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[personal profile] bay_alexison
Title: Wicked Paths
Word Count: Approx 34,000 words
Rating: PG
Pairings/Characters: Ed/Winry and their kids, ensemble of canon and original characters
Warnings: Some suggestive material later on
Summary: Edward, Winry, and their three children go to South City for a short family vacation. While there, they stumble upon an elder lady that claims her late father was friends with Hohenheim when they had explored Aerugo together and discovered valuable alchemy notes there. The family then ends up crossing the border with Edward curious what type of alchemy research his father had done in that country.
Notes: Last two chapters!


Chapter Eleven


The next morning Ed and Daria went on separate trains. The ride back to Rush Valley took a few hours and by the time he arrived, Winry was at the train station to pick him up. During their walk back home, he told her everything that had been revealed to him and Daria.

“Huh, so their fathers knew each other. I mean, I already expected a relative of Anna’s stole those pages, but it’s still crazy all of this happened.”

“Tell me about it!” Running through his fingers through his hair, Ed felt overwhelmed over what occurred the last several days. He wondered if there would be some room to finally breathe. “Anna still wants the documents, so we’re not safe from her yet.”

A disappointed sigh escaped from Winry. “There’s no way to know when that’ll happen?”

That was what Ed was afraid of. A warning had been made clear, but it was too furtive. The notes could be swiped right under their noses. He shook his head and clenched his hand.

“Only thing to do is be aware of anything unusual. I told Daria that yesterday, too.” Whether they were going to be successful on that, he wasn’t sure.

+++

Anna left Dublith on a train for the next town north. She wanted to speak with one particular person that lived there.

His house was situated in a quiet neighborhood, just a short walk from the hotel Anna was staying at. It had been a while since she last visited him. She hoped he remembered her. She knocked on the door and waited until he opened it, a huge grin stretching across his face.

“Why, Anna! I didn’t expect you to drop by.”

“It’s great to see you too, Geoffrey. May I come in?”

Geoffrey nodded and let her step inside, closing the door behind them. He guided her to the living room and Anna sat on one of the sofas. She settled her hands on her lap and made a hasty glance at the lamp on the table that lit up the room like early morning sun.

“Would you like some tea?” he asked.

Smiling, Anna said, “No thank you.”

Geoffrey took a seat on the other sofa, directly facing her. “So, what brings you here?”

“There is something that I want and you’re the only person I know that can get it for me. But first, there are some things you need to know.”

A curious look drew upon his face. “Go on.”

Anna explained the full story. She told him how Ermes Russo’s journal pages were stolen from her father and that she had acquired them, about her trip to Aerugo the famous former Fullmetal Alchemist and his family and finding the infamous documents of Ettero Gatti in a cave, and how she had been pretending to help them throughout the journey. The whole time Geoffrey listened intently.

“Originally I was about to wait until Edward finished solving the code,” she said, finishing up her accounts, “but his wife found the pages and showed it to everyone. I then ran away.”

Crossing his arms, Geoffrey took a moment to gather everything he just heard. “That’s quite a tale there. I still can’t believe you traveled with Edward Elric for a while.”

“Me neither. He’s not one to be fooled easily.”

The smile on Geoffrey’s face disappeared when he said, “I take it you want me to use my alchemy and steal the notes from him.”

He was the first alchemist Anna had met in one of her excavations and helped her a lot. They used to keep in contact often until she got busy with traveling to Drachma and Creta. It was given he would be upset by that request after they hadn’t spoken to each other in a while.

“Yes, that’s what I’m asking .”

As she waited for his answer, Anna could tell he had mixed emotions over that offer. Her heart raced anxiously, the lingering silence unbearable.

“I’m not sure if I can. You backstabbed everyone!” He rose from his seat, made a few furious steps, and had his back facing Anna.

Anna’s stomach jumped. The one chance of getting the notes was slipping away from her. She needed to convince him to do this.

“Those documents are very valuable. It’ll make the both of us rich.”

That caused Geoffrey to twist around and arched an eyebrow at her. “Both…of us?”

Anna stopped herself from chuckling. She got off from the sofa and approached in front of him. Her fingers slid across Geoffrey’s cheek. He let out a shuddered breath.

“If you get the notes for me, I promise you’ll have that fortune also. It’ll be rude of me not to.” She trailed her fingers down Geoffrey’s chest and then jerked his belt buckle. “I’ll even let you share my bed with me.”

“That does sound tempting,” Geoffrey said and considered a moment, drawing in another breath. “All right, I’ll do it.”

“Thank you.” To show her appreciation, she kissed him on his cheeks. “Here’s the address to where Edward lives now,” she said and handed him a folded paper from the pocket of her pants. “I also wrote down the inn and room number I’m staying at, so meet me there after you get the notes.”

Geoffrey unfolded the paper to read it. He then said, “I can take the next train to Rush Valley and come back tomorrow.”

“I’m fine with that. I’ll see you later, then.”

After turning around, she opened the door and left the house. It took a bit of coaxing, but the deal was done. Very soon, those notes would reach her hands.

+++

When Winry picked up Ed at the train station, she was relieved that he returned unharmed. However, she hated that Anna was still a threat to them and that they needed to be on constant watch. She wasn’t sure how long they had to keep at it.

She went to bed early with Ed and collapsed in a deep slumber, but Winry eventually woke up to use the bathroom. She went back to bed, but wasn’t able to fall back asleep yet. Some minutes passed and she heard noises, like someone climbing up the stairs. That made her stomach drop as she was sure Joseph and the children were sleeping.

“Ed! Ed, wake up!” she whispered, shaking him. A few seconds passed until he stirred.

“Is something the matter?” he asked as he sat up, his eyes still not fully open.

“I heard footsteps coming up the stairs. I think someone broke into our house.”

A stunned expression crossed Ed’s face. He immediately climbed out of bed and went to the closet to snatch a t-shirt, putting it on.

“You wait here while I go check it out.”

“What if you get hurt? I’m not letting you go alone.”

Ed gave Winry’s concern some thought. She understood he wanted her safe, but she never like being left behind.

“Fine, but stay close with me.” He opened the door and stepped out of the room. Before leaving, Winry grabbed her wrench from under the bed just in case she needed it.

When she reached Ed, he motioned for her to be quiet and they put their backs against the wall. Winry heard a rustling of papers coming from Ed’s study. Locking her gaze at Ed, she had an idea what he was thinking.

“They’re looking for the notes,” he whispered.

“You don’t think they were been sent by…” She couldn’t bring herself to say Anna’s name, yet she knew that was the case.

“Yes, I think so. Shit.”

They took slow, cautious steps toward the room. Winry’s heart raced, her nervousness growing more by the second. The pair soon stopped next to the study, which was closed. Ed clutched onto the knob, waiting a moment, and turned it to open the door. She made a step forward to see a man tucking an old journal and some papers under his armpit. He froze the instant he was caught.

“Who are you?” Ed asked, sneering at him.

The intruder responded by showing them a tattooed hand and Winry recognized the design to be alchemic runes.

“Winry, watch out!”

A gust of wind blasted them, sending the two to crash onto the wall and hit the floor. Winry gritted her teeth, feeling pain shoot through her sides and shoulder. While still lying down, she heard the sounds of shattered glass and a loud thump on the ground. The intruder’s getting away!, she thought frantically. That motivated her to get up even though she was sore. After she stood up straight, she caught Ed already in front of the broken window and staring down outside. She walked up behind him.

“Can we catch him?” Winry asked.

“No. It’s too dark to do that,” Ed said, clasping his hands into a fist. “We need to report this to the military, but likely Anna will have the notes before they could act.”

Winry lowered her head in disappointment. She too believed that would be the case. This was worse than when they weren’t able to find Anna after she had ran away. She was pulled from her thoughts when she heard footsteps coming. She turned around to see Joseph and the children looking at her and Ed in confusion.

“Did something happen, Miss Winry?” her apprentice asked.

“Someone broke into our house and stole the documents,” she said.

“How about Dad’s notes while he tried to solve the code?” Henry pointed out.

Ed’s face fell and he rushed to his desk. Winry and everyone else watched as he searched through the mess of papers scattered around. Unable to find what he wanted, he slammed his fist onto the desk.

“He got those too.”

When everyone grew silent, Winry glanced around to see the children hung their heads down while Joseph turned his head, as if unsure what to say. It was very late and she didn’t want them to linger on any longer.

“Joseph, can you take the kids back to bed?”

“Yes, of course.” He faced the children and said, “All right, let’s go now.”

Joseph ushered the kids out, leaving Winry and Ed alone. Winry stared at the broken window—that would have to be replaced in the morning. Besides reporting it to the military, she was lost as to what course of action they should take.

“Have any idea what we should do next?”

Ed went to sit down on his chair and rested his elbow on the desk. He dropped his head onto his hands, deep in thought. After a moment, he flashed a grin.

“Remember a while back when Mustang invited us to his aunt’s new bar?”

Startled, Winry looked at him with wide eyes. She was surprised he remembered one of Fuhrer Mustang’s relatives.

“Madame Christmas? Yes, I remember her.” Realization suddenly hit her as to why he asked that. “Are you considering asking for her help?”

“The Madame should be able to find out where Anna lives. I’ll go to her home and get the notes.”

Already she found a flaw in Ed’s plan. “What if she doesn’t come back to her home and runs away?”

“I’m already aware of that possibility, but that’s our best shot.”

Winry was still worried this wouldn’t work, but knew they needed to do something at least. She sighed.

“I guess you’re right. You can call Madame Christmas after we talk with the army and get some rest.”

+++

When Geoffrey called Anna in the morning to tell her he got the notes and would arrive at her hotel very soon, she was more than thrilled. She knew he would get the job done.

He didn’t visit her until close to lunchtime. As soon as Anna heard the knock, she immediately opened it and was greeted with the sight of him holding a leather bag. She smirked and let him in.

“I take it you were able to get the documents without much trouble?” she asked, closing the door behind them.

“Edward and his wife caught me in the act, but I managed to get away by using my alchemy.”

Anna drew out a heavy sigh. She hoped he would get away without them seeing him but that didn’t happen. Then again, they would figure out she had send someone to break into their house.

“Well, at least you got what I asked for.” An anticipated smile tugged onto Anna’s lips as she was eager to see the notes now. “Show me the journal.”

Geoffrey returned the smile back and made a few steps toward the table. He set the documents down after pulling them out from the bag.

“I also have some of Edward’s notes,” he said while taking out several more papers to show her. “I got a chance to read through what he wrote and apparently the journal has something to do with transmuting carbon into diamonds.”

Anna approached the table and studied one of Ed’s notes. Even though it was full of formulas and annotations she didn’t fully understand, she was glad Geoffrey brought her these. It was fascinating to have a glimpse of how Edward Elric’s mind worked.

So the main ingredient was carbon. She already knew the documents had something to do with that valuable gem, and now she found the missing piece of the formula. Yes, this was what she wanted.

“This is more than enough.” Facing him, she offered Geoffrey a pleased smile.

“Will you be going back to North City later today?”

She didn’t respond immediately. Anna put the paper down and grabbed Ettero’s journal, flipping through the pages. She now possessed one of the most elusive alchemy notes being sought out. Her chest tightened upon that realization. She pondered about whether to tell him or not her true intentions with the documents, only to then decide he deserved to know most of it.

“I will, yes. I’ll then get ready to go to Drachma.”

A shocked expression crossed Geoffrey’s face. “How come?”

“These notes will be very useful for that country. That’s why I went to Aerugo in the hopes of finding them.”

“I see. Will you still give me some of the fortune? And the sex, also?”

“Of course. I’ll need some help getting ready, so I want you to come with me to North City. ”

Geoffrey considered her request a moment. “It’s a bit sudden, but all right I’m join you. Let me pack some things first.”

“The next train should leave around four today. You have some time.”

“I can manage that,” Geoffrey said and nodded. After he left the room, Anna immediately began packing herself.

So far everything turned into her favor thanks to Geoffrey. She was certain Ed wouldn’t be able to catch her before she crossed Drachma.

+++

Most of the day, Chris Mustang had the bar to herself, the girls not scheduled to come to work for another hour. Besides keeping the place clean, she had contacted her clients to follow them up on any in-progress assignments. The information gathering business was still going strong after all these years and she hoped to keep it that way even after she retired.

While she was wiping a glass, the telephone rang. She set the rag and glass down on the counter and picked up the receiver.

"This is The Red Daisies, Madame Christmas speaking."

"Hello, Madame, this is Edward Elric. I used to work under Mustang."

Smirking, Chris was pleasantly surprised one of Roy’s former men wanted her help. Whatever he wanted should be interesting.

"Ah yes, I remember. So what can I do for you, hun?"

"I actually have a request for you. Last night someone broke into my house and stole something that belonged to me."

Chris’s eyes flew wide. Well, she hadn’t expected something like a break-in to happen to Ed.

"Let me guess, alchemy notes?"

"Yes. I actually know who had sent in the intruder and I was wondering if you can find out that person’s home address? I’m asking because I plan to get my notes back from her."

Chris couldn’t say she fully approved of Ed’s plan, but she wasn’t going to stop him. She wanted to know, though, how he figured out who was responsible for all of this.

"Any particular reason why you're sure that person was behind this?"

"It's a long story, but my family and I had met her during a vacation and she made it clear she wanted those documents."

So it’s a woman, then. She took a moment to ponder over Ed’s request. It seemed he already figured out this person’s motives, and it must be serious if she had sent someone else to steal something from him. No wonder he wanted her help.

"All right, I’ll see what I can do.” She grabbed a piece of paper and a pen. “What's her name?" she asked.

"Anna Dabney. If it helps, she lives in North City and what she’s after are diamonds."

Chris scribbled the name, city, and the phrase seeks diamonds on paper. "North City, huh? I have a few girls staying there. I'm sure they'll be able to help out."

"Thank you, I appreciate it.”

"Not a problem, hun. I'll call you if I hear anything from them."

She put the receiver down and sighed. Her eyes fell on the note she had written seconds earlier. Chris would get started right away on calling the girls in North City and let them know their assignment. She took her small phonebook out from under the bar, flipped through the pages, and began dialing.


Chapter Twelve


Drachma and Amestris hadn't been in a conflict for several years now, but General Olivier Armstrong still sensed the tension between the two countries. She would never allow herself to avoid the large country's presence while she stayed in Briggs.

This evening, she was in her office looking through some documents and signing them. The phone on her desk rang and she immediately picked it up.

"This is General Armstrong speaking."

A chuckle was heard from the other line. "I'll be surprised if you still remember me."

It had been a while, but she still recognized that voice. Olivier smirked.

"I see you're not slowing down anytime soon, Madame Christmas." Mustang had introduced her to the Madame a few years ago and her line of work in information gathering fascinated Oliver. She had grown to respect her.

"I can be stubborn sometimes, but not as much as Roy-boy." Madame Christmas then said seriously, "Listen General, I had gotten a request from Edward Elric concerning someone he wanted me to find information about, and I think you should know this."

Oliver narrowed her eyes, remembering the last time Edward told her something she needed to know. She never expected him to ask Madame Christmas a favor. This caught her interest. Perhaps Drachma had been up to something.

"I'm listening." She was certain what Madame Christmas wanted to tell her would be important.

+++

It had been a while since Ed visited Fort Briggs, the last time several years ago with Al. After his train made it to Briggs, he took a carriage ride through the valley and then hiked through the mountains to the fort. Even in late summer, some snow fell and he felt a cool breeze picking up.

Ed was surprised when he had gotten a phone call from Madame Christmas three days after he made his request, which prompted him to take the long trip from home to here.

"I got a call from one of my girls over in North City and she said she got the address."

"Really? That's great. Where is it at?"

"Actually, you need to head over to Fort Briggs and meet up with General Armstrong."

“What, why?” Ed already thought it was ridiculous he needed to head over to Fort Briggs to get his answer. Why was General Armstrong involved, too?

“The general will explain everything to you. She can meet you this Saturday, so you best catch a train to North City soon.”


The past month it seemed all Ed had done was making several train trips. He hoped this would be the last one for a while.

When he reached the fort, two soldiers were there to meet him. They took the elevator up to the top level and escorted Ed to General Armstrong’s office. He stepped inside, seeing the general sitting behind her desk. He and the soldiers immediately gave her a salute.

“Hello, Edward,” she said, looking up at him. She then looked over his shoulder to her men and said to them, “Dismissed.”

The soldiers saluted to her once more before leaving the room. He was now alone with her.

“Have a seat,” she said, motioning her hand to the chair across from her.

Ed sat down, facing General Armstrong. His arms were tense as they landed on the armrests. Years later and he was still intimidated by her.

“Uh…so, I take it Madame Christmas told you what she had found out.”

“She did. Before I get to that, tell me why you wanted to know more about this Anna Dabney.”

“My family and I traveled along with her through Aerugo. While there, we found some alchemy notes inside a cave. She then left us and had someone else stole the notes.”

“So she backstabbed you, huh?”

“Basically.”

General Armstrong regarded him a moment. “I understand your bitterness over her, I would too if she did that to me. Anyways, I’m surprised with some of the information concerning her. Apparently her grandmother came from Drachma, so she has some Drachman blood in her.”

Thinking back to when Anna mentioned she lived in North City, Ed realized she wanted to be very close to the border. He wasn’t sure the significance of that information, though.

“Why did you bring that up?”

“As you know, I’m always cautious of Drachma being a threat to us. According to Madame Christmas’s sources, diamonds are used to make lasers there.”

Ed gasped in shock. He heard about lasers being a recent discovery and that it was dangerous, like radiation. This was far worse than he thought.

“She’s going to claim discovery not for herself, but for Drachma.”

“You can see why this troubles me very much. If that country gets their hands on those documents, it’ll be a huge problem for Amestris’s defense and security. I plan to go to the address with some of my men and retrieve the documents as Amestrian property.”

As much as he wanted the notes back, technically she could do that under the reason Anna’s plan was a threat to national security. Ed wasn’t going to argue with her over that.

“When will that happen?”

“Tomorrow, and you’re coming with me. I’ll need you to confirm the person we’re going for is Anna.”

Nodding, Ed was glad she let him join her. He wanted to see Anna get caught once and for all.

+++

She and Geoffrey were almost done preparing their leave for Drachma. While waiting for him to get some things, she remained in the living room and sat on the sofa with her hands on her lap. The luggage with all the stuff packed inside lay next to her.

During their train ride to North City, she had told Geoffrey about Drachma using diamonds for lasers. Once they crossed the border, she knew someone in the Drachman military who could introduce them to his commanding officer that might be interested in the documents. Anna expected to be in the large country for a while, perhaps on a permanent basis. For now she wanted to take the notes there.

“I think this should be it,” he said to Anna as he came out from the study room and carried a luggage with him. She stood up and smirked.

“Okay, good,” she said. “Looks like we’re all set, then!”

Geoffrey didn’t look as thrilled as her. “I know you said there’s no need worry about Ed coming for us, but I’m still concern he’ll be able to figure out where we’re heading.”

“I’m sure that won’t be the case. All should be going as planned without any tro—”

She froze when her door was suddenly knocked down and several soldiers in Amestrian blue stormed inside. One of the men immediately grabbed her wrists and handcuffed her. Anna could only watch in horror when she spotted another solider going through her luggage.

“I got the documents here, General Armstrong!” the solider said after taking them out.

A female military officer, who seemed intimidating by the hard stare in her eyes, made a few steps forward to grab the documents. She flipped through the pages and nodded to him. Behind her was someone who wasn’t in uniform, and Anna recognized him instantly.

“Edward..,” she said in disgust, glaring at him. “How did you know where to find me?”

Edward scoffed at her. “I had someone look up some stuff on you and she let General Armstrong know about your plans.”

She never thought he would know someone that could gather information on her. Edward was already aware of her whole plan, then. There was no denying she had been beaten.

“Is this the person who broke into your house and stole the notes?” the general asked Edward, pointing at Geoffrey. He was handcuffed, one of the soldiers gripping his arm.

“Yeah, that’s him,” he said.

“I want them out of my sight,” General Armstrong ordered and gave Anna a dirty glance. She gritted her teeth, upset over her defeat.

+++

Ed was overwhelmed with satisfaction when he saw Anna being taken away. He didn't expect the intruder to show up also, but Ed was glad he was joining her. They deserved it after all that happened. Once General Armstrong and her army had finished with everything, he returned to the fort with them.

"I want to thank you for dealing with Anna," he said to the general shortly after they went inside her office.

"I only did it as I don't want another Drachma and Amestris conflict coming," she said, crossing her arms as she leaned against her desk. A small smile pulled on the corner of General Armstrong's lips, leading Ed to believe she also wanted to help somewhat.

"Since the documents are Amestrian property now, I can't have them back," Ed said, his eyes dropping toward the floor. He couldn't help but be a little sad he didn't get the notes back.

"Unfortunately, no. However, as a token of gratitude, I will be sending you a copy of the documents."

Stunned, Ed's face fell. Did he hear that right? Ed was certain he would leave empty handed.

"Seriously?"

The general nodded. "Thanks to you, a threat has been avoided. You should have them within a month."

"I really appreciate that," Ed said, grinning. He was getting the documents back, after all. This excited him very much.

"Well, I guess this concludes our meeting. Hopefully you won't make another enemy on your next vacation."

Ed snorted in amusement. "I don't think that'll happen again." Their conversation over, he saluted to her and exited the room. At last he could leave the fort.

He made it to the Briggs train station an hour later. Before taking the ride back home, he called Winry to tell her everything that happened. Ed heard her sighed in relief when he was finished.

"Thank goodness that's all over with."

Ed chuckled. "Yeah, I'm just as relieved as you are. I also have more great news. General Armstrong is going to send a copy of the notes in a month!"

"Really? That's great!" she said enthusiastically.

"It is." Glancing at his watch, Ed realized he needed to board his train soon. "Crap, I have to go now, Winry! I'll call you when I make it back to Rush Valley. Tell the kids I said hi!"

"I'll do that and let them know you're coming home. Have a safe trip back!"

Ed hung up on the phone, picked up his suitcase, and rushed to board his train. With Anna taken care of, he could go home and not worry about her anymore. He and his family were safe now.

+++

Almost a month had flown by since Anna was captured and Winry was happy to finally have some peace. It was a good thing General Armstrong had helped Ed there, otherwise she would have crossed over to Drachma already.

While she, Joseph, and the kids were eating breakfast, Ed went to get the mail. He returned to the kitchen with a large envelope in hand, having a pleased smile on his face.

"Guess what finally came in the mail!"

"Is that the copy of the notes General Armstrong said she would send to you?" Winry asked, hoping it was.

A large grin stretched across Ed’s face. Everyone watched as he opened the envelope, pulling out a piece of paper.

"It’s a letter from General Armstrong." He read it aloud. "Dear Edward Elric, here is a copy of the documents, as promised. I trust that you won't lose them as this is the only one I'll ever give to you. Fuhrer Mustang heard about what happened and was amused his foster mother had helped. Again, I thank you for bringing Anna Dabney's plans to my attention. Sincerely, General Olivier Mira Armstrong."

"It was nice of her to write that," Winry said.

Ed responded with an agreed hum and set the letter down on the table. He then took out the documents from the envelope, holding them up high for everyone to see.

"We finally got the notes back!" Henry said, bouncing from his seat. His sisters let out similar cheers.

"This is great," Joseph said and grinned.

"I'll be keeping these in my study," Ed said as he lowered his arm and gazed at the documents. "I might like to look at them again someday."

Smiling, Winry already predicted Ed would do that. No matter what he was always going to study alchemy.

Later that night, she and Ed cuddled in bed, her head resting on his chest. She heard his heart beating steadily as his fingers twirled in her hair.

"I think I'm fine staying home for a while," Winry said as she nuzzled his neck.

"Me too," he said and pressed a warm kiss on her forehead.

"I still enjoyed Aerugo despite what happened. Daria was great to be with."

"Yeah, she was."

Wrapping her arms around Ed tighter, she said, "Our next vacation shouldn't be a crazy adventure like the one we had."

"I'll make sure of that."

In that instant, Winry sat up and straddled Ed's lap, offering him a deep kiss as she cupped his face. His hands started caressing her back and she shuddered, Winry now lost in this moment with the one she loved.

She wouldn't mind a long wait for another vacation. Sometimes relaxing at home was just as fun.

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