Title: Little Things

Chapter Title: Gift

Author: S J Smith

Summary: Al can't just study alkahestry in Xing. He has to ask permission, first.

Warnings: Post 108 speculations/spoilers.

Disclaimer: Despite it being over, Arakawa still owns all.

A.N.: Written for the Live Journal Community, Fanfic_Bakeoff, for the prompt 'token'.

A.N.2: This will be a series of stories (not necessarily in any chronological order) that take place during the two years mentioned in chapter 108 of the manga and beyond.

The young man, his head held high, his expression solemn, stood before the emperor of Xing. "Your Excellency, I've come before you today to ask your permission to travel throughout your land. I am interested in learning alkahestry from your subjects."

Ling kept a steady gaze on Alphonse Elric. He'd expected at least one of the brothers to journey to Xing. Somehow, he wasn't as surprised as he might have been that Ed stayed behind. After all, Winry might not appreciate him leaving her behind. "Is that so, Amestrian?" It would do no good to announce he knew Al and put his friend even under greater suspicion. Despite the agreement of a trade route with Amestris, Ling had realized some of his father's court were old, dried up, and unwilling to accept any new ideas unless they originated within Xing herself. "How do I know you wouldn't turn your knowledge against me in the future?" There, that should satisfy the courtiers.

"I give you my word, Excellency," Alphonse said, "and also this, as a gesture of good will, from my country to yours." He unfurled the fabric draped over his arm.

Biting back a smile, Ling tried not to laugh at the sight of a duplicate of Ed's stupid red coat. "As a token, Amestrian, I'm not sure of the meaning."

Alphonse's smile was far too sweet. "It's from my home, Excellency; wool sheared from our own sheep; dyed with our own dyes. Sewn by a young woman."

He couldn't imagine Winry sewing, but then again, she was a determined girl. "All right. You can study alkahestry in my land. But in turn, I must hear stories from yours." He leaned his elbow on the armrest, barely able to keep from smiling. "Tell me, what news of the Fullmetal Alchemist?"