Hello all! I've been told to keep writing, so I shall! This story is in a bit of a different direction than my previous one, and features an Edward more in line with cannon than as I was writing him, as this takes place pre-series. I guess it makes sense in either first or second anime verse, but I write from a manga perspective, so keep that in mind. Anyway, let's actually get this thing started!

Dobby's Polka-Dotted Sock

Prologue

Slap-thunk! Slap-thunk! Slap-thunk!

He wasn't sure what was making more noise on the wet pavement, His normal foot, or the blasted automail. Well, it hardly mattered; if his heart was pounding as loud as Edward heard it in his ears at the moment, they could probably follow him based on that sound alone.

God, he felt pathetic. Running away from a few large thugs, a common street gang at best. But he couldn't risk alchemy. The narrow floor of the alley would hardly provide enough material, and if anything he constructed accidentally smashed into a wall or something—which was liable to happen in the tight space, he could freely admit—it could potentially send the whole district crashing down like dominoes. It would be catastrophic.

No, Edward did not want that on his hands. This certainly wasn't his ideal venue to actually face these thugs. In a maze of alleys he didn't know, deep in one of the seedier parts of Central City. Any other part of this town, he could stop, flash his watch, and get directions or a hiding space at least, but not here. Here, people cowered in fear, glared and cracked their knuckles, or worst, outright laughed at him.

After two years you'd think the jokes would end!

He steadied himself against a side of a rickety, towering building and tried to get his ragged breathing back under his control. He needed to be able to listen, hear if they were still behind him.

They were. Damnit.

He paused only a second longer and then took off again. Edward really wanted to find an end to these back alleys, a more friendly, populated street—and fast. He was running out of steam. Yes he had trained himself to endure long periods of activity, but he had been approaching his limit before they'd run into these guys. That coupled with hardly any food and little rest during the train ride here the night before, well, he was in a bad way.

True, he could have kept Al with him, but he'd noticed his brother's hulking figure had only put the men further on edge. And right now, they'd be able to hear Alphonse's armor clanging all the way down fifty alleys. His little brother was not the best a sneaking around. His fault, so it was fair he was paying for it now.

Most State Alchemists stayed home sitting around their labs or libraries, the ones that didn't sat behind desks in military issued suits only going on the occasional mission with a whole backup team. But, he supposed travelling with just Al was more agreeable to him, plus it saved the trouble of blackmailing every new, busy-body troop of soldiers who saw Al's head get knocked off. How Mustang was keeping everything under wraps back at Eastern was still a mystery to Edward. He supposed the man actually seemed likeable to some people.

All this he was thinking about in order to ignore the increasing pain to his lungs that were obviously not receiving quite enough oxygen, the near-painful thumping of his heart, and a sharp ache in his side from where that one thug had swung at him with a metal pipe. Who the hell just carried those things around, anyway?

A low wall ahead signaled a dead end coming up. Ha! Not for him. He risked a small bit of alchemy to create a pole with which to vault the wall—

And straight into the first guy waiting on the other side. At least he managed to catch off guard and nailed in the chest with both boots. An expert landing, he felt. Unfortunately, the first guy had friends. Quite a few. It seemed the little group he had been running from had called up their friends, and they had surrounded him in the back alleys they knew so well.

Well, it wasn't like they wanted to talk. So Edward threw a punch with his metal fist, and soon he was ducking, jumping, kicking out amidst grunts and howls of pain.

But the jerk with the pipe caught him in the gut once more, and a kick sent him flying backward into a wall. He heard a shifting of rock, then a whoosh, and before he could push himself from the wall there was a painful CRACK!

OoO

The little guy went wheeling backwards into the side of an abandoned building, which had been condemned for a reason. The bricks above shook from the surprisingly powerful impact and one toppled over, falling down—

CRACK!

The guy dropped forward, flat on his stomach without a sound of protest, and they all stopped. Everything was still. Then one of the guys got the bright idea to check the victim—victim of circumstance, that's what they'd tell the cops if this got traced back to them. No way were they going to jail because of a stupid brick.

"I—I think he's dead," the self-appointed 'medic' pronounced, and they all shifted uneasily on their feet. What to do?

"Well, we should split, right?" That was a reasonable suggestion.

"Hey, wait! What about his stuff? He'll be harder to trace if he's got nothing the cops can use," another voice pointed out. They all liked the sound of that one.

The gloves and the jacket were easily removed by the first cautious robber. Sure, they were well-worn, but they could probably be sold at a pawn shop, even if the red coat was a bit of an eyesore with its weird design on the back.

The change a few bills were easily pocketed as the group became more eager in their looting, and one skinny guy who had started at the back was smart enough to sneak off with what looked like a checkbook.

A battered diary with boring passages and worthless scribbles was tossed in the dumpster. No one would want that.

The real fervor began when two men grabbed at the silver chain the body wore clipped to a belt buckle, and a fancy silver watch was found on the other end. Some growled threats and glares later, and soon fists were pounding again, amongst each other.

A back door banged open further down the way, spilling light, soft piano, and low murmurs, and the occasional peal of laughter out onto the alley.

"What's going on out there?"

Silence. One large burly man had the sense to rip off the watch, chain and all, from the body and went pitter-pattering down the alley and out of sight. The rest soon followed suit, and soon the alley was near-empty.

A woman stood in the doorway, wearing a nicely fitted dress, fair hair half up and wavy to her shoulders. She peered into the darkness, trying to see but knowing whoever had been beyond the light from their doorway was gone. Still, it didn't hurt to be thorough.

Sighing, she reached for her coat and slipped it on, stepping out into the darkness. She didn't wander far before her little toe in its heeled shoe whacked against something cold and hard.

"Ouch!" She cried, hopping on her good foot while trying to massage her poor, no doubt bruising, toes. But when she looked down, her eyes that had adjusted to the dark saw something that made her stop and gasp in horror.

"Oh my—Violet, Jessica, Sylvia, someone come quick! There's a boy out here and he's hurt!" She knelt down, no matter how cold and damp the pavement was, and began feeling for a pulse.

She found one.

And that's all I'm going to give you for now. Who is this mysterious woman, and where is has Edward found himself? I hope I've piqued your interest, please let me know what you think to this start. Thanks for reading, and please review!