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The Gift

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: FMA; the only manga to ever make me cry. And it did so not once, not twice, not three times… but four plus. I wish I owned it, but I only own my mind and my OCs.


Prologue

The Meadow

"Better to never have met you in my dream than to wake and reach for hands that are not there."

– Anonymous


Edward…

Edward…?

Edward Elric…?

It was like floating underwater during a dull, moonless night. The air was icy, yet I couldn't feel it though my brain registered that, yes, it was cold. Even as my eyes shifted from side to side, they saw nothing in this dark place. Vague shapes, only a single shade lighter than the surrounding murky depths, were my only indication of... anything. Even though I know, somewhere in the far back reaches of my mind, that this was nothing but a dream, I felt pain. Pinpricks in the back of my eyes, straining as if they'd never been used before. Every movement, every breath came with that dull kind of lethargic pain that only comes when you just don't care anymore. It reminded me of dying, of the feeling of rebar through the side of my torso.

Then, all at once, the world around me exploded with clarity. Vivid colors spread out across my vision, dancing in abstract, swirling patterns before coalescing into shapes, and finally, into plants. I was in a meadow, tall grasses and flowers twirling around my hips in the light breeze. Particles of light moved lazily through the air, disappearing into the distance as this whole place seemed to melt away into nothingness just outside the borders of the circular meadow. As the lights danced, my gaze was drawn to the center of the meadow. Even before my eyes fell on the door, the hairs on the back of my neck stood straighter. I was beginning to remember this place now.

And there it was, the same as the last time I'd had this dream. And the same as the time before that, and the time before that. The Gate loomed over me the same as it always did, stretching high above my head and wrought with ornate designs of long lost civilizations. The designs reminded me of my own Gate, just slightly different and with the branches and thick, roping roots of a colossal tree wrapped tightly around the doorjamb and rising high, high into the sky and bathing the meadow in a soft shadow. Yet my own Gate was long gone, given in exchange for Alphonse. Gone with it was my ability to do alchemy.

I knew what was going to happen next, and try as I might I could not stop it. It started slowly at first; a pull deep within my chest, and itching in my fingers. The Gate was a symbol of what I lost to save my brother. What I ached for, yearned for, but could never have again. The irony was not lost on me; as one of probably the most knowledgeable in alchemic theory in all Amestris - and Xing too, if I was feeling cocky - I couldn't even make a single, simple transmutation circle work. But I wanted; oh, how I wanted. I would never admit it to anyone, but that day I lost a part of myself. Sometime more important than any limb, but not so that I would ever regret my decision.

"Edward…"

The voice came from the center, from within the tree and the Gate. I tried to stop it, I really did. I tried to stop the overwhelming yearning in every cell of my body, even as a scream of frustration bubbled in the back of my throat. Yet, the same as every other time I'd had this damn dream, I put my automail foot in front of my flesh one, one step after another. I gritted my teeth, eyes narrowed as the Gate began to move, creaking with a sound not unlike screaming as the ancient hinges began to move. It was taunting me. Teasing me, with everything that I could not have any more.

And within, was the possessor of the voice. A bald figure of pure light, the outline of which was vaguely darker to give some sort of shape to the being. It stood in sharp contrast to that black abyss inside the Gate, and for a startling second I realized that the inside was almost... fluid. Amorphous, impossibly dark yet swimming with shapes that were just a single shade lighter to make them stand against the rest. Just like the darkness I'd found myself in before the meadow.

That was different. A change in the dream.

My shoulders hunched as I stopped a good ten feet from the Gate, "What do you want from me?"

Truth smiled, that too-wide jackal grin that spread from ear to ear, "Edward… you're the first. The first in a very long time to best Truth." The voice of my Truth, usually a mockery of my own, was joined by other's then. Dozens, then hundreds, then so many in a cacophony of pitches and dialects in languages I had no way of knowing but somehow, in this place, their combined words came through Truth clear as day, "Come to us, come to us and receive your gift. You have done what no other has, and have conquered your own Truth. And we have need of one who can conquer our truth. But first, a gift. A gift for you, Edward, so that you may be whole again when everything comes crashing down."

"What are you talking about?" I took a tentative step towards the Gate, this time of my own will. This was different than any other dream I'd had. My eyes narrowed again at the smiling Truth, "What are you?

"We are that which you have defeated in realizing your Truth," They said, "A feat not achieved since millennia before even Xerxes."

"Talk sense or shut the hell up!" I growled. This wasn't my Truth. It was something entirely different than that sarcastic, cocky bastard that guarded everyone's individual Gate.

'Truth' cocked it's glowing head, smile shrinking to slightly more normal standards. I figured it was the closest this thing could actually get to frowning, "We are talking sense. Seals were weakened, things were changed, by the events of three years ago. And now, someone is preparing to make a grave mistake that will call forth their own Truth, but it will not be their Truth they see, but something else entirely." I simply crossed my arms and stood tall in front of the Gate, eyes never leaving the child-turned-man on the other side. Figures that it would grow with me. At length, 'Truth' kept going, "Come and receive your gift, Edward, and soon you will meet the first of those that we can no longer stop from returning."

There was something of annoyance in it's voice, and I laughed at it, "Aren't you supposed to be God? The keeper of the Truth within the Gate? Or wait, let me guess..." I pointed an accusing finger at the figure, "You messed something up, and now you want me to fix it."

"More or less."

I blinked, not expecting 'Truth' to actually admit it, "... you're serious?"

"Very serious, Edward. Even God's have to abide by certain Laws, after all."

The breeze, once so gentle in the meadow, whipped up with a sudden ferocity. I stood my ground, feet apart and continuing to glare at 'Truth' even as it's smile once more grew to encompass most of it's face. Dirt and grasses were pulled up, disappearing into the Gate as I was slowly pulled towards it. I knew what would happen if I went in there; just like every other night I had this dream. So I fought it, tooth and nail, clawing at plants and grasses and the cool, moist meadow floor to find purchase on something, anything, to keep myself from that place.

But tendrils of blackness wrapped themselves around my wrist, my ankles, around my midsection. They tore me from the meadow, lifting me high in the air even as I twisted and fought against it. Somewhere, over the hurricane winds, I could hear that thing laughing. Then, with a sinking in the bottom of my stomach from the sudden force, I was wrenched backwards through the Gate as it swung shut in a second.

The dream didn't end. I blinked, twisting around in the amorphous darkness. The dream was supposed to end when I was pulled through the Gate. But it didn't, and slowly eyes blinked into existence around me. Wide in the center and tapered at the ends, every set accompanied by that too-wide smile that reminded me so much of Truth and a little of Pride. They began to close in, and a bubble of fear crawled up the inside of my throat as the sight of them froze my blood to ice.

Then, those innumerable eyes and gnashing mouths descended, screaming and tearing and piercing through me until I didn't know myself. The screams were them, but they were also me. And, as the darkness and the eyes and the teeth flowed into me, something was born inside me.

Only then, screaming soundlessly into the morning, did I wake up.


Author's Note: Short, yeah, but it's just the dream, so sue me. Actually, please don't. ;0; I need to pay for SacAnime and a Pride!Ed costume. Also, this short bit is an old fanfic that died out after these short pages I've decided to revive. Yup n.n