They both lifted the hoods on their jackets the instant they reached the entrance of the apartment building. The rain was light, but annoyingly so. It did feel like real rain. If you are going to get wet from rain, you might as well get wet all of once, not little by little. Ed thought frowning as he looked up at the grey clouds.
"Brother, where do the Miller's live?" Al asked, cutting into Ed's thoughts.
"I'm not sure Al." Ed said, shoving his gloved hands into his pockets. "I don't know a lot of the people here. I mean between working for the State and doing my own research, I am not really home all that much. Tristan and Marshall, and a few others on my floor are really the only people I know."
"Oh." Al said, watching Ed pull out the pocket watch. Ed played with the chain impatiently.
"I'm sure Tristan will tell you when he gets here." He said. Though Ed probably didn't mean for it to happen he could hear the bitterness in his voice.
"Okay. Who's Marshall? " Al asked, slightly changing the subject.
"He's uh, Tristan's life partner." Ed causally answered, twirling the watch's chain in wide circles.
"Really?" Al asked, his eyes widening slightly.
"Yeah. Well I think so anyway. At least that's what Tristan told me. But that could be another one of his tricks." Ed said, thinking about it. "You know I've never asked Marshall. But it doesn't seem to bother him much if it is a joke," he added thoughtfully. "Does it really matter?"
"I guess not."
There was another one of those odd silences as the two brothers keep their thoughts to themselves. The soft sound of thunder was heard off in the distance.
"What the Hell is taking so long?" Ed said, looking over to the door.
"Be patient, Brother." Al smiled. "Tristan said that he was going to get some more people to help too, remember?"
"Yeah, yeah." Ed wiped the rain off his face with the back of his jacket's sleeve.
"Well screw this. Look, you see that over there?" he asked, pointing to a street lamp about thirty yards away. It was bent towards the middle and hung low to the ground half blocking the street it was suppose to be illuminating.
"I can fix that no problem. You stay here and wait for Tristan, okay?" He said, already starting to climb down the few stairs that lead to the walkway.
"What about uprooted tree over there?" Al asked, pointing in the opposite direction. "It's kinda blocking the street too."
"Fine I'll fix that too."
"That's not what I meant?"
"Are you asking me for permission to help out?" Ed teased.
"No." Al said blushing. He walked passed his brother towards the fallen tree.
Ed watched him for a moment and smirked to himself before jogging over to the lamp post. He circled it, surveying the damage while thinking of the best way to repair it. Out of the corner of his eye, Ed saw the familiar blue glow of an alchemical reaction.
The habitual grin easily spread over his face as the power of alchemy surged though his body. He clapped his hands together, placed them on directly on the dent, and watched with satisfaction while the entire post was enveloped in light. Though it was a bit blinding, Ed had done enough transmutations to see through the light with no problem. He felt, more then saw, the dent fill out and pull together as the lamp straighten out. When he released his hands the street post stood tall and whole once again.
"Whoa nice job Eddy." A voice whistled.
Ed spun around at the sound.
There was a small group of people gathered behind him.
"I knew you were a State Alchemist because of that stupid watch you're always flaunting around, but I've never seen you actually perform it before." The tall blonde Edward recognized as Marshall said, clapping his hands languidly. He was leaning against the banister that connected the stoop to the sidewalk.
"Yeah Marshall, uh thanks." Ed replied, lifting his hand up in his usual greeting.
Marshall gave him a nod of acknowledgement. "Where's your brother?" he asked.
"He's right over there." Ed said, gesturing over his shoulder to where the once fallen tree lain.
Ed turned and looked. Not seeing Alphonse, he looked back through the crowd. Just before panic set in, he noticed something odd. "Where's Tristan?"
"Oh, he went over the Miller's to help them clean up the damage done to the dog house."
"Take me over there." Ed demanded.
"He told me that he was going to get someone to go with him, I am sure that he'll be fine. He'll be back soon." He pulled out a folded piece of paper. "This is a list of areas that need to be cleared. It's mostly blocked roads and caved-in roofs. I think groups of three or four ought to be enough to move the majority of the fallen branches." He faced Edward. "Ed, do you think you can drift around to each group and use your alchemical skills to help remove the more. . ." Marshall patted the now straightened light pole. ". . . difficult repairs?"
Ed frowned at Marshall. Maybe Tristan's right, I don't care about others, like Al does. 'Cause right now, I'm standing in cold rain and wind, moving debris, when I'd rather be back in my apartment, dry and warm and with Al.
"Well what are we all doing standing around when there's work to be done?"
A murmur of agreement filtered through the crowd. The groups were formed and given their assignments. Ed busied himself with getting involved with each team. Trying to drown the uneasy feeling that had settled in his stomach. He ran around the neighborhood, the light of alchemical reactions lighting the darkness of the rain clouds.
It was nearing four o'clock when Ed saw Tristan again. He was transmuting a broken fence as Tristan walked over to Marshall, he was followed by a red faced Alphonse. Ed clenched his fists re-breaking the fence. Not giving two thoughts to his actions, he jogged over to his brother.
"Hey Alphonse, you okay? What happened? Why'd it take so long for you to get back?"
"I'm fine Brother…it's just that we got sidetracked." Al explained feebly.
Ed spun on his heel towards Tristan. "Bastard, what did you do to Al?"
"Oooo, wouldn't you like to know?" Tristan said, smiling widely. "I will tell you that your brother I really talented, aren't you Ally?"
"I am not that great" Al blushed further.
Ed didn't know why the image of a blushing Al and a grinning Tristan pissed him off so much, but it did.
"I think we've done all we can. How about we call it a day?" Marsh said, suddenly standing in between Ed and Tristan.
"I think that sounds wonderful, Marsh." Tristan beamed grabbing onto Marshal's arm. "Say why don't you two have dinner with us tonight, as a sort of thank you?"
"Absolutely not!" Ed said, stomping his foot like a child.
"Brother, that's rude." Alphonse scolded.
Ed glared at him. "Fine! We'll have dinner then."
"Great! We'll see you two at 6 o'clock sharp! That'll give us time to whip up something nice and hot." Tristan said, winking at Edward.
"Great!" said Al cheerfully.
"Great." Ed said sarcastically. He grabbed the sleeve of Al's jacket a signal that it was time to go. "We'll see you guys later."
"Bye." Was as far as Alphonse was able to say before Ed grabbed the sleeve of his jacket "That wasn't very nice of you brother." Al scolded as they neared the apartment building.
"Whatever," was Ed's witty reply as he searched for the apartment key.
As he returned to his apartment, he heard the phone ringing. Shrugging off his damp coat he tossed it onto the coat rack, but it's missed and fell to the floor. He ignored it.
"Hello? Ah hi Winry, how are you?" Ed grimaced and held the phone away fro his ear.
"Edward where the Hell have you been? I've been calling you every five minutes for the past two hours! Two hours! I'm never going to get that time back Ed, so the least you could do is give me an explanation!"
"Winry, I . . . "
"Have you seen Al?" she interrupted, no longer caring for Ed's explanation.
"Have I seen Al?" He repeated, looking straight at his younger brother. He pointed to the phone and mouthed "Winry."
Al understood what Ed was asking him. Are you here?
He gave Ed a smile, but shook his head. No, I'm not.
"No, I haven't."
"Are you lying to me?"
"What makes you say that?" Ed asked, blinking rapidly.
"Because I call you frantic about Alphonse and you calmly tell me you haven't seen him. And you expect me to believe your not hiding something from me? Usually, you'd be bouncing off the walls, threatening to transmuted off body parts if something happened to him."
"Maybe it just means I've matured." Ed replied shrugging his shoulders. He could hear the other end of the line go quiet, the held the phone away again as Winry's laughter broke through the receiver. He started to get upset until he looked back over to Al and found him covering his giggles behind both of his hands.
A wicked grin spread over his face. "Oh would you hold on for a moment Winry, I think someone's at the door."
Alphonse stopped laughing and stared at his smirking brother.
"Oh hi Alphonse." Ed said loudly. "How convenient, Winry and I were just talking about you. Oh you want to talk to her? Well here you go."
It was Ed's turn to laugh silently as Al frowned at the receiver.
"You don't want to keep her waiting, do you?"
Alphonse glared at his brother, took the receiver, and slowly raised it up to his ear. "Hello?"
"Al! Of thank goodness you're alive! I knew Ed knew where you were! You tell him the next time I see him..."
Ed couldn't hear what is was that Winry said, but the blanching of Al's face told him all he needed to know; don't visit Winry anytime soon.
After a quick shower the two brothers once again left the apartment for the second time that day. Ed walked in front of Al, leading him to down the hallway and up a flight of stairs to Tristan and Marshall's apartment. They stopped at a door near the beginning of the hallway.
"Well here we are," Ed grumbled. "Are you ready to get this over with?"
Before Ed could knock on the door, Al grabbed his wrist.
"Brother," He asked softly.
"Why are you in such a bad mood?"
Ed lowered his arm and turned to face Al. "Why? Beacause you still having told me what Tristan did to make you so upset."
Al stared at him."I alreaddy told you. He saw me transmute that fallen tree. He told me that he'd never seen Alchemy before and said that he was impressed by my skills. That's all I swear."
"I don't believe you. One minute you admit you're in love with me, but then as soon as someone else gives you a little attention your completely at their mercy."
"What? What are you talking about?"
"Tristan's been flirting with you since he first laid eyes on you. And you've done nothing to dissuade his advances!"
Al stared at his brother in disbelief before he burst out laughing "You're jealous."
"What? Have you gone crazy?"
"Perhaps, but that still doesn't explain your jealousy."
"Just because I dont like it, doesn't mean I'm jealous."
"Oh, I think it does," said a familiar voice. The door to the apartment opened and standing in front of the two brothers was Tristan grinning widely.
The two brothers stared at him.
"Come in, come in. Welcome to Chez Tristan. I hope you're ready for a nice, quiet evening!"
Ed groaned, as he followed Tristan inside, Ed knew that they were going to have anything but a nice, quiet evening.