meggannn: (Default)
megan ([personal profile] meggannn) wrote2016-09-24 04:02 pm

(UNFINISHED) fullmetal alchemist x legend of korra

TITLE: Untitled
SUMMARY: LOK/FMAB crossover/rewrite.
GENRE: Gen/Drama
RATING: T
WC: ~4k
LAST TOUCHED: February 3, 2013
A/N: Through some unknowable logic, at some point I thought a Korra/Greed fic would be a good idea??

Untitled

She starts off honestly, or at least she tries to, because they don’t have bending here and it’s apparently worth a couple coins tossed her way if she performs some simple fire-juggling tricks in the town’s center square. Korra thinks she’d be humiliated by her very startling, very jarring descent from Avatar of the world to city street performer if she weren’t so busy keeping herself alive.

--

He starts off honestly, too, and stays that way, if you count the words coming out of his mouth, because the first rule of business he establishes with his crew is that he doesn’t lie and they have no reason not to believe him. He’s the living embodiment of human greed; he doesn’t have a reason to lie when the world knows exactly what’s on his mind. It doesn’t matter, really. It’ll all be his eventually, anyway.

--

They call bending’s equivalent “alchemy” here, or at least that’s what she likes to think of it as, because she’s not sure how else to understand it. Really, they’re not equivalent at all; they say it’s based on science and kem-is-tree and the chalk is drawn to represent the flow of energy and she usually loses interest in the conversation there. It’s not even a parallel of bending, not its opposite or its equal; it’s something so completely out of her grasp, flying off the map of what she knows is real and rapidly approaching distant corners of possibilities she’d never entertained. But it’s still just as real, somehow, just as possible and tangible and she finds herself thinking of her first day in Republic, wandering lost and disoriented in foreign customs and cultures; except this is completely different, and there is no comparing the two, really, because thinking of Republic means thinking of home, and that in itself is enough to send herself mad with longing and homesickness. It’s just different. There’s no point in dwelling on it. It’s just something new.

So understanding that, at least, it’s a bit easier to get why people stop entertaining her with coins and applause on the street when she firebends her tea to make it warmer; instead they begin to ask her where her transmutation circle is, how she did that without making any light or spark from the reacting chemicals, and when she has no answer for them, there is less curiosity and more suspicion and glances and muttered expressions of disbelief.

It’s real, she insists, I’m not making it up, it’s really not alchemy, I’m not tricking you. It’s bending, it comes from the soul. It’s a part of me. I can’t teach it to you like someone can teach you alchemy, I’m sorry. It’s still real.

“Alchemy’s the only currency here, miss,” a police officer tells her after a particularly loud shouting match in the square when a teenage boy calls her a fraud and a freak and she earthbends him flying a good hundred feet through the air. She is nearly arrested for disrupting the peace, but she’s a foreigner, she really doesn’t understand, so he lets her off with a warning and some not-so-subtle hints that she should board the next train leaving the station. “These folks mean well, but alchemy’s science, and we ain’t really used to magic tricks. S’ bad luck around here.”

It’s not magic, she says again, it’s bending.

But they’re the same thing here, really, and she can’t take pride in her training like she could back home. Not when here being something different isn’t treated as a spirit’s blessing or interference, when an oddity is just the world balancing itself out, making peace, writing a wrong. She’s the Avatar, of course she understands these things, but using that excuse here, she suspects, will gain her even less leniency than it had with Chief Bei Fong her first day in Republic City.

Korra tells herself it’s just these Southern towns and their isolation. It’s got to be. She’s sure some lone Earth Kingdom villages are probably the same, so out of touch with the bigger cities like Republic that they’ve fallen out of contact with some of the more modern technologies and practices. She’s just got to get to a city. It’ll be easier to hide in a crowd, understand this place a little better. She likes traveling; it’s just a few weeks more.

But before that she’s got to survive long enough to get there, and she needs money if it’s no longer being provided by generous donors who pass by on the streets. She doesn’t want to be a thief, hardly, but she needs to find her way back home, and, as Tenzin would attest to, she’s nothing if not determined.

Before she makes her first robbery (an elderly couple on vacation in the south, probably one last trip to visit their grandchildren before retirement, and she feels awful, for a moment, but she can’t afford to be sorry) she wonders if, at the very least, Mako would have understood.

--

The bar is called the Devil’s Nest, or at least that’s the name he’s decided to rechristen it when he announces he’s going to take it over, because, well, he can.

“I’m not a generous fellow, so I’m not exactly in the mood to share property values,” he tells the owner, a balding man with beady eyes and a growing waistline, when Roa has the bouncer in a headlock and the rest of his crew are in their chimera forms creeping about the bar and effectively scaring the piss out of its occupants.

“What do you want?” the owner mutters (he can’t be assed to remember the guy’s name, and who cares, really) and Greed laughs.

“Probably not a conversation starter you want to begin with, friend. I’d bet you the answer to that question is a helluva lot more than you’re bargaining for, but I’m not a betting man, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.” Greed sharpens his fingers; the carbon slides over his skin like a heavy gray glove, tips sharpened to razors, and the owner flinches, curling in on himself a bit. “Why don’t we start with a private suite? A nice big room, with a great view. You’ve gotta have one of those, yeah? We’ll be taking up residency here for a while, I’m just making sure me and the gang’re comfortable.”

“We don’t have suites. The basement downstairs is the largest room there is,” he’s told through gritted teeth. “We’re a two-story bar in a criminal neighborhood, what do you expect?”

“A little more taste, I’d hope. You’re never gonna win Pub of the Year with that attitude.” The carbon slides over the rest of his hand, covering the blood-red oroborus mark, and Greed inspects his palm idly, casually checking for flaws in the alchemy, chinks in the armor. It’s flawless as usual, of course, but he’s already boring of this conversation and the hunger is clawing at him again, pressing him to finish up, get what he came for and move onto the next big thing. “How big’s your basement, then? Hear it’s connected to the sewer system. Got any occupants I gotta kick outta there before I take over?”

“We’re – using it for storage. It’s empty aside from a few stray boxes.”

“Sounds perfect. Keep up the good work here, mate, and let me take care of things downstairs.” Greed slides forward, peering over his sunglasses, and meets the man’s tiny eyes for the first time, sees the pupils shrink and quiver, just a bit. “Nice meeting you, new housemate. I’m Greed, I’ll be living underneath ya for the indeterminable future. Just keep on as you have and we won’t have any problems.”

He slides off the bar counter and waves a hand; the chimeras – Martel and Dolcetto, he knows those names so far, but others he’s a little fuzzy on right now (no matter, there’s time for that, all the time in the world, and they owe, him anyway, if he can’t remember their names he’ll just give them new ones) – they all back off the customers and slink toward the stairs, heading down to the basement.

Greed pauses before he follows them. “Oh, one thing – before you meet us downstairs, Roa, take down that sign outside, would you? Rename it something else, anything else, fuck, anything’s better than ‘The King’s Head.’”

“Wait – what’m I writing with, boss?”

“Use your imagination. The lad outside whose nose you busted, s’ probably still bleeding, fresh blood’ll look nice and intimidating if you like.”

The owner splutters. “You can’t just – ”

“I’m Greed, mate, not Sloth. It’ll all be mine eventually, it’s just a matter of putting my name on the deed. But we’ve got time, you’re a businessman, you know how it goes.” He strolls downstairs, waving a carbon-clad finger. “I’ll pop up every so often to say hi. You’ll be hearing from me shortly.”

It’s not much, he supposes, but it’s a start.

--

She’d been half-delirious with hunger and dehydration, they’d said, before old Mr. Aiken found her stumbling near his property in Fenief around the South-East border. Completely out of it, he’d described, mumbling something about a spirit world and wrong doorways and how Tenzin would give her the tongue lashing of a lifetime when she got back home.

She wasn’t from around here, obviously, not with those clothing and that accent. Not Ishvalan with blue eyes, and clearly not used to the South’s hot weather, so certainly not Aerugoean. Couldn’t have crossed the border, no, she didn’t know how to take care of herself in the desert, so not Xingese.

They never decided where she was from, but in the end it didn’t matter. Central, they said, send her to Central as soon as she gets some food in her, poor thing. Or South City’s closer, really, why don’t we get her a train there? Spare change of clothes, some cenz and a train ticket and we’ll send her on her way. We can’t do anything for the girl here on the border.

But nobody wanted to talk about the other thing, nobody wanted to add anything to the Rumors, really, and nobody else blamed them. That maybe this girl, Koh-ra (what a strange name, really, it certainly isn’t Amestrian and it doesn’t sound Aerugoean, is it something she just made up?), is less of a stranger and more of an experiment, you know, one of those that the military’s trying to keep all hushed up now, something to do with the war in Ishval and human weapons and such. Mutants and chimeras and all that. Dreadful business, really. Let’s just send her back to Central, back where she might’ve came from. Just to be safe.

--

He was the third oldest Homunculus, after Pride and Lust proved too much for Father to hold inside. It took Pops about fifty years to make him after his sister and another twenty-five after him to make Envy; being immediately surrounded by the two most obnoxious of the bunch with Pride breathing down his neck to get to work, it’s really no surprise he’d declare himself a rebel and break away from the sheep. Looking back, he’s a bit miffed that it took him so long to get his head on straight and get the hell out of there, but it wasn’t until Gluttony rolled around that his thoughts started wandering and questioning whether Father wouldn’t miss one kid if he went missing.

Not like the others would care, anyway. Not really in their nature and all that.

(Besides, if he’s going to have a father, it’s got to be a real one, not this half-assed self-proclaimed mass of energy from beyond the Gate bullshit; the very least he could offer is the real deal, the best of the business, thanks very much. Greed imagines people probably think he’s exaggerating when he says he craves everything, but that just says something for the limits of human imagination. Not that that’s all that bothering, really. More for him.)

The others don’t mind. Artificial humans and all that, it’s not like their feelings matter much beyond helping Father reach the Promised Day and the secrets of God that lie beyond. Greed was trouble from the start, we should’ve known. No matter. Let Greed run among humans and think himself their ruler if he likes. He’ll see.

--

Avatar Korra shuffles herself on train after train, because that’s easiest for now; water takes the past of least resistance, she remembers Master Katara saying, and it comes naturally to her, after all, even in the desert surrounded by strangers and a new type of magic that can bend so many more things than just the four ancient elements. Keep your head down, Tenzin would say, just be patient and wait it out.

She’s getting better at hiding her bending. Tenzin would really be proud; defensive maneuvering and being patient and all this waiting around, yeah, he’d probably be thrilled. Perhaps not at what she’s doing to put it all to practice, but then, she’s hungry, and this is a major town (South City, she hears it’s called, in the Southern Section, and she’s got to get to Central and start looking for better alchemists that may know how to help her get back home) and it’s so easy, when a bit of airbending sends extra pocket change her way and earthbent rocks can make the young man in front of her trip as she quickly reaches inside for his purse.

She’s not naive enough to believe that being the Avatar excuses it all, but she does hope, at least, that maybe Aang wouldn’t have completely hated her.

--

Greed’s network spreads and conquers; he and connects and makes friends because that’s what he’s for, after all, and well, friends are going to offer more than minions. He hasn’t really figured out whether it’s better to be feared or loved, but it doesn’t matter; he knows it’s probably too much to ask for both, but then, that is rather his point.

--

She arrives in Dublith and finally finds a good meat shop – and she doesn’t know what mammoth is, but she knows beef, and chicken, at least, is an animal familiar enough to encourage her to step inside and order some kebobs, extra spicy, one of every kind of meat you got.

“So where’re you coming from?” the young man behind the counter asks. Mason, his nametag says, and he’s a nice-looking guy and friendly enough even if she’s not really in the mood to humor his attempts at flirtation (even if he had given her six great cuts half off on account of finding her attractive, which she feels a little guilty about but is not above taking advantage of, not when she’s been on a one-way train from South City for the past two days and hadn’t had a good meal in double that time).

She swallows down a mouthful of pork tenderloin before answering. “South City.”

“Nah, I mean, what sector? You’re not from around here, are you?” He freezes, then backtracks, looking flustered. “I’m sorry, that was rude – I just meant, with your accent, and you look like you’ve been traveling for a while, so I was just wondering if you’d been out of the country or something. Are those Aerugoean armbands?”

Korra glances down at herself. She’d had the good sense to grab some Amestrian clothes as soon as she could afford to use her money – cenz, they call it here, cenz, she constantly reminds herself – on anything beyond food and immediate shelter for the night. She’s tried her best to mimic the styles and customs of the other young women on the street; the summer desert weather has been forcing her to forfeit her heavy Water Tribe trousers and boots for breezy skirts and light walking shoes. Her pelt makes a good blanket for evenings spent on park benches or overnight train seats, and the rest, well. The armbands and hair ties stay. That’s the least she’ll allow herself, a reminder.

“My mom made them,” she says about her armbands, which is true enough. “I’m from a real little village down south, you probably haven’t heard of it, right near the border. I was just spending some time in South City with my aunt before traveling up to Central.”

“Central, what for? School?”

“Ah – well.” She feels a flash of homesickness, for a second, reminded once again of leaving home for Republic and Tenzin and airbending lessons. “Looking for a master.”

Mason grins. “Well if you ever get tired of the big city university, we’ve got an alchemy master living right here, if you like. The owner of this store here taught the Fullmetal Alchemist, have you heard of him? He’s some big state alchemist now, all because he learned here in Dublith from Master Curtis.”

Korra isn’t quite certain what he’s talking about, but they are interrupted at that moment by a black-haired woman in a white apron stepping into the room from the back. “Mason,” she barks, pointing a three-inch butcher’s knife at her assistant, “quit flirting with the customers. You’ll be late for Roger’s deliveries.”

“Right, ma’am.” He hops off his stool from behind the counter, slides into the back room, and lets the door close behind him, leaving Korra alone with a middle-aged woman whose sharp eyes she is now effectively putting to use by inspecting the teenage girl sitting at her bar eating pound after pound of her finest pork.

“Foreigner,” she declares, moving to the counter seat opposite Korra where Mason had just recently sat, “though I’m not sure from where. Not Xingese or Cretan, clearly; I’d imagine with your skin you’re from the south, but Ishval’s a currently warzone and Aerugoean clothing tends to have more reds and golds than the blues and whites in your hair and garments. Which begs the question,” and she leans a bit closer, curious and more than a little intimidating, if Korra’s being honest, “where are you from, young lady?” There’s a spark in her eye, something like amusement. “I ask only out of curiosity, you understand.”

Korra has her mouth full of food and two seconds to think of a response for this woman who’s clearly well-versed in the surrounding area and its cultures. Think fast, she tells herself as she wipes sauce from her lips, but nothing’s coming to mind and she’s running out of time, so she tells the truth.

“A small village down south,” Korra says. “It’s – er. You’ve probably never heard of it. Kind of isolated from any surrounding cities, so.”

“So I’ve gathered.” The woman – Ms. Curtis, Korra assumes – reaches over to the till and pulls off a receipt. “Looks like Mason’s saved you quite a bit. Were you planning on stealing anything else from my shop beyond those extra three cuts in your bag or shall I just charge you the regular pricing and you’ll be on your way?”

Korra freezes. “I’m - ”

“Starving, not from around here, didn’t mean harm, I’ve heard it all before. That’ll be another 360 cenz.”

Korra digs into her coin purse and handed over the appropriate change. “I’m sorry,” she says, “Mason gave me some extra food for the road. I didn’t mean to cheat you out of your goods.”

“I’d be prepared to believe you,” Ms. Curtis says, dumping the money in the register, ignoring the receipt that slid out in response, “if I weren’t certain those cuts just slid into your bag of their own accord.”

Korra stared. “I don’t – ”

“Rather,” Ms. Curtis corrected herself, “I imagine you’ve been traveling north for some time, then, since most people down here hardly recognize alchemy if it isn’t hitting them in the face. A thief well-versed in transmutation could get away with quite a lot if they put their mind to it, and you likely imagined most shop owners would assume the work of alchemy when they discovered themselves robbed. But alchemy doesn’t work without a circle or light, and I’ve noticed none. Which suggests, well.” She pauses. “Something new.”

The store is silent save for the distant trickles of conversation and passerby outside the window, before Korra says quietly, “None of the other stores noticed.”

“Other shop owners aren’t master alchemists.” She opens the flap that separated the back counter from the rest of the store and takes a seat next to Korra, legs crossed. “I’d wager you’re now planning your escape for when I’ll turn you into the local police.”

“Erm.”

“You needn’t worry in that regard,” the woman sniffs. “For future notice, I rather loathe the military, but I’d appreciate it if mentioning of that fact never left this room. May I see your hands?”

Korra holds her calloused hands up, sticky from the hot sauce, but Ms. Curtis doesn’t seem to mind. She only frowns and instructs, “Palms together, please.”

Thoroughly confused, Korra does as she’s told, growing only more nervous when Ms. Curtis’s frown deepens.

“Well,” she says softly, and Korra breaks her hands apart to wipe them off with a spare napkin on the table. “Not alchemy at all, then. I was right. What is it?”

“What is – what?”

“You know perfectly well what, don’t make me spell it out.” Despite her tone, the woman’s expression is anything but sharp: Korra has the sense she’s being given her full-blown attention, and there is, of all things, an almost fond smile gracing the edge of her lips. “As Mason informed you, I am an alchemist, young lady, a scientist. Not much will get past me in the ways of chemical, biological, and physical sciences. I consider myself rather well-versed in everything there is to know here in Amestris about said disciplines, and I know full well there’s no way modern alchemy can knock three cuts of meat off the counter while my assistant isn’t looking and have them slide themselves into your bag without drawing a circle or using clap transmutation.”

Despite herself, Korra swallows and avoids looking at her bag on the floor, where she can, from this angle, just slightly see the three cuts she had air and then earthbent into her bag in the five seconds Mason had turned to ring up her order. She should’ve just skipped this town, gone on straight to Central, even if it would mean going without a meal for another good day or so.

Ms. Curtis’s eyes only crinkle in amusement at her discomfort; she puts her chin in her palm, elbow leaning on the counter as her eyes crinkle and her mouth twitches. “So, out with it. I’m not so old that you’ll be able to pull one over on a simple housewife like me. What is it exactly you can do?”

--

Greed has his legs up on the counter and watches when the front door blasts apart. A woman steamrolls into the Devil’s Nest, holding two bruised gangsters up by their collars, demanding to know if they have any other friends that enjoy robbing innocent family-run shops. And oh, he thinks as she delivers a solid punch to the idiot dumb enough to tell her to take a hike, she’s rather different, isn’t she? Not from around here or this sector or this country or this planet, he’d wager; the curling tendrils of Truth inside him say as much.

He sees something a bit off about this one, something new that reeks of energy and eternity and the stench of pure cosmic power, and he doesn’t know what it is but the greed rises up in a way it hasn’t since his creation: all-consuming, wanting, needing, hell, this is something new and different and he wasn’t aware it was possible to feel so strongly about something he hadn’t known existed a minute ago.

In the two seconds it takes her to glance around the pub and notice his appreciative stare from where he’s sitting at the bar, he makes a decision.

Her eyes are a hard blue as she stalks to his chair at the counter. He doesn’t bother turning his gaze away – he can hardly be faulted for admiring the whole package, can he? – but by the narrowing of her eyes and unyielding tension in her arms she doesn’t seem to appreciate the attention. “You got something to say to me, pal?”

Post a comment in response:

From:
Anonymous
OpenID
Identity URL: 
User
Account name:
Password:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
Subject:
HTML doesn't work in the subject.

Message:

If you are unable to use this captcha for any reason, please contact us by email at support@dreamwidth.org


 
Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.