The Flower Princess and the Alchemist @bloodpokemon101
Over the Horizon

(A/N: Here's chapter thirty seven! The last chapter of this three parter. Enjoy!

ShinyKyu: Thanks for the review! Yeah, I figured as much. I did my best to try to fix the grammar before posting. Heh. Guess, I still missed some. I'll go back and reedit it again one day.

Haku Mai: Thanks for reviewing! Yep, Orihime is starting show the first signs feeling conflicted between her love for Ichigo and her unknown feelings for Edward. And now, the blonde lady is not an incarnation of Orihime, if that's what you are thinking. Yeah, I'm pretty sure you are not the only who thought that Sammy was Yoruichi in diguise. I did get a few complaints about it. But it was the same thing with the mod souls, so I was like, eh. Glad to see you didn't flip your shit about it. Really reassuring!

Cookie-the-Rookie: Thanks for the reviews! Now then, I'm going to try to keep this as brief as possible. Hopefully. I'm so glad you like Orihime as a character. You can't believe how many people [not that ones who like this story] PM or leave reviews about how much this story sucks just because Orihime is the main character. Telling me put someone like Ichigo or Rukia instead of Orihime. And it's such a shame that there is not more Orihime crossovers. Like really, most of the time, the only reason Orihime is a character in a crossover is be in a harem or just there to a love interest for Ichigo or Ulquiorra [didn't know abuse and Stockholm Syndrome was so romantic]. So, that's why I decided to give Orihime her own spotlight, and her being favorite Bleach character and my favorite female character in all of anime just general, helps too! I just love her character and the endless possibilities with her reality warping powers. And now two, I'm so glad you enjoy the Edward/Orihime moments! Honestly, they are some of the highlights of this story. I get so giddy writing them! I love this pairing so much now after starting this story! In the beginning, I know there were some people who supported this pairing [and they still do and I am grateful for that] and some who were telling me this pairing would never work. Telling me that Orihime was too submissive or pacify or some shit like that to be Edward's type. And, of course, I questioned them on what they believe Ed's type should be. Their response? A woman who is brash and tough. Someone he would butt heads with, but still have their lovey dovey moments with Ed from time to time. In short, just a female version of Ed, or, a lesser extent, a tsundere. Look, I'm all for tsunderes. Hell, they are my favorite dere character archetype. But really, there were so many things wrong with their claim. Like do they believe a relationship like that would actually work? Realistically? A relationship where the couple do nothing but argue twenty four, seven? If that were true, then so many married couples wouldn't be divorced right now. This hot and cold relationship is nice and all, but there is just a ridiculously amount of flaws with it. It's good for a short term relationship, but what about a long term one? What about when they get married, start a family, watch their kids grow up and start their own families? Would this hot and cold relationship still work? They have to remember... This isn't someone who Ed is merely going to date for year or two, then break up with. This would be someone who he is going to spend the next fifty or sixty years of his life with! To me, unless it's done well, it's not cute, it's not romantic, and it's just sickening, if you think about it in hindsight. I certainly wouldn't want to marry someone I know I would do nothing but argue with day and night with some very few lovey dovey moments in between. It doesn't work in real life, and people need to stop deluding themselves into thinking it does. But then again, it's fiction, so I'll cut them some slack. Though, really, they need to go back and review how relationship actually functions instead of romanticizing abuse. It's a self destructive relationship. Pure and simple.)

Over the Horizon

Orihime groaned. Her grays fluttered open, a splitting headache made her moan in pain. And it wasn't her head, her whole body ached terribly, especially her right hand and left foot.

"What happened?" she inwardly whimper in agony. She tried to recall the last events she remembered before blacking out. She was an the island Mr. Sig told her about. The same island Edward and Alphonse trained when they were kids. On the island, she was attacked by a group of Hollows. She did her best to fight them off and she decided. The last thing she remembered was falling over a waterfall.

She wake up with a start as the last of her memories raced through her. However, her abrupt movements caused her to wince in pain, clutching her abdomen with her good hand.

Once the pain subsided somewhat, the auburn haired girl glanced around, taking notice of the fact that she was in a white room. A room she didn't recognized, which caused a sense of anxiety to course through her. However, when she saw the IV stand and the drip leading to her arm, she immediately calmed down. She must be in a hospital room. They smell of disinfectant and medicine waft across her nose, further proving her right. Her right hand and forearm and left foot and shin were both in a cast. They explains why it hurts so much when she tried to move them, even a tiny bit.

The ginger haired girl's face scrunched up into a confused expression. Who saved her and brought her to a hospital? Was it Ed? Or Al? But how did they know where to find her? Maybe Mr. Sig told them. Where was Sammy? Did he make it out okay?

As if realizing the severity of her increasingly panicked thoughts, the door gently swung open, making a tiny squeaky sound as it did so.

In walked a beautiful, young woman with long, blonde hair cascaded down her back reaching her waist. She wonderful, bright blue and a silky, pale complexion. She wore a elegant white dress with baby blue trimmings that just highlighted her beauty.

Orihime's took notice of the nurse following in after her with a clipboard in head. "Oh! You're awake now?" the nurse said in surprise. "You were supposed to be out of it for some time." The nurse walked closer to Orihime's beside.

Although, the ginger haired girl's attention was fixed on the blonde woman that came with her. Who was she? She had never seen her before.

"How are you feeling?"

"Huh?" The nurse's question grabbed the auburn haired girl's attention. "Oh, I'm fine, I guess," she smiled. "My body feels a little sore though." As if to prove her point, she winced when she shifted a bit to get more comfortable.

"That is to be expected," the nurse informered her, gently. "You right hand is fractured and your left ankle is broken," she read off her clipboard. "Other than those two grave injuries, you have multiple cuts and bruises all of your body, mainly your torso and head."

Orihime listened intently as the nurse listed off her injuries. They weren't as bad as she thought. Considering she fell over a waterfall, it was a miracle she didn't sustain as much injuries as she did. She guessed her Santen Kesshun must've protected her from sustaining any fatal wounds.

The nurse frowned at the ginger haired girl, her brown eyes laced with concern. "Do you have any idea how you sustain such injuries?" she asked, getting ready to write her patient's answer down on the clipboard.

Orihime paused. Her lips pursed as her mind mused over a believable excuse that would satisfy the nurse. She obviously couldn't tell a normal human she was attacked by a Hollow. "I...I fell off a cliff," she finally replied, sounding a bit sheepish and embarrassed. She hoped the nurse bought that half truth because it did happen. She was just leaving out a major detail.

Her gray eyes glanced over to the blonde woman to see her giving her a look akin to disbelief. No, it was more than that. The woman was looking at her with such skepticism it made the ginger haired girl feel uneasy. It was almost like she was seeing right through her.

"Why did you fall off a cliff?" The nurse's inquiry snapped Orihime out of the uncomfortable anxiety that was beginning swell up inside her. The nurse was giving her a grave and fearful look with a hint of disapproval.

Orihime shifted, nervously, inwardly shifted as she did so. "I, um, tripped over a tree branch," she lied. "And the next thing I knew I was falling over a cliff."

The nurse stared at her for a few seconds, making Orihime feel tense and fidgety. She eventually shrugged her shoulders, and the ginger haired healer inwardly let of a breath of relief.

"Just be more careful the next time you play. You are lucky your friend here found you and brought you here," the nurse lectured her. She jotted some more stuff down on her clipboard. "Well, you should be discharged some time later this afternoon after the doctor does some more tests. Just stay off your left leg and don't use your right hand for a few weeks, and they should heal up nicely," she instructed her patient.

Orihime smiled, nodding, obediently, knowing she could speed up her healing process with her Soten Kisshun. What's only supposed to take a few weeks would only take a few hours for her.

"I'll be back later for your lunch, then afterwards the doctor would do another checkup and you should be freed to go," the nurse informed her, leaving the room.

"Thank you," the ginger haired thanked the nurse. The nurse nodded in response and closed the door behind her, leaving Orihime with the mysterious blonde woman.

A sense of unease and nervousness filled Orihime when she realized she was alone with the blonde woman. She recalled the nurse saying she was a friend of hers, but she knew that was not true. She had never seen the woman in her life. Why would the nurse think that? Did the woman say she was her friend? But why?

"Who are you?" she asked the blonde woman, curiously.

The woman blinked before smiling, welcomingly. Her smile was so bright, it made Orihime blushed, feeling embarrassed for sounding so rude.

"I-I'm sorry, I didn't mean to sound rude," she quickly apologized.

The blonde woman laughed, lightly. "It's alright," she said. She had a velvety smooth voice like the gentle chirping of birds or a soft breeze in the wind. "It's understandable if you are suspicious about me or feel a little uneasy. You don't know me. I'm a complete stranger to you. It's natural to want to protect yourself from perceived threat."

Orihime relaxed at the blonde's gentle words. She sounded so kind and motherly. Now she felt horribly for being suspicious of her. With everything that happened last night, she guessed she was a little on edge.

"Thank you for saving me, Ms…" She trailed off, realizing she doesn't know the woman's name.

"Please, call me Junko," the blonde woman, now identified as Junko, introduced herself.

The auburn haired girl grinned, brightly. "Thank you for saving me, Ms. Junko," she said, her voice laced with absolute gratitude. "But how did you find me?" she asked, curiously.

"I was taking a stroll across the beach after visiting one of my friends," Junko explained. "I saw a huge gusher of water rise up and went to investigate. And there I found you unconscious at the shore near the waterfall. You also had a cat. He was awfully worried about you, almost scared. He wouldn't stop meowing, and when I approached you, he hissed and growled me and almost attacked me. He must've been very protective of you."

Orihime panicked for a minute. Sammy! She almost forgot about Sammy! Her gray eyes frantically glanced around the room. Where was Sammy? She didn't seem him anywhere. "Where's Sammy?" she questioned the blonde woman.

The blonde rose a brow. "Sammy? If you are talking about your cat, he's outside the hospital. The doctors won't let him inside for obvious reasons, so he's been waiting outside. He's very loyal. He hasn't moved from his spot since the last time I checked."

The auburn haired girl sighed in relief. Sammy was okay. Thank goodness. Then her gray eyes broadened in horror and panic. Junko tilted her head in confusion at the sudden agitated and guilt ridden expression on her face.

Ed and Al! They must be worried sick about her. Of course they were! She was gone all night without a word. A pang of guilt struck her. They must be still looking for her right now. She felt horribly for making them so sick with fright and worry for her wellbeing.

And how was she going to explain her injuries? She haven't even thought about that. If Edward and Alphonse weren't just extremely worried about her now, they would absolutely freak out when they find out she's in the hospital. Especially Ed, he would explode.

"Oh!" she inwardly groaned in misery. "How am I going to explain this to Eddie and Al?" She could just heal herself now, so she won't have to explain her fractured hand and broken ankle. She could do that, but it would take hours and she would feel even more guilty for making them agonize over her whereabouts any longer.

This was so much easier back home. She could usually make an excuse about being sick in bed when it came to school. Sometimes she wouldn't even need a cover story thanks to Rukia's memory eraser.

Unfortunately, she carried no such thing. It was a device only for Soul Reapers to keep humans from discovering the supernatural world. And she wasn't a Soul Reaper. All she could do was try to come up with a believable story and hope Ed and Al buy it, she mused, dreadfully.

"Um, Ms. Junko?" the auburn haired girl called.

"Yes?" Junko hummed, her blue eyes staring at the healer with curiosity.

"Can I ask you a favor?"

Edward was absolutely sick with worry. Why? Because Orihime disappeared last night. That's why!

When the sun was beginning to set last night, he got a bit antsy and impatient. But with some reassurance from Al, he was able to calm down and keep a level head somewhat. She would come back soon. She was just running a little late, even though he warned her to be back before sundown.

When the sun fully set and the sky was turning pitch black dark with only the half moon and a few stars for light, a swirl of sheer panic and alarming distress began to hit him like a force of a hurricane. Orihime still wasn't back yet! His mind began to plague him with horrific imagines and disastrous thoughts. What if she was danger? What if she was lying somewhere beaten and bleeding? She needed him! She needed him to protect her!

Alphonse was fretting over Orihime's whereabouts as well, and they both agreed to search for their auburn haired friend. However, before they could start looking, they were stopped by their teacher.

"Where do you two think you're going?" Izumi asked them, a stern look on her face.

Edward wasted no time in stating his concerns. "Orihime is still out there! We're going to look for her!"

Alphonse nodded his head in agreement, his face just as determined as his older brother's.

Izumi frowned. "Do you have any idea where she is?" she challenged.

Ed deflated a bit. "No, but…"

"Then it's best to wait until morning," she cut him off.

"What?! We can't do that!" Ed shouted, appalled.

"Yeah! What if Orihime needs us?" Al added in, his tone laced with worry and concern.

The dark haired woman sighed, pitching the bridge of her nose in aggravation. It's funny how much of a mother hen these two sound like towards their female friend. By god, their stubbornness could be annoying sometimes.

She breathed out a exasperated sigh. "Listen," she started, her dark eyes glued firmly on her former students. "Remember the island I sent you during your first month?"

The boys shivered. How could they forget the treacherous island their teacher stranded them on? They almost starved to death on that island! Luckily, they were able to figure out their teacher's hidden code, and pass their first test.

"Sig told me Orihime went to that island," Izumi explained. "Most likely, she's still there."

"Wait!" Al yelled, fearfully. "Why would she do that?"

Izumi shrugged, at a loss. "I don't know her reasons. I figured you two might since you've known her longer."

"No," the suit of armor whispered out, defeated with a hurt undertone to his voice. "She didn't really tell us anything."

"She never tells us anything!" Edward spat out, venomously. They force of his rage filled voice caused both his teacher's and his younger brother's gazes to drift towards him, but he paid them no mind. His face was hidden under the bangs of his hair. His hands was balled into fists so tight his flesh knuckles were turning sheet white as fists shook with boiling fury and unbridled anger.

Again. She went off without telling them again! Why? Why does she always do this? Doesn't she trust them? Ed was angry, furious at Orihime's recklessness and secretive nature, but, most of all, he was hurt. He was hurt that Orihime didn't trust him enough to tell him what's wrong.

"She went off somewhere again without telling me or Al a damn thing!" he seethed, his teeth gritted so hard, they could crack under the pressure.

"Brother…," Alphonse muttered out in sympathy when he detected the hint of woeful sorrow in his brother's tone underneath all that rage.

Izumi stared at Ed, then her eyes softened at the dolefully unhappy expression on his face. "There's nothing we can do about it now. C'mon, let's get inside. We can look for Orihime in the morning. I doubt spending one night in the island would be too bad. The worse she would suffer would be no dinner." Ed opened his mouth to protest, but she interrupted him. "And besides, it's too dark to search for now."

Edward wanted to protest, but kept his mouth closed because he knew his teacher was right. There was no way they could search for in this darkness. And it would be dangerous to be wandering on island at night. He knew from personal experience.

"Okay," he sighed in defeat, giving into his teacher's logic. Alphonse agreed, silently and dejectedly.

"When we do find Orihime…" Izumi cracked her knuckles, menacingly, a fire burning in a pit of her dark orbs. "...There will be hell to pay."

Both Edward and Alphonse shivered fearfully at the threatening tone in their teacher's voice.

Ed just prayed that nothing happened to Orihime.

Imagine the fear, panic, and horror that struck Edward when he came upon the island the very next morning.

"What happened here?" Alphonse asked no one in particular, his hollowed voice laced with fear and trepidation.

The area around here was completely devastated. The trees were knocked over, the ground was practically destroyed, leaving bits of a crater here and there, and Orihime was nowhere in sight.

Edward stalked over and inspected the tree. His golden eyes eyed the fallen tree, carefully, observing the structure of the cause. It didn't take him long to figure it out that this was no natural force. This wasn't the force of a powerful wind similar to that of a tornado that knocked the tree or some sort of strong, forceful object that hit the tree and knocked it over.

No, upon closer inspection, Ed could see that some of the bark of the tree was melted. His first thought that maybe it was fire, but then quickly discarded the notion because he would've found some burn marks around the broken bits of the bark. Conversely, something melted and slowly eroded the bark away, and the tree caved in and collapsed under its unbalanced weight.

And it wasn't just the trees. Some bits of the ground seemed to have eroded as well, Alphonse noted. When he first saw the state of the disrupted ground, he initially thought that maybe there was a small earthquake or a transmutation. But, like his brother, he saw no traces of a transmutation being formed. The ground wasn't caved in by some force, it was melted away.

"Something happened here," Al finally spoke up, kneeling off the floor.

Ed nodded his head, absentmindedly, his golden gaze still fixed on the destroyed area around, seeing if he could find anymore clues. His eyes landed on a small indentation of a footprint on the ground. Orihime's footprints. He trailed up the path of the destruction.

"Orihime was being chased by something," the blond alchemist concluded, frowning, his voice slightly dripped with odd mixture of ice cold fear and grim determination.

His theory grabbed his younger brother's attention. "But by what?" the suit of armor asked, apprehensively.

Ed shook his head. He slowly followed the path of the devastation with Al trailing after him. The trail eventually led them to a cliff at the edge of the waterfall. This is where the trail ends.

"Brother, you don't think…," Al's voice slowly faded away, too fearful to finish that sentence.

Ed remained silent, trying to calm the raging fear gripping at his heart. He didn't want to think about the possibility of Orihime being… Not until he finds her body first. One could only imagine the terror he was feeling right, the enormous amount of dread and trepidation aching at his heartstrings.

But he kept it all in check. For now. He had know for sure whether Orihime was alive...or not. Just thinking about it made him bite the inside of his lips until trails of miniscule blood was dripping down.

"Brother…," Al spoke in concern when he noticed his bleeding lip.

Ed ignored him. "Let's go check it out."

Edward and Alphonse arrived by to their teacher's home when they couldn't find a trace of Orihime anywhere, meaning she must've left the island some time before they arrived. But the question was… Where did she go? Why hasn't she come back?

Ed was becoming very antsy and extremely worried. As long as they didn't find her body, he was going to assume she was alive somewhere. That hopeful notion helped to diminish some of the underlying terror and panic that swallowed him.

"Don't worry, brother, we'll find Orihime," Alphonse tried reassuring him, keeping his best to positive and optimistic.

Edward made a small noise mixed with frustration and despondency. Al sighed, hopelessly in return.

Just then the phone began to ring. Izumi and Sig were still out, which left just the two of them to answer it.

"I'll get it," Alphonse announced, marching over to pick up the phone. Ed grunted, glad his brother went to answer the phone. He wasn't in any mood to talk to anyone right now. He went to take a seat on the couch, planning his next move.

"Hello?" Al answered when he picked up the phone.

Ed listened in on the conversation with a halfhearted interest.

"Orihime?!" Al practically yelled out, his voice laced startling astonishment. He nearly dropped the phone out of his hand.

Edward's eyes immediately shot up in shock. With a speed he didn't know he had, he raced by Al's side, only for his brother stop him before he crashed into the standing desk the phone was sitting on. "Is that Orihime?! Where is she?!" he shouted, impatiently and anxiously worried.

Al held his hand up, silently telling Ed to stay quiet, so he could hear her. "Yeah, Orihime? Where are you?"

The blond alchemist waited, restlessly, for his armored brother to finish talking on the phone.

"At the hospital?!"

"Orihime's at the hospital?!" Ed was beyond shocked at the news. Why was she in the hospital? How badly was she injured?! His mind flashed back to the aftermath of whatever disaster happened on the island. He clenched his fists tightly, furiously enraged. If someone hurt her, they were going to pay in blood!

"Okay, we're coming to get you," Al finished, hanging up the phone.

He turned to Ed with disconsolate and extremely worried expression on his face. "Orihime's in the hospital," he spoke, his voice barely above a quiet whisper.

"Did she say why?" Ed asked with barely controlled anger and with a sense of urgency, trying to keep the fear in his tone at bay.

Al shook his head, sadly. "She didn't say why, brother. She needs us to pick her up though."

Edward nodded, grimly. To the hospital then. They could find out for themselves what Orihime is doing there.

They just prayed it wasn't as bad as they both feared.

"This is the hospital," Edward announced, his face set into a grim frown.

The two boys perked up when they heard a distinct, frantic mew. "Sammy?" Alphonse questioned in surprise. And sure enough, the black and white shot towards him like a bullet.

Al held his arm around the male feline to keep him from sliding off. Sammy's desperate mews wouldn't cease though. He was obviously panicked about something and extremely agitated. Unfortunately, being a cat, Ed and Al couldn't understand what he was getting so freaked out about.

Al glanced around to make sure no one was looking before silently opening his chest plate. "Just stay in here and don't make a sound, Sammy," he gently ordered the cat. The cat immediately ceased his consistently, pleading meow, and hoped inside Al's armored body. Once the feline was settled in, he closed his chest plate.

"Are you done yet, Al?" Ed called out to him, impatiently. "Orihime's waiting for us." He walked inside the doors of the hospital.

"Coming, brother!" Al cried out, hurrying after him, his metal feet clanking against the ground with every movement.

Little did they know, there was a lizard like man dresses in a rugged, green cape watching them with an impressed and mischievous gleam in his eyes.

"That really soul bonded to a suit of armor!" he muttered to himself, feeling triumphant and proud at his discovery. "Mr. Greed would surely be interested in this!"

Bracing himself against the wall, he looked both ways to make sure the street were devoid of passersby before scurrying against the wall of the building and disappearing into the shadows.


Edward's booming voice practically rang out in horrifyingly appalled and incensingly vexed for everyone in the hospital to hear.

After asking the receptionist for Orihime's room, which was a hassle in of itself since she didn't know her name, so Ed resorted to hastily describing her characteristics, they barged into the room Orihime was supposedly in.

Imagine the brothers' horror when they saw their female friend covered in bandages and a cast on her right forearm and left shin. This was worse than the two of them could have imagined. Even though she was not dead, thankfully, that only lifted a fraction of the gut wrenching grief and agonizing self loathing they were feeling right now.

"Um, hey, guys," Orihime spoke, shyly, feeling embarrassed by the scrutinizing and mortifyingly shocked stares she was receiving from Ed and Al.

Alphonse stepped up. "Orihime, are you alright? Does it hurt anywhere?" He knew these were stupid questions to ask her. Of course, she was hurt. Look at her! Her arm and leg were broken! It was the only thing his shocked mind could said her.

Orihime smiled, sheepishly. "It's not as bad as it looks, Al," she assured him. "It's a fractured hand and a broken ankle. I'll be fine in a few weeks. No, wait. A few hours. I'll heal myself then I'd be good as new," she stated, proudly.

Al stalked closer to the bed until he was right next to his auburn haired friend. "How did you get hurt so badly?" he asked, voice laced with concern.

Orihime's expression transformed into one of reluctant resignation and remorseful forlorn hope. "I… I fell," she said, lamely. She laughed, self consciously. "You know how clumsy I get sometimes, Al. I tripped over tree branch and fell, twisting my ankle and landed on my hand in a bad angle."

The ginger haired jerked, startled at the sound of a fist smashing against the wall. Her wide gray eyes gazed upon Ed, questionably and with shock. She couldn't gauge his expression because his face was shadowed by his bangs, but his shoulders were shaking in absolute rage.

"You fell?" Ed breathed out, furiously, his voice dangerously low and his nostrils flaring. "You're telling me you got those injuries because you fell?!"

Orihime quivered a bit, but tried to remain composed. She had never seen Ed this mad at her. It scared her a little, and made her feel even more guilty. Nevertheless, she was doing it for their own good. There was no reason for them mixed up in all this Hollow business, not when they had their own personal objective to accomplish.

"Enough with lies, dammit!" the blond alchemist roared, indignantly and full of fuming incandescent. His golden eyes burned with a ferocity of a thousand suns, but there was an underlying hurt and sadness in them. A feeling of helplessness and uselessness she caused him.

"...Eddie, I-"

"How many times are you going to lie to us? When are you ever going to tell us the truth? Do you have any idea how much we fucking worried about you when you didn't show up last night?" he ranted, enraged. The auburn haired girl whimpered under his wrathful temper. He really was mad, no angry with her.

"And then we come here to see you with a broken ankle and a fractured hand, and you're telling us you got these severely hurt because you fell?! We're not fucking idiots, Orihime! We saw what happened on the island!"

Gray eyes widened with shock and disbelief. "You saw?" she sputtered out.

Ed crossed his arms, glaring at her, challengingly. "Yeah, we did. We saw the aftermath of destruction of whatever happened last night." His face softened. The pleading expression in his golden orbs made the auburn haired girl's heart constrict with guilt and remorseful. An awful sensation of self condemnation swirled in the pit of her stomach.

"Please, Orihime, just tell us the truth," he implored her. "Or do you not trust us?"

Orihime gasped, appalled that he would even suggest that he didn't trust him, trust them. "I do trust you guys, Eddie!" she blurted out, desperate for him to understand. Her eyes were beginning to swell up with unshed tears. After everything they've been through, how could she not. They were her precious friends! "I trust you with my life!" She bit the inside of her lips, pathetically.

Ed's golden eyes widened, tremendously. Did she just say she trusts him with her life? He had never heard her say anything acknowledging before. He felt a sense of pride and honor swell up inside him. Normally, he wouldn't care all that much, however, hearing Orihime praise him gave Ed a feeling of gratification and delight.

For a split second, he almost forgotten why he was so furious with her. Almost being the keyword as he listened to hesitantly stumble over her own words, making him frown even more. He wondered how much of that were true? If she really trusts him as much as she says she does, then she wouldn't be keeping secrets from him.

He knew they established an unspoken rule about personal issues, but he couldn't just standing around, doing nothing and be expected to just be okay when she gets hurt! That is just too agonizingly unbearable to keep silent about. When she gets hurt, it becomes his business as well. He deeply wish she would understand that, acknowledge the fact he hates seeing her in pain.

"I-I just…"

"She was helping me," a polite feminine voice intervened.

Startled by the new and unexpected voice, both Ed and Al turned their gazes at the young, blonde woman that just now noticed sitting in the corner.

"Who are you?" Ed asked, suspiciously.

Junko smiled, softly. "Forgive me for not introducing myself before. I was quite startled when you barged in here and started screaming at your friend into making her cry."

Edward's cheeks burned red with embarrassment at making a fool of himself and feeling immensely guilty for exploding on Orihime when he noticed the woman was right as a steady streamline of crystal tears were cascading down her face. It's just… When he saw her this beaten badly and broken, he felt so grief stricken with painful anguish. The fear, the agonizing terror he felt strike an arrow at his heart. And the fact she tried to play it off as a laughing matter just infuriated him more. He could almost sympathize with Winry at the moment when he goes off and does something reckless. Hmm, he should start appreciating her little bit more.

But right now, he felt like the biggest ass in the world. He quietly stalked up to Orihime's bedside, his facial expression twisted in shame. It felt even more horrible when he heard sniffle, quietly, staring at him with wide, tearful eyes. A placed a hand, softly ruffling her hair. "I'm sorry for yelling at you, Orihime," he apologized, sincerely. "It's just that… Seeing you here… All beaten and badly injured… I guess I just lost my temper…"

"It's okay," the ginger haired girl cut him off, smiling at him in appreciation. "I know you care about me, Eddie. Both you and Al worry about me because you care. I feel the same way. And I promised you, remember? I promised you I'll help you guys regain your bodies back in any way I can. So, I'm not going to die," she promised with much passion and conviction in her voice that it made Ed's heart skip a beat.

She flashed him a beautiful smile that he loved so much, making his cheeks burn. How could someone who was broken and injured look It should be a crime to appear so beautiful. He knew he could not stay mad at her, not when she flashed him that alluring and enchanting smile that captivated him so much. Involuntarily, his own lips curled into an awkward half smile.

Ed immediately paused, inwardly shocked and surprised that the words 'enchanting' and 'captivating' came to mind when describing Orihime's smile. And more so when he declared that he loved her smiles. However, he remained silent and unable to deny it because of how truly simplistic and accurate those words were. How else could he explain the bizarre phenomenon of his stomach doing somersaults, his heart beating ninety miles a minute, and his brain turning to mush just from seeing Orihime smile? He loves her smiles, plain and simple. He is enchanted by it, and always would be.

"Aww, how sweet! Young love!" Junko cooed. She giggled behind her hand when she saw the two teens blush crimson red, and Edward hastily pull away from Orihime, practically jumping ten feet in the air.

"Who are you?" Alphonse inquired, stepping in, feeling grateful that the fighting was over.

Junko smiled at him, politely. "Please, call me Junko. I must apologize as it was my fault your friend ended up like this. You asked her to run an errand for me on that island. She's such sweet and good natured girl. I didn't think there would be chimeras roaming around. Please, don't blame her for my mistake. She was only trying to help me."

Ed turned his gaze towards Orihime. "Is that true?" he asked, a sense of relief washing him.

Orihime paused for a second before nodding, dumbly. She would just roll with the excuse Junko laid out for her. But why would she lie for her?

"Why didn't you tell us?" Al questioned his auburn haired friend. "We could have helped."

"I'm sorry," Orihime said, embarrassingly. "I thought I could do it myself. I didn't think there would be anything too dangerous on the island. Nothing I couldn't handle."

"Just don't do something stupid like that again!" Ed demanded.

The auburn haired girl nodded. "Don't worry, I won't."

After taking in the sweet sight, Junko stood up from her chair. "Well, I better get going. I have some errands to run. Bye, Orihime." She smiled at the ginger haired girl. A smile that seemed too sickeningly sweet for the younger woman's taste that it sent a nasty shiver up her spine for some strange reason. However, Ed and Al didn't seem to notice. So was she imagining it?

Junko left the room, leaving the three teenagers alone.

For some odd reason, Orihime could still feel her skin crawl. The hairs at the back of her neck were standing on ends, warning her off the danger. She could've sworn… For a split second, she thought she felt something sinister emitting from Junko. But she was such a sweet and kind lady. She saved her. There was no way she could be…

...Could she?

"Lust! There you are. Where have you been? And who's the brat?"

Envy, who was, just moments ago, leaning against the wall of the building, stood up straight and glared, menacingly at the little, brown haired girl hiding behind Lust's leg.

Lust casually glanced at the child behind, desperately clinging to her leg, her green orbs, eyeing Envy, warily. Her purple eyes returned their gazes back to her brother and she shrugged. "Don't worry about her, Envy," she finally replied, dismissively. "How is everything here in Central?"

The shapeshifter homunculus twitched. "Lust, what the hell are you thinking?!" he yelled, angrily, causing Chloe to whimper and flinch. "You can't bring a kid here! Get rid of her! Kill her before she knows too much!"

Chloe gasped, lips, trembling, and her body, shaking in fear. This man was going to kill her? She could feel herself shrinking underneath the man's hateful gaze. She could feel the lump in her throat, hardening as her green eyes burned with tears.

Envy sneered, lips twisted into a dark smirk. "Aww, looks like a I scare the little brat," he said, mockingly at the young child.

The young girl felt her heart pounding, wildly against her chest. Her palms were beginning clammy with sweat. She was scared! So scared! It felt like there were fire ants pricking underneath her skin. Being around men always made her incredibly uncomfortable and extremely wary and fearful of them. After all, men were disgusting, irredeemable monsters. They hurt people, like her mom. Her mother died because men were bad people.

The brown haired child inwardly gasped, her eyes broadening as if she was unveiling a shocking revelation. What if this guy was here to hurt this lady? Just thinking about it caused Chloe's stomach to become queasy. The veins in her blood becoming frozen and her heart became stock still.

No, she couldn't be afraid. She had to protect this woman from this mean man. Fire burned within her green orbs as her new resolve struck her, radianting, brightly and passionately, within her. She could not be afraid. If she had done something back then, then maybe her mother would still be alive.

Chloe stepped in front the dark haired lady, protectively throwing her arms out. Her eyes glared at the strange, dark green haired man, mustering as much courage as she could despite the underlying fear in them.

Envy cocked an eyebrow, clearly amused. "Looks like the little brat wants to have a go?"

The young child merely scowled, deeply, at him, trying to keep her bottom from trembling.

"Ah, goodie!" Gluttony made his presence known with a gleeful, hungry smile spread across his lips. "A little girl! Can I eat her?"

Chloe made a small, frightened noise. Her courage and resolve slowly diminishing. This guy was going to eat her?! She whimpered, despairingly. Her legs trembled as alarming terror gripped at the very core of her being, and her arms desperately reached out, clinging to the dark haired woman's legs for protection.

Lust stared at the scared child before her then shifted her eyes to address Gluttony. "This girl is not for eating, Gluttony."

"Aww! But I'm so hungry!" the chubby homunculus pouted, extremely disappointed.

Envy glared at Lust. "Why shouldn't Gluttony eat the brat?" he demanded. "We have no need for her!"

Lust pursed her lips. She wasn't sure why. She wasn't sure why the child insisted on following her in the first place. And Envy was right. Normally, she would've allowed Gluttony to eat and kill the kid. Child or not, she was still a human, and they very well couldn't let a human into their plans.

However, there was just...something about the child that intrigued her. Why did the brat follow her? Lust guessed her curiosity was piqued as she wanted to know the answer to that simple question. It didn't tag along with her purely because she was interested in what a homunculus was. Plus, the child seemed quite protective of her for some strange, unfathomable reason. And it's not like they don't have a few human allies within the military, whether they know it or not. One more exception wouldn't hurt.

Lust opted to just flat out ignore Envy's question instead of providing a reply she didn't know the answer to. "How are the plans in Central coming along?"

"Everything is coming along smoothly," Envy grinned. "Mustang was transferred over to Central a little while ago."

"Good. We need to keep a closer eye on the Flame Alchemist. Not to mention that girl tagging along with the Fullmetal boy."

The shapeshifter homunculus's expression twisted into one of confusion. "What girl? Oh, are you talking about the strange girl traveling with the pipsqueak." He threw his arms out, noncommittally. "I don't know why Father is so interested in her. Why did he change some of his plan just because of some girl?"

"It's not the girl Father is interested in. It's her powers," Lust corrected, boldly. "Obviously, Father wants her powers for himself. That's why he brought her here. But the Fullmetal boy has grown very protective of her, and that's not within our plans. We can't very well go after her with the boy with her twenty four hours of the day. We only let him bodyguard her, so Wrath could keep a close eye on her through the Fullmetal's ongoings. But even that is becoming tedious now. We need to seperate them. Draw some animosity."

Envy crossed his arms. "That is a problem." His face scrunched up, deeply contemplating before a wicked smirk creeped split across it. "Did you just say draw some animosity? I think I have an idea."


"Ow! I'm sorry!" Orihime cried out, painfully, tenderly rubbing the growing lump on her head with her good hand.

Edward and Alphonse sat in the background, trembling in terror, even though Izumi's ire wasn't directed at them. Orihime, on the other hand, was ducking her head away, shamefully as an irate Izumi was furiously scolding her.

"What were you thinking going off alone like that?" the dark haired woman berated her. "And after we warned you not to stay out so late. Now, look at you! I assume you find the knack for getting into trouble from Ed and Al."

Izumi glared at her former students, causing them to shrink under her scrutiny.

"Orihime doesn't get it from us!" Edward hastily responded, trying to defend himself and his brother from his teacher's wrath.

"I'm sorry, Ms. Izumi," the ginger haired girl apologized, feeling incredibly bad for making everyone worry. "I had do a favor for a friend and I lost track of time."

Izumi just glared at the crestfallen, auburn haired girl. Her dark eyes eventually softened just a little bit as she inwardly sighed. "You are lucky you aren't one of my students, so I'm letting you off easy, Orihime. Next time, call us to let us know where you are," she said, her voice that of a parent scolding her child. "Now, go wash up and get ready for lunch."

Orihime nodded her head, not feeling sad, but not feeling completely happy either. Just disappointed because she failed to find the specific Hollow Sammy was seeking vengeance on.

The others watched her walk away, back to her room with sluggish steps. Ed noticed the way her shoulders sagged, dejectedly. Was she sad? He hated seeing Orihime sad, even though Izumi's scolding wasn't unwarranted. Maybe he should talk to her, try to cheer her up.

He was snapped out of his musings when a loud banging sound was heard coming from within Al's armor followed by frantic meowing.

"Oh, right. Sammy." Al hurriedly undid the clasp of his chest plate. No sooner, the black and white cat sprung out of his hollowed body. After taking a second or two to sniff out Orihime's scent before scurrying after the trail, not bothering to notice the other three watching him with raised eyebrows. He was mind too focused on the ginger haired girl. She was badly hurt last time he saw her. He wanted to make sure she was okay.

"Sammy must be really worried about Orihime," Alphonse commented after the feline disappeared down the hall.

Edward frowned at Al's comment before snorting. It's not like the dumb cat knows going on anyway. He was too clingy if anyone asked him. Orihime is spoiling him too much.

"Don't just stand there, you idiots!" Izumi's booming voice snapped the brothers' out of their thoughts as they flinched under the volume. "Help me make lunch!"

"Yes, ma'am," they replied, obediently.

Orihime laid down on her bed, deeply sighing. Her Soten Kisshun were already working their magic in healing her broken bones.

"What now?" she inwardly thought to herself, feeling lost. Despite the group of Hollows that attacked them, Sammy's sister's killer wasn't among them. Now, they were back to square one.

Her ears perked up when she heard frenetic scratching at the door. Must be Sammy. She lifted her healing dome up and climbing out of bed to let the distressed cat in.

Once slitted, green eyes landed on her, Sammy happily pounced on her. The ginger haired girl let out a small squeal as the force of the impact knocked her on the ground. She slightly hissed in pain when she accidently pressed her fractured hand against the floor.

Sammy emitted a tiny, worried mew. He affectionately licked her injured hand, trying to soothe her pain.

Orihime gently smiled at the cat's concern for her. "I'm okay, Sammy," she assured the cat, picking him up with her good arm and laying him on the bed, taking the spot next to him.

She uttered out another heavy sigh, her hand reaching out to scratch the male feline's back. Her exploration of the island was a complete failure.

"I'm sorry we couldn't find your sister's murderer, Sammy," she apologized to the feline, feeling immensely disappointed and disheartened. In response, the cat mewed in understanding, rubbing his head, appreciatively against her stomach, making her smile in his efforts to cheer her up.

Just then there was a quiet knock on the door.

"Come in!" Orihime cried out loud enough for her voice to be heard on the other side.

The door slowly creaked up to reveal Edward and Alphonse.

"Eddie! Al!" she smiled at the boys. "What brings you here?"

"We just came to see how you were holding up, Orihime," Al answered as they both entered the room with him closing the door behind him.

Ed took a seat on her right. His golden gaze lingered on her casted arm with guilt driven concern. His glanced over to her injured foot. "How's your arm and leg?"

"Oh!" The ginger haired flexed her the muscles in her fingers and toes a bit as Al came to take a seat on her left. "Well, truthfully, it hurts when I move them too much," she answered, honestly. When she noticed the boys' worrisome looks, she was quick to retract her answer. "I'll be fine by tomorrow. Remember? I can heal myself. I'll heal myself tonight and then my hand and ankle would be good as new by morning!" she stated, cheerfully.

"Hey, listen." Gray eyes landed on Ed as he spoke, somewhat awkwardly, sheepishly scratching the back of his head. "I'm sorry for yelling at you earlier. I… We were scared. Scared that we were going to lose you when you disappeared last night." he admitted. He unconsciously reached out and clasped her hand as if to comfort her, something Orihime was quick to notice.

She was acutely aware of his touch for some strange reason. His hand felt firm and strong. It was strangely warm. It felt tingly and pleasantly different. Was it wrong for her to notice that smoothness of Ed's hand was unusually distinct from Ichigo's? It was big, but not as calloused, and she was just know noticing that his skin was a lot fairer than Ichigo's.

The auburn haired felt herself blushing slightly when she caught herself taking in all these tiny details about Ed she never considered before. The differences just...surprised her in a pleasingly and welcomingly way. Unlike when Ichigo touches her, there was no buzzing of butterflies within her stomach or the rapid sound of her heart getting ready to burst out of her chest when she's near her beloved.

No, there was an oddly, comforting sensation. A sense of carefree wonderment at the strange and inexplicable feeling, and an ingenuously raw sense of contentment. It was different yet still gave her the same weirdly, pleasurable feeling. It did not make her feel anxious or giddy, yet it's contently gratifying all the same.

In contrast with the passionate and intense fire cracker sensation she gets from Ichigo's touch, there was a small, subtle spark of electrifying impulses tinglingly underneath her skin. The feeling of warmth she was experience was comparably between a burning fire and boiling water. They were both really warm, zealously hot even, but sometimes fire burns and remains dangerously unapproachable while hot water has a soothing effect as long as one let's it cool enough before touching.

"Uh, Orihime?"

Gray eyes snapped towards Ed when her name was spoke. He stared at her, confusingly with a mixture of concern and there was a strange tenderness in his golden orbs that she never noticed before. At least, when it's not directed at his younger brother. "Is something wrong? You've been staring into space."

"Oh, um, I was just…" She was suddenly acutely aware that Al was in the room as well, and that made her feel flustered and self conscious for some strange reason because it wasn't just the two of them. She quickly and stealthy retracted her hand, so Ed doesn't notice. Neither of them did. However, there was still a lingering feeling of yearning to touch his hand once more prickling her skin. It felt...odd to her. In a good way. She didn't know why. It just did.

"I just thinking is all," she finally answered, lamely. "I know the day just started, but I feel oddly worn out."

"Your face is a little red," Alphonse commented, worriedly. "Are you getting sick?"

Sammy mewed, voicing his concern, his tail silently thumping against the floor.

"No, I'm…" Her stomach thought it was a good a time as any to interrupt her with a loud growl. Her face flushed bright red in embarrassment, but inwardly she was incredibly grateful with her stomach's impeccable timing. A convenient excuse of saving her from the awkwardness of detailing Ed's flesh hand.

Edward was the one to break the silence, laughing, boisterously. "If you were just hungry, Orihime, you should've said so!"

The ginger haired used the front of shirt to cover her face, feeling shy and bashful. "I guess I am a little," she admitted, her voice muffled by her shirt.

"Well, teacher should be done making lunch by now," Ed said, climbing to his feet, and Al did the same, his armor clinging with every moment. He scooped up Sammy in his arms.

The blond alchemist held his hand out for the ginger haired healer to take. She took notice that it was his human hand he presented for her to take, and not his automail one. She subconsciously licked her suddenly dried lips, her fingers twitching in anticipation before grasping his hand, gently.

And sure enough, the warmth of touching his hand returned with a vengeance.

Orihime just didn't know what to make of this feeling as she followed Ed and Al out the door.

Orihime hummed, cheerfully to herself as she was sweeping the front porch of the shop the next morning. She spent all of yesterday taking the time to heal herself with her Soten Kisshun.

Sammy was taking a little snooze by the corner of the house. He seemed completely relaxed and at peace, not a hint of worry. It was funny when comparing it to how he acted when he was awake. He was hyperactive and brash. Always anxious and tries to put on a strong front.

"Why, hello, Orihime."

The auburn haired perked up at the sound of a familiar, soft spoken, feminine voice calling her name. She turned her curious, gray gaze to see a blonde haired, blue eyed woman happily waving at her.

"Oh! Hello, Ms. Juno!" Orihime greeted, sweetly, immediately recognizing the lady, pausing in her sweeping to wave at her.

Juno walked closer to the front of the shop. Her blues eyes broadened, slightly in surprise when she noticed the younger woman's healed hand and ankle. "You arm and leg are healed already? I thought the doctor said it would take a few more weeks."

"Oh, I healed myself last night," the ginger haired girl answered, politely.

"You healed yourself?" the blonde lady said, slowly as if trying to process the new information. "Are you alchemist?"

"...I guess you could say that," Orihime replied, sheepishly.

The sound of the door squeaking up caught both women's attention, and caused Sammy to awaken from his short slumber. His mouth widened, his face stretched, and his ears flattened as he produced a big, albeit silent yawn. The door swung all the way open to reveal Al.

"Orihime! Teacher says it's time for breakfast," Alphonse called out to her. The suit of armor gazed wondered from her to the blonde woman standing by the gate. "Oh? You're Junko, right?" he said, wondering if he got her name right. "We met at the hospital yesterday. You're a friend of Orihime."

Junko bowed, politely. An elegant smile graced her features. "Why, yes, I am. Pardon me, but I don't quite remember your name."

The glow of Al's eyes crinkled a little as if he was smiling. "It's Alphonse. Alphonse Elric."

"Alphonse Elric?" Junko mused, excitedly. "The younger brother of State Alchemist, Edward Elric? I really admire his work! He's a very admirable and accomplished young man!"

"Yes, he is, but tell Ed that, or else he'll get a big head," Al chuckled.

"Who will get a big head?"

The soul bonded armor practically wailed, startling and jumped in surprise. "Brother?!" Al screeched, holding a hand to his chest, trying to calm down his nonexistent, pounding heart. "Don't sneak up on me like that!"

Edward shrugged at his brother's accusatory tone. "Teacher was wondering what was taking you guys so long to get your asses in here?" he informed them. His golden eyes then landed on Junko, finally taking notice she was there. He gave a curt nod in greeting, not knowing what else to say. He didn't know her. "What do you want?" he asked, bluntly. "Do you need teacher for something?"

"Oh, that's right." Junko's eyes immediately landed on Orihime. "Orihime, are you free later?" she asked.

Orihime's gray eyes drifted towards Ed and Al for a split second before returning to the blonde woman. "Um, I think so," she responded, unsure. She knew that they were still in Dublith for another day or two, but she wasn't aware of the brothers' plans until then. Probably just training with their former teacher. That's all they've done so far.

Junko clapped her hands together, happily. "That's great! Meet me down at the cafe down the street and around the corner. I would love spend some girl time with you. Bye!" She waved goodbye and walked away, cheerily, a bounce in each step.

Orihime smiled and waved the woman away. She twisted her body around, and her gray orbs landed on Edward. "You don't mind, do you, Eddie?"

Ed frowned, crossing his arms. "Are you sure you should be hanging out with that woman? Alone?"

The auburn haired girl tilted her head in confusion. "What do you mean?" she asked, innocently.

"Maybe me and Al should tag along," the blond alchemist suggested. In truth, he didn't want to experience another of yesterday's heart attack again. He was wary of Orihime hanging out that 'Junko' woman. After all, she was the reason Orihime ended up in the hospital. A part of him knew that it wasn't the woman's fault. All she asked was for Orihime to do a simple errand for her. She was unaware that chimeras were lurking on that island. She did sound extremely guilty when Orihime ended up in the hospital. Maybe her offering her lunch was her way of apologizing to her.

However, Ed's protective instinct still rang strong. He wanted to stay with Orihime, making sure she's safe. Her disappearance that night was one of the biggest scares in his life, second to the tragic night of his and Al's botched Human Transmutation. If something were to happen to Orihime, he didn't know if he could take it.

Orihime had a clear indicator of the various emotions held within Edward's golden eyes. There was worry, worry for her safety, anxiety, skepticism towards Junko's motives, and a tiny bit of fear, the fear of losing her. She didn't know what to say or do to calm his nerves, to ease his concerns.

"I know! Why don't you and Al come with us?" she grinned, brightly.

"Really, Orihime?" Alphonse uttered, tentatively. "Junko seemed pretty adamant about spending some 'girl time' with you. We wouldn't want to intrude."

"Of course, we love to come!" Unlike his little brother, Edward was quick to jump at the opportunity. When Al was about to protest, Ed sent him a sharp glare. He sighed, but kept his mouth shut.

"That's great!" she exclaimed, happily. A look of hunger and belated realization suddenly spread across her face. "Didn't you say breakfast was ready, Ed?"

Ed's expression turned into one of horror. "Crap! We better hurry inside before teacher kills us for keeping her waiting."

The trio grimaced in unison and quickly ran inside with Sammy trailing after them.

"Where did Junko say to meet her?" Edward asked, impatiently. He was getting tired of walking, and was feeling a little unsure on where to go.

"She said to meet her at a cafe...right around...this corner," Orihime explained, cheerily pointing at a nearby cafe. "That must be the place!" She happily jogged up to the place, and, sure enough, Junko was waiting for her there.

Junko spotted the young, auburn haired girl and smiled. "Orihime, you came. brought your friends," she greeted the girl. There was a hint of thinly veiled disappointment in her voice, but she quickly masked it as Ed and Al approached them.

The ginger haired girl beamed. "Yeah, I hope you don't mind my friends tagging along?" she questioned, hopefully.

The blonde woman simply shook her head. "That should be no problem," she replied, jovially. "I'm sure after what happened, they've probably grown more protective of you." She eyed Ed, mischievously, making his face turn a light shade of pink at the implication. She silently giggled at his shyness.

"Can we eat now?" Ed questioned, irritably.

"Right," Junko answered, clearly amused by Ed trying to hide his awkwardness and embarrassment behind a brash and assertive demeanor. "This way."

Junko led them to a semi circle, open booth. Al was the first to enter, followed by Ed with Orihime right behind him, and Junko entered last. After they ordered a plate of smoked salmon for a certain feline currently hiding in Al's armor, a couple of cheeseburgers, an alfredo chicken pasta with a side of bacon and cheese quiche and butter, as requested, roasted potatoes, and a simple salad respectfully, Junko went to address the three young teenagers.

"So, how did you three meet?" she asked, curiously, trying to start up a conversation.

"We meet in a town called Greia," Orihime happily answered. "I was working there as a local healer."

The blonde woman quirked a brow. "Really? What made you decide to leave?"

"It was military business," Ed replied, shortly, already getting fed up with Junko's intrusiveness. He cried out in pain when Al elbowed him. He glared at his younger brother, rubbing his now tender ribs.

"Don't mind, brother," Al said, apologetically to the blue eyed lady.

"No, no, it's quite alright," Junko replied with a half hearted, dismissive hand gesture.

The waiter arrived at their booth with their meals. He gingerly set each of their plates down. When he delivered Orihime's food, he gave her a sly wink and a suggestive comment, which she didn't get. But Edward did as he viciously snarled at the waiter to fuck off, shooting him hateful daggers as he scurried away in comical fear and disbelief.

When Ed's gaze turned to Junko, he immediately took note of the skittish and playful look on her face. "What?" he shouted, defensively.

"I never pegged you, Edward Elric, the famous Fullmetal Alchemist, Hero of the People, to be the jealous type," she teased, puckishly.

In response, the blond alchemist blushed, lightly. He opened his mouth to offer an angry, biting retort, but was cut off by Orihime.

She swiftly swallowed a mouthful of pasta she was in the middle of chewing. "You're mad because you're jealous, Eddie?" she asked, eyebrows furrowed in concern. He sat there, bright red and comically frozen, and inwardly spazzing out, trying and failing sputter out a coherent response. She stared down at her plate with a flummoxed expression before staring back at him with innocent eyes. "Is it because the waiter was nicer to me because I ordered the pasta?"

Edward internally sighed in relief, having been saved by Orihime's ignorance. Although, he was quick to reflect on the fact that her unassuming and confused pout made her look cute. Then realizing where his thoughts were heading, he blushed, deeply, hiding his face away from her in embarrassment.

He almost jumped out of his skin in surprise when he felt a soft, dainty hand touch his forehead. He practically feel his face burning so hotly as he hesitantly glanced over to the auburn haired girl's direction. He worried and fearful that he might end up igniting if this continues any longer. If he transforming into a blazing inferno doesn't kill him, then certainly the erratic beatings of his heart exploding out of his chest would. He swore sitting in such close proximity to her was going to kill him one day.

"Eddie, you are burning up," Orihime voiced, concerned. "Are you getting sick?"

Ed had to wonder if the universe was out to get him. What was it trying to do? What did he do to it to deserve such an unfair and unprovoked and unjust treatment?

Understanding if he doesn't say something soon, he was going to appear as even more of idiot with every second, the blond alchemist opted to just gently brush of the ginger haired healer's worries, no how damn cute she looked right now. How there was a tinge of sparkle in her gray eyes that made them look devilishly alluring. How her beautiful, soft looking, long, auburn hair cascade gently around her, resembling a reddish orange halo. How the pinkness of her lips was just so damn enticing he wondered how they would taste.

Oh, crap! He needed to get out of here! Before he makes a complete fool of himself! He could feel himself sweating bullets!


"I NEED TO GO TO THE BATHROOM!" Edward all but screamed out, absolutely red faced, incredibly discomforted, and distressingly embarrassed, causing everyone in room to the turn to their table in shock and surprise by the outburst.

Ed hurriedly tumbled over Alphonse's legs, and sprinted towards the bathroom as if his life depended on it.

Al laughed, sheepishly, trying to defuse the awkward tension his older brother created. "I'd better go check up on him," he politely excused himself, leaving the booth to chase after his wayward brother.

Orihime could only sit there in a slight daze, her brain wrecked with confusion. "What was that about?" she asked Junko, slightly puzzled by Ed's odd behavior.

Junko tried to hide her sly smirk. "Who knows? Probably just a guy thing," she said, dismissively.

The younger girl nodded her head, slowly, not really understanding it. But if it was a guy situation, then maybe she never would. Boys confuse her. They like to hide their feelings behind a tough and bravado like exterior. They sometimes act aggressive for no discernable reason. They go from nonchalantly affable to incredibly belligerent at a flip of a switch. And for some reason, they act either bashfully awkward or excessively friendly when near her.

"They are such cute boys. I wonder how their souls would taste?"

Orihime's gray eyes widened at Junko's offhanded question. She was completely perplexed, blinking slowly as if she misheard her. "Eh?" was her bewildered reply.

Junko's lips suddenly twisted into a malevolent and psychotic smirk. Her easygoing and polite disposition was replaced with a sickening cruel and upsettingly malicious persona. Her maleficent spiritual pressure became unbound, causing everyone in the cafe is collapsed due to their weaker human bodies being unable to stand the stress and intensity of it. The nonplussed, frightened, and anxious cries of confusion and fear could be heard around the area.

The ginger haired girl's body immediately tensed as she recognized the familiarity of this spiritual pressure. Her lips became suddenly dry and a wave of anxiety hit her. A fretful and uneasy frown formed on her face. "You're a-"

"That's right," Junko replied, proudly, cutting her off. She lifted her spiritual pressure, releasing everyone from their suffocating imprisonment as they continued on in a small daze.

"I can't believe it took you this long to figure it out." She nonchalantly played with her half eaten salad. "I was hoping you and I could have a little chat, Orihime." Her icy blue eyes glared at the young woman, venomously. "Then you had to go any ahead and bring your friends along." Then her face morphed into a baleful grin. "Oh, well. It's not too bad. Now, that I observed them a little more, I could say they look absolutely appetiting. Their growing spirit energy smells so savory that I could hardly wait to take a bite," she moaned. She eyed Orihime, hungrily. "But not as good as yours, dear." When she reached out to teach, Orihime flinched away from her hand as if it were poison, offering the blonde woman a hardened stare.

"You stay away from Eddie and Al!" Orihime bit out.

Junko just laughed, mockingly. "Now, why would I? After I'm done with you, they're next. Can't let a perfectly delicious pair of souls go to waste, can I?"

"How can they even see you?" she questioned, curtly.

"Oh, that's easy. This is merely the body of woman's soul I have eaten just a little while ago," Junko answered, uncaringly as if it was the most obvious answer in the world.

The auburn haired gave her a stern, fearless stare. "So, in other words, your real body is simply controlling and possessing this one like a puppet?"

The blonde woman clapped, sarcastically. "Very good, Orihime. And you'll meet me tomorrow afternoon at the outskirts of town unless you want your friends to suffer the same fate."

Before Orihime could offer a rebuttal, Edward and Alphonse return from their trip to the bathroom.

"Sorry about that," Al said, apologetically as they made their way to their seats.

The Elric brothers took a quick notice of thick tension between Orihime and Junko.

"What's wrong?" Ed asked, confusingly.

Orihime merely opted to stare blankly and stubbornly at her food, refusing to meet their gazes.

Junko giggled, feigning innocence. "Nothing, boys. We just had a little girl talk while you were gone."

Both brothers turned to each before shrugging and finishing up their meals.

All Orihime could think about was that she, Ed, and Al were in so much danger. But she would protect her friends, no matter what!

Orihime laid down on her bed, serious and grim expression on her facial features. She was scheduled to meet up with Junko, no the Hollow later today. She knew it meet be a trap, but she had no choice. She had to protect Ed and Al!

Sammy cried in worry. He gently nudged his head against her side as if it that would help ease her anxiety.

She smiled, appreciating the male feline's attempt to cheer her up.

Abruptly, her door unexpectedly swung open. Orihime gasped, startled at the sound. Her gray eyes darted at the blond alchemist. "Eddie?!" she exclaimed in shock.

Edward's eyebrows furrowed in distraught, there was a hint worry and anxiety in his golden orbs, and his lips was slanted downward into a deep, solemn frown.

The ginger haired girl rose up to sit up straighter when she noticed the distressed look at Ed's face. "What's wrong, Eddie?" she asked, concerned.

"Orihime, have you seen Al?" Ed questioned, his tone hard with controllable anger.

In response, she shook her head. "No, I haven't seen him. I thought he was outside, sweeping."

He crossed his arms, a grim scowl forming. "Well, he's not out there. And he's not anywhere in the house. Maybe he went for a walk," he pondered to himself.

Orihime stared at his back, watching him walk away, probably looking for his missing brother. She frowned as he left, inwardly panicking. Junko wouldn't…! But she promised she wouldn't lay a hand on Ed and Al as long as she came to their meeting place today. Was she using Al as ransom?

She felt foolish for trusting Hollow. They were known to use underhanded tactics to get their way. With her mind made up, she speedily climbed out of bed, throwing the sheets off.

She knew it may very well be a trap and she hasn't fully recovered all her spirit energy, but she had no time to waste! She had to save Al!

"I'm here!" Orihime bravely made her announcement, making her presence widely known. She was at the outskirts of town just as instructed. The area was completely barren, devoid of people, buildings, and even trees. It was quiet, ghostly still. She could feel the hairs on the back of her neck, standing on ends.

Sammy mewed next to her, showing his discomfort. He climbed onto the auburn haired girl's shoulder for safety and comfort.

There was a foreboding, malignant aura around this place. This location was just way too creepy, no wonder people stayed away. The oppressive presence hanging about was almost suffocating. She could instinctively feel someone's cold eyes watching her, carefully calculating her every movement. She had to wonder if this was another one of those perceived haunted places that people stubbornly never talk about, but made a unspoken and fearful agreement to stay away from because of Hollow attacks.

A loud, earth shattering sound roared as a giant hole in the ground burst open underneath her feet. Debris flew everywhere and a small dust cloud formed, forcing her to cover her eyes. She cracked an eye open to see a giant hand stretching out towards, but Orihime wasted no time in activating her Santen Kesshun.

A giant, four legged Hollow instantly emerged. It's white mask was that of a deformed face of a half human, half frog. There was spikes of needle like hairs shooting from the Hollow's back. Over all its body was a bulky, sickly green color.

"So, you came?" the Hollow laughed, maniacally. It sounded burly and masculine, unlike the fragile femininity it portrayed earlier. This must be how the Hollow really sounds like, Orihime concluded. "How very foolish. I didn't think you would. You either have a lot guts or you are tremendously stupid," he mocked her.

Orihime clenched her fists at her side. "Where is Al?" she questioned, forcibly.

The Hollow tilted its head in response. "Al? I don't know who that is? Oh, you mean your armored friend? Sorry, it is hard to remember names of people that would become nothing more than food later. No point in bothering."

The auburn haired growled, lowly under her breath, steely eyes, glaring at the Hollow. She was interrupted by Sammy's insistent and rage filled meowing. The hairs on the back of his fur were standing on ends, and his fangs were bared into a vengeful snarl. It felt like it was taking every ounce of his well power not to pounce on the Hollow. The only thing holding him back was knowing he was going to get himself killed if charged at the soul eating monster.

Orihime was blatantly confused and baffled. She had never seen Sammy this angry before, this outrageously incensed. Why was he acting like this? Then she remembered the reason why he wanted her help in the first place, what was keeping soul bound here, what was his one regret in life.

"Are you the one who killed Sammy's sister?" the ginger haired girl interrogated the Hollow, sharply. If this was indeed the Hollow Sammy was seeking vengeance on, then that would explain his feral behavior. And that mean her search is over because after she defeats it, she would achieve her goal and promise of helping Sammy move on to the afterlife.

He Hollow scoffed. "I've killed and eaten dozens, no hundreds of human souls. Do you believe I keep track of who I devour?"

She did not have time to offer a reply before the Hollow quickly launched an attack at her, trying to grab at her with its giant hands. Instinctively, Orihime activated her Santen Kesshun, effectively blocking the attack.

Sammy hissed at the Hollow, aggressively, the last of his patience wearing thin and charged at the monster. It went as well as one may expect as the Hollow threw a fist at him, sending him flying with a pained mew.

"Sammy!" Orihime screamed in horror. She hurriedly use her Santen Kesshun as a makeshift cushion for him to land on. Once, Sammy was safely secured to ground to switch over to activating her Soten Kisshun to heal the feline's battered body.

She was immediately taken by taken by surprise when the Hollow grabbed at her neck and arms with its hair like tentacles.

"I got you now!" it laughed, gleefully as it began choking the life out of her. Orihime desperate tried to pry the Hollow's appendage off her. It merely chortled, mockingly at her feeble attempts. "I don't know why the other Hollows had such a hard time killing. If they had done their jobs right, I wouldn't have to dirty my hands like this. It's so taxing having to do the heavy lifting."

"Wait…!" Orihime barely wheezed out, breathlessly, fighting to gain as much air in her lungs as possible. "You're...the one...who sent that island?"

"Yes, I did. You see the moment you entered the town, I could sense delectable scent of your spirit energy. I immediately knew I had to have you, but I knew I had to find some way to get you alone. And what luck did I happen to see you on that island. I merely did was guide a few Hollows to it, and you know the rest."

The auburn haired girl couldn't believe her ears. So, going to that island was a trap? It was this Hollow's plan all along to use lesser Hollows as bait to kill her? Her horrific thoughts were cut off as the soul sucking monster once again began to squeeze the life out of her. She could feel her life slowly drawn away.

"Perfect!" the Hollow smiled, maliciously. It opened its huge mouth, lifted Orihime up, getting ready to devour her whole. "After I devour you, those two boys are next!" it gloated.

"Al…" the auburn haired girl barely breathed out. Her mind flashbacked with the moments she spent with the younger Elric. She always welcomed his gentle nature, and she admired how never let the way he looked stop being from being human. She just wished she could see what his real body looked like. Guess, she wouldn't have that chance.

Then her mind drifted out to a certain blond alchemist. "Eddie…" Just thinking about him made something inside her snapped. No, she couldn't die here! Not yet! Didn't she make a promise to Edward? Didn't she promised to stay by his side until he and Al regained their bodies? That's right! She did! She can't die! She can not die!

Just then, the Hollow made a shrill noise between annoyance and exasperation. Orihime barely cracked a gray eye open to see Sammy viciously biting on one of the spirit monster's legs.

"Why you, stupid piece of crap!" the Hollow cried out in aggravation. It extending its hairy appendage towards the black and white feline, getting ready to impale him.

"No!" Orihime roared, voice barely audible. "Don't touch him!" Her Shiten Koshun activated, protecting Sammy from oncoming attack.

"What?!" the Hollow screamed out in horror and pain as a blast of orangish yellow beam of light reflected of the space of shield the Hollow hit, severing its appendage and gravely wounded it.

However, Orihime gave the Hollow no time to recover, not when it dared to harm her friends. "Tsubaki," she called out to the fiery sprite, voice determined. "Koten Zanshun!"

Tsubaki blasted clean through the Hollow, effective slicing it in half.

"Impossible…!" it uttered out in disbelief before disintegrating.

Orihime landed on the ground with a small thud. She coughed and wheezed, trying to regain the air back to her lungs. Her hands and knees held steadily to the ground to keep herself from falling over.

Sammy paced up to her, letting out a concerned mew as he stared up at her with worried, slitted, green eyes. He tenderly rubbed his against her arm to offer some comfort.

She smiled at the male feline, truly appreciating its attempts to make her feel better whether physically or emotionally.

The sun was beginning to set over the horizon, casting a reddish orange glow. There was something different about tonight's sunset. Something beautiful and majestic. Maybe the symbolizing of it signifying that her long search and defeat of that Hollow was completely fulfilled.

The auburn haired grinned, happily at the black and white cat. "We did it, Sammy!" she cheered. "We did it!"

The cat meowed, shooting her a forlorn look. The end of his tail was flickering back and forth and his ears were drawn backwards.

Orihime tilted her head in confusion, wondering why Sammy was giving her such a sad look. "What's the matter, Sammy?" Isn't this what he wanted? He was finally able to achieve his vengeance. It should be happy, ecstatic, but, for some reason, he wasn't. Not in the least.

Sammy's mewing became more desperate and frantic, playing a sad tone. Catching the ginger haired girl by surprise, he leapt into her arms, almost making them both fall to the ground. He buried his face into her chest, letting out half broken mews as if he were...crying?

Orihime's gray orbs broadened in realization. Sammy was crying. It was true that cats couldn't shed tears, but Sammy wasn't just a cat. He was a human boy stuck in a cat's body. He was sobbing in the best way he could.

But why was he crying? That she could not understand. She wrecked her brain with many possibilities. Was it tears of happiness? Because wish was finally fulfilled, and he needed time to process that his long awaited, revenge quest was now over? Was it out of fear? Sammy didn't know what the afterlife was like. He could be scared of passing on. Or was it…?

The cat wailed, body stretching and burying his face in the crook of her neck. This simple gesture made Orihime gasp, recognizing the pain, the grief of Sammy's emotions.

He was crying...because he didn't want to say goodbye. He didn't want to leave her. He wanted to stay with her.

The auburn haired girl could feel tears pricking her eyes, deeply touched, and feeling a bit emotional now. That's right. It was time to say their goodbyes. She knew this day would come sooner and later, and was prepared for it. After all, it was her job to make sure lost souls safely travel to the afterlife where they belong. She just didn't expect become so attached to Sammy these past couple of weeks.

She swallowed a hard lump in throat as droplets of tears began cascading down her face. As much as it hurts, hurts oh so very much to say goodbye to a friend, she had to let Sammy go. He needs to be able to pass on with no more regrets.

Orihime held the black and white feline up to eye level. "Sammy, listen to me," she started out, slowly, doing her best not to show the mournful sorrow she was feeling. But she wondered how good she was doing in that department. "It's over. You can finally move on."

The cat was about over an retort, but the ginger haired girl merely shook her head, solemnly. She pulled the feline into a gentle hug. "I know. I know you're scared. I know you are scared and sad about saying goodbye," she whispered, tenderly to him. "Because I am, too. Goodbyes are hard to do, isn't it? But listen to me, your sister is waiting for you on the other side. She's waiting for you, she misses you. You don't need to worry about me. I've got Eddie and Al with me. I'll be just fine."

She hugged the cat closer. Tears began to hit the ground.

"Goodbye, Sammy."

Alphonse sat on the porch of Izumi's house, watching his brother cleaning his chest of the blood that occupied it previously. His mind was processing over today's events. Everything that happened to him was so overwhelming that he just couldn't believe, especially the fact that there are human chimeras and there is a dark side to the Amestrian military.

Conversely, that wasn't thing taking hold of his mind. He remembered. He remembered what happened to him that night. The night he and Ed performed Human Transmutation. He finally regained all his memories. But that place was hell just like his teacher said. He never wanted to return there ever again!

"Brother," Al called out to Ed, hoping to grab his attention.

The elder Elric hummed, his curious, golden eyes shifted to him. "What is it, Al?"

"They're back, brother," he drawled out, slowly, voiced laced with apprehension. "My memories. My memories of the time we tried to transmute mom."

Edward gasped in shock and alarm. "What did you see?!" he yelled out, urgently.

The helmet head tilted a little as he was deep in thought. "Hmmm," he pondered. "It was definitely weird, but I didn't find anything to help get our bodies back."

Ed gave a rueful, half grin. "That's okay."

Al merely sighed in disappointment. "So, I guess we are back to square one, huh?"

The blond alchemist shook his head. "That is not necessarily true?"

"Huh?" The suit of armor was confused.

Ed sent him a sharp look. "Remember what the Fuhrer said? About the unrest within the ranks of the military?"

"The Fuhrer…?" Alphonse mumbled. Then he recalled what he forgot to tell his brother. After everything that had happened, it completely slipped his mind. But that was only part of the reason of it. The only part was was just too unbelievable. Too ludicrous and farfetched.

"Brother, there's something I have to tell you," Al spoke, hesitantly.

"Hum?" He had his brother's undivided attention.

"About the Fuhrer… There's something that Greed mentioned about the Fuhrer." He swallowed the growing in his metaphorical throat. "He said that the Fuhrer was a homunculus."

"WHAT?!" Ed bellowed in terrifying horror and unsettling flabbergasted.

Al flinched at his brother's screech. "He told me somebody gave him information about the Fuhrer being a homunculus."

Edward bit the inside, almost hard enough to draw blood. His blond brows were furrowed downward in deep contemplation. The Fuhrer a homunculus? It just couldn't be true. There is no way it could be. That would mean that the military has ties with those ouroboros guys. If that were true, why didn't anyone notice the homunculi within the ranks of the military. Nothing added up. Nothing made sense.

But, in all honesty, he just didn't want to believe it. He didn't want to believe in the horrifyingly cold fact of the leader of Amestris being a homunculus all along. That would mean they have been unknowingly working for the enemy this whole time. No, he just couldn't believe that.

"Are you sure what he said is actually true, Al?" Ed questioned, warily, although, mostly it was to keep himself from freaking out.

"What?" Al was confused at his older brother was getting at.

"Like you said, this was information Greed obtained from an outside. There's no proof to it. It may very well be a ridiculous rumor by people who against the Fuhrer. A way to bring fear and distrust. We shouldn't put our trust into such a half hearted fact."

Alphonse on what his brother was trying to tell him. "Hmm, I guess you are right. Why would the Fuhrer be working for the homunculi when he just took down Greed?"

Ed nodded. "Yeah, that wouldn't make sense. If the Fuhrer was a homunculus, why would he slaughter his own ally?"

The suit of armor sighed in relief. All the fear and anxiety he had over the Fuhrer being a homunculus began to evaporate. Guess, he was worrying for nothing. "You're right, brother. It was probably just a rumor he heard. There's no proof the Fuhrer is a homunculus."

The blond boy nodded his head, confidently. "Exactly!"

Alphonse's red, glowing eyes spotted a familiar head of auburn hair. "Hey, it's Orihime."

Alert, Edward frantically turned around, and, sure enough, he could see the auburn haired girl's slowly approaching silhouette. His tilted downward into an angry frown. Where has she been all this time? Didn't she realize how late it was?

"Welcome back, Orihime," Al smiled.

She gave a half hearted wave in response. "Hi, Eddie, Hi, Al." The brothers were concerned. Her voice lacked its usual cheerfulness. It sounded melancholic and sober.

Ed was the first one to express his worry, his anger completely vanishing. "Orihime, did something happen?"

"Nothing really," the ginger haired girl shook her head, offering a crooked smile.

"Orihime? Is Sammy with you?" Al asked, curiously. "He wasn't in the house when we returned," he explained. "I figured he must be with you."

Orihime stared at him, a forlorn gleam in her gray orbs. "Al, Sammy's gone," she said, simply, trying to keep her emotions in check, no matter how extremely difficult it was.

"What? What do you mean he's gone?" the suit of armor questioned, shocked.

She shook her head. She honestly didn't know how to explain to Al that Sammy passed on to the afterlife. That the Sammy he knew was no more. She knew how much he adored the cat, and wanted to keep him. Even though she only wanted Sammy to tag along until he was able to move past his regret in life, Al didn't know that Sammy was actually a cat possessed by the spirit of a young boy. He didn't know that Sammy he came to adore was no longer in this world.

"He… Sammy found a new home," she told him, gently. In a way that wouldn't hurt his feelings too much. In a way that almost spoke the truth without it being an outright lie.

"Oh…," Al sighed, dejectedly. Only for a few seconds, then he immediately perked up. "Well, I hope his new family takes good care of him," he stated, optimistically.

Orihime smiled at that. She pulled out something from her pocket. It was Sammy's scarf. She stared at the boys with a content look in her eyes and a bittersweet grin. "Hey, do you want to help me bury this?"

Edward glared at what was left of his automail. He stared at the broken pieces with a look of trepidation and anxiety. "Ah, Winry's going to kill me," he groaned in misery.

"Have you prepared an apology?" Alphonse questioned his brother.

"What apology, Al? Even if I did, she would still beat with a wrench until I'm rendered unconscious."

"Maybe if you apologized, brother, then Winry would be a little more lenient with you," Al suggested, hopefully.

Ed scoffed. "Yeah, that's wishful thinking."

Having enough of listening to his impending death by Winry's hands, his turned his golden gaze out the window of the train. He might as well enjoy the scenery one last before he heads of towards his untimely doom. Although, that was difficult to do because it was so dark outside, he could barely see anything. They only objects were make out were the few buildings and trees illuminated by the street lights.

Ed felt a weight pressed against his right shoulder. Acutely aware of who it was caused his face to flush a soft pink color. Orihime's head was laying on his shoulder! Her auburn locks were brushed up against the side of his cheeks. The intoxicating, strawberry scent of her hair waft into his nose.

He tried to calm down his rapid heartbeats and keep from screaming out like frightened, little girl. It was just so hard to do when she was laying on him! His breath hitched, and, even though she was technically slumped against his automail, he could still somehow feel the warmth of her body heat.

This was bad! Really bad! He needed to pry her off him before he makes a complete fool of himself! Just being this close to her makes his brain turn to mush.

He tried to gently shake her off him, but abruptly stopped when he heard soft snoring.

Orihime was...sleeping?

He drifted his golden eyes towards her to find out that, yes, she was indeed asleep. Her eyes were closed and he could see the gentle rise and fall of her chest as she was blissfully off to dreamland.

She looked so cute as she was sleeping. So peacefully and angelic and without a care in the world. He didn't know he could witness such beauty. Just staring at her helped calmed his growing anxiety. He just wish this serene moment could last forever.

He gently brushed away a lock of her auburn hair, ignoring Al's snicker. He wasn't going to let his little brother ruin this moment for him. Not when this was the only good moment before Winry kills him.

(A/N: Well, that's it! The end of chapter thirty seven! And the end of the three parter Dublith mini arc! How did you enjoy it? You know what? I decided to just roll with the long chapters. I certainly enjoy writing them, so why stop? But I just want to point out that the length of chapters may vary. So, don't expect every chapter to be super duper long like this or the past few ones. It is what is it. Next chapter, we are finally getting into the meat of Brotherhood. Of what many claim when Brotherhood starts to get really good. Yes, I am talking about the introduction of Ling! Our favorite Xingese prince. I hope you are ready! Now then… Time for the main part.

First off, about Sammy… Original Sammy was just supposed to be a cat that only Orihime could understand. I never planned for him to have a voice, so that's why he never speaks on screen. Just meows, purrs, and hisses like any other cat. I just decided to make him a spirit of a boy trapped in cat's body, so it would make logical sense of why Orihime could understand what Sammy was saying. And then added a short, decently tragic backstory for him, and then went from there. And you know the rest…

Now, for Lust and Chloe. I always planned for Lust to have her own human companion. I just needed a way to incorporate it into the story without feeling like I was OOCing her. At least, I hope I wasn't. Going back to how homunculi and humans interact, homunculi don't really have a inherent malice or hatred towards humanity. Sure, they may view themselves as superior to humans, but this is shown to more of a pride think, I should say, than just a natural instinct. Wrath and Pride are the best examples. Even though there's very little one on one interaction with her, [especially from Pride's side], they still show that genuine care for their wife and surrogate mother, Mrs. Bradley, respectively. Meaning, homunculi are capable of loving humans, they are just too prideful to do it, seeing humans as weaklings and lesser beings. And this could also be Father brainwashing them into thinking humanity is worthless. So, I thought if Pride and Wrath could have a human companion in Mrs. Bradley, why not Lust? And there you have it. It's not like Mrs. Bradley was ever in on their plans or what they really were. But Wrath and Pride admitted it was nice playing family with her, subtly showing how much they enjoyed their time with her. She was the one human they sincerely cared about.

Well, that's it! Leave any comments, suggestions, or questions in a review, and thanks for reading!)

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