AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH!!! GOMEN! GOMEN NASAI FOR BEING SO FREAKING LATE ON THIS CHAPTER!! *dodges weapons being thrown* GOMEN NASAI! *dodges more weapons* ACK! TASUKITE!!!!!! EDO-KUN! TASUKITE!!!

Ed Lover FMA 77 – Yeah, there's more. It just took me over a month to get off my lazy butt and write it. Gomen nasai!

To all: In this chapter, I'm going to do a little twist with the languages here. In the previous chapter, I had it all in English. But today (4-02-09) I thought "Wait. FMA was originally written in Japanese. So how does Ed get along in Germany so easily? He doesn't know German!" So I decided to throw it in there.

Gomen – Sorry

Gomen nasai – Polite version of Gomen

Nani – What

Ina – No, Nay

Baka – Idiot

Hughes no baka! – Hughes you idiot!

Chikushou – D*mn

~*~*~*~*~

~ A Few Days Later ~

'Germany. What a beautiful country,' Hughes thought as he walked off to work, stopping by the riverbank. He paused for a moment, soaking in the beauty of the sunlight shining across the water, the birds singing, the slight wind making the leaves rustle ever so slightly. Days like this were rare. 'If only they came more often,' he thought, his mind drifting. Without thinking, his hand traveled up to his shirt pocket, where he felt two things – one large and hard, the other large and flimsy. These objects, however trivial, brought him back to earth.

"Darn it," he grumbled, checking the time. "I'm going to be late for work." And with that, he continued on his way.

~*~*~*~*~

By this time of the day, the sun had risen high into the faded blue sky. It was still beautiful outside. The sun was smiling, the birds were merrily flying about, and everyone was walking amiably outside in hope of capturing a faint ray of the sunlight streaming around them. Yes, it was surely a beautiful day. But in the town square, the local drunks were arguing and laughing at the top of their lungs, mindless of the disruption they were causing, ignoring the looks they were receiving, and just pleasantly going about their business – if you could call disturbing the peace their business. Mentally, Hughes sighed. 'Why am I the one who has to deal with these buffoons?' he thought to himself. He walked over to them firmly, displaying quite the annoyed air. But the drunks, if they noticed his arrival at all, made no notice of it – thereby killing any chance to resolve this without actually having to tell those boys off. Even if they were annoying, he really did enjoy their company during the day. But business was business, and he had to do his job if he wanted to keep living in his apartment instead of the streets. So, wearily but firmly, he headed over. He had a speech prepared and waiting in his head for moments like this, and just when he was about to deliver it, the telltale sound of thumping metal became known to his ears. A certain somebody was walking this way. Sure enough, a few moments later, Edward Elric came into view.

"Oi, Edward!" came the voice of one of the drunks, choosing that particular moment to become aware of his surroundings. "Care to join us?"

Ed, whose attention had been somewhere else entirely – he probably hadn't even noticed the local drunks - turned at the sound of his name. When he saw who had spoken, a small smirk stole its way across his face. "Come on, guys, you know I don't drink!"

The men laughed. "Then you'd better get started!" came the reply. This crude comment brought another round of laughter and general elbow-nudging for the lot of them. Ed sighed and rolled his eyes – Hughes as well, I might add - and prepared to walk on.

"Ed!" This voice, however, did not come from any of the town's inebriated citizens.

Ed turned, semi-impatiently, towards the owner of the voice. "What is it now, Hughes?"

Hughes smirked, deciding to let Ed slide with the lack of any formality (1) – at least, for now. He had something to talk about with Edward. He had been waiting for an opportunity to bring this up since "that night", as he had come to call it. He had been so eager to bring it up, but since that quite eventful night, he had not seen Edward at all. So in all predictability, he was not going to let this opportunity slip through his fingers. Oh no. This was the time to act.

"How is your friend doing?"

Friend? To put it mildly, Ed was utterly lost. "Friend? Who are you talking about?" And in all honesty, Edward really did not know. He could not think of anybody Hughes might be referring to in the slightest. Noa had long since moved away, but frequently sent letters to Ed and Al. He might have been referring to her… But the only problem with that suggestion would be that she also sent letters to Gracia – and with Hughes' affection for her, more obvious as of late, he would have brought this up with Gracia instead of Edward as an excuse to talk to her. There was nobody else that Edward could think of. Maybe Hughes was mistaken? Maybe he had mistaken the woman he had helped in town a few weeks ago as a friend? No, even Hughes would have been able to tell that she was nobody he knew! So what could it be?

Hughes smiled – more like smirked – at Ed's childishly confused response. "The one you were – how should I put it - talking to by the river a few nights ago."

To say that Ed turned red would be an understatement. "N-nani?!" It took but a moment for Edward to realize his slip-up (2). So, hoping desperately that no one had yet noticed, he made a desperate attempt to cover it up. "I-I don't know what you're talking about, Hughes! You must have been mistaken! I-I mean, you said it was night, right? You might've thought I was someone else! I haven't been anywhere near the river at night in quite a while!" he started to chuckle nervously.

One of the "inebriated citizens" that was leaning against the wall of the bar looked at one of his drinking buddies. "What did he say?" he muttered to his friend softly. "What was that word? N-nonnie or something? What the heck is that supposed to mean?"

His friend shrugged, unconcerned. "Who cares?"

"Wait!" cried another man from the group, apparently struck by thought. 'Hmph. That'll be a first', was Hughes' response. "Ed," continued the man, "do you have a girlfriend?" He had to have picked that particular moment to regain his senses.

Hughes' chuckled mentally. 'This is turning out even better than I had originally hoped for,' he thought. 'And that's an added bonus. That last question sure sobered up that bunch. One less problem to deal with, and more grief for Ed.'

"Ina!" Ed yelled. "I don't have a girlfriend! I swear! So just shut up already! Bakas!" He was trying to appear simply annoyed, as though the whole thing was just a misunderstanding that was wasting his time, but he looked flustered and embarrassed to the viewers of this little scene.

Finally, something about this conversation clicked in Hughes' brain, and he turned to Ed with a confused look. "Edward, what are you saying? You've been using words that I know for a fact aren't German. Ina? What does that even mean, anyway?"

Ed's relief was clearly visible. It would be obvious to even the most intoxicated person in Germany that he was desperate to get off of the previous subject. "I-it's my native language. I tend to revert to it when I get flustered or annoyed."

Maes was mildly surprised. "You originally spoke a different language?" Ed nodded. "You speak ours so fluently, I never would've guessed!" The nearby men nodded assent. "What exactly is your native language, anyway?"

Edward rubbed the back of his neck. "J-japanese," he said. (3)

"Japanese is a hard language to learn, or so I'm told," said Hughes. "To be able to speak that and a second language so fluently?" He gave a nod of approval. "That's no small feat there, son." Then he realized something and turned to Ed with a malicious grin. "But back to the matter at hand."

Ed grew flustered once again. "I-I told you, I-"

Hughes cut him off by waving a flimsy piece of paper in his face. "Then what's this?" he asked cockily. Ed grasped the paper to get a good view of it – an object being waved in front of your face doesn't do any good for the eyes. His jaw dropped as he processed what was on the paper. "N-NANI?!?! What the heck, Hughes?! How did you-"

Hughes smirked evilly. "You were a little too – preoccupied to notice, Ed. I'm not surprised you don't remember." He then took the paper away from Ed – who lunged for it and narrowly missed, cursing all the while – and handed it over to the nearest drunkard.

"Holy crap, Edward! That's a great girl you got there!" he laughed and passed the photograph along to his friends, who all had their share of comments about it, complete with laughter and more elbow-nudges. By the time the photo got back to Hughes, Ed was a bright red mess.

"HUGHES NO BAKA! GIMME THE ~CENSORED~ PICTURE ALREADY! CHIKUSHOU! GIVE IT BACK, YOU ~CENSORED~ EXCUSE FOR A POLICEMAN!"

Hughes held Ed off with one hand while the other dangled the picture threateningly, while Ed wildly thrashed his arms around in a desperate attempt to retrieve the very embarrassing photo. "Mind your manners, kid." He said casually. "Such language isn't suitable for someone so young, even if you are a legal adult." He looked at the picture for a moment, and finally, something about the picture registered in his brain. For the second time that day, a confused look stole its way across his face. "I thought I knew every face in Munich (4)," he said, "But I can't figure out for the life of me who this girl is." He looked at Ed questioningly. Ed momentarily halted his thrashing about to answer. He was already a sunken ship – might as well. He had nothing to lose now anyway.

Ed rolled his eyes, sighing. "That was my auto – er, my mechanic. She's the one who made my limbs. (5) I haven't really seen her for four years, okay? Are you happy now?" (6)

Hughes wasn't satisfied. "She didn't fix your limbs, though," he noted, staring at the obvious limp Edward still sported. "Does that mean she didn't stay?"

Ed growled at him. "That's none of your concern!" he snapped. With that, he stood up straight, adjusted his clothing, and stalked off angrily, grabbing the photo out of Hughes' unsuspecting hand as he swept past him.

Hughes looked at Ed's retreating back. "Not a very nice temper," he commented idly.

"I concur," commented one of the nearby men. Hughes could tell who it was without looking. When that particular man wasn't drunk, he had quite the eloquent tongue – it was a shame he didn't put it to use more often.

"Excuse me," came a nearby voice, startling Hughes out of his thoughts. He turned. A figure he recognized by face but not name smiled up at him innocently. "Have you come across a young man named Edward Elric recently?"

~*~*~*~*~

'Does that mean she didn't stay?' The words echoed in Ed's mind repeatedly, refusing to give Ed even momentary respite from his painful and demanding thoughts and memories. He wished they would stop, if only for a moment. They hurt so badly.

Truth be told, she couldn't stay. As soon as the sun came up, she was gone. Simply not there. It was as if he had blinked, and she was no longer in front of him, a void in the place she had once filled. But he hadn't blinked. He saw her as she disappeared, even though it had only lasted a moment. But during that moment, Edward could have sworn he had seen a glimpse of the Gate behind her, pulling her towards its doors – towards the other side, where his home - his real home - was. But that couldn't have been true, could it? Why would The Gate have been there? What did this have to do with Winry? He wasn't sure yet. Heck, he wasn't sure of anything at the moment. The only thing he was sure of was that the Winry he had seen that night hadn't been a dream.

'I promise, Ed, I will find a way for you to get home. Just trust me. Trust me and wait.' That was the last thing she had said to him before she was taken away. Over the past few days – it had been about a week – he had repeated it in his head over and over.

"She'll get me home?" he muttered miserably. "Yeah, right. It'll never work. Al and I have tried so many times to no avail, and no one back home knows how The Gate works. We should just accept it and not get our hopes up – Al and I are stranded here."

"What did you say, Nii-san?"

Ed looked up, pulled out of his thoughts. Without realizing it, he had walked all the way to the apartment he and his brother shared. "Nothing, Al!" he called up to the boy – no, man – on the balcony of their second story apartment. Alphonse smiled happily and motioned to his brother excitedly.

"Nii-san! Come up! You won't believe who's here!" Ed frowned. It wasn't like Al to let people in. Cats, of course, but people? Not often. Curious, he went up to their apartment – and nearly broke every bone in his body.

"Edward Elric! How much I've missed you! Not a day goes by that I don't remember you!" The figure smiled, tears and little sparkly thingies surrounding him. (A/N: Dead giveaway…)

Ed couldn't breathe.

"Major, please let Nii-san down! You're choking him!" Thankfully, Ed was released. He sat on the floor, gasping for air and doing a cursory examination of his body to ensure that nothing had been broken. When he was sure that he wasn't dead and he could still breathe, he looked up at the giant standing in front of him. "Major Armstrong?!?!" he cried, shocked.

Al nodded vigorously from around the Major. "Yes! The Major is here! From Central! He said that he knows how to get us home! Home, Nii-san! Back to Amestris!"

"H-how?" Ed cried in disbelief.

Al smiled. "Winry! She found out a way to get through The Gate without losing anything and take us back too! She found it! And then she came to Central and got everyone! They're waiting on the other side! They're going to take us back with them!" Al's joy was purely contagious – before long, the Major was showing off his muscles ecstatically.

Ed was surprised – to say the least. "Wait – everyone?"

Al's smile got even bigger. "Yeah! Lt. Hawkeye and Mustang and Breda and Feury and Havoc and Falman and everyone! They're not all here, though. Major here volunteered to find us, so he's here-"

'Typical Major,' Ed thought.

"-And Winry is out looking for-"

The door burst open, slamming into the wall, and definitely leaving an indentation of the doorknob behind. "Edward Elric! Do you know how fast you walk when you're thinking? My God, I got lost trying to keep up with you!"

Ed's eyes grew as wide as they could possibly go. "Winry?!"

She placed her hands on her knees, panted for a moment, and then looked up and nodded. "I told you I'd get you back, didn't I?"

He nodded dumbly, not trusting his voice.

"Then why are you acting as if you're so surprised?!" She smacked him on the head and then hugged him tightly. Ed just sat still. It was smarter not to do anything that would trigger another slap – or worse. Ed wouldn't have been surprised if she had brought her wrench along.

When Winry let go of Ed, she smiled and headed towards the door. At the threshold, she paused and turned to the people behind her. "You ready to go home?"

A growing smile appeared on Ed's face. He nodded. "As ready as I'll ever be." Al nodded his assent.

~Cue music~

END

~*~*~*~*~

(1) I mean Mr., Mrs., Officer… like that. I don't mean san or kun this time.

(2) When he turned red and started stuttering, if that wasn't clear.

(3) I just used the closest English equivalent – I mean jeez, you expect me to be fluent in Amestrian? O.o

(4) I haven't seen the movie in a while, so I'm going to say it's Munich. I'm right, aren't I?

(5) For the sake of this fanfiction, please just assume that they know he has prosthetic limbs.

(6) Poor Ed… He didn't count the five minutes in Conqueror of Shamballa, did he? *sob*

Please review if you do anything at all with this story. I don't want somebody to put this story on Favorite story and stuff (Yeah, like anybody's going to do THAT) without reviewing. It makes me feel unloved.

Kane (Sil)