Title: Puppy Love
Author: S J Smith
Summary: Two puppies are two too many.
Disclaimer: If I owned any of this, I wouldn't be living in Boxtown.
Notes: Thanks to D. M. Evans for her edits.
"We can't keep three dogs," she said, staring at the mess the puppies had made of her workshop floor. They'd tipped over the waste bin, shredding the papers inside. One of them had gotten hold of a screwdriver, evidenced by chew marks on the wooden handle. The rag rug would have to be replaced, though. At least her wires were safe, hanging from their pegs above the table, though the legs of the table were another matter entirely. "Nnnnn…puppies!"
They stared up at her with their beady black eyes and button noses and Winry half wanted to cuddle them, half wanted to yell. The cream-colored one wagged her curly tail, barking. The other one, almost a solid brown except for points of color on her eyebrows and muzzle, nearly vibrated off the floor. The mother dog sat patiently on their shared bed, set up in the corner of the room. "You're all very cute doggies," Winry said, "but so much work!"
"I agree," Mr. Garfiel said. "Even though they're darling." He scooped up the cream colored puppy, cuddling her. "You are, aren't you, pretty girl?"
"They're weaned," Ed said from where he stood in the doorway, brought there by Winry's barely restrained squeal of dismay. As if that was a cue, the brown pup ran over to him, attacking the cuffs of his pants above his bare feet.
Winry pretended she didn't notice how cute Ed's bare toes were. And his flesh toes weren't bad to look at, either, she mentally added. "Well…maybe Paninya could take one," she said, dubious. Paninya probably would do better with a cat. One that hung out in the window sill and on the roof. A puppy couldn't climb like that.
Leaning over, Ed scooped up the puppy, holding her against his chest. The pup immediately grabbed his braid, chewing on it and growling. "Captain Hawkeye might want another dog," Ed said. "I mean, she has the one already, and…."
If Ed could convince Miss Riza to take a puppy, that would mean someone would have to deliver the puppy and he might be gone for a while. Winry ignored the little twist of her heart at that idea. She scolded herself – Ed had been gone for years before he showed up here in Rush Valley, and she'd been fine without him. She would still be fine without him. "If Miss Riza does take a puppy, that still leaves us with two." Winry wanted to bite her tongue at saying 'us'.
"We can keep one. The momma dog." Ed nodded at her. "She's already housebroken, and she's a good dog." As if knowing she was being talked about, she thumped her tail on the floor, looking from Ed to Winry. "Besides, you need a dog."
"I heard that." Winry folded her arms. "You went from 'we' to 'me'."
Ed glanced sideways, grinning a bit. Winry thought if he didn't have his hands full, he'd probably be scrubbing at the back of his head. "Well. I mean, this is your place." His voice trailed off and Winry wondered what he was thinking. He'd been staying here with Mr. Garfiel and her for nearly six weeks, now. "Garfiel seems to like her, and all…"
Winry sighed. "Okay, so, if we," she emphasized the pronoun, "keep the momma dog, that still leaves a puppy. If Miss Riza agrees to take one of them."
"Tetsuo," Garfiel trilled. "He needs a puppy, and you know he'd take good care of her!"
It seemed like a good idea. "I'll talk to his mom," Winry said, "if you talk to Miss Riza," she pointed at Ed.
He nodded. "That means we need to find a name for our girl."
"Our girl." Winry sighed, turning her attention to the momma dog. Her ears perked and lowered, and she thumped her tail again.
Setting the cream puppy down, Mr. Garfiel headed for the door. Over his shoulder, he said, "Naming the dog - that sounds like a job for the parents!"
Winry pretended she didn't see the sheepish, hopeful grin Ed sent her way, thinking she really needed to have a talk with her boss and about the things he said where other people could hear them. Turning to the momma dog, she squatted down in front of her. "So, you need a name," she said. The dog offered her a cool paw that Winry accepted.
Ed walked across the floor, setting the brown puppy down. It promptly grabbed the edge of the bed, growling and tossing its head back and forth. "You're trouble," Ed said.
"Yeah, I don't want a puppy." Winry caressed the dog's head, "no matter how cute they are."
"So what about a name?" Ed bumped his shoulder into Winry's.
"I don't know." Winry turned her head enough that she could see Ed. "What do you think?"
"Well, she's a good mom," Ed said, as the puppy let go of the cushion to grab hold of her mother's tail. The dog nudged the pup away, rolling her eyes up at them both when the puppy resumed her attack. Ed picked the puppy up again, distracting it with his braid. He had to pitch his voice to be heard over her fierce growls. "'Baba' is Xingese for 'mother'."
Winry wrinkled her nose, not liking the sound of it. "We can do better than that," she said, mentally wincing at that 'we' again.
Ed grinned. "We'll come up with something." Standing up, he told the puppy in his hands, "Let's go call Captain Hawkeye, huh? And find out if she might want another dog." Hesitating, he asked, "Do you want to talk to her, too?"
She considered, wondering if she should talk to Miss Riza, about her concerns with Ed being back in Amestris, here in Rush Valley, underfoot and in her life, and decided that, no, that wasn't a conversation to be having just yet. "No, it's all right." She rubbed the dog's head again. "How about Rusty?" she wondered to the dog, studying the brindled stripes streaking her body.
The dog thumped her tail and nudged Winry, hoping for more petting.
"Rusty," Ed murmured, "well, I guess it's better than naming her after a watermelon."
Winry narrowed her eyes. "Go make your phone call, Ed." She pointed at the doorway, ignoring the way he laughed as he went through it. What had she known? Den was little and round and black when Dad had brought her home; and some of the local watermelons were about the same size and nearly the same color. It made sense to name Den after them, just like it made sense to name this dog based on her coloring, too. "Rusty," she tried out.
She thumped her tail again, letting out a soft bark.
"Yeah," Winry said, petting her new dog, "I think it'll do."