Draped in Wires
Poisoned Scarlet

Summary: Life after Ed and Al's trip to the west and east respectively, told in a series of one-shots.
Rating: T+, for language, sexual situations/themes/implications, graphic nature, pure hilarity.
Genre: Family/Romance/Humor.
Pairing(s): Ed/Winry; Al/Mei; Royai; assorted others.
A/N: A friend (coughKatsumaracough) recommended that I do a one-shot collection without any action – just pure regular-life action and hilarity. So I decided, why not? This one will probably not get updated as frequently as my other collections due to the fact that this post was very random and impulsive and will probably come back to bite me in the ass soon enough—but! For now, enjoy :D
Story Notes:
This is post-Promise Day and basically a slice-of-life one-shot collection with a plot. Yes, you heard right: a series of one-shots that are loosely connected with another in chronological order, do not worry. I assume this will be no longer than 30 – 35 chapters but I can't be sure yet :3

Disclaimer: I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist or any other media involved in this work of fiction. I make no profit from this.

Theme 001: Long Haul

A shot glass was slammed in front of him and Edward looked up to see the bartender grin down at him.

"You're lookin' a little down there, partner," the man good-naturedly said, popping a liquor bottle from the row before him and expertly serving a glass and sliding it to a patron a few seats away from Ed. Said man merely leaned back in his chair, the comedians jokes going in one ear and out the other as the tavern exploded in laughter.

"You think?" he replied, idly grabbing the glass and downing it. He sighed, resting his palm against his cheek.

"What's got you so low, hmm? Maybe I could help!" he offered.

Ed cocked a brow. "You listen to other people's sob stores often?"

"More often than I'd like," he shrugged. "But hey! I like helping people so it doesn't really bother me. Well, you gonna' spill the beans or do I have'ta persuade you some more?" He motioned to the whiskey bottle with a waggle of his brows.

Ed snorted a laugh. "Good to know at least someone cares."

"So what's bugging ya'?"

Edward tapped his finger against the rim of the glass. In retrospect, it would seem like a very bad idea to simply spill your problems to a person whom you knew nothing of. Edward was quite aware that it'd take more than a couple of drinks for him to blab his own tragic past so he wasn't quite worried about that as much as he was a certain blue-eyed, blonde-haired, girl back home...

But this was an issue he could not resolve on his own...

The bartender hummed to himself, dragging a rag across the shined mahogany wood.

His resting right hand gripped his left leg reflexively. Winry would often grab a rag, slather it in polish, and drag it across his automail leg to give it that brand-new shine; where he could see his own reflection in the steel and all the scrapes and scratches were unnoticeable for a while.

He took a deep breath. It had been far too long; his thoughts were in shambles against her bright face. Everything he did, he would somehow drag Winry into it. He was getting frustrated of having her in his thoughts nearly everyday. Not even pacing was enough to kick her memory out of his head... "I give up," he sighed.

"Aw, shit, don't tell me I gotta' give another suicide—!"

"No!" Ed cut quickly, scowling. "What, do I come off as the type to go jump off a bridge or something?"

"Eh, point taken."

Ed rolled his eyes. "What I meant was that I give up trying to learn western alchemy." He never thought he'd say it, but he did. He just couldn't concentrate when he wondered what the country girl was doing, if she was safe, if she was happy, if was cooking up a delicious apple pie...

The bartender rose his brows. "Ya' no, no one blames you. I mean, I heard alchemy is some—!"

"You don't understand," Ed mumbled. "I used to be Amestris' best alchemist. I got my state certification when I was twelve."

The bartender whistled lowly, impressed. "Oh, wait, you're that kid everyone was talkin' about a couple of years back!" he suddenly said.

"Heard of me?" Ed allowed a smirk. "Most have." His smirk fell off. "But now...I sort of—can't."

"Can't what? Preform alchemy?"

"...Yeah, basically."

The bartender gave him a long stare, as if he were contemplating something, before he shook his head and asked: "So why're you giving up on alchemy then?"

Ed was silently glad for the man's respect at his privacy and he said, almost inaudible: "...'cause it's taking too long..."

The man heard him regardless. "Well, hate to break it to you kid, but studying western alchemy usually takes a long while, ya' know? 'Cause that's what you're doin' right?"

"Yeah," Ed nodded, a little disgruntled. "I've been here two whole years and I've learned a lot more than I bargained for but there is still so much more out there. The world is too vast," he murmured, bitterly amused. "I wouldn't be able to appreciate all of it with the time limit I set myself..."

"Time limit, eh?" The bartender mused, dishing out a few drinks when a patron shouted for him. He handed the bottles to the waitress. "There's only one reason a guy would set a time limit on himself when he could be out there, enjoying the world to his own hearts content...you got a girl waiting somewhere?"

Ed heaved a sigh. Bingo. "Yeah, you could say that..."

"What'sa matter? She don't like you or something?"

"No!" he scowled, cheeks flushing pink. She liked him...right? "It's not that...it's just...kind of weird right now..."

"Weird how?"

He sunk deeper into his seat, scowl falling into epic proportions. "I—I guess we sort of confessed our feelings at the train station around two years ago but..."

The bartender suddenly nodded. "Ah, I think I know what's wrong with you: you still don't know whether you've got somethin' with her or not, eh?"

Ed only continued to scowl. This guy was like a mind-reader; it kind of pissed him off...

The bartender chuckled. "Don't worry, kid, I come across a whole lot of you all the time here in this joint! The best way to figure out where you stand in this special ladies life is to go for it."

"Go for it?" Ed asked, confused.

"Yeah, just go for it," the man smiled, encouragingly. "Holding yourself back won't do you any good, trust me. And waiting for something to happen ain't going to benefit you in any way; that's takin' the cowards way out. The best way to get your life back on track is to dive right in there and get everything straightened out," he wisely stated. "You also know she likes you to some extent so that helps."

"I still think she likes me because I'm twenty five percent metal," Ed muttered a little bitterly. He had lost his metallic arm in exchange for his real one...technically, he had lost around twenty five percent of his charm around her...



"Ah, well, I guess that means you've got a seventy five percent chance of not getting rejected, neh?" The man grinned cheekily.

Ed downed another glass. "Seventy percent chance?" He frowned. "That's not reassuring."

"But if you put in other components, the percentage will lower and lower until you've only got so much percent of failure. And by that time, you'd have mustered the guts to properly do something about your current relationship."

Ed eyed the man. "You sure know a lot about this."

The bartender boomed in laughter. "What can I say? I'm an expert!"

Edward slid off the stool, placing a few bucks on the table. "Thanks, I guess that was just what I needed," he thanked sincerely, with a half-smile. "I'll figure out a way to solve this issue...later," he shrugged, readying to go back to his hotel room and pack up his stuff as he was leaving for Resembool in a few short days.

Before he left, however, the bartender hollered: "You want a sure-fire way to get her to be yours?"

Ed paused, glancing over his shoulder expectantly. "How?"

"Kiss her the instant you see her! Girls dig forward guys!" The man laughed at the beet red of his face and incoherent spluttering, going back to dishing out drinks as the young man scrambled out of the tavern with a new deal of problems laid out in his head.

It was going to be a long haul to get where he wanted to get to, he was sure of it.