In Edward Elric's opinion, there were three truly dark days in his memory - three milestones that marked how he had ended up where he now was.
The first was the day his mother died. The day the world had crashed down around the Elric brothers' heads. The day that, suddenly, nothing would ever be completely 'okay' again - because mothers weren't supposed to desert their children like that, not until their kids were 50 and had laugh lines and grandkids of their own. Because it was then that Edward realized how he had stumbled into his father's footsteps, and impressed his mother with alchemy, and in turn won her affection by shouldering his father's craft. It was the day Edward had felt the least loved.
The second was the day he had brought life to a monster - a day that remained hazy behind a backdrop of pain. He could not think of that thing as his mother. It would kill him. In fact, he tried not to think about that day at all.
The third was the day the world found out.
He had known the punishment for human transmutation was death - it was not only a state law, but a natural one, because no one had survived the process before, ever. But he had survived - had saved his brother Al with a half-existence that made Edward depressed and angry at turns - and doomed them to a precarious existence somwhere between safety and life until Ed found a cure for their conditions. And there had been some hope, in the form of the Philospher's Stone - the elusive item that was in the sole posession of the Fuhrer.
It would take years, Edward knew, but he would take those years, and become the Fuhrer. He would obtain the Stone and return his brother's body, and his own arm and leg. And so he went to Central City, his brother in tow, to join the military.
That a military official saw the inside of Al's armor was a horrible oversight. They had fled - what else could they do? - but inside the hour Edward was arrested for illegal human transmutation, and Al ... Al was held back and pulled away as Ed's metal arm was removed and his other arm bound back, crying niisan, niisan - and Ed called back that it would be okay, because it was all he could do, hunching his shoulder against reality. Ed had never heard such torture in his younger brother's voice.
And Ed even had the easy way out - he was going to die, and his brother would be taken apart in some lab, experiments done ...
He cried against the injustice of it all that night, alone in his cell, prepared to be facing a firing squadron before the week was out. He had lost everything in a heartbeat, on a chance, and deserted his brother, although against his will. And he wished, as hard as he could, that he could at least have his brother back, even if it had to be with the armor, because he would much rather his brother were alive posessing a suit of armor than dead or in a human research lab somewhere, alone and lost without his Older Brother to comfort him when he forgot the feel of something new every day.
Was it any wonder, then, that when the chance to escape was offered, he took it? Even at the cost of his personal freedom? Perhaps it was stupid, making that deal with the black-market merchant in the next cell, but there had been no other options.
He would not die. Indeed, it was somehow fitting that his escape led him into a situation not unlike his brother's, subjected to the whims of someone other than himself.
That his ears burned with shame when he mounted the auction block was of no consequence. That he was being sold was of no consequence. That he was not his own was of no consequence. There was a chance - and Edward kept his eyes trained on that chance.
He could not have known how much his chances increased the day that Lieutenant Colonel Roy Mustang came. But he would know quite soon.