Things were starting to calm down in the safe house on an abandoned satellite. Duo had toned down his pranks on Wu Fei to everyone's relief. Heero had gotten used to the others, and had quit threatening them on sight. Then came the day it all changed.
It had started innocently enough with one of Duo's minor pranks. Heero was still annoyed Duo had hacked into HIS computer and set it to play the song 'Hero' from the old movie Spider man. Then Duo said something that had him stop short in less than two seconds.
"Come on Hee-chan, it was just a joke!"
Hee-chan? Hee-chan? Didn't that braided baka know that was a GIRL'S nickname?
Heero turned an interesting shade of crimson before chasing after Duo with murder in his eyes.
That's when it all went to hell in a handbasket.
Heero woke up ten minutes later wondering what the hell fell on him. That's when he heard the cursing. Normally he wouldn't have noticed this, what with Wu Fei being pranked regularly, but it wasn't one of the pilots doing the swearing.
Heero opened his eyes to a concerned pair of teal. He looked over to see...a short blond kid trying to beat the crap out of Duo. He mildly wondered what Duo had done to the kid to get him so pissed.
"I AM NOT SHORT DAMMIT!"
Then he realized something. The kid had been swearing in Japanese.
"You okay Heero?" asked Quatre.
"What the hell hit me, and who's the kid?"
"He fell out of the ceiling on top of you. We don't understand enough Japanese to talk to him properly."
"He knows when someone's commenting on his height, despite the fact that he can't talk to us otherwise," commented Wu Fei.
Heero got up, and gave the kid a look. At least it got him to grumble instead of pulling one of Wu Fei's justice rants...or in this case short rant.
The kid gave him a look that actually had Duo snickering. It read something along the lines of 'why the hell should I tell you?'
"My name is Quatre Winner."
"Wu Fei Chang."
The kid sighed... "Call me Ed. Edward Elric."
"Mind explaining how you got here...and landed on top of me?" asked Heero calmly, still annoyed by that. (Not to mention slightly paranoid.)
"...I have no fricken idea. Where the hell am I anyway?"
"An abandoned satellite in space."
Clearly the kid was surprised about something.
"I don't joke."
"It's true, Hee-chan has little to no sense of humor. At all," quipped Duo.
"Call me Hee-chan again and I will borrow Wu Fei's sword and shove it up your ass. Slowly," growled Heero.
Ed saw Wu Fei smirk at that comment. So he had a grudge against the braided guy. Ed could understand why, after the idiot comment on his height. He may not have understood what he said, but he sure as hell knew when someone commented on it. In ANY language.
Ed assessed the situation. There was the braided moron, Duo, who reminded him a little too much of Mustang. Then their was Heero, who reminded him of his Teacher...only less terrifying. Wu Fei was a mystery. Quatre was easily like his younger brother Alphonse, with his own bodyguard in Trowa...though judging by the looks between them, it seemed they were on their way to being a couple.
Ed personally didn't have a problem with all male couples. Secretly he suspected he went that way too...what with his disinterest in most girls anywhere near his age. Especially Winry, but he chalked that up to her being more of a sister than anything.
Now he was in SPACE of all things. The only question he had was how the hell did he get back home?
The blond spoke again.
"Where are you from?"
At least one person understood his langauge. That made it a hell of a lot easier.
"Ametris. Though I was born in a small village called Resembool."
"There are no countries called Ametris."
"Crap...that means I'm on the other side of the gate...again."
That got the guy's attention.
"Most call it the gate of Truth. It connects worlds, though last time I went somewhere different and met my bastard father."
This kid was from another world? That might explain how he got past all the security he had installed, but not how he got there.
Quatre had an idea.
"What was the last thing you remember?"
He translated, and was surprised that the kid answered.
"Last thing I remember was the red water coming in contact with me, then going haywire. Al was right behind me when it hit..."
That is when Ed started to panic. Whoever this Al was, he was very important to Ed.
"Who is Al?"
"Alphonse is my younger brother. I hope he didn't get hit with the red water!"
"What is red water?"
"It's an amplifier, though it tends to overreact whenever I get near it. Stupid Homunculi are always trying to force me to make the stone."
Heero noticed there was something the kid didn't want known, and let the subject drop. Since it was clear the kid didn't know about space travel, it was unlikely he knew how to pilot the only aircraft there. So he was stuck with them for the time being.
A week had passed since Ed's unorthodox arrival, and he seemed to fit right in. He also seemed to side with them, after learning about the war from Duo. The biggest surprise in Heero's book was that while Ed couldn't understand them, he could actually read English, which made it easier. He was also picking up the language faster than he would have thought.
Ed sheepishly admitted he liked to learn dead languages. Apparently it was one of his lesser known hobbies that his brother didn't know about.
Things really got interesting when they learned exactly HOW old Ed was...
"DAMMIT! Quit callin' me short!" Ed growled.
He blamed himself for telling them how old he was. How was he to know they were the same age as him?
Duo still wouldn't quit annoying him with it. Apparently he was the shortest of the five...and was still taller than Ed. Which pissed him off to no end. So Ed punched him...with his right fist.
Duo went down like a sack of potatoes, to the others surprise. Quatre had to find a cold compress to bring down the swelling.
"What did you hit him with?" asked Wu Fei in awe and suspicion.
"My fist. Idiot wouldn't shut up about the fact that he was taller than me."
"While he did need to drop the subject, your fist shouldn't have caused enough damage to swell his face up this much."
"It usually causes more."
That got a few stares.
"Anyone catch the ID of the Suit that hit me?"
That's when he saw Ed smirk.
"I did it. Call me short again, and I'll hit you even harder, got it?"
Duo got the feeling if Ed really got riled up over his height, he'd be worse than Heero in Mission Mode.
"Ow! What did you hit me with, bricks?"
Ed's smirk got even wider, if that was possible.
"My fist. I may be small, but I've got more muscle than you do."
"That sure as hell didn't feel like a fist that hit me! Do you wear brass knuckles or something?"
"It's a bad idea to pick a fight with someone who has automail, baka," Ed's smirk now took over his entire face.
Now he had their full attention. So they could go up into the stars, but not make automail? How weird.
He reluctantly took off his jacket, which covered both arms. Then he took off the gloves. He somewhat enjoyed their look of complete and utter shock.
"What the hell is THAT?" said Heero finally.
"Like I said, never pick a fight against someone with automail."
Quatre was the first to recover.
"What is automail exactly?"
"Complete metal prostectics, made to simulate lost limbs. The port in my arm connects the wires to my nerves, so it moves like my original would. I have another port in my left leg," said Ed as he pulled up his pant leg. Sure enough, it was the same material as his arm.
"What happened to your arm and leg?" asked Trowa.
"I commited a taboo, and paid the price," was all he would say before his face went dark.
Something was off about Ed, and it wasnt his height.
During one of Duo's random movie night, they found a new problem with Ed. It was a horror movie, and he couldn't sleep afterwards. The thing that confused them the most was Wu Fei telling them he called out for his mother, and kept repeating that he was sorry.
The were unwilling to broach the subject, until Wu Fei had enough of seeing Ed with black bags under his eyes.
"What happened to your mother?"
Ed snapped back to reality pretty quick.
"Why do you want to know?"
"You've been crying in your sleep for the past five days, and repeating that you're sorry. It's driving me up the wall."
Ed seemed to deflate a bit. He was almost like a hollow shell, like it was a mistake he was still paying the price for.
"She died of a disease. We tried to bring her back and failed."
"There is no way to bring back the dead. So what made you even think you could?" said Heero.
Apparently Heero was around the corner when Wu Fei asked.
"We thought we knew the price to bring her back. We knew it was a taboo to try, but we still did it. Now we're trying to bring back what we lost."
"Is that how you lost your arm and leg?" asked Quatre. (Drawn to Ed from the waves of regret that he felt.)
Trowa and Duo were there as well, following Quatre.
"I lost my leg trying to bring Mom back. My arm was the cost of keeping my brother with me. Even if he didn't have a normal body anymore."
That was the day they found out about Alchemy. Though sceptical at first, they were quickly turned into believers when Ed found out that unlike the first world he went through where he found his father, this one allowed him to use Alchemy. He drew his favorite blade using the metal from his arm, and Heero then looked at the arm closely after he turned it back to normal. His shock at the fact that the blade wasn't part of the arm confirmed that Ed was telling the truth.
Duo practically begged Ed for a chance to look at his automail. Ed relented after swearing an oath from Duo he would put it back the way he found it. So he took off his arm for Duo, then sat down with Heero to learn more about computers. Ed turned out to be a natural acrobat and hacker.
Duo gave Ed his arm back two days later, the same as it was before. Ed did the usual pain filled ritual of reattachment, and took a nap.
Ed woke up the next morning very early. Almost everyone else was asleep except for Wu Fei, who woke up to perform his katas. Ever since he had first seen Wu Fei work out, he had been wanting to spar with him. He was used to fighting with his brother in mock battles at least once a week. He didn't want to get rusty.
"Are you just going to stand there all day or are you going to come in the room?" asked Wu Fei dryly.
Imagine his surprise when Ed took a stance and made a clear 'come on' motion with his hands. Deciding to humor the kid, he charged. Ed smoothly blocked his kick, then threw one of his own. Soon they were going all out, and enjoying every minute of it.
They didn't realize they had an audience until Duo handed them a glass of water each.
"So who pissed off who?" Duo quipped.
"We were sparring, baka. Looks like Wu Fei suffers the same problem I have. He can't help but go all out against a worthy opponent."
Wu Fei grinned.
"Want to do this again tomorrow?"
Ed's smirk was all the answer he needed.
Thanks to the imprompto sparring session, Ed learned a few new tricks. Wu Fei was more than happy to teach Ed his katas. Ed taught him to throw nasty right hooks. He spent months with each of the pilots, in and out of safe houses. His usual role was an alibi for when they destroyed bases. The fact that he could change his hair and clothing colors in seconds made him impossible to find if he attacked solo.
His favorite trick to play on their enemies was turning his hair a very dark or unusual color, then return it back to golden blond. It drove Oz nuts trying to locate him.
Quatre helped immensely by updating his wardrobe, and Wu Fei snagged enough gundanium to make a set of proper katanas. Which lead to Ed learning how to use a sword properly.
It also lead to a new nickname curtosy of Duo after Ed fell asleep in Wu Fei's lap one night. Heero decided to make that his unofficial code name between the pilots.
"Kitten, you in position?" asked Scythe. (Duo)
Ed didn't know whether to kill or strangle Duo for coming up with the nickname...though he had to admit, it wasn't as bad as the others he had come up with. And he did like cats.
"Yeah, yeah. The cat's claws are ready for action, Pizza for brains."
The base exploded on schedule. Duo was often impressed at how quickly Ed learned the chemical make up of explosives. But he just explained it was like Alchemy, only less reactive in some ways.
Ed actually wrote down the ingredients, and chemical compounds used to make other things, like contacts. Duo bought him a book on motorcycles, which listed every part.
Ed took that as a sign to experiment. After a month of that, he actually made an entire motorcycle. All he really needed was the gas. He didn't want to see what would happen if the energy from alchemy set the gas on fire.
Without even realizing it, nine months had passed.
Alphonse was worried about Ed. After the red water came in contact with his brother's foot, he had been unconcious for the past ten minutes. Ed at least twitched at one minute intervals. Al hoped that Ed would wake up soon.
Ed was doing his random research time, where he looked up a random subject for a full month. This time it was ley lines.
"Ley lines are naturally occuring lines of power within the Earth's crust. In the past, certian individuals have accessed these lines to perform magic acts. In recent years, these sites have been used for electrical plants, despite clear evidence that the natural power held in these spots is not beneficial to any electrical station.
Some researchers believe these sites were also used in alchemic rites to transmute gold. No evidence supports this theory.
Ley lines supposedly give off a wave of energy that people with power can feel them from miles off.
For a list of known ley lines, go to..."
Ed almost lost interest until he saw the words 'alchemic rites'. So those with the power can sense them? Maybe it was a way back to his brother! It couldn't be worse than using the gate.
The next time Ed went to Earth with Wu Fei, he split up with the Chinese for a week. Wu Fei was unconcerned, as he knew his favorite sparring partner could more than take care of himself.
Ed walked for about ten miles before he felt the strange tug. Usually he ignored them, but this time he followed the pull. He pulled out the locations of known, and probably well used ley lines. Looking at his coordinates, he knew this was an undiscovered location.
Ed marked the location in his mind, then tested whether or not the rumor about it being useful for alchemy was real.
It was. Ed could feel the power coursing through him the moment he activated the circle. And he hadn't yet tapped into the full power of the line! Looking at his new watch from Heero, he saw that he would have to run in order to catch up to Wu Fei.
"You were almost late Kitten."
"Sorry, I was checking something I found on the net. I may have found a way back to my world."
Wu Fei felt something strange when Ed said that. Something about Ed had struck a cord in the normally dour Chinese.
Ed had his own sense of justice, that he wasn't afraid of dealing out when he felt it was needed. He had honor, despite his tales of being in a military that encouraged slaughter. And he was very protective of his family, as displayed by his honest love for his little brother.
Then there were the times they spent together. Like early morning training sessions. Or how Ed would sometimes fall asleep in his lap...only to wake up blushing when he saw him. They were evenly matched.
Wu Fei found the little blond amusing, like when Heero tried to use an anti-septic through a needle and Ed nearly beat the crap trying to escape him. Or how he refused to drink milk, even going so far as to actually drink (here Wu Fei shudders in remembrance of actually trying this once) Heero's homemade health drink. In the opinion of the other four, it was better to not ask what he put in there.
Duo had asked once and couldn't sleep for a week.
Ed had found a comprimise with Heero on that. He would eat something super spicy (usually peppers or some of Wu Fei's Chinese cooking if it was available) then wait a moment before drinking. And he was able to drink the nightmarish concoction without gagging.
(According to Ed, the spice knocked out any taste buds he had.)
On the plus side, Ed had grown a foot since he had started that regime in the morning.
On the other hand...his automail was now too short for him.
The target destroyed, they returned to the safe house where Duo was waiting with something he had been working with on and off for a month. He told Ed to take off his automail, and the blond complied warily.
Duo took a few components from each limb, and placed them in something on the table. Then he had Ed take a seat, before giving him some major pain medication. He handed him what Ed thought was his original automail, only longer.
It wasn't. For one thing it was much lighter than before, and the metal was completely different. Ed cautiously reconnected his limbs, and found out quickly why Duo had him drugged.
The pain was almost unbearable. It was normally mild, after he had finally gotten used to reattachment.
When it died down, Ed found himself staring into the eyes of Wu Fei, who looked concerned. He passed out a minute later.
"What the hell did you do, Duo?" demanded Wu Fei angrily.
"I made a rough sketch of his automail, and built my own. I used gundanium alloy to the metal parts, and some waterproof electrical wires. I only needed the ones that connect the nerves, which only his originals had. All the other wires I tried didn't come close to the ones he had."
"Why did you give him the medicine?"
"I may have amped his limbs a bit. I didn't know whether or not his body would handle the new limbs system so well, so I didn't take the chance."
Ed woke up two hours later, and found himself staring at Wu Fei again, who was actually asleep. Despite the fact that once again, Ed had his head in the guy's lap.
Something about Wu Fei tugged at Ed. He could act normally with the other pilots, because they reminded him of people he was used to. But Wu Fei was different. It actually felt right whenever he woke up in his lap, and when they worked together it was like they could read each others mind.
It confused the hell out of him why.
Ed had all his things on him. Everything the pilots had helped him acquire. Though he was loathe to admit it, he owed Duo. His new limbs worked better than the ones Winry had made after Scar had destroyed them...for the fifth time that year.
All five pilots stood around the boy. Ed had a feeling this was how it was supposed to work. He drew upon the power of the line, and saw the door in front of him. He gave them one last goodbye, and his eyes met with Wu Fei.
He was going to miss the Chinese pilot most, despite how confused he made him. And something told him Wu Fei would see him again. Very soon.
Al was thrilled. His brother woke up! It had been almost fifteen minutes since he passed out, but he was awake!
"Al? How long have I been out?"
"Almost fifteen minutes. You really don't react well with red water."
"What the hell was a puddle of that crap doing there in the first place? This was supposed to be a routine inspection for that old geezer!"
(In his office, Roy Mustang sneezed twice. He had them close the window.)
Alphonse watched Ed like a hawk for a week. Something was different about his brother. He seemed to stare off in the distance a lot, and he didn't react so violently to short comments. (While he was a bit relieved, it worried him a lot.)
Even Col. Mustang had noticed the difference. He chalked it up to the red water, but he still had his employees watch Ed.
Ed was seriously getting annoyed now. One month of being watched like he was about to collapse at any second, and he was ready to pummel something! So he did something stupid.
He challenged Mustang again for his yearly assessment. He made a new bet this time. If he beat Mustang, then the watchers would go bother someone else. That included Alphonse.
Roy actually agreed, if only to keep from doing paperwork. Physical labor to restore the yard was still better than writing a report for the next two days.
Ed stood there waiting for Hughes to do his usual annoying speech about his daughter. Roy started off with his usual opener of flames.
Ed fell into a familiar stance...there was just one problem with it.
It was one of Wu Fei's katas.
He easily side sweeped the flames, drawing his blade from his arm. It glinted strangely, as Ed had somehow drawn the blade from the arm Duo had made him.
(When Ed had originally woken up, he noticed all the things he picked up in the other world were misplaced. What bewildered everyone was the fact that his automail refused to work anymore. Winry discovered later that several key components were missing, mainly the wires that connected the limb to the muscle. No one could explain where they went, as Al was beside Ed the whole time.)
Ed ducked and weeved easily around the attacks, waiting until the right moment to strike. Suddenly Roy noticed something he should have seen.
Ed was drawing a circle while he dodged. And it was almost complete. Ed touched the last line he needed, then clapped his hands before touching the ground.
The light was almost blinding as Ed drew something from the ground. If Roy didn't know any better, he would swear it was a sword!
Feeling the hilt of the sword Wu Fei had made for him brought back memories of the Chinese. He left them for later, as he finally charged at Mustang. Caught off guard by the fact that he knew how to hold a sword, Roy couldn't react in time to stop Ed from slashing his gloves, ruining his transmutation circle.
Ed was declared the winner. But his little trick caused a large stir, since most of the damage done was because of Mustang. Which meant he got the hard work of clearing the yard while Ed had to deal with everyone's questions.
"Brother! Where did you learn how to fight like that?" was the main question Al wanted to know.
"Would you trust me when I say you wouldn't believe it?"
Ed could tell it was going to be a long day. So he pulled a stunt he remembered very well. After going to the bathroom, he pulled out a few things from his bag.
Most of it was chemicals needed to make lenses. But there was a bottle of ink there as well, midnight black.
Using his alchemy, he quickly changed his hair black. Then he changed the color and style of his clothes. Finally, he made some clear contacts that turned his eyes a brillant green. Popping them in with practiced ease, he walked out of the bathroom and past Al without his brother following him. By the time he was at a nearby cafe, he stopped and grabbed something to eat.
That's when it hit him. He had just fooled his own brother, who knew him better than anyone. Maybe now was a good time to find his other things.
It took him all of two days to find everything. He had noticed the alert being put up to find him. Like he would be captured that easily. Since most people knew he had gold hair and topaz eyes, they never even recognized him. Even the colonel didn't know it was him when he bumped into him on purpose.
Then Winry showed up. Since most people were looking for a small boy with a metal arm, they never realized that Ed had actually grown a foot in the month he had been back. Add to the fact that he had found and reattached the arm Duo had made, which simulated his other so perfectly that it looked real, and he was invisible.
He actually laughed when Scar and the Homunculi both passed him on the street, and didn't bother him. This was brilliant! So this is what it felt like to be unknown, with everyone treating you normally? No insane human freaks after you, no religious nut jobs trying to kill you, no annoying colonel trying to make you miserable?
He loved it.
Al was worried, because Ed never came back from the bathroom. When they investigated, it looked like someone had spilled ink.
Alphonse suspected someone had kidnapped Ed.
There was just one problem with his theory. No ransom, no ultimatum from the Homunculi, and no body. Not even a single demand.
On the third morning he found a familiar blond sitting at the table, drinking something he couldn't identify. Something told him he didn't want to know.
"Brother! Where were you?"
"On a walk. You thought I was going to just sit there and be interrogated by everyone when you've all been watching me constantly for the past month?"
That was when Al finally noticed the automail on Ed's arms was different. Before he could ask, Ed gave him a clear look.
"I only came back because I knew Mustang wouldn't shut up about it otherwise. And no, I was never kidnapped. I just wanted a break from everything."
It was clear Ed wasn't going to say where he went, or why he never talked. But he did have fun tormenting Mustang about the fact that he couldn't find one small kid with automail. It wasn't like he was actually hiding.
It actually took everyone about two months to even realize he had grown a lot taller. What baffled them the most was that he walked normally, even though Winry swore she never adjusted his limbs.
After another attack by the Homunculi, who were surprised to find that Ed actually beat them fair for once, he had an idea that would take care of his growing boredom.
One that put a smirk on his face, causing everyone to avoid him.