Sheska slouched lower on the park bench with her shoulders hunched forward and her head lowered. Her breath was fogging up her thick glasses in the chill of a November night and she sighed, glancing back down at her watch.

She was supposed to meet her date here two hours earlier. This was the second time in as many weeks that she had been stood up. It's not like she didn't know it was coming.

Things had gone well in their discussion earlier that morning. He'd held the door open for her when she had entered the bakery and they'd waited in line together, having a lively conversation about a book they had both recently read. He'd seemed amused when she was able to quote back his favorite passage to him. He'd called her cute and had asked her if she liked to do anything i beside /i read books and she had taken that as his way of asking to see her again. She had grinned and they had agreed to meet after work. When he asked what she'd like to do and she'd suggested an evening tucked away at the library, he'd looked taken aback. How was she supposed to know that he was serious when he asked if she liked to do anything else?

She groaned loudly and rubbed her hands on her upper arms. It was far too cold and he was far too not-worth-it and she had to work the next morning. Frowning, Sheska pushed herself off the bench. She was certain that there was a good book or two awaiting her at home.


At first, she wasn't sure if she had really heard her name or if it had just been the snow crunching under her feet. She stopped.

"Hey, Sheska. What are you doing out so late?"

She turned around and beamed at Edward Elric as he jogged up to meet her. "I was waiting for someone who didn't show."

"Oh. I'm sorry. Are you going home?"

She nodded. Edward sounded like he was trying to translate her gestures and, between her text, he had something to pity. She didn't like the feeling. "And you? What are you doing out here?"

Edward snorted. "That bastard kept me late again. Something about an accident report for the last town I passed through," he shrugged, "I wasn't really paying attention."

Sheska was silent. She really didn't want company at the moment, but Edward was so pleasant right now and she didn't want to waste it. She knew she would miss his good mood when he was stomping around the next day. She let him fall into step beside her.

"You look cold," he said, looking down at her pink fingers, "Don't you have any gloves?"

She frowned. "I wasn't expecting to be out here so long."

"Who were you waiting for?"

Sheska squinted and thought for a moment. "His name was Bernard and he just read the same poetry collection that I had and he liked his coffee the same way I did and he was supposed to meet me here i two hours ago/i "

Edward shrugged. "He must be a jerk. It's too cold to keep someone waiting."

Sheska had the feeling that she should probably be offended by his judgement of her choice in men, but she just couldn't really muster it. She squeezed her hands into small fists, hoping to warm her numb fingers.

Edward sighed. "Here, take my gloves. You look really cold."

"I'm not going to take your gloves. I'm sure you're cold, too."

"I'm all right. I just left a building and you've been out here longer than I have."

Sheska hesitated.

"Al would be very disappointed in me if I didn't offer you my gloves," he said with a slight blush.

Sheska smiled. "Really, Ed, you don't have to."

"Quit being so stubborn! Here, I'll give you the one from my automail. It doesn't need to be warm."

Edward held the limp, white glove up and glanced at her shyly. He reached for her left hand, flipped the glove upside down and slipped it on.

"That's the wrong hand, Ed..." she said, confused. She was sure she was reading too much into his flushed cheeks and his shy grin; she had a tendency to do that. She sighed a bit, reminded once again that real life had no obvious symbolism for guidance.

He smiled and blushed again, then grabbed her exposed right hand with his still-gloved flesh hand and wiggled his fingers between hers. "There," he said, "Isn't that warmer?"