CHAPTER 1: PART 2
So that was it. This was all about his precious Colonel. Oh, this is glorious.
Ed reached up and grabbed the bowl of noodles that Al was balancing in his hand, and then sat in front of his dear younger brother on his own unscathed chair. He began slurping up the noodles, in between sentences.
“So that’s what this is about. The Colonel.” His eyes lit up a brighter gold. “You know, you should just come out and tell her how you feel, (slurp) if you are going to be such a prude around me because of her. (slurp) Maybe then you’ll loosen up and not care so much about what she thinks.” (slurp)
He chuckled and held some noodles up above his head, then loudly slurped them down. “I can tell her if you want. I don’t know why you are so afraid of her. I mean, really, (slurp) you liking her is not taboo or anything, what’s the hold up?” he chuckled to himself.
He leaned back as he finished off the bowl of noodles, then sat the bowl down and crossed his arms across his chest. That infamous smirk played over his face. He was going to break Al of his prudence once and for all! It was getting ridiculous. And now that he knew the cause, it was completely evident what needed to be done next.
Al’s empty, outstretched hand appeared to fidget (or perhaps twitch) as Edward loudly and triumphantly slurped down the final noodle. Ed had placed on an empty table nearby like some sort of trophy.
Regrettably, the empty bowl reminded Al just how similarly empty his own stomach remained due in no small part to his scheming sibling.
"This isn't about Riza!" Alphonse squawked a bit louder than he had intended.
Well, it was half-truth at least: This was about Ed, and Ed's manners, which impacted the people around him.
...one of them was the Colonel.
The younger brother glared, "And that's my FOOD! When I said I was treating you, I meant to one meal! Not mine as well!"
Alphonse sighed, exasperated. At least Ed SEEMED to have calmed down. For now. If he'd overreacted that easily to Alphonse's earlier words... it was probably still lurking near the surface, just waiting to rise up against him again.
The glare he continued to gave Ed had many different angles, the least of which was probably the food by that point, "No no! Don't tell her! Ed, you wouldn't!," Al practically whined.
He would, though. Alphonse realized in sheer horror. This is not good.
"It's just... it's a complicated thing... with her I mean and she, oh brother you WOULDN'T." Alphonse was extremely unsettled by the smirk on Ed's face, and to think it might have any connection at all to Al and his future dating life terrified him even more.
The fact that he had eaten Al’s food was the last thing on Ed’s mind.
Although he did note he would have to laugh about it later.
What he really wanted to know was why Al was so adamant about not telling the Colonel anything, when it was obviously something constantly on his mind.
“Now how is it complicated? I mean really, you wanna talk about complicated, look at Roy and me. Especially since I was what, fifteen? When this started? You don’t think I was scared then? And Roy put a lot on the line too, my superior just like Riza is yours. But look at how it turned out! You cant be such a wuss about this.” Ed couldn’t help but think back to that night, when he was fifteen and so angry at so much, and Roy had made the course of his life change forever.
Ed clapped his hands and touched the morphed table, bringing it back to its original form. People walking by on the street had finally stopped staring at the spectacle on the restaurant patio the two brothers had created.
Ed really wanted to help Al out. He wanted Al to be happy. That was always his top priority, and knowing that something was keeping him from that, he wanted to fix it immediately. He stepped back as the table was completely removed from Al.
Once again, with the spectacles. Al groaned inwardly. Oh, brother, you never change.
Somewhere in Al's mind he was conflicted on whether to be relieved the table was no longer wrapped around him (though he noted the bowl of pasta and meat sauce was still mysteriously empty...and that didn’t register as equivalent exchange to him…), or if he should be even the slightest bit annoyed that he wasn't able to get HIMSELF out of his brother's "trap." For years he'd been the one who had repeatedly beat Edward at sparring: had he lost his touch?
This wasn't really a fair fight, that's all. Alphonse concluded.
Al listened attentively as one could with an empty bowl staring at him a few feet away
The tone and quality of his older brother's voice had changed at least, and for the better. As Edward spoke of he and Pirate (which he rarely did in any manner that could be compared to ‘tender’), he sounded almost .... reasonable?
Alphonse observed Ed as he spoke. No, that wasn't reasonable, that was the familiar sound of 'big brother can fix it.'
Because that one year Edward had on Alphonse apparently made all the difference in the world. To Ed. To Al, however, he clearly remembered the four years he spent as an animated suit of armor and as such, he hadn't been able to sleep. Through his rough calculations, and taking into account the sheer amount of time Edward slept, Al had long-since concluded he was in some strange regard, he was remarkably "older" than Ed…even if he looked a good seven years younger (a fact that still bothered him at times like these). But as far as he was concerned, their relative maturity was rather obvious.
But none of that seemed to matter with the way Ed was looking at him now. Al knew that look, and he knew his brother, in his own “Edward Elric” way, was trying to ‘help.’
The younger brother half-groaned and half-sighed as he dusted his hand over the reformed chair and then sat down once again. He laid the chopsticks down on the table in a manner that would seem to imply that somewhere along the way the younger Elric had indeed taken to researching etiquette.
"I'm not scared," Al paused a moment, ".....well, maybe a little, but the point is, it is complicated, because she's..." he made a gesture with his hand, one which it seemed likely he'd picked up from Edward himself. Al's eyes flicked up to Edward before they bashfully returned to the empty bowl of noodles, as if there was something worthwhile to study there.
"...because it's her," he concluded with the usual grace about him that seemed to come when anything surrounding the Colonel was brought up in the slightest.
There was a bit of pink to his cheeks as he continued, though he certainly worked to hide it, "Brother, I know you're just trying to help, but I just can't see how you know the first thing about women." Al groaned, "...I'm not sure either of us do, but that doesn't change the fact that you're hardly qualified being that you're gay and--"
Al had the tact to not actually say that -word- in public, but the way his lips moved silently over it's placeholder left no doubt what he'd just 'spoken.'
Ed was watching Al blush at having to talk about the Colonel, and it was making him even more amused by the situation. He was so shy talking about Riza, and Ed didn’t understand how she herself couldn’t see by now how Al felt about her.
Then he had to say that word. That label. His smile immediately faded and he felt the blood rush to his face.
“ I--AM--NOT--GAY!!” he shrieked out, never minding the passersby just feet away from the patio who jumped ten feet at the sound. “What does that word have to do with anything?!?! Being with Roy is just the same as being with anybody!!! It doesn’t matter that he is a man! I still am doing something RIGHT obviously to have been with him for so long! Give me some goddamn credit for that! If I can’t give my own little brother advice about dating, who will? I’m sick of you always dodging me and going to Roy! He’s the same as me isn’t he??!!?! And he’s the one who even started this! HIM!!! What does that say about him? No one calls HIM gay!” He didn’t care that his voice seemed to have reverted back almost ten years as he continued.
At this point he was now standing over Al, hands clenched into fists at his side, leering over Al with wide eyes and a deep red tint to his face. This wasn’t supposed to be about him. It was supposed to be about helping Al. Ok, so originally it was about his own eating habits, which somehow directly affected Al and Riza? This was becoming far too confusing, so Ed decided to focus on the now. And what Al had once again called him.
By all accounts if Alphonse hadn't been so preoccupied thinking about the Colonel, or trying not to think about the Colonel, as the case may be, he might have been able to catch himself before he'd let slip that word.
There wasn't much that could take him from entirely bashful to wide-eyed and worried in a fraction of a second, but Ed's hollering scarlet face within inches of his own did have that casual effect.
Other patrons around the two brothers had gone remarkably quiet and had put their own conversations on hold once Ed had begun uninhibitedly shrieking in the center of the dining area. One mother made a small gasp and covered her child’s ears before hurriedly abandoning her seat and scuttling off with the boy pushed firmly in front of her.
Only somewhat mysteriously, other patrons too began to migrate to tables further away from the brothers. The few with the most sense even went so far as to move inside the already overflowing restaurant in order to put a safe distance (and a wall) between themselves and the scene that was playing itself out on the patio.
Even the birds thought better of trespassing on this particular battleground.
Al bid his time. He let Ed holler and get it out of his system as Al, himself, tried to remember where his alchemic-array emblazoned gloves where.
Not here. He determined sadly.
Should he be wary of Ed using alchemy again? Al squirmed in his seat.
"Brother, calm down! That's not how I meant it!" Al said to his own defense, "and you should be proud of yourself, of course! I'm so happy for the both of you! I really am! But...." he teetered off, and thoughts of the Colonel gave him courage to continue. He's just your brother; you can be honest and tell him, he'll understand with a little persuasion!
"...but the Pirate's different than you, he's been with women too..." Al finished.
In Alphonse’s head, what he’d said made complete sense. It was logical to differentiate the differences between Ed and Roy.
But once the words were spoken aloud, he wasn’t sure if he should have forgone this topic entirely. He looked to his empty bowl of pasta for a moment, as if willing it to life so he could focus on something else other than the raging Elric that stood over him with shaking fists.
Al was stammering under him, and Ed was just furious. He hated that word, hated the label. How could anyone see him as gay? He just didn’t understand it. Roy really was no different.
“I had the chance to be with women!” he took a step back and crossed his arms.
Realizing what he had just said, he quickly jumped to move the conversation along. “I just didn’t go through with it, is all. Its not as though I were completely incompetent and don’t know how to act around them! And I mean, come on, Riza did dump Roy. What does that tell you???!” he turned his back and paced a couple of steps, now trying to catch his bearings. Not to mention the fact that the information just revealed was something Roy hadn’t even meant to tell him, and now giving this to Al. . .who knew the reaction….?
Ed didn’t even know how Al felt about those two being together in the first place. But this was his brother and he hated becoming this upset with him. He turned back to face Al, whose own face seemed to be surprisingly blank.
“Look—“ Ed took a breath and was really, really trying to calm down. He felt eyes of people on him and was now becoming fully aware of the entertainment they were providing everyone. He had to calm down if he wanted Al to listen to him.
“Just, would you please not forget about me? I’m here to give advice too.” He finally slumped down into the chair. The origination of this argument was something he was now reaching for, as it was long lost. “I want you to always remember that. You live far away now and the last thing I want is us to grow apart.”
At this point he looked down at the ground and shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
“I just want you to be happy, Al. I mean really, that’s all I ever want for you.” He now was beginning to feel horrible for even bringing the matter up, and possibly making Al upset.
There was this moment. This utter moment of silence and still where whatever it was Edward was saying didn’t quite reach Al’s ears as he took in the seemingly more important fact that had just slid from Edward’s foaming mouth, crawled across the table, and suctioned itself to Al’s throat.
Riza had been with Pirate!? He’d always suspected something… perhaps a casual date, something to that effect. He certainly saw them around each other often enough, but they had never acted like a couple, so he’d assumed nothing had come of their attraction, fleeting as it might have been but…
Al sank into his seat. His eyes stared hazily through the bowl (still empty), table, and probably a few layers of concrete as well.
His brain struggled to make sense of his memories. He’d just… well the part of him that had been human while Ed had been absent for six years had thought nothing of it. After all: back then he hadn’t realized in the faintest that his brother had been with anyone, no less Pirate, after all their ages were just too far apart for something like that to have crossed his mind. Of anyone, he’d thought perhaps Ed and Winry might have shared something, but information on such topics wasn’t exactly something to be stumbled over in military records or popular media, which had once over-dramatized his elder brother to such an extent that he appeared as a sort of Earth-bound super-hero.
And even those serials had Ed saving and sharing kisses with _women_… he paused a moment … well, most of them anyway…
Alphonse steered his thinking back to Ed and Roy and how their age difference alone meant that Alphonse had once completely disregarded them as possible lovers. He mentally admonished himself for ever thinking such a thing.
Next, he thought back to when he’d been in armor. He’d remembered Ed and Roy as a couple, if you could call it that. He’d assumed that Pirate would have just… waited for Edward, he supposed, but…
He sunk further into the seat.
His brain was reeling as it tried to make sense of itself. …but the Colonel… When had Roy been with Riza? Was it a casual flirt in secret long before Ed had disappeared? (as Al might have once assumed, if he had assumed anything at all) Or perhaps it was during the time Ed had been away and Alphonse had been too innocent to the world to be fully aware if such a thing going on around him?
Then he admonished himself once again: he'd been a child then! At least initially! He'd had no interest in the affairs of women, particularly women on the military, and even more so women in the military that outranked him by both rank and age.
… And carried loaded firearms with them at all times.
But Riza DUMPED Roy? And here I've been coming to Roy for dating advice!? And no one TOLD me!? How serious WAS it?!
Alphonse wasn't sure exactly WHAT emotion he should be feeling. Part of him felt betrayed, but admittedly it wasn't a huge part, the rest of him felt a hint numb and hopeless. The largest remaining part of him was dreadfully disappointed in himself that he hadn't put all the pieces together sooner. It was right in front of him, this whole time! He felt like he could cry. His face faltered as he bit his lip to retain the small amount of composure he had.
Somewhere across the table from him, however, he could hear Ed talking, yes, talking. Not yelling. His older brother was (thankfully) trying to control himself.
Two glazed amber eyes cautiously glanced across the table at Edward. Al felt for what Ed was saying, he really did. He felt the same way: he'd always be there for his brother, no matter what. Al wanted him to be happy too.
Alphonse wanted so much to be able to smile and reassure his brother that he was hardly going to forget about him, but instead he said the thing planted on the surface of his thoughts as his eyes watched Edward's head, which was conveniently pointed towards his lap.
"….I…" his voice croaked, as if he was trying to get a handle on it, and failing miserably. From the tone, one would have thought he had just been told the dire news that his favorite childhood pet had died at the hands of some unimaginably gruesome fate.
"…Ed, when was it?" His eyes. Always those eyes.
Ed could have smacked himself, or transmuted a nice little hole for him to crawl into at that point. Al's face just looked. . . heartbroken. Had he not known about Roy and Riza? How could he not?? Ed tried to think of how to answer Al. He himself being gone, he really didn't know . . .
He cleared his throat, but was afraid to lift his head. He could feel Al's eyes staring right at him. He knew Al's eyes were begging for his own to look up. But he just couldn't. He couldn't believe he was the one who dealt this blow to his little brother. He always had a way of fucking things up, didn't he?
He cleared his throat once more and sighed, and finally gathered the strength to raise his head.
Al looked as though he were about to just…cry. His amber eyes were moist and he was biting his lip, holding back tears it seemed. Al always knew just how to look to get Ed to feel just horrible. Never failed.
"It was…um" he forced himself to keep his eyes set with Al's. He was never good at these kinds of talks, or keeping eye contact when he was really nervous. "It was while I was…away. I really don't know when exactly. Roy doesn't talk about it much, and what I do know was from when he slipped up."
He hoped, hoped so much, that this would appease Al. That his lack of knowledge would end this conversation, and they could leave the restaurant. Well first Ed would buy Al another bowl of noodles to go. Stealing his food just added to the layers of guilt building on his shoulders right now. At least that part he could easily rectify though. He looked down and decided that now was a great time to buff the small bit of automail that was peeking out between his white gloves and shirt sleeves.
There was a different pitch now to Al's voice, it wasn't hysteria, but it was bordering closer with each passing moment, "You were gone six YEARS!" This, was a choked wail. No longer did Alphonse cling to the idea of Riza and the Pirate having a short fling, but his oxygen-starved brain…
He gulped in a breath of air when he realized he'd begun to feel lightheaded.
…his oxygen-starved brain imagined a long relationship, a courtship. He imagined Roy treating Riza to a candlelight dinner, he imagined them dancing, discussing the future, laughing and taking Hayate on walks together through the park, he imagined them kissing, he imagined...
He went ghostly pale.
One hand slapped over his mouth, as if containing a silent scream (and by the looks of it, he so concerned with covering his mouth that it looked more like he had frantically slapped his hand over his face). There was a little color to his face around where his hand gripped, at least. (Though it might very well turn into a bruise come tomorrow).
Al was shaking slightly as he tried to piece things together while being forced to run circles around things he just… Didn't. Know.
He stared straight ahead while his brain tried to work out just where to go next. It was like a frenzy of mice screaming and running cartwheels in his stomach.
This time when he remembered to breathe he found a hand to be gripped over his face, and for the briefest of moments, panicked as he chocked out a pitiful noise that certainly didn't sound as if it should have come from his slender frame.
Ed realized immediately what was going through Al's mind the moment his face went ashen.
"No no!!!! They weren't together that long!! I know that much!" he reached his hands out and waved them emphatically. Shit, what had he done now?! His brother looked as though we were going to pass out, and his hand clamped tightly over his mouth didn't seem to be helping the process of breathing. Ed realized then, just how much Al cared for Riza, and felt like the biggest ass in the world. Al wasn't moving though, just staring straight ahead, looking like a ghost (and breathing just as often as one).
Ed jumped out of his seat and ran to Al, grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking him, lightly at first, then harder to make sure to get a reaction out of him.
"NOT THAT LONG SNAP OUT OF IT!!" His voice was high pitched with absolute terror and worry.
The first time the waiter had begun to make his rounds to refill drinks and offer a desert menu, there had been some amount of commotion on the outside patio, surrounding one table in particular.
In short order he thought it best to get to that particular table on his next round.
The second time he ventured outside, there was some hollering, raised voices, and … the table wasn't supposed to look like that...
The third time (he only needed to glance out the large glass window): hysterics.
And by the looks of whatever was going on now, he decided it was once again best to steer clear for awhile longer, lest he get inadvertently caught up in whatever was going on between those two 'men.'
He turned on his heel and decided not to check again until at the very least the two of them couldn't be heard from inside.
Something in Alphonse registered the shaking (that at least had loosened the death grip he had on his face and solicited a choking breath of air). His eyes were wild and suddenly registered who was shaking him. His eyes slowly focused and locked onto Ed's own. Al wanted help. He wanted reassurance. He wanted answers from his older brother. His eyes were begging him.
"But how do you KNOW!?" Al managed, his voice relaying in its every texture and pitch just how deeply this had unsettled him. "He could have just TOLD you that to make you feel better!"
It was Ed's turn to freeze. His grip on Al's shoulders tightened as they stared at each other.
He didn't know.
He always just trusted Roy.
He had never wanted Roy to be alone, but there was something in him that was also relieved that when he came home, Roy was waiting with open arms. It was comforting, in some selfish way, to know that Roy had been without someone to attach himself to. Even though you had someone. . . Ed shook his head. Roy would never lie about this. . .
Al was staring at him intensely, waiting for some sort of answer that Ed was no longer sure he could give. He finally managed to speak, but it was softly.
"I know. . . Roy wouldn't lie. Why would he need to lie? I was away, it didn't matter who he was with while I was gone. He knows I would have rathered he not be alone." Lies, but anything to make Al feel better at this point. Ed couldn't believe Al had thought of the lie though. Ed was so eager and willing to trust Roy, he didn't even think twice about what little he knew of the relationship. He stood up and released Al's shoulders.
"Roy wouldn't lie. And besides, Al, it's ok. That happened at a different time in everyone's lives. I mean come on, you can't let that get to you." He offered that false smile he thought fooled everyone, ignoring the nagging voice in the back of his head screaming to run to the general. And get some answers. Now.
Al's head was still reeling, the change in Ed's demeanor, however, was something that was impossible for Al to NOT notice. Being Ed's brother for that long had given them both a second sense in these sorts of things, to notice the mood-shifts of the other. Even after their six-year separation, their special bond was still alive and well.
Something in how Edward looked now, under the surface, his body language… Al realized he'd struck something he hadn't intended. He flexed his fingers, took a choked breath or two, and licked his lips to start the process of getting the circulation back in his face before he looked at Ed again.
The young man with the slightly darker hair blinked a few times at his brother. The words? They sounded convincing enough. It was a different time, after all. While Alphonse hadn't yet had even what could so much as be called a "girlfriend," it was rather unfair to think that Riza was as pure and chaste as he. He knew she was older…. He just hadn't ever thought seriously about this matter, and he still wasn't sure what to make of all of it.
In time the concept might be fine, sure, but right now it was too much all at once. He wanted to know, but he didn't want to know.
He looked up at Ed's eyes, at his smile that he thought fooled the world, and for a moment Alphonse's breathing slowed just a little bit. He doesn't know either! Neither of us know the full story!
This time it was Al that sought contact. He reached out a hand and put it on Ed's shoulder, "I'm sorry I … " he lowered his head just a fraction, "I wasn't meaning it to sound the way it probably did I just..." he gulped, lowering his voice, "…it's just… a little unsettling, with how we know them and all and…"
He groaned, "oh, brother, why, of all people, did it have to be THEM?"
Why of all people did it have to be them. . .
The question rang in his ears. He was still trying to fight the nagging voice deep within that fought to break free and blame Roy for so much. To accuse and curse for doing this to his little brother. He always had wondered how in the world those two had ended up together, when they seemed so different. But maybe that's what it was. . . she was always at his side, there for him, and always covered Roy's ass. . .
He realized there was warmth on his shoulder and looked at Al's hand, then back to him, smiling once more.
"Who knows what was going through their minds at the time. When I found out I told Roy I was surprised he was still alive. Heh," he coughed and cleared his throat. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted the waiter that had walked by the entrance to the patio at least five times now. He must have seen two screaming men and thought better of coming outside.
Ed reached up with his right hand and placed it on the hand on his shoulder. They had quite the way of reaching these moments, where they understand each other and embrace moments of silence and thought.
"At any rate, they were together, and they are not now. Roy and I are…and she is currently, um, not with anyone. What happened before I mean come on: we don't know everyone they have been with, or had contact with." He stopped and thought about how he was phrasing this. "Ok, I don't know everyone Roy has been with. Damn bastard put up quite a show though when we were younger, like he owned the world."
He was babbling just a bit, and he laughed and sat lightly on the table. He was hoping that this was somehow cheering up Al. He knew though that he had a certain general he was going to be interrogating once he got back home. He was clenching and unclenching his fists, thinking of all the times Roy had whispered how much he had missed Ed, and how lonely he had been for six years.
But was that true?
The smile Al managed was genuine enough. Genuine in the sense it was meant for his other brother, whom, truth to be told, he did admire during times like this. Ed's mind could be racing (as it obviously was), and yet still he was able to press forward. He always did.
Al sighed and rubbed the side of his face with his other hand, trying to retrace his steps back to where this entire conversation had begun. Ah yes, manners ...
He sighed again. While he was sure that was important at some point, right now it seemed to have slipped down the rungs.
Edward was funny like that: One moment you could be horrified to be in his presence as he went on a tirade, the next you could be even further startled as the tirade veered like a possessed tornado right down on you, and then moments later he could seem completely and utterly coherent, using the fire in his voice to call attention to something he thought was important. And sometimes… it was just like this.
He was never quite sure how the two of them reached these plateaus of understanding between them, but he was thankful for them … even if Edward was still busy trying to be the "big brother" in the background. Al really was thankful for him, boon or burden as he was.
He's got years of experience being the 'big brother,' I guess I can cut him some slack now and then.
Al collected himself and sighed, "this is just great, you know? Ever since I've known Pirate… well, both the first and second time around… but anyway, both times I always thought he was this… this grand source of information on women, this endless encyclopedia of know-how, and now…" his voice was calmer, certainly, but it still retailed elements of his recent near-hysteria, as if his throat were still tight. His left hand rubbed his temple. Oh. Great. Now I'm getting a headache?
"…well, I know it shouldn't matter, but it feels like it does, you know? And it feels childish. I feel childish now for even just… being BOTHERED by it but…" He sighed again, lowering his voice and averting his eyes that certain way when he was thinking of her.
"…I just want it to be perfect." He realized he'd been babbling and looked up to the golden eyes of his older brother, "does that make any sense?"
They were brothers all right. Both of them had been reduced to babbling idiots on this patio at a ramen restaurant. At least Ed didn't feel left out. His smile became genuine finally as Al went on about the situation with Roy, and posed the idea that Ed was always striving for. Perfection.
All Ed had wanted, since the day they decided to transmute their dead mother, was perfection. And in perfect form, (oh the irony there) something came along just in time to whisk the perfect ending away. They had lost their limbs and body. Then there was the true origin of the philosopher's stone, and that giving Al his life back finally meant Ed had to end up beyond the gate. And then Al lost his memories of their time together. . . one sacrifice and setback after another, the list seemed to just go on and on ...
Ed knew exactly what it meant to want perfection. Here he was, staring at his brother, in the flesh. He wished he could express to Al the feeling he got, the words that were lost, when looking into his eyes and seeing the perfection there. Ed remembered the first time he had seen Al, as Roy carried him out into the living room, and thinking just how perfect he had become. No one could have asked for a more perfect ending in the world of Edward Elric.
In Ed's world, perfection was having his brother back. In Al's, it was being with Riza. One brother still had a quest in need of completion.
Ed realized he had been quiet and staring at Al, even though Al had cast his eyes down.
"It makes perfect sense, Al." he managed to choke out, and squeezed Al's hand tighter.
Al just squeezed Ed's shoulder back in silent reply.
The waiter walked by a sixth time.
At seeing that things had died down, he snuck up behind Al (who he had deduced to be the calmer of the two) and dropped the check quickly on the table. Without pause he scurried back inside, ducking quickly through the doorway and not stopping to look back, as if he was worried an explosion might still be eminent behind him.
He left the two young men alone in their moment of stillness. The rest of the world continued on unabatedly, and the birds resumed their afternoon raids on a sheer fleet of abandoned tables.
END OF CHAPTER 1
RETURN TO CHAPTER 1: PART 1...
(FullMetal Alchemist Fan Fic: "On the Wings of a Dream" CHAPTER 1: PART 1 - (Information, Summary, and Sketch) can be found here)
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