Yus! It's time for the sequel to TSA! I can't believe I've gotten this far. It is January Fourth, 2012 – the fourth year anniversary of The Sulfur Alchemist. Appropriate time to end and start it, don't you think?
As you'll see, this chapter is all about Ed and it seems like third person. Well, it kind of is. The next chapter, which will involve Riley, will be in first. I just couldn't break away from TSA tradition, but maybe this style will add to it.
In other news, I hope your holidays went well! Mine definitely did.
First Disclaimer of the Story; FullMetal Alchemist, and the Conqueror of Shamballa, are not mine! (And the chapter title isn't either [Insert Dragon Age Nerd Face Here.])
I love you… Don't forget that.
Amber eyes came to a slow open, and was greeted with a dark room, void of sound and movement. It almost felt like time stood still as he stared up at what he knew was the ceiling. His covers had fallen to the floor throughout the night and his pillow was crooked, but he paid both facts no mind. Looking to the window near him, his chest rose and fell at the small sigh he gave. How long had it been? Two years? A bitter smile tugged at his lips; two years and he still remembered every detail of the time he'd traveled with his brother, and her of course.
Coming out of his reverie, he slipped the pocket watch off his end table and angled it so that what was left of the moonlight would shine on the glass. His eyes caught glimpse of the time and he snapped the watch to a close, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed to sit up. He could feel his blond hair cascade around him as he did so. Standing from the bed, he began to change in fast pace, knowing he was already off his schedule for the day.
Making his way out of the small home, he looked left and right before finding his place on the sidewalk. His gloved hands slipped into his long coat pockets as he walked by the few people who were out at this hour. Some were drunkards, most were business men. His shoulders were not quite as relaxed as any of theirs – it may have been two years, but he still wasn't used to being off guard. Amestris was not a place to be off guard, and that had been ingrained into his mind.
After a few minutes of solace, he reached a particular building and slowed in his pace. The building was a small one, and one of the only ones still doing business. An open sign hung against one of the large windows, and he could see the smoke and customers inside, drinking away their fears, depressions, furies. Anything and everything they wanted to forget.
It wasn't what was inside that caught his attention, but what sat right outside the building. A long bench was placed by the door, and one figure sat on it with his elbows resting on his knees. A black jacket covered his face, but Edward knew it was him. With no words spoken, he sat down beside the person and looked around at the people. The two sat together for a moment and as Edward was beginning to get impatient, the person sat straighter and slipped off his jacket's hood.
The familiar face behind it was not a surprise to him – the blond hair, the blue eyes, the lean figure. I didn't tell you all this so you could create the stone. The words rang in Edward's ears every time he saw the Tringham boy since. Said boy turned his head to look at the shorter blond, and gave him an exasperated sigh. "It's the same result as last week's, Ed," He remarked with a tired tone. The dark circles under his eyes were further evidence of his exhaustion, but Edward did not care.
Leaning forward to rest on his own knees, Edward shook his head. "You're not looking hard enough," Was his sharp response.
"I've been working my ass off for the past year trying to find this girl!" Russel snapped as he leaned forward as well. Running a hand through his hair, he hesitated on his next comment. It would not go over well, this he already knew. "Just give up, Ed. Whoever this Riley is – she either doesn't exist or she's long gone."
He almost flinched at the glare Edward sent him. "She isn't," He growled, "She's here, I know she is. She has to be."
"…This girl really means so much?" Russel murmured under his breath. There was no pause from Edward as he nodded, and Russel gave another long sigh. Leaning back against the bench, he relaxed his limbs as he pressed the back of his head against the glass window of the bar. "Alright, Ed. I'll keep looking," He said with a softer tone. Lifting his hood back up over his head as he stood, he stopped to leaned down toward Edward and pointed a finger at him. "But if I find evidence that this girl really doesn't exist, promise me you'll stop with this."
Once more, there was no hesitation. Edward shook his head, hands clasped tightly together. "She's out there, Russel, and I'm not stopping until I find her."
A second of silence passed. Shaking his head, Russel stood straight and began to walk off, slipping his hands into his pockets. "Stubborn midget…" Had Edward been paying attention, he would've snapped. His mind, however, was elsewhere. He wasn't sure how long he sat there, but Russel was gone, the bar was closing, and the moon was just over the horizon. People walked by him with little attention to him; if any attention was there, it was only for curiosity's sake. But Edward did not notice.
Whoever this Riley is – she either doesn't exist or she's long gone. Edward felt a little sick to his stomach at both possibilities. She had to be alive on the other side, and that meant there had to be someone there in his world matching her. Unless…
He shook his head, almost violently, when it crossed his mind. She was alive. She was. She could take care of herself, that much was certain. She was alive.
She had to be.
Another few seconds passed as Edward tried to convince himself. But he forced himself to a stand, and he began to walk. The area still maintained a peaceful quiet, even as the amount of people awake started to grow. A breeze blew by, much to Edward's pleasure, lifting his braid and coat just enough to sway. Looking around him, he navigated as best he could. Two years, and he still wasn't completely used to it. Maybe he could have been, if he wanted to be. Maybe he was just hoping he'd still wake up and everything would be how it used to be. Sometimes he wondered if his life in Amestris was the actual dream.
But it wasn't. He knew it wasn't. Alphonse, Hannah, the people he saved, her… He almost felt guilty. He loved his brother, he would – and did – give his life for his brother. But she was the real reason he knew it all wasn't just a dream. Sometimes he could still smell her or feel her there. The last moments he had with her were too real for it not to be. Edward rubbed his forehead as he gave a small chuckle. He sounded so lovesick. She would've given him hell for that if she knew.
A car began to drive by and when he noticed who was in it, Edward stepped toward the road, waving his arms into the air. "Oh, wait!" The car, having already slowed, came to a stop near the sidewalk a few feet behind him. Racing back to the car, he could see the window rolling down for him. Once he reached it, he placed his arms in the window before bending down to peer in. "Maes!"
Edward grinned at the man in the driver's seat, the face familiar and comforting to see. Smiling in return, Maes tipped his hat to the boy. "Hey, Ed! You sure are up early," He mentioned, raising a brow as he nodded to the still slightly empty street.
Nodding as well, Edward shrugged his shoulders a little. "I had some business this morning."
His response, however vague and simple it was, was enough for Maes. The man gave him a knowing look behind the glasses. "Still looking, huh?" He asked. At Edward's nod, he sighed as he looked to the street ahead of him. "I'll try to keep an eye out, alright?"
Maes was probably the only one who understood to some degree. The others helped if he convinced them, or told him it was pointless, but not Maes. Maes knew. The situation itself may not have been familiar to him, but the concept of caring for someone enough did. Edward's expression became a thankful one. "I appreciate that," He mumbled with a subtle frown.
Giving a dramatic shrug, Maes pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose before glancing to Edward with a small smirk. "You'll find her, Ed. Women have this way about them. They always show when you least expect it," He commented. Edward nodded as he stepped away from the car to let him leave. The two waved to one another before Maes drove away.
It wasn't until the sun began to shine, that Edward reached his home. The sounds of the city were at work as he opened the door, and was greeted by the smell of coffee and fresh bread. The house wasn't large, but it suited him. He didn't need much.
The blond sitting at the dining table didn't look back when he heard Edward walk in. He continued to scribble in his notepad, instead. "I was wondering when you'd get back," He said, his voice muffled and somewhat monotone. Edward was quiet as he slipped his coat off. Finally, the boy looked over his shoulder, a slice of bread hanging in his mouth. Placing his pencil behind his ear, he took the bread out of his mouth as he leaned back. "Where were you?"
His tone did not go unnoticed. Edward sighed, refusing to look at his brother look-alike; he knew the boy disapproved of his early morning trips. He knew the boy disapproved of him spending so much effort on looking for her. It was a discussion they'd had many times. "Let's not get into it, Alfons."
Alfons gained a small pout as he watched Edward walk to the kitchen to retrieve a cup of coffee. Standing, he followed the older boy. "You're looking for her again, aren't you?" He asked, standing in the doorway with his hands in his pockets. Edward continued to ignore him, causing him to narrow his eyes, "Did you ever even stop looking, Ed?" More silence passed, and Alfons shook his head, "Stop ignoring me!"
The sound of a mug contacting with the counter echoed in the kitchen. "…Fine. I never stopped," Edward muttered, not turning to face him.
Sighing, Alfons leaned against the doorway. "You know it's pointless, don't you?" He asked. He noticed Edward look back at him, and so he continued, "You're following a dream, Ed!"
"She isn't a dream!" Ed yelled, stepping toward Alfons angrily. He wanted to hold his tongue, knowing where his temper could take him, but the comments were grading on his nerves. He'd heard them too many times. Worst of it all, they were getting to him. He wondered if it was all a dream, if he was wasting his time. Alfons was getting to him, and that bothered him more than any of it.
Alfons stepped back, but continued the argument. "And what if she isn't?" He asked, his soft voice now loud and irritated. "Would she even know you? What will you tell her, Ed? She may not even care!"
There was silence after his remark.
Edward stepped back, fists clenched. He wanted to keep yelling – to tell Alfons he was wrong. But he knew he wasn't. "…It doesn't matter," He muttered, shaking his head. Alfons blinked in surprise at the sudden change of tone. Edward looked down, frowning at the tiled floor. "I… Need to know she's okay," He said as he walked past Alfons.
Alfons watched him walk upstairs, and sighed. He stood there a few moments in thought. He had only seen Edward like this for her. 'She better be worth it,' He told himself, rubbing the back of his neck as he sat back down at the table to continue his work.
Upstairs, Edward entered his room, shutting the door behind him. His expression was an almost permanent scowl as he kicked off his boots and plopped himself onto the edge of the bed. Elbows on his knees, he ran a hand down his face. He tried to forget the argument that had just taken place, but he couldn't. The words were said, the damage already done. Two years, and he never considered the possibility of her not caring. Two years, and it took his brother's counterpart to put it in his head. Did it really not matter? No, maybe it didn't. But it would still hurt.
Amber eyes came to a slow open, and was greeted with a pitch black room. There were no windows, no light. He frowned, turning his head to try and catch a glimpse of anything. A flash of white shot out of view – around a corner, perhaps? He inched up, his body screaming at every moment. Why was he so sore? "Wait!" His exclamation wound up coming out as a hoarse whisper, and suddenly, his mouth was dry.
Feet hit the ground and he felt the cold floor underneath him. On… Both feet? Looking down, he lifted his left foot in confusion. It was real? Looking back to where he saw the light, he moved toward it. He stumbled, catching himself on what felt like a doorway. Grasping hold of the side, he used it to help him walk into the hallway. The black was now a dark gray, allowing him to see a familiar layout; he just couldn't place it yet. Down the hallway, he saw a figure walking further away from him. "W-Wait…," He whispered, reaching out toward them.
It began to disappear into the floor below, and he realized they were walking down a set of stairs. He tried to run to it, but only stumbled. His legs would not let him go any faster. Using the walls for support, he approached the stairs and walked down them with furrowed brows. It all seemed so familiar. But how?
Once he reached the floor, he looked around him to see everything had lightened to a light gray. Faintly, he could begin to make out certain details where a window and door were. No furniture, no decorations, no people. Just the structure of the home. He started turning around, looking at the room as he tried recognizing it. He faced the door just in time to see it close. Walking toward it, he placed his hand on the knob and turned it. With ease, the door swayed to an open.
The outside was white; so much so, he shielded his eyes from the sudden brightness. Stepping outside, he pulled the door to a close and gazed around him. He could make out a small porch, and a set of stairs, and land. But almost no details. He guided himself down the stairs with patience and care, trying to make something out of the confusion. And then he saw the figure, standing a few feet away from him. "H-Hey…," He coughed a little a the weakness of his voice.
His feet began to drag across the unpaved road. Unpaved? He looked down at the ground as he walked, and saw the colored rocks below him, healthy green grass included. His head snapped up and he could make out the blue sky, with clouds rolling by him. And the figure. The figure was now in front of him, their back turned and face hidden from his view. "Hey, where are we?" Edward asked, pacing himself to not run out of breath again. The figure turned slowly, and breath caught in Edward's throat.
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