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Fallen Memories

Chapter 3 - I've wasted me

“Oh Roy! What a good surprise!”

Amelia almost flew in the younger man’s arms and gave him a kiss on the cheek, as the ex-colonel laughed whole heartedly. Standing back, Bradley stared at their little game, desperately trying to ignore the burning feeling in his chest and the twisting of his heart. What was Mustang doing with his hands on the shoulders of his wife?!

“You look better than ever, Amelia.” Roy replied with a devastating smile.

Taking a step back, she framed her own face with her hands, blushing like a young woman.

“Oh, general, please!”

Bradley couldn’t prevent himself from growling with anger to remind them of his presence. Amelia blushed for real this time and looked around. She met the frowning gaze of her husband and understood he had lost a good part of his sense of humour with his eye patch...

“Don’t stay in the entrance like that, general, come in, you too, dear, let’s go to the dining room. I’ll make us some tea and...”

Even if Roy understood the dilemma, he simply smiled and cut off Amelia in her stuttering try at being a good and distant hostess.

“It will be a great pleasure for me, Mrs Bradley.”

He could almost feel Bradley’s burning eyes digging holes in his back, but he had to play his role all the way. If only to show Amelia that he would support her even though her husband was back. He would not show his fear in front of the Führer’s wife. It was a question of pride!

They sat together in the dining room, around a small square-shaped table. Each male were on one side, Bradley clearly ready for confrontation while Roy tried to remained cool and confident despite all the old fears he once felt when King Bradley was standing in the same room as him. After all, that guy was almost invincible. And never mind how much Grumman had worked to remove all the influence Wrath once had, maybe even more because Grumman did made Bradley’s life a misery, Roy feared a revenge from the ex Führer. He barely dared to sip on his cup of tea, while Amelia, sitting between them, tried to make small talk.

“Xing looks incredibly pretty. You know, it was actually my first time going there.” She said, managing a smile despite the tension that she could also feel in the room. “They’d put all those beautiful lanterns and there was a firework. It was the emperor birthday, you see.”

Roy nodded with a smile.

Bradley was frowning. How come he hadn’t been granted the right to hear all that? He had been at Xing with her, for a few hours, alright, but still! Wasn’t he her husband? Shouldn’t she talk from everything with him before to even address a word to the rest of the world? He felt so possessive of her, it was almost scary, but he still had no control over whatever was going on around him. And he wanted, needed control. He emptied his cup of tea, and the liquid burned down his throat, with memories of sweeter times, when he could drink slowly, when he had control, when Amelia smiled only at him.

He could almost grasp the memory, but it was silenced down by Amelia’s next sentence. She was addressing to Roy, not him of course.

“You should take Riza there. It’s your home country after all.”

Despite the fact she was not even looking at him, Bradley’s attention was won by the single mention of “Riza”. Lieutenant Hawkeye was still close to her colonel. The bastard had even managed to make it general, so he could guess the blond woman had risen in ranks accordingly. Maybe a major. He could picture her with the heavy shoulders’ decoration that implied. A creepy smile grew on his lips as he saw the younger man looking taken aback by Amelia’s suggestion.

“I barely know a word of Xingese,” Roy sighed, running a nervous hand in his dark locks.

“Come on, general, I know you’re quite resourceful, or ... are you trying to tell me Riza can’t travel now?”

Amelia’s voice was hinting something peculiar here, as if Riza’s condition was... unstable. For an instant, Roy dared to look at Bradley in the eyes. And for a mere instant, Bradley could tell Roy was really uncomfortable of the turn this conversation was taking. The general didn’t want Wrath to know anything about Hawkeye.

“How was your trip, Mrs Bradley?”

A clear attempt of changing the subject. Before that Amelia could answer, Wrath joined in, sitting back in his chair and looking down on Mustang.

“It was refreshing.” He declared. “But what about Central, Mustang? What’s new around here?”

Amelia tensed a little as she realized what her husband was after. Roy carefully reflected of the right answer to give. But the look on Bradley’s face was a little too obnoxious to bear. How could he walk back in Central and act as if he still owed the place?!

“Grumman is the new Führer. Armstrong is the top general and most state alchemists were revoked.”

Wrath felt a slight twitch in his heart at the “Grumman is the new Fuhrer”. That was his own rightful place, but he pushed the thought aside. Roy was ready for a fight. And even if he had been held prisoner and been a slave for all his life, Bradley knew how to fight, be it with swords or words.

“What about your own situation, colonel Mustang?”

“It’s general, sir. And of course, I’m still the flame alchemist.”

“Interesting. Bet the army couldn’t let you on the loose. What about your precious lieutenant?”


He raised one hand to cut her off and glared back at Roy. It took some time, but the answer came.

“Hawkeye is... a general brigadier.”

“But she’s on break now, since she’s expecting Roy’s child. There, are you happy now, Brad?”

Bradley blinked at that, surprised that Amelia would jump in and tell him exactly what he wanted to know. Mustang looked a little shocked that his secret was revealed so easily, and his mouth hung open for a moment, as if he was trying to look for something to say, but nothing came out. His shoulders slouched down, as if he accepted the idea that he was doomed.

“Come on now, those are some good news! Why keep it quiet? You got married with your lieutenant! I should have seen it coming, ha!”

Amelia wanted to believe her husband’s smile was real as he said that, but looking at Roy’s face, she could tell that it was all a big play.

“Oh Brad... Don’t yell like that. You’re making our guest nervous.”

“No, it’s alright, he’s right Mrs...”

“It’s not alright!” Mrs Bradley snapped, putting her cup back on the table so violently both men jumped, taken aback by her anger. “Would you two stop playing as if I was dumb? Now I can see it, I can tell you don’t like each other. Is it how you’ve always acted, Brad? Or should I call you Wrath now? And you, Roy, trying to make him angry by shoving in his face all that’s going on in the army... Have you no shame? I mean, both of you, you’re...! Raaah!”

Amelia got up and walked away, unable to stand their little game anymore. Bradley felt abandoned, and almost guilty. As he looked back at Mustang, he wanted to throw all his rage at him, but he realized his heart was empty. His wife was angry at him. He had deceived her, once again. And it hurt so much to see her walking away. To recall the deception in her eyes. He could bet she was crying right now. Somehow, he had showed the monstrous side of him she couldn’t bear to see.

Roy shifted on his chair, doubting his visit had been any help in the situation. He stared back at Bradley’s empty eyes. Waited for him to talk, since he was sure the homunculus had something to say. As he waited, he remembered their last fight. How his hands had been pierced by his blades... He could still feel the pain from it, on rainy days. And Riza still had the scar on her neck, from that blade which had almost took away her life. And while Bradley stood still, his heart empty of its usual and consuming rage, Mustang felt his own anger awakening. And he forgot caution, for an instant.

“It’s a pity.” Mustang sighed. “When you think that she wanted from her own free will to go and get you back from Xing, only to take back a monster.”

“Oh, so the small soldier boy knows how to bark.” Wrath mused, faking surprise.

“If you were faking your affection for her...!”

That woke up Bradley’s rage and he jumped to his feet.

“What do you know about me, Mustang?! What do you know about what I think of my wife? She’s my wife, MY wife, you hear me?!”

“Oh really? Well, what do YOU know about her, King Bradley? Who made her run away just now? Who’s been a jerk to her for the last 50 years?!”

King looked the other way, his hands turning into trembling fists, but he didn’t reply and sat back beside the table instead. That cooled down Roy’s anger. The soldier quickly gathered back his composure, clearing his throat. Bradley accepted defeat so easily? That wasn’t like him at all. And the shock made him realize he hadn’t stepped back in time. The old Führer looked... older. And tired. Beneath his wrath and hatred, there was nothing, but a broken man. If Roy couldn’t believe it, what the homunculus whispered was proof:

“It’s so easy for you to judge. As if some human could understand the situation I’m in.”

At the moment, Bradley didn’t really care about showing weaknesses to an enemy. Roy wasn’t a rival anymore. He was an accomplice in showing Amelia the true depths of his own monstrosity. How used they both were to lie and to cover their real intentions with false smile and fake laughs. Both men stood in silence for an instant, their heart weighing heavy in their chest. It was Selim’s eager running footsteps that brought them out of their lethargy. The small boy entered the dining room, holding a plane of wood in his hands.

“Uncle Roy, I thought I heard your voice, it’s really you!”

Mustang’s face lit up and he put on a cheerful smile. And for an instant, Bradley was back in his burning jealousy. This was his son, the only thing Amelia seemed ready to acknowledge as his around the place. So shouldn’t the boy come to greet him first, even if they had barely met a moment ago? Mustang looked more used to be around the house than its rightful owner!

“Let’s go and try to make this plane fly, alright Selim?”


The kid was literally ignoring his brand new father. Not that Bradley really cared at the moment...

“Run ahead, I’ll be there in no time.” After making sure Selim was out of the room, Roy looked back at his former Führer.

“Hey, Bradley.”

It was funny how all formalities could vanish from the man as he saw his once feared superior crumbling in his own little problems.

“If you really care about Amelia, why don’t you go after her and try to explain things?”

“I don’t need your meddling, Mustang.”

“That’s why I’m telling you to go, sir. Fix it before I have to meddle in your affairs.”

Roy wasn’t actually sure that it was a good thing to do, but since that homunculus seemed to really care about his former wife, he had to trust him a little. And after all, Amelia had survived taking the man back to her home. All that was left was for the man, or well, the monster, to play his old role and settle things back to how they should be.

Bradley got up, slightly angry at Mustang for giving him an order, but angrier at himself to feel obliged to obey it.

“Be careful about the way you talk to me, soldier boy. I wouldn’t want to greet Hawkeye with a farewell, after all this time. I’ll have to find a way to congratulate her for that coming baby someday soon though...”

Wrath was desperate to get the upper hand in their little duel and how strong he felt as Roy’s eyes widened in sheer panic and as the general’s palms violently hit the table, making the tea’s cups jingle across the table.

“If you lay even a finger on any part of my family, I’ll...!”

Mustang paused, forcing himself to calm down. He was getting just as emotional as the Fullmetal was years ago! But after all, he was a little more on edge than usual, with Riza pregnant. On the other end, Bradley’s mind was stuck on that one word. “Family.” He tried to shrug the roar of jealousy it created within him. Because even if Amelia had run after him and paid a fortune to get him back, they were anything but a family. And that was exactly what she wanted from him, he could tell as much now.

“I get the picture, general. Go look after the boy now.”

Both men exchanged a long glare before to leave each on different side, even if they were close to understand each other. Looking back at their life, they were both orphans and top soldiers. They’d both been used by the military. They had both lied countless times. Dark hair. That seemed to be the new fashion, or was it just mere coincidence? When he looked at Selim standing next to Roy, he could see a stunning resemblance, and it was even more infuriating. But still, the ex colonel had been a monster just as much as him. As a state alchemist, he had killed many innocents. His hands were as dirty as his. Maybe even more, since he choose to follow this path, while Bradley’s life had been designed for him before that he could even stand on his four. As Wrath wondered over it, he really couldn’t see what Roy had that he hasn’t. Alright, he was younger. And he was human. Was that such a big deal?

He found Amelia in a room that he could describe as a library. Large and comfortable armchairs were gathered in strategic place between shelves of books. The curtains were close on the wide windows and the middle-aged woman of his dreams was sitting on a green armchair, her legs folded in front of her, her face buried within her crossed arms. Her pose made her look a lot younger, with only her hair visible, all messy and loosened. Her small shoulders were shaking, jerking up at each of her sobs. And she was crying, as silently as she could, though she miserably failed at hiding her state of mind. The sight broke his heart and he forgot all rivalry, all comparison and all the petty threats he had in mind. All the excuses he could have pictured despite what little was left of his pride were also blown away.

All that was left was a painful guilt. His throat felt dry and he blamed the tea, even if he knew better.


She jumped, suddenly aware of his presence and her green eyes, shimmering with angry tears glared at him for an instant, before that she turned her face away from him, sniffing and snivelling as she tried to stop herself from crying.

“Go away! I just can’t stand you anymore!”

And he could hear her pain in her voice. How words could hurt. Petty humans. Petty words. He once had been a giant, invincible, only able to fear bones, and now he could almost crawl under the weight of her words.

“You don’t mean that.”

“I always mean what I say, mind you!”

Bradley stood still an instant, realizing she wasn’t just hurt, but still quite angry. In all the small memories he held from his past with her, her being angry didn’t even exist. But lately, it seems all he could do was to drive her mad. And the emperor knew she was patient. But they had reached her breaking point. He couldn’t find the strength to talk back to her. So he lowered his head, trying to control his own anger.


“Leave me alone! I don’t wanna be fooled anymore. I can’t...”

Wrath stared at her, with disbelief. Was it going to end like this? She had jumped back in his life, got him wanting his old life back, got him wanting, needing her, just to push him away now?


“Don’t say my name like that! Don’t act as you cared!”

“But I care, dammit! Why would I be here if I didn’t?”

“You’re depending on me, remember? I’m your master, that’s why! As long as you can get food and shelter and maybe even some fun with me, why would you wonder off, huh?!”

She looked up and he had to look away. Her words were like direct blows to his chest. It was hard to breathe, hard to think, hard to stay standing. But he still managed to find his voice and to keep it steady as he asked her:

“So you hate me, now, is that right?”

That seemed to stop her crying. She froze. Now was the time to say something that would get her to forgive him, at least for the moment. But his mind was empty. All he wanted was to see her smile, but how could he fix what a lifetime of lies had done? Why did she resent him for something he couldn’t change? Why couldn’t he turn back time?!

“I know I’m a monster.” He sighed, his voice sounding hoarse. “You know it. You knew it back when we were together, didn’t you? I’ve killed people, more than I should. It was a part of my job. And I did lie. And there’s nothing I can do to undo what was done in the past. But... “

He saw her brows furrowing, as if she expected him to say something and he gulped down, wishing he could read in her mind. He needed to be clever here. To find something she didn’t expected, but also something that would soothe her anger and pain.

“I can be different if that’s what’s needed. I’ll wear your stupid eye patch, I’ll rip off my eye if necessary, I don’t care about pain.”

She blinked and he wondered if that was a little over the top. But since she wasn’t crying or yelling at him anymore, he thought he was going down the right trail. Taking a few careful steps towards her, he reached out one hand. Grabbed her by the shoulders.

“Just look at me with the same eyes as before.”

She blinked once more and Bradley thought he was going to die, right there. Couldn’t she understand with just that? He needed to see her recognition, to see her love for him. Otherwise, his life would remain meaningless. But he couldn’t go back to that after meeting her for a second time. At the same time, it was hard to express so many feelings into words. He felt so open in front of her. Vulnerable. He wanted to hide from her piercing gaze. But he had to let go of every defensive walls he could put around himself, even if it meant giving her more chances to break him. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be able to trust him.


Oh, she wasn’t made of ice; he was reaching her with his plea, but was it enough? She was shivering under his touch.

“I’m not just a monster. It’s a part of what I am, but...”

She raised one hand, hesitantly, before to cover his tattooed eye with her hand.

“It’s only one side of you, is that what you mean, darling?”

A knot built up in his throat. So it was “darling” at new? He didn’t dare to say a word, he barely moved his head in agreement and a small grin appeared on her face. It was as if the dark room lighted up suddenly. But her hand shifted, following his sharp traits. Covering his human eye so that only the monster one could look at her. What was she trying to prove now?

“You really can see me with that eye?” she asked him.

And there was nothing aggressive about her voice. Only curiosity. He felt relief. Utter relief. He could still be a man in her eyes. She could still find interest in him. In a way no one else would be able to interest her.

“Quite well, in fact.”

Her fingers brushed his few hanging locks.

“It looks so strange.” She mused.

“Regard it as a scar.” He suggested, suddenly inspired.

That made her smile entirely. He finally dared to wrap his arms around her and got her to get up, so that he wouldn’t have to lean down as much. Her hands joined behind his neck. As her face come closer to his, he saw doubts in her eyes.

“You’re not my Bra...”

He cut her off in the only way he knew how. With a kiss. It was tender and soft, because he was scared of rushing her. How he wanted to be her Brad, the one she had come seeking when she stepped in his Asian master’s house. But he was Wrath now. And furiously in love with her. He felt her lower her guard, giving up to melt in his arms and to kiss him back. Her lips tasted salty from her tears. Her mouth tasted sour like her tea, and like her pain. But it was warm and soft. He felt her hands running through his hair, and he remembered that feeling. She felt so familiar, like a long-lost home he was returning too. He held her closer, though closer would never be enough to satisfy his craving for her.

She moaned deeply, stirring him up. But then, as soon as they were getting used to each other, as soon as he felt bold enough to leave her mouth and kiss her throat, her hands firmly pushed him away.

“No, this is wrong, Brad. You’re not...”

He could swear something within him broke at that.

“I’m him! Come on, look at me, I’m King Bradley. But I’ve always been Wrath too. Why can’t you accept me as I am now? I’m not lying anymore. I don’t remember lying even once over it, but I still have to earn your forgiveness?”

“Oh Brad, I know this is hard on both of us, but...”

“But shut up!” he retorted angrily.

And she obeyed, almost looking scared. And that wasn’t what he’d been aiming for, of course not, anything but to feel her trembling in fear under his gaze. Bitting his lower lip, he hugged her close. She didn’t resist, quivering between his arms like a mouse.

“I don’t know what to say to fix this, Amelia. I don’t know if there’s even a way to fix us.” He sighed. “And you make me talk too much.”

He felt her arms tightening around him as he said that. Her hands were grasping his shirt, almost pinching his skin through the fabric. And he could feel her tension. Her desire, and her pain and her anger, just in the way her hands were gripping to him.

“You wouldn’t have to talk as much if you would just say the right words, dear.”

“You wouldn’t hear them now.”

And he would be made way too vulnerable if he was to say those words.


I wish I had a real name, he thought.

He gently forced her in another kiss, a desperate one and since she was also desperate, she kindly deepened their embrace, just to fool herself once more. But there was no fooling around this time. No running away. And she didn’t push him away when he got her to moan. In fact, this time, they were interrupted...

“What are you doing to my mom?!” Selim asked, almost yelling.

The two grown up automatically parted, as if they’d been doing something wrong. The small boy was looking panicked and shocked and he quickly run into the room to come between his “father” and his mother, hugging his mothers legs to show who had a right to hold her or to be close to her.

“What do you think you’re doing? Are you okay mom? He didn’t hurt you?”

“Oh Selim, of course he didn’t.” Amelia tried to laugh.

But the kid looked worried.

“He has a really big voice. And I heard him yelling at you.”

Bradley sneered silently, not sure if Pride was putting on a show just to make him mad, or if this was really Selim being the innocent protector of his mother...

“Your son was worried, Amelia, you can’t really blame him. I guess you guys have a lot of catching up to do, so I’ll leave.” Roy observed, standing on the doorstep.

“Okay, well, tell Riza I said hi!” Amelia said, gently grabbing Selim by the shoulders.

Bradley crossed his arms, trying to muster his new anger. His wife gave him an apologetic look. It seemed she hadn’t wonder too much over how the boy would take their relationship. And though Bradley didn’t remember it, they had never really been that much demonstrative in front of the kid before...

And thus began their try at living like a family. Though it was more like two boys competing each other to get Amelia’s attention. At first, she was kinda amused by their little game, but she soon got sick from it. Since she had been away from Selim for almost a whole week, she kept on neglecting Bradley to spend all of her time with the kid. Said kid refused to play with his dad and aforementioned dad was just too glad to pass playing child’s game. But he couldn’t help but stare as Amelia would crouch to the floor to play with Selim, how she’d stay on her four to be at the kid’s level. He was looking for a sign. And he could see through the loving smile she kept giving to her son, that something was still wrong. Something was missing.

As the days went by, they would eat together, only the three of them. Bradley would walk around the house, or read books and the journals. Amelia had kept a lot of old newspapers for him and he liked triggering some of his memories but re checking old news. He had retraced a lot of what had happened during his Father’s days. He also remembered must everything that there was to know about Pride. But Selim was so different from the kid he remembered. The boy slowly grew accustomed to the man’s presence. He refused to call him dad and totally forbid him to make a gesture towards his mom, especially when his mom looked down or was tired. Selim had the terrible conviction that whatever Brad could do, it would hurt Amelia. But he could stand seeing him being in his house. He had no trouble showing his toys to that weird old man. And Amelia would smile whenever Wrath would show interest in the boy. But those moments were rare.

Bradley did his best, but Selim was just out of his league. He could barely stand the boy when Amelia was around, because it meant that little pest would be all over her, and stay intent on keeping them away from each other. And to believe they both let a kid dictate how they should act. He wanted to talk about it with her, but Selim was the first he would have to talk with if he wanted anything to change. And he wasn’t going to beg a child to get a chance to touch his own wife. The said wife let the kid ruling over them, so, it had to mean she wasn’t really interested.

Maybe the fact Bradley kept on telling her what she should do or not do with the boy didn’t help. But he couldn’t stop himself from warning her.

“You shouldn’t lift him in your arms. You’re too old for that.” “What are you doing on your knees? You’re going to hurt yourself!” “Don’t climb in trees if he does. Even if he falls, he’ll be alright.” “You’re too old for this.” “Start acting your age.” “Amelia, don’t...” “No, you shouldn’t...” “Don’t, don’t, too old... you’re growing thinner, I can tell as much. What didn’t you eat anything? Amelia, you’re not getting any younger. Amelia... Stop messing with your health. Let me do it. No don’t bent your back. Go sit down and relax. Amelia...”

And so on and so on. Bradley knew he may sound unnerving, but she was driving him crazy. It seemed as if each day she was pushing her own limits a little farther. He could see the wrinkles under her eyes and the bags of tiredness. And still, she would play with Selim, run with him outside even if she ended up out of breath and panting like an asthmatic. He was starting to wonder if she even slept. She was looking even more tired on each new morning. Was she angry at him? Was she driving herself to the limit because of the hard situation they were going through? Every meal time was kinda tensed, and she barely ate anything in her plate. Selim had noticed it too and was pretty sure it was his “father’s” fault.

In short, none of them was really happy, if only for the brief moments when Amelia would smile at Bradley or thank him for helping her with the dishes or when she would play with Selim and forget about their strange life.

The rest of the time, life was hell on earth. Bradley wanted to adapt, but there was no room for him to do so. Selim wasn’t ready to share his mom. And his mom was scared of trusting Wrath, since he was what he was. And it torn her up inside, because she knew she was also making him suffer. She forbade him any access to her room and gave him a separate place to stay, with his old army uniforms and the very few civil clothes he had from before. She also let him his swords, all six of them, though he couldn’t understand why she would do so.

Whenever he needed to kill time, Bradley would end up fencing outside in the garden. And that brought back many more nightmares, from the time in the lab facility, and from the time he was entirely human. He didn’t have any other big fight with Amelia. Well, the only thing they would fight over was how she handled Selim. That was when the boy was asleep which was the only time of the day they could be alone together. But the fact he was asleep meant they couldn’t yell. Brad realized that whispers could carry much more anger and hurt than all the yells he could have thrown at her. He also realized that those whispered fights were getting the better of her and slowly stopped talking at all. It seemed they couldn’t start a discussion without once mentioning Selim. After all, it was a link they shared, though he still couldn’t admit it.

Bradley thought that she spoiled him. She thought that he hated the boy and hated him for it. At the same time, she was angry at herself to even feel like that. Sometimes, Wrath wondered if he wouldn’t be better in his old chains...

One afternoon, Bradley was reading the newspaper, sitting in his favourite chair of the house, right next to the fire-place. He had come to like spending time alone, when he could let his mind run wild on something else than Amelia. He was seriously thinking of not even showing up for dinner, when Selim burst into the room, panting and calling his name:

“King! Hey King, I need your help!”

Bradley ignored the boy. The kid had often pulled pricks on him and he wasn’t going to let him fool him this time.

“Come on, King, I’m talking to you!”

He barely lifted one brow, not looking away from his newspaper.

“I’m your father, boy, might as well start treating me like one.”

He wasn’t sure why he asked that. He was tired of being regarded as a stranger in his own house. Tired of being kept away from Amelia. He knew better than to the yell at the kid, his wife wouldn’t let him live if he did get too angry at Selim. And making her mad was the last thing he wanted. But then again, he had to stand his ground against the boy. It had taken him time to realize he could be impressive and authoritative without yelling or taking out his blades.

“Oh, blast you, old man, this isn’t a bad joke, mom...”

“Call me father and I’ll listen,” Bradley declared.

“Well, you could try calling me Selim instead of boy.” The kid retorted.

Wrath grinned despite all his effort to ignore the little runt. That spoiled kid was a lot like him in fact, maybe was it exactly why he had so much trouble dealing with him.

“Alright, Selim.” He whispered, not looking up from his newspaper.

The small boy felt ready to get mad, but he accepted to give up this one fight. Somehow, he felt that was just as important as the service he was about to ask.

“Dad, it’s about mom. Her back’s stuck, she can’t move. And she looks like she really hurt.”

Even if Selim hadn’t called him “dad”, Bradley would have heard. He got up so quickly his head was spinning, but he couldn’t care less about it.

“Why didn’t you say so earlier? Where is she?”

Selim looked pitiful and worried beyond words. Nothing like the Pride Wrath remembered. The kid cared for his mom. He genuinely cared.

“In the play room.” The boy retorted. “She said to get you and... I guess I’d better stay here.”

It was strange to hear the boy voluntarily giving up on his mom. But Bradley had no time to wonder over that. He ran to the play room, where he had barely ever set foot. Amelia was on her knees, one hand on her side, keeping herself half raised with her other arm.

She eyed his entrance with a mix of relief and self-derision.

“Don’t tell me I told you so.” Was all Brad got as greeting.

“I won’t...” he retorted, slowly walking up to her.

He kneeled next to her, feeling pretty helpless.

“So your back’s stuck? What am I supposed to do?”

“I don’t know... But do something! My whole body is begging for mercy.” She retorted, her eyes closing down from the pain as she shook her head.


He hated himself for sounding nervous, but that kinda reassured her. They had maybe aged together, but something like that had never happened before. Her back hurt in whichever position she could take and her legs refused to move. She felt empty and heavy at the same time. She had been playing with Selim, bent down for a few minutes only, when suddenly, as she tried to raise herself back up, she couldn’t complete her movement.

What the hell am I supposed to do... he wondered.

He slowly snaked one arm around her waist, to have her resting her back against his chest. He imitated her pose, so that their bodies would be aligned in parallel lines. She was breathing fast from the pain, which was too great. It felt almost scary.

“Stop bending your back like that.”

“I can’t, that’s exactly why I asked Selim go and get you.”

I don’t want to hurt her, but I can’t stand that pose for much long myself. I’m older than her, he thought.

He slowly raised her from the ground, and that was actually the easy part. She realized she could actually stretch out her legs and touched the floor with her feet, but her back refused to endure the pressure of standing up.

“Don’t let go of me, Brad, you can’t began to imagine just how much this hurt.” She whispered between her clenched teeth.

So he kept lifting her weight for the most part, wondering over a way to ease her pain.

“Where does it hurt the most?”

"I don’t know, my back feels as if it’s going to break. I feel as if getting it to crack would be much better but...”


After positioning one of his hands on her stomach and the other one on the low of her back, he forced her to straighten up with one swift motion. Her back made a cracking sound and she let out a gasp of surprise as the pain suddenly subsided.

“Is this better?”

He had acted more on impulse than knowingly and wasn’t sure if he actually did the right thing. She felt so small under his hands. He held her tightly and she barely nod, slowly realizing that he’d forced the knot in her back to vanish. All that was left was the ghost of the pain.

“I didn’t mean it literally. I never thought you knew some kinesthetic tricks.” She observed, leaning on him.

“Well, I didn’t really think about what I was doing. Though I had told you to stop...”

“Oh no, don’t give me that now, Bradley!”

“But Amelia!”

“I know I’m old and ugly, but...”

“When did I ever said that?!”

As he refrained himself from yelling, he gently massaged the sides of her waist, wanting her to relax. He also wanted to rediscover her shapes, but hoped she wouldn’t rebuke him once again.

“You’ve said it over and over again in the last few weeks.” She whispered.

“You know I didn’t mean it like that. You’re not that old. You’re just... not young anymore.”

That wasn’t the right way to put it, she tensed in his hands and he tried to cuddle her back into a relaxed stance, stroking her sides, and the low of her back and even her shoulders. And she let him do so, even if she felt ready to get mad. God, was it good to have him touching her. Even if his words were saying mean things, she could tell he desired her. This had been clear since the very first day they had spent together since she acknowledged him as Wrath. She felt him kissing her neck and almost lost it.


“You’re beautiful, Amelia. Maybe a little too thin right now, but still, you got all that I want.”

He cupped one of her breast through her clothing and held her closer, sneaking his free hand underneath her shirt, much to her surprise. And she whined under his touch, after being untouched by a man for so long. Shoving her hair to the other side of head, he started numbing at her ear, before to resume kissing and licking the nape of her neck, which send shivers down her spine. She felt all limp between his hands.

“Bradley, this isn’t the right place or the time. Selim could...”

“I don’t want to have him between us anymore.”

With his hand wandering over her lower stomach and much lower, he brought her even closer to him, almost crushing her against his hard body. This time, she winced from pain, which made him recall that her back was still too stiff and painful for this kind of activities. He stopped moving, keeping her in his arms, trying to find a solution, any solution that would still get him satisfied. His hands were heavy on her and she had trouble breathing, in the clutches of his embrace.

“Brad, you’re crushing me,” she complained.

He let go of her instantly, though they were both reluctant to part from each other. She slowly turned around and they exchanged a long stare, filled with unease and tension.

“I’m not trying to reject you, but...” she tried to apologize.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he retorted. “But you really got under my skin.”

“Wrath,” she sighed.

Her using his homonculus’ name on a soft ton took them both by surprise. Lately, she had been switching between all of his names, and it was getting pretty confusing for both of them. He had come to the state where he assumed she called him by the name of the person she wanted him to be. And it was another surprise to realized he couldn’t stand hearing her calling him “Wrath”.

“Don’t! I’m not that monster anymore.” He protested.

“But that’s your real name, ain’t it?”

She was confused since he had once insisted for her to call him that way. What was wrong with it now?


“I’m not His Wrath!” he yelled, feeling a strange and heavy pressure over his heart.

Why did it hurt to hear her calling him like that with her sweet voice? Hadn’t he wanted her to do so? But she was talking to a stranger, how could she act as if he was a mere homunculus? He was Brad. That was the only name he truly liked hearing in her mouth. Where had it gone?

“Who’s He? Do you man your “Father”?”

He tried to shake his head as his mind was buzzing with flashes. Lust would call him Wrath. He remembered having mixed feelings for her. Almost cheating on Amelia once. And shame. The hated shame...

Pride would call him Wrath. Order him around. Laugh of his beloved wife. Oh he hated that kid.

Glutonny would call him Wrath, fearing him, looking for guidance. For more victims to eat. An instant, he remembered how that imbecile said he preferred eating women. And shame was back.

Envy would call him Wrath with his sarcastic tone. Never respecting anything, but at least admitting that he was stronger than him.

Greed wouldn’t call him anything. Not even when he had killed him. Even when that Xin’s prince became Greed. He would always give him lesson over what it meant to be king.

Father would call him Wrath. Or number 12. It wasn’t a fun thing, to listen to Father. Actually dangerous for his nerves. How Father disgraced humans like Amelia. And how he had planned that she would die, with everyone else.

For all those reasons, he couldn’t let her call him Wrath. It was too painful. He hardly gulped down.

“Let’s not talk about this.”

“Well, wasn’t it also a part of your life?”


She sounded bitter again. What could be going on in her mind for her to be so changing?

“You know it’s hard to trust you after seeing just how many secrets you kept from me. And you remember them, don’t you? You remember your Father and Pride, so don’t tell me the rest is still lost.”

“What do you want to hear? I thought you didn’t want to know anything about the homunculi. And since I do remember, I can assure you, you really don’t wanna know anything.”

“Well, I still heard a few things about what you were up to. Don’t you think I asked myself questions? I heard about your plan. About the sacrifices and all.”

That was one of the things that had been eating her up from the inside. How could she forgive him for joining in such a scheme? At first, she was too happy to see him again to think over all of it. But now, she was thinking of everything that had happened in the past. She was facing reality. And it hurt.

“Oh come on, because I worked along the plan didn’t mean I was agree with it!” he claimed.

“Oh really? When I’m not agreeing with something, I try to work against it, not along hand in hand!”

“Amelia, you have no idea...”

“YOU have NO idea what it means to learn your husband is planning to kill every citizen in your own country!”

Bradley stood still, taken aback. So she knew that much? He felt his throat tightened. Now she looked worst than mad at him. He almost wished he had died along some fight instead of having to face her now. Because he knew there was no way he could be forgiven.

Even if it wasn’t my choice. Even if we were both trapped, he thought bitterly.

“And if I understand correctly, I was also supposed to die in that plan?” she asked, her hands shaking as they turned into fists.

She was doing all she could to stand still. Bradley was starting to wonder why she was getting at it only now. Had she just learned the truth? Or had she waited all this time for him to apologize or something?

“What do you want me to say now, huh?”

His voice was ready to break down.

“So I was supposed to die along the rest of Amestris? I didn’t...” She swallowed down her grief and fear and ordered him: “Answer me for heaven’s sake!”

“Well...” He knew it was a mistake to answer her, but her anger at him made him angry in turn. He had already asked her over and over that she accepted him as he was and still, she wanted more proof that he was a monster? Well, she would get her answer! “Yes, Amelia, you would have died.” He coolly said.

Her determination faltered as he admitted it. He saw her glare turning into tearful eyes before that she swirled around, to run away from him. He tried to add something, to add all the thoughts and feelings that were turning in his head. Like: “I didn’t want you to die” or “we were all supposed to die, you, me, Pride, everyone except Father”, but would she understand? His voice had broken down, a strangled sob was stuck in his throat and he could only watch her running away. Man, she ran fast for a woman who had just hurt her back. Her warmth was still on his hands, but his heart already felt cold.

If I had objected to that plan, you’d only died sooner. We had years together. Years, Amelia. I lied, but it was also for your sake. And because I’m selfish and I needed you by my side. Can’t you understand that by yourself? Can’t you remember? I never wanted you dead. And we’re both still alive. So why can’t we find peace together, now? He thought.

He didn’t shed a tear, but he was close to it. And he couldn’t even hate her for it. He couldn’t hate anyone but himself now.

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