And here we are my dear readers, have fun :) After this one there is only one more Chapter to go...^^
And please don't forget to tell me what you think of this ;3
There's an Oroboros Tattoo on his chest.
It's edge peeks out from underneath the torn singlet and it only takes a second for Ed to get back on her feet and press him down so she can tear the rest of the cloth away, still hoping she might be wrong. But there it is, a dragon eating its own tail. It's placed right above his heart and it's paler than the tattoos she's seen on the other homunculi, but it's there none the less.
Angry and confused at the same time she wants to demand an explanation but when she looks at his face she can see the reason why Mustang hasn't tried to fight her off yet. He's white as a sheet, breathing shallow and fast, eyes tightly shut. When those thick lashes part again after all they reveal purple irises to the dim light in the room and Ed is actually scared. Not because of the homunculus but because of how close it had been to her and Mustang's team all along without them ever realising.
"Run!", Mustang breathes, pressing those shocking eyes closed again. "Please run, I can't keep it-"
And then he screams.
It's a horrible sound, something Ed has never thought she'd hear coming from the colonel. She has to let go of him when his muscles convulse with incredible force and he curls up into a tight ball before stretching again, falling off the couch in the process. Ed steps back, then pulls the damn coffee table out of the way so he won't smack his head on its feet when he trashes around. It looks like he's fighting himself but Ed now knows that the homunculus in his body is his enemy.
Finally the trashing subsides and all that's left is a shivering body on the floor, pale and sweating and barely breathing. Should she stay away from him? Ed is pretty sure the answer is yes but she can't stop herself from cautiously crouching down next to him. "Mustang?"
Purple eyes snap open and one arm leashes out. But then black takes over those eyes again and the other arm presses the attacking limb down against the tattooed chest.
"Fullmetal you idiot! Get away before it kills you!" Mustang tries to snap though his voice is too hoarse to properly yell.
"Like I'm leaving you knowing that a homunculus is trying to take you over!" she yells back, her voice not doing fine either. It's high pitched and panicked.
The colonel tries to speak again but only makes a choking sound and Ed's eyes widen when he digs unusually pointy fingernails into is own chest, clawing at the tattoo like that would make it go away.
"Stop that!" she grabs his hand to pull it away and he latches on to hers immediately, though she's not sure if it's really him seeking reassurance or if the homunculus wants to keep her around to kill her for finding out. It doesn't matter anyway, just as long as he won't start digging for his heart again. So Ed squeezes his hand once, his blood warm against her skin when he squeezes back.
"T- tie me up if you won't leave!" He can barely get it out, his grip on her hand turning almost painful when his body convulses once more. Then he lets go of her in favour of curling up again, trying to keep himself together when the fighting homunculus makes him twitch and leash out at Ed. The blonde considers transmuting the floor around him but then makes a dash for the white belt still hanging over the back of the couch. When she turns around again Mustang is standing right behind her, arm stretched out for her neck.
The veins underneath the skin of the arm that's torn between following the wishes of two minds are standing out and the muscles are cramping and twitching in turn. For a moment Ed forgets about her life being in danger and wonders if that will leave permanent damage to the limb but then reflex has her punch the colonel and knock him down.
It's a very tight fit and she wouldn't have managed had Mustang not gone back to being alarmingly limp and short of breath but she can press his arms against his sides and buckle the belt around his hips and wrists to keep them there. Her own belt around his ankles and he's not as immobilized as would probably be necessary but she doesn't know if he'll tear all his muscles and maybe organs if she bound him more tightly when he had those fits. Just when she thinks that his body convulses once more, his back arching until she fears for his spine to snap. Then he turns back to twitching and shivering, his bangs clinging to his sweaty forehead. In a sudden notion she reaches out, pushes the wet hair aside and feels a temperature that is far too high to be healthy. Hand moving down to his neck she finds his heartbeat is no better, it's hammering too fast and misses a beat every once in a while.
It's surprising how much Mustang's breathing calms though when she absent-mindedly strokes his hair while thinking about what the fuck she should do right now. But she's even more surprised to realise that she had the urge to pat his head, be it subconsciously or not.
Getting back on her feet Ed makes out the telephone on the desk in the corner of the room and stepping on various papers and Mustang's uniform she hurries over there. She doesn't know if Mustang has emergency contacts, she calls the only number she knows that the colonel would trust. And even though Ed sometimes thought that her life would have gone much better had she not been a genius, right now she is very grateful for having the brain capacity to remember Hawkeye's number even though she only ever saw it once. The lieutenant picks up surprisingly fast.
"Something's wrong with Mustang, you need to come here!"
"Edeline? Where are you?"
"At his house."
"Is he hurt?" There, that fear for Mustang that Ed had never understood until he had kissed her so tenderly.
"Kind of, I can't explain. Just hurry!"
Hawkeye doesn't reply, she just hangs up and knocks on the door maybe ten minutes later. Ed is sitting next to Mustang on the floor, stroking his hair again simply because it calms her too. She stumbles over her own feet and nearly falls when she jumps up to run and open the door for the reliable lieutenant. The hawk's eye follows her into the living room quickly, kneeling down next to their commanding officer.
"Why is he tied u- Isn't this...?" She reaches out to touch the now rather bloody Oroborus and Ed nods.
"There's a homunculus inside of him," the younger blonde supplies.
"So that's why he's been so... different." Hawkeye sounds relieved, so very happy that Mustang is still the same, not evil himself but only possessed by evil. "Can we do something about it?"
"I don't know." Ed hates it when all the knowledge she's gathered during the years as military dog once again isn't enough. Not enough to save Al, not enough to save Nina, not enough to save Mustang. Never enough. She clenches her hands to fists in anger. Head lowering she sees that Mustang is looking up at her from the floor, eyes so clouded that the black has nearly turned grey. But there is still focus there because he shakes his head ever so slightly. "Not your fault," he whispers. "'M sorry." His eyes fall close again and Ed notices hat shadows have started to surround them, like he hasn't slept in days.
"We need some sort of doctor," Ed decides.
"Isn't a homunculus able to heal itself?" Hawkeye asks, trying to stay professional.
"He's suppressing it. Has been the whole time. I guess if it can't properly take over the body then it can't properly heal it," she explains and pulls her hand back that had been about to gently touch those closed eyes.
"But it still influences him..."
"He said something about damage control... a compromise. I'm guessing he can't fully suppress it and it can't fully take him over." She wraps her arms around herself, remembering all the times on the couch that weren't as good as today. "I think it takes his natural desires and enhances those it needs or wants to its advantage. That's why in those cases he can't completely stop it. All he can do is... damage control."
"Is that possible?"
"I don't know. But I was once told that nothing is impossible by one of those same creatures."
Mustang utters a pain-filled sound and curls up again. It's obvious he wants to wrap his arms around himself, but the white belt sits tight and the colonel gives up and continues shivering with his arms by his sides.
Crying out he wants to struggle when Breda and Falman try to lift him up so they can carry him to the car. Hawkeye has called them over, Fuery is awake and somewhere out in the night too, doing whatever the lieutenant has told him to do. Ed didn't listen.
The youngest amongst all the people currently in the house stands around somewhat useless, simply because she doesn't know what to to. She watches as black eyes turn purple again and the struggle out of pain turns into a struggle out of vicious anger and the desire to kill. The soldiers are shocked, but so is Mustang the moment he manages to knock Falman to the ground. His eyes are black again, wide and horrified and Ed knows that she can't hate him anymore. She knows that he was never the one to push her into the couch and treat her like soulless flesh. No, he is the one who tried to make up for it tonight.
It's why she climbs into the back seat of the car, making Falman who was supposed to sit there and help keep their commander still take the passenger seat. No one argues because when Ed wraps an arm around Mustang's shoulder to keep him still the colonel blindly turns towards her and slumps against her side. His weight is a bit smothering and Ed starts sweating because he's burning up. But he is motionless, resting, trusting. During the whole bumpy ride his hot breath flutters against her neck in an alarmingly uneven pattern and Ed wonders how long he's still going to make it at this rate. She holds him tighter despite the uncomfortable weight and temperature, the man's breath hitches and a shudder runs through him though Ed ignores him hoarsely telling her to run. If he managed to attack now there would be nowhere to run anyway, not in the car, even if Ed wanted to run.
But as it is she doesn't want to run and he gives up trying to convince her soon. Yet Ed is fairly certain it's only because he is too busy with hyperventilating. She has never before talked so much calming nonsense at once and maybe she should just shut up because it doesn't seem to help anyway; Mustang's breathing is still too hectic, he's hunching forward and stares into nothingness with wide eyes. Yet Ed can't stop, she can't stand seeing someone suffer and Mustang looks like he's having a nightmare while being awake. Finally she just grabs his face between both hands and turns him to look him in the eyes.
The first one to recognise her is the homunculus, the dull eyes turning sharp and purple.
"I don't want you," she tells the creature, ghost, whatever it is in this state. Ed doesn't know nor does she care. The homunculus looks angry.
But then the body trashes, as much as it is able to when tied up and sandwiched between Ed and Breda on the back seat of a car, until it's rightful owner takes control again. Black eyes lock on Ed's and she nods. "You're okay, you can stay." she says with a grin.
Mustang blinks, then manages a feeble smirk. But then he sways in his seat and slumps against Ed once more, his eyes only half lidded and his breathing back to the unsteady fluttering from the beginning of the car ride.
Said car ride now ends as Hawkeye, who's been driving as fast as she safely could, finally steps on the breaks and stops the vehicle in front of some seemingly uninhabited house that Ed would call random if she wasn't so sure that the man who's currently helplessly leaning against her is paranoid enough to have a safe house here at the outskirts of Central. So they stop at that not-random house and bring the colonel inside while another car pulls up, bringing Fuery and a disgruntled Doctor Knox. Ed isn't sure whether she's relieved or worried that Mustang doesn't struggle this time when they move him.
They take away the dusty blanket covering it and place Mustang on an old bed in one of the rooms. Knox, brought in by Fuery, asks just why the hell they called him out here, why they didn't just bring Mustang to a normal doctor or the hospital and Hawkeye explains to him the nature of the problem. The old coroner groans and complains about being dragged into some fine mess but begins to check Mustang over nonetheless. Ed is deep in thought, trying to think of something to help get rid of the homunculus, until the doctor says "That temperature is going to kill him soon."
She stares at Knox like the others do, not wanting to believe. He continues, wiping the dried blood off Mustang's chest as he speaks. "The mind has a certain influence on the body. For example children can get ill to draw their parent's attention and make them forget about the fight they're having. It's not a conscious decision, one could say it's just the stress that seeing their parent's fight hard and often and ignore them is putting on them that makes their system go sick. This fever of the colonel seems something similar to me. I'm guessing that he wants to get rid of that, how'd ya call it, homunculus? So badly that the stress it causes him forces his body to react. It treats the homunculus like an illness that needs to be fought off with a fever. Unfortunately that thing doesn't seem to be like bacteria and the likes, making him burn up himself."
"Oh yes, I'm gonna take him with me!"
They all flinch and jump, staring at Mustang who isn't Mustang anymore. There's a crazy grin on those features and the eyes are wide and purple as the creature currently in posses of the colonel's vocal cords laughs hysterically. At first Ed thinks that it is only madness, but then she realises that it is also pain that contorts the grin so violently. It seems the homunculus is suffering from Mustang's defiance, feeling all the pain of the body it currently clings to but not able to do something about it because it doesn't fully own the flesh shell. "That liar, he will perish, I'll punish him for lying!" There's foam in the corners of his mouth now.
"You have no right to punish him, you're stealing his body and have corrupted his mind!" Ed is clenching her fists, wanting to punch that creature but holding back because yes, that body belongs to someone else!
Purple eyes turn to her her, eyelids falling half closed in a lascivious way she's sure she's seen before somewhere. "Ohhh you care? And here I thought you started hating him! The look you gave him every time I crushed his resistance and had him jump you... You humans are so weak, calling me a sin but giving in to me so easily, like in truth you want it!" It laughed once more.
"I really doubt he wanted that!" She remembers loving touches, remembers pleas for her to run being breathlessly whispered to her in the back of the car.
"You're right. "The creature makes his face look thoughtful. "He never wanted raw pleasure, stupid human, I don't understand him. I tried to show him our coexistence could be so nice and pleasant but he was never happy with all those girls. Said there was something missing that I wouldn't understand..." And suddenly the expression turns angry "And then he promises me to explain and show me but as soon as I give him one more inch of control he tries to take it back completely! I hate overconfident people! I hate-"
And the sentence runs out in a scream and those eyes turn black again. Clouded and unfocused but thankfully black. A familiar smirk makes it onto that far too pale and sweaty face and Mustang breathes "And I hate bitchy homunculi!" Not one second later the smirk falls though and he looks like he's caught up in a nightmare and can't wake up.
"Is there some sort of transmutation to pull that thing out of him?" Hawkeye asks Ed, a quite unusual expression on her face as she does so. Fear, Hawkeye is scared.
"I don't know." Ed answers, looking down at the man she would have never thought she'd be worried about again.
"Well, hurry up thinking, he won't make it much longer like this. That thing just now broke through long enough to have a conversation with us, I don't think he can keep it under check for any more time." Knox says.
Fuery comes in with an old bucket filled with surprisingly clear water and a rag. The young sergeant wrings out some of the water in the cloth and then swallows, obviously wanting to help but not quite sure if it is his place to do this. It doesn't matter because Ed would have snatched away the wet rag anyway. She carefully lays it on Mustang's forehead, watching as his features instantly relax a bit. It's almost too quiet to be understood but a "thank you" leaves from between his lips together with his breath.
For a moment Ed panics and thinks this is it but then he takes in another rattling breath, eyelids fluttering ever so slightly. He frowns, lips pressing into a thin line. "Ed, get Alphonse!" he then demands.
"Use us up."
Some of the room's occupants stare, not understanding, but Ed knows exactly what Mustang means.
"I can't, I can't use you!" How could he even think that! She and Al would never take lives!
"I don't know how else to kill this thing!" Ed has never heard him so defeated before. "The stone doesn't fade, it-!"
"I will posses you! Kill him and it will be you!" Purple eyes laugh at them. "I'm not Greed, I don't know much about that sin but I know you humans are too greedy to offer up your own happiness for someone else!"
Ed stares. It's not her happiness she's worried about, it's Al's, she has Al to care about, she can't risk getting possessed, there must be another way!
"How about I proof you wrong and you take my body?" Hawkeye calmly states. There is fear in her brown eyes but she stands her ground.
"No! Hawkeye, no one should be possessed, we need to find another way, I'm sure we will!" Frantic thoughts run through Ed's mind, alchemical theories tumbling around in a chaos very unusual for the young prodigy's mind.
"This is killing him!" Hawkeye yells in a just as unusual outburst.
And indeed, it is. Ed looks down at his pale skin, the only colour is the red the fever paints on his cheeks and the darkness of the circles underneath his eyes. Mustang's eyes are closed again and Ed can't tell if it's currently him or the homunculus in control of that body but both suffer from Mustang's unwillingness to relinquish his hold on his flesh and blood vessel. One is exhausted from fighting the other off, the other is exhausted from clinging to the foreign body, neither can keep the precious shell in a good condition. If nothing is done Mustang's soul and body will die and the homunculus parasite will latch onto the next person.
Her thought process is interrupted when Mustang groans and tries to roll over. Immediately Breda and Falman reach out to hold him down as he is. They obviously thought the homunculus was trying to flee but soon there's a gurgling sound and it's pretty clear that Mustang is throwing up. They roll him over, his head hanging over the side of the bed as he retches. What hit's the water in the bucket fast thinking Fuery placed in the right spot is red. Deep red blood.
"Shit," says Knox, because it isn't exactly a small amount and Mustang isn't about to stop. Pale as a sheet and sweating he brings up what is at least half a litre. Then dry heaves before proceeding to puke more blood. Fuery runs for another bucket.
He returns with an old, rusty one that has a hole and hands it to Ed. She absent mindedly claps her hands and fixes it before setting about switching it with the other one that would be full soon if Mustang kept going like this. And stops. Because at the bottom of the bucket filled with the pale pink mixture of blood and water is something small and round. Like a pearl. But she knows it isn't.
"He's throwing it up," she states, oddly numb yet filled with a strange curiosity about how Mustang's body is getting rid of the homunculus.
"What?!" more than one voice asks.
She points at the bucket where the tiny stone is continuously growing. They step closer and stare in awe.
"That homunculus had a philosophers stone at it's core..." Hawkeye mumbled. "But he killed it and it dissolved..."
"It-..." Mustang manages through grit teeth, "Did dissolve but-... didn't vanish. Latched onto me. Got in through the wound, got in my bloodstrea-" He can't finish the explanation, he's throwing up blood again.
"So if you lose blood-" Ed starts.
"Then he'll die of blood loss, that doesn't help us, even if it gets rid of the thing," Knox interrupts. And he's right, even if Mustang can get rid of the homunculus, like this it won't save him anyway. He'll die.
"Oi, what's your blood type!" the man then wants to know. Ed can see how under his harsh attitude his mind is running quick, thinking about how to safe the colonel.
"Ze-zero." Mustang chokes out. "Positive."
"So is any of you zero?" the coroner asks the others.
"I'm A." Fuery says it like it's a bad thing and his fault and Ed can relate because right now she really wishes she wasn't B.
"I'm zero," Breda says.
"Then your colonel might be lucky." And Knox starts digging though the bag he brought.
Ed switches the bucket because Mustang has yet to stop puking blood. The man looks like he's about to pass out soon, feverish and exhausted. He's barely heaving anymore, mostly he just hangs his head and the blood keeps running, dripping from his lips.
Still, Ed has to bring it up. "What if it jumps onto Breda?"
Knox, who's handling a tube and needle, looks at Breda who's removing his jacket and rolling up his sleeve. The soldier shrugs. "Worth the risk. The Colonel would do the same."
"Jus' five min's," Mustang slurs, spitting out a red blotch. "Wait anotha five."
"That'll most likely kill you."
"If it-" he coughs, "gets Breda I'll die anyway."
"We're not taking that risk." It's amazing how even when hanging over the bed side, pale, sweaty, wearing nothing but boxers and a torn undershirt and with blood dripping from his mouth, Mustang can still snap in a tone so authoritative it has Breda shut up and quenches any more protest. Their commander has spoken. But that's not why they slow down in their preparation for the blood transfer. It's because they know that he'll be incredible stubborn and do all he can so that needle won't get into his blood stream before he's sure all of that homunculus is in the bucket.
And so they watch as he pants and retches and sometimes falls limp. They're anxious and scared and don't really know how to help him feel better but their presence alone seems to be enough because sometimes Mustang would look around from underneath sweat soaked bangs and clouded eyes would survey the place like he was seeing if they're still there and every time he got that confirmation his tense frame would relax some again and a small smile would be there before the next surge of blood came up.
And then his body finally slumps completely and he whispers a barely audible "'Kay" before passing out.