Note: This is a crossover with Chrno Crusade (Don't let that stop you from reading!) and is filled with spoilers from the FMA anime and the CC manga. Do NOT read if you haven't seen all of FMA.
Transcending Our Realities
The streets were bursting with silent energy as people walked through them, running here or there to get chores done or to visit or whatever. Edward Elric was with them, currently carrying a stack of books. He was used to running random errands. Actually, to be more exact, he looked forward to them.
Two years had passed since he had gone through the Gate and into this world, and he was still searching for a way back, any way back. The first method, rockets, had failed miserably but in the end, he gained a companion who happened to look exactly like his brother back home. After that incident, there didn't seem to be much of a way, until about a year ago. A year ago he had made a promise with a friend and despite it's depth and danger, it seemed to provide an opening. That promise was one that went deeper than anyone would think, or understand.
He heard footsteps behind him, and then a crash. Hearing that, he turned around, golden eyes focusing on the figure that was now on the ground. "Az?" The pale pink-haired girl looked up at him after he called her name, and then back down at her bags, the contents now spread out on the street in an odd mishmash.
"It's ok, I just dropped these," she said hurriedly, picking up the various items. The golden-hared boy kneeled down to help her, setting his books beside him in a neat stack as he did so. "At least nothing's broken." she said wth a smile as she lifted the bag again. "Thanks, Edward." He picked up his books again and nodded as they continued along their way, back to the place they called home.
As usual, there was news about the world in general, but nothing of importance. He heard, in passing, various conversations about political events. None of those things concerned him much; that wasn't a part of what he was searching for. So far, it had been two years since 'that day,' and a year since something significant happened. That thought in itself was enough to discourage anyone, especially Edward.
The one comfort of this world was his two friends. Despite his attempts to set up a wall around himself, they had broken it down. One of these friends looked exactly like someone close to him, and the other, Azmaria Hendric, was a friend he had met by chance. Ironically, Az was the one he had grown to spend the most time around. Of course, there was a reason for it; it wasn't love, and it wasn't obligation. This reason was something more serious than that.
"We're home!" Azmaria shouted out, making an attempt to open the door. Edward grinned and shook his head at her.
"Your hands are full." He used a free hand to open the door and she nodded a 'thank you' before entering the house and placing her bag on the table.
"Al?" Ed entered the room as well and saw Alphonse Heiderich, head down on the table, asleep. Al was the other friend, and the one that looked like someone close to him. To be exact, he resembled Alphonse Elric, his brother. The blonde-haired boy didn't even move as the two stared at him, then at each other, and grinned.
"Hey, Al, wake up." Ed poked the boy a few times, which elicited no response. He set the books down and resorted to shaking him. That was enough to cause Al to sit upright, a panicked look on his face.
"Don't-Wait…" He blinked at a now-laughing Azmaria and then glanced over at Ed. "Was I sleeping?" When his question was greeted by a nod, he groaned and closed the book he had been resting on. "Sorry, I must have dozed off while reading…"
"Al? Is something wrong?" Azmaria was the first to notice Al's worried expression. He simply shook his head, but Ed sighed. It was probably a dream about the past again, that seemed to bother him greatly. The young man stood, eyes focused on a random point on the book he had been reading. "You should sleep some more, you keep overworking yourself…"
"You sound like a mother right now." Edward crossed his arms over his chest and closed his eyes, putting on a falsely irritated expression. He heard her mumble something and then walk out of the room.
"You know, Edward, it would be helpful if you stopped acting so jealous…" Alphonse's words came slowly and emotionlessly. That was just enough to set Edward off.
"Hey, who said I was jealous!" Anger flashed in his eyes and Alphonse just stared.
"It's obvious. I've been jealous, too, Edward." Any and all replies Ed thought of in reply to that sounded childish and defenseless, so he kept his mouth shut. There was a momentary silence before the subject was abruptly changed.
"What book is that?" He flipped it over, taking a look at the cover. "Wait…Alchemy! Al, what are you-No, why are you…Gah, alchemy is dead here, why are you reading a book on it, and more importantly, where did it come from?" Ed couldn't deny the fact that this was a shock. It was beyond him why Alphonse would be studying this, and so he was hoping for a legitimate answer. Another thought quickly passed his mind. "Well, maybe Alchemy isn't technically dead, but you wouldn't do anything stupid like I did…"
"I wanted to see this situation from your point of view, I guess." The expression on his face was unreadable, but leaned close to confusion. "Or…Azmaria hasn't told you yet?" At this point, his voice was shaking slightly, as if he were about to divulge some giant secret. Edward braced himself for the worst-case scenario, which was that Alphonse had gotten himself in a situation like the one that he and Azmaria were in. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. "We're leaving here tomorrow, to go to London."
Maybe it wasn't the worst-case scenario, but it was still very questionable and shocking. "Wait, WHAT? Why are we-" Ed was promptly cut off by the other person.
"That's where you were when you first came into this world, correct?" His voice suddenly got much softer. "Edward, we've been waiting for answers for two years now, and we're still not any closer than we were. We need to start moving onward if we want to learn anything."
Edward knew why Alphonse was slightly afraid of the subject. In truth, they were all afraid of the day that Edward Elric went back to Amestris, back home. Yes, Ed would be happy to see his friend again, and possibly, hopefully his brother, but there was still fear embedded inside him somewhere. What would happen to his friends here? That was the initial reason he had tried to cut himself off; he knew that this would happen.
"You're right," Edward said after a bit of thought. "We need to keep searching."
"Um, actually, it was Azmaria's idea. My idea involved trying to break the time barrier, although I'm not sure one really exists…" He trailed off and Ed laughed. Science-oriented Alphonse always tried to make sense of something using his profession. Needless to say, it wasn't always the best of ideas. They weren't the worst either. The worst yet had resulted in a can filled with peanuts bursting into flames, but that was a story that was not going to be told ever again.
"You still both worked on it." Edward smiled and the other boy smiled back, albeit sadly. He decided not to ask what was bothering him so much. Instead, something else came up in his mind. "I'm not jealous."
"Yes you are," Alphonse said automatically, not even looking up at him.
"No I'm not!" He groaned and walked into the other room. "Azmaria, Al told me your secret!" The girl looked over at him, and he grinned. She sat blushing for a moment, confused, and then she smiled back as the realization dawned on her.
"Oh, that!" The confused look turned into a happy one as she looked at Ed. "We're, um, leaving in the morning…" He nodded, smiling at her with understanding.
"Hey, um…thanks." The boy didn't say much else as he exited the room and started up to his room. At least he had done a good job hiding his real feelings. Yes, he wanted to go back home, but at the same time he felt horrible. Maybe there was just too much going through his mind.
He sat down on his bed and slowly removed his shirt, letting the metal arm reveal itself. This was his biggest secret; only Azmaria and Alphonse knew about the automail. Actually, if it weren't for them he wouldn't have automail anymore. They had somehow manipulated their own technology, fusing it with what he had to create automail suitable for this world. The downside was that it was slightly heavier and not as moveable, but it got the job done.
As it moved, the automail made a slight squeaking noise. Edward blinked at it and snatched a small object off the desk. It just needed oil, that's all. He repaired it slowly and moved it again. This time around, there was no squeak, only silence. "Azmaria, Alphonse, you two try your best…" he trailed off into silence again, staring up at the sky.
Azmaria's voice was faintly heard from somewhere beyond the door, and Edward flopped down on the bed, smothering his face with a pillow. No, this wasn't jealousy, this was just guilt. He had been feeling that a lot lately. Guilt at leaving everyone he loved behind, guilt at the fact he would have to leave these new friends behind, maybe even guilt at himself for letting them break the walls he had set up around him.
Now he was being given a chance to search for a way back to the things he had lost and he was ready to decline it. That's how far it had gotten. Of course, his friends would do whatever it took to get him on that train tomorrow. That meant going as far as removing his automail in his sleep so that he would have no choice. Actually, that most likely wouldn't happen but they were still unpredictable in that way.
"Edward?" the door opened slowly but he didn't remove the pillow. He felt Azmaria it down next to him and finally moved the pillow down to his bare chest, realizing that he was sweating a bit. "Erm, I'm sorry for pulling that up on you so fast. I just didn't want you protesting because you would have." Damn, how did she figure these things out?
"No, it's okay." He knew his expression said otherwise. Their eyes locked and he looked away, cheeks red from embarrassment. He wasn't embarrassed for being caught shirtless or locking eyes with her, it was more that he was embarrassed about his own real feelings about what was going to happen.
There was another long silence and Azmaria took out a pocket watch, inspecting it with silent eyes. It took resistance to keep Edward from reaching out and touching it himself. "She really is a creature of habit…" The words were soft, referring to something that only a few people knew about.
"If it worked for Chrono, then I guess she figured that it would work for us…" There was light laughter and then the two fell silent, true emotions bursting inside them.
"I'm scared." The words came simultaneously. The girl gripped the pocket watch tightly and Edward stared at her. He was the first to speak.
"I think we're all scared, but I don't want you or Al getting into this."
"Edward…" She dropped the pocket watch into his hands. "It's too late for that. Besides, we're old enough, we can all take care of ourselves. Al and I are seventeen and you're eighteen. Rosette was in this situation when she was sixteen." The girl smiled at him.
"Still." The girl's expression was unchanging as she spoke up again.
"We don't know what's up ahead, that's how it was for me before we met." She stood up again, and it was Edward's turn to clutch the watch. "Once you acknowledge that you're scared, you can begin to move forward, right?"
"You're right…" He felt better slightly as he listened to her. it was normal for them to talk to each other like this when one or the other was feeling discouraged. Now it was Azmaria's turn to talk to him. "Then we should 'move forward.'" She nodded and the last bit of daylight disappeared. Edward wasted no time in throwing the pillow at her head. "We should move forward, then, right?"
"We're going to tomorrow…" she grumbled, throwing the pillow back.
"Ok, then, watch out." He smiled at her, and she shot a confused look at him.