A/N: Oh, the silly things I feel like writing sometimes. XD

This has no real timeline in any plot, so just go with it. 'Kay?

The Gate decided to let Edward Elric see something else: England, a familiar place from an air raid he had witnessed, but this time of years before it occurred.

The blond paces down cobblestone streets, small puddles of the rain of earlier that day clouding up the cracks around the stones. He kicks at a pebble, and waits as the train whistles up ahead. He jogs then, catching up to the opening doors of the locomotive.

Boarding the train, Ed slides into a vacant seat. Why? Why is he here? He isn't sure if he wants to know. How long will this visit last, and for what purpose does it have? The Gate seems to like sending him to this world at various time periods, to meet different people before he returns to Amestris every time his brother Al performs alchemy.

Edward sighs. What does it all mean? The Gate seems so illogical at times. It angers him not knowing what the all-powerful Doors of Fate know. He scowls, but the expression soon fades from his face as somebody sits in the seat across from him.

Edward glances up and unclenches the fists he didn't know he had formed. As his gloves loosen, he notices the gloves on the person across from him. True, gloves are a bit of a fashion statement, but every time Edward sees someone wearing them, he wonders if, like himself, that person is hiding something.

"Hullo," the stranger says with a polite smile. "Are you headed out east as well?"

Edward nods. "Yeah. I'm looking for something." For a way to trigger a method of getting home, he adds mentally.

The stranger has oddly white-colored hair, despite his young face. He's younger than Ed by about a year, it appears. "Really? So are my comrades and I. I'm traveling with them in search of something important."

"Like what?" the blond asks idly.

The stranger touches his left cheek below his eye. "Well, if I told you, it might sound pretty far-fetched."

The alchemist laughs. "Trust me, what I'm looking for is just as ludicrous. So try me."

The stranger smiles again. "Innocence."

"Innocence?" Ed questions. "You mean, like a lack of knowledge and experience that children have, or…" he searches his mind for something he learned in The Gate. "Or a substance of great power?"

The stranger looks shocked. "You… you know what it is?"

"I take it you mean the latter, then, huh?"

The snowy-haired stranger nods. "Yeah, I do. It's weird that you know that. Are you part of the Order, perhaps from a different branch?"

The blond chuckles lightly. "Heh, no, you have the wrong guy. The only 'branch' I'm part of is a part of the military, someplace far away. But I do have an idea what Innocence is." He turns to look out the window. "I should probably tell you what I'm looking for; equivalency and all that." He smiles sadly. "I'm looking for a way to get home. I don't belong here."

The white-haired teen nods his head. "That's alright; I know how you feel. I'm an orphan, so I've never really belonged anywhere. But I think I found a place to be." He smiles a little. "My name is Allen Walker." He holds out his right hand.

Edward almost doesn't want to take his hand; surely the stranger will feel the cold, hard metal beneath his gloves… But it's rude to leave him hanging. So, after some hesitation, Edward takes Allen's hand and shakes it. "I'm Edward Elric."

Allen is making an odd expression that Ed can't place. "Your hand… may I see it?"

Edward winces. But he doesn't say no, knowing full well that denying his train companion something as simple as this would look suspicious. "Um… sure." He leans forward and offers his right hand.

Allen murmurs a thank you and removes the blond's glove. Metal automail shines in the light of the train. "Wow! Your hand is mechanical! I've never seen such a thing before! How far up your arm does it go?"

"All the way to my shoulder," Edward says slowly. "You're not… disturbed? Or suspicious?"

Allen shakes his head, an odd smile on his lips. "No, of course not. The mechanics are a mystery to me – almost futuristic – but I can understand what it's like to have a damned limb."

"Damned," Edward replies with an equally odd grin. "Yes, that much is true."

Allen suddenly removes his own glove, only on his left hand and not his right. He holds it up for Edward to see: red, wrinkled, almost appearing to have been burned… but no, there is a cross on the back of his hand, glowing green in a deep black impression. His nails are black, not painted, but truly deformed. Allen unbuttons his cuff and rolls up his sleeve to reveal more. "See? We're the same: we're both different than regular people because of our arms."

Distantly, Edward feels himself unbuttoning his own cuff and rolling up his own sleeve. Metal and flesh, left and right, cursed through and through.

"What did you sacrifice?" Edward wonders in a whisper.

"My adoptive father, Mana, in a matter of speaking," Allen answers darkly, his tone hiding pain. "What did you give up?"

"My brother, Alphonse, in a matter of speaking," Edward replies similarly. He sighs as he leans back into his seat. "Funny, that I should meet you of all people," he mutters under his breath, but Allen hears him.

The white-haired boy laughs bitterly. "Yeah, it is pretty funny." He holds up his hand, and on an impulsive whim, Edward raises his own hand to match the two up, finger to finger, palm to palm. "You're cold."

"And I don't know how you feel," Ed responds. He smiles. "How old are you?"

"Fifteen. You?"

He had guessed wrong, thinking Allen a year younger than he actually is. "The same; fifteen." He cocks his head and brings his hand back to his side. "I wonder what else we have in common."

"Enough," Allen says warmly. "So, Edward, tell me: how do you plan on getting home?"

"This train, and any connections I can find in the east. But I'm really just waiting for a miracle." For Al to do something with alchemy to bring be back, since I can't do anything in this world where science beats alchemy, he thinks to himself.

"Are you sure?" Allen asks gently. "Because it seems to me like you live someplace really, really far away."

"Oh?" the blond retorts with a smile, "And what gave me away?"

"Your metal arm. No one that I've seen has something like that."

Edward looks surprised, and is about to make a comment, but suddenly a red-haired boy pops his head into the car and peers down the aisle until he spots Allen and Edward. "Allen!" the redhead calls. He dashes down the aisle to the two and plops down all-too-comfortably beside the white-haired teen. "There you are! Why did you go on ahead without Lina-chan and Krory-kins and me?" he pouts. "And who's this?" he remarks, looking at the blond alchemist.

"That's Edward Elric," Allen replies with a friendly tone. "He's my new pal. Ed, meet Lavi. He's my best friend."

The redhead glances between them with a single green eye, the other covered by a black patch. He spies their uncovered hands: one a stark red, the other a shiny grey. "Ah, I see," he mumbles.

"How can you? You don't know what we were talking about –" Edward begins, except he's cut off by a laugh slipping out from the redhead's lips.

"Trust me, I'm very observant, and smarter than I look. Besides," Lavi adds in a softer tone, "I know how sensitive Allen is about his arm. He wouldn't let just anybody see it for what it truly is. But you look like you understand, since your arm is weird, too."

"It's not weird!" Allen snaps. "Just… different. Both of ours."

"Whatever you say, bean sprout," Lavi chuckles, but he's shut up by two mirroring outbursts:



The two fifteen-year-olds exchange glances, curious about the other.

The redhead jerks back in surprise and raises his hands in surrender. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry! Sheesh, if I knew that it would trigger both of you at once, I wouldn't have said anything!"

Suddenly, Allen and Edward stand, turn back to back, and look at the green-eyed redhead. "Which one of us is taller?"

Lavi laughs. "You won't believe this, but you're the same height! How adorable. Looks like you two have a few matching differences, huh?"

Allen smacks his comrade on the head. "Shut up, you! Being vertically challenged isn't a difference; plenty of people are that way!"

Lavi ruffles the younger teen's hair. "Well, I'm not! Guess that makes me the weirdo this time." He smirks, and then looks to Edward. "It was nice meeting you. I have to get back to my teammates and tell them that I found Allen. I'll see you again some other time."

The blond smiles. "Yeah, you too." And he waves as Lavi turns and leaves.

Allen is sliding his glove back on, and buttoning up his cuff again. He yawns. "Mm. If you don't mind, Ed, I'm going to take a nap. I didn't sleep much last night, and train rides are perfect for sleeping."

"Sure thing; I'll do the same, actually," Edward replies. And he slips on his own glove and re-buttons his own shirtsleeve, and slides down to lay horizontally on his seat. He closes his eyes. "Wake me when we come to another country or something." And then he was out like a light, just like the teenager across from him.