Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to Naruto nor Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
Since I know this question will be asked constantly, I'll answer it now: Pairings will be cannon in this story. Don't bother asking about who Naruto will be paired with. There is no slash. Romance has never been the center point in either animes, so I will not be doing it here. As for the terminology, I'll be using a few Japanese words throughout the story because of where Naruto is from. The translations will be at the end of the chapter and in italics.
NOTICE: I have reformatted the story by combining some the previously written chapters, thus fixing grammatical errors, and adding new scenes. From now own, all chapters that I'll post for this story will range from 7,000 words to 10,000.
That said, please enjoy the story!
~The Shinobi Alchemist~
Chapter 1: The Gate of Truth
To say that Naruto was confused would be a grave understatement at the moment.
He didn't know how it had happened or why, but the eight year old academy student found himself standing before a giant floating gate. It was made of stone and the carvings that were etched into its' front looked like scribbles to him. Naruto eyed it nervously, feeling the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. He felt as if something inside his stomach was moving in response, screaming at him to stay away from the ominous and massive thing.
Naruto nervously turned away from the gate, looking for the Shinobi who had been in front of him not even a few seconds ago. The Shinobi had broken into his apartment, cursing him and saying he'd have his revenge. Revenge for what? Naruto had no idea. The Shinobi had tied him down before he could run away or call for help and had bitten his thumb before doing some hand seals Naruto could remember learning in class. The Shinobi had shouted something about summoning "judgment" and then everything faded away into white. The next thing Naruto knew, he was standing in front of the weird gate.
He was about to open his mouth, to yell and ask if anybody was there, when his instincts suddenly went crazy, demanding that he turn around. Following his instincts, since they had never let him down before, Naruto turned to come face to face with a… kid?
It was a pure white, nearly formless being almost indistinguishable from the rest of the endless white expanse which surrounded the Gate, but for a shadowy outline.
A shadow that's what it reminded Naruto of; only it was white instead of black. In class, he had been taught that a shadow could either be a shinobi's greatest ally or deadliest enemy. It could shield him from his foes or hide his attackers, and at the moment, Naruto didn't think that this shadow was his friend. It seemed to be the same size as him, but it was hard for him to tell since it was sitting down in front of the gate.
"Well hello there little Jinchuuriki, it's not often that a person from this side of the Gate summons me, let alone for such a dark purpose." The white shadow said before it gave a smile that was too large to belong on its' face. Naruto shivered at the unnatural dual voice the creature spoke with, somehow able to sound like a child, woman, and man all at once. "Two Taboos activated at the same time, one half doing it for reclamation and the other half for revenge."
"W-what are you, s-shadow?" Naruto asked, not even trying to hide how scared he was like he usually did. The Shinobi who had attacked only moments ago was not the first person to ever try to hurt him. He had been attacked by villagers and shinobi before, but then those special shinobi in the white masks had always shown up before anything really bad could happen to him. But Naruto knew, he knew, no one would find him here. No one was coming to save him and that thing just kept smiling at him, like it knew something horrible that he didn't.
"Oho, I'm so glad you asked! I am called by many names. I am the World. I am Universe. I am God. I am Truth. I am All. I am One and I am also You. Now it would seem I have another name to add to my many titles, I am Shadow." The thing threw its hands up into the air as a mockery of merriment. Naruto took a shaky step backwards, startled by what the creature had said.
"G-god? You mean I'm dead!?" He shouted back, horrified. He didn't remember the Shinobi killing him, but if he was in front of God, what else could it be? The young boy crouched down suddenly and wrapped his hands around his knees, burying his face and trying his hardest not to cry. He had promised himself a year ago that he wasn't going to cry anymore.
"Dead? No, you are simply in God's domain little Jinchuuriki."Naruto's head shot up at that, hope building in his small chest. "The man who summoned the Gate wished for vengeance. He was a fool and had not understood what the Gate truly is, but he has already paid his Toll and what he desires has already been set into motion." For a second Naruto thought that –God, Shadow, Truth– looked sad, even with that wide smile still plastered on his face. "You are fortunate that he had unknowingly paid for your Toll as well child." As the Truth said this, Naruto heard the Gate behind him open and he turned to see small shadow-like hands shoot out towards him. His gaze however, could only focus on one thing in that moment.
It was an eye, larger and more terrifying than Naruto had ever seen, and it stared down at him, seemingly damning him with its gaze. It, oddly, had several rings around its pupil and was colored a dark grey. Naruto tried to move, to get away, but the shadowy hands wrapped themselves around him too quickly and no matter how much he struggled they wouldn't let go. He cried out for the Shadow to help, for surely God wouldn't let this darkness take him.
Truth shook its head slowly, its grin disappearing as the shadows dragged Naruto deeper into the darkness.
"The fault does not lie with me, little. Jinchuuriki, but with the one who brought you to this realm. The only kindness I can offer you is that the man has paid the Ultimate Toll." It smiled. "I wonder though, if I will see you again." And then the Gate closed, blocking the Shadow and the light from Naruto's wide cerulean eyes.
For a second all he could see was darkness and he thought for sure that he'd been sent to Hell, that God had hated him just as much as the villagers of Konoha. Then suddenly, he was being hurled through a tunnel of twisting images and information. It only took a second for Naruto to understand that the projections were going straight into his head, making him learn things he'd never heard of or even imagined.
Alchemy, Transmutation Circles, Equivalent Exchange
The words were nothing to him at first and then he suddenly understood what it all really meant, but the information just kept coming and it was too much. More facts poured in, but this time it was about a language he'd never heard of before called Amestrian. He learned about sciences, automobiles, telephones, and other machines that he'd never known about and it was too much.
Amestris, Ishval, the Civil War
He learned about Amestris, of its profits, cities, and history. The images and knowledge passed in a blur, moving on to the teachings of Ishvala, the Old Ishvalan language, and the war that had claimed so many lives on both sides. There was so much blood, too many corpses, and it was too much! His head felt like it was going to explode!
"Please God, Shadow and Truth, make it stop! It's too much… IT'S TOO MUCH!" Naruto screamed at the top of his lungs, willing to do anything to make it all stop!
And then it did.
He stood outside the Gate once more, hands reaching out for someone, anyone, to pull him out of that damn darkness. He was panting and sweating, and every muscle begged for him to just collapse. But he couldn't, not while he was still near the Gate.
Shaken as he was, it took Naruto a moment to realize that he was no longer alone. God was there, but so was someone else, a boy with gold hair and golden eyes. He noticed, with a numb sort of horror that the boy's left leg was missing. Before he could say anything, the white scenery started to fade to black and the boy was shouting for him to wait, but he couldn't. Naruto welcomed his decent into obliviousness, glad to be taken away from this horrible place.
It was all just too much…
~The Shinobi Alchemist~
When Naruto next awoke, he found himself lying in an unfamiliar bed, wearing pajamas that definitely weren't his, and was greeted by the sunlight shining through an open window. He rubbed his still too tired eyes, trying to figure out where he was. It all came back to him in a flash.
The Shinobi who'd tried to kill him, the Gate and the Shadow. He forced himself not to dwell on those memories. Instead he focused on the information he'd received and Naruto was glad, so very glad that the pain had receded, that he no longer felt like his head was going to burst. It was startling, how much he knew. Chemicals, engineering, and history, all the information was there, just waiting to be used. And he wanted to. Naruto wanted to use Alchemy so badly, but he had to think first.
It was so… odd. He was smarter, much smarter than he'd been before. He knew, before the Gate, he would have been screaming for answers at this moment. Trying out Alchemy or anything else that he'd gained from the Gate without so much as a second thought. Yet now he wanted to think, Alchemy could wait, the situation really couldn't. Maturity, so that's what it felt like. Huh, Jiji would be proud. 'Okay, first things first, what the hell happened to me?'
He could remember what happened before the Gate, a shinobi had broken into his home to assassinate him. He'd been an older man, not Jiji-old, but definitely older then Iruka-sensei at least. The Shinobi had been hysterical, yelling and blaming Naruto for the death of his daughter, his son-in-law, and unborn grandchild.
"Damn fox!" That was what the shinobi had called Naruto just before spitting in his face.
Surprisingly, it wasn't the first time he'd been called a fox. It was an insult that Naruto had never really understood before. Now he could easily see the link. There had only been one fox that had ever wronged Konoha, the Nine Tailed Fox. Why those few villagers had called him that, Naruto still had no idea, but at least he now knew who they'd been comparing him to.
The Kyuubi, a true monster and the most hated enemy Konoha ever had.
After the Shinobi had said his fill, and had directed a few kicks at Naruto's unprotected stomach, the man had said that he needed to suffer. That judgment for his sins had finally come. The Shinobi had then bitten his thumb hard enough to draw blood and performed a jutsu. The next thing Naruto knew, he was in front of the Gate, standing in God's domain.
"I am the World. I am Universe. I am God. I am Truth. I am All. I am One and I am also You." The memory of the Truth seemed to play out under Naruto's eyelids, its' unnatural voice echoing in his head and causing a shiver to run down his spine. 'Taboo, the Truth had said that the Shinobi made a Taboo as well as someone else on the other side of the Gate.' Naruto understood how a Taboo was committed through Alchemy now, Human Transmutation, but he didn't understand how the Shinobi had managed to commit a Taboo. Alchemy didn't exist in their world–
Naruto suddenly gripped his head in dread.
'Oh God, please no!' He was on the other side of the Gate, in another world completely! How it was possible, again Naruto had no idea, but it was a fact he couldn't refuse. Jiji, his home, his dream to become Hokage, it was all gone! Naruto closed his eyes to hold back the tears he'd promised he would no longer shed. 'I will not cry, I will not cry, I will not cry!'
"Two Taboos activated at the same time, one half doing it for reclamation and the other half for revenge."
Naruto's eyes shot open in comprehension. It was possible to open the Gate again; the Truth had even told him that it had been opened on this side! But what about the Toll the Truth had mentioned? The Shinobi had to pay the Ultimate Toll to send him into this world. What did that even mean? There was no point in summoning the Gate to go home if it would just cost him his life in the end. Naruto sighed dejectedly. He needed to think, he needed a plan, but more importantly… he really needed to eat something.
At that moment his stomach let out a loud gurgle, seemingly agreeing with his thoughts. Just as Naruto was about to get up, a knock sounded from the closed door and he was in back a panic once more. 'Kuso, of course there would be someone here! I'm sleeping in their bed.' Naruto froze, unsure of what to do. He'd never been all that good with people, despite how he acted. Smiling and being loud, it was his way of trying to get people to pay attention to him and it seemed to work, to a point. The attention he usually got just wasn't the positive kind.
But adults, Naruto was always wary around adults and there was no Jiji or masked shinobi to help him here. 'It also means that there's no one to point out that I should be hated.' The villagers had always made sure that travelers knew to stay away from the child named Naruto Uzumaki. Another knock on the door interrupted the young boy's thoughts. He took a deep breath and shot one last glance at the bedside window that could be used as his emergency escape route should things turn sour.
"Come in." His voice was softer than his usual tone and his throat felt dry and itchy. Dehydrated, his new knowledge provided, startling him a little. Naruto inwardly smirked. 'So this is what it feels like to be a know-it-all. No wonder Sasuke-teme always acted so smug.'
The door slowly opened to reveal a pretty lady wearing a long white dress, black leggings, and an odd looking pair of sandals. Her hair was black, but styled in a way Naruto had never seen before and he spotted a grey tattoo on the left side of her collarbone. She gave him a warm smile and her dark eyes – well they were kind, gentle, and nothing like the looks he'd received in Konoha. Only Jiji had ever smiled at him like that, like she was actually pleased to see him. It made him shift in the bed, feeling uncomfortable to receiving such a look from a stranger.
"I see you're finally up young man, you've been asleep for about two days. One of the children found you collapsed alongside the road leading into town. I'm Izumi Curtis." The lady said politely as she set down a tray of food in front of Naruto that he hadn't noticed her carrying before. "I hope you don't mind foreign food. My husband and I run a butcher shop, but eating plain meat all the time gets a little dull."
Naruto stared down in awe at the bowl in front of him, instantly recognizing the dish as his beloved ramen. The noodles looked thick and the broth was still steaming, but it was the meat that grabbed his attention. There was pork, chicken, beef and who knew what else. He looked up at the woman with stars in his eyes, for in that moment, Izumi-baa-chan was a goddess in his opinion. Her look turned from surprised to happy in a span of moments and she gestured for him to dig in. Pfft, like he needed the extra incentive.
"Itadakimasu!" Naruto cried happily before he dug into the meal with vigor. He paused only for a second to tell Izumi-baa-chan that the food was delicious. From the corner of his eye, he watched as she smiled warmly at him and Naruto tried not to choke. No one besides Jiji and Oji-san at Ichiraku Ramen looked at him like that, like he wasn't something horrible. Naruto sighed happily as he finished his meal, surprised to find himself half-way full. Usually it took four bowls of Miso to fill him up, but then again there wasn't any meat in that particular dish. He turned to Izumi-baa-chan and bowed his head as he thanked her.
"Thanks lady, the food was delicious and thanks for giving me a place to sleep while I was out of it. Not a lot of people would do that–" Naruto cut himself off before he could finish the rest of his sentence. 'Not a lot of people would do that for me.'
"It was no trouble at all. The people here in Dublith are a lot nicer than most give them credit for. I'm not sure how things are done anywhere else, but here we help others when we can, especially Alchemists like myself." Izumi-baa-chan said as she took away his now empty bowl.
"An Alchemist, you're an Alchemist?" He asked eagerly, already figuring out where Dublith was due to the information supplied by the Gate. 'A small town located in the center of the southern region of Amestris, and like most of the south, it boasts relatively high temperatures. Basically like Konoha, but with more of a dry heat.'
"Yes, though like I said, I work in my husband's butcher shop. I'm really more of a housewife than anything else. Do you know any Alchemy…?" Izumi trailed off there, waiting for the young boy to give his name. She had been worried when the small blond had not woken up yesterday, but the doctor had said he was simply exhausted and needed rest. Inwardly, she mused over the fact that she seemed to be picking up too many blond strays recently. First Ed and Al and now–
"Naruto, Uzumaki Naruto." The young blond said, his breathtakingly blue eyes shining brighter than before. They had been the first thing Izumi had noticed when she'd entered the room. Blue was the dominate eye color for Amestrians, but Naruto's eyes shone brighter than any she had ever seen before and were almost as striking as the Elrics gold irises. "I know tons of Alchemy, though it wasn't by choice." Naruto continued softly as he looked out the window, his eyes dimming a little.
"Oh, did someone you care about demand that you learn?" Izumi asked lightly. She had seen it many times before, Alchemists who pushed their children to learn the science and become great. Some able to live peacefully with the fact that their child could not learn it, while others disowned their children outright, treating them as nothing more than failed experiments. It was how she'd met Mason.
"No it was– I had to learn, or else I would have died." Naruto said just as quietly as before, continuing to stare out the window and not wanting to look at Izumi-baa-chan as he lied to her. He couldn't tell her about the Truth or the Gate. It was a Taboo for a reason. He didn't want to get into trouble because of what the Shinobi did. Besides, how did someone explain that they were from a different world without sounding crazy? Baa-chan blinked at him in surprise, obviously not expecting such a serious answer and he cursed himself for not thinking before speaking.
"How old are you Naruto? And where are your parents?" Something like concern filled her tone and Naruto let himself ease a little in response. 'She's not like the villagers.'
"I'm eight, but I'll be nine in a couple of months. My parents are dead. I'm an orphan." Naruto answered shortly, his thoughts turning towards the parents he'd never met. He'd often asked Jiji what had happened to them and who they were. The Hokage had never told him who they'd been, he claimed he didn't know. There had been plenty of orphans left after the Kyuubi attacked and unfortunately Naruto had been born on that horrible day.
"So who's been taking care of you?" Izumi asked, already feeling her heart go out to the small boy. She really was too damn soft for her own good. Orphans were not that uncommon in Amestris. After the Ishvalan Civil War had spread to the East, many civilian lives were affected.
"Well I lived on my own, but Jiji stopped by to check on me whenever he could. He's really nice Izumi-baa-chan." Naruto replied easily, only to end up gulping nervously as Izumi sent him a glare.
"Baa-chan? I'm sorry, but I think I must have misheard you. You want to try that again?" Izumi growled as she cracked her knuckles threateningly. It wasn't unusual to hear others speak the languages of neighboring nations, even if Amestrian was obviously the dominate choice of speech. Her Xingese may be a little weak, but Izumi clearly remembered that baa-chan meant something like granny or old lady. First Ed and Al, now Naruto? She wasn't old damn it, she was only thirty-one!
"Uh, I don't get it Izumi-baa-chan, d-did I say something wrong?" Naruto stuttered nervously as he rubbed the back of his head. Izumi-baa-chan was giving him the scariest look he'd ever seen and that counted the time he'd accidentally looked up Ayame-nee-chan's dress. "Oh! Is this one of those showing proper respect things?" Naruto asked in sudden realization, before nodding his head in a sagely manner. Many people got mad when he called the Hokage, Jiji. "I do respect you Izumi-baa-chan and I also like you a lot too. You're really nice and pretty."
Izumi paused at Naruto's innocent sounding words. So he didn't mean calling her old as an insult, but as a term of endearment? 'What a strange kid.' She turned to back to Naruto, ready to demand that he never call her that again, when she froze at the wide and pleased grin he was giving her.
"How can I say no to a face like that?" Izumi mumbled under her breath before shrugging her shoulders in defeat. It wouldn't kill her to allow Naruto to call her baa-chan, at least in private. "Fine, whatever kid. What were you doing passed out on the road anyways?" She asked gruffly as she looked away from Naruto's painfully cheerful expression. Just the sight of it made her cheeks ache in sympathy.
"I'm traveling to learn more about Alchemy." He answered happily. Izumi nodded her head in understanding, having gone through her own quest for knowledge when she'd been younger as well, though she hadn't been eight at the time, but rather eighteen instead. Izumi paused to think. Eight years old, Naruto was the same age Alphonse had been when she'd taken the Elric boys in as her students. She spared a moment to think about her two favorite pupils, Edward would be eleven now and Alphonse would be ten. How time flew…
"Ne, ne, Baa-chan, can you show me some of your Alchemy?" Naruto asked eagerly, interrupting Izumi from her thoughts. "I bet you know lots of things!"
"Show you my Alchemy? Are you asking to become my student, Naruto?" She asked dubiously, not sure whether she wanted to say yes or no at having another student. Despite her initial reservations, Izumi loved Ed and Al as if they were her own children. And she couldn't deny that she'd grown fond of Naruto after watching over him for the past two days. The boy tilted his head in thought before shrugging.
"I don't know how much you know. It wouldn't make sense for me to be your student if I know more about Alchemy than you do Baa-chan." He said truthfully and it made Izumi smile. She could tell that Naruto wasn't trying to be arrogant, he simply didn't know if his knowledge was lesser to hers. It was a rather logical outlook, if not a very naïve one.
"Hmm, good point Naruto. How about I give you a demonstration of what I can do and we'll go from there, all right?" Izumi-baa-chan asked and Naruto nodded his head impatiently. He knew Alchemy, but he'd never actually seen it in person.
He watched avidly as Izumi-baa-chan brought out a large orange t-shirt, worn blue shorts, and a pair of dirty blue sandals. Naruto instantly recognized them as his own clothes. She clapped her hands together and placed them on the pieces of fabric. Sparks of blue light shot out from his clothes and into the air, the tell-tale sign of a working transmutation, and as a result the materials shifted into something new. His bright orange, overly large t-shirt turned a few shades darker and shrunk down to his size. His blue shorts lengthened a little, the previous tears and stains replaced with a clean fabric, and his blue sandals, now looking brand new, had a stripe of orange added to them.
"Wow, transmutations without an array, but how'd you do it?" Naruto asked as he moved from the bed to the floor to touch his newly transformed clothes. He raised his hands up to his eyes in thought. He continued to mumble to himself before his eye lit up in understanding. "Oh, I see, your body acts as the Transmutation Circle itself! You become the matrix…" Taking a deep breath, Naruto clapped his hands together in preparation for his first act of Alchemy.
Izumi watched as the young boy explained what she had done, slightly amazed that he had figured something out that had taken Ed and Al nearly two months to understand, though like Naruto, they would never truly understand unless they saw the Truth for themselves. She was brought out of her thoughts as Naruto clapped his hands and placed them on the floor. Izumi closed her eyes and smirked slightly to herself, waiting for Naruto to throw a fit about how he couldn't do it like Ed had done two years ago.
Instead, she heard the sound of a transmutation.
Izumi opened her eyes in shock as the floor boards twisted and raised up to form a wooden statue that vaguely reminded her of a leaf. She brought a trembling hand to her mouth as the other clutched her stomach in horror. Her sin, her baby, appeared in front of her wide eyes, and Izumi could taste blood in the back of her mouth. Her innards had been taken away when she had committed the Taboo, what did Naruto lose? How could a child, an eight year old boy, commit such a terrible feat?
And why damn it?
Naruto proudly looked up from the symbol of Konoha that he'd created and turned to Izumi-baa-chan, freezing in place when he saw how horrified she looked.
"Baa-chan, a-are you okay? Did I do something wrong?" He asked, afraid that he had already scared away the only person who had been as nice to him as Jiji. In the blink of an eye Naruto found himself embraced in Izumi-baa-chan's arms. Shocked, he stared over her shoulder before slowly, fearfully, bringing his arms up to hug her back. He started shaking and he could feel the tears beginning to fall, but this was different. When he'd cried before, he'd done it because he was sad, but she was hugging him and he had never been so happy before.
Naruto decided right then and there that it was okay to cry when you're happy.
~The Shinobi Alchemist~
Naruto wasn't sure how long he stood their being held by Izumi-baa-chan, but he was sure it had to have been more than an hour and he had no desire to let go. She was the first lady to ever hug him and it felt so warm. Jiji had hugged him before and Naruto cherished each one, but this was different.
For a brief second he imagined that this was what it felt like to be held by a mother. Eventually though, his tears stopped and Naruto regretfully pulled away from Izumi-baa-chan to look at her face. Her dark eyes were puffy and red; he guessed that his eyes looked very much the same.
"Why?" He murmured, unable to articulate exactly what he was asking. Why was she hugging him? What had caused this sudden emotional reaction? Did she cry because she was happy too? Somehow, looking at Izumi-baa-chan's worn face, Naruto was sure happiness was not one of the emotions she was feeling at the moment.
"Because you're only a child and yet you've been through so much." Izumi said as she smiled sadly at the little boy she was kneeling in front of. Not even Ed and Al had been this bad off. They at least had each other and the Rockbell family to depend on. Naruto seemed to only have this old man. It was sad and so very cruel, yet that was the way of the world for some, for children like Edward, Alphonse, and Naruto. "Naruto, I need you to answer me honestly, can you do that?" She asked and the small boy nodded his head eagerly. "Have you ever seen the Truth?" Izumi got her answer immediately as she felt Naruto's small shoulders stiffen under her hands. Slowly, the young blond nodded his head as he looked down at the floor, refusing to meet her gaze.
Izumi sighed as she studied the boy who had somehow fallen into her care. It couldn't be a mere coincidence that he had crossed paths with her. Perhaps the Truth had taken pity on Naruto and led him to where it knew he would be safe.
"So have I." Izumi admitted softly and Naruto's head shot straight up, his wide cerulean eyes instantly finding hers. "For a while it seemed we were barren, my husband and I wanted a child but we couldn't conceive. When we were finally able to conceive, I ended up falling gravely ill and our child as well. He was not able to take a living breath in this world and so, I committed the Taboo." Izumi wrapped her right hand around her lower stomach. Sometimes late at night, after having a nightmare about that day, Izumi imagined that she could actually feel the hollow parts inside her body.
"As a result I lost part of my reproductive organs and the chance to have another child." Izumi smirked sadly at herself. "What an idiot I was." She continued bitterly as she closed her eyes to hold back the tears. She had long since mourned for the loss of her child and for what could have been. It was torturous, but not a day went by that she didn't imagine the life she could have led had she not committed the Taboo.
Naruto looked up at Izumi-baa-chan with a mixture of admiration and sorrow. She had committed the ultimate taboo out of love for her child, to save them in the only way she knew how. She must have been willing to sacrifice anything to bring back her baby back. In the end, Baa-chan had failed to save her child and as punishment for committing the Taboo, she was denied the right to bring another life into this world.
And Naruto thought that was unforgivably cruel.
"I didn't summon the Gate, another man did. I'd never met him before." He mumbled before biting his lower lip. He shouldn't be telling Izumi-baa-chan this, but she shared her story with him. Naruto wouldn't feel right if he didn't tell her something in return after she'd opened up to him, bringing up old wounds that still hurt. It was the first and most basic rule of Alchemy.
"It was for an experiment or something, I'm not sure." 'Lie.' That shinobi had obviously been aiming to kill him by sending him to the Gate. "All I know is that the Truth said the man had paid the Ultimate Toll to make it happen. Next thing I know, I'm waking up in your bed." It wasn't the whole truth, it wasn't even close, but it was something he could share and that made all the difference to Naruto.
For the second time that day he was embraced by Izumi-baa-chan, but this hug didn't feel the same. It felt sad and Naruto now knew why Baa-chan had been crying earlier. It was because she'd felt sorry for him. She was upset for his sake, for the trials he'd been put through, and that was something he had only ever experienced coming from Jiji after the villagers had been particularly awful. It was more than just sympathy though.
Baa-chan understood. She understood what had happened to him with the Gate, how scary everything had been, because she'd experienced the same.
Naruto had never met anyone who was able to understand him like this, someone who'd gone through the same pain that he had. It was in that moment, while he clung to her tightly, he decided to help Baa-chan in any way that he could, whenever he could. It was startling to find that she had become so important to him in just a few short moments, but it was a bond he cherished, even if it was born from their mutual suffering.
Deep down, he desperately wished that Izumi-baa-chan shared his feelings.
~The Shinobi Alchemist~
"Alright Naruto, show me what you can do." Izumi said sternly from the other side of her backyard. It was the same area where she had trained both Ed and Al in Alchemy and in hand-to-hand combat, which was what she was doing with Naruto now.
Once Naruto had told her how he had come to see the Gate, she had tried to get the boy to talk about lighter subjects, which was actually a lot harder than she'd originally thought. It turned out Naruto had never had the chance to know his parents. They'd been killed in battle of some kind when he'd been just an infant. Izumi suspected they had died in the Civil War. Naruto had never said so, but the skirmishes that had broken out in the East happened around the time he was born.
Naruto apparently had no friends, but he occasionally played with two boys called Shikamaru and Chouji. He has a crush on a girl named Sakura and even harbors a fierce rivalry with another boy named Sasuke. After twenty depressing minutes of listening to Naruto's depressing past, Izumi had decided it was best to just stop asking questions.
Thankfully it didn't take long before Naruto had excitedly asked to see her perform more Alchemy, which had given Izumi an idea. She was curious to see how far along Naruto was in the science. The Gate granted knowledge to those who passed through its doors and she wondered just how much information Naruto had received. In the end, she'd challenged him to a fight as a practical exam. Naruto had welcomed the challenge with an unusual amount of enthusiasm that Izumi was beginning to realize was how he normally behaved.
"Here I come, Baa-chan!" The boy shouted as he charged at Izumi and she hid a smile at his bullheaded approach. She often preferred head on attacks, believing that striking quickly meant for a swift end for her opponent. She'd had to beat this type of fighting style into the Elric boys for a month before it finally caught on, as both had a habit of thinking before acting. Naruto, it seemed, would not need that lesson.
She easily dodged the high kick Naruto had sent towards her stomach and swiftly blocked the following uppercut aimed at her nose. Izumi raised her eyebrows in surprise as she hadn't been expecting for Naruto to have any martial arts training, even if his form was terribly sloppy and full of holes. She smiled slightly to herself, this she could definitely work with.
Naruto's eyes widened as Izumi-baa-chan grabbed his sidekick with her left hand and tossed him over her shoulder, landing face first into the ground a few feet away. He grunted as he spat out a mouthful of dirt and quickly pushed himself to the side to avoid the stomping kick Baa-chan sent his way. Rolling into a crouch, Naruto took a second to regain the breath that had been knocked out of him. He had expected Baa-chan to be good, but she was kicking his ass without even trying. It reminded him of his spars with Sasuke-teme a little, except Izumi-baa-chan wasn't acting like he was a waste of her time.
Naruto was proud to say that he was one of the best in his class when it came to Taijutsu, losing only to Sasuke-teme and Kiba. Of course he'd never fought against the girls in his class, but Naruto was sure he wouldn't have lost to any of them. Not because they were girls, Izumi-baa-chan proved that reasoning to be false, but because they never really took Taijutsu class seriously. They mostly spent their time fighting over Sasuke-teme.
The sound of clapping brought Naruto out of his thoughts and he felt the ground shift just before a fist made of stone shot up towards him. He clapped his own hands and slammed them into the ground to create a thick wall of earth. Both rock structures crumbled as they collided and he used the smoke and debris to cover up his second transmutation. He shifted the broken rubble into five kunai shaped weapons and launched three of them from the smoke at Izumi-baa-chan.
Izumi managed to avoid the strange knives Naruto had thrown at her more out of reflex than anything else. She grinned widely to herself; it had been a long time since she'd had a decent fight. The Elric boys had come to her without an ounce of training in self-defense and although they were prodigies in Alchemy, that talent did little to make up for their lack of skill in combat.
Before the cloud of dirt could disappear completely, Naruto launched towards her with his fist cocked back and ready to be let loose. Izumi, who had originally planned to catch his attack, jumped back at the last second to avoid getting hit. Naruto's arm slammed into the ground, leaving a medium sized dent as rocks kicked up into the air from the force behind his strike.
"Chikusho, I almost had you." He mumbled irritably as he pulled his arm out of the ground, revealing why his punch held such power. Earlier, while he'd still been hidden from view, Naruto must have made another transmutation. This time he had created a club like structure of stone surrounding his left arm.
Izumi blinked in surprise as she spotted the rock surrounding the young boy's fist and forearm, impressed by his ingenuity. She knew of Alchemists who manipulated the materials around them to turn themselves into weapons, like the Iron Blood Alchemist, but she had never expected an eight year old boy to come up with the same idea and in the middle of a fight no less.
Izumi smirked though, as she spotted the fatal flaw in Naruto's stone arm creation. His hand was completely covered, meaning the boy could not use his Alchemy without a transmutation circle as his matrix was disrupted. She charged at Naruto, attacking him with a downward roundhouse kick, only to frown as her heel came into contact with Naruto's stone covered arm. Had she been a less experienced fighter, that block would have broken her ankle.
Naruto took his chance and threw one of his remaining kunai at Izumi-baa-chan and grunted in annoyance as she did a backhand-spring to avoid it. The sound of something cracking drew his attention to his arm and he gaped as the thick stone broke into several pieces before falling to the ground to reveal his bare, uninjured arm.
Baa-chan's chuckle reclaimed his attention and he shot a victorious smirk her way before clapping his hands and smacking them into the ground. Naruto's smirk became a full blown grin as the ground beneath Baa-chan dropped down seven feet into the surface. He ran over to look into the pitfall trap he'd transmuted and tumbled backwards in surprise as Izumi-baa-chan shot out of the hole on a rising rock pillar.
Jumping off of the now stationary structure, Izumi landed in front of a slack jawed Naruto as she casually brushed off some dirt that had accumulated onto her right shoulder. She saw the blonde quickly shake off his amazement, before getting back into a ready stance and she had to bite back a smile. The little knucklehead was really starting to grow on her.
"Well Naruto, what do you think? Would you like to study under me? Your Alchemy is good, especially for someone your age, but you're fighting is only about average. If you want I can teach you my fighting style as well as advance Alchemy theories and techniques." She offered as she used Alchemy to fix the battle damaged backyard. It wouldn't do if Sig found out that she'd been fighting instead resting like she was supposed to.
Naruto crossed his arms and tilted his head in thought. What he really wanted to do was find a way home and he knew that required extensive research. Plus, he liked Izumi-baa-chan and if she could teach him an awesome Taijutsu style that could help him kick Sasuke-teme's ass, then who was he to turn her down? He would search for a way back home while he studied under her.
"Sure Izumi-baa-chan, I'll stick around for a bit. Ne, ne, can you teach me how to break rocks with my feet like you did earlier Baa-chan? That was so cool! It didn't even slow you down!" Naruto said as he brought out his last kunai that he hadn't had the chance to use. He might as well as improve his other skills too, like using his ninja tools. Ninjutsu and Genjutsu were out of the question as he realized he had no idea how to do either of those techniques. He'd never paid much attention in class, besides learning a few hand seals. He couldn't even remember how to properly preform a Henge; though he was pretty sure he only needed three different hand seals to make it work. The question was which ones?
Naruto figured that it didn't really matter anyways. Once he got back to Konoha and performed Alchemy, Jiji would make him a shinobi without a second's hesitation. Hell, Jiji would probably make him Hokage if he got good enough.
"Alright then Naruto, my first rule as your teacher is that you must now address me as such when in public, understood?" She asked, watching as Naruto fiddled with the strange knife he'd created.
"Hai, Baa-chan-sensei!" Naruto replied cheerfully as he looked up at his new sensei, completely oblivious to the annoyed twitches in her left eye. His attention was quickly redirected towards the giant of a man who stepped out of Izumi-baa-chan's house. Naruto had never seen anybody as big as the towering man in front of him, and that was including Chouji's Otousan.
"Ah, there you are honey." Ookii-san said as he wrapped his monstrous arms around Izumi-baa-chan, who blushed as the man whispered something into her ear that Naruto couldn't hear.
Izumi chuckled at her husband's playfulness and turned to Naruto who staring up at Sig like he was the most impressive thing in the world. Again she chuckled as she marveled at how childlike Naruto could be one second and yet somehow be the complete opposite when he needed to.
"Naruto, this is my husband Sig Curtis. Sig this is Naruto Uzumaki, my newest student." Izumi said warmly as she took in the two very different looking males. Sig raised his eyebrows at her, silently asking her for an explanation, and she shook her head response. Sig nodded his head, understanding that she would tell him later and turned his attention back to the boy.
"How'd you get to be so tall Ookii-san?" Naruto asked innocently as his wide eyes raked over the man in front of him. Izumi covered her laughter with a cough and Sig simply raised a brow at the foreign nickname. She would tell him what it meant later.
"I ate my vegetables." Sig answered as he crossed his arms over his chest, looking very serious while doing so. Naruto's forehead furrowed as he frowned in thought and seemed to be calculating just how many vegetables he would have to eat in order to reach her husband's size.
"But I hate vegetables!" He shouted in dismay as he looked up at them both. Izumi hid a smile as she watched her husband bare down on Naruto, telling him how important vegetables were to his diet and growing body. The boy argued that there were plenty of other foods that could sublimate the nutrients his body needed, meaning he didn't have to eat weeds. Naruto's irrational loathing for vegetables reminded Izumi of another blond haired boy who hated milk just as much. She sighed to herself as she wondered how those two boys were doing. She hoped they hadn't gotten themselves into any sort of trouble.
~The Shinobi Alchemist~
Edward Elric stared up at the ceiling listlessly.
They had failed, he had failed. And it wasn't like he'd just failed mom either, he'd failed Alphonse too. His little brother was now stuck in a suit of armor, probably for the rest of his life. Al would never be able to eat again, nor smell what existed in this world, and had forever lost the sensations that came from having skin. The warmth of the sun, the soft pelting rain, a summer's cooling breeze, they were all lost to Al now.
Ed bit his tongue so hard that it bled, and he wasn't sure if the action came from his injuries acting up again, or at thinking about what he'd done to his little brother.
He'd promised Pinako that he'd let her know when the pain medication started to wear off, but he made no move to call out to her or the others. Bitterly, Ed felt like he deserved this pain, it was his punishment given to him by God after all. The ache of his injuries increased in a single burst and Ed gritted his teeth to keep from screaming, but a small moan still managed to escape his lips.
Ed held his breath as he waited for someone to come into the room to see if he needed anything. The others were constantly nearby as they were compelled to make sure that he was okay. He sighed in relief as no one came barging into his room to fuss over him.
His thoughts turned back to two nights ago, as they constantly had since he'd woken up from passing out due to blood loss. He tried not to think about mom's ruined body or watching helplessly as Alphonse deteriorated into nothing, and instead focused on the goal itself. They had been so close, he knew it. The secret to Human Transmutation lay inside the Gate, but that was over now. Ed couldn't bring himself to sacrifice what he had left just for the small chance that it might work next time. He loved mom, but he couldn't risk losing Alphonse again.
'Alphonse must hate me.' He thought shamefully. Tears started to fill the corner of his eyes and this time he was sure that his physical pain hadn't been the cause. 'I will not cry, I promised myself I wouldn't cry anymore at mom's funeral! I have to be strong, for Al.' Ed thought weakly and he bit his lower lip to keep it from trembling.
It's not like his little brother didn't have every right to hate him. It had been his idea to bring mom back. He was the one who'd brushed off Alphonse's worries and used the blinding trust Al had in him to get his doubtful brother to fall in line. A sudden knock came at the door, drudging Ed out of his depressing thoughts.
"Come in." His words were flat and strained, sounding like he hadn't spoken for at least a month and the pain coming from his raw throat made him wince. The door opened a few inches to reveal the body of armor that now housed Alphonse's soul. Edward took a dry swallow and lowered his eyes to his bandaged shoulder, unable to look at what he'd done to his little brother.
"Brother, do you want to get out of bed? Granny Pinako said you can use the wheelchair she has for her customers." Al trailed off, his voice sounding so hurt and upset that Ed had to look up at his brother. Parts of the armor were shaking slightly and he had enough sense to guess that the action didn't mean anything good.
"Sure… Al." He said softly and Alphonse entered the room with the wheelchair. At some point during the transition of moving him to the wheelchair, he noticed Al's shaking slowly stop. They moved into the living room and Den was quickly at Ed's foot, sniffing at what was left of his leg. As Al gently shooed Den away, Ed couldn't even find it in himself to care.
He wasn't sure how long he sat there staring at the floor, but his miserable trance was interrupted by someone barging into the house with Old Lady Pinako yelling after them. It was a man and woman, both dressed in military uniforms. The man was tall, with short black hair, and he searched the room wildly with fierce dark eyes. The woman had short blond hair and had a look on her face that was a mixture of confusion and worry. Ed let his eyes drift back to the floorboards as the man spun towards him. He could feel the man's burning gaze, but he didn't bother to look up.
The man's thundering steps seemed to rattle through the metal frame of the wheelchair, yet even as he came closer, Ed still didn't look up. The soldier's presence exuded anger and knowing, but Ed felt the apathy that had plagued him since he'd woken up take over once again. 'Al's already lost his body and I'm missing half of my limbs. What more can they do to us?'
"We went to your house, we saw the floor. What was that?" The military man shouted, his arm shooting out to grab the front of Ed's shirt, lifting him out of the wheelchair. There was too much pain in the sudden movement for Ed to even react. It was just paralyzing and his vision dimmed for a second before he was startled out of his shock by what the man said next. "What did you do!?"
This man already knew. Ed didn't have to explain anything, and to hear the pointless accusatory questions from this stranger's mouth just made everything worse. The walls Ed had built, his last defense against the tears, crumbled and he bowed his head to hide his face. His apathy and guilt gave way to staggering, unbearable, sadness and loss. The memories from that night seemed to play out in front of his wet eyes in a blur, almost moving too fast for him to see.
Al was screaming for him, crying out for help as his body was forcibly deconstructed and Ed couldn't reach because his leg was being taken too. The Gate stood before him and the Truth was smiling at him and then those shadow-like hands dragged him towards that giant glaring eye surrounded by darkness.
The information, there was so much. Ed had never realized how little he knew until the knowledge was given to him. He was happy and anticipating, because he realized the answers to all of his questions were inside the Gate. Their approach had just been wrong, Human Transmutation was possible! Then he'd learned the truth and as per the rules of Equivalent Exchange, he lost his left leg for the information he'd gained.
He came back to the world screaming for help, for mom, as he clutched his decapitated leg. He was looking at the center of the Transmutation Circle when he heard a groan and spotted a mangled, ugly body reaching out for him. And then it died, he'd killed mom, but Al was still gone and he needed to get his little brother back. He used his new knowledge to reopen the Gate, trading his arm for Al's soul and trapped it inside an unfeeling shell of metal.
Please Al, don't look at mom. Don't see what I did to her.
Ed was brought out of his horrible memories by Alphonse, who had grabbed the military man's arm, pushing it down slightly so that he could sit in the wheelchair again. He heard the sound of Al's armor shaking again and he bowed his head even further as he suddenly realized what the action meant.
"We're sorry, we didn't mean it. We're sorry, we're sorry." Alphonse cried. The tears in his voice were easy for Ed to hear. How could he have done this to his little brother?
It was too much…
Eventually, once everyone had calmed down, the man introduced himself as Roy Mustang and asked for an explanation. Old Lady Pinako sat in with them as she and Al explained what had taken place two nights ago in the Elric household. Ed stayed silent and sunk even deeper into his depression, to the point that he now just felt numb.
"This is a surprise to say the least. I'd heard reports that there was a brilliant Alchemist living in this town so we came to check them out. The last thing I expected to find was a boy skilled enough to attempt Human Transmutation or advanced enough to bind a soul to a suit of armor. I'd say he's more than qualified to become a State Alchemist." Mustang said as he shot an impressed look at Ed that he tried to ignore.
"Should he choose to accept the position he'll be required to serve the military in times of national emergency. In return, he'll receive privileges and access to otherwise restricted research materials. Given time, he may be able to find a way to get their bodies back, or even more." He heard Alphonse gasp quietly at that and Ed felt himself frown, distant ideas and hopes already starting to rise from the back of his mind.
"Right after he came stumbling to my door half dead and covered in blood, I went over to their house to see for myself what had happened. What was there… whatever that thing was, it wasn't human!" Old Lady Pinako shouted and Ed could feel Al cringe slightly from behind him. "Alchemy created that abomination, it nearly killed them! Now you want to throw those boys headlong into it? Would you really have them go through that kind of hell again!?" Mustang remained silent for a moment before he stood up. He turned to look down at Ed, who tried to remain oblivious to everything around him.
"I'm not forcing you. I'm merely offering you the possibility. Will you sit in that chair, wallowing in self-pity, or will you standup and seize the chance the military can give you? If you believe the possibility exists for getting your bodies back you should seek it out, keep moving, whatever it takes, even if the way ahead – lies through a river of blood."
Left alone, hours later, Ed would spend the entire night thinking about how he was going to make things right again, instead of thinking about how wrong things had turned out. He would get Automail, become a State Alchemist, and get Alphonse his body back.
No matter the cost.
~The Shinobi Alchemist~
Jiji is slang for old man. Baa-chan means granny. Chikusho means damn it. Ookii means big. As for Naruto calling Izumi-baa-chan-sensei, he won't actually call her that, it's too much of a mouthful. He'll only ever call her Izumi-baa-chan, Baa-chan and Sensei. I understand that Shinobi and Ninjas are the same thing, (people who practice ninjutsu), but the word Ninja is used more by the western culture. If I switch between the two, know that there really isn't any difference.
Amestris is a nation based off of European culture. As such, it didn't make much sense for them to speak Japanese. Thus I made their native language Amestrian, (which would be English to us). Of course other nations speak different dialects, meaning Xing speaks Xingese (Japanese), Creta speaks Cretan (French), Aerugo speaks Aerugish (Swedish), Drachma speaks Drachman (Russian), and Ishval speak Old Ishvalan (Romanian). Naruto is able to unconsciously use Amestrian because of the Gate, but his original dialect of Japanese/Xingese shows up when he's excited or giving someone a nickname.
If it wasn't clear, Naruto just got sent into the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Universe at the time that Ed and Al tried to bring their mother back. Ed saw Naruto come through the Gate at the moment that he was sacrificing his arm for Al's soul. Ed is eleven at this point, Al is ten and Naruto is eight, soon to be nine.
The amount of knowledge Naruto gained from the Gate is staggering, giving him advanced knowledge on Alchemy and common information known in Amestris. As a side effect Naruto is smarter, but also more mature, to a certain point. He can think and act reasonably when he wants to, but he's still going to act like a kid and an idiot at times. Because even though we all like to see Naruto kick ass, we also love his dumb, clueless moments too.