"My Knight; My Princess"
"Life is too short to sleep on low thread-count sheets."
They followed him; if only because they had nowhere else to sleep that night. Lan Fan could have slept in a tree or something, but it seemed like she had a long enough day and she wanted to sleep on something without a hard surface. Alphonse always took them up on their warm beds, at least he thought they were warm, Edward however always tried to disagree, saying ridiculous things like "We have a good lead this time! We gotta get going!" or "No thanks. I'm not tired. Besides, we got a train to catch!"
There were no trains to catch because Alphonse always got our tickets the night before and woke him up on time. They never really got any good leads, either. Not until they discovered the homunculi, anyway. Brother also lied about being tired. All the time. He was always tired; studying, reading, eating, exploring libraries.
The path soon faded from cement to dirt; they were in the 'sticks' now. This place was very different in the daytime than it was in the nighttime- the bright sky disappeared almost as soon as they crossed into the dirt from the city…not to mention the fact that it was so hot and humid, they had no choice but to gradually remove several pieces of clothing every few minutes. Lan Fan too was forced to remove some of her black clothing and her mask. The black hood she always wore was now down; exposing her luscious neck to the hot sun. A bead of sweat trickled down from the tip of her hair all the way to the base of her neck- Lan Fan was very beautiful.
Alphonse couldn't stop staring at her, thinking of what a natural beauty she was-
And then she looked up.
"No! Just thinking, sorry." How embarrassing. It's like when Edward gets caught looking at Winry's butt. Ling sure is lucky…
"Don't apologize- I was thinking too."
"About what?" He asked.
Lan Fan wasn't the type to just but into another's affairs. But Alphonse's story was so intriguing she couldn't help but wonder…
"Not to be rude…but it's been awhile since I've seen you in that armor. And…well…"
She hesitated for a few moments, letting Al edge her on. It must be important if she's hesitating, right?
"Go on, Lan Fan. It's ok."
"Well, I can't imagine what it must have been like to be in just armor…"
"The nights were lonely…but I endured it. I think I read almost every book in Central! Haha."
She watched him walk away while hearing his laughter fade. He walked closer to Archibald, hoping to talk even more about the dolls…as if he didn't know enough already. Archibald smiled at Alphonse, almost like an uncle would to a nephew he hadn't seen in a long time.
Before Al could get another word in, the three of them heard some rustling in the bushes. Lan Fan quickly drew out a few kunai, while Alphonse stepped in front of Archibald. They both lowered their guard when the rustler stepped out of the hot bushes- it was a tall, skinny young man, half naked with a worn-out hoe resting between his shoulders. His calves were covered in nicks and various wet leaves. A trademark of a hard worker…
"Alphonse!" the young man said happily. He tossed his tool to the side, making a loud clang as it fell, and ran towards the golden-eyed man kicking up dust.
Al was surprised, "Jido!"
Alphonse hardly recognized him; his hair was in a very womanly bun, and his vest was off. In fact, if it were not for Jido's automail, Alphonse would not have recognized him. Jido grabbed Al's shoulders and shook them, excitedly.
"How was the hunt for Rinako?"
"A failure. Although, I found out quite a few things I didn't know before."
"Oh? Good for you…doesn't help me at all…but good for you, Alphonse." he said, slapping Alphonse on the side of his arms, playfully.
To be fair, the only thing they accomplished was learning information they didn't even need to know. Father was gone. For good. What was the point in knowing who created those human-like dolls? Alphonse thought, if Archibald was being kept as far away as Hachikoi, then perhaps someone hid him to keep the secret of the dolls away. Either way, it would be wise to keep Archibald around. Wise and foolish…
'I'm becoming more like my brother…' he winced.
The two of them laughed for a few minutes, it had only been a few hours since they last saw each other but it had certainly felt like ages. Jido reminded Alphonse of his brother so that couldn't be helped either. He also, somewhat looked like Ed…
Tired of the awkward laughing, Jido made a fake coughing sound with his fist to his mouth.
"Well…are you three looking for a place to stay?"
"Not again." He thought, "Well actually we-"
"-Would love to take you up on that offer!"
"M-Mr. Archibald?" He said as Archibald grabbed Jido's automail hands. Jido, looking embarrassed, gazed towards Al's direction for help. Archibald turned around and laughed a little.
"The truth is, Alphonse, I was just going to find a remote location and make a shelter with alchemy…"
Alphonse sighed heavily and looked behind him at Lan Fan, who was nodding in agreement. "That sounds like something brother would do…"
And that was that. The two hour trip to Jido's tiny hut was filled with the same dark tunnel, spiders crawling up Al's pant leg, and numerous cuts on Archibald's arm. Alphonse certainly didn't remember it being this rough of a walk…or hot, although, he supposed, it was only because it had become so humid outside during the evening. There it was again, the door with the strange circle on it…that was Alchemy wasn't it? Let's see…a full circle with three earth triangles…and a base of salt? But why is the symbol for fire and air also here? Al's curiosity got the best of him. He couldn't take it anymore and held out his hand. "Jido! May I look at that key for a second?"
Jido paused, looked at the key curiously, and handed it to Alphonse.
"Sure…it's a basic rusty old key though." he shrugged.
"Mr. Archibald?" He handed the key to Archibald for his thoughts as well.
"It's the same basic transmutation circle on the door, the same one Brother and I used when we were first learning…except it has a fire and air symbol…but that shouldn't be there…Why? With these symbols the transmutation shouldn't work. Why?"
Archibald looked it over a few times, but couldn't seem to see it well.
"Perhaps we should talk about this more in a better lit area."
They looked around them, seeing the darkness every which way, they decided to hold off on talking about such a long subject…of course only for the sake of Lan Fan and Jido- who knew next to nothing about alchemy. Alphonse handed him the key again, saw the blue flash of light and walked outside. It had become a bit cooler, but that didn't stop the sweat from leaving their body's and clothing; the latter happened to be almost soaked from sweat, as if they had all just jumped into a pool. By the time they reached Jido's hut, they were reduced to wearing only their undershirts, and Lan Fan, had rolled up her right sleeve- putting her arm guard in the empty hood behind her head. Poor Lan Fan didn't have the option of taking off her extra shirt…
Jido walked inside his hut, placing the lantern in the middle of the room above the sunken fireplace. The hut looked exactly like it had earlier, except the little girl was missing.
"Imouto!" Jido called out in the darkness. It seemed awfully late to wake up such a little girl…Jido probably had his reasons, though.
The second Alphonse got into the hut, he heard a soft voice come from behind him. Imouto was standing there, still covered in dirt and filth.
"Imouto will help you with the futons…it's almost, let's see." He stopped to look outside, while Imouto ran in the other, dark filled room to grab whatever these 'futons' were. "It's almost 5...you should all get to bed."
"5 already? Ugh…no wonder I'm so tired. Hm?" he felt a something very tiny bump into him from behind. It was, apparently, Imouto with the 'futons'. All Alphonse could see were tiny feet with fluffy, comfortable looking sheets attached to the top half of it.
"Koko!" a muffled, tiny voice came from the sheets. A demanding tone in her voice.
"Nnnn! KOKO!" she yelled out.
Jido turned around and shouted back at her from the kitchen/tool shed, "Kare wa watashi-tachi no gengo aho o hanasu koto wa arimasen!" leaving Alphonse confused and Imouto pouting.
"Maybe I should learn Hachikoian." he laughed, but Jido brushed the statement off with a shrug as he put his tool away.
"Nah, She's just too little to learn Amstresian yet…Ah," As he walked into the living room/ bedroom he noticed his sister tugging on Lan Fan. "I'm sorry, sono tenshi!" he made a 'shooing' motion in Imouto's direction. She pouted again.
Lan Fan shook her head, "No, no Jido, it's ok. I'll sleep in her room tonight."
Jido sighed a little, and started walking to the front door, He raised his hand in a waving 'goodbye' motion and began walking outside.
"Well goodnight everyone! I'll be sleeping on the roof tonight."
He shrugged and smiled widely, "Just because. Night all."
They all chirped a simultaneous 'goodnight' as he climbed onto the roof and out of sight. Footsteps could be heard from above them. As they looked up, they wondered- could he really be sleeping up there? Imouto acted as if it were nothing and began putting the futons on the floor. She laid the foam pad on the floor first, trying her best with her tiny hands to straighten it out on the floor. She then put the futon part on top, then with Lan Fan's help, she laid out the sheets, blankets, duvet, and huge puffy pillows at the headrest. The whole thing looked so comfortable, Alphonse didn't bother waiting until they were done making it look pretty and neat; he slipped in and encompassed himself in the warm fluffy softness. He looked around from his eyes, just barely above the sheets, to see what the room looked like form the floor. As he looked around from his peripheral vision…he was reminded of the nights he and his brother spent at Winry's home.
"Goodnight Lan Fan, Imouto."
The two of them nodded and headed inside the other room, Imouto holding Lan's hand tightly. Alphonse turned to the man in the futon beside him and smiled.
"Goodnight Mr. Archibald."
He took off his glasses and placed them inside the pocket of his vest, which-along with his shirt was folded beside him. He smiled back at Alphonse as he got into his fluffy bed.
"You can just call me 'Archi', That's what Hohen used to call me, after all…"
"Were you and my Father that close?"
"We were good friends, yes."
Speaking of friends, Alphonse wondered how they were doing. The last time they had spoken, wasn't exactly at the best of times…
"Night brother." he whispered, he closed his eyes and fell asleep as the sun began to rise in the sky.
That smile was so evil looking right now. So evil and…what's the correct word? Menacing. This man with outstretched hands threw himself on the once Fullmetal Alchemist and laughed heartily. It was no doubt, the King of Xing.
"Welcome to Xing, Edward!"
Edward would have floored him if not for the big, scary looking people behind Ling.
"Dammit Ling!" He growled, and just as he was about to loose it, "- Who's that guy?" He noticed a young looking guy standing next to Ling, he looked like Ling too…Ling just sort of brushed off the question like it was nothing.
He let go of Edward and looking behind him, "That's one of my brothers, Lei…" Lei nodded at Edward, Edward nodded back. "And you remember Mei, right?" he said with a smile.
Although they hadn't exactly gotten along great in the past, Edward was looking forward to asking her about Alphonse…his only hope was that she didn't go on a tangent about her 'beloved lord Alphonse'. Blech.
Mei had gotten taller and…much bigger. Not quite as big as Winry had gotten, but still big enough for Alphonse, Ed thought. She was very polite as well, Edward guessed it was because she was well-bred; She bowed and talked just like the princess she was raised to be.
"Hello Edward, Gaston…and Zampano and Jerso, correct?"
Ed and Gaston gave a nice 'hello' to Mei. Ling snapped his fingers and in an instant the four of their bags were gone and in his servants hands, leaving them all- except Gaston- very impressed. It was nothing different for Edward because he had seen Ling's 'princeyness' in action before when they had first met.
Gaston was seething right where he stood.
"Is he ok, Ed?"
"Yea…I'm sure he'll be fine."
They piled into a stagecoach at the side of the train station, a black model pulled by four horses. Fit for a king, even.
Zampano and Jerso got on the top with the stage driver, Mei on top with the luggage, while Lei, Ling, Edward, and Gaston inside.
Lei and Ling sat next to one another on the front side, while Edward and Gaston in the remained two seats. The seats were very comfortable and they had plenty of room to stretch out from their previous train ride.
After a few moments had passed, Edward looked at his watch, a nice silver one that their Teacher had bought him as a wedding present, he was surprised at the time.
"9 am…already that fast huh?"
Ling, with his elbow on his knee, grinned at Edward from the opposite side of the compartment. "Miss the wife already?"
"Of course!" He blushed very cutely for a grown man. Why wouldn't I miss her? He thought.
Edward then opened and looked out the window of the stagecoach, hoping to hide the redness on his face. With wind blowing his hair all around, he saw a huge white 'thing' in the distance.
"What's that thing up ahead, Ling?"
"It's our ride to Hachikoi." He grinned.
And so it begins once again…
I'm such a liar : sorry about the late update! I'll try harder next time I swear! Please review and don't forget I love you! Also, mind telling me what you like about the story? Sorry if the end to this chapter seemed rushed a bit..
I'm working on the next chapter now that I have more downtime, also working on MBMP so look forward to that!