the German army, didn't need to know that it was Envy they were talking about,
fearing over. If only they knew...if only they knew.

He thought of raising his hand, of waving, of just showing
support in the common way of mankind. He thought of telling Edward as he walked
away, head hung low, pack heavy against his back, that he wished him luck, that
he could do it, that this was right. To be careful. To come home safe.
He thought of telling him that he was a good son, good people, a good...man.
He thought of telling him that Al would be proud, that Trisha was smiling over
him right now.

Instead, when he saw those legs still, that strong back
straighten, that head turn and determined amber eyes rest upon him, Hohenheim
kept his hands in his pockets and nodded. It was the little things that spoke
the most volume anyway.

Landsberg prison was thirty miles west of Munich, imposing
and dark in the moonlight. Edward stood some distance off, staring up at high,
stone walls, at impossible jumps and threatening peaks, and simply shook his
head. The frogs around him spoke their own disdain at the situation, and even
crickets seemed to hate the feel of the place as their chirping drew sounds
louder than flocks of birds. He smiled to himself, grinned, before clutching
the pack closer to his chest. He could feel the cruelty of the place, of the
people inside. He could feel the loneliness, the longing thrumming through the
air, electric like a pregnant thunderstorm, and slowly, he tipped his head back,
let his face and closed eyes face Heaven, while waiting for some sort of sign,
some sort of promise.

Not that he believed in God, per say, but someone out there.
Maybe Al. Maybe Mother.

Maybe Envy.

"A few more minutes," Edward whispered to himself, before
tilting his chin up at the prison. "You can be patient in there, can't you?"
He was silent, before starting to smirk while he gathered up his bag. "Who am
I kidding? Of course you can't, you eager little bastard."

How long had he been in here, Envy wondered. Days, he knew
for sure; through the barred slot in the window, he could sometimes see the
light of afternoon, feel the warmth of the sun as it squirmed through. But hours?
Or how many? He had stopped counting. Something like three days, maybe four,
but he thought he might be wrong. Maybe he should start counting the meals (if
the terrible, tasteless slop could even be called that).

His foot kicked aimlessly off the bed, swinging back and
forth without thought or meaning. Would that short little twerp come break him
out? After everything he had done to Hohenheim, would he come and rescue him?
He smirked, pulling his leg up and curling on his side. He supposed not. Which
meant, he would just have to break himself out. Maybe at the next meal, or the
next shower? Sometime before the trial, he hoped; he needed this done before
pictures got out and everyone knew his face. Soon. Soo—Dust, stones rained
down on his face, superseded only by the deafening boom that echoed through
the halls of the prison. Scrambling to his feet, Envy walked to the bars, curling
his fingers long the cool metal. "Don't you know, shorty," he muttered to himself,
"that it's rude to make a person wait?"

Dodging through the smoke and the falling debris, Edward
entered the prison in a draping black coat and a low-riding hat. He smirked
as he heard the yells, the frantic cries, the start of sirens that echoed through
the cells; he was near the shadowy dark walls himself, the only aspect that
saved him from being trampled by the oncoming officers.

Oops. Had he taken out the power-supply with that blast?
Oh, darn.

Who knew such a little thing as TNT was so powerful?

Edward ran as fast as his legs could carry him; he had
no idea where Envy would be in a place this huge, had no clue where to find
him, but he did know one thing thanks to the few past inmates he had stumbled
upon and bribed: there was an office on the second floor, complete with files
of every inmate that this place housed, past and present. They had said the
stairs were off to the northwest of the building, off to—there! Sprinting
made him pant a little; when was the last time he had done something so taxing?
And for someone like Envy, really?! Envy owed him one. Well, more like three
or four, but that was beside the point.

Rounding the bottom of the stairs, he started to dart up,
only slowing down when he heard someone scream, "Hey" behind. With a curse under
his breath, he peered over his shoulder towards the few soldiers that had stopped
running and were busy leveling rifles at him. Taking the steps three at a time,
he ran up the remainder just as the gunfire was going off, ricocheting off the
stone stairs inches beneath his feet. Once he rounded the corner at the crest,
more of the TNT (precious new invention that it was) was laid down at the top
and ignited, leaving Edward to run down the hallways as fast as his mismatched
legs would allow him before that end of the room erupted in another explosion.
Stopping for breath had become a necessity, and doubled over, Ed looked around
as best as he could. There were two main passageways, one veering towards the
left and a wide one heading forward. Wide. Wide enough for carts. For trays.
For...mass quantities of things for mass quantities of inmates.

Pushing off the wall, Edward made his way to the left,
ignoring the calls of officers from other ends of the buildings. This was going
to get heated soon, too soon if he asked himself, and he needed to speed this
up if he was going to get out of here in one piece like he oh-so-hoped.

A few doors speckled the hallway on either side of him,
but his eye was on the prize: the warden's office at the end of the hallway.
Given the late hour, he knew he would have the place to himself, alone for the
moment, and it didn't take but another second to burst in. Swinging his pack
off, he rummaged around until he found a match and a candle he had brought,
igniting it for a bit of light.

The room itself was hardly anything to be impressed over.
A desk, a leather chair, ten or so file cabinets, and a few personal artifacts
littered the room, but it hardly looked like anything special. Was this the
perk of being a warden at such a high profile prison? This, and the huge window
behind him in exchange for what? A deadly job that had some of the coldest criminals
staring at you and plotting your death? No thanks!

Edward sighed at the cabinets, wondering if he should start
there, which one, would it be under "E" or maybe under "Unnamed" or "Miscellaneous",
before he just looked at the desk and he few that had been stacked there in
anticipation of an early morning. Throwing out the ones that didn't matter,
he paged through one, two, th—Envy! Cell Seventeen! Perfect!

"'Inmate was irate at the physical examination,'" Edward
mused, reading the following line. "'Proceeded to throw whatever was close and
scream obscenities while demanding privacy. Inmate was unreasonable, short-tempered,
and frankly, a brat.' Heh. I'll have to show him this later."

Stuffing the file into his pack, he tossed the candle behind
him, igniting the desk and the files atop it, and rushed out the door into the
dark.

Envy had watched the surge of soldiers rush through the
dusty midnight, heard their stomping boots pounding against the floor, and smiled.
Seems the little shrimp hadn't lost his touch from back then if they needed
all that firepower, all those guns and all those arms to aim. It was...impressive.
Especially for someone so smal—

"Envy!"

The new-human looked around, narrowed his dark eyes to
peer our into the shadows of the main room, into the huge divide that ran between
the cells. He...he didn't see Edward out there, not in the depths; surely that
golden hair would have been visible a mile away in the shadows, but...there
was nothing. He waited, heard his name hissed again, and looked up at the ceiling
as if he could peer through it. It...seemed to be coming from...above him? "Shorty?"
he called.

"Who are calling so short tha—"

"Shut up!"

More footsteps drowned out any other sounds, orders barking
from higher commanders echoing off the sirens that still sounded without end.
They ran by in urgency, clacking, and Envy held his breath, worried that even
that the simplest sound, the slightest expression might turn the wrong head
and get Edward caught. After all, he was a klutz and—

"Okay, you're safe," Envy hissed after a few moments of
sudden quiet. He sat on the cot on the far end of the room, staring up at the
stone ceiling as if he could peer through it, something he really concentrated
on doing. Alchemy, he decided really would have been a godsend right about now.
"Did you get the keys?"

There was a moment of awkward silence, and Envy was about
to growl, to yell about how could someone forget the keys in a situation
like this, before he heard a graceful thump. Envy stood with his arms
crossed over his narrow chest, the light-blue cotton of the prison uniform hanging
off his small body, and he growled at where Ed had landed...at least until Edward
held up the beautiful, shimmering ring of keys.

"Did you doubt me?" the alchemist purred. "Yes."

Edward ignored the rather dark vote of confidence, before
he started to root through the keys, searching and trying each one. Around him,
the inmates had come alive, yelling, pleading to let them all go free, to let
them all run down towards the sweet promise of a life outside the bars, regardless
of past sins of rape and murder and theft. He ignored them, even when they threatened
his life, his and Envy's and everyone they had both ever known and loved.

Edward smiled as he tried another key. "I'd love to see
you try to get to them," he muttered to himself. "And when you do, show me how
you did it." A forth key was slid in, then a fifth, sixth, and his own panic
started to rise. What if the officers made their second round, went through
there again? What if they caught him? What if—

Tenth key was a charm, and with a smile of purchase and
victory, it slid in, turned, clicked, and he was in the cell, closing the door
behind him.

Envy blinked, then glared. "What did you do that for, idiot?!"

"Shut up!" Edward hissed, before dashing to the far wall
and rooting through his pack for a moment. "Just trust me; I'm the one doing
the rescuing, after all!"

Somewhere, the sirens that had masked the yelling threats
of the surrounding inmates stopped, and Edward growled. Time was running out,
fast, and they had to get out before any of the officers could make sense of
what jumbled yells were pouring from this block of cells.

From the depths of the bag, he pulled out the TNT, sweet
and purchased off the Blackmarket for a hefty sum that he cared not to disclose.
With a little smirk, he started to spread it against the far wall, the one that
lead outside, outside to the promised land, outside to freedom.

"Hide under the cot," Edward muttered as he set it up quickly,
nearly expertly. Funny how fast knowledge could come to a person when a jam
was present. A match was dropped, the spark and fizzle igniting the room a momentary
show of color and fireworks, shadows growing long before he could dash under
the cot alongside Envy.

"Cover your ears!" he ordered, and while he was bringing
his own hands up, both warm from all the activity of the last hour, he looked
to Envy. Dark eyes stared back at him, arms under him, pulling him up just a
few inches while the long strands of hair pooled on the ground around him in
serpents. Thank you, he mouthed, before soft lips found those of the
alchemist, pressed hard to them, and the room exploded in light and sound. Edward
had to partially wonder if it was the TNT or the kiss.

Officer Hirsch stared at the jagged hole in the wall of
the small cell, watching a few loose rocks trickle down towards the pile at
the bottom. He imagined that he would be reprimanded later on, that they all
would be for it being on their watch, dammit, that how could such a thing happen
in such a secure prison. He had a feeling that the stories he told the warden
wouldn't be believed, that he swore the person who orchestrated this was one
measly person, a short little kid from the way he looked on the stairs, nothing
imposing at all. And his intuition told him that they would all lose their jobs
if they didn't get that one missing inmate back, fast.

And though his wife and two kids might argue with his mentality,
he didn't much mind one way or another. If a kid, a little twerp like
he saw, was able to do all this damn destruction, then let him have that damn
inmate. He earned him.

"Officer Hirsh!"

"Coming, sir!"