I will have to apologize for this and possibly future chapters... See, my computer died and I don't have the money to replace it. And for anyone reading "The Epilogue", I won't even be able to update that until I get it working again. The 3k words I have written for the next chapter are on my computer! D:
I had half this chapter typed up, but I had to start over, and let me tell you, typing stories on a phone is hard! And I'm going to have to do my essays for college like this too...
Enough about me though, I spent all day typing this, so I hope you enjoy it!
What's Missing chapter Seven
Without access to the military library, Edward was left using the few texts that the civilian library had. Granted, he had portions of certain books memorized, but that didn't compare to actually holding a book in his hands and studying from it. Sitting in the library brought back a lot of memories for him. Memories of a seven foot tall suit of armor and a younger, more idealist version of himself.
People stared st him as he walked into the library. Already, several people had recognized him. He wasn't blind to all the stares he was on the receiving end of. Nor was he deaf to all the hushed whispers, but he ignored it as best he could. Although it was beginning to eat at his nerves.
The musty scent of old books combined with that of the crisp new ones hit him hard. It was something that worked without fail to relax him each time he recognized it. His feet worked on autopilot, taking him to the sections of the respective alchemy books he was searching for. At first he didn't realize what he was doing, but when the realization finally dawned on him his head fell forward onto the shelf of the book he had just picked up.
How had this world become so embedded in him? Even though he had been gone for so long, he still remembered everything with crystal clarity. He was relieved by the fact that he remembered though. While on Earth, his biggest fear had been forgetting about Amestris, and about his family. Soon he would see Al and Winry again. At their wedding. He knew he couldn't move in with them, they would be starting a family and he would be taking a job here in Central.
So where would he live after the wedding? More importantly, where did he belong in the grand scheme of things? He lifted his head from the shelf and carried the small stack of books he had to the most secluded table he could find. The only thing that registered in his brain was excitement as he opened the first book. The Basics of the Circle was an elementary level text, but Edward felt he should review it before he tried anything. All other thoughts left his mind as he became absorbed in the book. His favorite part had to be the introduction, which covered the reason why a circle was used as a transformational matrix.
"The circle, when drawn correctly, is the physical embodiment of the essential balance that just be achieved with the energies you are harnessing. It is currently the only known method for alchemical balance, and the fundamental basis for any and all transmutations. To correctly perform a transmutation one must channel the energies around them through their body and outwards via the transmutation circle. The circle is the most crucial component for the harmonized balance needed to carry out a transmutation."
This definitely brought back some memories. He thought of the times when he and Al had spared with Teacher while she read this to them. No matter how advanced his alchemy got he enjoyed going over the basics once in awhile. He spent about another hour on that book, then an hour on each of the other two.
Advanced Alchemy for the Aspiring was slightly more challenging than the previous book, but the first two chapters were easily manageable. Then there was Practical Applications for Theoretical Alchemy, which was the most advanced book this library had, as well as the one that would help him the most should he land that research position. It focused entirely on the development of new theories and how to practically apply them to real world situations.
After three and a half hours at the library his stomach began to growl. Edward thought about going back to Mustang's place, but quickly remembered that he didn't have a key. So instead he trudged back to the office to ask Roy for food. He didn't appreciate having to ask the bastard to feed him, but for now he had no choice in the matter. All he could do was think to himself how it was such a shame that the civilian library was ask the way across town from headquarters.
It took nearly an hour for Ed to walk back to Mustang's office, and he felt half starved. Though he refused to let that bastard general know that. He knocked on the door to his private office, catching the surprised look on Hawkeye's face out of the corner of his eye. Really, did no one think he had matured in five years?
He turned the knob and entered the moderately well lit room when he heard Roy tell him to enter. He looked up from his paperwork, which Ed noticed had become fairly small, and he seemed mildly surprised to see Edward. "I thought you would be gone all day."
Ed have a short chuckle in response. That was what he had always done when presented with the opportunity, wasn't it? "Yeah," he started, "but I can't seem to concentrate when my stomach is berating me for not feeding it."
"Much more eloquent than your previous attempts at free food. I have to say i'm impressed." Roy rested his he'd in his hands, simply observing Edward as they conversed.
"A long as you're happy, but I think I must insist that we escape for lunch." Edward had to admit that having a civil conversation with Mustang was foreign to him, but it was proving to be quite pleasant. "I'm sure Hawkeye won't mind today," he added as an after thought.
Roy seemed to contemplate this for a moment, before he feigned defeat. "Well, if you insist on making sure I never finish my work, then I suppose I should just oblige."
Ed placed his hands on his hips, a triumphant grin plastered in his face. "Glad you see things my way. Let's get going then." Roy shook his head, standing up and putting his coat on.
They both agreed to eat somewhere other than the cafeteria. At best, the food was questionable, and Edward preferred to know what he was eating. They decided on a small cafe less than a block away. This one in particular was frequented in the early evenings, so the lunch crowd was nearly non existent.
Edward had only gotten a sandwich and some soup, not wanting to spend to much of Roy's money. Roy on the other hand got coffee, a sandwich and a dessert pastry. After ordering, they picked a table and sat in companionable silence until their food arrived. Then Roy engaged in conversation.
"Hey Edward, you mentioned you still had your pocket watch. Maybe now would be as good a time as any to discuss that?" Roy's words were careful and thought out. He knew instinctively that he was walking on eggshells, but something told him that things needed to be said.
Ed stiffened when he registered the words. He had honestly hoped that this wouldn't be brought up for awhile. Edward didn't know what he was willing to tell Mustang. "What about it?"
Ed's voice was edgy, balancing on some invisible plateau, and Roy could hear that struggle as clear as day. He would need to tread carefully to avoid ruining their delicate friendship. "Well, you mentioned you had kept it all this time. I was wondering why."
The blond busied himself by eating some of his food, but he couldn't do that forever. Yeah, he had been asked some personal questions, but this was a but deeper than the level he was used to. Somehow, that in itself made him nervous about this conversation. He would never lie to Mustang, that was out of the question, but what else was there? This was something Al didn't even know about him. He came to the conclusion that he would try and talk, but he wasn't sure where he would draw the line. Or if there was one.
After swallowing his soup, he hesitantly launched into a tale about Earth. He explained how the Gate if Truth had sent him there, and how he was supposed to be there for the rest of his life. He even told Roy about the reflections everyone had on Earth. He omitted quite a few details, giving Mustang only the ones he needed to know. Just thought so that he would understand.
Roy knew that this story, interesting as it was, was not the answer to his inquiry. However, he sat and listened, occasionally taking bites out of his food.
"So, you asked about the watch. I kept it because it was all I had. Considering the situation, it was the only thing I had to reassure me that I was alive. That I had existed. I guess you could say it kept me grounded. Reminded me that my entire life here wasn't just a dream." Gradually as Edward spoke, his voice began to quiver. At first it was hardly notable, but now his hands trembled. It was clear that he had never had such a personal conversation with anyone before.
Roy felt a pang of guilt for asking, but he couldn't help but feel proud of Edward for answering so fully. Edward was a grown man now, but so many things had been bottled up for so long that his mind wasn't done catching up.
And as Roy Mustang sat there, watching Edward regain his composure just across the table, he vowed to himself that he would do anything he could to help Edward. For whatever reason this boy still meant too much to him, and for now that was alright.