The Flower Princess and the Alchemist @bloodpokemon101
My Name Is Orihime

(A/N: Here's chapter twenty seven! I feel like some people don't like the direction this story is going as they have been complaining about it to me. Well, too bad, so sad. It's my story, not yours! Thanks to everyone who's remained loyal to this story and faved, followed, and reviewed it so far. I really appreciate it! Well, enjoy! I should say… Get ready for another two parter.

SunniKing: Thanks for the review! Yeah, I doubt anyone was expecting mod souls, seeing as how many people guessed Ritsuko was either a Soul Reaper or a Arrancar. However, when she was revealed not to be, I've received very angry complaints, and people dropped the story because she wasn't either of them. I'm like, what? Okay, fine. Whatever. It's my story. I decide how it goes. *rolls eyes* Some people could be so petty. They should make their own Bleach/Fullmetal Alchemist fanfic, and write it the way they want it to go instead of yelling at me for not doing this or that. But anyway, yeah, you would see why the mod souls stole a piece of Orihime's soul soon.

Drake G. Reaper: Thanks for reviewing! Really appreciate it! Well, Orihime doesn't necessarily have to come clean. It's not like Edward and Alphonse were seeing ghosts. But like I said, the mod souls are a stepping stones for the Elric brothers into the spiritual world. I honestly never thought of Winry developing spiritual powers. I don't think she's going to. She eventually become spiritually aware enough to see spirits, like Tatsuki and Keigo, but she won't develop any powers.)

My Name Is Orihime

The group of four managed to find a small cottage at the outskirts of town. Orihime was in the middle of healing Winry's broken arm with her Soten Kisshun. She just finished stitching up Edward, who was collecting the scattered pieces of his brother. He had a dark, serious expression etched on his face. No doubt thinking about what happened last night.

The auburn haired girl let out a depressive sigh. Hollows… Now, mod souls… What next? Why does this she get the feeling that this world is more connected to her own than she thought? All these spiritual beings showing up couldn't be a coincidence, could it? If so, why hasn't anyone in the Soul Society done anything about it?

She sighed once more. She heard the clapping of hands and knew Ed was transmuted his brother back together.

It was deathly silent. Everyone was eating the sandwich she made. Nobody said a single word. Orihime could understand the awkward and tense silence. They all just barely managed to escape with their lives. Well, not escape, more like their enemies let them live for whatever reason.

Gray eyes glanced at each of them. Ed still had that dark, solemn expression on his face, Al was unusual quiet, and Winry appeared to be crestfallen.

The auburn haired girl was used to coming out barely alive in battles like that, so wasn't anything new to her. She would simply discuss some battle tactics with Ichigo and her friends. Maybe even ask Mr. Urahara for some help.

But now… Now, she was all alone. She's the only who could deal with these spiritual threats. However, she has no idea how. Is she even strong enough to do this all alone?


Snapping out of her doleful thoughts, Orihime turned her gaze towards Edward. She almost inwardly flinched at the look he was giving her. The look of distrust and...and betrayal. The same look she was afraid of when eventually finds out she was lying about everything.

"You know about those guys who attacked us yesterday, don't you, Orihime?" The accusatory tone in his voice didn't not go unnoticed by the ginger haired girl, causing her to feel even more guilty.

Edward scowled even deeper when her face scrunched up in shame and remorse. "Yes," she said in a quiet whisper.

"You called them mod souls, right?"


Ed glared at her. It was hard for him to keep his anger contained. This girl was hiding some very important information from him and Al. There's been nothing but secrets from her. For crying out loud, he told her the whole story of how he and Al lost their bodies! He thought he could trust her, that there was no more secrets between them. But apparently, the feeling wasn't mutual.

"What are mod souls?" he asked, almost hissing out the question.

Saddened and guilt ridden glance at three of them as they were watching her with such solemn and intense interest. She fiddle with the fabric of her yellow dress, trying to find a distraction to ease her nerves.

"Well… They are… Mod souls are…," she started, licking her chapping lips, trying to find words describe the abnormality. "I don't know you guys would take it honestly. It's not that was trying to hide it or anything. I just-"

"Get on with it!" Ed snapped at her, causing her to jump slightly in shock and fright.



Both Winry and Alphonse both exclaimed, shocked at the blond alchemist's animosity towards the auburn haired girl.

"It's okay, Winry, Alphonse," Orihime spoke, quietly and despondently. She glanced over to Edward's angry golden eyes, not backing down from the glare. "As I was saying, mod souls are… To simply put it, artificially created souls."

There were shocked gasps of disbelief hung around the room.

"Artificially created souls?" Al repeated, trying to make sure he heard her right.

"No way!" Ed interjected, furiously. "Making a soul shouldn't even be possible!"

Orihime could fully understand Edward's skepticism, but what she was saying was one hundred percent true.

"There's a group… A society I should say that figured to create artificial souls many years ago," she continued. "There was a project called Spearhead. It was an attempt to enhance the human physiology, meaning going beyond human limitations, such as giving them super speed or strength or something extraordinary, like what you just say last night. They were created for the sole purpose to a war." She couldn't say in the fight against Hollows. Didn't want to reveal too much. She inwardly chided herself though. Ed was mad, furious at her for lying, and she's still doing it.

It can't be helped, she told herself. She wasn't even sure if she was allowed to tell them this much, regardless of whether they would hate her or not. She's only telling them because there's no point in hiding the existence of mod souls. They've seen them already.

Orihime gazed at the three of them, trying to gauge their reactions. They haven't said a word. She guessed they were waiting for her to finish the whole explanation before interrogating her with questions.

"However," she resumed. "The project was dropped because they found it too inhumane."

"Why was inhumane?" Winry questioned.

"Because it required a corpse, practically using the bodies of the dead to fight in wars. Spearhead was cancelled because it desecrates the bodies of the deceased and their graves. How would people feel if they suddenly saw one of their dead loved one's body being used as tools of war? The project was dropped for that very reason." She shook her head, sadly. "It was just too inhumane."

The auburn haired girl finished her tale, keeping her gaze on the ground. She didn't dare to look at any of them.

"You know," Edward was the first to speak after moments of silence. "I'm not sure whether to believe you or not. There's been no records of artificial souls."

"Of course there hasn't. It found them in this world," the ginger haired girl thought to herself.

"But I also can't deny what I saw," the blond alchemist continued, scratching the back of his head in an irritated manner.

"If what you say is true Orihime, then those three are…," Alphonse trailed off.

She nodded her head, knowing what he was implying. "They are all mod souls using bodies of the dead."

Ed punched his metallic hand onto the ground, all the anger inside him erupting at once. What the fuck was this? Using corpses?! What insane and inhumane person invented these mod sous in the first place?

"Tell us who made these mod souls to begin with," Edward growled out through clenched teeth.

There was another moment of tense silence. However, two simple words made Ed's anger boil even more.

"I-I can't."

The group started to make their way towards Rush Valley. Since there was a train that went near this small town, they basically had to walk there, and who knows how many days it would take, much to Ed's annoyance.

Speaking of which, Edward was not in a very good mood. Actually, that was an understatement. He was in a downright pissy mood. What should be expected? He and Al almost died and Winry was horribly injured. He glanced towards Orihime who was avoiding eye contact with anyone with disheartened expression on her face.

He was mad, angry that she knew what was those people...things that attacked them. But she wasn't the fact that she knew since she told them, but was the fact she knew who created them and kept that information confidential. Now, there was no doubt some of his trust for her shattered. He honestly didn't know what to think of Orihime. Was she really his friend? Or has this all been a trick, a facade since the very beginning?

Orihime could feel Edward's eyes on her. The distrust in his golden eyes was something she couldn't stand, so she avoided eye contact with him as much as possible. She knew one day it was coming and she was prepared for it, but it didn't hurt any less. But what hurts even worse is that this isn't even the worst of it. She still withholding information from them. How intense would Ed's distrust and anger be once he finds out everything? The thought of it made tears form around her gray eyes, but she quickly wiped them away.

This was her duty, after all. It was her job to protect Edward, Alphonse, and all the friends she made since coming to this world from Hollows and other such spiritual beings, no matter how self sacrificing the job was.

"Hey, guys?" Winry spoke. "How about we stop in that town and rest?" she suggested, pointing her finger at the small town a short distance away. By god, her feet were killing her. As much as she disliked the uncomfortable seats of a train, she'll take that than walking any day. Besides, she couldn't stand the tension between Edward and Orihime. It was so thick a knife could cut through it.

He knew why Ed was furious with Orihime, but it's not like he's one to talk. Everyone has secrets, including him and Orihime. And besides, if Orihime was really those mod souls things allies, why would they go through all that trouble just to kill her?

She knows Ed. They've been friends since they were children, after all. And he knows he doesn't like to be kept in the dark. He likes to know everything, being a brilliant and very curious scientist. The blonde mechanic knows that once he found something of interest, he'd stop at nothing unveil all its secrets, just like her when it comes to machinery.

However, Winry could completely understand why Ed was angry and frustrated. The four of them almost died for crying out loud! And they weren't saved by some superhero or some old friend rescuing them from their peril at the very last minute. They were saved only because their enemy let them live. They let them live, meaning they could have killed all four of them if they really wanted to.

The fact that she was only alive, they were only alive because of a mere whim was scary, truly terrifying. Even now, she was still shaking, but she tried her best to keep her sadness and anguish in because if she were to cry, no doubt Edward would completely lose it and lash out at Orihime, and the girl looked like she was about to burst into tears herself.

"Winry's right," Alphonse piped in. "We should stop at that town, Ed." He, too, was well aware of the uncomfortably growing tension between his older brother and the healer. And he could understand his brother's anger. Hell, even he had to admit he was a little angry himself. Why didn't she them about these mod souls? Although, he could perfectly understand why. According to Orihime, they weren't supposed to exist. Yeah, why talk about something that's extinct?

On the other hand, when they brought up the topic of the mod souls creation or how they were created, all they received was a somber 'I can't say' or something along the lines of that variation, no matter how many times they asked or pleaded with her. Ed grew more and more frustrated until he led him to outright just ignore her the rest of the morning.

Al sighed. He just wish his brother would make up with Orihime soon. He couldn't this thick, awkward atmosphere.

Edward stopped and stared at Alphonse and Winry, deliberately ignoring Orihime, and shrugged his shoulders. "Fine," he drawled out, agreeing with the two of them, mostly because he doesn't want a wrench thrown at his head. They were resting at that town regardless of his answer.

"Oh, thank goodness! This town seems a lot more livelier than the last one," Winry said in relief. Now, she knows nothing crazy is going to happen like in that ghost town they were in.

"We should probably check in a hotel or an inn," Edward suggested, glancing at them. He frowned when his eyes inadvertently landed on Orihime. The ginger haired girl wasn't paying any attention to them. Her expression had completely changed from lugubrious guilt to grim seriousness as if she was at high alert as her gray eyes stared off into the distance with such focused intensity. What was she staring at, he wondered.

Ed flickered his golden gaze to see what looked like to be a small building surrounding by wooden railings. But there was nothing fascinating about it, so why was Orihime so interested in it?

The blond alchemist heard a shuffling of feet and saw the auburn haired girl walking off in that direction. He could clearly see her the muscles in her leg twitching as if she wanted to sprint there instead, bt restrained herself because of the people passing by. After all, they were strangers. Don't want to attract too much attention.

"Hey, Orihime, where are you going?" Ed heard his younger brother call out to the girl, causing her to abruptly stop. Unfortunately, the sudden halt caused her to bump into someone, falling on her behind.

"Ow," she whined out, rubbing her bruised butt, tenderly.

"Uh, are you okay?" a masculine voice asked from above.

Gray eyes fluttered up to see a hand extended towards her. She traced the limb up its length to see a man, probably in his early twenties looking down at her with concerned blue eyes. He had a lean build and shaggy brown hair reaching just below his neck.

"I'm fine," Orihime smiled, sheepishly, and took his hand. He helped pull her up to her feet.


The auburn haired turned towards her friends as they rushed to her side.

"Why'd you run off like that, Orihime?" Winry asked, curiously.

"Sorry, I got distracted," the auburn haired girl replied, embarrassingly.

"So, your name is Orihime?" the guy spoke with a intriguing tone. "Princess, huh? Nice name. Very beautiful."

Edward scowled at the guy, not like how he was obviously flirting with Orihime.

"Who are you?"

The brown haired man seemed to not notice the blond alchemist's rudeness or simply ignored it. "My name is Riku Kaname. And who you?"

"I'm Alphonse Elric," Al replied, simply.

Winry smiled. "I'm Winry Rockbell."

"I'm Edward Elric, the Fullmetal Alchemist," Ed said, smugly.

"And you know my name. It's Orihime Inoue," Orihime greeted, politely.

"Are you guys visiting?" Riku asked.

The auburn haired girl shook her head. "No, we're just passing by."

"Well, I know a small inn where you and your friends can rest at, Orihime."

The healer smiled in appreciation. "Sounds good. Thank you."

Riku began leading the way with Orihime following, smiling happily.

Edward watched the two of them, a deep scowl plastered on his face. He already didn't like the guy.

The bell of a local inn rang as the door opened. A woman with short blonde hair smiled as five people entered the establishment.

"Welcome, customers," she greeted.

"Hello, Mrs. Robin," Riku replied back.

Oh, Riku. How are you?"

"I'm good!"

"That's good to hear. It seems you're doing well since your brother passed away."

He gave a lopsided smile. "Well, I'm trying."

Mrs. Robin's eyes flickered towards the four travelers. "Who are your friends?"

"We are not his friends," Edward spat.

"Edward, don't be rude!" Winry scolded.

"We just met," Riku elaborated. "They are travelers looking for a place to stay."

"Two rooms?" the innkeeper questioned.

Ed turned his attention towards her. "Yeah, two rooms for two."

After Mrs. Robin told Edward the price of the rooms. He paid for them, and she handed him the keys and told them their room numbers. He quickly led them to the rooms, wanting to get away from Riku as much as possible.

Once they've found their rooms, the blond alchemist handed the key to his mechanic, so she and Orihime could get into their room, which was across the hall.

The room was pretty spacey and barren. It just had two small beds, a small cabinet, a table placed between the two beds and a lamb on top of the table. It was obvious this room was meant to just be slept in and nothing more.

Edward hopped into the bed near wall, placing his suitcase by the side.

"So, what do you we do now, Al?" he asked his brother.

"Why don't you go find something to eat?" Alphonse suggested. "I'm sure you, Orihime, and Winry haven't eaten anything since this morning."

Ed's stomach responded giving off a short growl in agreement. Al just laughed at his brother's embarrassment, not at all affected by his glare.

The Elric brothers decided to get Winry and Orihime for some late hour lunch. Unfortunately, when Winry opened the door for them, there was no Orihime in sight.

Edward frowned. "Where's Orihime?"

"She went out with Riku," the blonde mechanic answered.


"Wow! This spaghetti is really delicious! You could really taste the sweetness of the sauce."

Orihime was enjoying a simple plate of spaghetti and meatballs in a small local restaurant. She was already on her second plate.

"Do you think it was okay for you to come here without your friends?" Riku asked. "I'm mean, your blond friend doesn't seem to like me."

Orihime disheartened at that. "Oh, he's not mad at you, Riku. We kind of had a little fight this morning, so he's just a bad mood," she spoke, tears forming around her eyes, which she hurriedly wiped away. "I feel so embarrassed… Crying like this."

"You shouldn't feel embarrassed. It's okay to cry when you're sad," Riku replied, softly. "But I much rather see you laughing."

The ginger haired girl smiled brightly.

"There you go!" The young man smiled in return.

She resumed eating her meal.

"You know, don't think it rude of me, but for a girl, you sure have a big appetite," he said, observing her eating habits.

She felt her face heat up a little. "Oh? I do?" She laughed, sheepishly. "My friends always tell me if I keep eating too much, I'll get fat one day."

Blue eyes flickered with amusement. "I think it's good you have such a healthy appetite. Most girls your age go on a diet, which is not very healthy for the body."

Orihime took a small bite of her meatball. "You and Mrs. Robin sure know each other."

"Well, yeah. She's taken care of me and my brother after we lost our parents in the Ishval Civil War."

"Oh, I'm sorry. You don't have to tell me," the auburn haired girl spoke, regretfully.

Riku grinned, softly. "It's fine, you didn't know. I can't blame you for not knowing, Orihime. After our parents died, Mrs. Robin was there for us. She was really nice to me and my brother, feeding us and even offering us a room for free to sleep in at her inn. It was at that time that my brother starting getting into alchemy. At first I thought so he could repay Mrs. Robin for her kindness. But then…" He paused, his face taking on a dispirited and bemused expression.

"Then what?" Orihime urged on, gently.


Riku was cut off by slamming on the table, and Orihime jumped back, utterly startled. Her wide eyed, gray eyes glanced up to see the familiar sight of red and gold.

"Edward?!" the ginger haired girl gasped out, surprised.

Edward glared at Riku. "What do you think you're doing, you bastard?" he snarled, darkly.

"Having lunch?" Riku answered, innocently.

It was clear that the blond alchemist didn't like that answer as he face turned an angry red. "Having lunch? With Orihime?!" Ed fumed.

The auburn haired girl blinked confused. Why was he so angry about her having a nice lunch with Riku? Her grays glanced over to Alphonse and Winry to see them shaking their heads at Ed in both embarrassment and exasperation.

"Why do you care?" she asked.

Edward inwardly flinched at that. He knew it was simply an innocent question. However, with the way he's been treating her all morning, practically ignoring her very existence, it might as well come off as a harsh resentment because now he's paying attention to her when she's with...with another man.

The blond alchemist tried come up with a plausible excuse. "Because… Because you shouldn't go alone with strangers, Orihime."

"But I like Riku," she pouted. "He's nice."

Ed sputtered at this. "Y-you like him?!" His face turned a bright red in an odd mixture of disbelief, anger, and mortification, furiously shaking a dramatic finger at Riku. "You can't like him! That's impossible! You just met him!"

"Oh, my apologies, I didn't mean to steal your girlfriend," Riku apologized, although, he wasn't sincere, just merely teasing the spazzing blond. But he honestly didn't really like Orihime in the way the blond alchemist was insinuating. And he was pretty sure Orihime did not mean it in that way either.

"Orihime's not my girlfriend!" Edward practically screamed out in denial, but there was a deep blush spreading across his face.

His yelling caused everyone in the restaurant to glance over at their booth, curious about what all the commotion was about.

"Ed, would you be quiet! Everyone's staring at us!" Winry hissed while Al tried to subdue the crowd.

The occupants went back to their own conversations.

"Uh, why don't we sit with you guys?" Al reasoned.

Edward instantly shoved himself between Orihime and Riku while Winry took up space by Orihime with Alphonse placed next to the blonde mechanic.

Ed and Winry ordered their food. The atmosphere surrounding the five was incredibly awkward with Edward constantly glaring at Riku.

"Uh, Ed, Riku told me his brother was an alchemist," Orihime said, nervously, trying to diffuse the tension.

"He was an alchemist?" Alphonse asked, curiously. "What type of alchemy did he study?"

"I don't really know what Reo studied. All I know he was really interested in the Philosopher's Stone," Riku replied, honestly.

Orihime let out a silent gasp, Al's body shook with surprise, and Ed's eyes narrowed darkly. Winry squealed, gleefully. She knew Ed and Al have been searching for the stone for years. It was the only way they could restore their bodies about to normal.

"What did he know about the stone?" Ed said, darkly.

Riku ignored his anger. "That it was used in the Ishvalan Civil War, and that it's made from human lives."

"What?!" Winry gasped out, horrified. "The Philosopher's Stone is made from humans?!" She glanced over to her two childhood friends. "Ed, Al, did you know about this?" Seeing their downcasted expressions, the blonde mechanic's eyes widened in consternation. "Why didn't you guys tell me?"

"Because we didn't think you needed to know, Winry," Al answered, regretfully as Ed bawled his fist. He didn't want to be reminded of the fact that they were back to square one. No, worse than square one because now he had to figure out a different method to get their bodies. One that doesn't sacrifice the lives of others to achieve it.

"Reo told me once that even if the stone was made up of humans lives, souls in fact, it would be incredibly stable," the brown haired man continued. The more human lives used, the longer the stone would last, but it would never last forever. I don't remember what he said though. I was hardly paying any attention." He put his hand to his head, trying to think. "Something about… Four souls that make up the spirit…? Or something like that?"

Orihime perked up at this. "I think your brother was talking about the four souls that make up the 'heart'. Aramitama, nigimitama, sakimitama, and kushimitama. Courage, friendship, love, and wisdom. It's derived from the word Shikon. 'Shi' meaning 'four' and 'kon' meaning 'souls', four souls. However, rarely has anyone really harmonious these souls. One type of soul is always more prevalent than the others. If they do, you'll be looking at a very powerful and divine person."

Edward, Alphonse, and Winry all gaped at the auburn haired girl.

"Since when were you religious, Orihime?" Ed questioned, skeptically.

"I'm not," she replied, simply. "But religion do hold some hidden truths. Alchemists tend to ignore it because they don't believe in gods."

"Oh, yeah… That's what Reo said," Riku spoke with recognition, cutting Edward off, who felt a little offended. He chuckled. "My brother was always strange like that. He told me once that there was an endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth."

"It's about the souls of the living and the souls of dead must always stay in balance," Orihime regarded. "The living and the dead must always stay regulated. When a person dies, their soul enters the afterlife, and when they die in the afterlife, they are reincarnated back into the world of the living. Life, death, everything zeroes out."

"So…? You can die again when you're already dead?" Winry questioned, skeptically. Edward stopped paying attention to conversation, devouring his plate of rice. It sounded too religious. And being an alchemist and scientist, he stayed away from religion. It was all bunch of nonsense.

His brother, Alphonse, however, was very interested in this conversation. Just like Ed, he didn't really believe in any religion, but the conversation about souls sounded very intriguing, considering the fact he was literally a soul trapped to a suit of armor.

"That could be why Human Transmutation never works," Riku mused. "Because it could potentially destroy the cycle of life and death."

"Where is your brother?" Edward asked, rudely.

Riku's expression turned doleful and melancholic once again. "He's dead. Reo died five years ago. One day he suddenly became ill, and that illness eventually led to his death."

Edward stiffened and Alphonse almost grimaced.

"Our mother died of illness, too," Al spoke, sadly.

There was a sorrowful silence that followed. Nothing but the sounds and chatter of the other customers and workers blissfully unaware of the conversation taking place.

"You know, despite studying alchemy, I don't really know if Reo can actually perform any or not," Riku admitted. "He never shown me. You know that house up on the hill? I'm sure you saw it as you came to this town. It was brother's study."

"That whole house?!" Edward exclaimed.

Riku nodded, solemnly. "My brother liked to collect books, ranging from all types of alchemy to religion to old folktale. His favorite tale was Tanabata. I remember he always reads it once a week," he said, fondly.

Orihime perked up, recognizing the name of the tale. "Oh, I know Tanabata. I used to read it when I was little. Isn't it about a princess and a cowherd who fell in love, but they end up separated by the stars of the universe by god?" A glint of sadness crossed her gray eyes. "Such a sad tale."

An inquisitive brown eyebrow rose. "In your version, the man is a cowherd, huh? In ours, the man is an alchemist, but other than that I think the story is relatively the same. I guess each version is told a little differently with the same results." He leaned his head back. "The story of Tanabata… That's where the term 'star crossed lovers' originated from."

"I thought star crossed lovers meant couples that are destined to be together?" Winry asked, curiously.

Riku chuckled, silently. "That's a common and huge misconception. After all, people don't like things that don't fit their ideals, so they twisted the facts to fit their own vision of perfection. The term really means the opposite. Two people who's romantic relationship are doomed or destined to end in tragedy. Even the tale of Tanabata is a tragic romance story."

"Did your brother say anything to you before he died?"

"Hmm?" Riku flickered his eyes towards Orihime, who fidgeted in her seat. "What?"

The ginger haired took a deep breath, and this time repeated herself more seriously. "Did Reo say anything before he died?"

The brown haired man was slightly taken aback by the question.

"Why are you so interested, Orihime?" Alphonse questioned the healer.

"I-I just want to know. That's all," she answered, giving a nervous smile.

Riku smiled softly. He hummed a bit trying to remember his brother on his deathbed, no matter how painful the memory might be. "Oh, I remember, he did say something really weird." His eyebrows scrunched him in confusion. "He was so bizarre."

The auburn haired girl leaned forward in anticipation. "What is it?"

The brown haired man turned towards her and began speaking his older brother's final words.


"Brother, don't die!" a young Riku cried, depressingly, remorseful tears streaming down his face.

A young black haired man laid weakly on the bed. He looked to be his mid twenties with long, black hair and blue eyes similar to his brother. However, his skin was a sickly pale color and there were dark bags under his eyes that looked a sickish, pale purple color.

"I'm sorry, Riku," Reo whispered out, hoarsely. "I-I was just too careless. And… And besides… I was supposed to die ten years ago."

"Don't say that, Reo!" Riku exclaimed, gasping his brother's cold hand in desperation.

"I'm tired. So very tired," Reo muttered. He took all of his willpower to keep his eyes open. "Riku, pr-promise me something… If I die… If...I die…" His voice was starting to get weaker and weaker and his eyes started to close as the last of energy began leaving his body.

Riku leaned forward as his older brother started to mutter something. What he heard caused his blue eyes to widen in both horror and bafflement.


"'If I die, I want you to cut off my head and bury it far away from my body'," Riku finished, solemnly.

Winry let out a soft gasp as small tears ran down her face. "Why would your brother ask you to do something like that?" she asked, horrified by such a request.

Riku shook his head. "I don't know. Even till this day, that request still confuses and haunts me."

"Did you do it?" Alphonse questioned, sympathetically.

"No! Of course not!" he replied, feeling a little offended. "How could I do something so amoral to my older brother's corpse? Even if he did ask me to, I could never bring myself to do it to my only brother, the only family I had left," he finished, wistfully.

"Good!" Edward interjected, crossing his arms. "If someone were stupid enough to ask me that, I would bring them back to life, so I could give them a good thrashing!"

A small smile formed on Riku's face. "Thanks."

As they were chatting away, no one noticed the very dark and serious expression that spread across Orihime's face.

Orihime stood up from her seat and began leaving the booth, scooting past Edward and Riku.

"Where are you going, Orihime?" Winry asked as they all watched her, curiously.

The auburn haired ignored her, instead directed her attention at Riku. "Riku, you said that small house up on the hill used to belong to your brother, right?"

The man in question nodded, slowly. "Yeah, but now I take care of it. It's the only place I have left of my brother."

She turned towards him with a very grave expression. "I want you to take me there. Take me to Reo's old house."

"There it is," Riku announced. "That's my brother's old house."

The group of five stared at the small house perched precautionary on top of a hill.

"Why did you want to come here, Orihime?" Edward questioned, seriously. This was the same place Orihime couldn't stop staring at since they got to this town.

Orihime didn't answer. Her feet started dragging her up the house. She could feel a very strong and dark spiritual pressure coming from the house. It feels like a Hollow's, yet at the same time, it doesn't. Is it a lost soul on the verge of Hollowfying?

Whatever the case, she has to stop it now before it attacks the people in this town.

However, before she could get far, Orihime was pulled back by a firm hand on her wrist. She blinked in surprise to see Edward's scowling face.

"Where are you going, Orihime?" Ed asked, firmly.

"Edward, please let me go," Orihime uttered, softly.

"No!" the blond alchemist refused, heatedly, gripping her wrist tighter. "Not until you tell me what's going on. I'm tired of all these secrets!" Memories of all the times Orihime acted out of the ordinary flashed across his mind. "Like that time with Nina. And that time with Dr. Marcoh. Including whatever happened back in Resembool. Not to mention yesterday," he growled out with emphasis. He could feel himself becoming increasingly frustrated. "Dammit! Just tell me, what the hell is going on?"

Remorseful gray eyes stared deeply into Ed's golden ones, seeing the hurt and pain in them despite being hidden by intense anger. It hurts him to think she doesn't trust him.

Orihime could feel her lips becoming dry as she licked them, nervously. Even if he wants to know, there was no way she could tell him. Just no way.

"Edward, I-"

"What's going on here?"

All five of them turned stunned and wide eyed at the man standing on the porch of the house. He looked to be in his mid twenties with long, black hair tied into a ponytail and blue eyes. He had pale skin and firm and lean body.

"Who are you?" Edward growled.

Riku was absolutely shaking in disbelief. "Br-brother?!" he gasped out, completely flabbergasted.

Ed tilted his head towards him. "Brother?"

"Riku, didn't you say your brother died five years ago?" Alphonse inquired, confusion overtaking his tone.

"Yeah, he did. We had his funeral. The entire town was at it. The doctors even confirmed his death!" the brown haired pronounced, hysterically, still utterly perplexed at what he was seeing.

"Did he fake his death and went into hiding then?" Ed questioned. "There's no way a person can just come back to life?"

"Ah, you, the girl with orange hair," Reo spoke, calmly. "Your name is Orihime, is it not?"

Orihime gasped out in surprise. "H-how do you know my name?"

"Listen to me, Orihime, don't come near this house," Reo warned, his blue eyes narrowed into slits. "Otherwise, I'd be forced to kill you."

Edward stood protectively in front of the ginger haired girl. "Oh, yeah? Like I'd let you lay a hand on her!" he shouted, furiously, clapping his hands together and slamming them on the ground. The familiar spark alchemic energy surged through the ground, creating spikes of pillars that hurled Reo.

However, they were instantly stopped by some kind of force field.

"No way. A barrier?" Orihime said, surprised. Does this mean this guy possesses spiritual powers? This is the first time she's encountered another human being with spirit energy, so one can't blame her for feeling a little bewilderment. So, the powerful spiritual pressure she's been sensing all this time was coming from him?

"No Transmutation Circle," Reo mused. "I'm guessing you performed Human Transmutation. Even so, it's still incomplete. A man who looks at the world with closed eyes, trapped in his own illusions, could never see that which is in front of him."

Edward gritted his teeth, furiously. "Just what the hell are you going on about, you bastard?"

He was ignored, however. "You, boy." The black haired man glanced over to Al. "You are just a soul bonded to a suit of armor, aren't you?"

Alphonse shook in utter bafflement. "How? How did you?"

Reo glared at him. "Don't take me for a fool. Anyone with that could sense spiritual energy can easily tell the difference between the living and the dead. We know a disembodied soul when we see one. It's foolish to think we can't, and a mockery to our abilities."

"I had enough of you!" Ed turned his automail arm into a blade, and charged at Reo. Unfortunately, once again, Reo's barrier prevented him from touching him.

The door mysteriously, an ominous vapor spreading out of it, enveloping Reo. "Stay away from this house!" he warned them, one last time. "Stay away!" And with that, he vanished.

"That was creepy," Winry muttered, shakingly.

"Get back here!" Edward screamed, dashing into the house, completely ignoring Reo's warnings. Like he'd listen to that bastard's threat. The others followed after him.

"Damn," Ed growled. "Where did that bastard go?"

The interior of the house felt somewhat ominous and dreary. They were in the middle of a long hallway leading to various rooms and corridors, almost like a mini maze.

"Do we check every room?" Winry questioned.

"We don't really have a choice," Al confirmed.

"We should probably stick together," Riku suggested.

"Good idea," the blonde mechanic agreed. Just being in this place gives her the creeps.

The group of five marched across the hall as quietly as they could, checking every nook and cranny of the building.

Orihime couldn't help the feeling of dread that swelled inside her. It felt someone was watching her.

As they past another room of no particular, the auburn haired girl felt something slither around her waist. It was the same black, misty fog from earlier.

She let out a piercing, fearful scream as she was being dragged away into its dark depths, which caught the attention of the others.

"Orihime!" Edward shouted in horror as he watched her getting pulled away to who knows where. He desperately rushed towards her as did the others.

"Edward, help me!" Orihime screamed, only to have her voice muffled by those black mist encasing her mouth.

Ed could feel his heart screaming at him in fear and desperation as she was being taken away from him. He ignored everything around him. The only thing that mattered was saving Orihime.

"Orihime!" He reached his hand out towards her in tormented despair. He had to save her! He couldn't lose her again!

Orihime's entire body was being encased the black mist, so the only thing visible was her hand. However, her hand was slowly dragged away until nothing left off her remained.

Everyone could only stare in alarm, dismay, distress, and outrage at what just happened. Edward clenched his fist in anguished rage and anger.

"ORIHIME!" Ed bellowed out her name in heartbreaking, gut wrenching despair and agony.

(A/N: This is the end of chapter twenty seven! Hoped you enjoyed it! What happened to Orihime? Well, you'll find out next chapter. I really had to look up and research Shinto religion since Bleach is highly based off of it. And the more I researched, the more I learned that, for a religion, Shinto is over generalize than most religion I know. So much so that it seems more like a philosophy than a religion. I won't get into details. Don't want to offend anybody who's into religion. I'm not that religious myself. Just researching for the sake of storytelling.

Oh, by the way, that's not Reo's spirit. That's his actual body. So, that's why Ed, Al, and Winry can see him. They haven't grown enough to be able to see spirits/ghosts...yet. Just to let you know, so nobody gets confused or make wrong assumptions. More would be explained next chapter.

It's no brainer that Orihime is hinting at the Soul Society and the Soul Reapers job to guide lost souls to it along with the balance of souls Rukia and Urahara discussed at the very beginning of Bleach. Edward just ignores it because it sounds like a bunch of religious nonsense. Oh, Ed. You have to look underneath the underneath. Don't ignore everything because you are a quote on quote 'scientist'. Once again, his arrogance shines through.

Speaking of Edward, man, do I love writing spazzy, jealous Ed. It's was so fun to write him freaking out over Orihime going with another boy (which she has no romantic feelings for). But honestly, not even he knows why he feels jealous. He simply doesn't like. Here comes the part of Ed's own denial of his growing feelings for Orihime.

I have more to say, but I'll say it at the end of the next chapter of this two parter to avoid spoilers. Oh, and just a tidbit… For those interested in wondering why or how the anime 'Bleach' got its name. It's supposed to be symbolic for 'white on black'. That's why there are a lot of black and white motif in the anime/manga. It's creative, yet it's not. At least, that's what it feels like to me. I guess at face value, it wouldn't be, but if you look at all the symbolism throughout it, it's damn well creative.

Oh, and before I forget, you would also noticed that every fight that Edward and Orihime get into is attended to be played seriously, not played for humor or comedic effect like Edward and Winry is most of the time. That's because every fight is meant to be taken as a couple breaking up [even though Ed and Orihime aren't a couple yet]. I want to portray the essence of Orihime and Edward being a couple without actually being an official couple, if that makes sense. Really up the ante of the romantic tension between them.

Well, anyway, write any comments, suggestions, and questions in a review, and I'll see you next chapter! Bye!

P.S. This totally unrelated to this story, but I now want to an Edward/Orihime lemon. Anyone who's good at writing lemons, please show me an Ed/Orihime. I'm obviously not.)

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