pandora_culpa: (Ed golden eye)
[personal profile] pandora_culpa
Title: When the Night Comes In
Rating: PG-13ish
Word Count: 3312
Summary: "We're too late." Seemingly unconnected murders are not so random after all, and Riza realizes the terrible choice she will have to make.
Warnings: Character death
Author's Note: Okay, so this is not delicious cake. This is an ugly, nasty little story regurgitated straight out of its inspiration. It spewed out in a relatively short space of time; I couldn't hold it down, and it wants to kick you in the ribs. So please read with caution. Spawned from Matthew Good's song, "Alabama Motel Room". Many thanks go, as always, to [livejournal.com profile] evil_whimsey who puts up with me and my shit far more than she should. Thanks, m'love. :)




and I am down and out
but they will not get away with it again



The murders are disparate enough as to seem unconnected. A prominent politician, a waiter at a Central cafe. A local taxi driver, an aging Second Lieutenant whose career had stalled years ago. No reason to connect them, nothing to arouse fear or suspicion. The only similarity between them, if one can call it that, is how devoid of evidence each crime is, leaving investigators completely baffled and directionless in their speculation.

Simon Broches is the first; the young waiter found dead in his flat, his face cleaved open from mouth to spine, leaving the top half of his head to flap like some hideous puppet. There is no question about the man inflicting such a devastating wound upon himself, and yet the door is locked and chained and the windows of his flat barred. By the time he is found, though his blood has spread across the hardwood of his hallway wall to wall, none of it has been tracked away from the scene. It is as though he were struck down by some infernal force that appeared, and then vanished without a trace.

The taxi driver is next, almost written off as a suicide. Ample witnesses attest to his crazed and reckless final drive, careening through the streets of Central during busy midday traffic, and to the taxi's final destination, plummeting off the end of a dock, down to the bottom of the river. But when the vehicle is finally retrieved, the man's hands are found fused with the steering wheel, his face frozen in death in a rictus of pure horror.

Theodore Mead, an outspoken firebrand politician is found a few nights after that, following reports of gunfire in his upscale home. When the police arrive, they discover the man riddled by bullets, all of which seem to have come from a cache of guns surrounding him, on the floor and falling from the false back of a cupboard. The fact that the incident solves a series of thefts and suspected smuggling is publicized; the fact that both his arms were broken prior to the shooting, and his mouth stuffed with thousands of cens is kept hushed. The murder is chalked up to rival smuggling gangs and quickly dropped by the police, but the whispers reach the ears of a few military officers who wonder, and whisper in quiet dismay.

The Second Lieutenant's death is a gunshot wound, plain and simple. Slain near Central Headquarters, shot through his left temple, both place and manner are similar to another recent unsolved murder. The scene of this death is the only one that provides any evidence at all: a small puddle of vomit, found not far from where the man fell.

It's a tenuous link, but it's sufficient. When word of that murder arrives, Lieutenant Hawkeye checks her pistol, and immediately after makes a phone call. It won't be anything like enough, and what help there is will arrive far too late, but it's the least she can do after everything else.

Then she calls the others together, to make plans for the grim task that lies ahead.


~*~



Breda has the back door; she and Havoc enter from the front. The house is ominously silent- too quiet, even for the late hour. Gun drawn, every fiber in her body prepared for attack, Hawkeye moves through the darkened hallways with all the stealth she learned in Ishval. Every sound is a potential warning, every motion could be imminent death. There is no downplaying the seriousness and peril of this situation, and she is well aware that this could be the most dangerous mission she has ever undertaken.

They take it in turns examining the rooms they come upon, wary, nerves tightening with every one cleared. When they reach the bedroom, Havoc kicks the door open and charges in while she covers him, only to stop short, swearing, though his guard never drops. “Goddamn it. We're too late.”

He shifts aside slightly, and past him she sees the arm extending beyond the far edge of the bed, limp and pale on the carpet. She doesn't need to see the body or any blood to know that Havoc's assessment is correct. Colonel Dawson is dead.

“Call it in,” she orders, still scanning the room. “And stay alert. He's probably long gone, but we can't afford to be careless.”

A brief salute and Havoc retreats from the room, and Hawkeye approaches the bed, kneeling to examine the fallen Colonel, a weird mixture of relief and disgust filling her. As she draws closer she can see blood surrounding his motionless body, dirty black and thick, soaking the carpet. The palm of his outflung left hand cradles his heart, savagely torn from his chest, and her nostrils flare at the charnel house smell rising from the warm corpse. They missed his murderer, but not by much.

Despite the horror evident here, she can't feel any compassion for the man sprawling on the floor in his own gore. There have been nights when she dreamt of putting a bullet through his head with her own hands, although when she awakens she tells herself that this is not to be, and justice will have its day. But she can't regret his death, though she can and does lament its manner- brutal, sudden, and without an open airing of his crimes under the authority of the law. He deserved that, for what he'd done.

Sighing, she straightens and in that instant, battlefield intuition flares. Spinning on her heel, heedless of the wet squelching beneath her boots, her gun comes up in one fluid motion as she turns, ready to fire. But her eyes widen and, just for a moment, her legendary control slips and the gun remains silent.

The man slumps in the doorway in a casual stance, but her keen eyes note the tension surrounding him, his hands fisted at his sides. His gaunt cheeks are red and raw and despite the folds of the overlarge military issue greatcoat draping him, he shivers, unkempt hair hanging in a tangled cascade around his shoulders. When she makes no move, he blinks once, finally seeming to see her properly, and his torn lips twist into a frown.

My god, she thinks. It's worse than we expected.

Keeping her voice calm and level, her pistol steady, she says, “Hello, Edward.”

There's a long pause before he replies, voice harsh and cracking. “Lieutenant Hawkeye. Did you come for him too?”

Somewhere in this house, Havoc is calling in his report; he'll be back soon. All she has to do is keep Ed occupied until he arrives. Very gently, she replies, “We came for you, Edward. It's over.”

He shakes his head violently, his loose gold hair whipping in little snarls. “It's never gonna be over,” he mumbles, expression going abstracted and distressed. “Even when it's finished, it won't be over, never.”

“It is over, “ she insists quietly. “It's time to stop.”

“Did any of them stop?” he asks, gaze sharpening as he takes a menacing step forward. “I'm not stopping until this is done.”

Still she doesn't shoot; memories jumbling through her mind, promises to the Colonel, to Alphonse. Memories of who Ed used to be, before everything went bad. Maybe there is some other choice, some way to mitigate their terrible reality. “You have to, Edward,” she cajoles, letting a faintly encouraging smile curve her lips. “It's enough, don't you think?”

“What a fucking joke,” he spits, fire kindling in his eyes, and for an instant Ed is the same furious, focused young man who'd overturned more than one taboo with impunity. “They never thought it was enough. But I'm showing 'em... I'm giving them enough...”

“Edward, this is a job for the police. Not for you.”

He pauses, eyes narrowing as he studies her, and for a moment she hopes she's reached him. But in the next instant she sees that she's fallen short; he's passed his judgment, and she has been found wanting. He regards her almost sadly, saying in a thoughtful murmur, “I can't believe you'd try to stop me. Woulda thought you'd want the same thing as me.”

A traitorous portion of her heart agrees, but she shakes her head nonetheless. “Justice, Edward. That's what I want. Not indiscriminate murders.”

“Nothing indiscriminate about any of 'em,” Ed blazes back in sudden anger. “They deserved it, every one.”

“I have a hard time believing that.” It's a risky move, defying him so openly while his eyes gleam madness, but worth it if only it keeps him talking. Havoc has to be back soon. “A waiter, Ed? What could he have done?”

Every one,” Ed rumbles, low and furious. His once-handsome face folds, rage suffusing his features. “You think I'm not careful? You think I didn't know before I moved?”

“Know what? What's to know? Tell me,” she presses, “tell me what we missed. What did you see, that we didn't?”

He's breathing heavily now, his body a coiled spring, and she knows that her chances of taking him are fast running out. She needs Havoc, needs him here now, but it's just her standing against the wraith of the man she's watched grow through youth into impetuous adulthood, through trial and happiness, love and despair. She has to keep him talking.

He never would have questioned me,” Ed growls softly, and his entire body jerks as though kicked. Face pinched and white, he looks up to meet Hawkeye's startled gaze. “You want to know why the waiter?” he asks, baring his teeth. “He was an informant. Passed on word about his movements. That cab driver? He's been on Dawson's payroll for years now. He drove the Lieutenant to make the hit, no questions asked.” The words begin to tumble out faster, a manic light filling his face as he speaks, and Hawkeye's blood runs cold at his precise assessments.

“Mead knew that he had figured out about the gunrunning. So he bankrolled the whole operation to get him out of the way, and this asshole...” scorn drips from his voice as he nods toward the corpse at her feet, “he's the one who selected the Lieutenant for the job. Dawson was putting himself in line for a nice little promotion with him out of the way, that's why he was colluding with the guy calling the shots.” A razorwire grin splits those torn, bloody lips. “General Whitmore. He's the only one left now.”

The thoroughness of his conclusions, neatly filling in the gaps in their own investigation's findings, shouldn't surprise her, though it still does, connecting the lines and displaying the truth as clear and elegant as any array. But it is the precise measure of personal justice he has been extracting that chills Hawkeye straight down to her marrow. Edward has always been a genius; to see that brilliance applied to murder and vengeance is more horrifying than she could ever have expected. “Edward, you can't-”

Yes I can!” His voice rises in a hysterical pitch, echoing in the corners of the room, and his fists come up aggressively, dark blood filming the steel of his right hand. “Every single- any one of them could have stopped this! Could have called it off, walked away, and he would have been fine! He would have been safe, and I'd never have had to do these things, but they did, and they deserve it, and I'd do it again!

Insanity floods his eyes once more, his entire body trembling with emotion, and she thinks desperately, Havoc, where is Havoc? Struggling to find something to bring him back, to calm him and keep him talking just a little while longer, she blurts out, “I spoke to Alphonse today.”

The comment throws him off, jarring him from his rage and Hawkeye nearly shakes with relief, though her hand remains steady. His fists fall, face dissolving into confusion, and he says uncertainly, “Al?”

She nods, encouraging. “He asked about you.”

“Al asked about me,” Ed repeats, like the words don't make sense in his head. “Al asked...”

“He's worried. He misses you very much.”

“Al.” Indecision clouds his face, and Ed sways back and forth in obvious distress. “I- I can't... Al...”

A half-step to the side, moving subtly out of the line of fire should Havoc appear behind him. “He's coming here soon,” she says. “He said he wants to see you.”

She holds her breath, watching him digest the information. But instead of softening him further as she'd hoped, the news only seems to bolster him. “No,” he breathes, shaking his head. “No, he... that wouldn't be a good idea.”

“Why not, Ed?” Another half-step, a better angle, and where the hell is Havoc? “He loves you, no matter what. Maybe talking to him would help...”

“No!” he shouts, then abruptly catches himself. She has time to register the startling intelligence that flares to life in his eyes before he bends over, laughter taking him in harsh, uneven waves that jangle her already anxious nerves. However, as quickly as it began it is over, and Ed regards her with arms crossed, a canny expression on his face. “You're trying to stall me.”

She eyes him steadily, this deranged young man who has lost so much in his short lifetime. One corner of her lips twitch up in a fond, sad smile. “Yes,” she admits. “I am.”

He doesn't answer, though his mouth thins with disappointment. Nor does he glance over his shoulder as she might have been tempted to do in his place, for surely he knows now that reinforcements are present. Of course, she thinks ruefully, this is Ed; as soon as he saw her, he must have known that she hadn't come alone. He knows their methods all too well.

“You have to know,” she says, slowly, carefully, hating herself for having to speak the words, “that I can't let you go. What you've done is wrong.”

“It's not wrong,” he insists, and this is not the man she'd known. That Edward Elric had abhorred killing, had kept others from following the path of revenge. And that man is dead, fallen alongside the one person he'd loved as dearly as his brother, and in that instant she knows with sinking certainty what she will have to do.

“If you had come to us, let us help you... “ One last effort to bring him in peacefully, and she holds out the hand not gripping her pistol, pleading, desperate. “Edward, this isn't what he would have wanted!”

It's the wrong thing to say. She realizes a moment too late, tries to bite back the words but they've already escaped. They strike Ed like a blow, rocking him back on his heels, eyes flaring open and pupils dilating until the gold is eclipsed by black. A pained intake of breath, and those harsh, dead eyes capture her. “What he would have wanted?” he repeats brokenly. “You don't... fuck you! You don't know what he'd want, you can't know! He can't tell us anymore, he's dead, and they took him from me!

The last sentence is an anguished howl, desolate and purely insane, his pain calling out to her own barely healed grief. Gone; he's been taken from all of them: Colonel Mustang, assassinated as he walked home in the evening. A single bullet, a sniper's shot- the left temple, blood on the pavement and flowing into the gutter, dead before his young lover could turn to see him fall.

Her gun wavers.

Ed moves, drops like a shooting star just before the hoarse bellow of a gunshot splits the air and the doorframe explodes in a corona of splintering wood. Her own belated shot follows but Ed is impossible to track, moving so fast, charging straight at her. Havoc fires again- a bookcase erupts in a spray of paper- Ed tumbles, and for a split second Hawkeye thinks he's been hit. But the crackle of alchemy fills the room; blue light flares, and the ceiling sags like flowing honey to cover the doorway while a wooden fist tears through the carpet and slams her, hard, against the wall.

The air is knocked from her lungs, and spots dance in her vision as she struggles to draw breath. She knows she's not injured, but it takes several moment before her sight returns, revealing Ed standing before her, still shrouded in the Colonel's old greatcoat, his face ashen and forlorn. Her pistol dangles from one of his hands.

“I'm sorry,” he says, and behind him she can hear Havoc yelling, pounding on the barrier. But Ed only glances down at the gun before tossing it carelessly on the bed. Wistful regret flits briefly across his features as he meets her gaze again. “I wish things were different. But I can't let you stop me.”

“Ed, please.” Her lungs burn with the effort, but she forces the words out anyway. “Don't do it.”

His eyes grow distant, and he gives her a sad and broken smile as a tear slides down his raw, abraded cheek. “I have to,” he whispers. “It's all I have left. I'm sorry.”

He turns away, and she forces her battered lungs into a shout for Breda, Havoc, anyone to stop him. But it's too late; it was too late before they ever arrived. Ed disappears out the window in a flurry of black, melting into the shadows and heading, no doubt, for his final destination. And death, she knows all too well, is following after him, and nothing any of them can do will stay his hand.


~*~



The shadow detaches itself from night's cloak, staring down at the stately manor house with every external light burning away the darkness. A pair of soldiers stand at attention at the door, while others walk the grounds. Plenty of guards; he expected that. After all the others, Whitmore surely knows he's coming and will have taken precautions. Not that it will help him.

Dipping his left hand into the pocket of the greatcoat, he draws it back out sheathed in a stained white glove with red stitching that is a size too large. Sizing up the building's defenses and calculating where the General might be hiding, he absently strokes his cheek like a caress, oblivious to the blood that springs up in the wake of the rough cloth.

“Not much more,” he croons to himself, leaning into the touch of the ignition cloth. “I'm almost done, almost...”

And there it is again, the yawning, empty chasm that is his future stretching out before him; a world, his life, alone, and he shudders, forcing the vision away. For all he knows the road ends here, and there is a strange comfort in that thought. No more nights of mourning and despair, an empty bed and sheets that no longer smell like the man who once lay beside him. Even if the universe is cruel, and the afterlife the religious believe in is a lie, for an end to the hatred and rage that seems too great for his body to hold- it would be such a relief. He cannot endure the desolation much longer.

“It's almost finished, Roy,” he promises. “Just a little longer... wait for me.”

Bringing the glove up to his lips he kisses the coarse fingertips, heedless of the painful sting that follows, and steps forward into the abyss.

From:
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
User
Account name:
Password:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
Subject:
HTML doesn't work in the subject.

Message:

 
Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.

Profile

pandora_culpa: (Default)
pandora_culpa

September 2011

S M T W T F S
    12 3
45678910
11121314151617
18192021 222324
252627 282930 

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 26th, 2017 10:50 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios