Written to fulfill a request made by SerenityFrogLuvr3 waaay back in April. I'm sorry it took so long; I hope you enjoy. -sweatdrop-
And, also... plot? What plot? (But seriously.)
Ditchwater and Champagne
"I know this is for your work and all, but..." Ed and Alfons attend a party, and Ed gets a little more than he bargained for. [post series, pre CoS, mild HeixEd]
"I know this is for your work and this is important for you, but do we really have to stay the whole time?" Edward is coming dangerously close to pleading, adjusting and readjusting his formal white gloves and hurrying behind Alfons, who seems determined to work his way through the chattering groups of people as fast as possible. His hair is in a ponytail and it makes him feel out of place - not because he's blonde, but rather because he's the only male in the room with hair that reaches below his shoulders. The warm golden light from the chandelier is too warm on his face and neck, and he can't seem to find any drink that isn't alcoholic or unpronounceable. Apparently Lady Violette has never heard of ice water.
Alfons glances over his shoulder and gives Edward that confident smile he's not sure whether he loves or loathes. Loves, because Heiderich is exactly what he imagines Al would (could) look like in two or three years, and loathes, because it's that damn cheeky self-assurance that got them into this mess in the first place.
Not that Alfons thinks it's a mess. He's probably having the time of his life.
Edward hates parties. He would rather be back in Amestris fighting Envy- Well, he would almost rather be back fighting Envy. He'd give his other arm to be back with everyone else - that bastard Mustang and Riza and Scheska and Winry and... Al.
Stupid Alfons. Stupid parties. Mentally, he begins to go through a list of places he'd rather be. He's at Dublith, being beaten by Izumi, when he knocks his artificial elbow against someone's shoulder. There's a muffled exclamation and a sound of tinkling glass, and he stops abruptly, cutting off a curse.
A young lady is staggering backwards to get away from the rapidly expanding champagne spill on the floor. Her slippers are a pale silver color, Edward notices with the part of his mind that isn't busy saying ohshitohshitohshit and rapidly composing several abject apologies. "Excuse me, Fräulein, I am so sorry. I wasn't watching where I was going and it was a complete accident, I hope you can find it in your noble heart to forgive me."
He knows he's rambling and being a shameless flatterer, and as he bows he can see her blush and adds that to the number of hateful things about this situation. "Please, was your dress damaged in any way?"
She giggles. "Oh no, it's perfectly all right, Herr..."
"Elric," he supplies, cringing inwardly. Polite, polite, Alfons told him he needed to be extra polite but he knows he's gone more than a little overboard with this situation. "I'm delighted that you have suffered no lasting injuries." If he were in a humorous mood, he would be trying to hold back a laugh at his poor imitation of Colonel Mustang. If only Roy -
"Oh, no injuries at all, Herr Elric," she replies coquettishly. "My name is Matilde Lavendel. Pleasure to make your acquaintance." She holds out her hand and Edward is just bending (and imagining his fifteen year old self blushing furiously) when -
"There you are, Edward!"
Ed quickly presses his lips to her knuckles and then withdraws, looking with no little relief at a smiling Alfons. "I was worried you were lost in the crowd!" he says in that easygoing voice of his. "Next time, try to keep up."
'Next time,' Edward feels like muttering, 'try not to walk so fast.' But instead, he turns to Matilde and bows again. "It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Fräulein Lavendel. I hope I will be fortunate enough to see you again."
The flighty blonde curtsies back and giggles as he takes Alfons's elbow and practically frogmarches him away. The scientist looks horribly amused. "Making new friends, Ed?"
"Shut up," Edward replies, walking faster. He knows he's blushing and counts himself lucky that he was able to suppress his embarrassment for that long. "I spilled her champagne, okay? I had to apologize."
Alfons laughs again. "You didn't have to apologize quite so... flamboyantly. And-" He makes a slightly pained face. "You really don't have to squeeze my arm that hard, either."
"Oh. Sorry." Ed lets go and slows down, taking a few deep breaths. "You told me to be polite. I was just being polite."
"And now you're being defensive."
Before Edward can reply, Alfons snatches two champagne glasses from a passing waiter and passes one to him. He drinks the other one in only a few gulps, then smiles. "This stuff is good. Now, come on. I need to introduce you to the Fräulein Eckert before Lady Violette decides to start the entertainment."
"She's from France," Alfons says later, his speech slightly slurred. "Lady Violette, that is. She's a - uh - an... expatriate. Thassit. Husband was from Germany but he moved to France and then died and she got his land an' whatever an' it was all here so she moved."
"Uh-huh," Ed replies, rolling his eyes. "When did I ask you about her?"
Alfons pauses, hazards a guess. "...Earlier?"
It's past midnight and the party has just ended. The many and varied guests are beginning to straggle out and make their way to their waiting coaches or motorcars - or, in the case of Ed and Alfons, beginning the walk home. The air is balmy and heavy with the scent of lilacs from the purple flowering bushes that line the drive to the mansion.
"We're lucky this is in Munich," Edward mutters. "I'd hate to have to drive home with you in the seat next to me."
"You are as drunk as a stone."
"Stones don't get drunk."
He really, Edward realizes, has no idea how to deal with a drunken person. Having traveled for most of his formative years, sure, he's encountered several here and there. But he and Al would mostly ignore the (usually) unshaven men stumbling from taverns. After all, if they weren't causing any trouble or in need of much assistance...
Even Mustang (whom he still views as the epitome of profligacy even though the man really, now that he looks back, wasn't that bad) was never drunk on his shift. And Ed had only seen him intoxicated once or twice, usually after the annual East headquarters Christmas party.
Right now he supposes all he can do is get Alfons home in one piece, shove him into bed, and then get to bed himself. They've at least made it past the end of the driveway and onto the street, where the majority of partygoers have dispersed and no one will see if Heiderich somehow manages to embarrass himself. Like now.
"Libiamo, amor, amor fra i calici," the blonde warbles. "Più caldi baci avrà!" (1)
Edward winces. Alfons is practically shouting, and his mouth is right next to his ear. "Singing?" he asks. "In Italian? How much champagne did you have?"
"It's from th' opera," Alfons replies in a dismissive tone. "La Traviata, y'know. Written in eighteen... eighteen fifty-something and the Italian is absolutely beautiful." He starts to sing again - only Alfons's singing doesn't sound anything like 'beautiful Italian'. "In questo paradiso, ne scopra il nuovo dì." (2)
"I swear you mispronounced something there," Ed mutters, and wonders whether Al would be this intractable when drunk. Well. Al was always rather intractable, but in a quiet, understated way - not like Alfons is being now, hollering the words to some damn opera Edward has never heard of. An opera he had never heard of before Lady Violette's party, at any rate, because being the cultured expatriate Parisian she was, she insisted on scheduling the performers from the Krolloper for light entertainment. (3)
"Quando non s'ami ancora...!" Alfons bellows. (4)
Edward claps his hands over his ears and gives a furtive glance around to see if any passerby are watching. "You went to this party to promote rocketry!" he hisses at Alfons under his breath. "Will you stop singing like a dying canary? If- if that woman Eckert sees you now, you're dead, right?"
The blonde's eyes widen. "Eckert? Where?" he asks, looking around frantically.
Very tempted to smack his head against the nearest lamppost - repeatedly - Edward sighs. "Nowhere. It was just a hypothetical question." He wonders if dunking Alfons under that obnoxious fountain in Silber Platz would make a difference. Probably not. Heiderich is just as stubborn and thickheaded as Al.
"Are you sure?" Alfons asks in a small voice, his former exuberance gone. Now Ed feels like the bad guy.
"Yeah, Alfons, I'm sure. Let's just get home."
The embankment road is narrow and Alfons is leaning on him more and more. With every step he takes Ed can feel himself being pushed closer to the edge and the drop into the canal, which he most definitely does not want. Swimming is nice and no matter what Al used to tell him, he doesn't have anything against water. Clean water, that is. The water in the canal is a murky kind of brown and he doesn't want to know what's in the bottom.
"Hey, Alfons, stand up, will you?" He pushes vainly at Heiderich's shoulders, trying to straighten him up. The blonde merely wavers and falls more heavily against Edward's shoulder, making him stagger to the side. "Alfons- wait- shit!" His foot lands off the sidewalk and on the slick grass, and, grabbing vainly at the air to try to arrest his fall, he slips and tumbles downward.
Alfons falls with him and they both land in the canal, soaked up to their shoulders with water. The liquid is frigid and under his hands, Ed feels the muck of the canal bottom, and cringes. "What. The hell."
Beside him, Alfons has a strange expression, as if he's not sure whether to laugh or to cry. "It's... really cold."
"Ya think." Edward stands and feels the slime of the waterway clinging to his legs. It's disgusting. It's disgusting. He's going to need a bath - no, make that two baths when he gets back, and he'll probably end up burning these clothes or using them as rags. Pity - this is the only nice suit he possesses. (He can't help but feel a little thrill of vindication, because no nice suit means no more nice, champagne-swigging flirt-fest parties.)
There's a strand of green algae clinging to his hand. He shakes it off with a shudder. "Alfons, tomorrow, when you're sober, I'm going to remind you about all of this. And I'm going to blame it all on you."
The blonde climbs to his feet, also covered in muck. That's two suits ruined, and if Ed has his way, the money will be coming out of Heiderich's pockets. He permits himself a vengeful grin. "Well, this is unfortunate," Alfons says, sloshing his way over to Ed's side and looking at him in a considering manner.
Edward gives him a look, uncomfortable under the sudden and unexpected scrutiny. "What?"
"You have seaweed in your hair." With a deft movement, Alfons plucks the green strand and tosses it back into the water. "And... with your hair wet, you really do look more like a girl."
"I- what?" Ed squawks. He feels a rant coming on - WHO ARE YOU CALLING SO GIRLY HE USES SEAWEED FOR A WIG, or something like that - but manages to bite his tongue and hold it back. He doesn't want to start acting like a fifteen year old. Falling in the canal was bad enough. He settles for, "I do not look like a girl, Heiderich."
Alfons giggles. Then, in a whimsical non sequitur, "Do you think there are fish in this canal?"
"Fish?" For a moment, Ed imagines the type of aquatic creatures that would dwell in polluted water like this. Abruptly, he begins to run for the shore, followed closely by a panting Alfons. "I don't want to know what kind of fish there would be."
Heiderich shudders. "Me neither."
Eventually, they manage to struggle up the grassy incline and back onto the road. Their mud-covered shoes leave dirty wet footprints all along the sidewalk and across the road to their shared flat as they squelch the rest of the way home. Alfons is still insisting on leaning on Edward's shoulder and it makes Ed's sleeve grate unpleasantly against his artificial arm. He can feel the conflicting textures where his skin connects to his automail port and it makes him uncomfortable.
He hopes his mechanical arm and leg don't rust. He knows his automail didn't, but things are different in this world - there's no easy alchemy or bioengineering technology; instead, his limbs rely on the power of physics and questionable metal. He flexes his fingers and sighs.
When they reach the entryway, Ed deposits Alfons unceremoniously on the doorstep while he unlocks the door. His fingers are shaking with the cold and the once balmy breeze now seems to herald a blizzard. He can't wait to get into a bath, or at least to put on some warm clothes. Alfons had better be sober enough to change his clothes, because there is no way Edward will do it for him.
Eventually the door is unlocked and somehow Heiderich manages to stand on his own and stagger through the threshold. On his way in, he yanks Ed's ponytail.
Edward's golden-eyed glare is met by an innocent blue-eyed smile. "You'd make a very cute girl." There's a soft press of lips against his mud-spattered cheek, and then Alfons gropes his way into the house, knocking over a stack of letters on his way upstairs.
He's so stunned that the only thing he can think is, Alfons's breath didn't smell at all like alcohol. So stunned that he doesn't even feel cold any more, and all he can do is shut and lock the door and trudge up the stairs to his room, nearly slipping on one of the letters Alfons had knocked over before.
The next day, when Alfons awakens bright-eyed and refreshed, Edward gives him a suspicious look. "You weren't drunk at all last night, were you?"
"Last night? That was the party wasn't it?"
Edward glares, frustrated with the evasive answer. "Yeah. The party, and the champagne, and the annoying opera singing, and the canal, and the k-" He cuts himself off before he can finish the word, ignores Heiderich's curious look.
The blonde thinks for an infuriating few moments, and then, with an angelic smile - "I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about."
(1) "Let's drink to love, to wine that warms our kisses!"
(2) "'Til the new day dawns on us in paradise."
(3) The Krolloper, or Kroll Opera House (alternately State Opera at the Platz der Republik), built in 1844 and used by Adolf Hitler to house the Parliament after the Reichstag fire. Thanks to Potions for Foxes for the quick information fix (and Wikipedia for the information).
(4) "But if one still waits for love...!" (At this point Alfons is just singing nonsense from the opera. Random Italian words, whatever he happened to pick up on during the performance...)
Reviews are appreciated, con crit is encouraged, I don't own FMA.