Rating: PG-13 (language)
Characters: Ed, Al
Warnings/Genre: Angst, language, maybe some shounen-ai if you really want to read into it that way.
Summary: Distance feels greater on a cold night.
Link to the story on FF.net
Since I Could Give You Warmth
The door opened. There was a whistle and a stream of light as the flames in the fire place greedily sucked up the fresh, wintry air from outside, twisting out as if to reach for it. Alphonse noticed how the lighting in the room shifted as well.
Then the door shut, and the flames bristled back, throwing wobbly light off the armor that was his body. He heard Ed curse, then the shuffling of his brother taking off his boots in the foyer.
"Welcome home, brother!" Al said cheerfully, turning.
"It's so damn cold," was his brother's greeting, as a sour-looking Ed stepped into their small apartment living room, almost a silohette in the fire's light. Ed shivered and Al heard his Automail joints click slightly. His golden eyes, however, flickered brilliantly as they rested on the fireplace. Al noticed Ed's tense expression settle, a small smile replacing the frown he'd worn a moment before as he stared silently at the fire. Then Ed shivered again and muttered, "So damn-" Ed stopped, then, looking around the apartment, finally turned to his brother and asked, "Why are the lights out?"
"I was t— ... I guess I just forgot to turn them on," Al lied coyly. He kept the lights off until his brother came home in order to save money on the utility bill. Central had sent several threatening notices about the fees the brothers had racked up in their travels. The military was rationing everything these days, including energy for the barracks.
"You shouldn't just sit in the dark like that," Ed said harshly, guiltily.
Ed shivered again. He stalked over to a chair, grabbing two of the blankets Al had left neatly folded, before sitting and wrapping them around him.
"It's so damn cold," he said again.
Al hastily stood up. He reached for a piece of wood he'd chopped that day and tossed it onto the already large fire.
"But the fire is nice," Ed added quickly, almost uncomfortably.
Al sat back down again, but this time so that he could look face his brother with a casual turn of his iron head.
"How was your day?" He knew the words were full of banality, but he could think of little else to say.
"Sucked," Ed spat simply. Then after a minute, he added, "Mustang said he's going to try to have us run some kind of 'errand' for him soon... the manipulative bastard..."
"Related to the Stone?" Al asked.
"Who knows?" Ed answered flatly. "But knowing that guy, he'll probably just try to use us so he can get a promotion or something."
Al held back a sharp, disapproving breath. His brother disliked the older officer, but Al knew that the man went out of his way more often than was in his best interests. Had something happened at East Headquarters?
Silence fell over them again. Al waited a minute, then asked a safe question, "Are you hungry?"
"Not really." Now Al felt his premonition of a problem grow into a serious worry. He weighed whether to ask his brother about it, but decided against it.
"Are you sure?" Al tried, another safe question. "I brought back some really good bread that I could put in the-"
"I'm fine, Al. I ate just before I left." A log in fire crackled and broke. "I'm just cold," Ed added, burrowing under the blankets so just his head was visible above them. He shivered again, then cursed.
He looked so small like that.
Al could not feel the cold, nor the warmth of the fire. Perhaps he had not put enough wood in? He could not tell.
But his brother was cold.
Time passed. Al did not know how much.
"Do you remember," Al began suddenly, not knowing from where or why, "winters back in Rizembool, when it got so bad that mom would have us sleep together in the same bed so we wouldn't catch a cold?"
Ed did not say anything for a moment, but eventually replied, "Yeah. I remember."
Al felt foolish, bringing up old things, especially about their mother. But then a laugh from Ed surprised him.
"You used to complain about it, because I would hog all of the sheets. Remember?"
His brother's smile caused something to brighten and grow; something Al felt and, if pushed to use words, could only describe a-
"No. I... don't remember that."
Whatever it had been was gone as quickly as it had come, and again Al felt cold in a body that could feel no warmth.
"Well, it was a long time ago," Ed said quickly. "You know?"
"Yeah," Al answered. "A long time ago...."
Since I Could Give You Warmth
Author's Note – Yes, folks, I am still among the living. This is the first thing I've written in months. Can't say I don't feel a bit rusty. I have not given up on the Abuse of Alchemy series, or my Gundam Wing fics either.