Chapter One

Berlin

Edward Elric was sitting alone at a steel mesh table in the open aired patio of the restaurant his pensive steps had taken him to. He'd ordered himself a coffee, black, and strong. Nothing else. He wasn't still too sure why he'd come here, but at the expense of not being rude and taking up a table just because, he'd at least ordered something to drink. Something strong, and most likely bitter as hell to put his senses back in order.

He cast a golden eyes look over the other customers. They chatted happily to each other, no one sat alone at their tables. No one but him. Edward repressed a soft sigh and turned his gaze to the view. The restaurant he had ended up in was set on a hill top, overlooking the bustling city of Berlin. Yes, he was still in Berlin. After several months spent wondering whether or not he should move elsewhere he'd ended up staying here. He'd stayed not for himself, but for his brother, Alphonse. His brother had been accepted into a prestigious position in a university laboratory researching engineering and rocketry.

"Here you are, sir." The waitress with the kind smile and the neatly starched white apron said as she set down the mug of steaming coffee onto the table. "Will you be having anything else?"

Edward turned his head, glancing once at the coffee, and then up at her smiling face. "No. Thank you." He replied and picked up his coffee. Raising it to his lips he took a long swig of the liquid, relishing in the burning hot sensation it produced as it slid thickly down his throat. He pulled it from his lips after a moment of holding it there, just breathing in the rich smell of the coffee beans, and the hot steam of the freshly brewed drink. About to place it on his coaster Edward paused. Reaching forward with his free hand he grabbed the coaster in his white gloved fingers and brought it towards him.

Maggie: 0113-000-000

Edward's face was expressionless as he set the coaster back down, and the mug on top of it. He was somewhat used to this by now. Random girls trying every method in their cryptic books to land a date with him. However Edward was not interested. Many years ago he'd never had the time to even consider women. The only females he knew were tough, opinionated, and in most cases either carried a weapon, or knew how to turn something harmless into a weapon. These girls here were nothing like that. Yet even if they had been, his interest would have ranked no higher on whatever scale was imbedded in his head. Before he'd had no time, and now he had all the time in the world, but still no interest. No, he liked women well enough, several of them had been dear to him in his past, but he was not interested in starting up a relationship with one. Not even a one night stand.

Edward finished his coffee, and strode away from his table with a swish of his red jacket and the tinkling of coins onto the table as payment. He did not notice the gaze that Maggie, his former waitress, sent after him. Soon he found himself back out in the streets of Berlin. Edward looked around for a while before starting off again. This time his steps had a more purposeful direction. He was going to the university.

It took Edward approximately twenty minutes to reach the large expansive brickwork structures that were the university, and about five more to reach the building where his brother worked. He leaned back against it, allowing himself to sigh gently. Resting his golden haired head against the wall he flexed his right hand slowly. He could feel the gears creak, they caused vibrations to run up the entire length of the automail arm up into the flesh which joined it. He'd been extra careful and cautious about maintenance of his automail, but he feared it would soon break and he'd have to once again go back to the less than acceptable prosthetics in this world. Going from automail to that cheap imitation was rather annoying. He wouldn't be able to do anything about it though. It wasn't as if he'd be able to get back.

"Brother?"

Edward looked over, eyes opening, at the sound of Al's voice. "Hey. You done?"

"Yeah." Al said with a smile.

Edward smiled back and stopped leaning against the wall to walk over to his brother. "Good." He said, clapping him on the shoulder. "Let's get home then."

Al nodded and fell into step with his older sibling.

Together they made dinner, talking about what has happening at the university, and what Ed had done that day. Mainly? Nothing much. But Al hadn't expected Edward would be doing much of anything but holing himself up in places with his journal drawing transmutation circles. Edward, Al knew, would probably never adjust to being here in this world. Al could cope, but Edward was another story for all he had managed to continue on so well.

"It would help if you'd talk about it. It's been almost two years now, brother." Al ventured gently.

Edward made no sign that he'd even heard his brother as he continued to mechanically chop the carrots before him.

"Edward?" Al pressed.

Chop-chop-chop

Edward finally held the knife motionless, its blade resting against the carrot ready to make the next slice. "There's nothing to talk about."

"You've grown up you know." Al said, turning back to stirring the food in the skillet. "I don't know if you noticed it, but while we were searching for the stone you grew up, a lot. You don't act as impulsively, and you think a lot more. But I can't help but wonder sometimes if you're dwelling too much on the past."

"The past determines our future as humans." Edward said, resuming his chopping. "We must learn from it."

Chop-chop

"Yes, I agree. But," Al paused his stirring for a moment to look over at his brother, "I don't want to see you grow depressed by it. You're my brother, and I love you. So I want you to talk about it so it doesn't grow too hard to bear alone."

Chop-chop-chop-ch

Edward paused in mid-chop, "I'm not depressed. Don't worry. I just feel lonely, that's all. I feel… lost. But don't worry about me, you have enough to concentrate on. I'll be fine, I just have to find some meaning to my life here."

op-chop-chop-chop

"All right brother." Al gave in, even though he wasn't fully satisfied.

Edward finished his chopping of the carrot and scraped the slices into the skillet from the cutting board. Turning he walked over to the sink to turn on the blast of cold water from the stainless steel faucet to rinse the orange carrot juice off the items before putting them in the basket of dishes that needed washing. Edward cranked off the water and dried his hands before standing at the sink silently for a moment as he pulled on his white gloves again.

What was he supposed to say to his brother? He'd spent his entire life taking care of Al. No, he wouldn't concern Al with his troubles. He didn't fully understand them himself. He wasn't depressed, but he wasn't happy. Al being here helped, he was attached to his brother, but it wasn't the same as before. Smiling wryly Edward turned from the sink and got back to work helping to finish dinner so they could eat.

Amestris

Roy Mustang. No. Scratch that. General Roy Mustang. He'd been reassigned his promotion by the King of Amestris, and he was under no authority to demote himself again. After the mishap of the strange invaders from another world in which Roy Mustang had shown up and taken command of the situation effectively, the King was not about to let the man get away with holing himself up in a cabin in the middle of nowhere again.

"General."

Roy pretended not to hear those dulcet tones he knew so well, and feared rightly when they had a gun aimed point blank at his head. He continued to pretend to read the stack of paperwork before him like a good general.

"General Mustang."

Roy didn't so much as twitch, and he was quite pleased with himself if he might be so bold as to say so.

"Roy Mustang! I'm going to give you until the count of three to answer me or I'm going to show you personally what my latest target looked like after I was done with it!" Riza Hawkeye exclaimed as she whipped her gun out of the holster cocking it at the same time.

Roy understandably jumped a few inches in his chair, causing it to nearly tip over. "Okay, okay!" He appeased, "I'm listening! Please put the gun…"

The gun slowly started to lower.

"…away… now." Roy finished, almost timidly. He had a genuine and healthy respect for Riza's marksmanship.

Riza smirked as she put the safety back on her favored weapon and holstered it. "You have a phone call on Line Two. Next time, answer me when I page you over the intercom, sir."

Roy nodded. "Your request is dually noted. Thank you, Hawkeye."

"It's my job." She replied, and could be heard muttering a teasing "unfortunately" behind her as she exited the well appointed office of her superior.

Roy sighed and stared over at the phone. Line Two was blinking orange in the little plastic box next to it. Reaching over he grabbed hold of the receiver, as he did so his eyes drawn to the framed photograph that set next to the phone. A dark shadow, akin to sadness passed through his eyes momentarily before he picked up the receiver. "Hello?" He asked as he brought the phone to his ear, "this is General Mustang."

Roy did not say a single word the entire phone call except to say goodbye at the very end and hang up the phone. "I wonder… could it really be so simple?" Roy whispered to himself, his eyes drawn to the photograph once more.

The feeling inside of him was not foreign, but it contained a new emotion. Hope. Even though he tried to suppress it, for what would he do if this did not pan out? He hoped those at the laboratory were right, because if they were, his life might finally be looking up again. Instead of immediately returning to his paperwork Roy continued to stare at the picture on his desk.

As he heard Riza's familiar footsteps however, Roy jerked his gaze away and quickly got back to his paperwork as his door slid open a mere few inches.

Riza, satisfied that Roy was once more at work, closed the door again and headed away from the office.

"Wonder how he took the news." Havoc said as he lit another cigarette.

"Who knows." Riza said as she swiped the cigarette from Havoc's fingers and dumped it into the trash bin before he'd had a chance to even take one puff. "I expect he's trying not to get his hopes up. And really, can we blame him?"

Havoc began to dig in his pockets again, "I can't. But then again I don't want to get burned to a crisp."

Riza's gun was instantly in her hands again as Havoc pulled out another cigarette, "you light that thing and I will give you your breathing tube right here and now. That stuff will ruin you."

Havoc paled considerably and meekly put the cigarette away again. "Yes ma'am." He said, and made plans to smoke as soon as he got home… or several miles away from Riza, whichever came first. The woman was hell bent on being his nicotine patch, except she used a gun as incentive.