"The Gate is multiplying!" In which Ed meets someone he has never expected to meet, and gains a new way home. Post-series, Movie non-applicable.
He had spent months researching for a clue, and it had taken him weeks to perfect the theory, but it was worth it, all worth it if he could get /home/.
He checked and rechecked the array once more, making sure that the lines and symbols and angles were all right and not one calculation was out of place. He smiled, a smile too bitter and almost too old for his face but strangely fitting for the tired maturity of his eyes. Nodding to himself, he allowed the smile to seep into his eyes, kneeling down onto the floor. It was time.
He picked up the knife lying on the floor, sharp and thin with light glinting off the silver blade. He laid it against his skin, relishing in the coldness of the steel against his skin before slashing it down his arm in one swift stroke, watching as blood splattered against the wood of the floor and the chalk of the array.
Edward Elric kept his eyes open as he fell onto the cold wood of the floor. The world sped by, rushing by him as blood gush out from his wrist, staining the ground below him. Equivalent trade, the sacrifice to open the Gate at this side was blood. The blood of an alchemist.
He felt the blood stop, and the wound close, and blinding pale light, not quite white and yellow, surrounded him. He looked around, where was the Gate? The array was perfect, the calculations were all right... did he screw up again?
"Ah? I don't think you're supposed to die this soon..."
Edward started, jerking towards the direction of the voice even as he subconsciously brought his hands together in a clap. His eyes widened and his jaw dropped, hands falling uselessly to his sides as he stared at the man in front of him.
He was tall, a fact that Edward had first noticed about him, with long, blonde hair falling onto the shoulders in slight waves. Honey-gold eyes stared back at him, surprised, from a very familiar face. A face that he had seen before the owner had killed him. He blinked again, twitching slightly in disbelief, "... En... vy?"
The apparition (no, it was too real to be a hallucination) shook his head, amusement glinting his eyes and turning them into a familiar golden shade. "Well... no. I'm surprised though. I don't think it shows people this form easily..."
The taller blond stepped forward, an almost-familiar smirk on his lips as he held out a hand from a distance, as if careful not to invade Edward's personal space. "I apologize for being rude. I should have introduced myself. My name's Raphael von Hohenheim. Pleased to meet you, little brother. Even though I didn't think that we would be meeting this soon."
Edward could only blink, gaping in shock and he continued to stare at... Raphael? He opened his mouth, trying to speak amidst his shock and rapid racking of his mind for a weapon, any weapon, but the only a soft "Wha...?" escaped him.
"Perhaps I should have explained this better." Raphael shrugged, still extending his hand towards Edward, a cordial smile on his lips. "I'm Envy's human soul."
Edward reached a hand out slowly, grasping Raphael's hand by his fingertips. He truly didn't think he should trust this man... not just yet. Then, suddenly, something that Raphael had said popped back into his mind.
"Wait... von Hohenheim?"
Raphael shrugged, shaking Edward's hand firmly before letting go and stepping back, "That was Father's name. I'm quite sure that I'm not an Elric. The surname 'Elric' didn't exactly exist when I was alive... Perhaps Father took Trisha's name when they married. I'm not sure. I've never asked."
This wasn't Envy, Edward was sure. From what little he had known of the homunculus, he knew that Envy would never call Hohenheim 'Father' of his own will. Nor would Envy be this polite and formal. Or maybe it was just an elaborate farce or hallucination that came from losing too much blood. Edward wasn't sure.
"You know, as much as I would like to stand here and chat and convince you that yes, this is real and not a figment of imagination, I'm afraid that we don't have much time. You have to choose."
Heart skipping a beat slightly when Raphael had practically voiced his thoughts, Edward turned towards the taller blond again, raising an eyebrow. "Choose?"
Raphael waved a hand around him, an almost casual gesture except for the sudden shift in the surroundings. Instead of the pale, off-white light that seemed to come from everywhere without anything in sight, Edward found himself facing a very familiar sight.
A hand tapped him on the shoulder, and he turned, coming face-to-face with Raphael. And... was that another Gate?! In his shock, he blurted out the first thing in his mind.
"The Gate is multiplying!"
Raphael gave a small chuckle, eyes glinting in amusement, before replying,
"No... Though I'm not surprised that you would think so," Raphael, Edward thought grumpily, was laughing at him. Edward Elric does not take well to being laughed at.
"This Gate," here Raphael jerked a hand behind himself, "is the Gate of Death. Every human, whether from the world of Alchemy of the world of Machines, end up here sooner or later. There's no toll to enter. This Gate won't take anything from you. There is no Equivalent Trade here."
"Hmmm... Let's just put it this way, shall we? Would you pay something to go home? The Gate of Death is somewhat like that. It's where we came from and where we go in the end. The worlds we live in is like a fair we go to. There is no price for entering the first time, but if one wishes to do anything inside it, one would have to pay. It's simple, truly."
Edward blinked, trying to sort through the information in his head. Everything seemed so unbelievable, but he knew, somehow, he /knew/, that what Raphael was saying was true. Then... the Gate behind him was his world? The world where Al and Winry and everyone else was (he hoped) waiting for him to come back?
"Yes. That Gate is the Gate to your world. The world of Alchemy."
Thrown for a loop, Edward jerked his head upwards (when did he start staring at the floor?), staring at Raphael, outrage and disbelief plain on his face.
"What the hell? Are you reading my mind or something?!"
Raphael chuckled again, partly Edward's conclusion and partly because the way Edward had accused him. As if Raphael would scream his secrets out to Edward's world for no reason. It was ludicrous, really.
Edward then decided that he hates hearing Envy laugh, never mind that this wasn't exactly Envy. Both of them laugh in the same mocking way. Particularly if they were (he was) laughing at /him/.
"Not even the dead can read minds, Edward. Your emotions are shown plainly on your face. Your eyes are especially expressive. But we really shouldn't talk about that." Raphael cleared his throat slightly, smiling at Edward when he scowled. "Everybody whom you knew had died is beyond the Gate of the Death. Your Mother, someone named Hughes, someone with a white scar on his forehead... And those are the ones I know are there, because they're waiting for someone or something. Just like I am."
Edward reeled, stepping back slightly. 'Mom is in there? And Lieutenant Colonel Hughes and Scar?' He turned his gaze to the floors, biting his lip. 'No. I can't, can't, go in there. I have to go home. Al is waiting for me at home.'
He shook his head viciously, clenching and unclenching his fists as he spoke, "I can't go in there. I can't die yet. I have to go home. Al is waiting for me at home."
"I figured you would say that. Equivalent trade still applies to that Gate, you do realize? It'll probably take your memories of everything that had happened here and everything that had happened in the world of Machines." Raphael took a deep breath, lowering his voice. "/Everything/."
Edward was always turning and walking towards the Gate, large and imposing and towering above him as always. He hesitated, almost stopping before propelling himself forward again.
'Forget everything? Forget all that had happened with Hohenheim... Dad? Forget Alfons? Can I do that? It's not like I have a choice anyway... Al is more important than anything else.'
He approached the Gate slowly, careful but not afraid. As the doors started to swing inward and black, silent hands wrapped around his body, he heard a voice call to him from behind, sounding fainter and fainter as he was dragged into the darkness.
"I know you probably won't remember this but he asked me to try anyway. Tell Roy Mustang that 'I'm sorry that I couldn't keep my promise, but I'll be waiting for you here. Don't die just yet, though! And tell Elysia that Papa loves her!'"
Edward nodded, even though he knew Raphael wouldn't be able to see it. Just then, he remembered something Raphael had said. He twisted around, struggling to meet Raphael's gaze as he shouted his question.
"Hey! You said that you were waiting for someone! Who are you waiting for?!"
The last thing he saw was a small, enigmatic smirk before the Gate closed and the darkness took him.
He had spent months researching for a clue, and it had taken him weeks to perfect the theory, but it was worth it, all worth it if he could get him home.
He checked and rechecked the array once more, making sure that the lines and symbols and angles were all right and not one calculation was out of place. He smiled, a smile too bitter and almost too old for his face but strangely fitting for the age of his eyes. Nodding to himself, he allowed the smile to seep into his eyes, kneeling down onto the floor. It was time.
He pressed his hands together, an unconscious imitation of /him/, before pressing them down onto the array.
Alphonse Elric had expected a large, ominous Gate like Master had told him. He had expected darkness, expected having to give up his life or limbs in exchange for his brother. He knew, and almost expected, to die.
What he didn't expect was a sudden creak that sounded almost of a rusty Gate opening, and gold and white and brown to suddenly crash into him.
Alphonse blinked, staring, almost incredulously, at his brother who had miraculously come back from wherever he was (not from the dead, for Alphonse had never admitted that his brother was /dead/). His body was frozen, eyes never leaving Edward's prone body. Finally, after three tries, he got his mouth to work. The word came out in a half-whisper, half-croak.
Edward blinked, shifted slightly before opening his eyes fully and lifting them to meet his brother's.
They didn't know who moved first, but somehow, they were half-standing, half-kneeling on the floor, hugging each other so tightly that they both thought they would suffocate if they held on any longer. But neither of them were willing to let go, for who knew that it may all be just a hallucination, and if they let go the other would fade away and they would be left with nothing again?
"Nii-san... Where did you go? How did you come back? I didn't activate the array. Did you come back on your own? Do you remember anything?"
Edward laughed, truly laughed and not the half-forced one he used... somewhere else. "I... I don't remember anything... But it isn't important. What's important is that I'm home now. /I'm home/." Edward smiled; smile unwavering even as his voice and body shook with emotion as he clung onto Alphonse like a lifeline.
However, Edward could not dispel the feeling that something was missing, that he was forgetting something that he really should remember. He dismissed the feeling, because if there were anything important, he would have remembered it, right? Right?