When Roy Mustang had heard about the death of the paladin Van Hohenheim, he had been shocked. He had studied under the man, and he had almost seemed untouchable. No demon could lay a finger on him. He was a master of all trades when it came to misers, although mainly stuck to his talents as an aria. However, he was still human, and no man or woman could stand up to the powers of satan.
They had kept what exactly had happened classified to most, he himself only being debriefed on it as he was sent by his boss, mephisto pheles, to investigate the incident. The man’s church had burned down in literal hellfire last night with him inside. Only a few survivors remained, including two boys who were living with him as adoptive children, and a fellow exorcist that had been working under the man. Mephisto apparently was passing the orders down to him from higher up.
Roy sighed as he sat in the back of the car. He didn’t know what they expected him to find. It was clear that the devil caused this, all the evidence was destroyed in the fire, and there were only a handful of surviving witnesses of the event. Still, orders were orders, and as that scheming palm-tree bastard’s underling by employment contract, he was obligated to comply.
He slumped in his seat and his eyes drifted to his companion sitting next to him. Unlike him, the blonde woman’s back was straight as she stared out the window, watching the streets roll by. The light of sunset reflected off her skin and hair slightly, causing her face to softly glow orange and her hair to shimmer like gold.
He smiled as he stared up at her. She truly was beautiful like this. It almost made him forget their situation sometimes. “Quiet a lovely city, isn’t it?“he asked.
She turned to him, raising an eyebrow. “Hardly,” she said, facing forward again.
He gave her a curious look. “Then why were you staring out the window? Surely something must have caught your attention,” he asked.
“I was noting all the garbage on the streets,” she said, “On the way here I saw at least twelve empty cans, four broken bottles, and six loose plastic bags.” Her attention returned to the window. “Humans wish to protect their world from demons, when they can’t even protect it from themselves,” she mused. There was sadness and disappointment in her tone.
Roy frowned and sighed. “Yeah,” he muttered, “We’re quite the mess, aren’t we?” His smile then returned as he got an idea. “How about after this I take some time off and we take a little trip to Kyoto?” he asked, “Picture it: a picnic in one of the beautifully kept, clean gardens, visiting all the temples, spending the evening sampling some of the local drinks…” he smirked as he noticed her smile at that. “I’m sure Mephisto wouldn’t mind me taking a few extra days off from, and I’m sure the students would love an extra day or two away from me,” he said, “Heck, I might even be able to make an excuse that I got called out for something and get paid for the leave. So what do you say?”
She shook her head, although she still smiled. “I say that’s a bad idea for a number of reasons,” she said, “After all, you know exactly what would happen if your true intentions behind such an expedition were exposed,” she said, causing him to wince, “And if Mephisto saw through your ruse, though he’d probably be willing to keep quiet, you’d be more than just a little indebted to him.”
Roy shuddered at that before frowning and sitting up. “Alright,” he grumbled, “I see your point.” In his heart he knew from the beginning he would get shot down, but that didn’t stop him from trying. If only things could be less complicated…
The car came to a halt and the two got out, heading into an alley. The site of the fire was a few blocks away from here, but they had decided to walk the rest of the way. Mostly it was because they didn’t want any civilians near the blockade that had been set up around the area incase there was any left over demonic forces at play, but roy had another reason too.
Roy glanced over his shoulder as they were now half way down the alley. The cab driver had sped off and there was no one still around. “Alright, Riza, you’re clear,” he said.
She nodded before her body was suddenly engulfed in red flames. Roy stared on casually as they encased her like a vortex before being swept away by the beating of wings from the creature inside. Once they had, there was no longer a woman standing before Roy, but a bird made of orange flames hovering in the air. She then flew over to him and perched on his shoulder.
“More comfortable?” he asked.
“Much,” the phoenix responded to her human companion. Roy was one of the few exorcists alive to have a phoenix for a familiar. Many hated humans for hunting them in the pursuit of the secret of eternal life. Roy had originally discovered her trapped inside a sealed urn in the attic of his old teacher’s home after the man’s death when he had just become an exorcist. Knowing how powerful phoenixes were, how strong they were against spirits, kin of rot, as well as many other kinds of demons, and how their flames could be used to purify infections and heal injuries, he immediately tried to forge a contract with her to be his familiar. When she had denied him and disappeared into the nearby forest, he had sought her out and brought offerings to her to earn her favor. He spent weeks trying to appease her. Eventually she agreed, but in forging his contract with her, he had to agree that he could only use her powers for what she deemed appropriate. He could not use it to kill or destroy as he saw fit and would have to ask for her consent before putting hers in harm’s way. If he broke these promises, he would perish by her fire on the spot.
He agreed completely to these conditions, and the two had been together ever since, working side by side not as master and familiar but as partners. He saw her as his equal, if not his better. After all, without her he would not be nearly as powerful of an exorcist as he was today without her. Demons feared the name of Roy mustang, not for his skills as an Aria or a dragoon, but for his ability to merely snap his fingers and set them alight. That deadly force was because of her, not him, and the only reason why she lent him her power so easily was because of their mutual trust from the bond they had shared for years.
Very few knew of the true nature of their relationship. Even though many exorcist still have demon blood running through their veins from ancestry spanning back as recently as a hundred years ago, today, even considering such a relationship with a demon could result in burning at the stake. Even one considering a demon their friend is enough to cause suspicion of an exorcist in certain circles. Currently, only a handful of close friends of Roy knew of how close the two were, those including third class doctor Kain Fury, Second class aria Vato Falman, First class aria and dragoon Heymans Breda, First class dragoon Jean Havoc, and first class knight, and his closest friend, Maes Hughes. Mephisto might have found out, but if he did he wasn’t showing that. He was probably saving such knowledge for the right moment to blackmail him. Roy frowned. As if he didn’t have enough ways to toy with him…
He shook his head. He didn’t want to think about that now. He had a job to do. He just had to write up his report and check for any more activity in the area. Then he could go home and relax before the next semester started in a few days. He sighed as he thought about that. The school year hadn’t even started and he was already needing a drink.
He then smiled as a thought crossed his mind. “Hey Riza,” he said, “I know heading to Kyoto together may be suspicious, but sharing a "wine offering” with you tonight would be more than reasonable, don’t you think?“
The phoenix smiled. "I believe that would be perfectly acceptable,” she responded.
The two had arrived at the scene and spent an hour Investigating. There was barely anything left of the structure. It had been burnt to the ground in the unholy blaze. There was also very little evidence From the exorcists that had come earlier to put the literal hellfires. From them they learned that the exorcist Izumi curtis was a survivor of the fire, rescuing two young boys and a handful of clergymen. They were currently all healing at the New Hope Hospital not too far from the scene of the demon attack.
“Well it appears that there isn’t any left over activity in the area…” Roy said, “So it’s clear whatever he was here for is over now.”
“Could it be he was after something that Van Hohenheim owned?” Riza asked.
“Maybe he had found something powerful enough to destroy him…or the key to manifesting in this world…”
“Could be…” Roy said, “At least if he was trying to destroy something, anyways. Burning the whole place down would have certainly done the trick. If not, he royally screwed up and probably destroyed the thing he was looking for.” He kicked a piece of rubble and it disintegrated into ash before looking over at the flat pools of solid steel mixed with lumps of ash that had once been the support beams of the building.
“Or he used the fire to cover his tracks,” Riza said, “Mephisto wouldn’t have sent us here for nothing. Even if it is Satan that attacked, if everything was said and done and the demon had acted on his own, he wouldn’t be interested.”
Roy smirked. “You read my mind,” he said before frowning, “Finding out what he wanted isn’t going to be easy though…We can’t exactly bring him in for interrogation after all…and there isn’t much evidence left to draw conclusions from.” He sighed, “Our only hope is if the witnesses are in good enough condition to tell us anything about what happened…Has anyone else interviewed them yet?”
The phoenix shrugged. “I don’t believe so. If you recall, one of the other exorcists said that almost all of the surviving victims were unconscious and/or seriously injured when help arrived,” she said, “they might not be awake yet.”
Roy closed his note book. “Well there’s no harm in going to check,” he said, “Come on. Let’s see if we can get in during visiting hours.”
As they began to walk back towards the edge of the investigation sight and lift up the police tape to exit, they noticed a young, blonde girl arguing with one of the officers blocking the site.
“Please sir, you’ve got to tell me what happened!” she said, “That fire burned down my best friends’ home! They’re in the hospital right now thanks to whoever did this! I want to know everything I can about this! I want to know what kind of monster caused Father Hohenheim’s death!” There were furious and pained tears in her eyes as she spoke.
Roy felt slight pity for the girl as the officer tried to persuade her to leave. He could only imagine all those who had been affected by this tragedy. There were a few other victims besides father Hohenheim, a few of his clergymen that had presumably died in the fire. They had friends and family that were surely rife with grief at this moment. And that wasn’t even considering all those who attended this church. Those that may not have been particularly close to the priest but sought guidance from him. Countless people falling into despair from this attack, as well as countless that Satan has caused suffering too. It boiled his blood to think about especially how helpless they all were against him. There must be some way to stop that monster…or at least weaken him…
He was suddenly pulled out of this train of thought by the girl running up to him. “Hey, are you a private investigator?” she asked, grabbing him by his arm as he walked away from the scene and catching him off guard.
He looked down at her in surprise. Her eyes were focused on his face, not even glancing once at the phoenix resting on his shoulder. The pair exchanged brief looks. The girl most likely did not have a temptaint. She would have known he was an exorcist if she could see his familiar, or would have at least been slightly distracted by her wings that had fire coming off of them.
“What gave you that impression?” he asked.
“Well you aren’t dressed like any officer or fireman,” she said, “And they certainly aren’t letting any civilians through.”
Roy shrugged. “Fair point,” he said, “you could say I’m an investigator of sorts, although I’m not working independently.” “I work for a sect of the Vatican that Father Hohenhiem had ties to,” he explained, “They sent me in here to investigate the cause of his death, what started the fire, and so on.”
She blinked at him in surprise before giving him a confused look. “What are you talking about?” she questioned, “This was clearly some kind of arson case. There was no freak storm last night and I’ve over heard the cops and they say it wasn’t a gas leak.”
Roy shrugged. “You may very well be right, but all accounts say that the church burned down in blue flames, which isn’t a common occurrence. Unless the building was made of sulfur, it shouldn’t have burned blue.”
“I see…” the girl said, “Anyways, if you find out anything, can you let me know? My name is Winry Rockbell. I’m really close friends with the boys that lived in that church with that priest."She pulled out a slip of paper and wrote a number on it before handing it to him.
"I see,” he said, getting an idea, “Alright, I will, but can you tell me one thing? Have you visited them yet? Do you know if they are awake yet? I have to interview them to see what they know.”
The girl nodded and furrowed her brow. “Ed and Al aren’t awake yet,” she said, “But Ms. Curtis is.”
Roy nodded. “Very well,” he said, “Thank you.” With that he turned to leave. After they had walked a small distance, roy turned into an alley and called a cab, while riza turned into her human form.
“You don’t really intend on giving her any information do you? She won’t believe that Satan had anything to do with it,” she said.
“Oh I do intend on giving her some,” he said calling a taxi, “But only what the other exorcists decide to release to the police.” He turned to her. “Honestly if I told her the truth, she’d think I would be making fun of her or something,” he defended, “And I couldn’t exactly walk away. She seems like the stubborn kind of person who won’t take no for an answer.” He smirked before turning to her. “Kinda like someone else I know…” he teased.
“Yes… you always have been quite annoyingly persistent, Sir,” she said smirking back at him. Roy pouted at her retort before grumbling and continuing on his way to hail their cab while Riza followed behind him.
Blue flames. They had surrounded her as she burst through the door to the burning church. She had left to pour holy water into the sewers as van Hohenheim had requested she do to prevent any demons sneaking in that way, and when she had come back, the whole building had been engulfed by the satanic flames. She coughed as air baked her lungs as the heat and smoke wafted through the air, looking around wildly to try to understand what had happened. How had Satan gotten in here? She thought it had been Astaroth they were fighting! However, her confusion and distress had quickly turned to horror as she saw three bodies lying on the ground. Her heart stopped and the flaming room suddenly grew cold as she recognized them: alphonse, who looked to be covered in several burns; Edward, who’s hand was gripping something and was covered in the flames himself; and not to far away from either of the was the body of Hohenheim, face covered in blood and body slowly being consumed in the blaze.
Izumi Curtis gasped as she opened her eyes again, panting and clutching her chest as she did so. The other hand gripped the hospital sheets beneath it, tearing a few stitches in them as she tried to calm herself down. She glanced around at her surroundings, eyes gliding around the room at white hospital walls to remind herself of where she was. She sat up in her bed and held her head in her hands. This was the third time she had tried to sleep since coming here, but it was still unsuccessful. What had happened that night haunted her and most likely would for as long as she lived.
Although when she had first come to work under Father Hohenheim and aid him in his work as an exorcist she had not expected him to protect the son of satan, ever since that day she had known this was coming. That Satan would come to collect. Still she had somehow been unprepared for this. She had called him crazy, and desperately tried to get him to change his mind, but he had been unwavering. She couldn’t believe him at the time. What was he thinking? Was he going to turn the boy into a weapon or something? Despite this, she had still stood by him and promised to help protect Edward. And over time, she had grown attached to the half demon and his brother, enough to where she dragged their bodies out of the burning building, despite it being clear Edward’s demon half was now unleashed.
She shuddered as she remembered the moment of hesitation she had when she first saw him passed out on the ground in his new form. His ears were elongated, his fingernails too. He had long canines sticking out of his mouth and a long golden tail sprouting from his back. His human brother Alphonse a good distance away had been burned severally, there had been a wound on his neck like a large hand print gripping it as well as a large one on his chest and a few on his arm. Had edward done that? To be honest, she still didn’t know. Still, it didn’t stop the female exorcist from carrying them out. She then saved as many of the clergy as she could before collapsing on the ground. She woke up the next morning in the hospital, soon learning the church had burned down and that Edward and Alphonse had not yet awoken.
No one had gotten interviewed just yet, mostly because no one had been awake when other exorcists first came by, and for that she was relieved. She couldn’t let anyone see Edward as he was now.
Speaking of, she should check on how he was doing. She swung her legs over the edge of the bed as she got up, wincing slightly as she put pressure on a burn wound on her hand. She then walked down the hall towards Room 351 where the two were. However, she froze as she came to the entrance to the room. The door was a jar and as she peered inside the room, she noticed two people standing at the foot of the boys’ beds: a black haired man and a blonde woman in exorcist uniforms. They stared down at the boys in shock and horror, particularly Edward as they could see long ears peeking out from his hair, and a golden tail draping onto the floor from underneath the bedroom sheets.
Izumi could feel her heart fill with panic. She hoped she would have more time until someone came to check up on them to come up with a plan. At least enough to explain to the boys what had happened, anyways. But of course the universe couldn’t let that happen.
She grimaced as a determined look came to her eye. She quietly grabbed broom before lunging towards the man’s head with it. However, the woman caught her movement in the corner of her eye before swiftly stopping the pole before it could strike him. He turned to her in surprise before glowering at her. “Are you Izumi Curtis?” He demanded in a cold tone. The woman paused before glaring at him and nodding. “Good, because you have a lot of explaining to do,” he growled as he glanced back at the teenage demon lying in the bed.
"I want answers!" Roy growled pointing back at the demon boy in the bed, "What is this?! Was this really what that caused the fire? Was this the demon that killed Father Hohenheim? Why on earth were you hiding this monster, and for how long?" A heavy tension hung in the air as the two exorcists glared each other down.
"Edward is not a monster!" Izumi snarled gripping the broom in her hands, "Don't you dare call him that again! He's a human child and I will not let you-"
"A human child?!" Roy snapped in response, "I'd say that tail and those fangs tell a very different story miss!" "He is a demon, plain and simple," he continued, "And if he's the kind of demon that I think he is, then he need to be exercised at once!" How this woman could even think of defending this thing was beyond him. He knew she knew exactly what this boy was. Even the most inexperienced exorcist would be able to tell. This child was the mark of the apocalypse. Every second he was left breathing brought them all closer to the end of days. If the Vatican knew this child existed, she would be put to death on the spot for simply not giving up her information on him let alone harboring him. So why? Why would she do this?
Izumi's eyes grew dangerous as she immediately stomped over to him and grabbed him by the front of his coat. "If you even THINK of hurting them, I will strike you down where you stand without hesitation!" she growled, inches from his face.
"You would kill a fellow exorcist, a member of your own kind, just to save this demon that will bring about the end of the world?" He said raising an eyebrow, "Go ahead and try!" He then twisted out of her grip as she tried to punch him in the face. The two turned to face each other. Izumi pulled out a small piece of magic paper before biting her finger and smearing the blood on the magic circle printed on the parchment.
Dropping it on the ground, a clay golem appeared in a puff of smoke standing in front of her. "If you take a step closer to those boys, I will have him break your neck," she threatened, "Do you understand me?"
"We'll see about that," Roy said with a smirk, "Riza?" He turned to his companion who was still standing at the foot of the bed. She did not move. She simply continued to stare down at the child lying unconscious in the hospital bed. Roy frowned. "Riza what are you doing? Help me out here!"he snapped.
The phoenix turned her eyes towards him, but still did not move. "I'm sorry, Roy, but I don't think this is the best course of action," she said simply.
Roy gave her a dumbfounded look. "What are you talking about? Don't tell me you're siding with this crazy witch!" he cried, "The whole world is going to burn if we don't stop him!"
"What did you call me?!" Izumi demanded.
"I am not siding with her, but at the same time, I am not going to just let you kill this demon spawn without a second thought," she explained, "Although I know how dangerous this child may be due to his possible bloodline, I think the best course of action before we do anything else is to interrogate Ms. Izumi here first." "After all, she said, turning to the woman, "How long have you known this boy?"
Izumi relaxed slightly. "For fifteen years," she said, "As long as he's been alive."
"And is it true that he is the spawn of Satan?" she asked. Izumi paused looking away from the fire bird. "Please answer the question ma'am," Riza said, a bit forcefully.
"Yes...yes he is," she said with a defeated sigh.
"And how long did you know this?' Riza continued.
Izumi once again hesitated. "...For as long as he's been alive," she repeated, glaring at the bird.
"And you know what happened on the blue night? How satanic flames-" Riza began asking before being cut off.
"Edward had nothing to do with that, he and his brother hadn't even been born yet!" Izumi defended, "You can't blame him for something he hadn't even-"
"I wasn't accusing the child of anything," Riza said firmly yet politely, "Now if you will allow me to continue...Do you understand how dangerous satanic flames are? How they can spread all over the world in a matter of minutes, and kill hundreds in less?"
Izumi glared at her but nodded. "Yes," she said tersely, "I know very well what they are capable of. I lost my closest friend just last night because of them if you care to remember."
"I understand that. And you are an exorcist, so you know the punishment for consorting with Satan in any way," Riza finished, "Considering this information, then the question we should be asking is why? Why would she and Hohenheim be harboring the child of Satan if she knew what he was, what he was capable of, and the consequences of their actions from the moment he was born? And most likely they were not working with Satan as I doubt Satan would murder his "baby sitter" so to speak and let his child almost die in a burning building by his own flames if they were working for him."
"It could have been the child's own power," Roy argued.
"True, but then why did he almost kill himself with it then?" she said, "If it was his own power then he clearly has no means of controlling it. He wasn't being raised knowing how to use it, which I'm pretty sure the lord of darkness would be very keen on having his child being raised to do."
"Let me guess..." Roy said, "You think this is the real reason we were sent here. That Mephisto already knew about this kid?" the phoenix nodded. Roy cursed under his breath and sighed. He was going to punch that green haired bastard next time he saw him. He sighed and rubbed a hand down his face before turning to Ms. Curtis. "Well ma'am," he said, "You still have a lot of explaining to do, but let's find somewhere a bit more appropriate. I feel like this is going to be a long story and I don't feel like standing for hours."
The three found themselves in an empty office. It clearly didn't belong to any doctor as there was only an empty desk and couple of chairs strewn about. A few papers also rested on the floor, but aside from that, the room had no real furnishings.
Roy and Riza sat down in front of Izumi as she pulled her own chair out from behind the desk and took a seat.
"Well," Roy started, "I believe you know what we're going to ask."
Izumi sighed. "I guess I'll start from the beginning then," she said, "Before I do, I have a few things to clarify: Edward is not a weapon. He is a child, not a tool for destruction and both Hohenheim and I would never allow him to become one. We were not planning a cult, starting a rebellion against the order, or were involved in any kind of Satanic practices. You may search my home for any evidence if you wish, but you will find none." "And furthermore, I am not in fact, either of the boys' real mother," she clarified.
Roy raised an eyebrow. "You've been accused of this before, haven't you?" he said more than asked.
She sighed a tired sigh as she nodded. "People talk. They questioned why I cared so much for these boys, and spread insane rumors that there was some kind of love affair between us. It didn't help that they were blond like him," she explained.
"Then who was their mother?" Roy asked, "I promise we will not release this information to anyone, I only want the truth of the situation."
"Thank you, but it doesn't matter," Izumi said solemnly, "No more harm can come to her. She died from fatigue shortly after giving birth to Alphonse. Her name was Trisha Elric. She was a childhood friend of Hohenheim."
It was a warm summer day as the young boy sat out on his front porch studying his 4th grade chemistry book. He flipped through the pages carefully as he prepared for his upcoming exam. It was still a few days away but he loved the subject.
"Van! Vaaaaan!" a voice called. Van Hohenheim looked up to see Trisha running towards him, a bright smile on her face. She ran up to him and began pulling on his arm. "Come on! I have something to show you," she said, "It's amazing! You're going to love it!"
Van stumbled as she pulled him to his feet and dropped his book. "Trisha, I'm a little busy at the moment..." he said, weakly protesting. Part of him wanted to see what she had discovered, but another part of him told him he needed to keep preparing for his test.
"Come ooooon!"she said, "the test isn't for a few days! And it will only take a minute. Please?" She gave him a pleading look as she smiled at him.
The boy sighed. He didn't want to disappoint her. "Alright...." he said. The girl cheered in delight before dragging him off towards the woods. They veered from the normal hiker's trail into the thick foliage that towered over their heads. They crawled through the underbrush and climbed over fallen trees and boulders as they made their way deeper.
"Are you sure you know where we are going?" he asked as he ducked under a branch and brushed fallen pine needles off his shoulder.
The girl nodded and gave a thumbs up. "We're almost there! I promise!" She said before dashing through some large ferns.
the spores flew through the air and Van coughed as some were flung into his face. "Trisha wait!" He cried, running after her, moving aside the fern branches a lot more carefully than she did. A short distance away, he found her pushing aside a rock that had been in front of a large fallen tree, the trunk twice as wide as he was tall. When she had finally moved it aside, there was a crawl space where the wood had rotted away, making a tunnel just large enough for them to crawl through. "Come on!" She encouraged, "it's right through here." With that, she wriggled through the space to the other side. Van hesitated for a moment before following after her. He squeezed his way through the small tunnel, getting a few splinters in the process before reaching the other side. Once he did, he gasped at what he saw. There was a whole community strange, supernatural creatures before him. Tall, slim creatures with fox like bodies and the heads of deer, tiny, luminescent humanoid figures with dragonfly wings instead of arms, little blue bipedal creatures with cat's eyes and long pointy ears sticking out from either side of their heads, and little greed humanoid creatures covered in moss and different flora.
"The two both had temptaints from a young age. they lived near an old forrest where people had seen many strange things happen. Some child ending up with a bite from a chuchi was to be expected from time to time."
Hohenhiem watched as they all ran up to Trisha and greeted her with a chorus of happy noises. "t-trisha! What are you doing! Stay away from them!" He said, "Faes are dangerous..."
Trisha pouted as she turned to him. "They are not! Not if you treat them with respect!"she said, "These guys are my friends. I've been coming to visit them for a while now. They wanted me to introduce you to them, and they had a very special song they wanted to share with you."
Hohenheim hesitated. Instinct told him to get away, but he trusted his friend. "Are you sure?" He asked.
The girl nodded confidently. "Positive!"she said before turning to the fairies, "Alright! Go ahead and show him!"
"He told me she had always had been friendly towards the supernatural creatures she encountered, even being able to communicate with a few. Hohenheim grew used to her having them around, but after he had almost fallen prey to a little demon that had attempted to destroy his local school and steal the souls of the children their, he had lost all trust in them," she explained, "She however apparently held firm in her belief that not all demons were evil and the two had a small falling out. They lost contact for a while as he went onto be an exorcist."
"But then...something terrible had happened and she came looking for his help again. A few months before, Satan had apparently possessed a man she was in a relationship with at the time and taken advantage of her," Izumi explained, "she had come to him for help on the matter...but not to exercise the demon within her, but to help her raise them in secret."
Roy looked baffled by this. "and he agreed to that?" he questioned incredulously.
"Eventually yes, but not initially. He called her insane and threatened to turn her over to the vatican for her own safety and the safety of the world, even promising to plead her innocence as a merely a victim to convince her to be exercised. She refused, and kept trying to convince him to help her. It took a long time for her to convince him, along with the aid of a...third party," she explained, "One that I myself do not know the full identity of. I've only heard his voice once in a phone call."
Roy nodded. "But how?" he asked, "How did she convince him not to report her?"
"And why did she decide to keep Edward in the first place?" Riza asked.
"I don't know fully how she managed to convince him, but it probably had something to do with their past relationship," she said, "Her reasoning was...That they deserved the chance. She believed that if Edward was right, he could live a normal human life and do good in the world. She never believed that demons were truly evil, just in need of something that they cannot have, and that Edward's human half helps to balance that emotion."
"What about his brother?" Roy asked, “You mentioned an Alphonse...are they step brothers?”
"They are fraternal twins, born a day apart," Izumi explained, "But Edward is the only one with the powers of satan. Alphonse is completely human. We've run tests every year to be sure along with his normal check up."
Roy nodded but was still slightly skeptic.
"Do you believe that too?" Riza asked, "That some demons are simply missing something?"
The woman shrugged. "In a way," she said, "Humans have been appeasing demons for thousands of years. Exorcising a demon doesn't always mean killing it. It wouldn't surprise me if that were the case, although I don't believe it applies to all by any means..."
"Is that what made you agree to help?" Roy asked, "What their mother had said?"
Izumi hesitated as she recalled the day she had found out.
She had stared at the man across from her in disbelief, no, horror at what he had just disclosed to her. This couldn't be true. This couldn't have been the same man who had apprenticed her. The man standing before her, eyes red with tears looking towards her pleadingly as he held those...those...monsters couldn't be Van Hohenheim.
The two stood across from each other in the darkened church. It was a cold winter's night. Frost clung to to the windows and a chill hung in the dead-silent air between them. He had called her here to tell her something important. That he had a task for her. She had thought it was a mission of some kind. She could never have imagined what it really was.
"Izumi..." he pleaded, "Please, I'm begging you."
She backed away from him, shaking her head at him in disbelief. "Are you insane?!" She cried, "You expect me to help you take care of those literal beasts?! How did you even come across them? Why did you take them in?! They should be dead!" One of them started to stir in his arms and gently started rocking it back to sleep.
"Please can you not raise your voice?"he asked. She gaped at him incredulously before he cut her off. "Please, just listen to what I have to say," he begged before he began explaining what happened. Who their mother was, how this happened to her, and so on. "Please, Izumi, their mother is dead," he begged, "I can't look after them alone. I need you to-"
"No," she growled, fists shaking, "I'm sorry but I won't have anything to do with this." The man fell silent as she looked up at him, eyes fill with fury and slightly watery. "You're cruel, you know that?"she seethed, "I know I'm one of the few people you trust...but I also know you know exactly why I became an exorcist. I know because you were there. You saw how a fire demon attacked my home town. How I lost everything because of it! My home, my job, my family," her voice cracked at those last words. Her voice choked up for a moment as she remembered the face of her husband newborn child. "I can't even have any more children thanks to them..." she snarled, closing her eyes as she brought a had over where she remembered where the scar on her abdomen still was. "And you have the GAHL," she growled, voice getting louder as she spoke and clenching her fist, "to ask me to take care of these hell spawn?! What on earth is wrong with you? You're almost as much of a monster as them!"
One of them began to stir again. "Izumi, I'm not asking you to take care of them," he said, "I just need someone I can trust to help me keep this a secret, you won't even have to-"
"I said NO!" She shouted.
Both infants began crying out at once. Izumi froze and Hohenheim began to panic as he carefully tried to rock them back to sleep to very little avail.
Izumi stared at the infants in his arms. She she stood their as the familiar sound rang in her ears. The one with the brighter golden hair peaking out from the cap on his head...somehow, his cry sounded exactly like her own child's had. It had been five long years...but still. She never forgot that sound. Of his gurgling. Of his squeaking to get her attention. And now, those memories of it were flooding back to her. Subconsciously she moved towards Van until she was only half a foot away. "Give him here," she said in a solemn tone, her face stoic, "You aren't going to be able to sooth both of them at once." He paused before offering Edward to her.
She started reaching out to him, but hesitated. Finally after a moment she accepted the screaming child. Once she had, she again felt memories come flooding back: of holding her own child for the first time, of soothing him. even though he looked different, with his golden hair and eyes, the way he felt in his arms was about the same, and his face was still squishy and red like her child had been, and his nose was the same shape too. She couldn't help but find herself smiling as she slowly soothed the squirming child. He slowly calmed down, his eyes slightly crossed as he tried to look at her with his large, round eyes. For a moment, she forgot that he was any bit demon at all.
"Do you know when their powers will begin to emerge?" she asked.
"Edward's powers have been sealed away," he explained, "An old friend helped me seal them inside a sword. And Alphonse has no powers. For now, they are essentially human."
She looked up at him with a raised eyebrow. "And you couldn't have bothered to explain this sooner?" she questioned before rolling her eyes, "Alright...I'll help when I can...But I'm not going to be replacing their mother, do you understand?"
Hohenheim smiled. "Thank you," he said, a look of relief on his face, "I owe you my life."
"...no," she said, "I came to care for them over time. I watched them grow up. I saw them grow into kind, smart, and wonderful boys. They aren't a threat to anyone, and certainly not the Vatican. All they want to do is live normal human lives, so you have no reason to do anything to them." She placed her hands on the table and glared down at them.
Roy raised an eyebrow. "Really," he said, "No issues at all? They were just perfect children all the time?"
She growled at him. "No...but nothing no normal child has to deal with!" she said, "Edward has a few temper issues and likes to snap back at people but nothing out of the ordinary! They are both smart boys who are kind, compassionate, and respectful to girls. They don't do drugs, they aren't in any gangs, they didn't even know of their demon ancestry!"
Roy looked confused. "They didn't know?" he repeated, "how was that possible? The boy has a tail for pete's sake."
"Edward's demon half was sealed inside a sword until last night when his father came to take him back, and neither of them had a temptaint until that point," she explained, "Until yesterday they thought they were normal humans, and they didn't want anything to do with their father. I know because I was there protecting them! Hoheheim sacrificed his life to protect them! Edward even tried to fight Satan. I'm telling you they are not something for you to worry about! They just want to live normal human lives!"
"But they aren't!" Roy said, "Edward is a demon now, with powers he was just granted that he doesn't know how to control. On top of that, you said there are demons looking for them that you had to protect them from! Satan himself in fact! They can't have normal lives anymore, whether they like it or not. And this doesn't just affect them, it affects anyone and everyone around them. I'm sorry but this isn't something that we can ignore."
Izumi growled. "You heartless-" she started reaching to grab him when suddenly, Riza stepped in, sticking a hand between them.
"But," she said, "This does not mean that either of the boys need to die." Both Roy and Izumi looked surprised. "Their situation is a complicated one, and unfortunately no, they will never be able to have normal lives again," Riza said, "but that does not mean we are just going to terminate them on the spot or do anything else so rash. My partner and I still have to discuss how to deal with this situation. During that time I promise no information about them will be sent to anyone." She then grabbed his arm and pulled him out of the room. "We ask that you wait here for now while we do just that," she said as she pulled him out of the room. Izumi tried to say something but was cut off as the woman slammed the door, dragging him into the hall.
"Riza, what the hell are you doing?" he said, "What's this about not terminating them? Do you realize what's at stake if we don't?"
"Do you want to kill them?" she asked him.
Roy fell silent as he was taken aback by this, his face blank. "What did you say?" he asked.
"Do you want to kill them? Do you personally believe these children deserve to be dead?" she asked him, "Be honest, Roy."
"What I...." he started before glaring down at the ground in frustration, "Alright...no. I don't want to have to kill these boys." He looked back up at her at that. "But the fact of the matter is, they have to die."
"Do they?" Riza questioned.
Roy stopped. "Well, yes!" he said, "They're a threat to mankind! They are literally the sons of Satan. At the very least they’ll have high class demons coming at them right and left, endangering everyone else in the process."
"There are plenty of barrier spells that can keep out even the strongest demon, and you haven't even met them yet," she said, "You have no idea what they are really like. All they may need is monitoring for their own protection."
"Riza, their father is Satan," he emphasized, "I think I know what they could end up like, particularly when that boy's demon side has been released."
"is that so..." she said, turning and leaning against the wall, "because If I remember this boy also has a human side and the other is practically human. And humans have a pretty good record for defying expectations. There are plenty of children around the world who have demon ancestry, and many of them have not turned into monsters. In fact, a lot of them seem to end up as exorcists." She then smiled and glanced at him. "Besides," she said, "I thought all humans were selfish, immortality seeking fools absorbed in their own greed. I'm more than happy you were an exception to that..."
Roy blinked before turning his back to the wall as well and looking up. "I can't argue with that," he sighed, "We could be killed for this...but I suppose our current situation already puts us in that position..." "We'd need to have them constantly monitored, however," he pointed out.
"They are of high school age," she pointed out, "they can study at the school and we can observe them from there. We already have a team we can trust, and I'm sure Izumi would be willing to help."
Roy nodded before smirking. "And I don't suppose you'd be willing to help him learn to control his powers," he asked.
"Do you know any other supernatural creature that can control fire?" she responded.
"None as good as you," Roy responded with a smirk, before frowning, "Although, how we'll get them into the school is beyond me. It's only a few days until enrollment and tuition is expensive..." He groaned. "We're going to have to make a deal with that palm tree bastard aren't we?" he said more than asked.
"Something tells me he's expecting us to," she said.
"God dammit..." he hissed, "I haven't even met these boys and I'm already selling my soul for them..." He gave a dry laugh before his phone started ringing. "Speak of the devil..." he muttered as he checked who the caller was.
"Yes Mephisto, what is it?" he said answering it.
"Is that anyway to talk to your boss?" the demon sneered, "You really should show more respect to me when I call you."
"I'll keep that in mind..." he said, rolling his eyes.
"Anyways, I was just wondering how the investigation has been going," he asked, "If you had found anything interesting yet."
"Nothing yet," Roy lied.
"Oh really," Mephisto said, "Nothing at all? Especially nothing about the two boys Hohenheim had around?"
Roy paused for a moment rubbing his thumb over his fist. "So he did know," Riza said. Roy sighed and nodded.
"What do you want with them?" he asked.