Title: Though The Looking Glass Ch. 9
Rating: PG (for language)
Warnings: Spoilery abounds
Summary: Ed and Al just saved each other from the gate, but when they land in Karakura town and find that Shinigami are fighting Envy it turns their little world upside down. Rated M for adult situations and language but mostly will be PG. Possible het and Yaoi pairings in future chaps. WARNING: The pairings will be odd.
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach or Fullmetal Alchemist and I dont make any money writing this, its simply the product of my over active imagination combined with my overwhelming urge to write.
Ch. 9 - Of Pickle Jars and Porches
Ed and Al sat on Urahara's workroom floor, dusty books, scribbled notebooks and what seemed to be random pieces of paper strewn about the entire floor and surrounding him and his brother. When Ed had found that Urahara's workroom held the most information, not only on the living world but also Soul Society he had bartered a deal with the ever-smiling shopkeeper. They would be allowed to use the workroom facilities as well as the books and notebooks (not all of them Ed noted sourly) and in return the brothers would help figure out what the hell this black arm thingie was made out of, and see if there was a way they could use that information in getting home. The deal though was keeping an open dialogue with Urahara on all their findings, which at the moment resulted in knowing that the arm was… well black, gross and twitchie.
"Brother look at this." Ed lifted his head from the notebook he was currently working on to look over Al's findings.
"Visoreds. Huh, who would have thought these shinigami guys could get hollow abilities as well." Ed mused.
"I think it's interesting." Al replied, not tearing his eyes away from the book.
"Were you able to find any other information on this though?" Ed asked, tapping the large pickle jar currently sitting on the workroom desk above them with his pencil. Ed would have been much happier if the jar had actually held pickles but unfortunately the two boys weren't quite so lucky. The black arm was coiled inside, and every so often the thing would still twitch or flail in the jar, making both brothers glance unnervingly at the item and distracting them both from the goal they were trying to achieve.
Al shook his head and looked uncertainly at the contents. "No. I wish it wasn't in here. It's just so…"
"Gross?" Ed finished for him while tapping the pencil end at the jar again. Sure enough the arm twitched, making Ed quickly recoil his hand.
"That's one way to put it." Al said with a distasteful frown. Ed shook his head and turned back to the notebook he was currently working on.
"Well keep reading, maybe there's something in there we could use to find out what this thing is."
"Let's hope we find it soon." Al gave the jar one more look before going back to find another book from the ones piled randomly around them.
It really was hard to concentrate with that thing in the room. The problem was that this was one of the safest places for the item, the second being the training facility but that didn't have anything near to hand to study, and bringing this amount of books down all those stairs was daunting to say the least. Besides that one issue there was also the fact that at some point in time they might have to experiment on it and Urahara said the kidou barriers in this room were the strongest in the whole place when it came to small scale experiments.
Ed gave a sigh, took one more look at the coiled black hand and went back to the notebook he was currently working on. After a few more minutes of study silence Ed gave a smile at the notebook, then snapped his head towards his brother.
"Hey look at this!" Ed exclaimed. Al looked over and gave Ed a frown.
"What are you doing with that book? Urahara said its one of the ones we weren't supposed to touch!" Al declared, giving his brother a reproachful eye.
"Save the lecture will ya?" Ed said with a scowl. "And besides if he didn't want us to look at it he should have made a better code, it only took a day and a half to break it." He slid his scribbled findings towards his brother. Al shook his head at Ed.
"If Urahara finds out that you've been looking at stuff we're not supposed to be looking at we could get in trouble… What does it say anyways?" He asked, picking up the notes.
"Take a look." Ed said with a smug smile. One thing Ed was certain of was when it came to knowledge Al was just as thirsty for it as he was. The two could sit in a room studying for days on anything they could get their hands on and this situation was proof of that. Al read over the contents, his smoky eyes perusing Ed's work while Ed turned back to the notebook to translate the code on the next page.
"Brother your handwriting is horrible." Al murmured with a furrowed brow. When he finished reading over the piece of paper his eyes snapped up to his. "Do you really think it could be that easy?" Al asked.
Ed shrugged. "There's only one way to find out." He replied. Both Elric brothers looked over at the ominous jar.
"I'm not touching that thing." Al said quickly.
"So how goes the hunt? And what did you do to my workroom!" Urahara said as he stepped through the door and took in the mess sprawled across the entire workroom floor with widened, worried eyes.
"Urahara! Uh… Fine!" Al exclaimed nervously, quickly sitting on the pinched notebook Ed had been reading from.
"I work better like this." Ed said with a shrug.
"Well let's hope you can also work to clean it up when you're done. Any new findings?" Urahara asked as he carefully tiptoed through the mess to stand between the two brothers.
"I think we finally might have a working theory about this thing." Ed said while jabbing a pencil towards the jar but not quite touching the glass.
"Well by all means what is it?"
"Reiatsu works in many different ways here," Al started. "It can be condensed to the point of visualization, as well as using it not only to heal, but to damage as well."
"The theory for this thing is that it's condensed reiatsu that's so strong it even sucks light into it, kinda like a black hole but not quite at the same time. What the origin of the reiatsu is we're not sure yet but that's my best guess so far." Ed offered. Urahara seemed to pause for a moment so he could take the information in. Eventually he nodded.
"That is a very interesting theory. Have you tested it yet?" Urahara asked with raised eyebrows.
"Ah… not yet." Al replied hesitantly.
"What's the problem?" Urahara looked between the two brothers.
Ed sighed and sat up to sit cross legged, placing both elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands. "We'd have to touch it. That's the problem." Ed responded. Urahara looked at the jar, then back at the two boys on the floor.
"Well it's been amputated from the gate so it should be safe to touch." Urahara mused aloud in an effort to calm the two.
"Easy for you to say." Ed heard Al mutter under his breath.
"What was that?" Urahara looked over at Al whose face had gone pink.
"Honestly neither of us really want to touch this thing." Ed said in hopes of rescuing his brother from further embarrassment. "Urahara would you feel alright in helping with this experiment?" Ed offered in a hopeful voice.
"I don't mind at all, pass me the jar." Urahara gave a shrug and held his hand out. Ed stood up and passed the item gingerly to the shopkeeper and almost fumbled it to the floor when the hand twitched again, making a small tinking sound against the glass.
"Man that thing is so gross." Al pushed away from the item so that his back almost connected with the desk, a look of revulsion on his small features. Ed nodded in agreement. Out of all the things they had to deal with in their short lives this one had to be the slimiest and twitchiest of all of them.
"Where's that reiatsu detector? We might need it." Ed said, already looking on the shelves for the item in question. Although the item still didn't pick up on hidden reiatsu's it did a good job of picking up all the finer spikes in reiatsu levels, as well as what different types of reiatsu were doing at the same time. For a situation like this it was almost the perfect tool.
"Top left shelf, behind the box that says 'old encyclopedias'." Urahara said absently while looking over the contents of the jar.
"That's a good way for no one to touch it." Ed quirked a smile and reached for the encyclopedia box to push it to the side - which was deceptively light – and found the fisher price reiatsu detector. After a few quick directions from the shopkeeper on usage, Ed turned the little dial to the 'on' switch.
"Alright go for it." Ed nodded towards Urahara. The moment the words left his mouth Urahara unscrewed the cap of the jar and placed his hand gently inside. He grabbed onto the black coiled arm near what Ed could only consider as its wrist. When Urahara touched the item it was as if the arm had come alive again and was reaching its little black fingers to latch on to Urahara. Ed shuddered at the thought of letting that thing touch him again and tried to ignore the feeling, focusing instead on the information that came through on the little piece of machinery he held in his hand.
"Look at that." Al whispered in awe beside him when he also took a look at the information coming up.
"I know, it's almost as if it's leeching the reiatsu from Urahara." Ed replied, eyes glued to the information coming through. If it was actually seeping energy from Urahara that could only mean one thing: that it latched on to living things and just – sucked the life force from a person. The gate of truth was usually only supposed to open when people died so it would make sense that it's only job was to absorb energy.
"Hmm. I don't feel as if it's taking any energy from me." The shopkeeper stated as he looked at the hand, now grasping at his green shirt and looking like it was trying to get out of the jar.
"Well maybe it's not taking the energy per se, its acting maybe more like a radio station or-"
"Or a tuning fork. Urahara why do you have your hand in a pickle jar- Eulgh." Ed's head snapped up and a strange tingle shot down his spine at the voice, completely derailing any thought process he had on the current experiment. The voice was the exact duplicate of his own.
Ed watch a young man step into the workroom. He couldn't be older than fourteen but his hair was completely silver and spiked in seemingly random directions. His eyes were large and a piercing teal blue color that were intelligent and shrewd that made him somehow seem older. He was just a little shorter than Ed himself and the guy was wearing the same uniform as Renji and Ichigo wore, but overtop he there was a long white coat that almost grazed the floor. Ed also noticed that he carried a sword that was hitched across his back diagonally.
The young man seemed to be just as disturbed at the contents of the pickle jar as Ed himself was. He had never put a second thought to meeting anyone that could be a replica of someone else on his side but seeing this young man now he had an extremely wierd feeling that he and the young man standing alongside Urahara were somehow strangely connected.
"Who's this guy?" Ed asked carefully, trying to keep his voice void of all the strange emotions he felt inside. The moment he spoke the white haired young man's bright eyes looked over at Ed and widened slightly in shock. He took all of Ed in with curious eyes and when they met his own gold orbs there was something…. Almost familiar in those teal depths. So I'm not the only one who felt it then.
"Oh of course, how forgetful of me. Ed, Al, I would like to introduce you to Hitsugaya Toshiro, Tiachou of Squad ten of the Gotei 13." Urahara offered as he detangled himself from the black hand inside the jar.
"Hitsugaya Taichou will be fine. So this is the specimen you found?" Hitsugaya asked and looked interestedly at Urahara, now screwing the cap back on the jar.
"I think 'found' would be a loose term for it but yeah." Ed replied.
"And you two were the ones who opened the gate?" Hitsugaya asked, once again nailing Ed with a sharp eye.
"The first time wasn't on purpose, it just kinda happened." Al shrugged beside him.
"We're just trying to figure out a way home." Ed added, rotating his metal arm while trying to work out the kinks. It must be raining outside he thought. It only hurt like this when it was damp outside.
"And we think this might give us a clue." Al held up the piece of paper Ed had cracked the code on. Urahara caught the paper in a steely glance, then looked to the floor where Al had been hiding the notebook, now completely out in the open since he was standing and no longer sitting on it. He could feel his face start to heat up.
"What are you doing with that notebook?" The older blonde asked sharply.
"It's the one that gave us the theory." Ed gave Urahara an apologetic look.
"It's also one of the books I requested for you not to touch. How did you break the code so quickly?"
"You're not the only one who's considered a genius Urahara." Ed gave the man a half smile which only thinned the shopkeepers lips more in annoyance.
"It's a good working theory. Keep me advised if you make any progress." Hitsugaya stated and gave Urahara a nod and crossed his arms across his chest.
"Yes we will…" Urahara said offhandedly. He looked over at Ed and his brother, both of their faces now pink from being caught in the act. "I might have to remove some of my other works from this room as well." The older blonde added and snuck a look at the small amount of notebooks high up on the shelf above the Elric boys' heads that were supposed to be off limits.
Hitsugaya shook his head a little. "If it's because of your personal workbooks they found this then you might want to consider having them look at all of them. Are they all done in the same code?"
Urahara looked taken aback by the question and seemed disinclined to comment further. Ed smiled a little at that, and he noticed Hitsugaya did the same.
"I'll take that as a yes." Hitsugaya said. He looked as if he was going to say more but a tall lanky man with three scars down his face and a 69 tattoo on his cheek knocked on the doorjamb of the open workroom door. Ed blinked a little at that. He wasn't so young or innocent to not know what that number stood for. Damn, some of the people here are just plain weird.
"Hitsugaya Taichou I have the link set up and it's calling First division now." The dark spiky haired man said in a surprisingly smooth voice. Hitsugaya looked over his shoulder at the man in the doorway.
"Very good Hisagi. Do me a favor and call Matsumoto here."
"Ah… about that, I think she might have gone to visit someone by the name of Orihime?" Hisagi gave a small helpless shrug, giving Ed an idea at what kind of person Matsumoto was.
"In the rain?" Hitsugaya's voice was full of shock. Urahara looked over at the tiny window high up on the other side of the workroom that let in a small amount of afternoon sunlight and pointed with his hand.
"Actually it's let up since this morning." He said happily.
"Hmm. Well it's better than her going shopping." Hitsugaya said with a frown. He looked up at Hisagi still standing in the doorway. "Thanks Hisagi. Gentlemen." He nodded at the three still in the room and gave Ed one more strange look, then left with Hisagi.
"Brother, the white haired guy kinda reminds me of you." Al murmured quietly.
"It's eerie… It's like…. I dunno." Ed furrowed his brow in thought for a moment.
"Do you think it's possible that there are mirrored people on the other side of the gate?" Al asked, echoing Ed's thoughts in a creepy way.
"I don't know. It's something to think about anyways." He gave his brother a small smile, then caught the look Urahara was giving him. "What?" Ed asked.
"You and Hitsugaya. Your voices are the same." The shopkeeper said with a speculative look.
"Well that's something I'll have to think about after this experiment is done. Urahara did you want to get the other notebooks down? We can do a more thorough job on this investigation with them." Ed tried to hold back his smirk. The look was short lived though as Urahara gave one of his bright smiles.
"You should know that since I'm no longer part of the Gotei 13 I don't need to follow orders." He reached up anyways though and pulled down all the notebooks they were previously told not to touch.
"Thanks Urahara." Al said when two of the notebooks were passed to him.
"What about the rest of them?" Ed asked. Urahara gave another one of his smiles.
"These are for me. As I said, I don't follow orders." Then he turned on his heel, and left the workroom.
"Well there goes that idea." Al muttered, then pulled open one of the notebooks he was given. "Can you pass me the code crack? I wanna take a look at this one." Ed nodded absently and picked up the paper.
Ed and Al had been working almost until evening on the project and Ed had pretty much lost himself in the information surrounding him when he heard a light knock on the workroom door. He lifted his head to find Rukia standing in the doorway.
"R-Rukia! What are you doing here?" He asked. Al lifted his head as well and gave a curious look at the two of them. Ed still hadn't told his brother about what happened two days ago on the roof of the shoten, mostly because he was too embarrassed to talk about the situation. Even just thinking about it colored his cheeks.
After he had fallen off the roof Rukia had to help detangle him from the brambles he had landed in. If that wasn't enough for his bruised pride she had teased him about his balance before kissing him soundly on the cheek and leaving him at the door of the shoten. He had such a horrible sleep that night that he had decided on not thinking about the whole issue at all.
Until now that is.
"I was wondering if I could talk to you for a minute." Rukia asked, her bright eyes wide and curious. Ed nodded and got up from his seat on the floor slowly; cursing the earlier rain for making the portals of his automail ache.
"Yeah I guess I can do that." He said resignedly, already dreading the oncoming conversation. "Al why don't you take a break as well, we've been working non-stop since this morning." Ed looked over at his brother.
"That's a good idea. I bet Tessai's already working on dinner. I could probably help." Al got up from his seat on the floor. Ed quickly scooped up the notebooks with the code he was still perusing and handed them to his brother.
"Do me a favor and put those in our room? I don't want Urahara to take them away. Some of that stuff is really interesting."
"One of these days your curiosity is gonna get us in trouble brother." Al chided but took the books anyways.
"You took some of Urahara's workbooks?" Rukia asked. Ed turned towards her and gave a helpless shrug.
"They helped so it's something. He was less than impressed but it was worth it." Ed gave a cheeky grin and stepped through the doorway, Al following close behind. "Where did you want to talk?" Ed asked.
"Out on the porch probably. No one's out there right now." Rukia gave him another one of her smiles that made Ed's stomach feel strange, and without waiting for a reply started walking for the door. Ed followed close behind.
Once they were there Rukia took up a spot near the far corner away from the door. Ed sat beside her and looked out at the cloudy evening. It had stopped raining but the clouds had stayed, low and still threatening to open up and drench the world again, keeping the pavement wet and dark grey, as well as the rest of the surrounding world.
Ed looked at Rukia out from the corner of his eye. He was starting to worry about the reason she asked him out here. There could only be two reasons he thought: Either it was about them and what Ed had done on the roof, or it was about Envy. Since there was no look of distress on her face and no silver cell phone in her hand he decided to go with the former, instead of the latter.
"So what did you want to talk to me about?" He asked. Rukia turned, giving him a level look.
"I've thought about this for a little while now. You and me."
"You and me." Ed replied in understanding.
"You see Ed, I like things to make sense. So I decided to create a pro-con list about you and I." Rukia gave him a look, then turned and looked out to the yard again. Ed swallowed. "Did you want to hear them?" She asked.
"Ok." Ed said uncertainly.
"I would like to start with con, get them out of the way you know?" Rukia said and held up her right hand, index finger up.
"Con: We're getting ready for a war here against Aizen, and you're involved with trying to destroy Envy. That means both of us have a priority that doesn't include relationships." Rukia said in that matter of fact voice of hers. Ed had heard of this Aizen guy once or twice before, and from the notebooks Urahara had he was able to deduce that he was definitely a bad guy. Since he was involved with the whole Envy thing it definitely created some gulfs in regards to what each needed to work on, which meant they probably wouldn't see each other much. He could understand that one and nodded to her, impressed that she would use that as a first con.
"Pro: You weren't scared of kissing me and most people are since I'm part of nobility now, not to mention my brother would probably kill anyone that took 'untoward steps' with me." She said, holding up her left hand, index finger up.
"Wait, your nobility?" Ed asked, genuinely concerned. He had never tried to get into a relationship with anyone in this position before. Mostly because he was no fool and knew how the system worked… At least at home that is. Getting involved with nobility ran the risk of being the boytoy while the girl's very well bodyguarded fiancée got back from travelling the world or something, then being cast aside once the marriage took place. This most definitely changed things. Especially the killing brother part.
"I thought you knew that." Rukia quirked a brow at him.
Ed shook his head. "No I think someone forgot to mention that part to me." Ok Ed thought, that's one for one.
"Oh. Well it's true. Now let's go to con: You could leave at any time which creates immediate relationship instability." Rukia turned and looked out to the grey yard again, violet eyes intelligently looking over everything. Ed nodded at that one as well. It was true; once they found and destroyed Envy they were free to go home - once they figured out how to get through the gate that is. He wasn't going to lie; he really did want to go home. She's definitely perceptive when it comes to this stuff.
"I agree with that one. It's an unfortunate reality in our situation." Ed sighed.
"I thought so as well, which is why I added it to the con list." Rukia said as she waggled her left finger slightly and then folded both hands away to rest them on her knees.
"Pro: You're a very good kisser."
"Ah… thanks." Ed blushed and turned away, hoping his bangs would hide his pink face. Ed had never actually heard a girl spout off pro/con lists in front of him like this and it was starting to feel a little weird. Weren't girls supposed to talk about this stuff with other girls? Usually in bathrooms when they brought their seventeen friends with them?
"Con," Rukia said, pulling Ed out of his thoughts. "If Renji finds out he's probably going to try and kill you as well."
"Great." Ed deadpanned.
"Which leads me to pro: I think you scare him with your alchemy, so that's definitely on the pro side." Rukia gave him a smile but Ed wasn't really feeling like he should be doing a victory dance at that.
"This list keeps getting better and better." He mourned.
"Con," Rukia said after giving Ed and amused look, which faded at the next point. "We're from different worlds, and the world we're currently in doesn't even belong to either of us. In order for us to stay together means we would both need to stay here. It works for me since I'm posted here for now but you're likely wanting to go home eventually."
Ed nodded at her list. She was definitely smart and did quite a good job of figuring things out. Not only when it came to matters that concerned herself but also for him. Ed sighed.
"By my count that's one extra con and one less pro." He said quietly.
"I know." Rukia looked over at him with her bright eyes serious again. Ed held back the frown he could feel wanting to escape. He understood where this was going now. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out a break up even before it happened, which in all actuality, probably worked best for both of them. If they were to keep up this thing they had it-
Ed's brain flatlined as Rukia leaned in to kiss him, pressing a pair of soft, sweet lips on his. After a moment to try and kickstart his brain back into thinking he looked at her highly amused face.
"Wait… what was that for? I thought you had too many cons?" He asked, trying with great effort to get his thoughts in some semblance of working order again. Rukia gave him one of those smiles of hers and sidled up closer to him on the step they were sitting on.
"I did. But then I thought of this one. Pro: You're intelligent, kind, selfless when it comes to your brother and above all you make me laugh. It's no small thing." She said honestly as his cheeks started warming again as the memory of the roof came back to him. She slid her hand into his flesh one and gave it a light squeeze. "Let's just… agree that if you have to go someday or I have to go back to Soul Society we'll part on good terms. If we understand that there's a possibility of finality then at least we're properly prepared, right?"
Ed could feel the smile widen on his face and squeezed her hand lightly back.
"Right." He agreed, then leaned in and kissed her again.
Matsumoto walked towards the shoten, then quickly hid behind a tree lining the edge of the yard, a huge smile plastered on her face.
"It's just so cute!" She whispered to herself as she watched Rukia and a blonde haired boy kissing on the steps. She frowned as a second thought came to her.
"And me without my camera!
A/N: for those of you who don't know, Ed and Hitsugaya are voiced by the same Japanese actor: Romi Paku. There are a few other crossover voices as well but I decided to focus on those two…. For now at least *grins*
For the English dubbed watchers (and I know you're out there) it's Vic Mignogna doing Ed's voice, who surprisingly also does Ikkaku and part of Zabimaru before the zanpakutou arc (bet you didn't see THAT one coming).