Edward sighed and cracked his knuckles. He didn't mind walking everywhere, but it did get tiring after walking a week straight with only the road as company. That, and carrying the food supply was hard work.
"This would be so much easier if you were still a suit of armor, Al," Ed groaned, massaging his back. Al frowned, his blonde ponytail blowing in the breeze.
"Excuse me," he said sarcastically, "It's your fault, you know. You're the one who got me back in my body."
"That's not my fault!"
"And you're the one who got sent to this country afterwards," Al continued, ignoring his brother.
"Again, not my fault!"
"And you're the one who tempted me by coming back to our world two years later…"
"You tempted me!"
"And you're the one who didn't stay in our world two years ago when you had the chance, therefore forcing me to come with you," Al finished, nodding and folding his arms, "Your fault, your fault, your fault, your fault."
"Ok, first of all, the body thing wasn't my fault; getting sent to Germany wasn't my fault; you really tempted me by coming back in a suit of armor and proving that you were alive; and I did the right thing by coming back here! It's your fault that you decided to come! You could have stayed and kept Winry company." Edward counted off on his fingers as his voice played with the tones of angry and annoyed.
"Winry…" Al looked at the sky above them, clear and blue on the mid-autumn day. It was beautiful out, with the trees all changing color and the temperature not to warm and not to hot. His red overcoat blew slightly in the breeze. It was the same outfit that he had worn after his brother had gone missing, and no matter how many times Ed pointed out that it didn't blend in with this world, he paid no mind, "Do you realize that it's been two years since we've last seen her?"
Edward sighed, scratching his head, "Has it? Wow, hard to believe…"
"It's even harder to believe that we can't ever see her again, and that we have to finish the rest of our lives in this strange country, fighting against the Nazis and helping destroy the concentration camps," Al's tone had a level of sadness as he mentioned the ongoing internal war in Germany.
"I'm glad that she's not here to see any of it," Edward replied, and Alphonse nodded in agreement.
"How old would she be?" he asked. Ed closed his eyes, thinking.
"About nineteen, right? Maybe twenty…"
"Twenty? Seriously?" Al blinked, "Wow… She's old!"
Ed stumbled at this comment, glaring at his brother, "She's old?! Need I remind you that I'm twenty now too, and you're nineteen!"
"Well, technically I'm only fifteen." Al corrected smugly. Ed gave him a glare that could peel paint.
"Your body's fifteen, but technically you're nineteen!" he insisted angrily. Al chuckled.
"Just keep telling yourself that, brother," he pranced along, just dodging his brother's lunge. They walked in silence for a few moments, but the silence was light and happy. The road beside them was empty, as automobiles were few and far between, especially out here in the country. The two were walking over a thin bridge that covered a large river. They knew from the map that it was called the Elbe, and that they were getting close to Berlin.
"So, what are we going to eat when we get to Berlin?" Al asked cheerily. Edward didn't respond, and Alphonse turned to see him frozen, glancing towards the river.
"Edward?" Al started, but Edward interrupted him.
"What does that look like to you, Al?" he pointed a gloved finger to a lump in the middle of the Elbe. Al stared at it for a moment before his eyes widened.
"A … a body!" he stuttered. Edward nodded grimly.
"That's what I thought," he took off his coat and backpack, dropping it on the bridge, "Be right back."
"Brother!" Al cried as Edward jumped head first off the bridge, falling a good twenty feet before hitting the water with a large splash. Al ran to the side of the bridge and watched in amazement, remembering how heavy the metal was on him, and how much Edward must be pushing just to stay afloat with a metal leg and arm. His brother surfaced and began doing strong strokes towards the body. He quickly grabbed it and towed it towards the bank of the river. The current pulled him a good ways downstream, but finally he managed to grab onto it.
By this time, Al had almost caught up to him, carrying the coat and luggage that Ed had discarded. While he ran, he watched as Edward bent down to do what looked like kiss the body's lips, and then retract and push three times hard on the chest of it. Al finally got close enough to notice that it was a woman whom Ed had saved, but she was unconscious, and possibly dead.
"Is she okay?" Al asked, huffing. Ed didn't respond, only continued to perform CPR on her. After four times of the rounds, the woman stirred and coughed water. It dribbled down her face, and Edward sat back, panting slightly from the swim and CPR.
"She'll be fine," he said in relief. Al was too stunned to talk, and Edward followed his gaze to the woman. She was young, in her early twenties at the most. She had bright blonde hair, down to about three inches below her shoulder. Her features were soft and friendly, and her creamy skin shone with water drops. She had a great figure, and her arms were very tone. Her flower-patterned sundress clung to her body.
"Winry…" Al whispered, and Edward shook his head.
"It's just her look-alike, Al," he said, almost in amazement. Alphonse's gaze lowered, discouraged.
"Look-alike?" he clarified.
"Yeah. Mine died while I was still in his body, and that was how I came back after I was cast into the gate. Yours died shortly before you came here, remember? He was shot right after sending me to our world. This girl is just Winry's look-alike. Her name's probably close to Winry's too, like Windy or something," Edward sighed as Al nodded slowly.
"That makes sense, I guess…" he sounded terribly disheartened, and it hurt Edward to hear him so depressed.
The girl groaned, moving her head slowly. Suddenly her eyes shot open, revealing crystal clear blue eyes. Al and Ed moved back so she would have some room.
"Uh, do you feel alright, miss?" Edward asked cautiously. The woman blinked and frowned, sitting up.
"Miss? Come on, don't you recognize me, Edward?" she asked, sounding hurt. Edward gaped again, and Al nearly fell over.
"Winry?" Ed stared at her with wide eyes. The woman laughed, a beautiful sound that reminded him of bells ringing.
"Of course! Who else would it be?" Winry's eyes sparkled, and she grinned. Al and Ed continued to stare at her in disbelief.
"But, how? We sealed the gate on this side, and Mustang should have done the same on your side!" Al protested. Winry sighed.
"I'll explain later, okay? For now, just come here, both of you! It's been what, two years?" Winry engulfed both of the stunned men in a huge hug, and Al and Ed found themselves hugging her back. Finally, she released and sat back down, tears running down her face, mixing with the water already present.
"Why are you crying, Winry?" Al asked. Winry wiped her eyes and smiled.
"It's just, I've been trying to get here for two years, and now I finally made it. And the first people I meet just happen to be the two men I've been looking for."
Al and Ed glanced at each other, unsure of what to say. They had missed Winry terribly, but they had each other to deal with it. Edward remembered how lost he had felt when both Al and Winry were in his old world, while he had been stuck in Germany. Now he realized that Winry must have felt he same way.
Winry sneezed, bringing the two men out of their memories. Edward grabbed his coat and wrapped it around his best friend, smiling gently, "Here, you're going to catch a cold if you don't get out of those clothes."
She gratefully wrapped it around herself. Suddenly she gasped and turned to stare at the river.
"My luggage!" she moaned, "It's been carried away by the river!"
"Luggage?" Al asked in disbelief. Edward's face mirrored how he felt.
"Yeah! I need that! I have to go get it!" she stood up and clutched her head, "Oh, got up to fast…"
Alphonse and Edward jumped up to help her. They eased her back down to the soft, mossy grass, "Winry, you almost drowned! Take it easy!" Al said.
"Yeah, just hang out here for a while. Al will get your luggage," Edward volunteered. Al scowled angrily.
"What?! Why should I have to?" he demanded. Edward grinned evilly.
"Because you're 'only fifteen', and you should listen to your elders!" he ordered, using air quotes to bring back the previous argument. Al opened his mouth to respond, but Winry moved to stand up again.
"Don't fight, guys. I'll go get it myself; it's no big deal."
"Ah! Uh, don't bother, Winry! I'll do it!" and Al ran downstream, looking frantically for her luggage. Ed chuckled.
"I love being the one with the last laugh," he remarked, smirking. Then his tone turned more serious, "Winry, what are you doing here? How could you get here?"
Winry shook her head, "I can't say without Al being here."
Edward pouted, "You're just saying that to get the last laugh!"
"Duh," Winry smiled sweetly, mocking her friend. Edward laughed.
"God, I'd forgotten how much I missed you, Winry," he stated. Winry blushed slightly, and he wrapped his arm around her shoulders, "I really did. Four years is way too long."
Winry smiled, "I agree wholeheartedly," her face lit up, and she beamed, "I never did get to check your auto-mail! Two years with the same set… That must have been harsh with the tactics you use."
Eagerly she grabbed his right arm and pulled off the sopping wet glove, pushing back the long sleeves he wore. She examined the damp metal with care and precision; "Your right tricep is twisted, probably making it difficult for you to raise your arms, right?"
"Uh…" Edward nodded slowly. Winry continued to survey the damage, shaking her head and muttering angrily.
"Look at all this, Edward! Damage everywhere… Oh, I need a wrench!" she clicked her tongue impatiently, "What have you been doing all this time, Ed? This arm's practically worthless!"
"It's not worthless! You made it, so it can't be worthless," he put on an innocent smile. She chuckled.
"Nice try, but I'm still upset that you've damaged such an expensive auto-mail piece."
"Eh, it was worth a shot," he shrugged. Winry sighed and moved to his left leg. She took of his boot and rolled up his pant leg. Then she began to wiggle his mechanical toes, one by one. After that she tested how well his ankle rotated, and then moved to his knee. Her face furrowed in disbelief as she muttered curses about 'my precious auto-mail' and 'reckless jerks'. Edward scowled in annoyance.
"You realize that even though it's dented and dismantled, it saved my life several times, and that's why it's like that?" he tried to defend himself. Winry glared at him.
"Yes, that's good to know!" she cried sarcastically, "My best friends have been in life-death positions, and only my auto-mail is keeping them alive! Thank God! I feel so much better now!" she turned around and folded her arms angrily. Edward scrambled up and sat in front of her, scowling.
"Hey, it wasn't all fun and games for us, you know!" he shot back, getting mad as well, "We risked our lives, sure, but we saved a ton of lives too! We destroyed some concentration camps, and rescued the people trapped inside! We did that without alchemy, but we're still here! And thanks to us, now a few other people are too!" he clenched his fists in a fit of anger. Winry sat silently for a few moments.
"Concentration camps…?" she asked quietly. Edward furrowed his brow and nodded.
"Yeah. They're these horrible camps that torture and kill people just for being different. There's a war going on, internally, here in Germany. The purebred Germans have decided that the different cultures weaken their country, so they decided to mass slaughter them by use of concentration camps. They're led by a man called Adolf Hitler."
"That's horrible…" Winry covered her mouth, her clear blue eyes shaking.
"Now do you see why we would have preferred you stay in our world?" he asked. Winry scowled.
"I'm not leaving," she said decisively. Ed sighed.
"You don't have much of a choice now, do you?" he mused, "Once Al gets back, you'd better give us the whole story, beginning to end."
"I will," Winry gazed at the river's gently flowing water, her mind still processing the thought of concentration camps.
Things sure were different here.
A/N: Wow. I wrote this a while ago, and I thought that I had posted it, but apparently not. So, here you go! I hope you liked this chapter. I know I had fun writing it:D More to come later, so keep checking for it. Thanks for reading, and I'd really appreciate a review or two to tell me what you thought!