By Henrika

Henrika- Wanted to see some interaction between Ed and Maria Ross that didn't involve the Fifth Lab incident and here we are.

They had assigned the boy protection for the mission and Maria Ross was grateful that she had been there. She'd managed to pull Ed out alive from yet another of his reckless stunts and he had kept her alive to do so.

Now they were on the train back to Central, writing reports to superior officers that neither wanted to give, although for different reasons. Ed didn't want to deal with Mustang's smugness and Maria lived in constant fear of Armstrong's pink sparkles and bone-crunching hugs (Though just about everyone who knew the Strongarm Alchemist feared those things.) Both Alphonse and Sergeant Denny Brosch had stayed behind and it had proved fortunate that they had done so. The mission had really been a two-person operation, any more and they would have been found out.

In their reports, they carefully danced around the parts where Ed had had to dress up as a girl and where Maria tried to seduce their mark. Also left out was the part where Maria shot the mark in the leg (They claimed he had accidentally shot himself) for groping her. In retrospect, going undercover as prostitutes may not have been the best idea, but the man they were tracking was a notorious pervert and it had been the easiest way to get close.

Maria looked up as she contemplated the best way to explain or tell the least amount of truth about the part where Ed had nailed the man between the legs with hisleft foot. He really shouldn't have called Ed the shortest whore he had ever seen. She decided, looking up at said blonde.

And noticing the thin stream of blood threading its way down the side of they boy's face. "Edward, you're bleeding!"

"Huh?" Ed glanced up from his report, lightly touching his fingers to his forehead. "Hmm. One of his friends did have a knife." He said nonchalantly as he examined the thick red on his fingers.

"Are you hurt anywhere else?"

Ed patted himself down with his clean hand. "No. This must have happened when I got tripped. I remember one of those guys swinging in my direction."

"You should clean that up. Is it serious?"

"No." He slapped his hands together, touching two fingers to the line of blood.

"What are you…?" Maria leapt up, drawing to a stop when as the light from the transmutation faded. "Doing?" She finished amazedly, examining what Ed had done. A tiny, perfectly spherical, crimson-red crystal lay in the palm of his hand. "You crystallized the blood?"

"Understand, deconstruct, rebuild." He cited the basic alchemy principle, checking the wound. "Just a scratch. Already stopped bleeding."

"Can I…see that?" Maria asked, still fascinated by the tiny stone.

"Here." Ed handed her the stone and she sat back down, carefully examining it through the rays of light streaming in through the train window. "Why…?" She stopped, unsure of what she wanted to ask.

The blonde boy worded it for her. "Why would I do something like that?" Maria nodded. "Something Marcoh mentioned when we were trying to get him out of Central. One of the key parts of making a Philosopher's Stone is crystallizing it. He wouldn't tell us the main ingredient." Ed stopped, since both of them already knew the forbidden component. "But we already knew that blood was necessary, so we've started experimenting with crystallizing it."

"Oh." Maria continued her examination, noticing the crystal wasn't clear as she had first thought. It was shot through with other elements, one she recognized as iron. "It really is beautiful. Not that you were hurt." She added hastily.

Ed laughed. "I get what you mean. I've just never really though about it before. Focused on the scientific aspect too much I guess."

"You should take a rest. Take time to enjoy things."

"I'll rest when my brother can."

Maria nodded. "If anyone could find a way to make the stone without hurting people, I'm sure you'll be the one."

Ed paused, looking intently at the stone blood in Maria's hand. He finally looked up, almost relieved at her words. "Thanks." He clapped, exploding the stone into a tiny shimmer of sparks.

"You're welcome. Now how do we go about explaining how we earned 300 cenz on this mission without doing anything but standing on the corner?"

Henrika- Ask me where that particular idea came from and I'll answer honestly. Not a clue. The currency came from the manga, so I didn't actually make that up. Later!