AN: I have nothing to say until end notes.
Disclaimer: The Elrics nor the Rockbells are mine in any way, unfortunately I was born several centuries too late and on the wrong side of the gate for that privilege.
Chapter 3 Standstill
It struck her as odd somehow, the way they could all just slip back into the patterns and habits of their youth after so long. If one didn't look too close they would never have guessed anything had changed in the past six years, except Ed's height of course; he never missed a chance to draw attention to his significant increase in vertical size. Through the kitchen window Winry watched as the two brothers Elric sparred. Nearly a month had passed since they'd come home, Al back in his body and Ed with two mismatching flesh arms. Both brothers had made remarkable progress in getting their bodies back into peak condition; Alphonse had gained substantial weight thanks to his glutinous eating and his ribs no longer showed when he stretched, and Ed's right arm was developing hardened muscles so the appendage no longer looked like it belonged on less muscular man.
Over the course of their recovery the past few weeks Winry had noticed Edward glaring at that arm, grumbling about how he was 'uneven' and 'too light'. As prideful as she was Winry couldn't help secretly relishing the fact that he missed her automail, and that he had no desire to get rid of his automail leg. Yeah, she was selfish, she'd never admit it out loud though.
Winry continued to observe them fondly through the glass. Al used both his arms to defend himself from his brother's rapid kicks and Ed traipsed around like,… a monkey, there was no other way to describe the quick movements and flips, the darting attacks were too primal to be anything else. With ease Al grabbed his brother's foot as it approached using the boy's momentum against him and tossing him back. Ed landed on his feet and darted to the left attacking again without hesitation. No, things hadn't changed, they hadn't even changed their fighting styles, they were using the same tactics they'd practiced all through childhood; a long memorized dance of mock-violence playing out before her eyes. With a last fond smile at the scene Winry returned to her workroom; there were blueprints to perfect.
Later that day the four occupants of the Rockbell house sat down for their evening meal. Granny had insisted both boys shower before stepping foot in her kitchen. So the Elrics sat at the table with dripping wet hair, both boys shoveling obnoxious amounts of food into their mouths with the two Rockbell women smiling indulgently.
Winry set down a homemade knish in the center of the table, Al dived for it, Ed only a second behind. The brother's glared at each other briefly as the squabbled over the dish before Edward smirked and loosened his grip ever so slightly, allowing Al the opportunity to claim the dish with little trouble. Yeah, still the same. As Alphosnse practically inhaled his knish Ed polished off his dinner, leaving his plate sparkling. He leaned back with a heavy sigh of contentment, stomach bulging slightly, "Ah, I'm stuffed."
With a devious smile Winry eyed the one thing left devoured in front of Ed; yep, some things never did change. "Ed, you didn't drink your milk."
The Elric being targeted stiffened, his antennae-like piece of hair standing at sudden attention, sweat beading at his temples at the accusations attached to that statement and the fight that was bound to follow. "Didn't wanna." He grumbled through pursed lips.
Exuberantly and with an excess of exasperation she knew the situation didn't merit, Winry threw her hands into the air, "This is why it took you so long to grow a whole six measly centimeters."
The colic atop Ed's head twitched as the former alchemist bristled, Al and Granny watched in amusement as the two spat insults and glared fire at each other over the untouched bottle of 'cow juice'. Exchanging tolerating glances Pinako and Alphonse agreed silently; some things never changed. Ed and Winry would always fight about the most trivial of things; it was an unspoken rule, a law really, just as sure as equivalent exchange. With impossible speed Winry's wrench was free of its hiding place and making a dent in Ed's cranium the chair he had been sitting in falling back to the ground with a loud slamming of wood on wood. Back on his feet within a moment Ed leveled his glare at the fuming blond mechanic, she met his glare with equal fire. Neither would give nor blink.
Simultaneously their eyes flicked to each other's lips, hardly a visible moment passed, but Al saw. He saw the flicker of his brother's gaze the intense heat in both their eyes, the tangible tension between the two; it made him kind of uncomfortable. Yeah, Al thought, things did change. Wasn't the whole point of alchemy to take something that did exist and shape it, transform it into something new? As true as that concept was, people were different, Al observed as he watched the pair, with people things didn't really change; they grew and stretched and distorted and rearranged themselves, but they never really changed. He supposed that was balance, a balance like equivalent exchange, but every rule had an exception, Al couldn't help but wonder when Ed and Winry would notice the one they were on the cusp of.
Short but I like it. Next chapter is all about Perserving.