"Looking for something?" came a strange, oddly lilting masculine voice.
Ed turned and looked up and down the row of identical metal doors in the subterranean hallway. The Fifth lab was a goddamn maze. This was the second time he'd looped back to this section. 48 had decided to be uncooperative, after the first minute or two he'd gone completely silent. Except for some odd echoing noises, Ed hadn't come across anyone in the last fifteen minutes. Al was going to kill him for taking this long.
"Who are you?" Ed asked, trying to identify which of the doors the voice had come from.
"Who are you?" came the calm response. "You seem confused. I can hear you walking, back and forth, back and forth. Don't you know where you are going? Care for a few directions, maybe?"
"I already have a guide," said Ed, tightening his flesh fist harder around 48's tassel.
"I see," said the voice. "By all means, continue wandering around. The guards should be back any minute. I'm sure they will help you reach your destination."
Ed pressed his lips together. He was exhausted and hurt from his earlier fight with Number 48. The last thing he needed was to fight with more guards. There was only so much more exploration he'd be able to do before he reached his exhaustion point and had to go back to Al.
He could use more help, but the metal door disturbed him. Whoever was in there was probably in there for good reason.
"Why did they imprison you?" Ed asked.
"I knew too much," the voice came back. "I was an alchemist during the Ishbal war. I apparently saw a few things I shouldn't have. Did a few things they don't want me blabbing about. Nothing I wasn't ordered to do, mind you, but that's the way the military is. One day you are their golden boy, the next they stuff you in a dark hole and wait for you to die."
Ed felt his stomach clench. His faith in the military had never been great, and what he'd seen so far in the 5th lab didn't appease his doubts at all. The alchemist's words rang disturbingly true. My golden-boy status can be revoked at any moment. When that happens, I swear I won't be put down here.
"Why are you down here?" the prisoner asked breaking Ed's train of thought. "Did you escape? Are you perhaps looking for a way out?"
"I'm investigating what's going on here," said Ed. "I'm an alchemist too."
"I know lots of secrets. I've been here a while. Guards get talkative when they are bored, and we prisoners really don't have much to do but gossip. Tell you what. Let me out, and I'll tell you what I know, show you where you want to go."
Tempting very tempting, but Ed hesitated. Something was wrong with this situation, the calmness the man had was creepy. "What happened to the other prisoners? Why are they all so quiet."
"They aren't here," said the alchemist. "The guards came about half an hour ago and took them all."
"But not you," stated Ed.
"Perhaps they are saving me for something else." There was no fear in the prisoner's voice, as if his fate were of no consequence to him. This is not how normal people behave, Ed's mind warned him.
Ed jostled 48 again but there was no response. Useless. Damn it, why did everything have to be so complicated. "Very well. I let you out of your cell and you show me around this rat trap. Equivalent trade."
"Equivalent trade," agreed the alchemist.
Ed put 48 down in the middle of the hallway, then tapped his flesh hand lightly against his limp and useless automail palm. Alchemy welled up like an itchy sensation in the palm of his hand, and he released it against the lock of the metal door. Then grabbing the cold bar handle he yanked with all his might. The heavy door opened reluctantly.
Light played into the darkened cell and onto a bench where an emaciated, long haired man sat stooped. He looked dirty and starved, and his hands were propped on his thighs, locked apart by wooden shackles. The air within was stale and stank of urine, feces and vomit.
Ed found himself gagging at the conditions. "They keep you in here?" he gasped. "In the dark." He instantly felt sympathy for the man.
The alchemist ignored him for a moment and instead lifted his head to stare momentarily at the ceiling. A cold smile spread across his face. Then casually he cocked his head over to look at Ed.
"They are very cruel people," the alchemist drawled. "Do you have a name—boy?" The last word had sounded just a bit uncertain. There was a gleam of something predatory in the emaciated man's expression.
"I'm Edward Elric." He said, dryly. He was beginning to wonder if letting this man out of his cell was a good idea, but his doubts vanished when the man tried to get to his feet, only to waver weakly.
Ed snorted and relaxed. If this alchemist got out of hand he could smack him down. With one finger probably.
The man steadied himself by leaning against the wall. Yet despite his apparent weakness, he continued to leer at his rescuer.
Ed had seen that look before, on many other men. He hated it. It brought back ugly memories of the time when he was young and stupid and let himself be used simply because that pederast asshole Tucker said it was normal—said that it would help him look more like a man. Once Ed had found out that submitting to someone else's lust was not only not normal, but in fact downright criminal, he'd vowed never to be fooled again. If he was going to have sex again, it would be under his terms.
Ed couldn't help what he looked like, but he'd worked long and hard to make himself invulnerable to people who wanted to go farther than just ogle. He'd wised up a lot in the last three years. And yeah, maybe he'd occasionally led a few people on for information, but it had always, always been his idea, his choice.
Ed clapped his hands again and broke apart the shackles. The man straightened up and sighed, flexing his hands a bit. His head tipped back and his long stringy hair fell away from his haggard face. For a moment he looked quite serene.
"Thank you, Edward," said the prisoner. "My name is Zwolf Kimbly."
Ed blinked wondering if the name should ring a bell in his mind. Clearly Kimbly thought it might.
"Nice to meet you," said Ed.
"I don't suppose you have any food," said the prisoner. "They haven't fed me in two days."
Ed felt a pang of sympathy. "No, I'm sorry. I'll get you out of here and you can have some food."
Ed turned and took a step down the hall in the direction he figured he'd come from, but in the next second he felt hands on his shoulders. "Wrong direction," he said. "You want to go this way."
Ed didn't like having him hanging off his back. Almost instinctively, he spun around and stepped back, putting a bit of space between himself and the alchemist.
Kimbly's hands went up almost if in surrender. Ed's eyes were drawn to the arrays incised on each palm. He swallowed when he realized what they were for. Instability. Combustion. Explosion. Ed had a good idea what use Kimbley had been put to during the war.
"I don't like being touched," said Ed. "It's a quirk." He leaned down and picked up 48 again.
"I see." Kimbly sighed and began staggering down the hall, one hand on the wall for balance. "You are investigating fifth lab—does that mean you want to see where the evil is done?"
Ed swallowed. "Yes."
"You know what they do in this lab don't you?"
"Experiments in human transmutation." Kimbly laughed dryly. "I'll take you to where they tried to turn me into a suit of armor."
"Tried?" asked Ed.
"They had a bit of an equipment malfunction. I was taken to that dark cell and kept there ever since."
Ed felt a mix of excitement and guilt. The place where human transmutation happened—yes he wanted to see that, even if it was a place filled with bad memories for Kimbly. "Show me the room."
"This way," said Kimbly softly and staggered down the hall. Although the doors were in no way marked, the alchemist didn't hesitate in opening one of many identical metal doors. "The military decided to make it difficult for outsiders to find things. If you don't know what you are doing, you could wander these halls forever. Many of these doors don't even lead to anything. They are merely decorations in the wall, meant to confuse the unwary about the layout of the place."
Behind the metal door was a new hallway, lit like all the rest with strips of light about a foot up from the floor. "You know where you are going?" asked Ed.
"I've been here for years while they decided what to do with me. We prisoners trade routes from one place to another. There are many labs here, whole floors hidden. You will never find anything unless you are told where to go or you are very, very lucky."
Kimbly's eyes slid over Ed's body again. "I take it you aren't here officially. You look hurt. Did you run into some security?"
Ed gritted his teeth. "Nothing I couldn't handle. I'm tougher than I look."
"I believe you," said Kimbly. "You look very—muscular." He smiled again. "I imagine besting you would be something of a challenge."
"Where are we going?" asked Ed pointedly.
Kimbly looked around and then pointed to yet another identical and unmarked door. "Here." He pulled the handle weakly then looked over at Ed and shrugged.
Ed walked up and pulled the handle. The door swung reluctantly with his weight behind it. "Why do they make these doors so damn thick," Ed complained.
"Security," said Kimbly looking rather fixedly at Ed's useless right arm. "And it helps to baffle the noise. It doesn't do to have the prisoners worry too much about how much their fate is going to—hurt. We could be at the end of the hall and not hear the screams coming from this room."
Inside was pitch black. Kimbly felt up the wall until he found some switches. With a sweep of his hand he turned them all on. Row after row of lights flickered on and Ed gasped.
The room was much larger than Ed had been expecting. There was the sharp smell of ozone and antiseptics in the air. Three metal tables were bolted to the ground; surgery lights loomed down on swinging armatures over each of them. Ed swallowed as he noted the adjustable metal shackles built into each of them. The nearest table was damaged. The support holding up had been bent almost 90 degrees, so that the top of the table touched the concrete floor and the other end hit the large mirrored lights.
"Like I said, there was an equipment failure." Kimbly was grinning.
Ed walked further into the room, he noticed the arrays painted on the ceiling. Absentmindedly he placed 48 on one of the metal surgical tables. Deeper in there were large empty animal cages. Ed frowned.
"Sometimes they don't choose to put the soul into armor," said Kimbley answering his unspoken question. "Sometimes what they really want is a lion's body, with a human's intelligence."
"That is sick," said Ed. He found a filing cabinet and pulled it open. There was a sudden bang at his back and he turned around, adrenaline suddenly surging through him. The door to the room was closed. "Why—"
"I thought I heard a guard walking nearby," said Kimbly, leaning against the wall as if from exhaustion at the effort. "By all means, keep looking, they won't hear us with the door shut. IN FACT!" Kimbly suddenly shouted. "THEY WON"T EVEN HEAR THIS!"
There was a faint reverberation around the room.
Ed turned back to the cabinet and pulled a manila folder at random. It was labeled 36 and was very thick.
The blow took him completely by surprise. One moment he was looking through entries written in a spidery hand, the next his head was ringing and he was falling backwards against the heat of a man's chest. He was vaguely aware of a short length of metal pipe dropping to the floor next to him. Pain blossomed sharply at the back of his head then ebbed to a repetitive dull drumbeat.
Ed reached down to press his hands together, but Kimbly was quicker, grabbing his flesh wrist and yanking it up. And then Ed was being dragged backwards over the smooth concrete to the broken table.
Kimbly dropped him, keeping hold of Ed's left wrist. Ed blinked furiously trying to get his bearings while he felt his arm being yanked about. A moment later Ed felt his hand being bent forward and pressed against the cold metal, and something smooth slid around his wrist like a bracelet.
Kimbly stepped away to inspect his work.
"What the—" Ed said shaking his head carefully. He looked about. He was propped up against tipped table, his legs stretched in front of him. He glared up at Kimbly.
"I wonder what you are worth as a hostage, boy," the alchemist mused.
"Nothing," said Ed. "No one even knows I am here."
"That's what I thought," said Kimbley. "Well, there are other uses for you."
"Let me go," said Ed. "We had a deal."
Kimbly blinked, genuinely surprised. "Deal? Oh, yes, you free me and I lead you somewhere nice and private where we won't be heard or—interrupted." Kimbly stretched a little popping his spine. He suddenly seemed a hell of a lot stronger than he had moments before. It was an act, Ed realized.
"I'll help you get to the surface," said Ed.
"I can do that fine on my own, now that you've freed me. But you do have something to offer me for your freedom."
There was a slight snickering laugh and Ed turned to look at the table where he'd left 48. The spirit had chosen now of all times to wake up.
"I'm hungry," said the alchemist. "For more than just food." He knelt close enough that Ed could see the light glint off his yellow eyes.
"Time crawls in prison. There is nothing to do, nothing to look at. So you sit in the dark no one to talk to, and all you can think about is shoving your cock into something moist and warm, all day long. Gets you so hard that you are ready to scream." Kimbly reached down and stroked the front of his grey prison pants. Ed couldn't help but see the bulge. "You know how hard it is to jack off with those wooden shackles on? If you're lucky and you angle your hand just right, maybe you get away with a bruise on your thighs or stomach. Angle just wrong and you might get your balls. And even then you can't get the whole cock in your hand, just the end."
Kimbly reached out and touched Ed's bangs, sweeping them away from his face. "It's very, very frustrating."
"Let me go, Kimbly," said Ed. "And I won't k-kill you."
"You don't even sound convincing," said Kimbly. "No, when you make a threat you should do something like this," and he held out the palms of his hands where Ed could see them. "If you behave yourself and be a good boy, I won't transmute your skin into gunpowder."
Ed yanked on his arm. It was bound fast. He looked over at his automail hand in its white glove. If he could just bring it up and press it against his other hand. But it stayed still no matter how hard he thought at it. The wires must have been severed in the earlier fight with 48.
Kimbly was working Ed's pants now, and for a moment the teen flashed back to an earlier time, years before when Tucker had been the one stripping him. But Tucker's hands had been soft and gentle, and his words full of empty compliments and promises of pleasure. Kimbly's hands were hard and he jerked off Ed's boots with rough efficiency.
Kimbly stopped and suddenly guffawed when he saw the automail on his leg. "It looks like someone already damaged you." His hand swept up Ed's inner thigh to his testicles. "At least these parts are still intact, eh?"
Ed suddenly found his resolve and he pulled back that automail leg for a swift and very unpleasant kick.
Kimbly apparently anticipated the move and leaned out of the way. A moment later he pressed both of his hands against the metal prosthesis. Ed felt a disconcerting prickle, which turned into outright pain for a moment. He bit back a moan.
Kimbly continued to smile. "There. I turned your leg into a slow fused explosive. It will take about half an hour before it goes off."
Ed gaped. He stared it his leg, the metal no longer gleamed. Tiny spots of dark grey, like dots of dust had formed along the ridges.
"You have that amount of time to thoroughly please me," Kimbly continued. "If I blow my nut well enough, I'll transmute it back and you and I can part our ways amicably. Equivalent trade, eh?"
"There is nothing equivalent about this," Ed snarled back.
Kimbly shrugged again. "Suit yourself. I don't need your cooperation to fuck you. And it will be fun to watch you explode afterwards."
Ed gritted his teeth.
"Well?" asked Kimbly. "The clock is already ticking."
"I rescued you," said Ed, the betrayal of it stung. "You'd have been back in that cell if I hadn't let you out. Doesn't that count for anything with you?"
Kimbly's brows rose sympathetically. "Yeah, I suppose. I'll be gentle with you, how about that," He hooked his thumbs in his own prison pants and yanked them down. His cock bounced free, Kimbly shuffled on his knees until he straddled Ed's waist. Ed stared at the glistening end of the erection, saw the whipcord muscles of Kimbly's shrunken belly flex, and then the warm spongy head pressed against Ed's lips.
I gotta do this, thought Ed. I've done it before. Years ago. He'd tried not to remember about the less than consensual moments of his life, but there had been several. Ed opened his mouth and began using the techniques that Tucker had drilled into him.
"Ah shit," said Kimbly, his voice soft and surprised. "Damn, fuck, kid. Damn. Oh god you are good at this." Kimbly flexed his hips pressing more of his hot cock into Ed's mouth. "God you've done this before. Yeah. Of course you have. Face like yours, the brass would want to use that. Did they teach you how to do this? Or did you learn it in the field."
Ed ignored the questions, but the thought that maybe the military had taught him how to do this wiggled about in his mind. Maybe Tucker wasn't just using him for his own pleasure. Had the military actually ordered the chimera expert to teach him this? No, no they wouldn't do that, Ed reasoned. No way. It's illegal. It's immoral. It's wrong.
But so was human transmutation, and the military did that.
Ed wished he could see Kimbly's expression. The man was moaning incoherently now, with only an occasional half uttered "fuck" thrown in. This got Ed thinking. Tucker, and for that matter all his previous partners had been a lot nicer towards Ed after he'd sucked them off really well. Ed tried varying his sucking, no longer just getting it over with, but now trying to tease and prolong. Maybe if Kimbly really enjoyed this, he wouldn't just kill him afterwards.
Kimbly gasped. "Oh fuck, kid. Yeah. You're a fucking national treasure."
I have power over him, Ed thought with a slight surge of pride.
He felt a slight hesitation in the thrusts, and Ed braced himself. Sure enough a moment later his mouth began filling with the bitter fluid. He swallowed quickly, the way Tucker had liked him to.
Kimbly sat back on Ed's thighs, and Ed could see his face, reddened and sweaty. "Damn it," Kimbly muttered.
"Undo my leg," Ed ordered.
"Fuck, I've been waiting years for that. Fucking years." Almost as an afterthought Kimbly pressed his hands against Ed's leg. Again there was that painful prickling, but in the end his leg felt and looked normal.
"Now release me," said Ed. '"You got what you wanted."
Kimbly was still breathing a bit heavily. He looked Ed over, sweeping down from his face to his feet then up again, hesitating on Ed's groin. "So tell me, what does the military tell you to do? Seduce important people, so they can use it for blackmail? You can't be more than twelve."
"I'M FIFTEEN," snarled Ed. He yanked at the bracelet holding his arm to the table. It didn't give.
"Hey, didn't mean to offend. Still, if I was the military, that's what I'd do with you."
"I'm an alchemist," said Ed again. "I do alchemy for the military, that is all."
Kimbly snorted. "I was an alchemist, too. I may not have used my ass, I certainly slutted myself out for them. They used me good and dumped me. If I were you, I'd use that pretty butt of yours to get yourself some allies in high places. People who will miss you when you go missing. With that mouth, they won't ever dare throw you in a pit."
"Let me go," said Ed. "You go your way, I go mine, like we agreed."
But Kimbly was staring at his groin. "Equivalent exchange." He said. Then he shifted position, but made no attempt to free Ed's hand. Instead he slid between Ed's thighs and hoisted them up off the floor. Ed saw he was getting hard again.
"It's interesting," Kimbly said, reaching out and grabbing a chunk of wood from the debris near the table. "Something like this looks so dry, and yet it's mostly water. We alchemists can turn shit into proverbial, if not literal, gold. I could make this explode and that would be—" Kimbly's eyes looked out into space and his cock twitched against Ed's thigh. "Or I can turn it into something for you."
Ed held still.
"Equivalent trade, you got my nut off good. Now I get yours off too and we'll be even.."
"No!" said Ed.
Kimbly snickered. He brought his hands together, and the wood shrank in the glow of the violet light. A moment later he dropped a shriveled black lump onto Ed's stomach. Oil dripped from Kimbly's hands in fat drops against Ed's naked hip.
Kimbly wrapped a hand around Ed's limp cock and began stroking it. His other hand rubbed his own. Ed squirmed, and drew his knees up to kick but Kimbly reached down and grabbed Ed's balls. "I wouldn't do that if I were you."
Ed relaxed. Fuck. Whatever. "You want to fuck me," he said after a moment, "Just go ahead and do it. Get it over with. You don't need to mess with me."
"You don't like me touching you here?" Kimbly asked stroking Ed's quickly growing erection.
"I mean it's unnecessary. You let me free, that's equivalent. I don't have all day. My brother will be looking for me any minute."
"Your brother could look for days and not find us here," said Kimbly casually as he continued to stroke him. "Feeling horny, I see," he said after a while.
Fuck yes, Ed was horny. He couldn't help but be horny, but it didn't mean anything. The vibration of the train made him horny. Hell sometimes Mustang lecturing at him made him horny. Horny was his normal state of being, and if someone was going to rub his cock, yeah, damn it he was going to get hard.
Kimbly suddenly stopped and Ed bucked his hips automatically trying to maintain the friction. He growled in fury at Kimbly's laugh. "Now imagine being like this for days, weeks, months, years. Fucking turned on with nowhere to go. Then you have my life in this hell hole."
"Why are you doing this to me?"
Kimbly shrugged. "Because you are here, and you wear that fucking watch. Because you didn't stop me. I can see it in your eyes. You've got that same fucking look I used to have when I joined up. Before I said screw it, I don't care anymore. You've still got those noble ideals about the goodness and charity making you stupid. Why the fuck are you investigating this hell pit? Is it to save us poor bastards from our ugly fates?"
"I'm investigating for me," said Ed. "I want the philosophers stone. The Military is making one in here. I want it."
Kimbly laughed. "The philosopher's stone is a myth. You want something you gotta pay." And with that word he thrust in.
Ed bit his lip as pain ripped through him, but he didn't give the prisoner the scream he was hoping for. If Kimbly was hoping he was going to participate in this, he was wrong. Ed stayed still and wooden under the thrusts and hid his pain behind a glare.
But, no, Kimbly wasn't even looking. His head was thrown back again and he was grinning at the ceiling. That strangely serene expression was back and Ed's belly burned knowing that even without his cooperation this felt good to Kimbly, and that was all the alchemist cared about.
For a long while, there was no sound except the slight wheezing hitch of Kimbly's breath. Ed felt Kimbly's fingers digging into his thighs holding them apart and in place. The hands were trembling, as though the man were straining, running up against the end of his endurance.
The initial pain died down as Ed adjusted and relaxed. He remembered the look of bliss Kimbly had after the blowjob and how, for a moment or two during the afterglow, he'd been willing to do what Ed asked him to. Maybe after this he'd be similarly amenable.
In the mean time, Ed's nerves were still on edge from being jacked off. He felt that keen need hold on and grow worse as Kimbly's thrusts continued to stimulate him. Pressure built within him and he couldn't help but squirm. He began bucking his hips hoping that Kimbly's thin belly might accidentally come in contact with his cock.
Kimbly's second orgasm was marked with a wide mouthed gasp. The thrusts stopped and Kimbly stayed still. "Fuck," he swore again. "That was almost as good as the first one."
"Kimbly, you bastard, you promised—"
Without withdrawing Kimbly grabbed Ed's cock again had jerked it, his thin bony fingers gripping him with uncomfortable tightness. Ed couldn't say anything more. The pressure was building, his ass still filled by Kimbly's softening cock. The fingers, oh the fingers kept moving mercilessly, and Ed bucked, feeling a slight scraping slide within him, and that was enough. He was riding those spikes, pain, fear, and humiliation temporarily taking a back seat to pure hedonistic pleasure.
It wasn't the first time he'd come for someone who he didn't like. He'd come every time Tucker touched him, even those times when Tucker was cruel and he was angry. And the other times—the times when he'd chosen to lead someone on and it went a bit beyond what he was expecting, he'd come then, too. It wasn't a surprise. It was normal.
"There. I promised that," said Kimbly. "Damn, I'd give anything for a cigarette." He stood up and pulled his pants up. "I'm going to go now. Good luck finding your philosopher's stone."
"Wait you can't leave me like this—" With the door closed he could scream for days before anyone might find him here. And then the ones finding him would be the guards of this place. And what would they make of a him, lying half naked, dirtied, and used?
Kimbly hesitated a moment, then shrugged. With the back of his bare foot, he lifted Ed's limp automail hand and kicked. The arm flew over Ed's body and came to rest draped near his flesh hand. Kimbly snorted again and then turned and walked away, without even the slightest wobble in his stride.
Furious, Ed wiggled his fingers and stretched against the cuff, trying to close the last bit of space. After a moment his fingertips touched the back of his automail hand. He concentrated and felt alchemy flow and gather. A moment later the cuff fell away. The alchemy reaction, fueled by his fury, crackled on, melting the table and causing the floor to sag and twist.
His anger died down before the floor actually gave out beneath him, but it was a close call. Breathing hard, he searched for and found his clothes. Almost as an after thought he took the silent helmet in his hand again and headed out into the empty hall.
"You could have warned me," Ed said to the helmet, but it remained quiet and still. Ed resisted the urge to scrape off the array within.
It wasn't' 48's fault, Ed realized. He'd trusted a person, a person he damn well should have known was trouble, and he'd been slapped for his failure. It's my fault, for turning my back. It's my fault for forgetting that people are selfish and cruel.
He thought briefly of Al, waiting patiently for him to come out again, excluded from the venture by the inhuman size of his empty metal body. The body Ed had given him.
Yeah, people are selfish and cruel, Ed thought bitterly, walking into the empty hallway. Myself included.