" Nam , I'm going to bed. Please let the dogs in when they bark."
Without turning to look behind him, Jamie waves goodnight to his older sister. He's too busy focussing on crocheting to turn around. The fear of making a mistake is always with him. He's working on a commission for someone. A large blanket with a transmutation circle on it. Having had to restart it three times already he really doesn't want to have to go through that all over again.
With an earbud in his ear, connected to his phone in his pocket he listens to music. Keeping himself focussed as he changes the color of the yarn he uses the earbud to skip the song. Looking up from his hook, Jamie sighs heavily. He is tired and his hands ache from crocheting all day. It doesn't help that he is sitting at the dining room table and not the couch where at least he could relax.
But his butt is numb so there is no way he is getting up. No way.
The crocheting continues and he finds himself proud of what he has made. It's one of his hardest projects to make. Why couldn't someone just ask for one of his easier blankets? Like his pride flag blankets. Those he can make without even looking at what he is doing. He's tired but he knows that if he tries to sleep before midnight he'll wake up way too early and be pissed off the entire day. So he crochets, and crochets, and crochets. Only getting up when he spots the dogs at the sliding glass door through the reflection on the China cabinet.
Smiling he stands up and opens the door for them, watching them race inside and up the stairs. It's all quiet in the house, It's just Jamie, the three dogs, and his older sister. His parents are out on vacation, and his elder brother is working overnight. Now that he's up he locks the doors and moves over to the couch to sit back and finish it up. It takes time. He's been working on it for a week or so, nonstop, already and he can't wait to be done with it already.
The sigh of relief that leaves him as he ties a knot at the end of the blanket makes him flinch from how loud it is compared to the quietness of the house. Looking down at it he smiles and stands up bringing it back over to the dining room. "Finally.." Laying it across the table he stretches his arms over his head, his shoulders giving a loud pop as he does so. Putting the crochet hook down on the table he runs his hands along the circle.
He didn't expect it to start sparking purple and red. Why would he have? No one in their right mind would have expected the lights to start to flicker and break as they were engulfed by small dark hands.
All one can do is scream.
It's bright. Painfully bright. All that he sees is white light around him. "This is what I get for stopping my anti-depression meds so suddenly. I'm fucking losing i—"
"You know you shouldn't be here."
Jamie turns around and tenses up. Yep, he is losing it. There's a person.
No, that thing is not a person. It's white as paper with everything but eyes. Truth, it called itself. "I shouldn't be here? You shouldn't exist. You're a character. You don't exist other than on paper or on a screen." Running his fingers through his hair he touches his pockets. Everything is gone. All he has are the clothes on his body.
Not that it matters. He probably just passed out from exhaustion on the couch. In reality, he probably hasn't even finished the blanket. This wouldn't be the first time he had a lucid dream so vivid. It's like those dreams where—
"Where you think you've attended class but all along it was a dream?"
Looking back up at it Jamie glares and steps forward. "Wake me up. I don't want to be here. I'm not losing anything. I'm not losing everything! Wake. Me. Up." A grin forms on its face and it makes him freeze. He knows what's coming. "This is it? That's what I am losing?" There are hands sticking to his face, pulling him back. "Where will I go? When will it be?!" He shouts, tears forming in his eyes.
"I'll let you chose that one. Good luck Imitation Alchemist… "
His eyes open and all he sees are stars.
He groans and rubs at his eyes, he must be laying down outside. Frowning he sits up and pushes himself up. Biting his lip Jamie stands up and looks around. It's actually happening. He's read stories like this never in his life did Jamie think he would be a part of one.
His eyes scan around looking for something familiar. But there are no signs, even when he finds them nothing is in English. Jeez even if it was in Spanish he would have a chance of getting around. A small chance but a chance nonetheless. It's cold and it looks like it's going to snow. He's lost and he's going to die. "Fan-fucking-tastic!" He shouts and pulls at his hair, the hair tie holding his hair up snapping in the process. "Oh even better! This night can't get any worse!"
Biting his lip he looks down and takes a deep breath trying not to cry as he walks around aimlessly. It when he can see his breath in the air that the tears form and he starts walking faster. All the lights are off and he's got nowhere to go. He doesn't even know where he is. He doesn't know the date or anything that could be helpful in the slightest. It doesn't help that his glasses are cracked and he can't see that well.
As he walks through the unknown town he spots some stairs. There’s a sign that seems to be in English but its broken. De Nes. “Deh-knees? Anime Denny’s…”
He can hear noise from it. Noise equals People. People equals warmth. Warmth is what he needs right now. Rubbing at his eyes he walks down the stairs and presses up against the door. It's much better already. The warmth feels so good on his face. He can't help but tear up more but it doesn't last long because as he sits down the tiredness from earlier hits him like a rock. Maybe if he's lucky the next time he opens his eyes he'll be on the couch of his living room with the dogs at his side smothered in blankets.
As fate would have it nothing is going his way. At least he wakes up with one of those things. Fuzzy warm blankets. There are bright lights and he sits up so quickly he gets a massive headache. "Boss she's awake!" Groaning he rolls his eyes and burps. Jamie hates that moments later there is bile all over his lap. "She's awake and puking! Mart' go get some clean clothes. Ulchi, go get Boss. You good there kid? Know where you are, who you are?"
"No...And James..." Jamie burps again and covers his mouth only to let it all out once there is a bucket in front of him. Rubbing at his stomach he listens to everyone talking. It makes him cringe. "I—"
"Those are some wild bruises you got there. Who are you running from?"
Jamie looks up and over to the voice. Oh. Oh fuck. Tensing up he looks down. He's— No. This is all some warped dream. An exciting dream but it's still warped. He knows that shitty fur collar. He knows that voice. Wait a second. What is he talking about? Looking at his arms he covers them up. Bruised. His dogs were playing rough from him. He couldn't help it. Opening his mouth he gets cut off.
"Don't try to deny it, Roa pointed out the scars on your arm too. Someone, including yourself, is hurting you. Now tell me, Princess. Who are you running from?" Biting his lip he sighs. He should have taken hormone therapy when he had the chance.
"I don't know…" the room fills with silence and all of a sudden he's being lifted off the sofa in the middle of the room. "Are you guys going to kill me? What's gonna happen to me?"
"A bath is gonna happen to you. You reek and you've got dirt all over you from sleeping on the floor." He looks down and frowns at the shorter man. Dolcetto or Dorochette. He has a bet going on how it’s properly pronounced. "Martel is going to clean you off and then maybe we'll find out some more things about each other."
Nodding his head Jamie sighs. But he knows a lot about them already. As he is carried through the halls he thinks to himself. They're all alive. How much longer until their demise? What world did he get dumped in? There are so many ways for this to go wrong if he doesn't know. How should he act? What story should he come up with?
"Roa and I will leave you here...Martel should be here soon. Don't do anything stupid." The larger man, Roa puts him down and opens the door for him. He sits down on the floor and takes a deep breath finally alone.
The tears are back. God, he is such a cry baby. "We aren't going to hurt you. You obviously have been through enough. Now strip." Tensing, Jamie peels his clothes off and places his hands over his chest. Uncomfortable like this. "Your name is James? That's an odd name for a girl."
"I'm…" God, he hates coming out. Now he has to do it to people he could never imagine coming out to. "Not a girl. Please don't call me one Martel…" he looks over at her as she starts the tub. Nodding her head she notions him over. Taking off his glasses he puts his hands back on his chest and steps over to the water. It's warm. Way better than the cold night. Martel reaches her hand over, holding a soapy towel in her hold. "I-I can bathe myself please…" he hates being vulnerable. It's uncomfortable. Sighing Martel turns her back to him and leans against the tub. He watches her as he scrubs himself down. The water turning grey. It's gross. "Why aren't you asking me questions…?"
"I hate repeating myself. Figured everyone would. The questions can wait until after you're dressed when everyone is going to ask you them." Nodding Jamie stands up and drains the water, making Martel look at him. Standing up herself she hands him the towel and the clothes. "Dolcetto-" he can't help but snort at the name. He was right about the pronunciation. Thank goodness she doesn't question it. "-found you as he was kicking people out of the bar. He dragged you inside and panicked. If it wasn't for you crying in your sleep he would have thought you were dead." She turns and looks at him as he dresses. She's...trying to talk him down. Keep him feeling comfortable. How nice. Pulling the shirt over his head he tugs it down and pats his curls dry. So much hair. "Let's go."
Standing behind her they walk through the halls and push through the doors back into the main room. The bar. "Look who's back." Adjusting his glasses Jamie tenses behind Martel at Greed's voice. "Come sit down and we can all have a friendly chat." Frowning he looks up at her and gets a nod in response. Hesitantly he sits down in front of all of them. His head down to avoid eye contact. He's always been horrible at confrontation. Martel whispers something in Greed's ear and it makes Jamie tense even more. "Oh. Shit really? You're a boy?" Jamie nods his head and bites his lip. Shifting as he feels the weight on the sofa change as Dolcetto sits at his side. "Damn, sorry for calling you, princess. Now interrogation time." Looking up he counts the people in the room. His favorite is missing. "Who are you?"
"James...Jamie." Taking a deep breath he looks back down and Greed leans forward. Getting close to his face. Another question. "No...I don't. Can someone please tell me what the date is?"
"December fifth nineteen twelfth ." Tensing he looks over at Dolcetto and frowns. He's trying to remember basic trivia. The Elric's tried to bring their mother back when they were what? No, he doesn't know the answer to that. When did Ed become a State Alchemist? Was it when he was twelve? That means that was last year. There's still so much time before he comes to Dublith and ki— "You good there kid?" Jamie shakes his head and covers his face.
"I'm sorry...my head hurts...What was your question? How old am I? Nineteen...I turned nineteen in July…" He admits, his hands shaking. This is all so crazy. It's still not registering that he is here. In the Devil's Nest. Pulling his legs up to his chest he shuts his eyes and sighs. He really feels crazy. None of this should be happening.
"Pretty boy, don't fall asleep again we aren't done yet. I've got a lot of questions for you. Like, do you know where you came from? Were there others where you were getting hurt?"
The image of his older sister comes into his thoughts. A lump form in his throat and the floodgates open. He's never going to see her again. He has no one anymore. The only one he had on his side was her. What will she do now that he is gone? Will they think he was kidnapped. It hurts to breathe just from thinking about it.
"Do I need to send my subordinates out to kill these people?" Shaking his head he wipes his face. Hiccupping. He's always wanted to escape to a world like this but he never imagined it would hurt so much. "Dammit, I'm no good when it comes to people crying. Ulchi, get him a drink— and do not put anything weird in it." When he looks up there is a glass square cup in front of him. Now is not the time to say he only likes wine and shitty wine at that. So he just curls up on himself.
"Greed. Maybe we should give him some air. He obviously isn't doing good." Jamie takes a deep breath and shakes his head, sitting up properly as he wipes his face. "Must have had it rough. You're safe now kid. Whoever you were running from can't hurt you anymore. You're with us." Dolcetto puts a hand on his shoulder and flashes a smile. Trying his best to comfort him. God what a good dog. Without thinking he throws himself at Dolcetto and hugs him tightly.
He expected to get peeled off but the pat on the back was much more acceptable. The questions come to an end and Jamie is left to sit on the couch as everyone tends to their everyday needs and wants. People come in and out of the bar. Some ladies joining Greed at the bar. This is normal. Jamie knows that. He can't help but feel uncomfortable though. As if he makes one wrong move and everything in the world will change. Maybe that's for the good. He could save all their lives if he tried.
What if something goes wrong that way?
He'll have no control over anything if he changes even one too many things. Jamie has to make sure things follow the right timeline.
Just knowing that makes his heart hurt. There's nothing he can do but prepare himself during the next three or so years. All he has to do is make sure he doesn't get too attached to them. It was hard enough when they were just characters to him but now they are real.
"Pretty Boy!" Jamie's head snaps up and he tilts it back to look up at Greed who is standing behind him. "Ha, you answer to it. I have a question for you. Are you bored here? Do you need something to do?" Shaking his head he bites his lip. Don't make a mistake. "You look fucking miserable. Go sit at the bar and keep Roa company or something you kicked puppy."
Nodding his head he gets up and takes a seat on one of the bar stools. Looking up he makes eye contact with Roa and looks down. He is massive compared to Jamie. He's massive compared to anyone. Feeling a heavy hand on his hand Jamie looks up and for a second he swears he saw Roa smile.
Smiling back, Jamie sways side to side in his chair. The bar starts to get filled as the hours go by. There is smoking and drinking. It hurts his lungs. Coughing he covers his mouth and looks down startled by the noise his stomach makes. Oh, that's right. He hasn't eaten since he woke up. Slipping off the stool Jamie sneaks around the bar-stand and starts rummaging through things until he is lifted by the back of his shirt and placed on the counter.
"There's nothing for you back here." It's Roa again.
"Mr. Roa?" Roa looks down at him and pours a drink sliding it over to a lady at the end of the bar. "I...Where can I get something to eat?" The two stare at each other for a moment before he nods his head walking over to Martel. The two stare at each other in silence before Martel looks at Jamie and nods. How do they do that? When Roa returns to his side Roa pours Jamie a drink. It doesn't look like alcohol. He sips at it slowly. Apple juice. Roa picks him up again and puts him back down to stand at his side.
The taller man hands him an empty glass and a bottle of liquor. Blinking Jamie starts to pour the liquid into the cup until Roa puts a hand on his shoulder stopping him. "Who-" Roa points over to Greed. Frowning Jamie takes the glass over to him and places it by his feet that are up on the table. Trying to not disturb him as he converses to the two ladies at his sides.
As he turns back to stand next to Roa he gets a thumbs up from both Roa and Martel. He can't help but snort as he goes back to his side. Martel pushes a plate in front of him and pats his head before disappearing somewhere. "I like peanut butter…"
Roa gives his head a pat too and watches him as he eats, sometimes refilling his glass when it is close to being finished. The sandwich sits in his stomach like a rock. It hurts but that's to be expected as he went almost the entire day without eating anything at all. Holding his stomach he lowers to the ground and wraps his arms around his legs. It really hurts.
Biting his lip he slowly stands and heads for a door. He knows that he walked through here when he showered earlier. Now to find that bathroom. Walking through the halls he frowns at finding out he is lost. Extremely lost. He knows he's way too deep downstairs.
"It's all clear! I found him." Turning around he spots Dolcetto jogging up to him. "Trying to run away again kid? You aren't going to get far down here." Frowning Jamie looks down and follows after the older man, holding onto the back of his shirt as they make their way back to the bar. The smoke inside has started to fade and there are fewer people. "You can let go now." Tensing he nods and drops his hand. Looking around the room he takes a seat on the couch where Greed is and sits on the farthest cushion. Jamie curls his legs up and rests his head on the arm of the sofa. The weight of the sofa shifts as Greed stands up and walks over to the main entrance. Standing there is a face that brings a smile to his lips. A bald head he was excited to see. The tail gives it away.
"Mister Greed! I got the cuts you asked for!"
Greed grins and pats Bido's head taking the paper bag out of his hands taking it out of the room. Bido follows after him and Greed laughing can be heard shortly after. The bar must be closing because the amount of people has dropped dramatically. The smell of cigarette smoke gets replaced by the smell of cooked vegetables and meat. One by one the chimeras all head through the door. Jamie frowns and follows after them. Finding a table full of food and drinks. Everyone seems to have their own seat. Standing in the doorway Jamie fidgets and turns around. Heading back to the bar.
"Oh no, you don't."
Letting out a yelp as he is tugged by the back of the shirt he looks up and finds Greed dragging him. The other thing he finds is Greed wearing an apron around his waist. Oh, how he wished he had his phone to take a photo. It makes him want to laugh.
"Sit down and eat." Using his foot to push a chair over, Greed drops Jamie onto the chair and moves to sit at his own. Sitting up, Jamie sits there awkwardly as everyone starts passing dishes around quickly. Plates are filled and faces are stuffed. Jamie reaches out to fill his own plate but there's a lump in his throat trying to ruin his appetite He grips his own stomach and frowns. He can't eat this. He doesn't want to eat this.
He wants to be home and eating dinner with his sister. She promised that she would make him pork chops and even brownies because he had been having a rough week. He doesn't know he is crying again until a full plate is put down in front of him.
"It's going to be okay. We'll protect you."
But that doesn't help his tears. They make it worse. He knows things they'll never be able to know. It's not fair. He'd give anything to have chosen any other world to be in. Just not this one. Why couldn't he at least have been brought here in the post-canon timeline? That way he would have the freedom to do as he pleased. He wouldn't have to carry the burden of not being able to protect these people.
Looking up from his lap Jamie catches everyone staring at him. They aren't eating. Frowning he reaches down and grabs a fork picking up a piece of chicken. As he takes the bite everyone turns back to their own meals and begins eating. Talking. Cracking jokes. Even Jamie joined in on the laughter. Telling himself that he just needs to take it one step at a time.
That’s how he will survive this scary mess.
For the night he sleeps on the sofa in the bar. It’s hard to sleep here. His brain is running miles per minute. It doesn’t help that every hour or so someone comes in, turns the light on, and looks at him for a moment before walking off. As if they are checking to see if he has run away yet. It’s no use. He’ll have to take a nap later in the day. He has always had an issue with getting sleep.
Again the light is turned on and this time he sits up to see who it is. Poor Roa, having to duck to get in the room. He can’t help but chuckle. Not only at this struggle of entering a room but at the ducks that decorate Roa’s pajama shirt and the cat pawprints on his pants. Flashing a tired smile he crosses his legs, pretzel style, and waves at Roa.
“Mr. Roa…? Can I ask something of you?” The tall man walks over to his side and sits down, knocking Jamie back with the change in weight. “Can...I arm wrestle you?” Roa’s eyebrows furrow and he moves to the other side of the table propping his arm up. Excitedly Jamie gets up, sitting in front of him and props his own arm up. His small hand squeezes Roa’s. “Three...Two...One!”
Grunting loudly he puts all his weight on his arm and tries to take him down. Jamie knows he won’t win but he goes wide-eyed when he catches Roa looking down at him. He isn’t even trying to defeat Jamie. If anything he is letting Jamie win, with a lot of struggle.
In a fit of defeat, he slaps his free hand onto his arm and tries using both arms to take him down. The groaning continues until the door opens and Jamie spots Dolcetto with his leg in the air from kicking it open. His arms busy dragging a blanket behind him. “Roa, you’ve been out here long enough, Come back t— What are you two doing?” Roa turns his head and waves a large hand at Dolcetto. “Are you— Ah fuck, let me help you. You can’t beat him alone.” Dolcetto takes a seat beside Jamie and puts both of his hands on top of Roa’s.
The two of them face off against Roa with a struggle. They hear footsteps from the floor above them and then the door opens again. This time is Martel. She stares at them before slowly shutting the door. Staring at each other they shake their head and start to struggle once again.
Jamie wheezes as he climbs on the table really putting his whole body into this. Martel returns and this time the whole gang's here. Even Greed. Greed stays standing in the doorway as everyone sits beside him all leaning to the side to get Roa’s arm down.
For a second Jamie could have sworn Roa had smirked before slamming them all into the table with plenty of ease.
Groaning Jamie sits up and moves back over to the sofa. Everyone does. It’s a big couch pile/ Greed snickers and cracks his knuckles before sitting in front of them. Ready to face off Roa. The two set their arms up and nod their heads. He doesn’t even blink and the table beneath their elbows is broken down the middle. The floor is cracked but no one has won yet. Jamie leans over and watches in anticipation. That is until Greed’s arm just.
With wide eyes, he covers his mouth and tries to not scream.
Everyone turns to him and then they realize that not everyone is used to watching Greed get hurt or die all the time. It makes his stomach twist, even more, when Greed just twists it back into place. “I guess we have some explaining to do…”
He gets the whole story. Martel being blown in half and experimented on. The whole crew getting experimented on. Everyone’s DNA match. Greed saving them. Giving them work and a place to live.
“You’ll get one too. A room that is. Roa is going to have to teach you how to work the bar too. Everyone has their role. That’ll be yours.” After making sure Jamie is okay with all the information he just received they all part ways and head to their respective rooms leaving Jamie to the couch. Alone for the night.
He doesn’t like it.
Standing up he wraps the blanket around himself and heads down the halls. Walking through the halls until he finds the stairs that lead upstairs. Trekking his way up he walks the halls again until there is an open door to peek into. It’s Roa and Dolcetto. Asleep in bed, Dolcetto laying against Roa’s legs as the larger man stays sitting up, reading a book. Frowning he turns his head away and takes a few steps away before he hears a voice calling out to him.
“Puppy, what are you doing wandering around?” Turing his head he sees Greed walking over this way. The taller one ruffles Jamie’s hair. “Go back to sleep.” Frowning Jamie swats his hand away and sighs.
“I can’t go back to sleep…” He grumbles and pulls the blanket closer to his body. Looking up at the homunculus Jamie takes a deep breath. It’s all unsettling to him. That all of this is happening. It’s going to be so hard to get used to this. Greed shakes his head and takes his hand. Oh.
Okay, how does one react to this? As they walk through the halls Jamie is concentrating on not freaking out, out loud. His hand is so small in Greed’s hand. Greed has warm hands. Oh god, he's holding hands with Greed for fuck's sake. How is he supposed to not freak out? Quickly he tugs his own hand away and looks down at the floor making Greed scoff.
Greed grabs the collar of his shirt and starts to drag him through the halls and out through a door. Stumbling forward he looks up at the bed that’s up against the wall. It’s so large. This must be Greed’s room. Why on earth would Greed such a big bed? Jamie’s face reddens at the thoughts that raid his mind only to snap out of it when Greed slaps the back of his head.
“Keep your mind out of the gutter would ya? The sheets are clean, go lay down.” Running his hands through his hair Greed rolls his eyes and takes a seat on the edge of the bed. Jamie looks down as he crawls to sit in the middle of the bed. He holds onto the blankets and pulls them towards himself. Greed kicks his shoes off and turns to the smaller one. “I’m gonna go bathe. You better be asleep when I get back, Puppy.”
Nodding his head Jamie lays down and curls up under the blankets. Pulling a pillow into his arms he takes a deep breath and shuts his eyes. He listens to Greed walk away and then the sound of running water close by. Greed must have his own bathroom as well as his own room. It’s so weird to think of Greed needing a bedroom. He’s a homunculus. He shouldn’t need to sleep. Maybe he just likes to sleep, Jamie can understand that. Sleep is a nice thing. Naps can be the best on their own. It makes him wonder if Greed dreams. Can Homunculi dream? The footsteps draw in and he tenses, closing his eyes tightly. Pretending to sleep before Greed spots him.
The door closes and the weight of the bed shifts. The feeling of someone pinching his cheeks makes him open his eyes. Greed is very close to his face. “What did I tell you?”
“To be asleep when you got back…” Jamie gets a good look at Greed. He’s never seen him without his hair waxed and spiked. Not even in art. It’s weird to his hair down. He reaches a hand over to touch it but Greed grabs his hand. That doesn’t stop him. His fingers just reach it. “Soft. Almost like mine, maybe thicker.” Dropping his hand Jamie sits up and leans against the headboard.
“Go to sleep, Puppy.” At the nickname, Jamie rolls his life and reaches to put a pillow behind his back.
“Why the name Puppy? Is it my cheeks?” Greed snorts and lays back on the bed, starfish mode.
“I guess you could say that. It’s a lot of things. Like when you get called on you respond like a puppy. Or your chubby stature. Everything about you is like a puppy.” Glaring at the man Jamie curls his legs into himself to make more room. “Too bad you can’t follow directions like a puppy. If you could you would be asleep by now.” Rolling his eyes Jamie nudges him with both of his feet.
Greed grabs both of his feet and tugs on them making Jamie screech in the process. Greed pulls him into a light choke hold and glares down at the smaller one. Not moving. “How do you expect me to go to sleep like this? I’ll wake up with a crick in my neck.”
Rolling his eyes Greed lets his hold around him go and lays on the bed. Jamie turns to lay on his side having his back facing Greed. He tries to sleep he really does. But only when the sun is up and his body is exhausted is he able to finally slip under.