The amount of ideas I have for this story... I know I should continue previous chapters, but then something like this wiggles its way into my mind and oh well here we are. I am always looking for ideas for future oneshots!
"Oi, Alfons! Headed to the market- y'need anything?"
"Could you pick up a loaf of bread for dinner tonight?" Alfons tried not to lose his entire train of thought.
"Yeah, okay. How's the big report coming, anyway?" Each of the scientists at the lab were required to submit a yearly summation of what they'd been researching. Being the absolute chemistry genius that he was, Edward had breezed through his own writing (mentioning something about having to write a "freaking crap ton" of long reports for a past job). Alfons, on the other hand, was not quite as gifted.
"Fine- hey, before you leave, what'd you do with my copy of The Mars Project? I need a reference for this damn paper."
"Oh, uh, it's in my room somewhere, I think. You're free to look around. Soon as I get back I'll find it, but the market closes at sundown, so if you wanna eat tonight..."
"Ja, I think I can work around it."
"In that case, I'll be off. See ya in a bit." Alfons raised his had as a farewell, not wanting to ruin his own focus by speaking.
It was probably bad to admit, but in moments like these, Alfons enjoyed the peace and silence that came with having the apartment to himself. But he could've been in the most calm, serene environment ever and still not been able to focus. Without that book, this report wasn't going to go anywhere.
Sighing, Alfons got up from the desk and made his way to Edward's room.
For a crazy scientist- especially one with a personality like Edward's, his room was fairly nondescript. Nothing on the walls- just a bed, a dresser, a bookshelf and his desk, with a door that led to a tiny closet. The problem was the things within the furniture. Books were piled by his bedside, papers overflowed from the desk and dresser drawers, and rolls and rolls of plans and blueprints were messily stacked in a corner. It was a wonder Edward had anywhere to put his clothing.
Alfons shuffled into the room, already exasperated with its untidiness. This book hunt was going to take longer than initially thought.
Thinking that the piles of books would be the best place to start, he searched through every one. No sign of the one he'd been looking for. Nothing on top of the dresser, nor on the desk, the drawers of which were much too stuffed with crumpled papers and hastily scribbled notes to ever be able to fit a hardback book.
While Ed's sense of organization seemed skewed at first glance, there was definitely some sort of method to the madness. Believe it or not, it seemed Edward had actually sorted and filed everything in some sort of systematic pattern that Alfons couldn't figure out. Now it was just up to Alfons to figure out where the book was.
"If I was Edward," he muttered to himself, "where would I put that damned book?" He sifted through the rest of the books by the bed, making absolutely sure none of them were the one Alfons was wanting.
At this point, Alfons felt slightly guilty. To Edward, privacy was crucial, and though Ed had given him permission to look for the text... it still made Alfons feel like a snoop. But the thought of tomorrow's deadline in his mind overrode Alfons's usual sense of respect for others' property. Besides, Alfons already knew about Ed's odd robot arms and all. What else could the foreigner possibly have to hide?
Reaffirmed with said mindset, Alfons opened the closet door. Still more books, a pair of winter boots, Edward's old research notebooks which had already been filled with pages of notes. Only Ed's brown coat and a suit jacket hung on the rod in the closet, and Alfons could see the trunk (filled with prosthetics and repair tools, no doubt) hidden away in the back corner of the closet.
Now Alfons was starting to become exasperated. He checked under all the furniture, beneath the blanket of research on Ed's desk, even read the titles of every single text stacked on the bookshelf (and there were a lot). He ran a hand through his now-unkempt hair. The only place left unsearched was the dresser, which should only hold clothing... right?
Knowing Edward, of course not. Alfons opened the top of the three drawers. It held a stack of envelopes and stamps, some blank paper scraps, three pairs of socks, and two individual socks that didn't match. No Mars Project, unfortunately.
The second drawer seemed to actually bemused for its intended purpose. Shirts, pants, and sweaters, messily folded but nonetheless stacked in three piles. Alfons was about to close the drawer when a flash of silver caught his eye.
He'd waited in line at the bookstore for hours in order to get an advanced copy of The Mars Project- a hardback copy with silver inlay on the spine. Hell, that particular book was probably one of the most expensive ones he owned. But why would Ed place it underneath such a large pile of clothing?
Brushing the shirts off to the side of the drawer, Alfons breathed a sigh of relief. He'd finally found his book.
Sitting, hidden beneath Ed's clothing, was a silver pocket watch.
Feelings of possible guilt were overridden with curiosity. Edward himself had said that he'd come to Germany with nothing but the clothes on his back. So where did something like this come from? A gift from the father Ed didn't like to talk about? Something he'd managed to pick up?
Alfons examined the watch more closely. A Lion-ish design was imprinted on the front, and from what Alfons knew of rare metals (which wasn't much), both the watch and the chain appeared to be pure silver. This thing was probably worth more than everything else Edward owned.
If he had something this nice, why was it inconspicuously hidden in the drawer of his dresser? Was he afraid it would be stolen? Alfons had been about to buy him a wristwatch for Christmas, since Edward was always so keen on knowing the time. So why was such a nice watch not in use?
Alfons attempted to open it, to check the time himself, but it seemed the thing didn't want to budge. He looked at where he assumed the clasp was, only to find it had been... welded shut? That certainly didn't make sense. Whoever had welded the thing must have been a master: the two edges of the watch seemed to be stuck together almost seamlessly.
Giving a final, half-hearted pull at it, the weld on the watch appeared to crumble before Alfons's eyes, almost as if it had lost the will to hold the thing together. The lid of the watch swung open with a creak.
The hands on the thing weren't running (maybe that was why Ed didn't use it), but turning the thing in his hands, Alfons couldn't seem to find where you could open the watch in order to repair it. The make of the thing was obviously something foreign.
At last, feelings of guilt washed over Alfons. He shouldn't be doing this. Ed's business was not meant for Alfons to snoop into. He was about to close the watch again and stow it away when he saw an engraving on the inside of the lid.
It looked like someone had taken a penknife to the lid. There were some words in a language that wasn't German, as well as numbers. 3 and 11. Odd.
The door to the apartment opened with a loud noise, causing Alfons to almost jump out of his skin.
"Hey, I got the bread and some sausage... Alfons? Where are you?"
"Oh, uh, in your room. Just looking for my book." He shoved the watch back under the shirts and closed the drawer loudly before coming back into the living room. "Are you sure it's in there?"
"Actually, now that I think about it, it may be by the sofa. Here, let's eat, and then we'll look for it. A long day of reports really works up an appetite, doesn't it?" Ed laughed, oblivious to Alfons's discovery. "D'you want me to cook?"
"I think we both know that we'd die of food poisoning. Here, give me the groceries, I'll heat something up."
The smell of sausage frying in a pan was making his mouth water, but, in the deepest corners of his mind, Alfons couldn't forget about that pocket watch. He made a note to ask Ed about it, as soon as he could find the right time.
So I made this report thing sound like the State Alchemist yearly exam... not intended, but I think it's ironic.
In case you're confused: the "weld" on the watch broke because in this world, alchemy doesn't exist, so the alchemy holding the watch together was extremely weak- weak enough to break under Alfons's pulling.
Ohmygod so in order to refresh my mind on the details of the ending of the first anime (to make sure what I said in this chapter was technically feasible with the plot of the anime) I decided to watch the last episode again and what have I done to myself this is not okay.