After Ed had met Daisy, he noticed that sometimes he would solidify for a moment before phasing back.

This caused problems.

Ones that made Ed want to go jump off a bridge since everything in the universe was against him anyways.

Yesterday afternoon, he had happened to be in the middle of crossing a street, seeking shelter and a hiding place from the shadows, when all of a sudden, an onslaught of cars started honking their horns and Ed almost got nailed by a garbage truck by one centimeter.

One Freaking centimeter!

Then there was the phasing through houses, then solidifying for a moment, being stuck in the stranger's house and being shot at by paranoid women.

Sheesh, can't I get a break?

Ed's head slammed into the lamppost, and he swore so badly that it would have made his mother come back from the dead to wash his mouth out.

People were now staring at the sight of the teenager who had walked into a lamppost and a couple couldn't help but laugh at the sight.

Ed gave them his deadly glare before walking off, rubbing at his forehead.

It had become such a habit that he now seemed to believe that he would phase through things no matter what.

That needed to go.

Ed stopped near an old alleyway, leaning against the wall and taking a moment to think.

Al was safe.

It had been almost more than a couple weeks since he had seen him.

But his body had not returned yet.

Maybe it was time to check up on him.

Yeah, I'll go see Al.

The wistful thought made him calm, and as he headed towards HQ, he didn't believe there could be a single thing wrong in the world.

Ed didn't notice how the shadows at his feet, didn't exactly match him or how it sometimes shimmered in the light.

Al shivered as he drank the hot chocolate, it burned his tongue but he did not mind.

It was something to take his mind off of…

His hands clenched around the cup.

Ed couldn't be dead. Ed had survived. Ed made a deal with Truth.

Truth….

The cup fell from Al's hands, shattering against the kitchen tile floors and alarming the form on the couch.

"Al, are you okay?"

Ziva. She was so nice to him and so caring. Al shook his thoughts away, later he thought to himself.

"yeah" he gave her a smile but he couldn't help think that he mustn't have gotten it quite right because Ziva gave him a small frown.

"Are you thinking about your brother again?"

It wasn't an accusation, it was a simple question.

"Yes." Al answered truthfully, seeing no reason to lie.

Ziva didn't say anything else as she picked up the pieces of glass with a hand towel, throwing them away before she reached for the mop.

Al snatched it away before she could even put her hands on it.

"It's okay, I'll do it."

Ziva gave him a look before nodding and returning to the couch where she returned to reading some book in her own language.

Al couldn't help but think he was a burden on everyone here.

It was Gibbs the first week, Tony the second, McGee the third and now Ziva.

They all watched over him for a week before rotating, like some babysitters.

Al mopped up the hot chocolate off the floor, thinking how it was such a waste and how he should have been more mindful.

If Ed was here, he would have instantly made Al another cup of chocolate and probably a couple for himself too.

Al cleaned the rest of it up, putting the mop back in the closet before heading off to his room.

The stairs creaked slightly as he climbed them and he couldn't help but notice how old the house was.

The room they had given him had been simple but Tony had taken him out to buys some clothes and "motivational" posters.

Gibbs had them burned and whacked Tony over the head twice.

Al laid down on the soft mattress, the blue covers cool against his skin and thought about what he had realized in the kitchen.

The very thought of visiting Truth once again sent shivers down his spine but he would do it.

He would do it for his brother because Ed would have done it for him.

Al brought the chalk out from underneath his bed, it was time to work.

Ed couldn't help but notice that his skin had goosebumps, which meant that he should have felt nervous or possible paranoid.

His emotions were a wreck.

Over the weeks some of them had returned but most only came in short, large blasts of emotion.

Maybe he was irritated.

Yeah that was probably it.

He had left the NCIS building only minutes ago, finding out that Al had been left to be supervised at some house on Margin St.

It wasn't far but it annoyed Ed that he actually did not know where it was and had to stop at a bus station to look at a map.

There were two Margin St's.

The map had not remained at the station.

If Ed could have felt something at that moment it would have been frustration.

Why were there two streets with the same name anyways?

The thought of it made him growl and Ed turned right, ready to fallow his instincts.

Apparently there was a reason there were little numbers on the houses and street signs.

It made him feel stupid to realize that he should have gone the opposite directions towards the zero instead of the hundred.

Ten minutes later he could see the house in sight.

But his legs had suddenly slowed as if they were restraining him, and trying to keep him from reaching Al.

Ed glared down at his legs only to freeze in fear.

Shadows were climbing up his legs, holding them down and chaining them to the ground.

Ed felt suddenly sick.

He struggled against them, his mind going at the speed of light.

Why were they not affected by the light?

This all had something to do with Truth.

Truth was planning something.

Truth was keeping him from Al.

Al.

Ed stopped struggling. Thinking calmly.

Then he scratched onto his hand an array, directing it at his legs and snapping his fingers.

It wasn't powerful as mustangs nor as dangerous but it did the trick.

The shadows eagerly released his legs, and scattered.

Ed didn't pause. He ran.

His heart was beating, blood was leaking from his hand and there was a rising beat inside his head.

Ed didn't trust himself to stop, if he stopped he might be too late.

58.

The house wasn't much. It was large, it was brown and it looked ancient.

But that didn't matter.

What mattered was the person inside this house.

Ed reached out his hand, ready to phase through the door but stopped as it made impact with the door.

He was solid again.

Ed tried the door knob.

It was locked.

Frustrated he took his automail leg and kicked at it. It instantly opened.

"Stop! Or I'll shoot!"

A click sounded as the safety of the gun was released but then a gasp escaped from Ziva's mouth as she caught sight of the intruder.

"Ed?"

Ed didn't bother to answer her; he followed his senses, knowing already where Al was.

Ed climbed the stairs, shouting, "Al?"

No answer.

Ed ran.

At the end of the hall was a brown wooden door. Underneath it a bright blue light shined.

Terror rose in Ed.

He reached the door just as the blue light faded.

Behind the door, a room in disarray showed an alchemy circle drawn onto the floor, and a piece of used chalk near it.

There was no sign of Al.