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Author: crazybeagle
Characters: Alphonse, Edward, Mustang, OC's
Genre: Suspense, Drama, H/C
Rating: T
Summary: Two weeks after the Promised Day, the largest organized crime family in Amestris kidnaps Alphonse, to punish the brothers for a double murder that they can't remember committing.
Disclaimer: But alas, not mine.

It took a few minutes, but with a thrill of terror Al realized that his whole body felt impossibly heavy, his legs jellylike, and that he couldn't stop shivering. This stuff was supposed to take weeks, wasn't it? A gradual death. Unless his body was too slight and too weak for the usual rules to apply.

He steadfastly pushed away the thought that he was going to die—refused to think of anything at all except not succumbing to the treacherous exhaustion tugging at his eyelids and slowing his breaths. He couldn't, not until Ed came. If Ed came. And while the thought of Ed being at the mercy of these people himself made him sick, he really did have no other hope of getting out of here unless Ed showed up with some sort of plan.

Not five minutes could have gone by when Marie's leg shifted under his neck. He heard a quiet sniffle, and glanced up at her. She was staring over his head in the general direction of the cell bars. "I have to go," she whispered. "Vivian…I have to show her the…" She trailed off, and Al's stomach turned. Of course, Vivian would want to see the empty syringe, probably present the thing to Valera as proof. She slid a hand beneath the back of his neck, another behind his head to gently lift him off of her.

"Is there anything I can do?" she asked, tentatively.

"Yeah," he croaked out, through a mouth that had gone very dry. "Don't leave." You just poisoned me. The least you can do is not leave me alone in this place.

She froze, and after a long moment, let his head fall back down on her leg and slumped against the wall behind her. Her fingers found his hair again, slowly moving back and forth. It made him sleepy, but it seemed to keep her calm—or at least keep her from sobbing all over him again—so he bit the inside of his cheek and said nothing about it.

"Your brother will be here by tonight," she told him softly, after awhile. He didn't answer, but he felt his throat tighten. She peered down at him through hair that was loose and frizzy—she'd torn out the bun some time ago—an odd, sad little smile quirking at her lips. "You look so much like him," she said, tracing a finger along one of his cheekbones. "I noticed at the hospital. If you were well, you could be twins." A peculiar shadow flickered across her face.

He tasted blood on his tongue—he must've bitten his cheek too hard. He did his best to gulp it down through a throat that felt as cold and leaden as the rest of him, and asked, "Why did you go north?"

She smiled ruefully down at him. "Would you stay here?"


She was silent for a long time, and Al thought she wasn't going to get any better answer. "Fell in love with the wrong person." Her voice was barely audible, with a note of self-derision. "Some kind of terrible cliché, really."

"And you got pregnant?" he asked. It was blunt, and probably rude, but at this point, he couldn't bring himself to care.

But she just nodded. "Yes. With Lissie and…Anthony."


Another nod. "Nearly eighteen months old now."

"And you didn't want the father to find out about them."

She snorted. Her fingers fell still in his hair. "I was so naïve. Stupid. I mean, Vivian slept around with the opposition all the time. Still does, I'm sure of it. It should've occurred to me that it mattered that Malcolm's father was a major investor."

"Why didn't you use an assumed name when you left?" he asked, tiredly. The cold had settled into his chest now; he wished Marie would throw the blanket over him.

"Uncle wouldn't hear of it," she said, a touch of anger coloring her voice. "It was like my name was some kind of ammunition against me. To remind me who was in charge." She ran a hand across her face. "The intent was to have me living in fear. I was terrified, every day, that either Malcolm's family would find my children, or that Uncle would use them as leverage for…something like this." She had tears in her eyes again, but beyond the sadness he saw a deep, smoldering fury there. And for the first time, Al saw the family resemblance between Peter Valera and his niece.

"You know what the worst part of this is?" she asked, voice low and shaking. "Despite what Uncle would like you to believe, this was never about you and your brother. Not really. You were just easy targets, and I was easily manipulated."

The cold in his chest tightened its grip. "What?"

She swiped at her eyes in an almost frustrated way. "Peter Valera is a petty man. And a ruined one. That's a deadly combination."

"What do you mean?" Al asked, slowly.

She looked down at him for a long moment, then shook her head. "It doesn't matter. You should rest." Her fingers resumed the soothing motion in his hair, and it was suddenly quite hard to think again.

"Will I wake up?"

She bit her lip, and hesitated just long enough for dread to worm its way into his gut.

"The point of this was never to kill you before Edward arrived. It was…" she trailed off, and her shoulders slumped.

"It was for him to watch me die?"

"That was the idea, yes," she said, her voice subdued.

Al let out a breath, tried to calm himself. "How long…" he let the question hang, not sure he had it in him to finish it.

"I…don't know," she said, sliding two fingers to the side of his neck as if to check his pulse. "From what I understand under normal circumstances, it takes a couple weeks. But for you…" She sighed. "You were getting better, but you're not…"


"…So I honestly couldn't say," she finished, helplessly. "I'm sorry."

His heart sank. "Is there an antidote?"

"Not that I know of." The back of her hand was on his forehead, ad he thought she was checking his temperature. It was warm, and it felt good on his freezing skin. "If there was one, only Anthony would've known it."

He nodded tacitly. His vision blurred.

"Go to sleep, Alphonse," he heard her whisper.

"Can't," he whispered back, through teeth he distantly realized were chattering.


"Cold." Because this was the true danger here, what Marie didn't see or understand—the ice that was slowly devouring every vein in his body, black ice that was going to steal his breath long before Ed got here.

She frowned, and flipped her hand so that her palm rested on his forehead. "You're not cold." There was a little crease between her eyebrows. "Actually, I'm worried that you're already running a temperature…"

"'M cold," he insisted.

Marie looked torn. "If I put a blanket over you, you're just gonna feel worse when you wake up."


She said nothing for a moment, thumb skimming along his jawbone again. "Okay," she mouthed, eventually. Something about the pity in her eyes drove a spike of panic hard into his chest, but when the blanket fell over his body, heavy and blessedly warm, his own eyes fell shut and did not open again.

Syndicates were full of douchebags.

Ed growled low in his throat as the big guy on his right, some thug that the others were calling Silas, dragged him forward with a crushing grip on his bicep, apparently not satisfied with his pace. He bit back a hiss where the man's enormous thumb pressed into the wound where his arm had been pinned by rebar on the Promised Day. He dragged his heels, just to spite the guy, but that only earned a tighter grip that probably busted a stitch or two, and the other one—a smaller, stockier, but still formidable guy called Michael—yanking his other arm forward.

It wasn't as though he didn't want to reach the destination in question here, though—these clowns were taking him to Al no matter what he did. And, he knew with a horrible certainty that made all his insides tangle themselves into impossible knots, Valera had done something to Al. Something that he wanted Ed to see for himself. He hadn't said what it was that he'd done, but the second he'd started going on about "just desserts" for the deaths of his nephews, which he'd already explained in gratuitous detail while Michael and Silas had pinned Ed to a chair, Ed's heart had begun to race. He had a feeling—and hoped with every fiber of his being that he was wrong—that he knew what constituted as just desserts in Valera's mind.

This place wasn't big, but what was distinctly unnerving about it was that everything about it seemed to be hiding in plain sight. The abandoned police station in the seedy part of town had seemed such a terribly predictable location, but there wasn't another soul in sight on the streets when he'd shown up. Surely there were more people here than just Silas, Michael, Vivian, Valera, Al, and the nurse Marie, but if there were, Ed didn't know where. Unless they were that confident that Ed and Al posed so little a threat to them.

And why not, whispered a traitorous voice in the back of his mind, when everybody in Amestris knows that the Valeras rule Betterton.

At some point, Ed saw that they were in some sort of round antechamber, brick and windowless like every other damn room he'd seen in this place, from which a series of yawning black caverns of hallways opened off. He found himself being dragged towards a section of wall on which a long switch plate was mounted.

It was Michael who stepped forward, dragging Ed's right arm along with him. He let go of it with one hand so that he could reach for the switches. But even if Ed had thought he'd stand half a chance of finding Al on his own and busting out of this place he still wouldn't have been able to resist Michael's single-handed grip, as thin and atrophied as his right arm was.

And Al's whole body was like that, so whatever these people were doing to him, he couldn't take much of it. Ed shoved that thought down and gritted his teeth.

"Number four, was it…?" Michael was muttering, reaching for the corresponding switch.

And with an electric hum and cackle, one of the hallways to their left lit up, a fluorescent glow on dark brick illuminating a double row of what appeared to be holding cells.

He felt his pulse quicken at the sight. Al was here, if he was anywhere.

He shot a glare up at Michael, who seemed to be counting off the numbers of each small, dilapidated cell that they passed, mumbling under his breath as he went. They were all pretty much the same—bare cot, toilet, and a thick coating of dust, with narrow-set steel bars in front and solid brick running between and behind it all.

"Are you taking me to Al?" he asked. Because if they changed their minds, decided to stick him in another one of these moldy old cells while they let Al alone to starve or freeze to death or he didn't want to think what else in another, then so help him, he'd—

"Hey," he snapped, when Michael ignored him. He angled a slight kick with his left leg at the man's knee—not enough to do any damage, but enough to gain his attention, and annoyance. Whatever Valera's reasons were for not having taken his leg away in order to incapacitate him he didn't know, but he wasn't complaining.

Michael spared him a glance now—more of a full-out scowl than a glance, really. "That was the plan, yeah," he said, through his teeth, and Ed smirked. Good. So it had hurt.

At the same time, relief had washed over him. Whatever else happened, at least step one wouldn't be locating one another. They would figure this out.

But it was a relief tinged with trepidation. How many cells away were they now? They'd nearly reached the end of the hall, three sets of footsteps echoing too sharply off the walls and ceiling. The sound reverberated through his sore head—he'd taken more than one punch to the face during the course of his little chat with Valera, when he'd been feeling less than genial towards the man. He had a split lip and a potentially broken nose, and his skull felt like it was full of angry buzzing insects.

It was two cells down from the end of the hall, on the left, when Michael and Silas both stopped, abruptly, just before he was at the proper angle to see what, or who, was on the other side of the bars. Michael wore a vindictive grin. "Here ya are," he said, jerking his head towards the bars. "Home sweet home, punk."

Silas looked indifferent, bored even, as he reached for both Ed's arms, holding him fast while Michael reached into the pocket of his jacket for a key. Ed still couldn't see into the cell, as much as he fought Silas to take a step forward or stand on his toes to get a glance, but seconds later, the door was swinging open, and he was being shoved inside.

He came down hard on his knees, and he heard the door slam behind him.

At the same time, from in front of him, there was a sharp gasp.

He looked up. Sitting ramrod straight on the cot, her eyes round and wide and her back pressed hard against the brick behind her like she'd heard them coming and had wanted nothing more than to disappear into the wall, was the woman that he knew to be Marie Valera.

"Your sister'll be by later, 'cause she ain't exactly thrilled that you haven't been to see her yet," came Michael's voice from behind them, and Marie started, one hand flying from where it had been scrabbling against the wall and coming to rest on the side of the pale, thin face that was propped against her leg. Its brows knit a bit at the contact, but its eyes remained closed, too-dark shadows smudged beneath them.

And then Ed was off the ground, lurching forward.



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Aug. 7th, 2012 11:18 am (UTC)
Poor Al! I really hope there's a way out of this for him.

Ugh, the suspense is killing me!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )