scimitarsmile

Menu

lucifer hisaki

Bittersweet Promises

chapter 2.

Winter was hard and cruel, like it always was.

Falman's death was still fresh in their minds but they strode forward, determined more than ever to end this forsaken war. Amestris had become the second Ishbal. Roy wanted nothing more than to stop this war from escalating to the same amounts of insanity that the previous war created. The scars of the desert land bled his inner scars minute by minute.

Weeks had gone by since that night he had met that man, that Feuer person. The new year was on the horizon, less than two fortnights away. In the time between their first meeting, Roy and Shima (as he called him now) managed to find some way to communicate. Shima never told him how and Roy never pried.

It was odd to find someone so like him but not.

Shima was a doctor and Roy was a soldier, a murderer. Shima was a healer by nature. Roy, a destroyer. So different but he could tell that the other man was like him. He once thought that maybe, just maybe this is what his life would have been if he decided to never become part of the army. Not as unbelievable as many may think. The conversations were good and very moving. Shima, Roy later found out, was a pacifist and despised violence but would fight when he felt the need. Roy wasn't as much for pacifism but he wanted peace and if violence, albeit reluctant violence, was needed, then so be it.

He wondered briefly from time to time, why he was blessed?cursed?to getting to know his other but he supposed it could be worse. It could be Fullmetal he was talking to. His Alter said that he and Fullmetal were acquaintances but Roy could hear the lie in Shima's voice. Shima wanted to be more than that to Fullmetal and Roy had little illusions as to why.

Not that he would ever think of Fullmetal that way.

Each time he tried, he would remember a boy no older than twelve missing two limbs, bandaged and bloodied by a forbidden act. It was called Taboo for a reason, he mused. Yet that didn't mean no one stopped trying to make the dream realized. Roy believed that some things were impossible but as an Alchemist he tried nonetheless to make it possible.

Science was curiosity.

And curiosity kills. Just like mercy slays.

Roy grinned an empty smile, staring out of his window to the snow covered land. It was just like before when he was at the out post, drowning himself in liquor with no hopes of a future. No hopes of seeing molten gold eyes. Then he found himself with renewed hope. He knew that Fullmetal was coming back.

He did.

Only to slip through his fingers to go back to wherever he had been before. Roy pushed Alphonse toward his brother, stating that Fullmetal needed someone sane to look after him. Can't have the elder Elric cause too much chaos in the world or whatever was on the other side of the Gate that clawed its grip in too deep into the Hero of the People.

Life just wasn't fair.

Sitting in the same room he was in when he was writing the condolence letter to Falman's family, Roy warmed his hands around a cup of steaming hot black coffee. It was night again and the moon was almost full. The magic hour, midnight, was still some minutes away. Somehow, Shima always managed to appear sometime after Midnight, but to Roy, that was just as well. He had the time and the insomnia to wait up until the other man appeared.

Roy needed someone that was not involved in this damn war to talk to, to vent, to rant, to yell and scream. Shima took it in stride and for that Roy was thankful. Even if the other man was only his Alter, whatever that may mean, Roy knew Shima would understand what he felt but he had a refreshing source of input when they argued. And argue they did.

A smirk graced his lips as he took a sip of his coffee. Soon, I can find some peace.

"I hope I didn't keep you waiting," murmured a familiar voice not unlike his own. The Alchemist looked up a slow but honest smile on his face. Shima appeared the same way he always did, instantly. There was no drama, no sparkles, no mists or slowly appearances. He flickered every once in a while but that was normal for them now. Shima didn't exist in his world.

Tilting his head in greeting he met the other man's eyes, "Had nothing better to do than just muse on the hopelessness of this war. We're turning into Ishbal. I just know it and the worst of it has yet to happen."

Shima chuckled lightly, "Ever the pessimist."

"I'm only pessimistic when I'm dealing with reality. I am a very capable optimist in my ideals," Roy defended himself, "But look around you, Shima, this is normal. This room is clean and organized but everything, everything," he waved a hand toward the window and to the snow covered streets, "Everything there is chaos and despair. The soldiers are tired, damn it, and I can't stand sitting here and being helpless." Useless.

He stood up and walked to Shima, "Did you know that we just lost two more Fuhrer-elects only yesterday? Of course not, this isn't your world. You don't belong to this world. You're only a fragment of my imagination."

"That's what you think I am tonight? Are you drunk, Mustang?" Shima glanced at the coffee mug still in the General's hands. The look on his face was sad acceptance, "You shouldn't drink, especially now. You just said you have troops to lead. What would your Fullmetal think of you now? If he saw you like this?"

Roy scoffed, "Fullmetal was never mine to have and he's gone. For good this time. The Gate is closed on his end. Even if I was never able to do what he asked, it's only a one way entrance now." The wary soldier set his mug on the window sill and looked out, "Nothing I do can bring him back and even if he was to return. I will never let him take part in this damn war. He's too..."

"Innocent? Young? Na?e?" Shima shook his head, "You may be surprised. He is very capable. Fullmetal has grown up into a fine young man. Why can't you see that?"

Staring into the barren streets below, Roy sighed, "Because every time I think of him... All I see is a bandaged boy who has only see slightly more than a decade of summers. A boy with a stump for an arm and leg. I can never get that image out of my head."

"You won't try?"

"Why do you bother," Roy asked, "Why do you keep trying to make me rethink what there was between him and me? Can't you see that we will never meet again? He's gone from this world and nothing can bring him back. He has what he wanted, a flesh and blood brother. What use does he have of the military? Especially one that is shattered as this? This military that is in a futile war?" He glared at those empty streets, the storm in his heart releasing himself by the moment.

A pain intensifying in his limbs, his vision darkening to black but Roy stubbornly fought it off. Whatever was happening to his body didn't matter. Not now, especially when he had a war that he needed to win. For his country. For Maes. For Fullmetal. It was the least he could do for them. Now that they were gone. Especially now.

The spirit of the doctor scoffed, a scowl on his face not unlike one that graced Roy's own only hours before. It still amazed him how often the other man was like him but not.

Roy smirked at his double, "Fullmetal would only die in this war and after all he has gone through... I won't be the one to send him to his death. Not even if he would finally listen to me. He would probably just go to Resembool and hide there for the rest of his life. He wouldn't want anything to do with me. He's happy now. That's all that matters to me about him."

"You're not thinking correctly. Do you think he is truly happy with just his brother?" There was something odd in Shima's eye but Roy paid it no mind, "Do you really think he has forgotten you all?"

Roy nodded, "Of course, he did. What else do you think he still has here?"

He didn't mention that the watch in his pocket felt heavy against his leg when he said those words. Roy slipped a hand inside that pocket and fingered the surface. It wasn't his own but he knew who was the watch's real owner was. The Alchemist never opened it since Fullmetal's leaving. It wasn't his to open but if there was anything that would cause the blond to return it had to be this watch. He doubted the young prodigy would care for the watch. All it would be to him now was a reminder of his past, his sin. That was no longer a burden for Elric to carry.

Shima would have answered if a noise as loud as any explosion in Ishbal hadn't filled the room with its terror-filled sound. To Roy, it felt like one of his own explosions mixed with the hard roar of thunder in any cruel rainstorm. The sound of it, along with the memory was just horrible but he stared out the window, watching the chaos erupt on the streets. What once was white was soon drenched in crimson and black. A strangled noise left Shima's mouth but Roy ignored him.

Picking up his gloves, he slipped them on, running out of his room, flying down the stairs, lunging out of the open door way. What looked like chaos from his second story window was the End-of-the-World pandemonium on the ground level. He nodded to his men only to watch one of them (Breda) fall in front of him, clutching his leg in pain. Roy stared blankly at the fallen subordinate before turning to the rest of his crew. Out of the corner of his eye, he spied Shima watching from the shadows.

The Flame Alchemist ordered his men to do what they needed, ignoring the shattering glass of windows or the piercing sounds of bullets in flight. Breda was led away by two others and Roy sent a small prayer to whoever would listen. Even an atheist, he supposed, deserves something to believe in and for him it was fate and luck. Karma.

Hawkeye was at his back, Havoc on his right and Fuery holding his rifle to his chest on Roy's left. They were his only bodyguards now and it had to be enough. Roy couldn't afford to die, not yet, not now. He owed it to those dead in his wake.

Bombs fell around him, explosions striking in almost every building. Civilians ran amok in the streets as the soldiers tried to place order on the bedlam. Shima hovered centimeters off the ground just behind Roy. The General took in comfort from his other's presence, it gave him a peace of mind to do what he needed. The gloves on his hands were made for destruction and sometimes one had to literally fight fire with fire.

A flash of silver on his left caught his eye. Fuery fell to his knees, a hand on his bleeding, crimson soaked arm; his helmet was askew to the side. Roy only managed time to raise his hand when Hawkeye blew the shooter's brains out with a well-placed shot. A med team ran over to them and Roy helped Fuery into the stretcher. Placing a hand on the wounded man's uninjured shoulder, he spoke quietly, "Don't die, Fuery."

Fuery nodded. The med team started running to the area that was hopefully safe from any crossfire.

I'm down to two now, Roy realized, pain returning to his body tenfold. Only Havoc and Hawkeye were with him, the rest of his close confidantes were either injured or dead. A ghostly hand touched his shoulder and Roy stared at Shima out of the corner of his eye. Why is he still here? Normally he's gone by now... Shaking his head, Roy looked around him and surveyed the area.

North city was burning around him and he wondered if this is what the Ishballian people felt when he desecrated their homes. The smell of burning flesh filled his nostrils. He pushed the memories of his past away and focused on the now. This was not the time to pity himself. Roy watched as his surroGate home was ripped asunder by the attacks of their enemies. A burning fury filled his heart before something akin to paralysis started to envelope him in a deadly embrace.

His breathing grew heavy. Havoc was staring at him worriedly but he managed to shake his head. The woman at his back reached for his shoulder when her body jerked at an impossible angle. Roy and Havoc stared wide-eyed as the blond sharpshooter fell to the ground between them, the snow at their feet absorbing the red crimson life that flowed out of her chest. Havoc dropped to his knees, taking the woman into his arms.

The Flame Alchemist clenched his fist tightly. You will not take them away from me!

Pain flared in his body, his vision blinding him completely, engulfing him in a visage of black upon jet black. Roy ignored the pain, knowing full well why he felt this pain, this suffering. It was whatever poison they injected into him that one night in the cemetery. Trying to kill me slowly, Roy growled in his mind, arms tensing, Poison reacting to my intensive emotions? How good of you, bastards. No man is truly unemotional. Even me. Bastards, all of you.

Raising his arm took some effort but he barked out to Havoc to take Hawkeye away. Somehow, he knew the woman was still alive. He only hoped she would survive long enough to see him become Fuhrer. Shima held his arm with that ghostly hand in a futile effort to make contact but despite Roy's visual darkness, he knew the other man was there. It was all he needed.

It had been a long time.

He was called the Flame Alchemist for a reason.

Fire licked the ground around his feet as he closed his right eye. Though he did not have sight, Roy needed to concentrate. The last time he used this was during Ishbal. At the time he was proud of it, now he was shamed by it.

Without seeing the flames, he knew it was colored a bright orange, mixed with white, red and yellow. It wasn't what he wanted. Blue was the color he wanted, needed. The cold wind blew hard against his fire circle, the air feeding the fire, creating taller and more monstrous walls of flames around his body. Sweat drenched his eye-patch and wool clothing but Roy paid it no mind. Shima gasped somewhere behind him, drifting closer to him.

Then the fire circled around him in a ferocious dance of fury, faster and faster. Spinning with anger and sadness, Roy could feel the heat rising around him. Blue, I want blue. Blue is power.

Around his fire of a tornado, mouths gaped at the sheer power that Alchemist wielded, just as Roy knew they would. Legends of his power had all but faded into the night. These men, these women, these monsters needed to know who they were dealing with.

Roy's hair clung to his skin, he felt like melting inside his wool uniform. The flame rose even higher now, reaching toward the cloud sky and beyond. The General took a deep breath and strode forward, his tornado moving with him. The color was now a complete white, he heard Shima whisper to him. Roy smirked, his voice mockingly evil in nature, "But I wanted blue. I suppose White will have to do." Shima, he could feel, glared at him. He knew what his mirror was thinking. This was wrong, but this had to be done.

He would not let this escalate to another Ishbal! Not again. Never again.

The Flame Alchemist never remembered how he unleashed his attack onto the Drachma attackers but he remembered the burning snow and flesh. The screams that once were nightmares turning into harmonic symphonies of disgusting content. Idly, Roy wondered if this is where he started thinking he had become his worst enemy, a destroyer that lived to destroy. His feet danced to a rhythm of chaos song in his head, arms moving in circular motions, snapping pandemonium unto the masses. He reveled in the screams and the smells.

It was coming back to him now.

Then it was over.

Panting heavily, he fell to one knee, eye closed, body drenched in sheets of sweat and tears, tears he did not remember shedding. The agony of his body the poison in his veins had caused was nothing compared to the poison he let into his heart. He had enjoyed that act of power, of destruction. Biting his lip until it bled, Roy tried to stand up. He was blind and could not see. Shima was hovering over him still but Roy did not say anything in his defense.

I... became... like... Kimblee...

With his vision black, Roy never saw the sliver of light from the moon hitting the bayonet of a rifle. He felt, more than heard, two bullets tearing into his chest, the impact causing him to hit the ground with a strangled gasp.

Gripping the snow in one hand, he noticed he burned away his gloves by the feel of cold on numb burnt flesh. He had burned his hands. Breathing was hard but somehow he managed to stay somewhat conscious to feel hands gathering him up, lifting him up to place him on another stretcher. He heard Havoc screaming for Medics, a raspy yell from Hawkeye to the soldiers to find his shooter.

At least... she's fine for now...

Roy tried to stay awake. He can't die yet. He still had to become Fuhrer. He still had a mission to fulfill, a country to lead. A war to end.

But the arms of unconscious were gripping him tight. He lost his battle with those arms and fell into a fitful, reluctant state of nothing. He never saw Shima leave but somehow even in his state, he could feel the heavy silver pocket watch in his pocket.

Before he finally gave in, Roy thought, Will I be able to read those words again?


Shima watched helplessly as he was wrenched away from his other, his Alter. Whatever force that allowed them to meet for how long they have this night decided now was the time for him to leave. But I have to help him, somehow. He's important to Elric. Yet, he knew it was futile. He didn't have a real body in this world all he had was his spirit and from what he could tell; only Mustang could see him.

It wasn't fair.

Closing his eye tightly, Shima allowed himself to be taken away, hesitant to see Ed so soon. He had to lie about what just happened, it wouldn't do to make the blond worry about Mustang. The strings around his heart pulled tight at the thought of Mustang and his relationship with Ed. It had been weeks since he started speaking with Mustang and each time he found himself able to speak with the General, he had to be touching skin-to-skin with Ed. Not that the blond minded. In return, the young man wanted to know everything that has happened in the other world.

When he opened his eye again, Shima stared eye-wide at the golden doors before him. What? The decorations on the walls were intricate and complex, the artisan in him wanted to come closer but a fear in his heart stopped him from doing so. Staring at the monstrous doorway, he shivered in fear. It leaked utterly cold terror and he thought he saw shadows move.

Where... am I?

He tried stepping back, away from the Gate but he stumbled and fell to the floor. This was impossible, just like him talking to his Alter was but this, this was insane. He was no world drifter, he was only a mere doctor. He was only—

"Hello, Roy." A voice in his head spoke to him but Shima was frozen on the ground. The doors began to open but the voice was soft and female. It helped sooth his heart. "It has been awhile, has it not?"

"Who... what... are you?" Shima glanced around, scared. There was no way a voice was speaking to him. He had to get back to Ed, even if he was going to lie.

A soft chuckle filled his ears as the voice replied, "It matters not now but I seen you before. And perhaps you have seen me. Have you ever wondered why you received that pocket watch?"

Shima shook his head, body trembling.

"Of course not, you take things as they are and do not bother to change unless you see fit. Many could learn from you and you could learn from many. The watch is the key. Edward Elric and his brother Alphonse is needed in their world. Just as we had always hoped they wouldn't but it would seem... they are unhappy with their lives on your world, Roy.

"Amestris is at war with an enemy that should not have left us. Yet he escaped and with him, he took something from your world. A poison that runs through the veins of the intended Fuhrer of that country."

"A poison...? You mean Mustang is infected by something?" Shima stood up hesitantly on unsteady legs.

He felt more than see whoever was speaking nod at him, "Yes. A poison that tears him apart. It comes from your world as does the technology Drachma has. Your worlds were never to be connected but yet they were. If by the mistakes of two men. Yet, we cannot undo the past but we can change the future.

"You see you were chosen for a reason. Mustang and you have the same blood flowing through your veins. You are closer than you both may think and it is because of that connection we allowed Mustang's watch to fall into your hands.

"Mustang may be the catalyst in that world but you are the catalyst of your own. You both hold a responsibility and the Fullmetal Alchemist is needed back on the world he was born."

He stared at the ground, "I'm only a doctor. I am not an Alchemist. I am only a healer."

"Then heal, White Horse."

Shima blinked as he fell into a hole that suddenly appeared at his feet. Images flooded his mind, one was so vivid he found himself staring at himself creating a circle?a transmutation circle?on the ground. Mustang's watch was broken in his hands and slivers of crimson stone was scattered on the edges of the circle. Another had him creating a simple antidote, adding some of his own blood to the substance, and a vaccine of a poison he had encountered in the East. A whisper, this time male, told him this is what Mustang needed.

He never felt himself hitting the ground.


His eyes snapped open, a hand covering his sweaty forehead. Then all at once he remembered what happened. Shima felt like vomiting but he didn't dare do it when Ed was next to him, his flesh shoulder touching Shima's own. It was a hot day and they agreed to take a nap underneath a large shady tree. Alphonse was with the Hughes family and Noa.

It was only time until Ed would wake up and demand a recollection of what happened this time with Mustang. Shima's chest tightened and he wished for the first time that this gift wasn't for him to have. But he could see no other person worthy of having it. His hand fingered the shape of the Amestris symbol on Mustang's pocket watch. Ed didn't want it and Shima understood. The memories had to hurt.

Though he was curious, he didn't want to know.

A hand reached to the blond and Shima felt the strands of soft spun gold before he saw himself touching them. Ed stirred slightly. Shima pulled away. It was no good, especially now to stay attached to the blond. Usually by now he was gone, drifting away to some other place, to some other new world. Worlds... I used to move from city to city, country to country but now I'm moving between real solid worlds. There must be something wrong with this picture.

Shima smiled slightly and pushed himself off the warm grass and slipped back on his cotton shirt. It had been a hot day and no one paid anyone mind if a few men lost their shirts to battle with the heat. However, Ed decided to find a more secluded spot and Shima understood.

Underneath the apparatuses that held the young man's prosthetic arm, the doctor could spy deep scaring on the blond's body. There had to be a story behind those scars and like Ed's memories, he didn't really want to know. Some things were better left unsaid.

He stood up on unsteady legs and gripped the tree trunk for stability. The blond remained asleep when he started walking away to the main road, bag in hand. There was something he felt the need to do. He felt the need to have a private session with his God at the Synagogue nearby. The animosity between the Germans and the Jews were one of the reasons why he moved so much. Yet, Shima would not have it any other way. Better now than later when it may become worse. His medical bag felt heavy with each step but Shima paid it no mind. It had been long enough since the last time he went.

Shima wouldn't call it fear being the force that drove him away. The doctor was never an avid Jew, preferring Buddhism more often than not, but one cannot change one's heritage. Just like one cannot change their own family. He slipped a hand into the pocket that held Mustang's watch and grasped it lightly.

To believe that this is the reason why he and I met... Shima shook his head in slight amusement when he spied something out of the corner of his eye. Blood?

Running over, he spied a broken boy on the ground, bleeding deeply into the grass, green becoming a murky brownish red. He rolled the boy over. Shima bit hard on his bottom lip, drawing the taste of coppery salty crimson to his taste buds, to stop a strangled noise from escaping. The child looked half-dead.

Pressing two fingers to the wounded boy's neck, Shima shook his head sadly. He noticed the Star of David, a small piece of fabric, clutched in the boy's hand. He looked around for any sign of the attackers but only found two more bodies near the boy's. Dead, from what he could tell.

He suddenly felt like vomiting his innards out of his body.

The faces were slashed beyond recognition. Pieces of flesh started peeling off the faces and fabric ball gags were thrust into what would have been mouths. Their eyeballs were taken out and they had no noses. The boy had a gag that Shima untied but he knew the child was dying. There was nothing he could do for the wounded boy and despite his career choice, Shima was no miracle worker.

Idly, he thought the boy looked like the very same one that saved his other from that Fritz Lang imposter. The child even had strangle marks, hand-sized bruises around his neck, blood pumping out of a large hole in the boy's chest and neck. He doesn't have much time left...

Quietly, he set the dying body on the ground, bringing over what he assumed to be the boy's mutilated parents. Kneeling before them, he set a small prayer to his god. It wasn't much, but it was the least he could do. He seen it all before. It wasn't hard if one only looked.

Will there be a time of peace? Shaking his head, Shima stood up and stared at the boy's broken body. He removed a small filled syringe from his bag and injected into the boy's bicep. The forearm was bent at the wrong angle and though he could sense the child was unconscious, a peaceful death for the innocent boy was all he could over.

Walking away from the site and into the towering building-filled streets of the town, Shima felt very small but he tried to ignore the feeling and the new memory of a mutilated face with empty eye sockets and cut off noses. Shima seen worse but to see one attack so soon?so cruel?after a time of relative piece, it was despicable. Shima wondered if this is what Mustang felt when he saw his country start to crumble around him.

Shima grunted suddenly as he was forced against a brick wall. He found himself staring at a bloody shirt and a strong arm pressed against his neck. Gasping for breath, he felt the sting of a knife on his side. The holder of the knife didn't press further, only allowing the doctor to feel the edge of the blade. He didn't stare up into the eyes of his assaulter but he knew this man had to be the one that killed those people just moments before.

He already knew what he would see in that person's eyes.

The man was talking, disgracing Jews and why they should just die. Why the Germans should be the lone rulers of the world. Shima scoffed in his head. Thule lackey, can't you see that is not the way the world should be? His attacker couldn't hear his thoughts but ranted how much he was waiting for another Jew to show up and help those corpses, how much he was waiting for his next victim. The arm against his neck pressed harder against him. Shima fought to breath.

A flash of gold in the corner of his eye was his only warning before he saw his assaulter crumble onto the ground. Shima slumped against the wall, breathing heavy before he spied a familiar pair of shoes in front of him. "Sorry about that," Shima apologized to those boots.

The owner just grunted and hauled him up to his feet. "Bastard. Why do I have to keep saving you?"

Shima smirked, "It's the way you love me."

"Fucking Bastard." Ed rolled his eyes, pulling Shima by the man's collar back toward the crowded streets. "So what did you and Mustang talk about this time?"

His chest tightened, "The same thing. The war and all that. Elric? What would you do if you were given the chance to go back there?"

Ed snapped his head to Shima, shocked at the question, "As much as I like it here... I would go back, provided I can bring Al with me. We've been through too much to be separated now."

Shima nodded and kept silent, hoping to his god that Ed wouldn't pry more. He could hear his heart breaking with each word the blond had said. I thought... I promised myself I wouldn't fall in love with you.


Later that night, Shima and Ed went drinking with Maes. It was a normal affair nowadays but Shima wanted to hit the bottle hard. If only to forget the memories he had recently received. There was no way he could do what that thing wanted from him. He was no miracle worker and he was no Alchemist. Alchemy didn't exist in this world. It was impossible.

Ed didn't pry into him not asking what he knew or what had happened with Mustang. Shima thought that he managed to lie well enough that the blond wouldn't know the difference. It was with that sort of guilt that he finished his bourbon quicker than the rest of his group but they didn't care that much.

Maes was glowing with fatherhood and he quickly gave details of his daughter's day to anyone who would listen and anyone who just happened to be in hearing range, which usually meant everyone in the bar. Shima and Ed shook their heads and took it in stride. Somehow, he had the feeling they would have to get hotel rooms tonight. No doubt Noa, Alphonse and Gracia would prefer some peace and quiet away from the exuberant father.

Shima smirked at Ed and toasted him, "To a hotel room tonight. Care to find the bindings we can use on Maes?"

"Like I could do no less, Bastard," Ed retorted, raising his glass as well. Maes was happily oblivious to their planning.

The doctor ordered some scotch and started to drain it slowly but in large amounts. He didn't need it diluted. He needed the hard kick of the liquor to burn his throat, to burn away the thoughts of his day. Everything had become confusing to him and by the looks of things only the intake of liquor would be the cure to do away with the confusion. It was sometimes his clutch but that didn't mean he enjoyed it.

Smoking only caused him to remember times of fire that stole away his life.

He never noticed Ed looking at him oddly, with a lust-filled gaze of molten gold.

It was around the time the bar was closing when they pulled a drunk and unconscious Maes from their table and onto the streets. Shima felt he didn't drink enough, his mind still clear and sober. It didn't matter that much. The only thing was that they find a room before the clouds decided to pour rain onto them. As much as a release it would be to the people, it would only be a problem for Shima. He rather settle down in a warm bed and sleep the rest of the night away.

Hopefully with no visions from his Alter.

Finding the room was easy, getting two was simple. Figuring out who was sleeping with who was a different matter. Ed was convinced that Maes snored too loud and too much. Shima rolled his eye and just said that Ed was too eager to go to bed with him that he used the most idiotic excuse in the book. The blond just scoffed and said there was no way in Hell that Maes would be dead by morning and since he was so used to sleeping in the same proximity as Shima, it was logical to just room with the doctor.

Shima had little to no argument to that.

With Maes tucked into the bed in the next room, Shima walked into his room, surprised to find Ed shirtless, waiting for him on the edge of one bed. He watched the blond stand up and noted the hazy look in the slightly shorter man's eyes. He was still drunk and Shima wondered if rooming with Ed was a good idea.

A mouth to his neck drew a reluctant purr from him.

He closed his eyes and allowed Ed to pull him to the bed.

It wasn't the first time they have slept together and times like these, Shima could convince himself that Ed was making love to him and not Mustang.

The brunet opened himself to the blond, laying himself out for the blond to take. There was no words exchanged during their acts and Shima wished he had the courage to break the silence of spoken words. The only noises that occurred were the primal sounds of mating.

One thing he loved the most was that Ed's hair was loose and he could weave his fingers into the sea of golden silk.

They moved in sync with each other. Ed was Shima's first, to the former's surprise but Shima would have it no other way though sometimes he wished that it wasn't because he was Mustang's duplicate. He knew who Ed was imagining underneath him. It sickened him that the only thing he was to the blond was the General's replacement.

Yet, he promised he would become that and be sated by it.

Shima always kept his promises. Though at times he felt like he wanted more something more from the blond.

He could feel Ed gripping him hard, breathing shortening into harsh pants, body quivering in the moment of release. Shima's body responded, the actions of this dance almost over. Shima saw the stars despite the rain that poured right outside their window. Lightning clashed and he felt it electrocute him from the inside.

Then he could hear the first word Ed spoke coherently in a long drawn out moan.

"...Roy."

And it wasn't addressed to him.

Then Shima made his decision. Edward Elric really did need to go back.

Back to Amestris.

To Mustang.


A few days later, Shima took the two Elrics with him to an abandoned building in the outskirts of Munich. The ground was solid concrete but he heard the gasps behind him. He knew then they caught sight of what he had drown on the floor hours before. "...I had a ...vision. It said you had to return and that I was the key."

"Key," Alphonse asked, "What do you mean?"

"You were never meant to stay in this world, not this long. Your world is in entire chaos, ready to tear itself asunder by the havoc that someone has caused." For the first time he stared at both Elrics in the eye, years of being in an oriental household before the fire that stole his childhood?his family?were erased as he defied his cultural mannerisms. "Amestris is becoming the second Ishbal. I have seen it and now...

"Now the man who may save his country lies dying."

Ed stepped forward, "What?!" A harsh frown dug deep on his face, he scowled at the doctor but Shima tried to stay firm. He would not let those golden tiger eyes move him otherwise. This was for their own good. He knew now that a war was on its way to Munich and he had only hoped that Maes would take his advice and flee to America where Shima had some allies willing to help the Hughes family. Maes and his family did not deserve to be here when the war would erupt. The family that took him in was too kind and too... loving to be separated by hate and despair.

"Roy Mustang lies dying on the other side of this... portal," he didn't know what to call the thing he had just drawn, it was not his expertise and he doubt it ever will be. "In his blood lies a poison that exists on this side of the... Gate. I have encountered it before and created vaccines and antidotes of it. No doubt it would one of the weapons of warfare their enemy?your?enemy would use.

"You asked me once a few days ago when you save me, Fullmetal," he saw Ed's eyes widen at the title he never used, "what I had seen. I saw many things. Your world is falling into a living hell on earth. Mustang lies dying because of a poison that is activated by intensive emotions one feels. The stronger the emotion, the more harsh the poison becomes. It is a paralysis of sorts that is slow but sure. The blinding of the victim's eyes is only an added plus.

"I had... met someone, something telling me that you did not belong here, Fullmetal, Alphonse. It told me that I was the catalyst, just as Mustang is," Shima drew in a breath, "We are... the final transmutations of change in those close to us. We change the lives to bring people satisfaction, whether it be healing or leading.

"Mustang is a leader his country needs and I am a healer that I suppose should heal those around me... you all." He glanced around, his eyes setting on the circle on the floor, "I am no miracle worker but there was a reason to why you must have found me then, that night. I was surely about to die for being who I was, a believer in Judaism. But you saved me and I think... it's time I return the favour.

"Your world needs you, Fullmetal. You are the Hero of the People, a savior albeit a reluctant one. You give hope to them. The much needed hope that they will see another day. I do not know who or what is compelling me to do this for you but..." He stared at Ed in the eyes, "I made a promise to myself that I would help you in anyway I can and if... I can give you a path back to your world, then so be it."

"Roy..." Ed stepped toward him, "You're not an Alchemist. How could you know all of this?"

"...I saw... a doorway and it told me what I need to do."

Alphonse walked up to his brother and laid a hand on his shoulder, "Why... are you helping us? You could have just let it be."

"He needs you, they need you. I..." Shima looked away, "want what's best for you. Do not think me foolish but I see how often you wish to be back there. To your "Resembool." I hear the longing in your voices when you speak of it. I hear everything I need to know. Be content you have a home.

"Mine was lost long ago."

"Roy..." Shima wasn't sure who spoke his shortened name but it didn't matter that much to him.

He stared at them both as he dissected the pocket watch in his hand, slivers of red stone shining underneath the silver casing. Some were larger than the others but he knew it would be enough. The voice in his head, not unlike the one he had heard before in that place told him it would do. "Don't you want to go back?"

"Of course we do," Ed replied with a snarl, "Why do you think we haven't stopped you now?"

"Then why do you protest so much? I would think you would be thankful to me."

Alphonse stared at Shima blankly, "You could lose your life for doing this for us. The Gate... is merciless."

Shima smirked, "I'm already dead. You may not have heard it but they are screaming my name on those streets. I am the one they are seeking, the next sacrifice to their blood filled fury. Even if I do not do this, even if I do die doing this. I am already dead."

"Don't say that," Ed moved until he was only centimeters away from Shima. The doctor tossed the sliver of crimson stones along the edges of the circle?the array. "You're not dead. You're still alive, damn it. Bastard, don't talk like that."

"I'm... not the man you want, Fullmetal."

"Bullshit," the blond spat.

"I'm doing this for you."

It was Ed's younger brother that stepped forward, gripping his brother's flesh arm, "Ed... he's... giving us a way home... He wants to do this. I mean... I don't like it, either but... if he's right... why should we stop him? You can't stop people from doing what they want..."

Ed sighed heavily, "Fine. But you better live."

Shima smiled, a light content but tired grin, "I'll try." He never made promises he knew he couldn't keep. "I'll try my best. But first..."

The doctor stepped forward to Ed and looked down at him. He grasped the blond's vest and pulled him up for a hard chaste kiss. It would have stayed that way if Ed didn't pry his mouth open like a dying man in need of a drink only to find an oasis in the hot, barren desert.

What once was innocent turned passionate and forceful. Shima tried to turn the tide on Ed, wanting to dominate the other man, if only this once. This was the first time they had kissed each other on the mouth. There was a power behind the force Ed used when he tried to devour the slightly taller man. For a moment, Shima could easily convince himself that this was for him that whatever Ed felt for Mustang was his and his alone.

Is it possible to be jealous of yourself? Even if yourself is only your reflection cast into a different light on a different world?

Ed tasted divine and Shima wished he could be selfish and keep the blond for himself but he couldn't. The Fullmetal Alchemist had to go back to where he belonged. It wasn't his right to keep him here.

Pulling away was the hardest thing he could do but he did it easily enough. Shima stared at Ed for a moment before stepping back, just outside the circle. "My name... Shiroima... is means literally White Horse. Do you know what the White Horse of the Apocalypse is? Who is the White Horsemen?

"He is the Antichrist, the enemy of the savior but yet here I am helping you along. Perhaps I am not the White horseman of the Apocalypse but rather the Rider that holds the stone, Albedo. Albedo is the purification, the revival in some books and here I am purifying you, healing you for your journey. I may be only a doctor but I suppose even we, healers, have to create a miracle at least once during our lives.

"Here is where your sojourn ends, Alphonse Elric, Edward Elric. Here is the next start of your new journey. This is Final Transmutation you would find on this world. The final change, I should hope though from what I understand there is no such thing as final, there is only continuation. A circle with no end but only beginnings." Shima stepped on the edge of the transmutation circle but did not look at it, he stared only at the two men before him.

"If you know the myth of Orpheus then learn from his mistake. Do not look back as you walk the stairs of hell. Walk forward and trust in yourselves that you are together. Do not look back. There will be nothing left here for you."

They nodded to him, mouths tight on their faces in a grim line. Shima gave Ed two vials, one marked with a symbol of fire-like wings. "This one," he indicated to marked vial, "this is the antidote for Mustang. Give it to him the moment you see him. It will cure him of his ails. The unmarked on is the vaccine. Duplicate it and give it to your people."

Ed nodded to him and stepped forward, hand gripping Alphonse's tight. They touched the first step of the spiral staircase the transmutation circle had become and Shima bowed his head in respect.

He watched the Elric brothers disappear through the portal, sighing in relief. It wasn't by all means fair but it was the least he could do. They... really don't belong here. He stood up and clenched the now brittle watch in his hand.

All he had to do was break it and whatever he had done would disappear, the stones along the edges lost their luster and glow. Though he wasn't Mustang, he knew they were losing whatever power they had. Shima let out a small prayer, hoping the two wanderers would reach their destination whole and complete but most of all fine.

If they are about to enter a world filled with chaos then please keep them sane.

A light flower-scented breeze touched his skin and then he knew they would be fine.

Dropping the pocket watch onto the hard ground, he stomped hard on it with his heavy boot. It shattered with little force, just like his heart was shattering when he sent those two away. The circle before him glowed once before evaporating into nothing. That's it... they're gone now.

Goodbye Alphonse Elric.

Goodbye Edward Elric.

Goodbye Fullmetal.

I... love... you.

Darkness soon enveloped him as a bag was placed over his head, taking away his sight. A punch to his spine left him soaring toward the ground before him, where the circle once was. He tried to sit up but a heavy boot fell on his back, driving the breath away from his body.

Someone slammed his head against the hard floor. Shima could feel the blood dripping down the sides of his head. Then they were dragging him away, kicking him with every other step. No one pulled a gun or knife on him yet but Shima knew what was going to happen next.

He never expected to see Maes Hughes clutching a handgun before him.


Ed gripped Al's hand hard. The noises around him were wails of terror and pain but he didn't dare let go of his brother. Never again, not here. The stairs they walked seemed to be endless but he stared forward on. He had heard the story of Orpheus and the irony drew a smirk to his lips. He only had to trust that his brother was with him and that they would get out of this alive.

They didn't speak to each other. They knew the stakes. They had to get back. Back to Amestris.

Icy breezes blew through their coats, chilling their bodies with unnatural cold. Ed had gone through Hell and back to get his brother a flesh and blood body. This second trip was nothing compared to that. He gripped tighter on Al's hand, taking in comfort in the warmth of his brother's hand in his left flesh hand. The gloves he normally worn was forgotten in Munich but Ed knew he wouldn't need him here.

Here sin was rampant. Its shrieks sounding on non-existent walls, bouncing around them in a haunting song of despair but he didn't let the intentional sounds touch him. He had a goal to reach. The vials Shima gave him felt heavy in his pocket. Ed fingered them through the cloth with his right hand.

Time didn't matter to him or his brother as long as they met their destination.

Warmth filled their bodies as something similar to arms grasped their bodies loosely. Ed thought of shaking them off but the warmth they exerted wasn't like the black deadly ice of those that belonged to the Gate. He thought he heard Al gasp but he only gripped tighter on his younger brother's hand. It was as much of a comfort to sibling as it was to him. A familiar smell filled his noise.

The realm the Gate of Truth was in had no smell but Ed swore he could smell... flowers. Mom...?

"I forgive you... I love you... remember that... Edward... Alphonse... I'm always with you... now hurry. Run. The way to the other world is closing.

As soon as they heard those words, the Elrics sprinted down the stairs, stumbling over their feet. The warmth Ed felt on his body filled his heart, lightening the burden he always had. It may have been his mother but he didn't dare look back to see if it was. "Al! Don't look!"

His brother's voice sounded as if it was far away but Ed could hear Alphonse agree. A longing in his heart to see who the voice belonged to was his only regret for not doing so. They had to move forward.

A light at the end of the staircase signaled exit. Ed could see it slowly shrinking and forced himself to run faster. They were almost home. The wails of chaotic agony grew louder in their ears but another warm embrace wrapped around their bodies. This time it was apple, like apple pies fresh out of the oven. He could hear chuckling in his ears, urging him to go faster, never to look back, to tell Roy that he was forgiven and he better live long enough to be Fuhrer. That he didn't need to see his friend so soon, despite how good the company may be.

They were almost there.

New arms that smelled like summer embraced them next. Ed smiled lightly, hearing a familiar female voice barking to him he better succeed that no student of hers deserved to end up in this prison. Not yet. Ed nodded briskly at the order. He learned from his mistakes and he had no wish to repeat them. This place was not their home!

Once the stairs ended, they raced toward the ever-shrinking exit. Something caught on Ed's foot but whatever it was released him soon enough. The Alchemist faltered, leaning against Al who supported him, unseen. His right leg felt weaker and for a second he thought he could feel pain in it but he shook his head at the thought. It was probably phantom pains.

Three sets of arms wrapped around him. Two sets quickly retracted and Ed thought he heard Winry's parents saying that he should tell Mustang that they hold no grudge, that they forgave him, that it wasn't his fault.

A familiar cologne filled Ed's nostrils and he was sure Al could smell it too.

Someone pushed them through the exit but no matter how much he wanted to turn, Ed did not.

"Take care... My sons."

A blinding white light caused him to close his eyes. He felt himself skidding along concrete and could smell smoke, not fire or explosion, but smoke as if a cigarette was near. Nicotine. He felt blood sliding down his right leg. That can't be right. I don't have a right leg...

When he opened his eyes, Ed found himself staring into the shocked eyes of one Jean Havoc.


Maes's hands shuddered as he held the gun, watching his friends unveil the damned Jew he was supposed to kill. It was his choice to be part of this Thule society and though the mark it had on the German people had dimmed, it was still there. It was his duty to his alliance with the society and if it meant executing a Jew then so be it.

He never thought it would be Roy.

The partial Japanese man stared at him as if he expected it was him. Roy didn't say anything. Maes didn't say anything. This can't be happening... He's not a Jew. He's a doctor, damn it. He's not one of those freaks! His breathing shortened slightly but not enough for his comrades to spy it. His weapon hand quivered lightly.

Roy was the one to help Gracia deliver Alicia. There was no way in Hell that he could be a Jew. Jews were bastards, the worst of the worst. If Roy was a Jew, he would know. This was the man he shared his life stories with, his dreams, hopes and life. Their friendship seemed to be like it was always there. Maes could hardly see himself without Gracia or Roy in his life but this...

He did not expect this.

Maes heard his friends, his comrades tell him why the man kneeling before him, bleeding, should die. Why it was their duty as Thule members to eliminate all Jews. How Roy was a Monster that should be destroyed now.

He's not a monster. He's as human as me. As us all. Why don't you all see that?! He bit the inside of his cheek hard, still not believing this was happening. Roy didn't deserve to die, especially with all help he had give to Maes's household. He was more than just a doctor, he was a friend. A good one at that.

I... have to kill him, the officer realized, aghast. It's my turn to be the executer but... I can't kill my almost-brother! I know him. I dined with him. I spoke with him. I drank with him. He's as much as a man I am. He cries, he laughs, he lives.

Roy never hurt anyone intentionally and he never fought with anyone.

He doesn't deserve to die.

Yet here he was, gun in hand and labeled the Righter of the Wrongs and the Hand of Justice by his friends and companions. Here, Maes was given the weapon to destroy evil but if evil were men like Roy... Maes would rather be one of the dark beasts himself. He knew this man, intimately over the time they had spent together. He knew everything there was to Roy save his past and vice versa.

It wasn't fair.

The officer could hear the shouting, the yells, the screams for blood. His hands kept a sweaty hold on his gun. He stared into Roy's single eye, pleading for the man to deny what he was being accused from.

Roy held his head high and just looked into Maes's gaze. Covertly, he shook his head.

Maes swallowed the lump in his throat but it grew bigger and refused to be removed. He felt like the air was ripping away from him. There was no way they would ask him to do what they intended. He refused to kill his own best friend because that's what Roy was to him now. He was his almost-brother, his friend, his confidante. He was everything he needed now, especially in a chaotic time as now. Gracia could only do so much, bless her heart.

Gripping the gun hard, he blinked rapidly at the sight of a wounded Roy in front of him. The other man bowed his head and he could hear the calls for blood growing louder in his ears. He wanted nothing more than to be dreaming, to wake up next to his beloved Gracia and see Roy in the kitchen with Noa fixing everyone breakfast. He wanted to go back in time, where all he knew was Roy the doctor. Not Roy the Jew.

He should do this.

Oh God, why is this happening. I don't want to kill my friend.

The officer's once steady hands shook more terribly but no one noticed the inner peril he was going through. The wanton screams of destruction pierced his mind like bullets into a criminal's body, unrelenting, non-stopping. Maes wanted escape, more than anything, he wanted to see someone else's face on the body kneeling before him.

A voice whispered to him what if that face was another person he knew. What makes a monster, a monster? What makes one man different from another? The belief in a different religion? A different skin color? A different face, similar but unlike your own?

Maes started doubting the beliefs the Thule society fed him. He knew Roy as a person first. He wondered why they were killing men, women, children now. Maybe they were the monsters, maybe they were the ones that should be punished.

The lump in his throat refused to be swallowed down, growing by each thought he had. This was not fair. He wasn't supposed to be holding a gun, a weapon to his friend's chest and head. He was not supposed to kill his friend.

He was not supposed to kill Roy.

He felt sick to his stomach.

Someone's hand was placed on his shoulder and he looked into the eyes of the man who brought Roy before him. He didn't hear the man's words but he could read the man's lips. They demanded he kill the man, the friend, the almost-brother before him.

Maes couldn't shake his head, he couldn't refuse. He placed himself in this position. It was his grave to dig.

With practiced ease, he raised his hands. He murmured his apology. Roy mouthed it wasn't his fault. It didn't make him feel any less guilty.

Maes aimed.

Maes fired.

Once.

Twice.

Roy's body slumped onto the ground, dead and bleeding. A bullet wound in his head and chest.

The screams of the audience intensified.

He turned around and strode out, murmuring that he needed to go back home. Somehow, Maes managed to keep his voice steady but once he was outside and on his way to his home, he crumbled.

Rounds of despair shook his body in the warm evening air.

Without knowing it, he found himself in front of his house door, hand raised to knock. Gracia opened the door and stared at her husband. Maes choked.

"It's raining."

His wife took him into her arms, warming his cold, numb body with her heat.

"We're leaving. Get Noa and Alicia, bring whatever you can on your back. We need to go. They're... not coming with us." Gracia knew what "they" were. She was smart and Maes inwardly thank her for not asking any questions. He wasn't sure his heart could take it.

On their way out, Maes took a bottle of bourbon with him.

It was gone by morning.

In his pocket were four tickets to the next boat to New York in America.


Havoc drove them quickly to Central city's main hospital, no questions asked and little to tell. Ed noticed that the soldier had gone through at least three packs during the trip but Ed knew it had to be something important. He and Alphonse already knew about Mustang but what else did the other Roy didn't mention? Who was alive? Who was dead?

Why was Havoc in Central? The last he heard Mustang and his gang was in North City.

A heavy weight pulled at his heart, with each passing second he felt it grow heavy, pulling, straining. It was almost similar to the burden he had carried all these years since that fateful night. He grasped Al's hand tightly and stared at his left leg.

Somehow, someway it was flesh but he still no idea as to how or why. It didn't matter that much. His right arm was still fake, a reminder the Gate wanted him to keep. Ed was thankful for that. He didn't want to forget his past. He couldn't run from it. There was always a reminder of it. He acknowledged his pain, suffering, his blood-sweat-and-tears stained past for what it is. A learning experience.

It was a miracle that nothing else was taken from him.

The smell of anesthetic filled his nose, a dead smell that only brought memories of his own pain in the hospital. He prayed to whoever would listen that Mustang was still alive. They had come this far; it wouldn't be right if he found Mustang dead. Especially now.

The other Roy was right, this was there home and he could see the despair in the streets. They needed hope. And the return of the legendary Fullmetal Alchemist would just have to do. Al squeezed his brother's hand. Ed reveled in the feel, concentrating on getting to the room Mustang was in. His left leg still felt weak but he paid it no mind. He had to give the bastard his damn antidote.

He knew the man was the right person for the job of Fuhrer. As long as he doesn't follow through with the miniskirt thing. Ed allowed himself a small smile at the thought. They were home, finally home and hopefully some sense of normalcy would come back to them. The blond suddenly felt the urge to just argue with the General. He needed a sense of "everything is going to be okay" from the Flame Alchemist. It was the least the guy could do after he and his brother came all this way to save his damn forsaken life.

A flash of blond hair was his only warning when he and Al found themselves swept into familiar machine oil-scented arms. Ed snuggled back into the comforting arms of a girl, no woman, he thought he would never see again, "Hi, Winry."

Winry cried on their shoulders, thankful to see them again. Ed pulled away from her arms only to let Al receive the full blunt of her teary worried but thankful hug. He noticed Gracia and Elysia sitting outside the door where Mustang was in. Fuery was next to the two women. The widow and the soldier gave the Alchemist a hesitant smile which Ed tried to return.

Staring at the door he knew Mustang was behind, Ed took a deep breath and stepped through the threshold. Hawkeye was seated in the only chair, her chest bare save for a loose bluish Hospital gown and bandages that peered from underneath it. She nodded to Ed and gestured to Mustang with her head. He couldn't find Breda or Falman.

Ed's throat tightened as he studied Mustang's prone figure. The man's hands were bandaged and he could see more gauzes underneath the thin almost translucent gown that was Hospital regulation. His skin was a deathly pale.

Mustang wore no eye-patch.

Aside from the scar tissue locking the empty eye socket closed, Ed could see burn marks around the eye. He had no clue as to the other man had it. He never seen the General without his eye-patch that one time he had returned through the Gate when the Thule society tried to conquer what they deemed was Shamballa.

Taking Mustang's hand in his own, he pulled out the marked vial from his pocket, removing the oxygen mask and poured the contents down the unconscious man's throat. Hawkeye protested in the background but he paid her no mind. He watched the heart monitor, trying to let the steady beeps soothe his nerves. He gripped tightly around the bandaged hand. Mustang had to survive. He did not come all this way to see him die right in front of him.

Being a witness to this man's death would be too much for him.

Despair grasped his heart tightly as he stared wide eyed at the heart monitor. The constant beeps started slowly, dying. He started yelling at the other man to stay alive, to stay with them, with him. Mustang needed to be Fuhrer damn it and there was no way he was going to let the other man die. High pitches of the machine slowed by the second by the moment. Ed couldn't breathe.

This cannot be happening. It just can't. He won't let it.

A high pitch never-ending, continuous sound was his only reply and he started berating the man. Years of frustration filled his voice, his helplessness, his pain, his agony. Years he spent with and without this man before him. He screamed until his voice died in his throat that the man should be still living. He wasn't supposed to die before him. Had they not promised themselves at least that much?

Ed gripped the hand tightly, flesh thumb stroking the backside of it in a circular motion. There was a war going on, he yelled, they needed a leader and who better than a man who fought for Justice over anything else? But if Mustang stayed dead then so be it. Mustang didn't deserve to live if he was a quitter.

The man Ed knew never quit, he only bided his time until he deemed it right. That was the Flame Alchemist he remembered, the Flame Alchemist he loved.

With a hurt-filled wail, he pounded the man's chest with his right hand, hitting his heart.

The flat line of the monitor spiked, a slow but ever growing pulse rate started to show. Ed grinned and yelled for the damn god complex Colonel of his to get up and start moving.

"...I ... can't ...die ...yet. I... still... ...have to ...be ...Fuh ...rer..."

No other words became heaven to his ears.

Mustang blinked slowly, eye lid opening minutely and Ed held his breath.

He grinned into the open eye of his superior officer.

"Bastard. Didn't I say you can't die before me?"

Leaning down, the Fullmetal Alchemist touched lips with the Flame Alchemist, who in his shock opened his mouth. Ed invaded through the small breach and kissed the older man to the surprise of the others with as much passion as he felt, no doubt taking the injured man's breath away and into his own body.

Yet somewhere, in the deepest part of his heart, Ed felt dismay.

Somehow, he felt... that Feuer Shiroima's kiss was more powerful and better than the Flame Alchemist's.

And then he knew.

He left the man he loved behind him once more.