Ryoma wakes up and finds Lt. Hawkeye looking down upon him. He meets Lt. Hawkeye, Ed, Al, and some other characters. He discovers that he isn't where hs thinks he is anymore. There are questions answered, and he eventually is assigned a place to stay while the military tries to figure out how to send him back home.
"Aa--souda ne. Bakemono ga aru." Ed agreed, unfolding his arms across his chest, and almost smiled ironically to himself, scooping up his racket. "Then I shall be the first to challenge the beast. But first, I'm warming up." He straightened and picked up a tennis ball. Weighing the racket with his automail hand, he swung the ball at the wall several times. It was not difficult to hit the ball, but the feeling was still foreign to him, and he frowned slightly. The racket definitely felt loose. He carved out a small array on the handle, then tightened the strings. After hitting the ball a few more times against the wall, he seemed vaguely satisfied with the racket. "It's not perfect, but it's much better than before."
Ryoma was tapping his feet while stretching his muscles out. He almost felt giddy, it almost seem like a century since he last played tennis. Watching carefully he muses at the actions that Ed was producing. He was or could be a worthy opponent perhaps in the near future.
Ed grinned back at Ryoma, his golden eyes sparkling with defiance. So this boy had an attitude too, but Ed didn't find that surprising. Most geniuses had attitudes, save for a few--like his beloved brother. Even though Ryoma was a formidable opponent in tennis, Ed had yet to find out his own potential.
"So, how do we start? You need to explain the rules to me." Ed called out, taking a position on the other side of the court. Then he turned to his brother with a big silly grin on his face, waving his racket, "Hey Al! You'll be cheering for me, right?"
Al waves back, "Ganbatte Nii-san!!' Thinking everything was all in fun, if only he knew the underline behind the game. The purpose that was hidden in the competitive spirits of both boys, if only Al knew that reason why they fought so hard to try to get on top of everything they did. Whether tennis or alchemy it didn't matter what sort of items it was-this was the way life was the battle of will whomever's desire was the greatest would win.
It didn't take long for Ryoma to outline the rules of the game let alone the key basics toward hitting the ball. He was proficient in explaining in detail for tennis was his element. After being the Captain in Seigaku Junior High since all the senior regulars left, and he was the only one in charge, he had taken on a stricter approach tinged with the drive that would force individuals to learn quickly. It wasn't like the original team that had won the nationals, but it was the best those below him could do.
Ed listened closely as Ryoma explained the basics--how to count score, the number of sets in a match, advantage, tie-breaking, and also on basics regarding gripping, serving, and other details. The rules seemed pretty basic to him, and he was eager to start. He called out, "smooth" and spun the racket. It fell with the letter right-side up, and Ed's grin broadened.
"It's my serve," he called out, "You choose the court."
"There is only one court, Ed." Ryoma commented wondering why the boy was so happy that he won the flip of the racket. How he wanted his hat so badly, but oh well it wasn't likely he would get it now would he? "I'll take that side." He made his way to the right hand side of the court, sliding off the red coat he place it off the side on the bench and walked over to the back of the court crouching in wait for the serve.
"I did tell you to choose your side of the court," Ed replied frowning slightly, shrugging his shoulders, then took his position on the serve line on the other side of the court. "E..to..." He bounced the ball a few times on the turf, then threw it into the air. It was evident from the way he jumped and hit his serve that he did not have the form of a tennis player. Nevertheless, the serve was a fairly decent serve, and ball flew towards Ryoma.
Jerking his body Ryoma brought up his racket and swung it with the right amount of force twisting it perfectly he smacked the ball back across the court it bounced and hit near the line. "Ma ne you told me which court not which side." Golden eyes lighten with passion, while the smirk was full blown on his lips. The burning in his blood pumped quickly and he felt the spasm at the feelings tumble across him thrusting him into eurphoria.
Al cries out, "15-love!" While waving his arm, "Ganbatta Nii-san!! Show him what you can do!!"
Ed stared for a moment as he saw the ball bounce off the side of the court and hit the wall. He recovered quickly, and prepared for his next serve. His face suddenly became serious, and he felt his heartbeat quickening when his body prepared for battle. This time, he was determined not to miss any return shots. Ed had finely honed battle-senses, and this was necessary for alchemists who often faced deadly duels of alchemy. His powers of observation were unusually keen and he was also powerful and agile.
Ed's stance changed as he bounced the ball at the serve line, and he threw the ball into the air, leaping up and connecting with the racket he held in his auto-mail hand. He knew he had hit the ball with the sweet spot when he heard the slight twang of the strings, and this serve carried something different with it than the first one--he still did not have the form, but the ball whizzed towards Ryoma, low and fast.
Ryoma started to run forward his slender strong body slid against the floor as he stood in the slide. It was a move he had developed against the Captain in Rokkau Junior High. Flinging his arms out he slid the racket into position as he threw back the ball after catching it and sent it with a hard hit. "Drive B!" Crying out as the move slid into accelerated speed.
Al was amazed, he never seen such sport that resulted in something like sliding let alone jumping around. He wonder if he would be able to do such a thing, while in this body. If he had tried it he was sure he would lose an arm, which would pretty much shock his new friend and he didn't want to lose him. How he longed for his normal body, where he wouldn't fear discover of his and Ed's secret. Watch the game play forward he notices the change in both boys identical golden eyes. If only he could be like that-was the one thought he had throughout the whole game.
Ed's pupils dilated, as he watched the ball bounce once, then accelerate, but he was fast enough to leap and hit the ball before it bounced a second time. As the racket connected with the ball though, the strange spin caused the ball to fly up uncontrollably and off the side of the court. He stood up panting slightly from the exertion, and a small trickle of persperation slithered down the side of his face, his neck, and clung to his black jacket. He brushed back sweat-dampened blond bangs, and walked back to the serve line. True to his word, he had not missed the return shot, but he had failed to return it properly. However, the battle had just begun.
With each serve, Ed began to sense a rhythm of the game, despite the fact that all his returns had either hit the net or flew out. After that initial miss, he had been able to hit every return ball with an increasing number of them coming back in. If his opponent had been weaker, Ed may have scored some points or even won the set. But that was not the case--his opponent not only had the skill, but also rivaled him in spirit. It was not long before the blond boy had lost the first set, without scoring a single point. He waited for Al to call out the score, then resumed his position on the court again. This time, it was Ryoma's serve for the second set. He wondered just what lay in store.
Ryoma tighten his grip over the yellow tennis ball, he was right that Ed would be worthy opponent. The sheer excitement he felt when he play the other, was wonderful tedious, the stress, the pressure. The longing that it almost felt, the other was almost like him, and yet he wasn't. However, with each hit and throw and backhand returns, Ryoma could feel the other's rhythm and make adjustment in careful calculations. "Hehe your not so bad." Ryoma called out shifting his wait, he brought his feet outward into steps, aiming correctly he served a twist serve at the blonde hair boy. "But your still mada mada dane!"
Al felt the feeling of excitement and yet he knew both individuals didn't want to give up. His nii-san was wonderful in how he was able to catch up, though he lost and didn't gain one point. Ryoma was also wonderful his skill and spirit was beautiful to watch.
Ed had watched Ryoma's every movement with a fiery intensity throughout the game as if in slow motion; the way he handled the ball, his tennis form--in fact, all this was slowly imprinting itself into his mind and gradually implementing into his game play. He watched as Ryoma executed his serve, his eye on the ball as it fell on the tennis court, and spun before flying back up. His eyes widened as he noted the mechanics of this shot--in fact, it surprised him that anyone could hit the ball like that. Yet, unlike most of Ryoma's opponents--even the seasoned players that they had encountered, the blond-haired boy was able to predict where the shot was aimed to, and he lithely leapt backward and aimed a backhand return at the ball. However, the force of the this short was unfamilar to him, and the ball spun crazily off the face of his racket and bounced out.
"Heh..." he pondered looking at the racket in his handing, and turning it about in his hand to examine the grip, "What an interesting serve." He was determined to find a solution to break that amazing serve.
Ryoma bent his head and made a reach to grab the tip of his hat, realizing that it wasn't there, but still executing the imaginary gesture. "Domo." Waltzing back into position, he smirked, "Shall we try again?" Golden eyes danced merrily.
Al was shifting his hand slightly unhappy that he probably couldn't do what these two were doing. After all his hand wasn't exactly able to discern pressure of how much to grip let alone adjust it correctly. It was rather depressing to say the least, he called out the score, but try to remain quite through the whole thing.
Ed was too fired up in his enthusiasm to notice his brother's disappointment; the excitement of the game at having such a strong opponent thrilled him. He took his position on the other side of the court, crouching down slightly as he awaited Ryoma's next serve with golden eyes ablaze, his hair glittering with the same fiery color as the sun beat down upon both of them.
"I'm ready whenever you are," Ed called back to the other boy on the other side of the court. In a way, both boys were mirror images of the same bright spirit reflected in both sets of golden eyes, and also opposites--one dark-haired, the other blond; the tennis player and the alchemist.
Ryoma smirked, but felt his hand tighten on the ball, his vision waver a bit. He wondered why exactly everything seems a bit out of focus. Sweat pour off his face, sliding down his cheeks and onto the floor, tossing up the ball, he slammed it downward as another twist serve, but things seem to go upside down. Closing his eyes, he slumped onto the floor, the tennis racket slid out of his grip.
"Ryoma!" Al cried in alarm, quickly getting off the chair the he made his way toward the other boy and stood over him. "Nii-san something is wrong with Ryoma." He was flapping his arms around; the sun glinted off his metal making him look like a lighthouse. "Nii-san!!"
Ed's eyes widened as he noticed Ryoma stumble. The boy had been sweating profusly throughout the game, and earlier, he had been complaining about the heat. He dropped his tennis racket and also rushed to Ryoma's side.
"Al, he fainted from heat stroke," Ed replied, examining Ryoma's pulse, and checking to see if the boy was still fine. Then he stood up and brushed himself off. "Maa...ne...it had to end like this. Even monsters die of heat." Then picking up their forgotten rackets and the balls, he walked back to his brother and Ryoma's side. "I guess that finishes the match for today. I'm sorry you didn't have a turn, Al. I'll let you play first next time. Let's get him back into the house and out of this heat."
Al took the coat and wrapped it around Ryoma and left the boy, he didn't want to burn him because of the hot metals of his arms. "Aa-it is alright Nii-san." Sadness tinged his voice, "I doubt I could do a good job at it." Changing the subject quickly, "I hope he will be alright."
"Karupin." Ryoma mumbles, his breath a bit shallow while sweat continued to run down his face.
"Karupin?" Al tilts his head, while walking behind his brother inside the house. "Do you think that is his mom Nii-san?"
"Nnn...I doubt it," Ed replied, then carefully slung Ryoma over his back. He shifted the boy on his automail shoulder to steady his balance. He staggered slightly under the weight of the boy--even though Ryoma was not very heavy and Ed had matched against grown adults before, but Ryoma was taller and it made a difference when lifting a full body off the ground.
"If he were calling for his mother, he would have said Kaa-san," Ed replied. "Karupin must be somebody special to him." Ed turned his face away from Al, unable to meet his brother's gaze. "Gomen, Al. I know how much you wanted to play." Now that the battle aura had faded, Ed could not help but feel guilty for leaving his brother out of the excitement. Even after he became a National Alchemist, his brother had never left him--they were always together on all of Ed's missions, and he had grown accustomed to them that way. He clenched his human fist tightly on his side, but nothing else on his face betrayed the anguish he felt.
Heaving one last sigh, he opened the door to their house and settled Ryoma onto the nearest couch.
"Aa-I wonder who Karupin is then." Al had walked back from the sink and place the cloth onto Ryoma's forehead. "Eh don't feel bad Nii-san. It can't be helped." Eyeing the clock, he stood up, "We just have to get stronger that is all." Referring to an old issue that both of them knew about. Watching the other boy he turn to look at Ed, "I am glad you had fun with Ryoma."
"Un," Ed managed a small smile for his brother, but he seemed a bit sullen. It was a hot day--and he had also worked up quite a sweat. He undid the clasp that held his vest together, and peeled it off to expose a sleeveless shirt beneath, then tossed his clothing into the laundry. They also needed to get Ryoma changed into something else. What the boy was wearing right now was very odd, and it would not be a good idea to have him walking around attracting unwanted attention.
Ed flung open a closet that contained a lot of stuff that he rarely touched--mostly gifts from Winly, presents from Hughes and the other officers for his birthday, and also stuff that he couldn't find room to store. He found the clothes that Winly had given to him, and pulled the box out, laying it next to the sleeping boy. Then he went to the kitchen and fetched a glass of water for himself and one for Ryoma. After finishing his glass of water, he turned to his brother.
"Al, can you help me hold Ryoma for a bit? I need to get some water into him or he will dehydrate further."
"Hai-nii-san." Al gently lifted up Ryoma finding it rather mesmerized to see the flickers of bronze skin. He never seen a boy like skin tone, let alone the hair color was a bit strange. Now that he took a deeper look at Ryoma. "Ne Nii-san." He watched his brother-slid water down Ryoma's throat massing the other boy's throat. "Do you like Ryoma?" It was just out of a nowhere sort of thought, but he had a suspicion. "The way you play with him, it is like you were feeling something, when you do alchemy when we were young."
Perhaps it was a small segment of jealously to see his brother in that form, yet it was also relieving it showed that his brother was having fun to say the least. Both had smiled so wildly when they hit the ball back and forth to one another. Maybe it was fate for them to meet Ryoma, but then he wasn't sure anymore since the other boy had appeared.
"Wh-wh-what are you saying Al? It's not like that at all!" Ed flustered and nearly spilled the water all over Ryoma. He quickly cleaned up the spilt water and set down the glass, scowling. "That bakemono! He was in disguise the whole time." He crossed his arms over his chest and sighed. "Mataku. And he had to blackout before I even got to figure out that serve." Ed turned away and started to loosen his braid. His hair was sticky and plastering to his neck--he did not like that feeling, and wanted to shower badly. However, he turned back to Al before leaving the room, truly smiling this time, "But you were right. It was fun."
"I am sure it was fun Nii-san." Al points his fingers at Ed, "But I think your protesting a bit louder then usual. That isn't like Nii-san." It was somehow sort of fun teasing his brother, especially when he was turning into tomatoes. Wiping Ryoma with a towel from the spill of water, "Would you like to undress him or do you want me to do so?"
"No I will not!" Ed exclaimed vehemently, stomping out of the room, annoyed whenever his brother teased him like that. The elder brother was very shy, and this showed too when Al had walked in on him writing his letter to Winly. He blushed easily, and felt uncomfortable whenever placed in these situations. He didn't understand adults or why the made a big deal out of these kinds of things, and he didn't want to know.
Ed slammed the door behind him, and ran a hand thru his hair once he was alone. He did feel something for the boy, but he didn't know how to sort out his feelings. On one hand, he felt sympathy for the boy for landing into an unfamilar world, however, he was also slightly irritated with the cocky attitude. However, the excitement of the game still burned brightly in his mind, and he grinned without realizing he was. He wanted to feel that excitement again--that excitement that resulted from the heated battle of two wills.
Al of course was amused he glances down at Ryoma. "You know I think you might do some good for my Nii-san." His voice soften, "Even though you're a monster."