Apparently this year I was hit with the 'Christmas' plot bunny... quite a lot of them actually. It didn't really happen last year, so I guess now is as good a time as any to make up for it! This was meant as a little bit of humor, a little bit of fluff, and otherwise nothing related to any other story I've thus written.
I hope you all enjoy! And I hope you're enjoying your holidays!
A Break in Tradition
"What exactly are you doing?"
Edward looked up idly as Alphonse entered the sitting room of the small two bedroom apartment they shared together. "Hey." He greeted, before turning back to his task.
Alphonse blinked, and with a bit of a frown he pulled his eyes from the strange scene before him, to the clock on the wall. "Brother, it's three in the morning. What are you doing up at this hour and for that matter," he looked back to the piles of shiny bows, ribbons, rolls of wrapping paper, and tape, "what are you doing?"
"What are you doing up at this hour?" Edward bantered back smugly as he finally chose a color of wrapping paper. A shiny blue one. Simple, yet effective.
Alphonse rolled his eyes and hesitantly began to make his way over to the highly irregular scene. "I needed a drink of water."
"The kitchen is the other way." Edward offered helpfully as he unrolled a goodly amount of paper.
Alphonse grunted and sat down on the floor across from his brother where the gift wrappings he didn't even know they owned were spread out on the coffee table. "So what is all this?" He asked, waving a hand at it.
Edward plucked up a sleek white cardboard box about the size of an encyclopedia from the floor and set it in the middle of the wrapping paper. "It's for a Christmas present." He said simply, though with a smile playing at the corners of his mouth.
Alphonse's eyes widened momentarily before he suddenly began to laugh quietly into his sleeve.
"What's the matter with you?" Edward asked flippantly as he began to take measurements so he could cut the paper.
"You've never done Christmas presents before." Alphonse grinned at his brother, undaunted by the look he was now getting. "Who's it for?"
Edward harrumphed and grabbed the dull kitchen knife so he could cut the paper. "Not for you, sorry."
Alphonse wasn't hurt in the least, he only grinned more. Clearly his brother was embarrassed about wanting to give someone a gift, even if he was hiding behind a bristly exterior to cloak that embarrassment. But after knowing his brother so long, he wasn't fooled. "So, who's it for?"
Edward didn't answer as he continued to cut the paper, acting for all the world as if he hadn't heard Alphonse's question. And he remained uninterrupted as he finished cutting, and then clearing the scraps away he lay the large square of wrapping paper out on the table and grabbed his gift so he could begin wrapping.
…Except for one problem…
"Huh?!" Edward exclaimed in confusion, his brow furrowing into a frown as he realized the paper wasn't big enough to fit all the way around the cardboard box. "But I measured it!"
Alphonse hid a smile and he reached forward, "may I?"
Edward gave him a suspicious look. "Don't look inside the box."
"Of course not." Alphonse agreed easily, and quite cheerfully turned the box the other direction before pulling up the sides of the paper so Edward could apply the tape.
Edward blinked at it, and then groaned under his breath. "I'm no good at this." He confided as he reached for the tape.
"You've never done it before." Alphonse smiled.
"No." Edward agreed readily and placed tape the entire way along the two loose ends of the paper to secure them together. And seeing his brother smirk, frowned. "What?"
"Just never seen anyone use that much tape." Alphonse shrugged, and then broke into laughter as his brother threw the tape at his head.
Edward was glowering as he caught the tape that Alphonse tossed back to him. "Should I start over?"
Alphonse took that as a sign that he was welcome to stay, and he shook his head. "No. It's fine, in a way it's kind of cute."
"Cute?!" Edward exclaimed, and suddenly dove for the half-wrapped gift.
Alphonse, seeing the danger, immediately snatched it out of harm's way and held it out of his brother's flailing reach. "In a good way! I promise!" He tried to appease.
Edward suddenly sat back down looking rather curious. "A good cute…"
"Yes." Alphonse agreed firmly, and lay the gift back down again. "So who is it for?"
Edward mumbled a name under his breath, his cheeks flushing a bit as he grabbed up the tape once more.
"Speak up a bit. I'm a human, not a dog." Alphonse chided as he carefully folded in one of the ends for his brother.
Edward grimaced a bit before blurting out, quite loudly, "Roy!"
At first, Alphonse could only stare and gape at his brother, not noticing that said brother had taped his fingers to the gift.
Edward blushed under his brother's clear shock, and began fiddling with the tape self-consciously. "I really like him. But no matter what else I try he never notices me more than he has to. I thought that maybe if I did something like this, it'd get his attention."
Alphonse sat back with a slowly forming smile. "Roy?"
Edward nodded quickly. "Yeah…"
"For how long?" Alphonse's smile was growing wider.
Edward's eyes widened at the question, and he shook his head vehemently. "Oh no! I'm not giving you that too! But…" he looked down at the gift with a wistful smile, "it's been a long time."
Alphonse felt something inside him soften at his brother's words, and he nodded. "You really want him?"
"Yes!" Edward said sharply, as if warning his brother not to try arguing him away from it.
"Then let's get this gift wrapped!" Alphonse grinned in encouragement. "We have only a few hours until he should be waking up, and you are going to need a shower and a hairbrush before then."
Edward's glower was lost as Alphonse discovered that his fingers were attached to the gift, and with a muttered curse, he set to helping his brother free them.
Once everything was taped, not including Alphonse, Edward set about searching for the perfect ribbon to wrap stylishly around his gift. And he ignored his brother's clear amusement as he set about doing so. Size, edging, color, texture, it was all critical in his mind.
Finally he settled for a plain silver one, and tried several times to wrap it how he wanted it to lay on the present before giving in to Alphonse's beckoning hand and allowing his brother to do it, muttering a thanks when it was done.
"Sure." Alphonse smiled and watched as his brother started on choosing a bow. "Can I ask what you got him?"
"You can ask, but I won't tell." Edward chirped smugly as he began comparing bows.
Alphonse chuckled and settled back to watch and wait. It was easy to see that this meant a lot to his brother, and he sincerely hoped that Roy wouldn't continue to be clueless about his brother's affections. Even though he himself hadn't known until just now.
"There!" Edward declared as he found a matching silver bow and peeled off the backing before sticking it carefully onto the top right hand corner of the gift.
Alphonse smiled down at it, it did look nice. "Are you going to write him a card too?"
Edward shook his head with a shudder. "I don't know what I'd say in one."
"Well, why don't you go get in the shower? I'll clean up in here."
Edward nodded and looked at the clock before bolting to his feet when he realized he only had a little over half an hour before Roy would probably be waking up. And he fairly flew into his bedroom while calling out his gratitude to his brother.
Alphonse looked after him with a smile and a shake of his head before he got busy with the clean up. Goodness help him if he were ever this scattered when he fell in love.
It was nearly 6:00a.m. when Edward finally stood at the door, dressed in his usual winter wear… which happened to be how he normally dressed but with the addition of a thick black scarf, and in his hands he reverently clutched his gift.
"Good luck." Alphonse said as he opened the door for his brother.
Edward gave him a somewhat lopsided smile as he nodded, taking a deep breath before stepping outside. He heard the door close behind him as he made his way across the snow-covered grounds to head to Roy's house.
It was a rather long walk, considering the man lived practically on the other side of Central, but it gave him time to reflect on what he was about to do, and why.
It had all started approximately seven months ago…
"I know you're enjoying your free healthcare," Roy drawled as he entered through the door, "but the hospital is not your second home, Fullmetal. You really should refrain from making it your first and longest stop every time you get back from a mission."
Edward looked up from his newspaper with a glare. "I'm feeling much better, thank you for your concern." He quipped back. "Bastard."
Roy smirked, but was far past the point where he'd have taken offense to the insult that these days sounded more like a well-meaning nickname than anything else. "So what happened this time? Did you trip over a pebble? Perhaps be taken out by a small child or rodent?"
The glare only intensified as Edward snapped the newspaper closed. "It was a ten foot tall chimera, actually. Along with its sledgehammer loving creator." He replied coolly. "Have you ever been hit by a sledgehammer?"
"Can't say I have." Roy couldn't help but wince. "Though are you sure it wasn't just a regular hammer? I know your small size can make depth perception challenging."
"I see you're as impossible as always." Edward growled, "I should get an increased morphine drip just because of you."
Roy rolled his eyes as he took a seat in the chair next to Edward's bed, kicking one leg over the other as he reclined back. "Now that's just childish, Fullmetal."
"Did I invite you to stay?" Edward frowned at him. "By my recollection I should have at least the rights of an injured patient to kick headache inducing commanding officers out of my hospital room."
Roy's expression remained unreadable for a moment before he smiled faintly. Yet it vanished just as quickly as it had come. "I didn't intend to come here as your commanding officer."
Edward's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Then what did you come here as?"
"Someone who might be allowed to stay a bit longer, but still for the purposes of making sure you're all right." Roy answered simply, his fingers steepling together before his mouth as he gazed over them to the confused blond sitting there in the hospital bed.
Edward was barely a second away from an outburst, before he paused as he studied the man sitting there. Now that he actually looked, and really looked, Roy didn't look all too far away from deserving a hospital bed himself. He wasn't sure he'd ever seen circles under the man's eyes, and the arrogant posture seemed more an active effort than a result of habit. "I'm… fine." His voice was puzzled. "You have access to my charts… the doctors just insist I stay a few more days for monitoring and to rest."
Roy's eyes slipped closed for the barest of seconds before he stood. "Then rest you must." He said as he gave a jerk of a nod to the blond. "I'll expect you by immediately after discharge for your report."
Edward watched, stunned into silence at this change of routine as Roy headed promptly for the door, until he at last found his tongue again the moment the man's hand touched the knob. "Are you all right?"
Roy turned in surprise at the question to look at Edward in a shock that soon faded into a grateful smile before it vanished altogether behind the mask. "I am now."
And then the man was gone with a click of the door, leaving behind a bewildered Edward.
Edward shook his head with a reminiscent smile as he walked across the snowy grass of one of the many parks that would cut down his traveling distance to Roy's home. After the man had left that day, Edward had puzzled over every little odd thing that had occurred until his brain ached from spinning in luckless circles.
Only in that moment where he was frustrated beyond comprehension at such a stupid sounding matter as figuring out what had possessed his commanding officer that day, did he realize something. Something very important.
He actually cared about Roy.
And perhaps he'd imagined it… but that day Roy had truly seemed to care about him in return.
It hadn't been immediate love, but it nevertheless had blossomed into it. And so despite being completely ignorant to such matters of the heart, he'd thrown himself with a fierce dedication into trying to make Roy see how he felt without hitting him over the head with it.
Yet thus far nothing had come of his diligent efforts. If anything, Roy seemed more prone to avoid his presence. Something which puzzled and frustrated him immensely.
But he wasn't willing, nor ready to give up trying.
And so here he was, trekking across the snow with his first Christmas gift ever to give to the first someone he had ever wanted. He truly hoped it would give Roy the clue every other effort he'd made seemed to have failed to impress upon the man.
It seemed forever, and yet all too soon that he finally stood outside Roy's front door.
Edward stared at it a moment before drawing a deep breath along with his famous reckless courage and raising a hand towards the wood. And as his other hand clenched a bit tighter around the gift as if it were a lifeline, he knocked on the door smartly.
He was half debating setting the gift down and making an uncharacteristic bolt for it when the door swung open.
And there Roy stood, still in his pajamas and a bathrobe, wearing a look of utter shock through a twitch at the corners of his lips that threatened to break into a wide smile.
Edward finally broke the silence by shoving the gift out at Roy roughly. "Merry Christmas." He blurted out quickly, glaring into Roy's eyes as if daring him to make fun of him.
But making fun of Edward was the last thing on his mind as Roy took the gift delicately, as if touching it would shatter the object he never would have expected from the blond standing there on his doorstep. "You got me a gift?" He asked, stunned.
Edward nodded quickly, and as he tried to find the right words to say, he only began to panic as they vanished like smoke each time he tried to grasp them. And so he blurted out the one thing that would come out: "I'm supposed to meet Alphonse for breakfast soon", and then quickly spun on his heel before he began to wish that the ground would swallow him whole.
Roy's eyes widened at Edward's sudden move to bolt, and his free hand snapped out to grab Edward's arm. "Wait!" And as startled golden eyes whipped back around to meet his, he repeated himself much softer. "Wait." Looking down to the gift, then back up at Edward, he slowly began to smile. "Why?"
Edward could have hit him right then and there, cursing him for being so thickheaded. But he balked against it stubbornly, despite what seemed like his better judgment. Yet if time had taught him anything, it was that he needed to act like an adult more often than not. "I wouldn't break tradition," he said quietly, choosing for honesty, "for anyone else."
Roy slowly nodded as he took his hand from Edward's arm. "I know that Alphonse thing is a lie." He smiled, both from the fact of the matter, and Edward's expression. "But I wonder if perhaps," and his smile turned hopeful, "you wouldn't mind having breakfast with me?"
Edward stared at him as if he'd never seen the man before in his life, before suddenly he smiled back brightly. "Would I mind?"
Roy nodded, "I'd really like it if you'd have breakfast with me. And then maybe I can open your gift?" He suggested with that same hopeful smile before looking down at the gift interestedly. "It's not a bomb, is it?"
"Of course not!" Edward exclaimed, and then flushed when Roy laughed. "If I wanted to hurt you I wouldn't have bothered doing it like this." He mumbled, shifting where he stood.
Roy's chuckling faded as a fond smile tugged at his lips. "No… you did this for something else entirely, didn't you."
Edward blinked at him in surprise, "do you…?"
"I had my suspicions." Roy smiled and held the door open a bit wider. "But until now, I wasn't sure if you were just trying to find another way to harass me."
"What?!" Edward exclaimed in sudden exasperation to find that Roy had had suspicions about all the times he'd tried to make the man see that he truly liked him, and then done nothing?! "So you don't care?" He demanded of him angrily. "You just let me continue leading myself on and-"
Roy quickly darted a hand out to clap firmly over Edward's mouth, stemming the flow of accusations. "It's not like that at all." And he braved a smile in the face of still suspicious golden eyes that could flame to anger once more at the drop of a hat. "With you… you change everything. Understand that you're something I've never been faced with before…" and he drew his hand away slowly, his fingers lingering a moment against Edward's lips. "Not like this."
Edward hesitated a moment before he slowly began to smile back as he stepped closer to Roy. "And what," he asked with a tilt of his head, "do you want this to be?"
Roy gazed down at him fondly and raised a hand to brush fingertips against the blond hair. "Have breakfast with me… we'll start from there. But I assure you, Edward, breakfast isn't where I want it to end."