Author: c_b_syndrome/LJ Harris
Rating: PG13 this chapter - R overall
Spoiler Warning: Even though it's seriously A/U... Yes
Other Warnings: Depends on how easily squicked you are... it -is- CSI, after all.
Previous chapters can be found here:
Prologue // Chapter One // Chapter Two // Chapter Three
“Truth, Lies and In-Between”
Something was not sitting right with Horatio Caine. From the mysterious circumstances in which Shou Tucker had died, to discovering Nina and a tank of synthesized amniotic fluid in the basement, to bringing in the two rather enigmatic teenaged boys currently sitting in Interrogation Room One, it had been one bizarre, surrealistic day that Horatio would not soon forget. That it culminated with discovering there existed a branch of the military which was loosely connected to Homeland Security and somehow able to get around age requirements to conscript children added to the growing list of things-that-should-not-be. This last alarmed and infuriated him, but even that wasn’t what sent that tingling sensation up the back of his neck to make the short hairs stand on end.
He knew the cause of his disquiet; it was Hughes. He just couldn’t pin down why. Yet. Horatio had taken an immediate disliking to the man, even though he’d not been given an obvious reason to. Hughes appeared friendly and even seemed to be concerned for the welfare of the Elric brothers, but there was something disingenuous about it.
As was standard, the Elrics were given time alone with their advocate –the attorney/client privilege that was their right. No one outside the interrogation room could hear what was being said between the three of them.
That didn’t mean they couldn’t still be observed, however –and Horatio was watching very closely.
When Hughes had first entered the room, both boys were genuinely happy to see him --which meant that there was more to his relationship with them than as an advocate-- but within five minutes, the atmosphere had begun to change. To the casual observer, it was little more than an adult authority figure pacing back and forth scolding a couple of mischievous kids, but there was something off about the whole scene playing out in front of Horatio. While Hughes was the same as before, the Elrics body language grew less relaxed and casual and moved to wary rather than recalcitrant. Both of them were sitting straighter and fidgeting less --and while they were studiously not glancing at each other, subtle hand movements under the table passed rapid-fire communication between them in a language only two brothers could share.
The change that came over the two boys was remarkable. Edward’s cockiness was gone; replaced by sense of waiting. Like a lion in the tall grass. The shift in Alphonse’s demeanor was startling, though. What Horatio thought was a very young boy --nervous, sensitive, naïve—had become poised and calm, with a determined set to his shoulders and unwavering gaze.
Neither he nor Eric said a word to each other as they leaned against the half-wall dividing interrogation from the rest of the main squad room, and while on the surface they appeared relaxed, both men were coiled and ready to spring in an instant.
At Horatio’s request, and under mild protest, Frank had quietly cleared the squad room of all civilians and only kept the bare minimum of uniforms. “I hope you know what you’re doing, Horatio,” he said softly when he rejoined the other two.
Horatio watched as Edward shot a quick sideways glance at his younger brother. “Frank, if I’m wrong, the responsibility is all mine,” he responded as he reached back to unsnap the strap over his sidearm and without taking his eyes off the three people in interrogation.
He and Eric moved on the room the instant they saw the boys shift back in their seats, but they weren’t fast enough. It was obvious by how rapidly the Elric brothers sprung, that they were highly trained… but in what, was a different story. Horatio only saw Edward launch himself off the table at Hughes and Alphonse clap his hands as he charged at the door. Just before the boy’s palms slapped the glass, his eyes met Horatio’s and he mouthed a silent, “Sorry, Mr. Horatio.”
A blinding flash and static electricity arced off the bullet-resistant glass and caused both men to jerk back and instinctively throw up their free arms over their faces. When Horatio blinked the spots out of his eyes, he found the clear walls were now opaque… and the door was fused shut. The sound of glass shattering as a body crashed into the table, angered shouts and an insane cackle erupted from the room as the scuffle began in earnest.
“We need to find a way to get in there right now,” Horatio ordered as he, Eric and Frank all cast about for something heavy enough to break through the wall. Neither of them dared to shoot at one of the panels; even though it had polycarbonate thermoplastic sandwiched between two layers of glass there was still the possibility that a bullet at close range could completely pierce the wall and strike one of the boys.
Frank shouted for a battering ram at the same time someone slammed into the wall from the inside, bowing it out almost to the breaking point and rattling the frame. Two officers arrived in short order and battered at the panel that had been weakened as the sound of a small explosion went off along with the bone-crunching thud of someone slamming into cinderblock. On the second hit with the ram, the spider-webbed cracks in the bullet-resistant glass spread to the frame and the panel crumpled inward as the section next to it crazed, folded and a small, sandy-haired form tumbled out onto the floor at Horatio’s feet.
Frank, Eric and the two uniforms went in with guns drawn as Horatio helped Alphonse to his feet. The child twisted, spun, and readied a death-dealing blow, until he realized who it was. He flashed a quick, sheepish grin, then started to charge back into the fray, but Horatio snagged his collar and brought him up short. “Let the police handle it, Alphonse.”
And it was then he realized that it had become very quiet.
He put Alphonse behind him and cautiously crept forward with his gun out. Several possibilities went though his mind, the best outcome was that everyone was relatively uninjured and subdued, the worst was that one or both of the people in the room were dead.
What he saw would have never occurred to him in his wildest nightmares.
“Which one is which?” Frank said.
Alphonse peeked past Horatio and groaned. “Oh, no.”
‘Hughes’ was nowhere to be seen, but somehow, beyond all logic and reason, there was an extra Edward. Both of them were perfectly identical, all the way down to the blood-stains on their clothes and dripping from various injuries, to the matching blades that protruded from the metal prosthetics on their right arms and hovered dangerously close to the jugular of his mirror, to the murderous glare in their gold eyes as they stood frozen in a stand-off.
“Get the hell out of here, Al!” one of them shouted.
“Shut the fuck up, Envy.”
“I’m not Envy, you bastard.”
Alphonse sighed, then said, “Mr. Horatio, just shoot the biggest one. The real Ed’s shorter.”
Horatio darted a completely baffled glance down at the boy, not believing what he heard –especially since both Edwards were the same height-- but before he could say a word, both Edwards started fuming, glared at Alphonse and shouted in stereo, “I’m not short, dammit!”
Alphonse groaned again, then muttered “Why is it always left to me to fix these messes?” Then he zipped out of reach and sprung at the twin Edwards.
Lightning swift, one of them went wide-eyed, ducked just in time to avoid losing his head to his mirror and strong-armed Alphonse into a wall in one smooth motion.
Horatio took the opening and squeezed the trigger. The bullet was through and through; right between the eyes and embedding itself into the window behind his target. Blood and brains splattered all over the wall, the window and the remaining Edward; blood sprayed the ceiling and walls and the officers closest to the body as it convulsed, twitched, then sagged to the floor.
As Horatio knelt next to the two boys, the activity around them went into overdrive. He heard Frank calling Calleigh and Ryan down with their kits and Eric calling for Alexx as he squatted next to the body. Horatio was already working out just what the hell he was going to tell Internal Affairs about this mess, because he knew that was coming. And just how does someone convince IAD that the perpetrator was a shape-shifter? He wasn’t even certain he believed what had just happened.
Edward –and Horatio was certain it was the real one at this point—slid down the wall, clapped softly and ran his left hand over the dagger on his right, making it retract, then crawled over to his younger brother, who was laying in a limp heap on the floor. “Al. Al!”
Alphonse moaned, stirred, then glared at his older brother. “Do you have to yell?”
Instead of being relieved, Edward yanked his brother up by the collar and shouted, “You idiot! Were you trying to get yourself killed?!”
Alphonse, for his part, got nose to nose with the older boy and shouted back, “Don’t call me an idiot, idiot! How the hell else was anyone supposed to tell you from Envy?”
The words and the situation were out of the ordinary, but the argument was still the same; the older brother’s anger wasn’t actual anger, but fear for the younger’s welfare, and the younger brother’s response was to feeling overprotected. How many of these fights did Ray and I have when we were growing up?
Eric felt at the body’s throat to make certain it was dead. He had little doubt of the fact, since half its brains were dripping down the window behind them right now, but it was SOP; trust but verify. He was reluctant to touch it at first; the thing --and he couldn’t really think of it as human, no matter how hard he tried-- made his skin crawl, but he swallowed down his gorge and forced himself to do his job.
It had just died, yet its flesh felt colder than it should have and the blank, staring eyes that were originally gold had turned a flat red-violet. Amidst the cacophony of noise around him, Eric heard a subtle, wet sound that made the hair on his arms rise with prickling gooseflesh. He stopped breathing and his eyes slid down to the retreating pool of blood around the body. He glanced back at the lifeless face again and felt a surge of abject terror shoot through him when he realized its eyes were no longer flat, but very much alive and filled with malice. A slow, cold grin spread too far across its face as its skull reformed and the entry wound closed, clearly enjoying the fear it was striking in the CSI.
Eric tried desperately to find his voice, but all that came out were harsh, shallow gasps as the horror deepened and the thing’s face changed in front of him to a familiar and very heartbreaking one. “M-marisol?” he whispered.
“What’s the matter, little brother? Not happy to see me?” it said in Marisol’s voice… but his sister had never sounded so sinister.
What felt like a ten-ton wrecking ball slammed into Eric’s side, throwing him down just as ‘Marisol’ snapped upright and thrust out with one arm. At that point, it was pinned and hidden under two uniforms.
“Delko!” Ryan’s voice broke through Eric’s shocked haze and he forced himself to focus on the friendly face. “You okay, man?”
Eric swallowed and after a moment’s hesitation, nodded.
“Cuff that bastard and get him out of here,” Frank ordered as the cops pulled the shape-shifter to its feet. There was a surge of static around it and the cops instinctively lurched back. The thing changed once more into a rather slight androgynous form with long dark hair, a genderless outfit of black spandex shorts and top, and a red tattoo on its left thigh. As it transformed, it took the opportunity given by the startled cops and spun on them. Faster than anyone could react, it ripped the arm off one man as he was raising his gun with a jerk and kick to the man’s mid-section and then pinned the other officer to the wall with its fist sunk deep into the man’s shoulder halfway up its forearm –except the fist wasn’t made of flesh any longer.
The monster zeroed in on Horatio and said, “Keep looking over your shoulder, Caine. You never know when I’ll be there.” Then he grinned at Edward. “Hate to kick your ass and run, Pipsqueak, but I have better things to do.”
With a sickening crunch, it yanked its arm out of the officer and caught him as he slumped, unconscious. It tossed the larger man over his shoulders as if he were nothing. “Have fun explaining all this to these halfwits.” And with that, he crashed through the window with his hostage and took off.
The room exploded in confusion as Eric drew his gun and ran to the window. Frank could be heard shouting into the radio to the officers handling crowd control downstairs and outside. “Protect the civilians. The suspect is extremely dangerous and using one of our men as a hostage. Do not engage, I repeat, do not engage!”
Incensed, Eric started out the window, but was grabbed from behind and yanked rudely back, as Ryan said, “Don’t be stupid, Eric.” Reality and common sense resurfaced and Eric relaxed enough that Ryan let go of him.
Eric heard Horatio and Alphonse just as he sensed movement at his side and then he tackled Edward before the boy made the same mistake he was about to. The kid was more flexible than a snake, but Eric had bulk and experience on his side as he flipped Edward over and placed a hold on him that he couldn’t escape from. “Bad idea, kid.”
Around him, he could hear Calleigh and Alexx performing triage on the injured cop, Horatio calling for EMT, Frank giving a bulletin on the suspect to dispatch for the patrol cops and Ryan talking softly to Alphonse. Probably keeping him from diving out the window, too, Eric thought as he held fast to the furiously trembling boy beneath him.
“He’s going to kill that cop,” Edward said in a voice caught somewhere between rage and fear.
It was at the front of everyone’s mind, but no one had voiced it until now. They all suspected that it was the shape-shifter who’d already killed three cops and now it had just ended the career of another. No one had any hope whatsoever that it would keep its hostage alive for any longer than he was needed. “I know,” Eric said, his voice cracking. “But you’re not going to help him by going off half-cocked.”
Edward’s struggle escalated. “I know the bastard,” he hissed.
Eric held tight, although it wasn’t easy. “And what about your kid brother? What’s he gonna do if you get yourself killed?”
That was all it took. Edward went limp under him but Eric heard a muttered, “That was a cheap shot, asshole.”
“You’re welcome,” Eric chuckled as he loosened his hold.
“How in the hell did that guy do that?” Ryan stammered as he stared down out the window.
Both Eric and Edward jumped up and peered down at the shattered concrete one storey below them. A moment later, Horatio had joined them. “I’d say the suspect has made quite an impression, hasn’t he?”
Ten minutes later, EMT had taken the injured officer and people were being allowed back in the building, although they were all steered well out of sight of the destruction. Nearby, Edward and Alphonse sat quietly on a bench next to Ryan and a disturbingly pale Eric. Frank was off to one side debriefing the officers who’d witnessed everything, and Calleigh was finishing up collecting evidence.
Horatio took Alexx aside and said, “I don’t think either of those boys is badly injured, Alexx, but I would feel better if you examined them. I don’t think sending them to the ER is a good idea right now.”
“Horatio, what in God’s name is going on around here?”
“I don’t know. But I mean to find out.” As Calleigh exited the disaster that was once Interrogation Room One, Horatio caught her and said, “This evidence is first priority, Calleigh.”
“Lt. Caine?” queried a mild voice that sent a chill down Horatio’s spine.
He and Calleigh spun, drawing their weapons as Eric and Ryan came to their feet.
In an instant, the mild-looking man with rectangle glasses and wearing an Army uniform was staring down the barrels of four guns. He dropped the briefcase and slowly raised his hands. “Uh… I’m Colonel Maes Hughes? I’m the Elric’s advocate.” He cautiously pointed toward the breast pocket of the uniform jacket and said, “If you’ll let me, I can show you ID.”
Horatio cocked the hammer back on his gun and said, “Your ID was authentic earlier, Colonel Hughes. I need something better than that.”
“E-earlier?” Hughes’ eyes darted sideways, confusion and dismay written all over his face as he took in the devastation of the interrogation room. “Oh hell,” he mumbled.
Edward and Alphonse sidled up to the group and Edward said, “Check the pocket of his shirt, Lt. Caine.”
Hughes didn’t protest as Horatio unbuttoned the top of the jacket and felt in the breast pocket of the shirt. He pulled out a photograph, flipped it around so he could see it and suppressed a smile. It was of a little girl with short, frizzy pigtails and covered in fingerpaints. She was grinning proudly at the photographer and Horatio could certainly see the resemblance to the man in front of him. “Who is this?” Horatio asked.
The instant the question left his lips, he knew the man in front of him was genuine. No sociopath could ever act quite as enamored over a child that wasn’t his. “That’s my precious Elysia! Isn’t she adorable! I swear, she’s an artistic genius, in fact we’re planning to have that picture framed.”
“Okay! Okay!” Edward complained, although there was a relaxed and amused tone to it. “You’re really Hughes, we get it.”
Everyone else relaxed, and Hughes was suddenly quite a bit less manic as he gazed over the mess, then sighed and faced the brothers once more. The expression was very paternal, something that had been missing on the shape-shifter earlier. “Lt. Caine, have your men finished processing the scene?”
“Yes they have, Colonel. Why do you ask?”
Instead of answering, Hughes took a quick glance around the squad room, seemed satisfied, then faced the boys again and jerked his head at the damage. “You know how Roy gets if he has to handle the paperwork on this kinda thing.”
“General Useless needs more work to do,” Edward said. “It keeps him out of our business.”
“Not when we’re the reason for the extra paperwork, Brother,” Alphonse said.
“Consider it a good-will gesture to the Miami-Dade police department,” Hughes added.
With a broad grin from Alphonse and grudging compliance from Edward, the boys waved everyone back, then clapped their hands and dropped to their knees as they slapped the floor. In a shower of light and excited particles, the blood faded, the glass table melded back together, and the broken windows reformed and returned to their former state. Within two minutes, Interrogation Room One looked as though it had never held madness and mayhem within its walls.
“I’m… speechless,” Horatio said after a long moment.
Hughes smirked. “Yeah, those boys tend to do that when you meet them for the first time. I’m surprised you’ve managed to get this far without your brain breaking.”
Horatio cocked a brow at Hughes and said, “I’m not so certain that hasn’t happened, Colonel Hughes.”
Disclaimer: Fullmetal Alchemist (Hagane no Renkinjutsushi) was created by Arakawa Hiromu and is serialized monthly in Shonen Gangan (Square Enix). Copyright for this property is held by Arakawa Hiromu and Square Enix. CSI: and CSI: Miami are created and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and owned by CBS. All rights reserved.