I know, it took forever! It was a while for me to get inspired to finish this two-shot but here you go!
Lan Fan didn't want to stay on the dance floor longer than necessary but Ling wasn't really giving her much of a choice. He had given her the rest of the night off and she had pointedly ignored him, staying near the corner so she could watch him as he danced with nearly every eligible woman in the country. The task in itself was less than appealing but the other option including dancing with men that her uncle thought would serve her a good match. She had already stated her opinion on the idea of her marriage: her duty was her first and only priority, and a husband would only damper that. She didn't mention the fact that the one man she did want to marry was previously engaged, for obvious reasons. So instead she stood there, politely turning down a few offers to dance now that her mask was off (another thing that Ling insisted on), and watched his feet move across the dance floor.
"You look miserable." She scowled and shoved a fist in the direction of the voice, huffing when a hand reached out and caught it before she could make contact with his stomach.
"Nice to see you too, Lan Fan," he said warily and she turned to face the Fullmetal Alchemist, hero of the people, scowling as his robes tangled at his feet.
"They wouldn't do that if you would stand still for more than a few seconds." He shot her a look before resuming his rearrangement of the fabrics.
"You didn't bring Miss Rockbell with you," she said and suddenly his hands fumbled, dropping the robe altogether in favor of glaring at her. Over the past few days, when he wasn't coercing Mei into showing him some writings about alkehestery, he had spent most of his time sparring with Lan Fan. Now that he couldn't use alchemy, he had focused all his energy on mastering various forms of hand-to-hand combat. Who better to fight, he had said on his first day, than Lan Fan, who was both a talented Xingese martial artist and also missing a limb. And so, they would meet in the mornings and fight until Alphonse and Mei would lumber down to the training grounds, exasperated with waiting for the two to stop for lunch, only to find them lying on the ground, panting, shouting curses at each other from opposite ends of the ring. The pair formed an unlikely, volatile friendship, but she couldn't say she wouldn't miss it when the boy returned to Amestris.
"Winry was busy; she has a lot of people to tend to in Rush Valley," he mumbled, shrugging.
"You didn't invite her, did you." It wasn't a question. Edward sputtered, crossing his arms against his chest.
"She knew I was coming! If she wanted to come, she could've asked," he said, throwing his hands in the air. Lan Fan hid a snicker behind her hand, raising an eyebrow. She kept one eye on Ling, who was currently being pulled away from a dance by a Cretian diplomat and another on the fidgeting boy.
"Or she could've been waiting for you to invite her to come along, considering you were the one who received the invitation." He groaned, pressing his palm against his head. She patted his shoulder sympathetically.
"You can fix it once you get back."
"Don't remind me. I can't believe I crossed that damn desert for this bastard and he hasn't even come say hello to me yet," he glowered in Ling's general direction and she smiled. If it was anyone else, she'd likely chop them to pieces for calling Ling a bastard. But in her absence during Ling's time in Amestris, Lan Fan knew the two men had gone through a lot together. Enough to warrant the visit to Xing and enough for the bean to curse at Ling every once in a while.
"It'd be in your best interest not to insult Master Ling," she said regardless.
"Speaking of which, have you been….have you had to take any of the painkillers I gave you?" Lan Fan knew that with the way Ed was mumbling (not to mention the poor change of subject), he wasn't asking out of his own curiosity.
"Did Greed ask you to ask me?" His eyes shifted down.
"He mentioned it." She wasn't surprised. Greed the avaricious may act high and mighty but she knew he was still concerned over the display of weakness she had shown a few days prior. She just hoped he hadn't thought about it too much or Ling would catch wind of it and fret over her like a first-time mother. That was the last thing she needed: more attention being called to their relationship, whatever that relationship was.
"You don't have to worry, they've stopped for now. They mostly happen when I'm stressed—"
"Which is all the time." She glared at him.
"I'm fine," she let out a breath of irritation. Then she imagined Ling chastening her on her bad manners and added as an afterthought: "But thank you. The pills really helped," she mumbled and Ed smiled.
Suddenly, a hand touched her shoulder. She knew who it was before they even spoke but allowed them the element of surprise by turning around.
"Dance with me." Lan Fan knew this was coming.
"I doubt you're already finished dancing with all fifty of your future wives," she said dryly and saw Ed grimace and mumble a half-assed excuse, leaving to join his brother who was currently in a heated discussion with Mei.
"You're my personal guard and you're female. I doubt anyone will be surprised if we dance once," he persisted.
"Plus, you're technically an eligible—"
"I'm a vessel, Emperor Yao."
"Not to me." It wasn't as if Lan Fan didn't know this. Ling's affection for her may have come as a surprise in the beginning but she had no doubt in her mind that his feelings were genuine. After all, she knew him and he was not one to ignore his passions in favor of maintaining the status quo. This is what made her nervous: the idea of revealing their relationship to the court wasn't something that made him nervous. Why would it? He's the Emperor; he's allowed to take lovers and do whatever he wants as long as it doesn't damage their country. But she would never allow it. It had little to do with the way people would treat her (in all honesty, she couldn't care less about whispers in the hallway or scowls hidden behind fans) and much more with the fact that her pride wouldn't allow herself to be associated in history as simply one of the Emperor's concubines.
"Greed thinks you're being ridiculous, he wants me to let you know."
"Greed can keep his opinions to himself." Ling lets out an irritated breath she knows doesn't belong to him. Greed is allowing Ling this one day without any sort of intrusion, mostly out of respect for how hard the boy has worked to be in this one moment, wearing a crown and his imperial robes.
"I think you're being ridiculous."
"Ling." She spoke his name softly, so quiet that she wasn't sure he even heard it himself. But his eyes focused on her mouth, eyebrows furrowed, and she knews he understood before she even said anything. He always pushed back when she retreated, whereas Greed pushed further, nearly driving her over a cliff whenever they argue.
"So is this how our lives are going to be? Sneaking around at night and pretending it never happened when the Sun comes out?" Ling has always thought Lan Fan was the mature one, the one who was willing to make sacrifices that he was too much of a coward to even conceive. She was the reason he was wearing these robes and she was the reason he wanted to rip them off.
"We chose our paths," she said simply and then held out her hand. "Let's dance." She allows him (but really, herself) this indulgence and he leads her out onto the dance floor, pressing their palms together as the next beat pours out from the drums.
Tada! Hopefully I will have my chapter two drabble for strangeness and charm by next week (fun fact: it's EdWin) and then I have a Soul Eater fanfiction coming up soon!