"That ironic moment when you get a concussion at the same time as your main character." -HermitsUnited87 I'll tell you all the entire story in the bottom author's note.

Summary: Jack has been to Liore, where he acquired the gun, and Youswell, where he stole Lyra's necklace from right around her throat. At the end, Alphonse was talking about Amestris and mentioned that the head of the country was Fuhrer King Bradley. Jack is now freaking out.

.oOo.

"Well fuck." I said intelligently.

Alphonse gasped. "Jack! Watch your language!"

But I wasn't listening. They had a Fuhrer as their head of government. A freaking FUHRER! I wasn't much of a history buff, but there was one Fuhrer that everyone knew. You don't forget someone like that. Hitler was fine for me back in my other life because he was just a name and a story. Sure, I'd seen the videos and been saddened by what happened, but at the same time, I made Hitler jokes all the time. I'm still a kid! Who cared anyways, the guy killed himself! And here I was now, dealing with World War freaking 2 during the time of World War 1. In another world, I might add. How was I supposed to help these people fight against Hitler Jr.? I was just one kid!

OK OK calm down, Jack. We don't even know if this Fuhrer is anything like Hitler. For all I know, it could just be a coincidence that they shared a title. There's no need to panic quite yet. I'll have to look into this Fuhrer King Bradley, and the war he led.

"Jack?" Al's hollow voice asked, probably noticing the serious expression on my face. "Jack, what's wrong?"

I shook my head. "Nothing." Even to me, it didn't sound very convincing. "It's just… the only other Fuhrer I know was very bad news. Like, pack up your stuff and go into hiding bad news. I'm probably just jumping to conclusions, though. The chances of the two of them being even remotely similar are slim to none. Don't worry about it." I stood up to go to bed. "I'll see you in the morning Al. Don't let your brother leave without me."

Alphonse nodded. "Yeah… alright."

With grim thoughts, I went and turned in for the night. Didn't sleep a wink, though.

.oOo.

The next morning, Edward woke up earlier than usual. Yawning, he glanced at the rising sun and absently scratched his face. It was Friday morning, and he had just about completed his mission. He only had to write out the official report on the review of the coal mine and deliver it to… him. Groaning, he dragged himself downstairs to write the document out on an actual table. Surprisingly enough, he wasn't alone. Jack was also there, sitting at a table and looking altogether dead.

Ed glanced in his direction, then shrugged. It wasn't his problem if Ryenn was tired, so long as he didn't hold them back. Sitting down at the next table over, he began to write his report.

Several minutes passed before Ed noticed the other thing about Jack. The kid reeked. Thinking back, he realized that he had never seen Jack shower, or even wear a different outfit. Actually, he didn't know if Jack even owned other clothes. As far as Ed was aware, he only had a gun, that damn cat, and what he was wearing right now. Wrinkling his nose, he turned to face his companion.

"Are those your only clothes?" Al would probably have said that with a little more tact, but it was early, and he was still tired.

Jack raised his head, then glanced down at his shirt and jeans getup. "Hmm? Oh, yeah. I should probably get them cleaned soon." Jack frowned. "When did they invent washing machines again?" He muttered to himself.

Ed raised an eyebrow. "Why do you care? Mrs. Hulling will take care of it, I'm sure. Now go shower, I'll bring them down to her."

Nodding dully, Jack rose, then paused in the doorway. "Um… where's the bathroom?"

"Up the stairs and on the right."

Nodding his thanks, Jack turned and headed up the stairwell. Ed gave him a few minutes, working on his review of Yoki's uselessness and how they really needed to reappoint the government here, then followed Jack upstairs. Outside the bathroom door was a pile of clothes that was almost orderly looking. At least he didn't put his boxers on top Ed thought as he picked up the articles of clothing. Frowning, he looked down at the shirt on top. He had never really cared about what Jack was wearing, but now that the clothes were in his hand, he was curious as to what the paragraph on his shirt actually said.

Placing the rest of the clothes down, he held up the red shirt and examined the white print on it. The words read:

I was

Chased from my house,

Stabbed by a wraith,

Assaulted by a mutant octopus,

Speared by a troll,

Stalked by a creepy little man,

Drawn into a corpse-filled swamp,

Poisoned by a giant spider,

Rendered unconscious…

And even lost my Ring,

And all I got was this lousy t-shirt.

Edward stared at the shirt in confusion. …What? The shirt made absolutely no sense to him. Why would anyone put that on a shirt? Whether it was true or not (and he seriously doubted that any of that was true) he simply couldn't comprehend what any of it meant.

Shaking his head, he picked up the rest of the clothes and resumed his search for Mrs. Hulling.

.oOo.

It was only after the shower that I realized I had no clothes to change into. And that Edward's were probably too small to fit. Bored out of my mind, I sat on my towel examining the various objects I had in the pockets of my pants.

There was the gun (which was actually tucked into the back of my pants, but whatever) and Lyra's necklace, my only weapons in this world. Lyra's necklace wouldn't actually be a weapon until I figured out how this whole 'alchemy' thing worked, but it would still probably intimidate some alchemists if they happened to see it. Shrugging, I put on the metal pendant. The other objects on my being were things from back home. For some reason, my school backpack didn't travel across the gate with me (not that I needed to arm myself with a copy of "Lord of the Flies" in the afterlife-ish-place) but I did have my wallet, my keys, and my cell phone. The wallet had my school ID and about $30, both of which would be completely useless here. Unless they had the same currency for some strange reason, but I doubted it. The keys were unusable as well, considering what those opened. I was pleasantly surprised when my cell turned on after four days of this world. Unfortunately, I had no service (what a surprise) and the battery was almost dead. I might have been able to get one of the Elric brothers to make me some form of charger, but without service the mobile wouldn't do me any good.

Sighing, I placed them all in a pile and leaned back, waiting for someone to come near the door and assist me in my dilemma.

.oOo.

Approximately 4 hours later, Edward realized that he hadn't seen Jack for a while. He then realized that Jack had no clothes, and as such, was probably still sitting in the bathroom. Laughing, he went upstairs to put away his now complete report and gather some of his clothes from the suitcase he stashed inside of Al. The kid was freakishly tall, but other peoples' clothes were better than no clothes.

He grabbed one of the only other outfits he owned (cargo pants and a black tank top) and headed back to the bathroom. Knocking on the door, he called out "Hey, Jack?"

There was a scuffling sound from inside, and the door opened a crack. "Are they done?"

"Nope, but I finally took pity on you and brought some of mine. So here." He shoved the apparel through the door. Nodding his appreciation, Jack turned and closed the door, but not before Ed noticed the glint of something metal near his collarbone.

Was that.. A necklace? He thought to himself. Then he shrugged his shoulders. Who was he to complain about someone else's choices in fashion?

.oOo.

After Edward let me borrow some of his clothes, we spent the rest of the day doing absolutely nothing while waiting for Mrs. Hulling to finish with my actual clothes. I sat down at a table and stared into space, Edward sat down at another table and fiddled with his pocket watch, and I'm pretty sure Alphonse was off playing with Sparta somewhere. By the time she had finished, night was falling. Edward didn't have the 300K that another night would cost us, so we hopped onto the last train out for the night.

"Where are we headed now?" I asked with a yawn.

"Central."

"How long is that gonna take us?"

Edward glanced in my direction. "A little over 30 hours."

My eyes widened and I let out a groan. "Ugh. What I wouldn't give to have an Ipod right now."

Alphonse turned his head in my direction. "An… Ipod? What's that?"

I'm pretty sure I paled a considerable amount. I had to be more careful about what I said to these people, I was from another freaking futuristic dimension! Then again, the chances of them believing me… "It's like a radio, but it's portable, I control the music that comes from it and I can make it so that only I can hear it."

Alphonse's eyes rounded. "A portable radio? Those exist?"

I shrugged nonchalantly. "They do where I come from."

"And where do you come from again?" Edward asked, leaning in. You know, this was looking kind of familiar…

I smirked. "In the kingdom of Far Far Away."

He blinked. "…Really?"

I scoffed. "No, of course not! We've already been through this!"

Edward leaned back in silence. "It was worth a shot…" he grumbled.

Sighing, I leaned back and tried to remember all the good music from back home. It was a long train ride, and that was all that happened on it. Needless to say, I was bored out of my mind.

.oOo.

The girl leaned back and groaned. "He's being so boring!" She turned to face her companion. "Truth! Can't I go move things along! They're not doing ANYTHING!"

Her white companion shifted from his perch. "You want to go down there and push him in the right direction?"

"I don't care what direction I push him in!" She snapped angrily, reddish blonde hair flailing. "I just want him to get moving!"

Truth sighed. "If it means that much to you, do something small. I don't want you messing around too much in his affairs."

An impish grin appeared on her face. "Small you say? Is a link small enough for your tastes?"

"If you don't interfere much, then yes." The little white creature sounded almost bored. Knowing him, he was bored. Maybe this would keep him amused for a while as well.

Grinning from ear to ear, the girl bounced to the area where she spent most of her time. Then, she began her mental descent into a certain cocky mind.

.oOo.

They were just over 24 hours into the train ride when Jack started. He had been sleeping quite peacefully, remaining silent except to occasionally hum a strange tune that neither Elric brother recognized while he was awake. All of a sudden the boy hissed through his teeth, sat upright on the bench, clutched his forehead, and then proceeded to fall off of the bench, whereupon he smacked his head on the floorboards. Edward suppressed a snicker, while Alphonse leaned over to help him back up.

"Are you alright?" He asked worriedly. He glared over his shoulder. "Stop laughing and help."

Shaking his head, Ed grabbed one of Jack's arms and hoisted him back into an upright position on the bench. Still holding a hand to his head, Jack muttered "Is that normal?"

"Falling out of bed?" Ed responded. "You tell me."

Jack glared at him. "Not that, I mean the exploding freaking head syndrome. Can head injuries like—oh, I don't know, radios falling on your head, hitting your head repeatedly as you tumble down a hill, or just now hitting it on another hard and unforgiving surface—cause random spouts of headache?"

"Well, I know that headaches, interrupted sleep, and fatigue are all symptoms of a concussion." Al interjected. "Maybe you've been a little too rough with your head."

Jack groaned, leaning back. "It's not like I try to put it in harm's way, it just keeps getting bumped! Painfully!"

"I'm surprised the hair doesn't cushion it more." Ed said with a smirk.

Jack blinked, frowning. "Why would it… It's not like I have a 'fro, it's just messy!" he snapped. "And don't even get me started on your hair, Rapunzel."

Al returned to his seat, promptly placing Sparta on his armored lap. "Who?"

Jack waved his free hand. "She lives at the top of a tall tower with no doors and one window. The Princess's hair is a golden braid long enough to touch the ground."

"YOU WANNA GO?" Edward yelled, jumping up. Jack hissed and held his head with both hands.

"Not so loud…" he murmured. "Oww…"

Al sounded worried. "We should get you checked out once we get to Central." He stroked Sparta's ears.

Jack grimaced. "Oh joy. Doctors. From 1914." He leaned back, taking care not to bump his head. "This is going to be just fantastic."

.oOo.

Once they had reached Central City, Alphonse took Jack to see a doctor about his head, while Ed went to see the Colonel. Needless to say, he took the scenic route.

Once he arrived, he quickly said hello to the Bastard's subordinates, then went inside and dropped the file onto his desk with an unceremonious 'splat'. "Here's the review on the Youswell coal mines. Someone's going to have to reorganize the staff there; the Lieutenant in charge was raising taxes and using the money to line his own pockets." He sat down with a huff.

"That must have been an interesting inspection. I can't wait to hear the local gossip from my new girlfriend." Mustang replied, hands clasped under his chin. "And Liore was a bust?"

Edward sighed. "The priest was a phony, and so was his stone." He frowned. "But the power it gave him was real enough. Without the stone he could barely do any alchemy, but with it he transmuted a huge chimera right in front of our eyes. I'm not sure how he did it, though."

The Colonel rummaged around his desk. "It might help if you consulted with a specialist. Shou Tucker, the Sewing-Life Alchemist, created quite the chimera a few years back." He glanced up at Ed. "Who knows, he may even be able to help you somehow get your bodies back."

Edward nodded in thought, then shot up. "Hey, wait a minute! Why are you doing this? You want something, don't you?" He pointed an angry finger at his superior officer.

"Don't get so overworked about it!" Mustang snapped back. "I'm paying you back for taking care of the Liore scandal and Jack. Doing you a favor is better than being indebted to you."

The blonde sat back down. "Yeah, about that kid—"

"Due to your acquaintance with the boy, I'm leaving him in your charge until we can do something about him." The Colonel interrupted. "Find out what you can about who he is and exactly what happened to make him appear in my office of all places. Once we've established that he's not a threat, we will send him off on his merry way."

"So I'm stuck babysitting the kid." Edward growled. "Do you think I have time for that? You know my goal and how important it is that I complete it!"

"And this is an important mission of keeping what could possibly be an enemy close!" Mustang growled right back. "In fact, I'm betting he helped you out somewhat these past few days." The look of annoyance that flitted across his face was proof enough. The dark haired man smirked, then explained "He looked like both a troublemaker and someone who can't sit around and do nothing." He raised a knowing eyebrow. "Kind of like a certain midget subordinate of mine."

After a notable amount of yelling and fist flailing, Edward Elric was calm enough for him to continue. "Speaking of him, what have you discovered about Jack Ryenn?"

Ed crossed his arms. "Aside from the fact that he's nearly impossible to get along with—a feat which only you beat him at, by the way—I know that somehow he saw the Truth. I'm not about to go into depth about what that is, but I know that he only could've seen it through human transmutation." Here Edward frowned. "The thing that troubles me is that he knows absolutely nothing about alchemy, and even seems mildly surprised every time he witnesses it. This makes even less sense because he claims to have the same knowledge that I do about it—once again, because of the Truth—and has yet to perform any himself. He also has all his limbs and internal body parts as far as I can tell, so I can't find the damn equivalence in his trip.

"Which leads me back to what he said on the first day. He explained that the Truth was paying him back for something he was already given, but that can't be it because I still haven't found what Truth initially took from him.

"Then we have the weird words he uses. He has no knowledge of alchemy, but once we mentioned the Philosopher's Stone he seemed to recognize it. He said it was a 'British term', whatever that is. He also knows weird stories that I've never heard of. This should be normal, considering we have no clue where he's from. The thing is, I asked him about where he's from."

"And what did he tell you?" Mustang inquired, leaning forward.

Edward scowled. "Nothing useful. He's from the planet Earth, in the Northwestern hemisphere—and here's the kicker—a continent called 'North America'."

Mustang frowned. "There's no such continent as North America. Which means he was lying to you about that."

Ed's blonde braid bobbed as he shook his head. "That's what I thought at first as well, but now that I think about it, he didn't look like he was lying. There was almost a sadness when he told me that, like he knew that I would never believe what he was saying, even if it was true."

The Colonel snorted. "That kid? Sad? That's not what I remember."

"It was pretty well masked behind his smart-ass mouth and attitude, but it was definitely there." Edward retorted. "I haven't figured out what yet, but there's something about his past that makes him sad. Of course, I'm the first to know that the past can be a dangerous thing to pry into" here he shot Mustang a meaningful look "but we'll probably need to find out what his deal is if we're ever going to get me off of this case."

The Colonel nodded. "So we know he's confused about alchemy and that he has a past. Anything more important?"

Ed shrugged. "Nothing of too much note. He has a gun now, and has a basic knowledge of how to use it, he knows about Al's and my situation, which would be really bad if he turned out to be an enemy, he's convinced he's going to save the world, and that he was sent by God to do so. Sounds like mostly delusional stuff to me. Also, he didn't know I was a part of the military" Mustang raised an eyebrow "or what year it was." His other eyebrow shot up.

"And where is our little mystery now?" he asked, relaxing back into his cushioned chair.

Ed looked away. "With Al, getting his head checked out to see if he has a concussion."

His eyes narrowed. "Why would he have a concussion?"

"Several bumps to the head, interrupted sleep, and what seems to be quite the headache." Edward responded.

Sighing, Mustang pushed himself up from his chair. "Not even a full week with you two and he's already at the hospital. Must be a new personal best."

"The head trauma was not my fault!" Ed snapped, also rising from the couch. "Granted, I probably didn't help, but it still wasn't caused by me!"

"Mhmm, sure it wasn't." The Colonel said as he led Edward out of his office. "You go fetch your brother and your charge, I'll call Mr. Tucker and see if we can get you to meet him later today."

Grumbling all the way, Edward Elric trudged towards the hospital.

.oOo.

At least, he was planning on going to the hospital. Turns out he didn't need to walk quite that far.

"So, Riza—can I call you Riza?"

"No."

"So Riza, have you ever just sat there and looked at your eyes?"

"No I haven't, and please don't call me Riza."

"That's a shame." Here Jack smiled, showing teeth that weren't that blinding before. "You've got really pretty eyes. A nice chocolate. Sweet, you know?"

"I'm afraid I don't like sweets very much."

"What about honey? Honey is sweet, but it's not a sweet. Like your hair. It's a nice honey blonde, and it goes great with your chocolate eyes." There was another smile.

"Thank you for the compliment, it was very thoughtful of you. Now, if you'll excuse me, there is some paperwork—"

"Do you have to go?" And there go the puppy dog eyes. Alphonse's were better. "I'd much rather you stayed here and continued to chat with me."

Hawkeye finally looked at Jack. She smirked. "Have you seen the mountain over there? If I don't go work on it now, we'll be stuck without a Colonel until I dig him out." And with that, she turned on her heel and marched into the Bastard's office.

Jack grinned at Ed. "I think that went well."

Ed snorted, walking towards him. "No it didn't. She blew you off, she's out of your league, she's too old for you, which isn't saying much, AND—now don't hold me to this one just yet—she has eyes for someone else."

"But she smiled at me!" Jack protested. "If they smile back it means they're interested!"

"That was a smirk." Edward crossed his arms. "Which means she thinks you're an idiot. Now let's go, the Bastard is taking us to see a bioalchemy specialist."

"Really?" Al said as they walked. "That's so nice of him! What's his reasoning?"

Ed shrugged. "He'd rather do us a favor than be in our debt."

"Why bioalchemy?" Jack questioned, holding an ice pack to his head.

"To see if it could help us with our problem." Ed replied, casting a furtive glance around. "How's your head?"

Jack shrugged. "Still hurts like hell. I've got this handy-dandy ice pack, some pain killers, and I'm supposed to avoid sudden changes in light and loud sounds for the next month or so. Yippee."

"So let him take it easy, Brother." Al interjected.

They stood outside waiting for Mustang for about 12 minutes. Jack kept on fiddling with some rectangle in his pocket. He would take it out, scowl at whatever he was looking at, then place it in his back pocket. "What's that in your pocket?" Edward asked once they were seated.

"I'll show you later." Jack responded, propping his chin in his hand and gazing out the window.

"Show us what later?" Bastard McUndonePants asked.

"The thing I'm sitting on." Jack responded emotionlessly. "So who is this guy we're meeting?"

The Colonel started reading through his file. "Shou Tucker, the Sewing-Life Alchemist. Two years ago, he made a chimera that could understand human speech."

Jack sat upright and Alphonse gasped. "Really? You mean it could talk? A chimera?" Ed asked excitedly.

"Supposedly." He responded, glancing back down at his folder. "It only said one thing, though. 'I want to die.' After that, it refused to eat until it got its wish."

Edward leaned back, and Jack and Alphonse resumed their previous positions. It was a rather depressing bit of news, amazing as it was.

.oOo.

We arrived at the Tucker family home shortly after that. Well I don't think 'home' is quite a strong enough word for it. The place was freaking HUGE! I could have fit at least four of my houses in there.

Mustang rang the bell by the front door, and Edward looked up in awe. "Woah… this place is enormous!" I couldn't have said is better myself. Just then, a shadow seemed to fly over his face. "GYAAAH!"

I winced at the sudden loud noise, though I will be the first to admit that having an extremely large dog tackle you is as good a reason as any to cry out. Moments later, the front door opened, being held by a little girl with big blue eyes and brown hair in twin braids. "Look Daddy, there are people outside!"

"Nina," a man with thinning hair and glasses stood behind her, "this is why I told you to keep the dog tied up." He led us inside the massive building and seated us at a long table. For such a grand looking house, it sure was dirty.

"I'm sorry about the mess," Tucker said as he seated himself. "Ever since my wife ran out things have just been falling to pieces."

"When'd she leave?" I questioned, still looking around at the dishes in the sink and the web covered books in the corner. Al elbowed me in the gut, which I guess I deserved.

Tucker sighed. "It's been about two years now." He smiled sadly. "But back to happier matters. You must be Edward Elric. As I'm sure the Colonel told you, I'm the Sewing-Life Alchemist, Shou Tucker. It's a pleasure to meet you."

"Ed is interested in the field of biologic alchemy." Mustang interjected. "He'd like to take a look at your research, if that's alright." These people just gave out their research to whoever asked?

"Of course, I don't mind." Tucker responded. "But" ah, there it is, "if you want me to show you what I've got up my sleeve, it's only fair you show me what you've got up yours. It's the law we live by, equivalent trade." Hah! So I'm not the only one who does that?

The Colonel tried to save his hide, but Edward interrupted him and told the story of how they transmuted their mother. I'm sure they told him the abridged version, seeing as how I knew a tad bit more than Tucker now did, but it was their story to tell, and I had no business adding information.

"I see. You've had a rough time of it then, and at such a young age." Tucker turned to me. "And what about you?"

I shrugged. "What you see is what you get. I won't look into your business if you don't look into mine." I had no particular interest in Tucker's research, and I wasn't about to tell him anything about my past.

"Hmm, I see." Tucker nodded his head. "Well, I'm not sure how much good it will do for you, but you're welcome to look through my research laboratory." He stood up and led the way to a large room filled with jars of… pickled this, frozen that, and some samples that looked disturbingly… fresh. There were also some cages filled with chimeras that could have been part of a science exhibit. Oh wait…

"This is my study. It's kind of embarrassing, actually." He led the way through to another room, this one completely filled with books. "And this is the library. Feel free to use whatever materials you need."

Edward grinned. "Alright Al! I'll start with this shelf!" He grabbed a random tome and started reading at lightning speed. Alphonse grabbed a book from a notably higher shelf and also began to read.

"I'll send someone to get you at the end of the day." Mustang told them, although they were either ignoring him or too engrossed in their books to notice.

"That's quite an ability to focus." Tucker noted. He fixed his glasses. "A couple of prodigies, those two." There was an undertone to his voice that I didn't quite catch. It may have been… resentment? Eh, whatever. It would come to me later.

Sensing an opportunity for a private conversation, I followed Mustang from the room. "Colonel," I called. He turned around, glancing at me with raised eyebrows. "I was wondering if I could ask you some questions?"

"Questions you can't ask the Elric brothers?" He responded coldly.

"Well, I could ask, but I doubt they'd answer me until next week…"

He nodded. "I suppose you're right. Come, step outside with me." He opened the door and walked out, closing it behind me. "Now, what do you want?"

"I'm curious about the Fuhrer of this country." I responded. "Back home we have a President and some other old guys who like to argue a lot."

"…I see." He responded. "Depending on what it is you want to know, I may or may not answer you."

I nodded, "That's understandable. So tell me, is he quick to act during times of war?"

Judging from his suddenly darker expression, the Colonel had seen more than his share of war. "Yes, he's very strong in that aspect."

"Did he ever nearly wipe out a race of people?" I asked. I knew this one was getting kind of close for comfort, but it was important to know!

Mustang scowled. "Yes. A few years back there was a civil uprising in what used to be Ishval. Now it's just desert."

I looked down. "I'm sorry to hear that. Civil wars are always the worst. And now: my last question." I looked him in the eye, my essence the exact picture of seriousness. "Does he have a very distinguished mustache?"

He blinked, clearly not expecting that last one. "…Yes, I suppose it is a very nice mustache…"

"Thank you, that's all I need to know." I turned to walk away, when—

"Hold it."

I turned my head around. "Yes?"

He smirked. It looked natural on his face, like he tended to smirk A LOT. "Now it's my turn. Equivalent exchange. I get to ask you three questions."

I swore under my breath. I was hoping he wouldn't call me out on that! Sighing, I turned to face him again. "Alright, shoot."

"What are you doing in this country?"

I returned the facial gesture. "I'm here to save the world. But you already knew that, so it was a waste of a question. Next."

He frowned, then asked something I was NOT expecting. "Do your parents know you're here?"

I grimaced. My parents… How do you forget about that? They're your PARENTS! I mean, sure, we fought sometimes (what teen doesn't?) but I still loved them. And I would probably never see them again. Oh well, that's what happens when you die, I guess.

"They don't, and they never will." I responded. Damn it, I don't think I controlled my facial expressions just then, he probably figured out something from that…

"And why is that?" He asked, still pressing the parent thing. Yeah, he definitely saw something he could grab onto there.

I smirked inwardly. Might as well talk in circles. "Because I died before I came here. Thank you for your time, I'll see you later, I'm sure." I turned and walked back inside the mansion, passing Nina on the way there. She looked decidedly bored, sitting there all by herself. I thought back to my days as a kid. Being an only child, I spent a notable amount of time wishing I had somebody to talk to. Sighing, I went over and sat down next to her.

"What's up?" I asked, leaning my head back against the wall.

She pouted. "Alexander is sleeping, Daddy is working and Big Brothers are reading. There's no one to play with me!"

I made a face. "What, I can't play with you?"

She made a face back. "You don't look like any fun."

I grinned. "I don't look like any fun! Don't be silly! Let's play some games together!"

Her face lit up like it was Christmas. "Okay!" That was how we spent the afternoon. However, despite the distraction of fun and games, my mind kept wandering to Mr. Tucker, and the strange vibe I was getting from the things he had said today.

.oOo.

Havoc had come to retrieve them, but Ed and Al barely looked up from their books. They had only managed to get through three bookcases between the two of them, barely scratching the vast library's surface. Luckily, Tucker invited them to return again tomorrow.

As the four of them walked out the door, Havoc turned to face Mr. Tucker. "Oh, I almost forgot! The Colonel told me to remind you that inspection day is coming up!"

Tucker nodded solemnly. "Yes. Please assure him, I am aware." He closed the door firmly between them. Ed glanced over to Jack, noticing his frown.

"What've you been up to all day?" He questioned, just now realizing that he had completely forgotten about the maggot.

Jack blinked and glanced up. "I've been playing with Nina." He smiled sadly. "It gets boring, being an only child." He looked towards the door and frowned again.

Stepping into the car, Ed internally smiled. So he does care about other people. "How did your search go?" Jack asked in return, holding a refreshed ice pack to his head.

Ed sighed, sinking into the leather of the military vehicle. "Not so well. There was a great deal of information on chimeras and the theory behind them, but nothing that could really help us with our problem. Well, nothing yet. We only managed to scratch the surface of that library."

They drove the rest of the way in silence, passing building after building until they had reached a nearby inn. Stepping out of the car, Jack appraised the building, still frowning like nobody's business.

Sighing, Ed turned to him. "Alright, what's up?"

Pale eyes blinked. "Huh?"

"You've been frowning since we left." Edward persisted. "What's up?"

Jack smirked, looking back at him. "Aw, so you do care." His face became serious again. "I don't know what it is yet, but something is definitely off about Tucker."

Ed snorted. "Something's off about you, too. Doesn't mean I go around frowning at everything I see."

Jack shook his head, then winced and readjusted his ice pack. "You're not getting it… You know that feeling you get when you're watching a scary movie and you just know that something bad is about to happen?"

Scary movie? I haven't seen any movies since we were kids… "No…"

Jack scowled in thought. Then, with shocking speed, he took his hand and jabbed it into Ed's stomach.

"Oof. Hey! What was that—"

"That feeling in your gut, right now!" Jack interrupted, his face the picture of importance. "That unsettling, lingering sensation. Tucker gives me that feeling, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why!"

Rubbing his stomach, Ed glared at him. "Shou Tucker is a perfectly normal guy." Brushing himself off, he continued "I'm going to assume that anything else you say on the matter is the concussion talking. Now let's get some rest." With that, he stomped into the building.

Glancing between the two, Alphonse sighed. "This is going to be problematic…"

.oOo.

The next day followed generally the same way. We left for Tucker's place, the brothers did their research, and I played with Nina and Alexander. Tucker remained out of sight, and everything went as it normally would. But I still couldn't figure out why Tucker was giving me such bad vibes. Later on that day, we all sat down at a table and talked. Tucker described the poor living conditions they had before he became a state alchemist.

"My wife couldn't stand living like that, and so she left. Ironically enough, it was just after that that I became a state alchemist." He sighed. "Last year, I didn't do very well on my exams. I'm afraid that if I don't get good marks this year, we'll go back to living like that. I don't know what I would do."

"Don't worry, Daddy!" Nina turned around from where she had been stroking Alexander. "Even if they say 'no', me and Alexander will growl at them until they say 'yes'!" She smiled, pleased with her plan.

Alphonse laughed. "You tell 'em, Nina!" It sounded like he was smiling.

Mr. Tucker looked at his daughter in thought. Then he smiled. "Hey Nina, I've got an idea. Why don't you play with Daddy tomorrow?"

Nina's face lit up and a wide grin broke out on her face. "Really? You mean it?"

"Yeah." He answered with a smile. Then his eyes widened in surprise when Nina jumped into his arms, calling out an excited 'woohoo!'

Edward smiled at them, and they looked happy enough. But something still felt off to me.

We arrived at the inn, and I just stared at the ceiling, thinking about Tucker and everything I knew about him.

Shou Tucker is a state alchemist. He had a wife, but she left him due to living conditions, and has a daughter and a dog. He and his family live very well off now because he is a state alchemist. State alchemists have to take an annual test to keep their license. Tucker did not do well last year. To become a state alchemist, he presented a talking chimera. Judging by Ed's reaction and the only other chimera I've ever seen, that was quite a feat.

How would one go about making a talking chimera? Monkeys are supposed to be the closest things to humans as far as animals go, but I'd never heard of a talking monkey before. Parrots could be trained to talk, but they only repeated what they heard, not actually talked. Perhaps with the vocals of the parrot and the brains of a monkey? But what gave parrots the ability to talk anyways?

I groaned, rubbing my temples. It would be so much easier if you could just start out with something that could already talk!

I froze.

When'd she leave?

Tucker smiled sadly. "It's been about two years now."

Shou Tucker, the Sewing-Life Alchemist. Two years ago, he made a chimera that could understand human speech.

It only said one thing, though. 'I want to die.'

Shou Tucker… had used his own wife… the woman he loved and had married and even had a freaking kid with… he used his wife to become a state alchemist. Turned her into his lab rat and made her into a chimera. What kind of sick, demented bastard would do that to a person?

I'm afraid that if I don't get good marks this year, we'll go back to living like that. I don't know what I would do.

Hey Nina, I've got an idea. Why don't you play with Daddy tomorrow?

Oh my God. Nina!

Without thinking, I jumped out of bed. My head pounded at the sudden change, but right then I couldn't have cared less. Innocent little Nina, who couldn't have been older than five, was in danger. And from her own father! I ran out of my room and down the stairs, not even bothering to put on shoes. My bare feet pounded on the ground. Somewhere behind me, one of the Elric brothers was shouting at me to stop. Normally I would have, but there wasn't any time. I had to get Nina out of that house!

Without even knowing the way to her house, my feet carried me there. I bolted to the front door, completely hurtling the stairs, and tried wrench open the door.

Locked.

Frantically, I looked around for an open window. The windows themselves weren't open, but there was a conveniently sized rock on the grass that was just begging to be thrown. Taking it in my fist, I hurled it as hard as I could at the window, creating a rock sized hole. I quickly shoved aside the broken glass and made the hole large enough to crawl through, then pulled myself onto the ledge. I had probably woken up several people with that crash, but it couldn't be helped now.

I stepped onto the floor, my feet getting cut to shreds by the broken glass. But it didn't matter, Nina was in danger. I quickly bolted from room to room, searching for the little girl. But I couldn't find her anywhere in the massive house! Finally, I spotted a door that was suspiciously ajar. Not even thinking, I sprinted into the room, the heavy wood crashing on the opposing wall.

What I saw was both reassuring and terrifying.

Nina and Alexander were sitting huddled together on what must have been the largest transmutation circle I'd ever seen. The two appeared to have been sleeping before, though my crashing through the door had woken them up. Tucker was kneeling by the circle, glasses askew and hands raised for the morbid deed. He looked at me in surprise. Then, seeming to understand that I had figured him out, he lunged for me. I quickly ran to the side, crashing into a shelf of animal bits. Tucker turned and lunged at me again.

"Run!" I yelled at Nina, praying to whatever God they had in this world, be it the little white guy or a more generous one, that she would make it out ok. But she wasn't moving, Nina just sat there, frozen in fear. Growling, I turned to face Tucker, who was panting a few feet away.

"You damn brat." He snarled. "How did you figure it out?"

"I've gotta say…" I panted, "for someone revered… for being an intelligent soul, you sure suck… at covering your tracks." I slowly extended the hand that was closest to the wall, hoping to find a weapon. "Next time you do something diabolical; make sure the dates don't match up!"

Tucker slowly smiled. "Yes, it was rather annoying that you discovered my secret…" Sure, ignore my jab at your intellect. There goes that plan. "…but now I've got someone better for my chimera!"

I glared at the man across from me, hoping some ingenious plan would come to mind. Naturally, I had run in to save the maiden without thinking first. "Oh yeah? And who could that be?"

Tucker's glasses slipped. I could see his wide, crazed eyes now. "Such a young mind would have retained more of its integrity. An older mind like your own would be much less likely to spill my secret once its lost its ability to condemn me!"

"Really?" I mused, still searching for an escape. "And how would you make me lose my ability to throw you in jail forever?"

Something flashed behind Tucker's shoulder. This time, I controlled my facial expressions. "When an intelligent mind such as yourself is combined with a less intelligent mind, the two merge, and the smarter of the two drops to the brink of insanity!" He laughed maniacally. "You get to keep the ever important ability to talk, but lose the wits to condemn me! It's perfect!"

Relaxing my stance, I slowly clapped my hands, nodding my approval. "Bravo! You've really outdone yourself this time, Shou. A true genius, this guy." Then I cocked my head, musing. "You forgot one thing, though…"

Tucker's face dropped. "And what could that possibly be?"

I grinned my signature 'I have something evil planned' grin. "Zay 'ello to my leetle friend!"

Clank!

Edward's fist came crashing down on Tucker's unsuspecting head, knocking him out cold. Then with a huff, the pissed blonde ran over to me and began his rant.

"What the HELL were you thinking?!" He shouted in my face. "Do you have any idea how hard it was to find you once you ran off? Or what would have happened had we not gotten here in time?"

"We?" I turned around and saw Alphonse comforting Nina, who was now crying shamelessly. "Oh, hey there."

"You're such an idiot! What were you planning on doing?! Letting him turn you into a chimera?" Ed was still seriously pissed off.

I shrugged. "I was winging it. Thanks for the help though!" I grinned, earning me an automail fist in the gut.

I grunted. "Hey! What was that for?"

"Why didn't you bring us with you?" He asked, somewhat calmer.

"It would've taken too long." I wheezed. "You were convinced Tucker was a perfectly normal guy, and I barely made it here in time as it is! If I hadn't come when I did, Nina would be a monster right now!" I huffed. "I hope you two are grateful."

The sound of military people could be heard from outside. With a sigh, I began the painful trek to the front door, leaving the Elric brothers to handle the mess behind me. Now that the adrenaline had run out, I could feel all the cuts on my feet and the pounding in my head. Giving myself a thumbs up, I collapsed into a nearby chair.

"Mission accomplished."

Woot! Finally finished this thing. It's been a pain since I started writing it. It also would have been out sooner, had I not gotten a concussion. Long story short, I was skiing, the tips of my skis went under the snow, I was sent flying and landed on my face. This was on Sunday. I'm fine now, though! Well, as fine as you can be when concussed.

Anyway, that's that. Jack saved Nina! We'll see how this affects the story in the next chapter. (which is only episode 5… It feels so much further than that though!)

Oh, and the accent at the end is my attempt at French. I was typing it and saying it aloud, and it just had to sound like that…

So uh, maybe I'll get more reviews this time? Like, past today/tomorrow? Thanks