Based mostly on the manga. May be spoilers for up to the most current chapter. More detailed Author's Note at the end.
Disclaimer: I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist or any of it's characters. Some concepts and ideas in this story are taken from and inspired by The Wish List by Eoin Colfer, which I also don't own.
The View from Here - Prologue
“It’s a dead even split, Miss.”
She jumped at being addressed, quickly bringing her attention back to the man in front of her. She blinked. Even…What was he talking about? “Hm? Pardon?” she asked dully.
He sighed, slouching in his chair. “Please try to pay attention, Miss,” he pleaded tiredly and gestured to the book of records he held. “Once again, it’s like a point system. Throughout your life you get these points, good or bad depending on what you do. When you die, it’s all calculated to determine where you go from here.” He tapped his desk, gesturing to where they both were currently. “You took a particularly long time to process, and now it’s clear why. You’re dead even.”
She stared up at him. “And that would mean…” she prompted when he didn’t go on to explain.
He bit his lip sharply to keep from shouting, drawing vanishing blood from a wound that healed over in an instant. This girl…”It means you’re stuck,” he explained through gritted teeth, “You’re not good enough to go up and you’re not vile enough for Hell to want you. You’re stuck.”
“Stuck here?” she asked incredulously, gesturing down to the dismal lands below them, “This damned place? You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“It’s not damned, it’s Purgatory,” he insisted impatiently. It wasn’t a great job, but he certainly didn’t operate in anyplace that was ‘damned’. “But if you keep talking like that, you’ll know what damned is.”
She snorted. “Sorry, you know how I am, Old Man.”
He certainly did. The girl had been a thorn in his side since she got there. A skeptic to the core, he was certain she still had her doubts, even after so long a time in limbo. He hadn’t been gladder in years when her file at last found it’s way to the judgment bureau, and now this?
He sighed again. “It’s rare, but it does happen,” he began, shifting back to the matter at hand. He set down the record book and flipped a few pages. He pushed a pair of glasses up the bridge of his nose and peered at the book. “Most of your early life was clean, even when you joined the military. A few mishaps, but you were still in good favor. It was when you joined up with those…friends of yours that you ran into trouble.” He saw her flinch and scowl at him. He skipped the details and moved on. “Your death was an interesting matter,” he remarked, soundly vaguely intrigued, “You died honorably and loyally, fighting to the end. We think highly of that around here. However, you also died seeking revenge.”
She was glaring at him now. He had touched upon the most sensitive part of her life, which happened to be at its end. “And?” she asked bitterly.
The man removed his glasses and gave her a pointed look. “Vengeful souls don’t go to Heaven, Miss,” he said simply, “That’s the way it’s always been.”
Silence. “…So I’m really stuck here…” It was not a question, but a statement. It was not followed by tears or anger, nor edged with desperate pleas or guilty sorrow. It was simply a dull resignation, with perhaps a touch of disappointment.
He hadn’t expected anything else from her. Irritating as she was, her soul was a strong one…Perhaps…No. He wouldn’t. He couldn’t. Oh, but it was such a rare quality…and it certainly couldn’t hurt his own record…
“There is…something…” he finally managed after a long hesitation. She raised an eyebrow and leaned forward just a bit. He sighed and pulled a folder from his desk drawer. “They call it the Guardian Angel Program,” he began, sifting through papers, “Mind you, it’s a risk to both of us if I allow this. It’s still experimental, and you’re definitely not approved for it. I don’t imagine they’d be happy with me if-“
“What is it?” she cut him off.
He nearly snapped at her interruption, but controlled himself by jerking a paper from the folder, perhaps with a bit more force than necessary. “It’s a second chance,” he said simply, holding the paper out for her, “It means we send you back to watch over someone still in the living world for a predetermined time. During this time, your point system is unlocked again. If you succeed, you’ll become pure enough to go up.” He paused to straighten the papers in the folder and set it aside while she absorbed the information and skimmed the form he handed her.
It was extremely detailed, highly confusing, and in very small print. It made her wonder if death had damaged her vision somehow. She finally reached the end, where the word “Conformation” was printed next to a long line she assumed was for a signature. “This can get me out of here?” she asked.
“If you’re successful, yes.”
“And all I have to do is go back and look out for someone for a while?”
“That’s the basic idea.”
She frowned and stared at the paper again. “You’ll let me do this?” she asked finally.
He thought for a moment. This was his last chance to say no, too bad, and send her off to the desolate fields of Purgatory. “Yes. I’m willing to give you this chance.” He certainly wasn’t willing to let her slip through the cracks and have her spirited soul slowly crushed in the monotony. At least not without one more shot.
“…Give me a pen.” In messy cursive, she scrawled her name on the line. The paper rolled itself up, its contract confirmed.
He picked up the tightly sealed scroll and stored it, along with the folder, in a bottom drawer of his desk. “You only have a little time left,” he told her, turning a key and locking the drawer, “Do you have anymore questions?”
She blinked. “I’m going already?”
“Yes. Do you have any questions?” he repeated.
She blinked again. This was rather abrupt. “Okay. So…Who is it I’m looking after?”
“I don’t know, Miss. This is still a new process,” the man began, “Sometimes it’s a complete stranger, but more likely it’s someone you’ll recognize. Either way, you’ll know it when you find them”
“Oh,” she said in a dull tone, “How long will I be back there?”
“Again, I couldn’t tell you.” He glanced to the side suddenly. “It’s about time, Miss,” he said.
Before she even had a chance to open her mouth and reply, an odd, tingling sensation began in her fingers and spread slowly toward her palms. A wave of uneasiness swept through her. She felt a strong pressure on her hands and suddenly, she was flying forward at an incredible rate of speed. It felt as though someone had grabbed her hands and jerked her towards them, easier than they would a sheet of paper. Her stomach dropped. All she could see around her was blue, a dark, swirling blue.
The man turned his chair and watched as she was pulled back to the world she once lived in. The tear in his office wall sealed again quickly, closing off that foreboding, blue light. “Good luck, Miss Martel,” he murmured wistfully.
A rustling of papers interrupted his thoughts, accompanied by a voice. “That was awfully nice of you,” it said, rather loud. He cringed and turned slowly around. There was a man on his desk, sitting on top of all his neat folders and important documents. He was draped in an off-white robe similar to his own and grinning at him behind a pair of glasses.
“Get off my desk, Mr. Hughes,” he said in a dull tone. He sounded exhausted by his mere presence. Hughes moved to hover beside the man’s shoulder. “And leave,” he continued, picking up a pen and scratching something onto the paper in front of him.
“But I need to talk with you,” Hughes said cheerily. He moved to the man’s other side and reached into a pocket of his robe. “Hey, did I ever show you a picture of my daughter from when she was just three years old?” He beamed, pulling a photo out and shoving in front of the man’s face.
His grip tightened on his pen. “It was the first thing you did when you came to be judged,” he said through gritted teeth. He dropped the pen and glared. “Why are you still here? You’ve passed judgment. Accept your white robe and move on for good.” A soul he had judged refused to go up. It didn’t look good on his record. Not to mention the man visited him all the time now. Why did he always get the difficult cases?
Hughes lifted an eyebrow, smiling. “Why does anyone stay behind?” he asked pointedly, “I still have something I need to finish. Which is what I was meaning to talk to you about, by the way. I think we have a scheduling problem.”
He blinked. “Oh…Yes,” he said, realizing something, “We can’t have too many going back…”
“It’s fine,” he said in a thoughtful tone, interrupting him, “I’ll delay my visits for a while. I’ve already been accepted and I’m just delaying my time. For that girl, this is her only chance.” He smiled down at the photo, and tucked it away again.
The man blinked. Hughes always seemed so annoying and scatterbrained that it was hard to remind oneself how wise he truly was. He sighed. “You’re a good man, Mr. Hughes,” he said, almost reluctantly.
He grinned and shrugged, giving a little ‘Heh,’ and strolled casually away.
First off, a big hand for my Betareader/Computer nerd/Slave Elle!
Alright. Well, there's the beginning. Did you guess who she was? =D -cough- Anyway. I was rereading part of the manga, the part with Martel, and it reaffirmed my idea that she was an awsome character. So, I got the urge to write a fanfic about her, but, you know, she's dead. XP So, I figured I could either make it AU, or kind of cheesy. I went with the cheese. =D
I was originally going to end it at "Good luck, Miss Martel." Then I reread even more of the manga, cried, and decided Hughes needed an apperance. And I have a brief explanation of the dress code in the afterlife, if anyone cares. XD
The idea, especially this first part, is ver much inspired by a personal favorite book of mine, The Wish List. It's awsome. Go read it. No, now.