A Belated Gift

Notes: Sequel to Stupid Valentine, though it's extremely TWT/AR (not based on the normal time of the series). But I don't see anyone complaining. :P

The three of them walked slowly towards the Rockbell house at Rizenburg. Edward Elric, also known as the Fullmetal Alchemist, had finally managed to get his brother's body back. Even if he was one year younger, Alphonse Elric still was taller than him. Ed pretended not to notice.

The third person was a woman, with short, blonde hair. Needless to say, it was awkward for her not to be able to hide inside of Alphonse anymore. She knew he was happy that way, as a normal person, that he could feel the wind, the sun, the cold, the heat... But there was no other way to get that level of intimacy anymore. The only other way was... out of the question!

Alphonse had insisted that she came with him to his hometown, to meet the people he grew up around with, and to 'have a great time', so he had said. She had shrugged and muttered that she would go elsewhere afterward.

She always thought that if she fell for someone, it would be a weakness. Something bad. The armor had helped to keep some of her feelings controlled. Still, she knew she had become fond of him during the three years they've known each other.

Martel sighed in frustration, without realizing. The Elric brothers stopped talking and turned to look back at her. "Are you ok, Martel?" Al asked, slowing down, to walk next to her. "You haven't said anything since we came to Rizenburg"

"I'm fine" She said sharply, and kept looking at the fields, she could already see the house on the hill. The younger Elric frowned, slightly hurt at her cold answer. But he knew it was not wise to keep asking. Something about traveling with two people who tended to get in bad moods taught him to remain calm and quiet.

Shrugging, Alphonse looked ahead and grinned as he noticed someone in front of the house. "Hey, Winry!" He waved, and dashed towards the person. Edward followed after him, but hesitated as he saw a wrench in his best friend's hands.

The chimera woman stopped, and stared at the trio, as they greeted each other and laughed and talked. Alphonse turned to her and grinned. "Martel, come meet Winry!"

Winry blinked curiously. Sure the Elric brothers had visited her during their adventures, and Alphonse had talked a lot about a woman by the name of Martel, but she never came with them. And now, the mechanic could finally meet Al's friend.

The young girl smiled slyly as she noticed Alphonse casting nervous, quick glances at the older woman. The chimera simply shook Winry's hand and nodded, unaware of the attention she was getting from the younger Elric.

Later in the day, Martel found herself bored to death, as she watched the brothers and Winry splash about in the lake. She was invited, of course. But she didn't want to participate in such a childish activity. She suddenly felt like a duck mother, taking care of her little duck kids.

She was so immersed in her pitiful thoughts that she didn't notice someone approaching her with a bucket full of lake water. Only when the water was thrown at her, did she see Alphonse running away and jumping into the water. The other two just blinked at him, as he started swimming away.

That's it! Martel thought in anger. "Alphonse!" She quickly got up and followed after him, looking very pissed off. It was when he got stupid that she really wanted to choke him to death.

For some strange reason, Alphonse had started playing pranks on her, a few months ago. And things didn't seem to get any better.

Winry raised an eyebrow at Edward. "What's that all about?"

The older Elric laughed nervously. "Well, he's just following some advice Mustang gave us. Because he likes Martel"

"Oh, no! What did he tell you?" She practically grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him. "Tell me, now"

He gulped and grinned sheepishly. "Well, Roy told us that women want attention. So I figured girls like a funny guy"

"And you think she'll like him if he randomly throws water at her?" Winry asked, glaring daggers at him. "You are so unromantic! And it's corrupting your little brother!" She stormed off back to the house.

Edward sighed and looked down at the water. "Doesn't seem to work with you, either..." He muttered, but he knew Winry couldn't hear him.

Alphonse looked like a sad puppy when he got home. He was seriously starting to doubt Mustang and his brother's advice. All he did was to anger her more.

The snake chimera entered the house a few minutes after, but didn't even look at him. Instead, she went upstairs to the guest room she was occupying.

He sat down on the couch and sighed. He heard the door slam open and shut, and looked up to see Winry. She was muttering things under her breath. But when she saw him, she slumped down next to him. She was very serious. "Forget what they told you. What does your brother know about girls?"

He raised an eyebrow at her. "Not much, I guess..."

"You should have asked me about it. If you wanted accurate help, you could've even asked Hawkeye. But your brother and Mustang?" She seemed to be furious. "How can they give that sort of advice? They don't even have girlfriends!"

Al snickered. "Well, I think my brother likes someone and is using his own advice. But he's too stubborn to see it doesn't work"

It was Winry's turn to raise an eyebrow. "Do you-? Ack, forget it!" She said, before questioning him further. "Anyway, go upstairs and apologize to Martel for acting like a brat. And tell her, Al. She doesn't bite" The younger Elric blushed and started stuttering excuses, but the blonde mechanic got up and pulled him to his feet. "I'm not suggesting it, I'm ordering you to do it!"

He nodded quickly and ran off to the rooms upstairs.

Martel was not in a good mood. And it didn't help that the young man had knocked at her door, and when she opened, he looked at her with the puppiest expression he could manage. It didn't help her! With a sigh, she let him into the room.

He almost behaved like a dog who had done something very bad and knew it. "Can... we talk?" He asked, fidgeting with his shirt.

"Sure" Martel said, sitting on her bed, and looking sideways at him, eyes narrowed. "So?"

"I'm sorry I was annoying" He squeaked.

The woman rolled her eyes. "Why were you annoying in the first place?"

Al blushed furiously. "Because, I thought... Because... I wanted... to... impress... you..."

She stared at him quizzically. "Huh?"

He groaned in frustration. "I knew it! I just made a fool of myself!" He exclaimed, dashing towards the door. But a knife flew past him, embedding on the door before him.

"Quit running away" The snake chimera sighed.

Al was pale and red at the same time. Pale, because he almost got killed. And red because he was too embarrassed to face her. Instead, he stood still and attempted to get the knife from the door. Pinako would have a fit if she saw the damage done to the door. "Well... I..."

Edward walked into the house and closed the door behind him. He looked around and noticed Winry asleep on the couch. Slowly, he walked up to her and shook her shoulder a bit. She groaned as she woke up. "What do you want?" She frowned at him.

"You fell asleep on the couch" He said, moving her aside and sitting next to her. "Your neck would hurt bad tomorrow if I didn't wake you up"

She rolled her eyes. "Since when do you care?"

"I care" Ed said, hurt and annoyed at her question. "Is it ok for us to fight? I kind of like it" He asked after a few moments of silence.

Winry sighed. "I guess so... Wouldn't be fun without you to annoy" She grinned.

"Right..." He coughed. "Mechanic geek"

She smiled for a few seconds, and then realized what he meant. "What did you say?" She shrieked, nearly numbing his left ear.

Al turned around, looking down at his feet or elsewhere but her. "Remember three years ago, that day... Um, Valentine's day?" He blushed as he remembered the note. He swore he saw a faint reddish color on Martel's cheeks just then. She took out something from the back-pocket of her pants.

It was the note. "Yeah. I always wondered what you'd give me. Figured you forgot or something" She shrugged.

"Ah, no. I didn't" He grinned, rubbing the back of his head. "I have it here, with me. So, close your eyes" He said. His face, if it could, got redder.

Martel raised an eyebrow, though her eyes were shut. She put her hands in front of her, expecting him to put the gift on them. But he grabbed her wrists and moved the hands away. Slowly, he leaned forward and kissed her lightly on the lips.

Alphonse nearly had a heart attack when she wrapped her arms around his neck and returned the kiss. He was so sure she'd reject him, that he thought he'd be kicked or punched. But as a few more moments passed, and the kiss deepened, he thought he could get used to it.

Notes: Never ask Edward how to win a girl's heart. This story was written between months, expect to see a gradual suckage in writing. :P