Heavy ch 11
By Suzi a.k.a. KatsyKat
Last Chapter: ""Just be sure to open the closet door slowly." Winry cautioned as she turned from the boys and practically skipped up the stairs."
"Why? Does the door get scared if you open it too fast?" Ed asked with a haughty grin as he threw the oak-paneled door open, bouncing the handle loudly against the wall to make sure his friend heard it.
To his dismay, a stack of boxes began teetering towards him. With the sudden release of their sole support and the added vibration from the impact of the doorknob they were shaking voilently.
Both Elrics watched with horror as the boxes swayed far enough to lose their center of gravity. Ed rushed forward with his arms outstretched just as they came down on top of him.
The large crash echoed throughout the house. Winry grinned, easily convincing herself the she did NOT tell him that on purpose so that he would do the opposite thing and end up with a bunch of stuff on his head. It served him right for being so easy to goad.
"Told you!" She yelled down the stairs in a taunting voice, before she slammed her bedroom door and turned to her task of getting dressed.
Ed decided long before he'd freed himself from the prison of junk atop him, that Winry was definitely NOT cute (despite his earlier thoughts) – and he wasn't sure why he ever thought so. She was an ugly… VERY ugly, vindictive, woman.
Al was doing his best to hide his laughter, and so far he had been ok. He was somewhat used to his brother antics and well aware of the consequences of lost composure at certain... crucial moments. Also, since yesterday, Al had the feeling that his brother was realizing something long pushed aside that was distracting him and at the same time fueling him to be a little more… carefree.
So the younger brother, deep in his own analytical thoughts, watched everything happen, and was too late to prevent the boxes from falling. He saw Ed disappear under the rubble as box after box flew open and deposited its goods on the young alchemist in a swift, almost simultaneous, motion. Al even briefly considered his qualification for a diplomatic kind of metal for NOT laughing at that point. The domino effect was, after all, pretty humorous to watch.
Then Ed had to pop his head out of the debris he was buried in. At which point, Al completely lost it. The vision of Ed's head in the pile of clutter sent Al crashing over the edge of composure. He laughed for so long he was sure his sides would be hurting if he could feel them.
"Shaddup Al." Ed grumbled after a few seconds, his small voice completely lacking malice. He stood up, slowly, sending clothes, old toys, and books tumbling to the floor around him as he tried to extract himself from the pile as neatly as possible. The fact that the task was impossible without making a larger mess didn't stop Ed from trying for a few minutes to keep everything in a singular pile.
"What do they NOT throw ANYTHING away." The elder brother grumbled as he finally shook the last of the mess, a jump rope, from it's position of being tangled over his boot.
"Well… the basement is pretty much all their spare automail parts. I guess they need a little more storage in the house." Al suggested after slowly calming his laughter.
For a few silent moments Ed and Al stood together surveying the mess. Al didn't have to be a physic to sense the tension from Ed as he took in the combined mess of the overturned boxes.
"At least we found the baskets." Al chirped, trying to lessen his brothers mood. Being careful not to step on anything proved to be easier than it looked with everything coating the floor in a radius of several feet; and so with a single step Al raised his arm and carefully removed the wicker baskets from the hook they were hanging on just inside the closet. Stepping back delicately he began swinging one basket triumphantly in a circle around his outstretched finger.
"Great." Ed grumbled sarcastically, his eyes flickering to the baskets and back to the mess. Even Al "Master-of-Understanding-all-that-is-Ed" was uncertain if he was referring to finding the baskets or the sound of Winry's upstairs door closing, indicating that she had, most likely, finished changing and was on her way down.
After a few echoing steps confirmed her approach, Winry emerged from the top of the stairs and began her trek down. Her sandals made light footsteps on the stairs. A light blue summer dress, a few shades lighter than her eyes, fell to just above her knees. Ed couldn't help but compare it to the dress in his memory. They were quite similar with the frilly/bunched top and flaring skirt. And despite his recent internal declaration of her being 'not cute' the slight blush on his cheeks reminded him that she could indeed be quite beautiful.
Surveying the cluster at the right of the stairs, Winry addressed the elder Elric with a wrinkled nose.
"Is making a mess the ONLY thing your good at?"
"Well, at least I didn't fall down the stairs and knock myself out helplessly before I threw stuff around!" Ed countered, feeling overly defensive because of his of the sheer size of the mess, and completely missing Winry's joking tone. The silence following his remark made him realize him mistake. Oh good, Ed, step on a nerve why don't you?
"Seriously?!" Winry yelled, her face red from embarrassment, as she reached the bottom of the steps. "You're seriously going to use that? Well at least THAT was an accident!"
"What, you're saying I did this on purpose?" As quickly as his regret had appeared so did it vanish, leaving behind a justified anger at her assumption of fault.
"Not so much 'on purpose' as you have to push every single limit placed before you. Like every rule in this world exists for you to break it. I TOLD you to open the door slowly! Did you HAVE to slam it JUST to prove you could?" Winry's hands flew to her hips.
"Prove? Hell no! How was I supposed to know that you had the damn thing completely booby-trapped??" Ed's face was dark red and his eyebrows were so furrowed they were almost touching. His hands were shaking fists at his sides as he struggled valiantly to keep his temper in check.
Despite his anger, his shoulders were hunched up slightly, showing his defense posture. He had slammed the door on purpose. And she had tried to warn him. And now he had given a lame excuse that she was about to cut down in three… two… one…
"Yea, right Ed. I booby-trapped my hall closet, on the off-chance that you'd be staying an extra day, ONE! And TWO on the even MORE off-chance that you'd want to go picking pears so I could send you for the basket after YOU offered to help." Winry counted the points off her fingers with a snarl on her face. Thinking a second longer she added a third finger and then pointed them at Ed, "And three: like I'd risk my grandmother opening the door and giving her a heart attack just to set up a trap for likes of you!" The last line was yelled.
Taking a deep breath she added, much more calmly. "The ONLY reason those boxes fell is because you deliberately threw the door open when I warned you be careful!
"Well the only reason I did that was because you..." Winry paled slightly as she watched the cogs turn in Ed's mind. "You-you did it on purpose!" he sputtered indignantly.
"I did NOT!" Winry shouted even as her red face and guilty expression gave her away.
"You did SO! I can't believe it! You taunted me into throwing the door open. You manipulating brat!"
"Sticks and stones, Ed!" Winry stuck her tongue out at Ed. "And just for THAT outlandish accusation, - of which you have NO proof!" she added hastily, "YOU can be the one to clean up this mess!" She stood, fuming, daring the Elric to argue.
"Man, this is bull! It's YOUR fault in the first place for putting so much junk in here! It's YOUR junk, YOU should clean it!" Ed's voice raised even further and Winry, although feeling slightly guilty, wasn't about to back down.
"And YOU were the one who threw open the door!" You even dented the wall!" She yelled pointing at the offending mark in the plaster.
"Which you KNOW I can fix in TWO SECONDS FLAT" Ed yelled. Throwing up his sleeves and preparing to clap his hands together, he stormed over to the wall.
Wanting none of that, Winry intercepted him by standing directly in front of the wall. The two now found them selves inches away from each other in a very intense stand-off.
"Oh NO you won't! No Alchemy in THIS HOUSE!" She bellowed throwing her arms out as if protecting the wall.
"Oh, again about the Alchemy!" Ed threw his hands down at his sides. "Seriously, what is your problem with Alchemy?"
"I don't HAVE a problem with your stupid hobby." Winry tossed back.
"Than why call it stupid?"
"Because it is!"
"Resorting to a rather childish vocabulary to discuss your real feelings, arn't we?"
"Well, I DO have to match the comprehension abailities of my audience." Winry sneered, "That doesn't mean I have a problem with it."
"That why, Miss-I-Don't-Have-A-Problem, do you always freak out whenever it's brought up?"
"I do NOT freak out!"
"You do so! You JUST did!" Ed accused, pointing at the dent in the wall.
"Maybe I just don't like the idea of you thinking you can fix whatever you want so easily!"
"That's ridiculous! Alchemy isn't like magic – there IS work involved."
"I know plenty about what's involved."
"If you really did you wouldn't be so squeamish about a little…"
"I also know that there's always a cost!" Winry interrupted daringly. The silence dropped on the room like a stone.
Ed, opened his mouth once, twice a third time before shutting it with a click.
Both teens, stood hotly, frozen with their hands on their hips. Their faces were equally red with near identical teeth-baring snarls and angry, yet shocked, glares.
Al expected Ed to be shocked after a statement like that, but Winry also looked surprised and perhaps a little guilty? Al wasn't sure what emotions were swimming just underneath the blondes' expressions. What he did know was that they made quite a sight. It wasn't often their fights were so serious or so close to the subject matter of Ed and Al's greatest sin and longest quest.
Typically, Al stood back for fights like these, in order to let his brother and friend hash it out on their own. It was usually better for all three of them if he let them finish the fights that they started. And Al had more than once been the figurative 'whipping boy' when intervening in some divided topic.
But this time… this argument was different. He could see they were getting very personal very quickly. The line was as thin as he'd ever seen it drawn between the two. Al never liked seeing anyone disagree, least of all his brother and best friend. And he could admit that, selfishly, he just didn't want to miss out on their plans for the day and be faced with them both sulking.
Whatever his brother and friend needed to work out they could do on their OWN time he decided, clamping a heavy hand down on each Ed and Winry's shoulders.
"Ok that's enough!" He yelled to get their attention before softening his voice, "I know this feels a lot like old times and we're almost reliving the glory days – but do we HAVE to revert to the problem solving skills of 6 year olds?" He pleaded, holding his nonexistent breath in anticipation of their reactions.
WHAT!! …no-fluff? Where did it go? LOL I'm wondering if I surprised you. I hope I did. I felt like this story was getting a little… flat. (even with all the stuffing) So I sprinkled in some conflict. Hope I didn't throw you too bad!
My next update will most likely be slow in coming. Spring and summer is passing me by and I have SO MUCH WORK to get done on my house before the winter comes, that I fear less time will be dedicated to my favorite past time. Never fear though, I won't be abandoning anything, just taking a little more time as I tend to some other much-needed items. I also may – MAY – post a story or two I have sitting around on my hard drive. (It's a good thing computer files don't collect dust!)
As always, thank you so much for reading!