Author's Note: This is the revised version of one of the longest, most plot heavy fanfics I've ever written, once called Stranger Than Fiction. Because honestly, it needed a good rewrite and a better title. Check my profile for more stuff on this story like fanart, trivia, etc. if you want :)
For those of you new to the story and worried about the presence of original characters and the un-Amestrian setting, I've more than open to constructive critique and any advice you guys can offer! There are way too many badly written takes on these types stories in the FMA section, and I intend to do it properly for once.
Summary: Edward Elric finds himself in a world very different from his own, but very familiar to us. A dream every fan is familiar with, but very few take the time to consider the implications of… [Possible minor EdxOC, mostly of the 'read between the lines' nature]
This is primarily based on the first anime canon, so it would be best if you watch the whole series before reading this.
Fullmetal Alchemist and all related non-original (as in, not made by myself) subjects © Hiromu Arakawa, Viz, etc. I'm only borrowing them for a bit, and intend to return them whole and recognizable- I swear :)
Original characters/ideas/fanfic plot/stuff (such as Lauren) and all related original subjects © Me (Don't take them without permission!)
Based on a 'True' Story
Chapter One: The Unexpected Hitchhiker
Leaves rustled in the treetops above. Crickets softly chirped nearby, falling silent at the occasional hoot of an owl. He ignored them all. Even the sound of a car passing by in the distance and the faint flash of headlights failed to draw a reaction from him. Nothing mattered, except his exhaustion and his pain, and for now Edward Elric was content to leave it that way.
A sudden cold breeze left him shivering, and he curled tighter into himself. Adjusting his ripped coat until he was better shielded from the vindictive wind, he ignored the protests his body gave at even such a simple action. A word, a single thought, began to form in his damaged mind, somewhat appropriately summing up his foremost concern towards his current situation:
And although he had so far failed to grasp the reality looming ever so prominently around him, Ed opened his eyes with no small effort and scanned his surroundings with tired caution. He was barely able to process the fact that this wasn't the army barracks anymore, and he was outside lying on cold, hard ground instead of a warm bed. Instead of inspiring alarm, Ed noted this with little care, barely noticing the sticks and stones jabbing into his sides as he drifted once more into a deep sleep…
Just as he nearly lost consciousness, there was a strange, unnatural fluttering noise. It was the sound of weathered paper stiff from some long ago rain, being tossed around by the wind. The sound grew louder before something smacked into his face, waking him up instantly, and reaching with a heavy arm to pull the offending object off. So much for sleeping. Opening his eyes again felt like a Herculean task, but he did so anyways, trying to get to his feet and hissing in surprised pain when they nearly gave out on him. The moonlight quickly revealed part of the reason; Ed's arms and legs were covered in cuts and bruises. His clothes were also torn, and he was almost covered completely in dirt and tree sap.
"Wonderful." Ed murmured sarcastically, trying to dust himself off as best he could and cursing the biting cold. The sky was dark, framed by the shadowy forms of branches with curled, dead leaves, grasping for the full moon that shone brightly above before a cloud drifted across it.
Glancing at his darkened surroundings, Ed realized with a twinge of fear that he didn't remember how he'd ended up in the middle of a forest. Just that he'd been running, as fast and as far as his tired body could take him. The rest of his memories were a jumble of disorganized thoughts, contradicting and dim, of which he was certain of only one thing. He needed to get far away from where ever he'd been before. Forcing himself to think calmly, he ignored the irrational impulse. That course of action would probably only get him more lost.
But the feeling grew stronger, more insistent as some desperate fear from somewhere deep within started to overwhelm him. At that very moment the moon came out from behind the clouds, illuminating a yellowing newspaper only a metre away, and with painful reluctance, he crouched down to grab it. Any clue he could find might help him get back home, and he was determined to overlook anything.
-THE ENOCH ENQUIRER-
FACSIMILE TO START HIRING FOR NEW PROGRAM
Salome Eccleston, CEO of Facsimile Industries, has announced the coming expansion of the local contracting company, bringing desperately needed aid to the economy of a dying city…
Just some boring financial column. As an afterthought, he glanced up at the date.
Friday, October 24th, 200-
"What the hell?" He said to himself quietly. "That can't be right. Since when is it the twenty-first century?"
He was interrupted from his thoughts by another passing car, looking up just in time to see two bright arcs of light sweep through the forest towards him. Blinded momentarily, Ed blinked and suddenly everything was dark again. The headlights continued to move quickly, drifting into the distance before disappearing altogether.
A car. That means people nearby…and maybe someone who can give me some answers.
With grim determination, the alchemist started making his way through the tangled mess of brushwood and undergrowth. Branches clawed at him as he struggled to move forward, catching on his clothes and leaving small scratches on his face as well as opening old ones, but he perservered anyway. He had to stop to retrieve his coat from an especially stubborn bough five times, three out of which he was unable to avoid ripping it Ed became so frustrated with this that without even thinking he clapped his hands together, transmuting away the damage with a intense flare of blue light.
The toll this took on him was alarming, as what little energy he'd had before was replaced by a throbbing headache. He fell to his knees, rubbing his forehead and swearing as Ed found his path blocked by another branch. More painful struggling later, the ground dipped up sharply, and when he scrambled up the incline he realized he was standing on a road. He glanced to his left, and then his right. It stretched on seemingly forever in each direction, and no matter hard Ed squinted he couldn't make out any approaching cars.
How did I end up here? He thought, finding it difficult to think straight for some reason, feeling strangely distant and detached from the whole affair. Was he dreaming? No, that was quickly ruled out. This felt…just too real.
Wait, I'm not…not supposed to…
He was spared following that train of thought by the sound of a car horn, and as Ed turned he felt the fear return again when he found himself staring straight into the headlights of an approaching car.
Lauren liked to think of herself as practical. Despite this rather secure belief, in reality she was often prone to daydreams and flights of fantasy. As an imaginative fifteen-year-old girl who spent too much time reading books, watching TV and constantly exposing herself to various forms of fiction… it was perhaps a forgivable weakness of hers. So long as she kept up a semblance of a social life and her grade point average, all was right in the world. But as a result, on nights like this, Halloween, she was driven to dream up such incredibly impossible schemes and adventures lurking around every turn that she ended up disappointed by the end of it. Sure, acing a hellish math test was all good and fine, but what about that shadow she'd seen dart through the trees earlier that night? What about the strange noise Lauren had heard earlier as she and her sister trudged towards the car?
It always ended the same way. Nothing new, nothing thrilling, nothing interesting. Still, despite this Lauren was happy with her lot in life. Sometimes it was better if the fanciful dreams didn't come true if the important ones did, because after months of unemployment and mounting bills, her father getting a job was far more significant. He'd taken a managing position in one of the most vital sections of a prestigious local company, at that. It was why her whole family had decided to eat out at a distinguished restaurant downtown to party, which had it lived up to its reputation by being one of those fancy places generally geared towards adults, not teenagers who still celebrated Halloween. Which is why when her dad's friends had joined them, Lauren knew she'd have to leave soon if she wanted to get trick-or-treating. Luckily for her, she had an older sister willing to drive her home, and everything was ready for a back-to-back Fullmetal Alchemist marathon when she finished trick-or-treating with her brother.
"Hey, you still awake?"
Lauren looked up just as her sister glanced into the rearview mirror, barely able to make out the slightly concerned expression on her face. Monica, her older eighteen-year-old sister, was not normally prone to worrying…but then again, Lauren had left Monica driving in silence for the past ten minutes. For a chatterbox like her, that was quite an accomplishment.
Must be a personal record. Lauren thought to herself with a slight laugh. "Sure, I'm great."
"Yeah, well…you better not be getting sick or something, because I want you out of the house before my party starts." Monica replied, an hint of hesitation marring the confident facade she normally tried to project. Nevertheless, a comfortable quiet soon replaced the tension. Both of them were feeling too good to worry for very long, especially since they still had an entire evening ahead of them.
Self-consciously, Lauren straightened the sleeve of her white blouse, checking out of habit to make sure she hadn't spilt anything on her good black pants. Gazing out past the side of the weakly lit road into the woods, she could see the sky was lit-up by a sort of soft purplish light, which had faded into the rest of the pitch-black sky. A green highway sign passed them by, with the words 'The Black Corners' printed in bold white lettering. Craning her head to follow them, Lauren blinked and then frowned. What where they doing on such a dangerous road? Monica had barely gotten her full license a month ago!
Before Lauren could point this out, Monica's cellphone rang. The older teen answered it, beginning to chat amiably with whoever had called. "Yeah, I'm heading home now on 'The Black Corners'…I know, I know, you phoned me earlier about that, remember?"
Curious, Lauren leaned closer, trying to see who was calling. Monica gave her a pointed look, covering the number with one hand. Knowing to leave well enough alone and reminding herself to tease Monica about a boyfriend later, Lauren nonchalantly turned her attention to the road ahead. There was flash of blue up to the side of the road, and Lauren immediately moved to get a better view, catching only one more glimpse before they passed them by. Her eyes widened as she realized they must have been people wearing costumes, although why a couple of trick-or-treaters would be out here in the middle of the night was beyond her.
"Whoa…Monica, did you see that?"
"Yeah, I'm onto it. Guess I'll call you back later to tell you how it went?" The older teenager finished smoothly, nodding and then closely her cellphone with a snap.
Rounding on her sister, Monica looked annoyed. "Don't interrupt me when I'm talking, please. Dammit, my battery just died…"
Lauren was about to apologize when she something bright red flash into view. In a split second, she realized it was a person; someone with a braid and wearing an extremely familiar coat. Someone who was standing in the middle of the road, she become conscious of with growing horror.
"Watch out!" She cried, eyes fixed to the terrifying scene ahead of her, unable to turn away.
"What?" Monica said in bewilderment, turning her head quickly. She inhaled sharply as she caught sight of what Lauren had already seen for herself, and without a second thought hit the brakes.
The car skidded to a stop, hurling Lauren forward. Her older sister grabbed her by the collar of her sweatshirt just in time to save her from a bloody nose, having gripped the side door herself to keep from crashing headfirst into the dashboard. Recovering quickly, Lauren yanked her door open and practically flew out of the car, shivering in the cool autumn air. She reached back quickly into the car to grab her jacket, wrapping it tightly around herself.
"Is he okay? Did I kill him? Oh my God, I hope I didn't kill him!" Monica rambled in a panic as she scrambled out of the car.
Lauren was too speechless with shock to reply. The front of the car was dented, but only a tiny bit. A boy close to her age lay sprawled out on the pavement, his eyes half-closed and a pained look on his face. One look at him was all Lauren needed to figure out why he was wearing those clothes. It had to be an Edward Elric cosplayer, a revelation that seemed wildly out of place in this nightmarish situation.
Well, it is Halloween. She thought distantly. And he's the right height. Funny, how it seemed like a lifetime ago she'd been sitting in the car thinking about trick-or-treating. Maybe he'd been on his way to a party?
"Hello…" She said tentively. With what looked like enormous effort on his part, he turned his head to look at her with dazed golden eyes. She slumped in relief; he was still alive, even if his eyes were a strange shade.
He's wearing contacts, you dope. Lauren told herself with admonishment. Why on earth she was focusing on his eye colour when he could be severely wounded? She should be trying to do something useful, like figuring out how hurt he was so he wouldn't end up dying from internal injuries or something worse.
Attempting to sound soothing, she voiced her concern aloud, wincing as soon as the words left her mouth. "Hey…you okay?"
Of course, Lauren! Because being hit by a car means he's probably one hundred percent fine right now!
"My head…hurts so much..." He seemed to struggle for words for a moment, and then his eyes closed and his head lolled to the side.
"No, no, no, NO!" Monica was immediately by his side, shaking him in an effort to wake him up as Lauren crouched nervously by. "Don't fall asleep, you idiot! If you have a concussion, you'll never wake up again and I'll be in hot water!"
Just as it looked like Monica was about to try slapping some sense into him, Lauren grabbed her raised hand and intervened. "Monica, loss of conscience isn't unusual after a fall like that, and as long as he wakes up soon he should be okay."
"And how do you know that?" Monica replied irritably, shaking Lauren's hand off as the younger teen examined him carefully.
"That lifeguarding course I took, remember?" Lauren said, impatience beginning to creep into her tone. "Just remember, don't-"
Before she could finish, Monica had lifted the boy up, grunting slightly at the weight and giving her an impatient look. Lauren sighed.
"…Pick him up in case he has any internal injuries."
"Lauren, in case you haven't noticed, my cellphone is dead and we're in the middle of nowhere. Unless you don't mind leaving him here while we go get help, or acting as a human shield if any other cars show up while I go for help, I think it's best we drive him to the hospital." Monica pointed out, moving over to the backseat car doors and gesturing for Lauren to open them.
"Well…" Lauren hesitated. As much as she knew just leaving him wasn't an option, she couldn't help feeling nervous about giving a complete stranger a ride, even if he didn't look like much of a threat lying passed out in Monica's arms like that. But what would their parents think if they found out? And what had he been doing standing in the middle of the road anyways?
Reluctantly, Lauren moved forward and opened the car door. "I…guess if there isn't any other option…"
"Great, then that means you can sit next to him and makes sure he doesn't die." Monica said cheerfully, suddenly far more happy than Lauren thought any potential hit-and-run victim had any right to be. As she shoved the unconscious teenage boy in the backseat, her green eyes nearly glowed in the weak light, making her look almost demonic.
"Wait, what?" Lauren sputtered. "But I-"
Monica wasn't about to give in. "No buts, kid. You're the one who knows the CPR and stuff. Either you get into that car and make sure he doesn't go critical on us, or I tell mom you let him die because you were too scared to socialize."
As much as Lauren didn't want to admit it, her sister had a point there. Hearing no smart remarks, Monica paused for a breather and then continued her rant.
"I mean, for Christ's sake, you're obviously both nuts over that 'Fullsteel Alchemist' or whatever the heck it's called. If he wakes up, at the very least you'll be able to have an interesting conversation. Now get in the car before I have to force you."
"You mean Fullmetal Alchemist, and how do you know that he'd be interested in talking to me about something like that? I'd think he'd be more interested to find out why a bunch of crazy teenager girls have kidnapped him!" How could her sister have such an irresponsible attitude towards the poor guy?
Her older sister just rolled her eyes. "I'm a lot of things, but I'm not blind. He's dressed up as that guy…what was his name…" Monica snapped her fingers repeatedly as if trying to remember something. "Eric Eldward? That means he's probably as obsessed as you. Did it ever occur to you that maybe reassuring him is better than telling him point blank I hit him with the car and he could have serious medical problems?"
"It's Edward Elric, and that doesn't prove anything. He might have trouble remembering stuff like that when he wakes up." Lauren replied weakly, allowing herself to be ushered back into the car, shoving aside the amazing amount of junk that had accumulated on the seat and floor.
"Of course he might," Monica said ever so complacently, "But if I were him, I'd prefer a friendly, decently attractive member of the opposite sex to talk to me about my favourite TV show instead of being silently glared at from the front seat. Now sit down and shut up unless he starts coughing up blood or something."
Lauren frowned, but nevertheless did as she was told, climbing into the car and closing the door behind her with a bit more strength than was necessary. This accomplished, she leaned as far as she could against the door and away from him. She watched the passed-out teenager with caution, as if she expected him to suddenly spring up and attack her. The truth was, Lauren was just as much intrigued as terrified by the prospect of talking to the cosplayer. There was something about him that set her teeth on edge, though she couldn't quite tell why or what that was. He didn't feel…real. The whole thing felt outlandish, that much she could concede, but there was something so utterly out of place about him in particular. A car accident, she could buy. A car accident with a guy who looked like her favourite fictional character? What were the chances of that happening? But these thoughts made Lauren feel even more skittish and irritable, because there was no reason for her to be thinking this in the first place.
Maybe I'm just letting my imagination get the better of me…
Pushing this to the back of her mind, Lauren carefully managed to push him up into a sitting position (A little movement won't kill him. I hope.) and buckled up his seatbelt, before settling back into her seat. She cursed the fact that her parents' car wasn't the most spacious of vehicles, almost having to lean against him in order to reach the seatbelt.
Her arm brushed by his right wrist, and Lauren was mildly surprised to feel something more solid and cold than flesh. So he'd gone to all the trouble to include automail…
Wow, he's really going all-out. She thought, giving him a wary look as she got her first good look at his costume. A red jacket with the symbol, braided blonde hair, a fake metal arm…and even the same sort of black clothing and belt. This guy must really like the show.
And those eyes…even if they were closed now, she would almost swear he had the right shade of golden contact lenses on as well. Impressed despite herself, Lauren immediately felt guilty when she realized the turn he thoughts had taken. For all I know, he's going to end up at the nearest hospital in intensive care, and here I am critiquing his costume. Good job Mackenzie, I'm sure he'd be glad if he knew you approved while he sat there dying.
Lauren sighed. "I guess so, just drive slower this time."
Monica replied to this with an "Aye aye, captain!" and what Lauren could only assume was a salute.
What a goof. You'd think a car crash when she has a party only an hour or two away would dampen her mood.
"What…happened?" She nearly jumped when an unfamiliar voice spoke up, and for a moment she wondered if she was hearing things. Looking around, Lauren was relieved to see that it was just the strange cosplayer, regarding his seatbelt with confusion. The fifteen-year-old was a little less relieved when she realized she would have to explain things to him. He sure did sound like Ed, that was for sure.
"Ah…I'm sorry, but my sister ran into you. We're on the way to the hospital, though, and if there's anything wrong we'll pay for the bill. Isn't that right, Monica?" Lauren glared at the back of the front seat. Surprisingly, she only received a few resentfully mumbled curse words.
"...No hospitals." He murmured, leaning back into his seat with a pained expression on his face. "I hate hospitals. Too many needles."
"Alright, no hospitals." Lauren amended. "But you should really have a professional check you out. Umm…where would you like us to drop you off?"
There was a gasp from the front seats. "Lauren!"
"What? He said he didn't want to go to the hospital!" Lauren replied defensively.
"I apologize for my sister, she's not normally this rude." Monica glanced back just long enough for Lauren to get a disapproving look aimed at her, before smiling at the stunned cosplayer. "We'll take you back to our place and patch you up. Does that sound okay?"
"Yeah…sure. Whatever." The stranger muttered, before wincing and reaching up to touch the back on his head. "Do you have any aspirin?"
"I'm afraid not. Pardon my manners, I'm Monica Mackenzie and this is my sister Lauren. What's your name, if you don't mind me asking?"
Absolute silence. Her heart hammering wildly, Lauren leaned towards the front seat to whisper to Monica, not taking her eyes off the cosplayer. "I think we should let him off before we get home, sis."
Her suggestion was met with laughter. "Lauren, you yourself said he'd probably have trouble remembering things. Think about it, he's just had a major blow to the head. I wouldn't be surprised if he thought he was Napoleon right now! In any case, it'll probably pass soon enough."
Lauren sat down again, watching the stranger out of the corner of her eye uncertainly. He seemed a bit more aware of his surroundings now, and gave her a wary look in return. She could only assume it was the small mannerisms like that which gave her pause; they were typical reactions for anyone to have in this situation, but somehow uniquely in character. The mixture of reluctance, clinical curiosity and suspicion…maybe it was the effect of the costume, but this 'Ed' was just a bit too believable.
Out of the blue, the car swerved to the left violently, and Lauren managed to grab hold of her door just in time. The stranger wasn't so fortunate, his head hitting the window as she heard a barely-concealed hiss of pain. A truck quickly thundered by, and Monica whistled.
"On the wrong side of the road, too! That bastard!"
"Sorry, there are a lot of bad drivers in this family." Lauren muttered, half to herself and half to the stranger. It was true, because although her sister was the best in the family she wasn't exactly well-known for her driving skills either.
Monica immediately took it upon herself to clarify this for their guest. "Yeah, no kidding. Like that time Dad bought that huge microwave. It took up, what, half the backseat? He had to avoid some jerk going through a red light, it smashed right into her. Poor girl was only four or something like that."
"You weren't even there." Lauren mumbled, embarrassed and grateful that it was dark enough to hide her blush.
"Doesn't mean I don't know the story like the back of my hand, little sister." The eighteen-year-old replied playfully.
Lauren groaned. "Are we there yet? The sooner I can hunt down a first-aid kit, the better."
Naturally, Monica ignored her. "So, where are you from anyway Mr. Elric? I'd be willing give you a ride back to your parents if you want."
Lauren could see him turn to look out the window. "Don't have any parents. Just my younger brother, and I don't know where he is."
"Is his name Alphonse?" Lauren teased against her better judgment, and felt a chill go down her back when he gave her a puzzled look.
"Yeah, how did you know?"
"Just a good guess." Lauren mumbled, as Monica laughed in the background.
"Man, this guy is a riot. I have to hit people with my car more often."
"What's so funny?" The cosplayer (Lauren just couldn't bring herself to call him 'Ed') asked with a slight edge to his tone.
"Oh boy," Monica sounded amused. "Lauren? I think you may be right, he may have hit his head a bit too hard if he's still going on about this. Momentary delusion is okay, full-on crazy is not, at least while I'm driving. You care to set him straight?"
Lauren sighed, wondering why her sister was treating this all like it was some kind of joke. "Well…umm…Edward Elric is a fictional character, from an anime called Fullmetal Alchemist. Don't you remember? You're not him; you can't be him. You were probably dressed like that for Halloween."
Her explanation finished, Lauren gave the cosplayer a furtive look. His eyes were wide, and he looked so bewildered for a moment Lauren was convinced he'd been telling the truth. The feeling quickly passed.
"…Please tell me you're joking." Something about the way he said it seemed like a demand more than a polite request, although he didn't raise his voice.
"Monica…I think we should get him to a hospital…" Lauren warned her sister, trying to inch away from him slowly. An action she was sure didn't go unnoticed, as his expression changed from shocked to suspicious.
"Both of you, shut up." Monica commanded with surprising authority. "Nobody's taking anyone anywhere except me. Until we get 'Ed' here some medical attention, I want you, Lauren, to stop being a drama queen. If he's a nutcase, chances are he's a harmless one. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm trying to drive. I hate going near malls at night, the traffic is unbelievable…"
Something bright flared through the windows, and Lauren winced at the intensity of it, sunspots dancing in her eyes. For the first time since they'd picked up the hitchhiker, she glanced out her window. Brightly-lit signs flashed by as countless headlights lit up the congested roads, the sound of humming engines was so loud she could hear it through the closed window.
Then Lauren remembered the strange cosplayer, and quickly looked back at him. If it was possible, he looked even more surprised than he had before. She began to entertain a ridiculous thought, one quickly dismissed. But running into someone like him on Halloween night, well…could he be…?
Smarten up, Lauren. This is real life, not one of your daydreams. Despite what Monica thinks, he could be dangerous and you shouldn't get distracted.
A few minutes of tense silence later, during which Monica took many liberties with the law, they were home. Well, at least, Monica and Lauren were. It was a huge house, obscured mostly by a large maple tree, although the front porch and bay window with light filtering through the white curtains were still visible in the dark. Lauren closed her car door, her distrustful eyes not leaving the strange cosplayer for a moment. Eventually, however, she was forced to admit defeat in their little one-sided glaring contest, and glanced at her watch. It was only six o'clock, and taking a quick look down the street, she noted that there were no trick-or-treaters in sight.
Looking up, she saw that despite the bright city light the sky was almost pitch-black now. It was cold and she'd probably would need to wear a jacket over her costume. It was like any other fall night, except at the same time…something was different. A chilly breeze making her shiver, and she slowly started making her way up the front steps and across the porch to the front door.
"Hey, Lauren?" The teenage girl looked back to see Monica still in the front seat, fiddling with something Lauren assumed was her purse.
That didn't bode well. "…Yeah?"
"I have to go get this dent fixed before our parents come back. Would you mind looking after our odd protégé here?" Monica gestured towards the strange cosplayer, who was standing uncomfortably next to the front steps and looking like he'd rather be anywhere else.
Lauren shook her head vehemently. "No way! I'm not going to- hey, come back here!"
True to her nature, Monica had already jumped in the driver's seat and backed out of the driveway, off like a shot before Lauren could even give chase. Sighing in irritation, she slowly climbed up the porch steps, collapsing on the bench near the doorway and leaning back. There was the sound of heavy boots clunking up the steps, which appeared just in her line of vision. She turned away, and felt someone sit down next to her. She sighed again.
"So, you're Edward Elric?" She said, in way of starting up a conversation. He slumped over, the irritation draining out of him.
"You don't believe me." Now that there was no noise besides the distant roar of the highway, Lauren just couldn't help but notice how much his voice really did sound like Ed's voice actor. It was a statement, not a question, but Lauren felt compelled to answer him as clearly and as blunt as she could possibly manage.
"Fine, I'll leave." He muttered, shifting and getting up.
In some ways, Lauren felt deeply ashamed of her behaviour to the strange cosplayer. He was probably a perfectly nice person when he wasn't convinced he was a fictional character, but she couldn't afford to let her guard down. However, seeing him sway like he was about to fall over made her think twice.
She sighed, getting up. "Sit down. If you're really feeling that bad, then you shouldn't be on your feet. I've got a key, so I'll go unlock the door. You can lie down on the couch."
The cosplayer didn't say anything, but relaxed noticeably, allowing himself to be herded back on the bench. Rifling through her pockets, Lauren took out a small key and used it to unlock the door. Stepping inside, she couldn't hide back a small, appreciative smile. It was good to be home.
"You can come in now." Lauren called softly. "Keep your boots on, if you want."
There was a soft groan from outside, and the sound of creaking floorboards. "Yeah, sure. Thanks."
Hearing the door close behind her, Lauren assumed he'd followed her in and immediately made her way towards the kitchen, flicking on lights as she went. Dragging out a tin and some milk, she set about making some hot chocolate. A moment later, her earlier guess was proven correct when he stumbled through the kitchen doorway.
The kitchen itself had a long counter, which extended out of the wall, forming a small circular area they cooked most of their meals in. It was spotless, and Lauren knew the cleaning lady had probably come in earlier. The cupboards and appliances all had their place, and two large covered windows had been put in above the sink. A table stood nearby, four chairs pushed in neatly. The kitchen was also adjacent to the living room, which had a couch with a coffee table in front of it, a fireplace, two armchairs, a grandfather clock and a rocking chair. Large windows and a glass-paned door were on the opposite side from the couch, also with closed curtains. All in all, it was a cosy, welcoming setup, exactly what Lauren needed it to be after such a long night.
The cosplayer paid little attention to this, staggering across to the couch and collapsing on it. Lauren watched him, debating whether or not she'd seen him before. Now that she could see him in decent light, the teenage girl couldn't help but notice how much he did remind her of the fictional character he claimed to be, even without the costume. Unnerved by the uncanny likeness, she turned back to what she'd been doing.
"Would you believe me if I showed you proof?"
The abrupt question startled Lauren, but she nevertheless finished heating up the hot chocolate, quickly drinking hers. After a moment, she put her empty mug down on the nearby counter, bringing a cup over for him and sitting down in an armchair across from the couch. He looked determined, and although Lauren felt wary at what exactly he meant by 'proof', she decided to humor him.
"I guess so, sure." After all, as long as she wasn't attacking his delusions he wouldn't have a reason to hurt her, right? Or so she hoped.
"I can prove it."
He sounded annoyed. "I can!"
"Who are you, really?" The question slipped out without warning, but Lauren was only so willing to play along. This was treading into dangerous territory, she could feel it. "Don't tell me that you're 'Edward Elric' again, because I won't buy it. Why were you in the middle of the road, why is your costume so good, what's your real name and why do you seem way too good an actor?"
The cosplayer didn't reply, focusing entirely on downing his hot chocolate as slowly as he could. She waited patiently. He finished finally, putting the mug down on a nearby coffee table.
"On second thought, you wouldn't believe me even if I showed you." She blinked, eyes narrowing as she once again noting the creepy similarity in voices. Why she couldn't shake the feeling her theory was right? As crazy as it sounded, Lauren was having a really hard time by this point believing that this was just a typical anime fan with good sewing skills and too much time on his hands. Even if it wasn't logical to think this way, if was becoming harder and harder to keep herself from wondering if he was who he said he was..
He gave her a searching look, and then seemed to decide something. "I'm telling the truth. I'm really Edward Elric, and I have automail. Whatever the hell is going on here…that's who I am."
"I don't believe you." She said bluntly and without thinking. It was rare for her to be this defensive about anything, but although Lauren was a patient person this was getting to be a bit much.
He laughed bitterly. "No, I didn't think you would. But like I said, I have proof."
He sighed. "Better start believing."
And then in one swift motion, he pulled off his arm.
Hey guys, just letting you know I haven't forgot this story! It may not be as polished as my newer stuff, but I still love it and intend to finish it :) So, here's to the first revised chapter, and to eventually finishing this story! :)