(A/N: Here's chapter four of 'TFPATA'. Enjoy!
I'm glad that so many people enjoyed Orihime's short interactions with Edward and Alphonse. I enjoyed writing it! This story is becoming really poppular. Totally unexpected! I'll try not to disappoint.
Hollow Alchemist (guest): Thanks! Your reviews are really helpful. Yeah, I was going to have Ichigo and Rukia aid in the fight a little against Father, and now that I think about it, Chad helping Armstrong and Sig fight Sloth would be interesting, too. But enough about. If I keep talking, I may end up spoiling the ending. I am adding a few scenes from the 2003 version of FMA [currently rewatching], so this story is a canon divergence of sorts.)
Facing Fears with a Big Smile
Rebecca was a scared out of her wits as she curled up in the corner of her room. She couldn't believe some shady men came out of nowhere and kidnapped Orihime.
"What were you doing, Orihime?" Rebecca asked her auburn haired friend, peeved that she left her alone with those two boys.
"Aren't you being a little unreasonable, Rebecca?" Orihime inquired, eyebrows furrowed. "We were just talking and they seemed nice. You should go apologize."
Rebecca stopped and turned to fully face Orihime, a grim look on her face. "Do you have any idea who those boys were?"
The burnt-orange haired girl shook her head, confusion evident on her face. "No…"
The dark haired girl gave an exaggerated glare. "They are the famous Elric brothers!" She paused, waiting to see a reaction from the girl. When she just got a blank stare, she continued as they resumed walking back to her house. "I heard the eldest brother is a prodigy. He's the youngest State Alchemist in history."
"What's a State Alchemist?" Orihime questioned curiously.
"You don't know what a State Alchemist is?" Rebecca asked in disbelief. "You're an alchemist, and yet you don't know about State Alchemists?"
Orihime thought about telling Rebecca that she wasn't an alchemist. She hated lying. But then she thought about the consequences of her actions.
If she did tell her that would be telling her all about the Soul Society, all her Soul Reaper friends, Ichigo, Chad, Uryuu, and Rukia… Knowing how secretive Soul Reapers are to their customs and knowing how much they sacrificed to help Ichigo and the others rescue her from Hueco Mundo, she couldn't do that. She couldn't tell anyone about the Soul Society! They'll find out about it when they one day pass on from this world. She's really sorry for lying, but she also has promises to her friends to keep! And they come first!
Orihime would just have to figure out a way to return home by herself. Or at least until Mr. Urahara finds a way to reopen that Gate she fell into, as she was sure by now Chad and Uryuu have alerted him about her disappearance. It's been a month already.
The auburn headed girl gave a nervous giggle and sheepishly rubbed the back of her head. "Sorry, I've never been interested in that kind of stuff."
Rebecca eyed her carefully, gauging her to see if she was lying. "A State Alchemist is an alchemist that works for the military," she said simply.
"Oh…" Orihime gave a thoughtful expression. "So that boy is part of the military?"
The explanation kind of reminded Orihime of Ichigo's role as a substitute Soul Reaper.
It was then both girls heard the sound of guns being cocked. Rebecca and Orihime looked up to see a few shady men surrounding them. The former was shaking in fear at the sight of the guns, thinking that she could die at any minute.
"Are you the healer of this town? The one called Orihime?" the one in the middle asked, his cold black eyes never leaving her.
"Yes," Orihime responded, stepping in front of Rebecca protectively, no sense of fear gracing her face. She's been through a lot worse than this. Fighting Hollows, rescuing Rukia, and being kidnapped by Aizen and his Arrancars... A human with a gun is nothing! She could easily shield herself from harm in a blink of an eye.
"Come with us or we will burn this town to the ground," the guy threatened her.
She took a minute to gauge them, trying to figure out whether they are bluffing or not.
"Alright, I'll go with you as long as you keep your promise and leave this town alone," the burnt-orange haired girl conceded. Even if they were bluffing, she didn't want to take the chance.
"Orihime!" Rebecca called her name out fearfully, obviously wary of all the guns pointed at them.
Orihime sent the dark haired girl a reassuring smile. "Don't worry, Rebecca! I'll be fine!"
Gray eyes watched as the middle guy, she was going to guess at this point that he was the leader of their group, motioned for one of his men to step forward. He did, pulling out a long, sturdy rope from the pocket of his black trousers. He swiftly tied her hands, leaving a bit of rope to pull her along, like a leash.
Rebecca could only watch in shock and horror as her friend was dragged away by a bunch of psychos, probably to her death!
After a moment of getting her wits together, she screamed. "Someone help! Orihime's been kidnapped!"
(END OF FLASHBACK)
The Elric brothers, or Edward for that matter, awoke from the sound of someone loudly banging on their door.
"Who the hell would be disturbing us at this hour of the night?" Edward grumbled irritably, throwing the blanket over his head as his brother went to get the door. "Tell them to get lost, Al!"
Alphonse opened the door and was greeted by several distraught men.
"You, dogs of the military, get your asses out of bed! We've got trouble!" one of them angrily shouted.
In response, Ed furiously threw his blanket off and stalked up to them, his face contorted into a sneer. "Why should we help you? You bastards have been treating us like crap since we got here!"
The men ignored that second comment. "Some of our citizens are missing! They've been kidnapped!"
Alphonse stiffened. "Who was it?"
"We don't know! That's why we're asking you to come help us! You're an alchemist, right? Maybe you could figure something out!"
The blond alchemist scoffed. "Again, why should we help you? You wouldn't help us."
"Alchemy is all about Equivalent Exchange, right? You help us and we'll tell you our town's doctor. Sounds good?"
Edward crossed his arms, contemplating the situation for a minute. "Fine, whatever." He went inside to get ready to change.
"Oh, and by the way, the healer was kidnapped as well," one of the men added as they left to help the rest of the townsfolk continue searching.
Once he heard that the healer they were looking for was also kidnapped, Ed let out a few curses under his breath as he changed into a pair of black leather pants, a black tank top, and a black leather jacket. He quickly threw on his red coat as he marched towards the door.
"C'mon, Al!" He raced out the door with Alphonse following closely behind him.
Orihime watched silently as she was dragged along the corners of the secluded street. She rubbed her palms anxiously as the rope began to dig uncomfortably into her skin as they pulled her to gods know where.
They eventually came to what looked like an old apartment. The walls were faded and the fence surrounding the small complex was torn down in various places.
She gulped silently as anxiety coursed through her as she was taken inside the first door that they saw. The first thought that came to her mind was how empty and desolate the room was. It looked like it was mostly used for rendezvous point.
"Quit dawdling, girl, and come on!" the man dragging the other end of the rope hissed as he tugged her along.
They came to a back door. When they entered it, there was nothing inside, except for a small circle with some weird markings in and around it. The leader placed his hand on it and Orihime watched amazed as the circle seemed to glow before the wall burst open, revealing a hidden passageway.
In it was a long and narrow tunnel.
"Where are you taking me?" Orihime finally decided to asked. They've been walking for hours and her feet were starting to hurt.
"The train station," was simply the reply she got.
"We're getting out of here."
Before she could ask any more, she was struck in the back of the neck, effectively knocking her out.
The Elrics have spent hours searching for the kidnappers, but with no luck. Alphonse quickly responded to the call of help when he heard there were people who went missing. Edward, on the other hand, only agreed because he gets to meet the town's doctor after the deed is done.
"Where the hell are they?" Ed yelled, frustrated, for the ninth time tonight. One could not blame him for feeling really grumpy. He was missing his precious hours of sleep for this.
"Do you think we should call Colonel Mustang to send in the military for help," Al suggested.
"Hell no! I don't want hear Colonel Bastard telling me what a crappy job I'm doing," Ed said drily.
"Then what do you suppose we do?" the younger brother argued, the question hanging in the air.
The blond alchemist looked at the sky thoughtfully for a minute. The darkened sky was beginning to brighten as the sun was rising over in the distance. Has it been that long since they've began searching?
Edward's temper immediately flared as he turned to glare at the person who dares to call him that infuriating name. There, dashing up to the duo, was the obnoxious girl from yesterday. The friend of that weird auburn haired girl. What was her name again? Oh, yeah… Rebecca.
The eldest Elric growled at her, ready spit out profanities, but was stopped by the frantic, fearful, and worried look on the girl's face.
"Have you guys found Orihime yet?" Rebecca asked the brothers, her fear prominent in her voice.
"Orihime? You mean that wacko airhead with the weird hair color?" Ed asked, promptly getting smacked in the head by a certain suit of armor. "Ow! What was that for, Al?!" he yelled out accusingly, tenderly rubbing his sore head.
"That's for being rude!" Alphonse responded scoldingly.
"Shorty, would you please shut up and help me look for Orihime?" Rebecca asked, more like demanded.
Edward glowered at her, a malicious glint filled his golden eyes. "What'd you call me?" he hissed in a dangerously low voice.
The dark haired girl ignored the incoming threat from the blond alchemist "Shorty, let's go!"
"WHO ARE YOU CALLING SO SHORT THEY COULD HIDE BETWEEN BLADES OF GRASS?!" Edward bellowed furiously as he was held back from thrashing the girl by his brother. The armor dragged a reluctant Ed along as they followed Rebecca.
The first thing Orihime noticed when she opened her eyes was something metal obscuring her view.
"Oh? You're finally awake."
The ginger haired girl nearly jumped out of her skin at the unexpected voice.
She turned to see several other men and women huddled in a corner of what looked like...a cage? Gray eyes darted around wildly to see metal bars protruding from all four sides.
She was inside a cage!
As she stayed really still, the burnt-orange haired girl could feel the ground moving below her.
"Where are we? Why is the ground moving?" she asked, confused.
"We are on a train," one of the women said, the fear evident in her voice. She looked like she was in her mid-twenties with light blonde hair and green eyes.
Gray eyes glanced out the window to see that it was broad daylight! How long was she out?
The sun was piercing over the horizon of what she could make out was a very rocky terrain. Were they traveling across a mountain?
She wondered where her kidnappers were planning to take her and the other five hostages.
Orihime deeply wished Ichigo was here to save her just like he always has.
"No!" she inwardly thought, berating herself for thinking such thoughts. "I can't rely on Ichigo anymore. I promised myself that I'd become stronger, so I wouldn't become burden to him."
Just then, the door to the cargo hold burst open, revealing one of their kidnappers. A short, pudgy man.
The hostages, besides Orihime, backed tighter into a corner in fright as the man held out his gun. Most likely to frighten them into submission.
"Where are you taking us?" Orihime asked. The others gasped, staring at her wide eyed whether to admire her bravery or admonish her for her stupidity.
The man eyed her up and down. "That's up to the boss to decide. Mostly they…" He pointed at the hostages cowering behind her. "...Will be sent off to work at our base in Central to work for us. "You, on the other hand…" He proceeded to turn his pointer finger on her. "...Will remain here and work as our private doctor."
Orihime stood up from her seated position, her determined gray eyes never leaving the man. "I'll stay and be your doctor. Just let the others go! They are just innocent people!" she proclaimed,
The man gave her cheeky smile. "No can do, sweetcheeks. Those are the boss's orders. Although, personally…" A perverted grin spread across his face. "...I would've kept you as my personal toy." He seemed to sigh in disappointment and shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know what the boss is thinking. Letting a sexy woman like you go to waste," he mumbled, displeased as he left.
"What are we going to do?"
"I have children at home! They're too young to be out in the world by themselves!"
"I have a pregnant wife! We are expecting our first child in a few months!"
"Stupid bastards! Forcibly dragging us from our homes and families and making us work for them as if they already owned us. Who the hell do they think they are?"
Orihime looked at the distraught hostages with sympathetic eyes. She had to get them out of here! She wouldn't mind being unable to escape herself. She can breakout at a later time. But these civilians… She had to help them get back to their families. They must be worried sick!
"Tsubaki!" the ginger haired girl whispered quietly. "Koten Zanshun! I reject!" The aggressive fairy sprang to life, zipping towards the cage bars, effectively destroying them.
With the loud clash the metal bars made when they crashed onto ground, they no doubt alerted the kidnappers of their escape. Orihime had to think fast. "Tsubaki!" she commanded, this time louder. Without any further command, the little spirit destroyed the window, glass, rims, and all, creating a giant hole in the wall. The hostages stared at her in shock and awe.
Orihime inspected the hole she made. It was definitely big enough to fit through. However, the problem was not jumping through the hole, but finding a safe place to land. They were on a side of a mountain about hundred yards in the air! No doubt they are going to suffer more than a few broken bones, if they jumped out now.
But there wasn't anytime to think about that. The hurried footsteps of their kidnappers were approaching them fast. No time to think! Just act!
"Quick! Hurry and jump!" Orihime urged them hurriedly.
"Are you crazy?!" one of the women hostages yelled out, scared out her mind. "If we jump, we'll die!"
"I know you're scared, but this is the only way," the ginger haired girl said, giving the woman a reassuring smile. "Don't worry, I'll catch you!"
"How?!" the woman's voice held tremendous doubt and skepticism.
"Just trust me, please." Gray eyes looked into the woman's brown ones pleadingly.
"I'm getting out of here!" one of the men spoke up. "I'd rather die than work as a slave for these sick freaks!" Without second, he jumped out the gaping hole. The other man following suit.
The women screamed in horror as they watched as the men rather commit suicide than remain hostages.
However, much to their astonishment, an orange, triangular shield appeared below them and broke their fall.
"Wha…?" They were completely shell shocked. No one could form coherent words. Hearing as the kidnappers were right at the other side of the door now, Orihime hurriedly pushed the ladies out. The fell out the hole with a loud, startled squeal.
The burnt-orange haired girl managed to save them just in time because the door burst open to reveal the leader and his lackeys. The boss's face contorted to anger when he noticed the large hole in the wall and the disappearance of the other hostages.
"Hey, girl!" he growled out angrily. "What happened to our merchandise?" When she didn't answer, he signalled for his followers to take aim. "You have five seconds to answer before your body is filled with holes."
Edward, Alphonse, and Rebecca finally made it to the mountain range after following the secret passageway in one of the abandoned apartment buildings. It led to an underground train tracks, which meant the kidnappers had a private train.
It was lucky they found pieces of Orihime's hair that led them into the abandoned building in the first place. For a whackjob, the girl was pretty smart and resourceful, Ed mused.
Although, they would have gotten there sooner if Ed and Rebecca stopped their constant bickering.
Right now, they were searching for the moving track vehicle.
"Where is the damn thing?" Edward asked, annoyed. "They couldn't have gotten far."
"Well, if you wouldn't throw a massive nit fit every time someone calls you short, we would've gotten here sooner," Rebecca accused him.
Edward's temper erupted. He looked ready to explode.
Fortunately, the sound of running footsteps caught their attention before another fight initiated between the blond alchemist and the dark haired girl.
Another few moments went by, and out in the distance, they spotted a few silhouette figures in the distance.
"Who's that, Al?" Ed asked his younger brother.
A group of men and women were running towards them as if they had seen bloody murder.
"Hey!" the blond alchemist called out, freezing them in their tracks, the look of fear evident on their faces.
"Who are you?" one of the woman asked fearfully.
"Are you with those sickos?" one of men questioned, glaring at the trio.
"Sickos? You mean, the people who took you hostage?" Rebecca asked them. "No, we are not with them, but have you seen a girl wearing an orange dress? Is she with you?" she questioned hopefully.
"Do you mean the girl with orange colored hair?" the woman with green eyes inquired.
"Yes!" the dark haired girl could hardly contain her excitement.
"She was caught helping us escape," she said despondently. "We don't know if she's alive now or if they killed her."
"Oh…" Rebecca's spirits began to dampen. Tears started to form on her eyelids. She felt a metal hand on her shoulder. Blue eyes glanced up to see the metal boy glancing at her, his posture radiating sympathy.
"Don't worry, Rebecca, we'll find Orihime," Alphonse assured her.
"Thanks, Al," she smiled at him.
"They couldn't be that far. Let's go, guys!" Edward didn't waste a moment of time as he raced off once again with Alphonse and Rebecca following behind him.
"There! I see the train!" Al spoke up after ten minutes of running.
Out in the distance, they spotted a burnt-orange haired girl surrounded by several men on top of a motionless train.
"That's Orihime! She needs help!" Rebecca shouted worriedly.
They can see the girl's foot hit the edge of the train. When she turned her head backwards, they could almost see the mischievous glint in her gray eyes as she stepped closer to the edge, one of her feet practically falling off the edge.
"What is she…? What the hell?!" Edward exclaimed as Orihime leaped off the train. "Is she crazy?!" he yelled to no one in particular as they watched stupefied as the girl began to plummet to her death.
Ed immediately clapped his hands and slammed on the ground, the electric sparks of his alchemy springing the rocky terrain to life forming a giant hand the effortlessly caught the girl.
"Orihime!" Rebecca took the girl in a crushing hug as soon as the rock hand released her.
"Rebecca, take Orihime and get out of here!" Alphonse shouted out urgently. "We'll take of care of these guys!"
"Thanks," Rebecca said appreciatively, as she dragged Orihime away from the oncoming fight.
It took hours but later that evening, everything settled down. Edward and Alphonse came back to the town with the local police, dragging the now detained assailants in tow.
"Are you alright?" Orihime asked the blond once she noticed the scratches on his arms and face, her voice laced with concern.
"Oh, these? These are nothing! Taking those guys out was a piece of cake!" Edward bragged, crossing his arms arrogantly.
Alphonse sighed exasperatedly at his older brother's big ego inadvertently being boosted.
"Here let me heal you."
The Elric brothers stood there in shock as a light orange dome spread over Edward's body. Orihime ignored their initial surprise in order to concentrate on healing the blond alchemist's wounds.
Edward, on the other hand, couldn't describe the gentle and pleasant sensation he was feeling. It was as if his body was being wrapped in clouds as his entire body, even his automail, which was partially dented during the fight, and clothes mended themselves back to their original form.
"There!" Orihime smiled brightly, releasing her Soten Kisshun. Her gray eyes then took notice of the injured handcuffed men. Being the natural gentle girl she was, she couldn't just leave their injuries unattended like that.
With a snap of her wrist, a trail of orange glowing sprites circled around the kidnappers.
"Orihime! What are you doing?" Rebecca shouted, astonished that her friend would heal the people who basically, well, kidnapped her.
"I'm healing them. They're hurt," the burnt-orange girl responded, as if it was the most simple thing in the world.
"So what?" the dark haired girl rebutted, frustrated with her friend's logic. "You don't need to help them! They're criminals!"
"She's right," Edward agreed with Rebecca. "What kind of person heals their kidnappers?"
"Your friends are right," the leader of the five detained man said. "We took you hostage, you have no obligation to help us."
Orihime simple offered them a soft smile. "I don't see any problem helping a fellow human being. Aren't all humans born inherently good and inherently evil? We are all alive, so we should be treated equal. Right now, I'm not helping a criminal, I'm treating a fellow human being. That's all."
The assailants stared at her wide eyed after hearing her heartfelt speech, completely speechless as the girl continued to treat their wounds.
"Brother," Al whispered quietly to his older brother as they both observed Orihime's work in action, now that their first time shock of seeing her powers were over. "She's not even using a transmutation circle."
"Yeah, I know," Ed whispered back, golden eyes glaring at the ginger haired girl. Who would've thought this goofy girl was the healer they were looking for? "She's not abiding by the laws of Equivalent Exchange either." He looked down and flexed his automail right hand. "She was even able to fix my automail."
"But she couldn't do that without using something to replace the broken steel parts!" Alphonse said in disbelief. "Unless…" he trailed off.
"She has the Philosopher's Stone," Edward finished for his younger brother. "No doubt about it! She has it! Our search is finally over, Al!" he declared, determination and satisfaction filling his golden eyes as both brothers adamantly watched Orihime finish healing the five criminals wounds silently.
(A/N: That's the end of chapter four of 'The Flower Princess and the Alchemist'. Hope you enjoyed it! Wow, this chapter was longer than I thought. I feel like the ending was a little...lackluster. It wasn't as emotional as I thought it was in my head. Then again, my expectations may be too high. I do have a complex imagination after all. It's hard to put thoughts onto paper, especially if they jumble up so fast, you barely remember what your last thought was.
I've always thought of Orihime as a messianic archetype figure. I mean, she's pure, kind, and gentle. Any character, who isn't outright evil, has a soft spot for her. I've seen Bleach three times already, and it looks like any character who physically attacks Orihime is automatically a villain. All the other characters who don't are either heroes or anti-heroes. The only reason she doesn't feel like a messiah is because she's fighting against Hollows most of the time. Hollows are pure evil. They lost their humanity a long time ago. A therapy session wouldn't make them turn to the side of good. I think Orihime's messianic archetype figure would work better here because, like she said, all humans are born both good and evil. But it's the path they choose that makes them good or evil. I'm going to make her messiah figure more apparent. If you guys get annoyed by her talking the villains to death, then this may not be the story for you. I mean, she's not going to talk to every villain of FMA and turn them to the side of the good. But if you want to see Orihime kick ass, then what the hell have you been smoking? I'm sorry, but Orihime kicking butt is incredibly OOC of her giving her pacifistic nature. Get it? Orihime is a pacifist, which means she hates fighting and violence and will not indulge in it. I've seen plenty of Bleach fans yell about how useless Orihime is because she doesn't fight. Yes, I get that Bleach is a shonen manga with awesome battle scenes, but not all characters need to battle to be awesome, and I believe Orihime is one of them! That's why I love her! My favorite female Bleach character!
Alright… Enough about that. There's one thing I want to say before I conclude this… I can't help but to listen to the Japanese opening of Pokemon Sun and Moon. The music just has an upbeat and adventurous beat to it with a bit of a childish undertone, which in my imagination fits the first few chapters of this story perfectly. At least, until Orihime arrives at East City [I believe that's where Mustang's office is in this point of the storyline], then the music changes to the opening song 'Connect' of Madoka Magica, and lasts until the tragedy with Nina is over. And will Nina be saved? I'm not answering that. You'll find out in the next six or seven chapters.
Anyway, thanks for reading and leave any comments, suggestions, or questions you have in a review!)