[Fullmetal Alchemist] Schadenfreude 4/4 ABANDONED
I wrote this part in the fall of 2004, when I wrote the others. It was never finished, but I still get reviews and e-mails asking me "OMG ROY DIDN'T DIE, DID HE?!" So while it doesn't wrap up the entire story, you people will at least get over your pressing need to know the fate of Roy Mustang. :p
Same warnings as on the rest of the fic-- prominent original characters, some Roy/Ed subtext, lots of action and violence, strict manga canon, AU from Rush Valley (at the time, where the manga was translated to) which means spoilers to that point, future/speculative fic. It was beta-ed two years ago, which is good because my beta is currently in Osaka.
“Fullmetal.” Mustang stood slumped against the wall, obviously using it for support and balanceas he limped along.
“What happened?” Ed demanded, looking over his shoulder despite himself.
“If it’s not obvious, he shot me,” Mustang said through clenched teeth, “I managed to stop the bleeding, but I would deeply appreciate it if you would help me.”
“He- you mean- you did that?” Ed asked, blanching, though he didn’t draw back when Mustang leaned heavily on his shoulder.
“It was that or take a bullet to the head, Edward. And I’m not ready to die yet.”
Ed knew that Roy Mustang wanted to be Fuhrer, had known if for a long time. Everyone who worked directly under him did. But only on a few occasions had Ed heard such blatant ambition in the man’s voice, and he’d never seen Mustang go to such lengths before. And it wasn’t even because he didn’t want to die, that Ed would understand perfectly well- it was because he didn’t want to die yet, not before realizing his goal.
They made their way down the maintenence hall slowly, faster than Mustang could have managed alone but far slower than Ed would have liked.
“What happened to River?” Mustang asked him quietly, voice not laced with his usual confidence. “I heard the explosions.”
“He’s still out there. He was going to throw half of the East river at me, so I decided to get away while I still could.” Ed halted his steps when Mustang stopped mirroring them with his good leg, and turned to face him. “What?”
“You let him go?” Mustang’s voice was neutral in a way his eyes couldn’t match.
“I don’t stand a chance against him if he’s got that much water ready, and you know it,” Ed snapped, walking again- Mustang could keep up with him, be dragged along, or stay where he was. “If you’d like to keep complaining, I can leave you here to deal with him.”
“Please, do.” River spoke up from behind them, “I’m curious as to which one of you did that to my subordinate- and what exactly, you did.”
“Self-defense, Brigadier General. He shot me and I defended myself against it happening again.” Mustang drew himself up, surreptitiously leaning against Ed’s shoulder for balance, and looked at the taller man through his lashes. “I trust you’re familiar with that defense, considering that’s all that stood between you and a life sentence after Ishbal.”
“Self-defense, Major General?” River asked, circling in with his steps. “Self-defense hardly leaves a corpse like that. I should have known it was you, though- had the Lieutenant Colonel been able to do something like that, he had plenty of opportunity a few minutes ago.”
Mustang let go of Ed’s shoulder and stepped away, slowly and haltingly, until he reached the wall. He fell back against it with a decided lack of his usual dignity, obviously unable to walk much farther- and Ed realized sickeningly that he must have cauterized his own wound, or however that worked, because normally a man with a bullet through the thigh would have bled to death by now.
“It does when one’s usual methods of defense have been circumvented,” Mustang pointed out quietly. He started to say something else, but River cut him off before he could.
“Stop it with your fancy arguments, Mustang. We’re not in a military court right now, and no one here needs your big words.” River didn’t use alchemy this time. Instead he took out a pistol, military-issue, and leveled it at Roy.
Ed still didn’t know what had happened between these two, or who was in the right, but he did know two things. One, that he’d much rather see Mustang alive than River, and two, that he didn’t like being written off like this.
“Forgetting about me already?” Ed asked, tapping a foot on the ground impatiently. He couldn’t afford to use the opportunity River’s unguarded back offered him, because if he didn’t strike exactly right River might let the gun off in surprise- but there didn’t seem to be any other option. “That’s rude.”
“Shut the hell up, Elric,” River said tightly, dropping rank and title. “This has nothing to do with you.”
“If it didn’t have anything to do with me, you and your dog shouldn’t have brought me into it.” Ed clapped his hands together to transmute his arm, and before the transmutation had even sparked he threw his full weight onto River and knocked the man flat to the ground, pistol skidding across the floor until it came to a stop at Mustang’s feet.
River had twisted under his weight at the last second, and that combined with the momentum sent Ed sprawling in front of River rather than on top of him; when Ed got up River was already doing the same. His advantage was gone now, and Ed went for him again. River caught his automail arm before the bladed edge could strike him, but the force of Ed’s metal forearm made him stagger all the same.
He used the force of Ed’s thrust to swing him to the side, throwing him into the wall hard enough to knock the air from his lungs. As Ed pulled himself back up, catching his breath, River turned and lunged for the pistol. Mustang had ignored it, white-faced against the wall even as it sat practically touching his toes, and didn’t move even when River reached for the gun.
“Of all the times for you to get fucking injured,” Ed muttered, throwing himself forward again. He was smaller and more agile than River, but that would only go so far; he couldn’t get to the gun, but he did get to River, pinning the man’s legs under his full weight. Unfortunately for Ed, that put River in a perfect position to flip them over so that he was the one pinning Ed, and the gun was just within his reach.
Unfortunately for River, this position gave Ed the perfect opening to slam his automail foot into the Flux Alchemist’s midsection. River hit the floor with more force than Ed had hit the wall, and Ed scrambled forward for the pistol. When he picked it up Roy opened his eyes, and if Ed didn’t know better he would say there was a glint there, some hint of sarcasm and amusement.
Only that bastard would have the gall to look amused right now.
“Brigadier-General Ayden River,” Ed said, keeping his voice and the gun both perfectly level, “You are under arrest under the order of Major-General Roy Mustang. If you don’t come quietly, I will not hesitate to exercise my right to subdue you by any means necessary. Now hand over your watch.”
River reached into his pocket for the watch- and it was for the watch, because he pulled it out without any tricks. He didn’t even activate an array as Ed half expected him to do for one last stand. He simply held out his watch.
He didn’t pull out the second pistol until his watch rested in Ed’s hands. Ed was so concerned with a trick in passing the watch that he didn’t really register the weapon until River raised it.
“Drop it.” Ed held the gun steady in his human hand. He held the watch in his now normal automail hand. He’d transmuted it before taking the watch from River, not wanting to put the gun down to take the watch. “I said drop it, River.”
River didn’t drop the gun. He kept it trained on a spot between Ed’s eyes, finger twitching against the trigger almost imperceptibly.
“By all means, Lieutenant-Colonel, arrest me.” River invited, taking a step backward. “Can you even shoot that with one hand? I would think the kick would knock back someone so... diminuative... as yourself.”
Ed pulled the trigger without thinking. It might have been the man’s movement, the fact that he was moving away from the threat and towards his downed target, or simply that familiar blind rage at being called small. Whatever it was, his finger moved and the gun went off. After a flash of satisfaction that River had been wrong and Ed was not knocked backward, thank you very much, his head cleared and he realized what he’d done. River slumped back, clutching at his shoulder, and his gun fell to the floor.
When Ed walked past him, he picked up the gun. Now he had both weapons and the watch, and River wasn’t worth his time with a bullet in his shoulder, not when they were indoors and away from the water the Flux Alchemist needed.
“Can you stand up, Mustang?” Ed asked, voice suddenly strained tight as if the entire afternoon were finally taking its toll on him.
“I think so.” Mustang said quietly, but when he tried he slumped back against the wall. Ed sighed and pulled one of Mustang’s arms over his shoulders so that he could help him down the hall again.
”Why do you have to be so tall?” Ed grumbled as they slowly left the maintenence hall and entered the base at large. Mustang didn’t answer him; he seemed to be concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other. Finally they reached the populated part of the base, and soon a swarm of medical personnel had surrounded Mustang.
Ed leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been on a mission this physically draining; while it might have been less horrific than some of the things he’d seen in his travels, enlisted military work was far more demanding.
“Lieutenant Colonel Elric?” A woman wearing the stars of a Major stood in front of him, holding onto a clipboard. “With Major General Mustang, Brigadier General River, and Colonel Albert unable to take command, you’re the ranking officer on the base. We need to know what to do with the detainee.”
I sort of hate the way I wrote two years ago, but I still think I made up some damn good OCs (this was written in the heyday of my "original character villain of the week" phase, along with the Naruto story "Level Sands"). I actually almost want to write River/Albert backstory fic, which would just be ridiculous. But fun!
All right, you guys hear that? The "Schadenfreude" phase of my fandom involvement is closed. Done. I came, I saw, I conquered. And now you know what happened to everyone.