Me: This was originally a 4-page oneshot, then inspiration lept on me like a starved dog and now it's looking to be a short multi-chap. Like 2 or 3 chapters. Anywho, concrit on this is much appreciated! Concrit constructive criticism.
Black Hayate, forever a curious dog, pressed his nose to Edward's limp, cold, auto-mail hand. Unfortunately, having a wet nose only the made the freezing contact all the more unpleasant and he whimpered, drawing his snout back and pawing at his nose with a paw.
Edward opened an eye from where he was sitting on the old black leather sofa that sat in the middle of Riza Hawkeye's living room. The tough, old material was cracked worn, but was too comfy (not to mention heavy, despite how many times Edward pointed out he could make it lighter) for the blonde woman to consider moving it and getting a new one.
Black Hayate twitched his ears and made a small keening noise when the cold metal hand plonked down on his head, rubbed once in apology before being removed. The black and white dog sniffed at it as it was stuffed in the folds of Edward's jacket in attempt to warm it up.
"I hate the cold." Edward stated sourly as Hayate settled down on the woven rug in front of the settee, resting his head on his paws. The alchemist shifted his auto-mail limbs gingerly, testing out the joints and wincing when stabbing pains shot from the ports and mechanics froze; the temperature too low to work at.
The blond man then cursed the fact the central heating system in the apartment building had broken, leaving all the inhabitants to go back to fire as a way of keeping warm in the bitter winter weather. He had been visiting Riza when the heating had stopped working and half an hour later, a poor worker had been sent round to inform them of the problem before shuffling off to tell everybody else. The lieutenant had told him to wait on the couch while she looked for the matches and there he was still was ten minutes on, wondering whether to go and help her look.
He didn't dwell on the idea much longer as Riza poked her head around the living room door's frame. "I found the matches." She informed him, stepping into the room and to the small fireplace in front of the worn leather couch. Crouching down, she lit a match, holding the small flame to the collection of wooden logs and starting a small blaze.
Edward relaxed gratefully at the heat, before getting up and limping slightly to sit beside Black Hayate and Riza when the blonde woman didn't move from the fire.
Riza caught the limp and narrowed her brown eyes in concern. "Is your auto-mail bothering you?" She questioned, scratching behind Black Hayate's ears when the small dog placed his head in her lap.
"A little." Edward replied with a smile that resembled more of a grimace. "It'll be fine in a while, once the metal warms up." He lifted his right arm in an experiment, flexing the fingers to see how the well they moved and sighed in irritation at the jerky movements. "Although getting all the movement back would be nice."
"I would get you warm towels, if I had any ways of warming them up." Riza told him, her expression apologetic.
"Eh. Maybe I can threaten Colonel Bastard to come up here and put those gloves of his to use?" Edward suggested, rubbing his leg port gently.
"General." Riza corrected him with a small, amused smile. "Besides, it's snowing outside, so…"
"And?" Edward cut in with a small snicker.
The lieutenant merely shook her head.
Resting his right arm on his knee, and his chin on the metal palm to get the limb a little closer to the hot fire without simply holding it out, Edward sighed slightly in contentment, shoulders shagging. A few minutes slipped by before he blinked, an idea popping into his head and he turned his around to face Riza. "Hey, does the kettle work?" He questioned.
The lieutenant frowned slightly before nodding. "Yes, why?"
Edward grinned t her and stood up slowly, rubbing away the imprint his auto-mail had left on his cheek. "Some coffee would be good." He told her, stretching lightly with a grimace before heading towards Riza's small kitchen. A slender hand on his left arm halted him and turned around to face the blonde woman with a confused expression crossing his features. "What is it?" He questioned, "You don't want any coffee?"
Riza shook her head. "No, I do, but I'll do it. You go back and sit by the fire." She instructed, nodding her head back towards the orange flames where Hayate was waiting, ears perked.
"It's ok. I can…" The alchemist started, but stopped at the stern glint in the lieutenant's reddish eyes, the kind of glint that often appeared when a certain brigadier general wasn't doing their paperwork. The corners of Edward's lips quirked up and he lifted is hands in mock surrender before limping lightly back over to the fire and Hayate.
Settling down beside the black and white dog as Riza disappeared into the kitchen, Edward sighed and tilted his head back to watch the ceiling idly.
Black Hayate cocked his head at the odd behaviour before plopping his head and paws onto Edward's left knee. Whining slightly, he twitched his ears to encourage the blond haired man to scratch them.
Edward glanced down at Hayate and raised an eyebrow before complying and rubbing the fur behind his black ears. "You know, this is what cats normally like." He pointed out to the small dog, earning him an opening of one sleepy brown eye before it closed again. The alchemist smiled at him before staring into the shifting flames of the fire, his eyes glazing over as he became lost in thought.
He had been visiting Riza regularly lately, as his younger brother had been so courteous to point out, and Winry had told him only the week before that he should "do something about them." But what the blonde mechanic had had in mind for what exactly he was meant to do, he had no idea.
Edward's lips pouted out slightly as his eyebrows knitted in thought and he rested his chin on metal hand again, a force of habit, as he wondered what Winry meant. Wrapped up deeply in his musings, as he often was, it was the waft of coffee being waved literally under his nose and the missing warmth of Black Hayate that finally brought him back to what was going on around him.
Riza raised an eyebrow at him before lifting one of the mugs she was holding. "Are you alright? You were very deeply in thought; you didn't hear me calling you."
"Sorry." The alchemist apologised, taking the china mug from her gratefully and sniffing deeply at the smell wafting from it before taking a long drawl, shuddering. He gave the lieutenant his full attention as she once again sat down beside him and was surprised when he spotted two wet towels hanging on her bare arm (she had rolled up her jumper sleeve, he noted), "…what?" He asked, unable to think of anything more intelligent to say.
"These?" Riza replied, plucking at the sudden towels with her now free hand. "These are for your auto-mail ports." She explained, setting down her own mug of coffee so that she had less to carry. "Seeing as the heaters aren't working, I had to use to warm water left in the kettle."
Edward nodded slowly in understanding before twitching in embarrassed realisation that he would have to take his clothes off in order make use of the towels. He stared at them, wondering if it would be rude to simply decline the offer and insist he'd be fine.
"I won't stare." The lieutenant assured him, breaking into the alchemist's thoughts. "And don't protest and say you're fine, either." She added when Edward opened his mouth.
He shut it and glanced at the towels Riza was holding before nodding his head defeat. "Alright." He said, slipping off his coat and pulling off the long sleeved black top underneath, shuddering at the loss of heat his clothes had given him and shifting close to the fire as a result.
Although Riza had told Edward she wouldn't stare, she was finding difficult to keep curiosity at bay when she handed the blond man a towel for his shoulder. She hadn't, after all, ever seen Edward's auto-mail port and frowned slightly when she realised just how much the metal covered his torso before getting a hold of herself and turning away politely.
Edward sighed in relief and relaxed under the warmth of the towel and experimented with the movement of his mechanical limb. "At least it's moving better now." He commented, pleased with the fluidity of the metal limb. He jolted slightly when something warm and wet nudged his flesh shoulder, and blinked when he realised it was the lieutenant handing him the second towel, her face turned away as she had promised. Taking the towel from her with murmured thanks, he rolled up his left trouser leg to apply it to the port there. "You don't have to turn away you know." He told her staring at the reflections from the fire on his metal shin.
Riza tilted her head around to face him, touching her elbow to his side when didn't look up. "I thought…" She started, but was cut off when Edward waved his left hand to interrupt.
"It's alright." He assured her. "It's just the full-on staring that's a little…" He paused to think of an appropriate word.
"Awkward?" Riza supplied, drinking from her coffee cup.
Edward nodded, reaching for his own mug and taking a sip. Sneaking a glance at the blond woman beside him, taking in the glow on her usually pale cheeks from the fire, Winry's 'advice' (because the more he thought about it, the more it sounded like a threat) came back to him, and he turned away abruptly, frustrated.
Riza blinked at him, perplexed. "What is it?"
"Eh… nothing." He replied, running his left hand through his hair and rubbing the back of his head in embarrassment. He paused, scowling at floor before swallowing and turning to face her, suppressing the spreading red on his cheeks the best he could. "Could I try something, please?"
The lieutenant blinked at him, but nodded in the affirmative and set down her coffee cup.
Edward chewed on his bottom lip before attempting to relax his suddenly tense muscles and leaning forwards. Quickly, he shut his eyes and pressed his lips to Riza's cheek in a fleeting, if slightly clumsy, kiss.
Her breathing hitched and she sat still, reddish eyes widened slightly.
The alchemist pulled away quickly, the blush he had tried so hard to keep away creeping back up slowly and he looked at the floor to avoid her gaze. He had at least; he reminded himself, did something about his visits like Winry had said to do, but whether or not it was good decision was something else entirely.
Edward waited for a bit, but when Riza didn't say anything, he squashed down the squirming feeling in the pit of his belly and drained his coffee cup quickly. Taking the towels off (and noting vaguely that his auto-mail was working fine now) and pulling his shirt and coat, he stood up hurriedly. "Sorry!" He apologised hastily, folding the towels messily and placing them on the arm of the couch. "I'm sorry…" he repeated, quieter, as he plonked down the coffee cup on the small wooden table beside the couch. "I'll just go and…"
He stopped in what was quickly becoming babbling and looked up at her hesitantly, rubbing the toe of his boot on the floor. He was relieved to see that Riza didn't look angry, but instead calm as normal; although the reminder that Riza Hawkeye was calm in most situations struck him moments after and his intestines twisted painfully again.
Riza sighed and rested a hand on Edward's shoulder, frowning as the muscles beneath tensed at the touch. Her thumb moved back and forth in calming gesture. "Don't apologise." She told him.
The lieutenant simply shook her head at him. "It's alright."
Edward opened his mouth to protest a little more when he noticed the warm smile on the blonde woman's face and that her eyes were gentle. Shutting his mouth gently, he fidgeted, feeling awkward. "I should go…" he said quietly, "I shouldn't have done that and…"
"I'm not angry, Edward…"
"I know!" He burst out, frustrated, looking towards her with a mix of emotions passing across his face. "I know… but…" Shrugging off her hand gently, he sank onto the worn leather couch and pressed his face into his palms with a sigh before lifting his head slightly to stare at his shoes. "I don't know…"
Riza's brow furrowed slightly and sat down beside him. "Do you know why you kissed me?" She asked quietly.
"… Winry told me once to do something about these visits…" Edward started. "I wasn't sure what she meant, but I had an idea and well…" he floundered, annoyed at how flustered he was, "that's what I decided to do to… to know where we stood I guess."
Riza was quiet for a few moments. "And do you know now?"
"No…" Edward muttered bitterly, "Not after that…"
"Look at me."
The alchemist clenched his jaw but lifted his face to her, meeting her gaze silently before starting slightly in shock when she leaned forward and covered his lips with her own.
The kiss was longer and more mature than the peck he had given, and told Edward and this was not Riza's first time at doing this. That or simply being older than he was gave her more knowledge in the field. As the pressure increased, Edward stopped thinking and simply allowed them to melt into each other, their faces tilted and an arm winding around the other's waist.
Pulling away slowly, they stared at each other before Edward shifted and his tongue darted to out to taste his lips. Riza watched him patiently, "and now?" She questioned.
A smile, a ghost of normal wide grin, appeared on the alchemist's face. "I think I know…" He replied flicking his gaze over to the fire where Hayate was watching them curiously before looking back at her. "But I think I need some time to think…"
Riza nodded in understanding and pulled herself away from him slowly. "That's understandable."
Edward looked at her sadly, noting the slight dullness that appeared in her eyes. "I'm sorry…"
The lieutenant shot him a reassuring smile. "I told you not to apologise." She reminded him.
Silence loomed for a few moments, broken only by the steady ticking of the clock on the wall and Black Hayate's whining at the negative atmosphere.
"I should go, then." Edward said slowly, standing.
"It's still snowing outside, you'll freeze." Riza pointed out.
Edward rubbed the back of his neck, but didn't say anything, instead frowning in thought.
Riza glanced out of the window at the darkening sky, "you can stay here if you want. It doesn't look at though it'll stop snowing before night comes."
"It's due to drop below freezing tonight too…" Edward added, grimacing. He looked over his shoulder at her. "If you don't mind…"
"It's fine." She assured him. "But if you want some space…" She added, furrowing her eyebrows at him.
The alchemist paused, thinking, before giving her a sheepish smile. "Maybe… maybe it would be good to work things out with you rather brooding about it back at my apartment; it'll only make Al bug me about what's bothering me anyway." His lips twitched up some more as he pictured his younger brother's concerned face. "So…" He shifted, "is it alright if I phone to let him know I won't be back tonight?"
Riza nodded. "Of course."
Edward thanked her and walked towards the hallway of the apartment, where he knew the phone was sitting on a long, thin table. He shrugged off his coat halfway, intending to hook it up on one of the pegs lining the hall's walls, but stopped when he realised how cold it was away from the warmth of the fire. Cursing the broken heating, he pulled the coat back on fully.
Riza was staring at the fire as the alchemist begun walking to find the phone, her expression gentle and pleased. She herself, admittedly, was a little confused with what was happening between them, but it wasn't an unwelcome change. A small part of her wanted to sit and think about it, but she knew talking about it would help them both to come to a decision. She started slightly out of her thoughts as a wet nose pressed against her fingertips.
Black Hayate licked her fingers, wagging his tail at her and barking once.
"Hungry?" She questioned the black and white dog as he bounded towards the kitchen. She watched as he disappeared out of sight before calling, "Edward?"
The blond man poked his head around the doorway leading to the hallway. "Yeah?"
Riza smiled at him. "We'll work it out." She told him. "I'll go and make dinner while you phone Alphonse."
Edward grinned at her. "I know."
Me: Review? I'll continue soon!