...So guess what this post is going to be about? (All of these contain spoilers for various chapters.)
Take a Good Look
If he wanted to, Ed could make a very long list of all the things that annoyed him about Ling. The way he took advantage of people. That stupid grin on his face. How one could never guess what he was thinking. His height.
Which only made it more disconcerting to see him when all these features had melted away (well, besides his height, goddammit). Sitting in a dark corner of the shack, the Ling that Ed saw spoke of honor, courage, sacrifice, regret- he was, from all angles, a prince.
It was then that Ed realized just what had pissed him off the most about Ling- he'd reminded him of Mustang. That same smirking, deceiving mask on the outside, with a noble heart and cunning on the inside.
Maybe this was why he decided to put up with him. The Colonel was a bastard, but he could be trusted.
Ling was no Colonel, nor an alchemist. But seeing the serious side of the mask was convincing enough.
Sea of Blood
Edward had long since gotten used to the sight of blood.
When he was little, the salty tang fascinated him, and he'd lick his cuts and bite his tongue to taste it, like all children do.
After his mother died, he began studying the components of blood. Protein, grease, urea, iron... Blood types, the circulation system, everything. Blood became ingrained into his mind- after all, one day he'd have to make it from scratch.
On the day of the transmutation, he and his brother traded their own blood in exchange for the most horrific night of their lives. It tied their bodies together and started them on a quest to restore those precious drops.
After the day of the transmutation, the stench of it lingered about the Rockbell house for weeks. Blood, sweat, tears, grease...he was always covered in some kind of liquid during those long days of pain and recovery.
After the day they burned their house down, it still remained an ever-present factor in his life. Every major battle left him with a wound- a gash on his face, a cut on his side, his head nearly getting split open at one point. Again he returned to the habit of licking it off, if only to keep it from getting in the way.
And now he was swimming in it. It stuck to his hair and clothes, filled his shoes, was the very ground he walked on. Blood was, literally, everywhere. And he couldn't help but wonder what he'd found so fascinating about it.
Lust was a family woman.
The one daughter out of six other siblings, and the oldest next to Pride, she was fiercely devoted to her one parent. She had no mother, only a father. Father was enough, and she would do anything for him- he was the reason for her existence.
As an older sister, Lust had some amount of power over the others. Greed was an exception, but not even Father could keep him from running off on his own, that fool. And as for Gluttony, the youngest next to Wrath, she might as well have been his mother for the way he looked up to her.
But Lust knew, she could never be a mother herself. Not physically. This naturally left her questioning her femininity at times- was she barren? No, she simply wasn’t human. Her female parts were merely for seduction, nothing more.
She had no lover. There were dozens of pretend ones over the past hundreds of years, all of them in the grave by now, most by her own hand. There were still stories of the military officer found stabbed to death shortly after taking up a mistress, or of a succubus in the night, coercing out confidential information through shouts and moans.
All of it for Father. Everything for Father. The only man in her life.
So it wasn't bad, really, to die in such a way. Fighting to the last, passionate flames engulfing her, by the hand of one such man, with such strong eyes. Not a father, not a brother, not a lover, but an enemy. A man that could withstand her lethal charm.
Not bad at all.
One night he looked into his son’s sleeping face and said, "You do not belong to me. I should not care."
To his wife, "I do not love you. You should not love me."
To the mirror, "You are not real. Your life is a lie."
The next day, he went to work and ruled a country.
The youngest of them all and the oldest in appearance, all his days were spent plotting against the people that adored him.
Ah, the joys of being 'human.'
Again it was noon in Rush Valley, and in the small yard behind Garfiel's automail shop, Ed and Ran Fan sparred This time Ran Fan wore no mask, her left arm now made of automail, while Ed took the offensive and launched a barrage of attacks.
"Hah!" Ran Fan blocked a kick with her right arm, her left dragging at her side and slowing her down. Next, she swerved a punch, and was left unprepared as Ed kicked her legs out from under her. She tried throwing her arms out to catch her fall, but the weight of her left arm upset the balance and she fell on her back with a THUD.
"Brother, that was mean!" Al commented from where he sat with Ling in the shade.
"Shut up, I know what I'm doing!" Ed called back, then turned to Ran Fan, frowning. "Come on, you can do better than that! I had to train with Al while getting used to an arm and leg. How can you be a good guard if you can't even rival me anymore?"
"I...I will not be..." Ran Fan sputtered indignantly.
"What'd you get that arm for anyway, huh? If you can't even fight with it! You want to be luggage forever?!" Ed continued taunting.
"I WILL NOT BE USELESS!" Ran Fan roared, and jumped to her feet, throwing a punch with her right arm.
"Wrong!" Ed shot back, knocking the arm away. "Your left!"
"Unghh...!" With a heave, Ran Fan threw a punch with her left arm, and it fell short of hitting his face. Ed easily threw her off, making her fall to the ground again on her side. "Oof!"
"Don't be so hard on her, Ed!" Winry came out with a tray of lemonade, on her break.
Scowling at the sight of her serving Ling first, Ed growled, "I have to! It's for her own good!"
Winry gave a glass to Ran Fan next, then headed back into the shop. "Well, you better not break her automail along with your own!”
Ed raised his fists to shout, shortly before realizing that he was lacking his own lemonade. “Hey, waita...WHO SAID I WAS BREAKING ANYTHING?!"
A door slam, and Al snickering.
Ran Fan sat on the ground, dripping sweat, and quietly sipped her lemonade. A moment later she set the glass down.
"You done?" asked Ed.
"Yes...and thank you," she added at the end, stood up, and resumed a fighting position.
Ed looked surprised for a second, but that was soon replaced with a smirk, and he put up a stance as well, taking the defense this time.
It felt odd, he being the one doing the teaching this time. Every now and then he found himself barking the same orders that his Sensei used to-- but this wasn't the time to be thinking that, Ran Fan was swinging her right leg toward his head, using the arm's balance to her advantage at last.
He ducked, caught her leg between his arms, and tried twisting her over to her stomach, but she dug the automail into the ground halfway and used her other leg in midair to push him away. He stumbled back; she made a flip back onto her feet.
"Better!" Ed grunted, and without another moment to lose, rushed her on the offensive.
First move, a punch with his right— CLANG! It connected with Ran Fan's left arm in a block...they paused as the reverberations rang through their shoulders, and then Ed abruptly stepped away.
"Much better," he said with a smile.
"No more?" Ran Fan blinked.
"I need a break now; you can keep practicing those moves you just did." Stretching, Ed marched into the shop, calling Winry's name.
Ran Fan remained standing, her left arm still raised. She looked at it, flexed the fingers, fisted them, and punched the air. She felt better already.