Beyond The Gate
Truth sighed as he viewed the lowly humans down below him. They were so tiresome and not at all any fun, thinking they knew what was best for them and those around them just because they could do alchemy. Sometimes, he wondered why he even bothered with giving them that power, they never learned their lesson. They were all the same...well, now, that wasn't quite true, he realized with a grin.
There was one who was different.
With a snap of his fingers, he found themselves peering down below at his favourite human. Edward Elric. The Fullmetal Alchemist. The only one to defeat him. His perfect human. The one who succeeded. The one who beat God at his own game.
The boy was such fun to be around, really, there wasn't a party without him and the boy always seemed to cause a riot. He couldn't remember the last time he had so much fun with mankind. Well, maybe with that pesky little Dwarf in the Flask, he sure had fun teaching him the ways of the world...but Edward was different. He was human.
The Dwarf wasn't, not really. Sure, he may be made of human blood of the human Van Hohenheim, but he wasn't one of his creations. The Dwarf was created by man, not God and as such, while still under his domain as all living things were, he hadn't given his permission for his life to begin. He was an anomaly. He had proved that all by himself with every act he chose to commit against mankind in search of the answers of the universe, the 'truth'.
It was simple really, he wasn't able to find the great 'truth' because he, as something other than human, is unable to evoke any kind of growth or evolution even with all the answers in front of him and thus, had no right to walk upon his world. He tried to tread in God's domain and burned for his insolence.
That was the difference between the Dwarf and Edward Elric.
That was why Edward was able to beat him. That is why Edward Elric is the perfect human... because he realized he isn't.
Even when gifted with a power seemingly able to rival that of a god's, he realized that no human should step into God's domain, take his knowledge and his alchemy and use it to try to surpass him.
If he was being quite honest, Truth had done countless trial runs, trying to find a human, just one, that would realize this. That would realize even with that power, they were human, they weren't perfect. And they didn't need alchemy to be perfect. That all they needed was faith in those around them and in themselves. Then, finally, after so many years, Edward Elric came along and all his hard work, all his clues and progress up until that point meant something. Because it could be done.
And Edward Elric was his evidence.
But the boy...sometimes he made Truth want to strangle something.
He was the perfect human and he was hiding it from everyone that made him so perfect! It was a travesty. Maybe he should thank those lowly humans?
After all, without them, Edward wouldn't have realized the truth and become the perfect human.
He did owe them something. And if they wanted to know the price Ed paid to get their bodies back?
Well, who was he to deny them?
He was Truth after all.
Six Years After Defeating Father
The Revelation Room
It had all happened so fast, a mere blink and suddenly, instead of walking through the back alleys of Creta and other Western Countries, Edward Elric finds himself in a white room alongside so many others, many he recognizes and many he hasn't seen in years. Before he can even gain his bearings, a yellow blur flashes and he suddenly finds himself staring up at azure blue eyes peering down at him.
He blinks, golden eyes smouldering as he registers the blonde atop him, "Winry?" The mechanic's eyes brimmed with tears before she rushed down and wrapped him in a hug, a few sniffles escaping her as he feels her tears soak his shoulder.
"Fullmetal!" A voice calls and Ed whips his head back to see Roy glaring at him with a god awful moustache on his face. "What did you do?"
"Geez, Colonel, why do you always have to assume it was my fault?" Ed sighed, sitting up as he rubbed his head.
"Well, to be fair chief, you do have a habit of attracting trouble wherever you go." Havoc mentioned. From behind him were the rest of the Colonels team and the chimeras who nodded in agreement with the smoker.
"I haven't even been in the country for 4 years. If anything, I bet it was that thing on your face Colonel bastard! What even is that? It looks like a moustache died on your face from shame! Hawkeye, I can't believe you let him try and grow that out." Ed laughed and was quickly given a small smile from the blonde as they all ignored the flame alchemists growl.
"I knew I liked this kid for a reason, Miles, "Olivier remarked. The major stood behind her and hummed in agreement as he met up with Scar who looked just as confused as Ed was as to why they were there.
"Brother!" a voice called out. Not as high pitch as it used to be but more level, deeper but still one he would never forget.
"Al!" Ed caught his brother in a hug, noting how tall his little brother had gotten in their 4-year absence from Amestris. Even while caught up in his brother's hug, he could see Granny Pinako, Ling, May and Xiao Mei from behind Al as they talked with Winry, sometimes staring at the two brothers.
"Does anyone know why we're here?" called out a voice.
Ed turned to see his teacher, Izumi, standing tall and intimidating as ever. "Teacher!" They both called as they rushed forward to give her a hug that she accepted with a small smile.
"Boys! Look how much you've grown! I assume the travels are going well?" she asked as Sig made his way behind his wife, Armstrong closely following his big muscled friend and wife.
"It's going great. I was actually in Creta before I showed up here...why are we all here?" Ed asked.
And just like that, it began.
Ed was really starting to get annoyed with all of this.
Sure, it was nice to be reunited with his brother, with Winry and everyone else in his mismatched family but he wished he could meet them again when it wasn't against an unknown variable, a foe they had no idea about...especially since he didn't have his alchemy anymore. Not that he told them that. He had managed to hide it for those first two years, claimed it was difficult to gather his bearings now that he was whole again.
And with him gone for another 4 years in the western countries, far from those who knew him, it had become easier. Truth was, he didn't know how to tell them. How could he? He gave up alchemy, the one thing he was good at, the one thing that connected him to all of them...the one thing that made him, him.
But he had given that up for something better: his brother.
That didn't mean it still didn't hurt when he thought about it. It was only natural. It was something that ran in his blood, something that connected him to his parents and the world around him. He had done so much good with it and every time he saw some crime happening during his travels he always thought of how he could have stopped that easily with his alchemy.
"Just where the hell are we anyway?" he growled as he and everyone else gathered their bearings.
"I'd thought you'd never ask Edward Elric."
Ed's head whipped around so fast and he nearly choked as he looked upon the white figure before him, his gleaming smile as clear as his memories and voice as crisp and mocking as he knew it to be.
"You!" he shouted.
"Who are you?" Olivier demanded.
"No don't ask him tha-!"
"Who am I? One name you might have for me is the world, or you might call me the universe. Or, perhaps God. Or, perhaps the Truth. I am all and I am one. So, this of course, also means, that I am you." Truth grinned as the elder Elric's head fell down in defeat.
He really was too much fun.
From around the room, the humans all had different reactions. Most gasped, typical, a few bulging of the eyes, always a nice show and look at that, some glares. How adorable?
"However, currently I have taken the form of my favourite human."
"And who would that be?" the general commanded.
"Why, Edward Elric, of course!"
"ED!" A yell came and Ed barely had the time to register it ever happened before an imposing figure overshadowed him. He looked up fearfully to see his Teacher, hair like snakes and a demonic expression on her face as fire exploded from behind her.
"What did you do?" she demanded as she picked him up by the collar of his shirt.
Before he could even open his mouth, a hollowing laugh echoed throughout the room and a chill ran down his spine as he turned to look at Truth, who had sat down in what Ed assumed to be his default position, and was looking at them with its seemingly faceless appearance. If it wasn't for his ever-present grin, Ed wouldn't know what he was thinking and that was something that terrified him more than anything else.
"Oh, you've got it all wrong, you aren't here because of anything he did, but because of what you all did." Truth declared. "You're here because I wanted to thank you."
"For what?" Roy asked.
"For helping me create the perfect human."
Seeing their stares of confusion, Truth sighed. Why must all humans be such dimwitted creatures?
"When I created all you lowly humans, there's a test. A meaning to life, if you will. And never in the countless eons since I have created you have any of them ever realized what it was. Never has a human ever beaten me and I was resigned to having to wait for a long time to see such a day. That is until I met Edward Elric. The one who succeeded. The one who beat God at his own game. My perfect human."
"But he wouldn't be who he is without all your help, so I called you all here to reward you. But I will only grant one gift, one question, one answer. I must confess, I already have a good guess as to what you all want to ask but for your sakes, I want you to all chose together. Edward and I will be off to the side while you discuss." With that, he plucked the golden-haired blonde from his teachers grasp and dragged him up beside him.
Ed huffed, but didn't speak as the two watched his loved ones gather together, shooting him looks every so often and sometimes even to Truth who simply grinned when they did. Their whispers filtered like background noise as he stared at him, golden eyes calculating before he opened his mouth and softly spoke," You're not the generous type Truth, what could you possibly gain from all of this?"
"Nothing," Truth admitted. "You really are the perfect human, my end game so to speak. They truly are the ones who helped you to move along, the ones who nurtured your evolution and invoked your growth. Without them, you wouldn't be the perfect human I praise so often. Even if all of them never become like you, all their hard work deserves a reward. Now, if only I can get the rest of your lowly kind to realize the same truth you have."
Ed snorted, "Yeah, that'll be the day." It was silent for a moment longer. " You mentioned you knew what they're gonna ask anyways...if you don't mind me asking, what is it?" Truth grinned.
"That's simple Edward Elric...they want to know why the Fullmetal Alchemist no longer wants to use alchemy anymore."
"So, you've made up your minds then?"
"Yes," Al spoke. "We all talked about it and we've agreed that we wanted to know something... something that brother never talks about."
"Oh," Truth smirked." And what would that be Alphonse Elric?" From beside him, the others watched as Ed's fist tensed and his jaw clenched down in his anger.
"What did brother give you that day?"
"Are you referring to the toll he paid in order to bring you back from beyond my gate?"
Alphonse took in the thunderous expression his older brother wore before he swallowed," Yes."
"I thought you'd never ask. Well then, stand back and enjoy the show. See the truth behind the toll he paid."
And with that, Truth snapped his fingers.
A giant screen appeared along with enough couches and chairs to hold everyone. Truth gestured to the seating options and watched as they trickled on like ants to find a spot to sit. Edward managed to find himself wedged in between Roy and Riza with Winry, Ling, May and Alphonse sitting in front of them all, effectively trapping him. You know, for such lowly humans, they sure were creative at times, he had to give them that.
The lights dimmed and the screen lit up as it showed a familiar view to all those who were there on the promised day.
The scene opened up to show Ed using the rusted pipe on the ground as he drew his transmutation circle. He gently skidded it around the ground, its trace only a white line as he continued to move about in concentration. It then shows Ling, no longer possessed by Greed, who seemed to focus on what his friend was drawing and gasps in realization.
"Is that...its a human transmutation circle!" he cried.
The scene panned out to show Ed standing in the middle as he threw the pipe off to the side. "I'll be back in a few minutes."
Hohenheim's face was then shown as he looked at his eldest son and gasped. Ed appeared rugged, bloody and his clothes were torn apart. "This is my last transmutation." Ed declared. "So stand back and enjoy the show!" With that, he clapped his hands and the blue familiar light appeared on the screen.
"What did you mean by that anyways you runt?" Olivier asked.
The blonde sighed and rubbed the back of his head, "I ain't gonna tell you. It'll be shown soon enough anyway." With that, Ed crossed his arms and gained a dark look across his face as the rest of them rolled their eyes, used to his childish antics.
Ed then placed his hands on the circle and watched as it lit up in a flash of blue light.
"Stop Ed!"Ling shouted.
"Elric!" cried Zampano and Darius.
Armstrong was shown next, with the little hair he had on his head swaying in the force of the transmutation as he spoke, "No Edward Elric!"
But Ed didn't listen and soon a bright flash appeared before the scene changed and it panned down a portal of truth, covered in etchings and markings of everything Edward Elric knew and gathered from his experience as a human.
It stopped in front of Ed, showing his war-torn appearance before the scene came from the side, showing Ed standing with his portal behind him and Truth sitting down in front of him.
"That's where you went?" Riza asked. Ed simply nodded his head, so beaten and cornered to find the strength to defend his actions.
"I take it you're here to retrieve your brother." Truth stated. "Just how do you plan on pulling an entire human out of here? What's your payment? Do you intend to offer your own body?" The scene moved to show Ed, starting from the bottom before panning all the way up to his face.
A THUMP was heard and everyone looked to see an injured Edward holding his head with an enraged Izumi behind him. "I swear if you even thought for a moment of doing that I'll kill you with my bare hands! Do you understand me?" The fire appeared behind her and a chill went down all the men in the room as they looked at her.
'Scary' they thought.
"Yes, Teacher." Ed managed to groan out.
"Good, carry on then." With that, she turned into a happy go lucky housewife and practically skipped back into her husband's arms.
On screen, Ed smirked and raised his newly recovered hand as he pointed back at his portal of truth. "Yeah, I've got your payment right here. So go ahead and take it." he declared.
Dramatic music filled the air as it zoomed up to look at the looming gate, its presence large and overpowering, giving off an air of great importance, almost like a priceless artifact. The scene shot back to Truth who, in fact, looked a little bit gobsmacked if the jaw-dropping expression was anything to go by.
"This thing is my portal of truth. So, I get to make the decision on how it's used. Isn't that right?" Ed grinned coyly at Truth.
Truth stared for a moment before he started to laugh and smacked a hand on his forehead. "Its come to that?" he questioned as he continued to laugh maniacally. "And you're sure about this? You do realize that you'll never be able to perform alchemy again without your portal?"
"I'm aware of that." Ed paused as he stared up at his portal. "This portal...I know it contains every secret alchemy has to offer. However, its also led me astray. I saw the that lies within it and I became convinced I could solve everything with alchemy. But I couldn't possibly have been more wrong. That was just arrogance."
The view changed back to Truth," You're willing to cast it aside? To lower yourself to a simple human?"
Ed was shown again as he stared up at his portal, deep in thought before he spoke," What do you mean 'lower myself'? That's the only thing I've ever been." He eyes softened, "Just a simple human who couldn't save a little girl. Not even with alchemy." He admits.
Back in the real world, everyone stared at Ed who simply looked down at his hands in his lap. There were callouses, scars and other cuts that crisscrossed and labelled themselves on his hands.
He clenched them tight as he refused to look them in the eye, knowing they were looking at him in pity. He didn't even wanna know what Al was thinking. He didn't think he could handle it if he looked at him the same way everyone else would.
"You're sure you'll be alright without it?" Truth questioned. "Think carefully now!"
The shot zoomed in on Ed as he started to remember all his friends, all calling out his name and he started to smile, small and insignificant, too tiny for someone to see as he turned back to Truth, smile widening as his eyes practically screamed happiness.
It wasn't something any of them had seen on Ed, a true smile. Al barely remembered seeing his brother have one on his face and these past years, all the adventures and hardships and coup d'etat's, well it seemed more like a far off memory than an actual thing.
"Who even needs alchemy when I've got them?" Ed stated, a big smile on his face and golden orbs shining in joy. The shot panned back to Truth who grinned widely, teeth bared for all to see.
"You've done it! That's the right answer!" Truth declared. The screen moved back to Ed who clapped his hands in front of his face, almost like he was praying, "Good job, you beat me!"
Ed turned and ran towards his portal of truth before putting his hands out like he was about to perform his alchemy, "Go ahead! Take him home!" Blue lightning shot out from Ed's hands as his portal began to disintegrate before their very eyes.
From behind, Truth was shown as he too began to break down and float away. Truth pointed behind him as he spoke, his voice seemingly taking on an undertone of Ed's, " The back doors right over there! Goodbye, Edward Elric!" With that, Truth floated away to reveal Al.
All was silent as the group took in what they saw. What Ed sacrificed in the end. What they all wanted to know about. Truth grinned from his spot behind them all, teeth gleaming in the light of the room as he stepped forwards.
"There, I've shown you all that you wanted to know, why Edward Elric refuses or better yet cannot do alchemy anymore, why he's the perfect human. Now, I will leave you to discuss this. Goodbye for now little humans!"
If one were to pinpoint the first to react, to lose their shit on Ed, they probably wouldn't think it would be Hawkeye, maybe Al, Izumi, Roy or even Winry, but not Hawkeye. Too bad for Ed, she did lose it.
For a second, all was silent and still before Ed was tumbling forwards in pain as Hawkeye stood behind him, hand still raised in threat.
"What the hell were you thinking?"
"I wasn't okay! Is that what you want me to say, huh? Well, then I wasn't! I wasn't thinking it through, I just wanted to get Al! We've come to far just to give up now and he's my little brother, he's all I have left and I would be dammed if I hadn't tried every possibility trying to get him back. If it had cost me my life, in the end, I would've done it...but I'm not that selfish. I know it would hurt him more to be back in his body and alive again only to see me gone...to know I was gone because I loved him so much...so no, I wasn't thinking. I just did it because I knew, somehow, that was the only answer." Ed ranted.
Riza's eyes softened as her previous ire melted away looking at the boy, no, young man before her. Ed, expecting another whack, was pleasantly surprised to find Riza's arms wrap around him in a soft hug. He briefly leaned into her touch before more arms started to hug him and he struggled around them all.
"GUYS! Let me go! I'm not a baby anymore! Seriously, group hugs are not allowed! SEE THE FURHER BASTARD AND THE GENERAL ARE LAUGHING AT ME! GUYS, I HAVE A REPUTATION TO UPHOLD! LET ME GO!"
From up above, Truth grinned widely as he watched the scene below him, seeing his perfect human struggling to breaks his bonds from the other humans around him.
Truth hummed, pleased with himself before he snapped his fingers and they all appeared back home as if they hadn't been gone for hours and had an emotional revelation about the one they all loved and called their friend.
Now that balance was restored in this world, he had other matters to attend to, more revelations and other secrets to unravel to others because, in the end, it wasn't money that made the world go round, it was the truth. And that was a fact.
After all, honesty was often the best policy.