Chapter 2: Kiss and Tell - Part 1
Rating: R – for language
Character/Pairing: Mostly convo between Ed and Al, then EdXWin… or is it WinXEd?…
Disclaimer: I don't own these people, they own themselves and are just nice enough to let me spin them around the page now and then.
Summary: In which Alphonse tries to get his brother to…um, tell..
Warnings: profanity, some kissy-face stuff, nothing explicit; higher rating in later chapters…>
Note: The mention of Pride, Rage, etc… in this story refers not to any homunculi, but to various aspects of the personality of one Edward Elric.
A/N – OK, so I need to do some Repost ‘Splainin’: This is the second chapter of a long-ass series I’ve been working on since before, I suspect, some of you were even born… For reminder’s sake, those chapters are Branded (in which Ed finds…well, see above), Kiss and Tell (in which Alphonse tries to get his brother to…um, tell) and the mammoth (58 pages and counting) Learning Curve (in which Ed and Winry finally get some alone time and… the course of true love runs anything but smoothly…) I…am… now…close…to…(so…hard…to…get…these…words…o
Kiss and Tell
In the darkness, Alphonse’s whispered call to his brother was met with the kind of silence that can only be achieved when the callee is holding their breath really, really hard, trying not to move or be heard, and the caller is holding their breath really, really hard, trying not to move so they can hear…
Forgetting himself, or maybe just giving up, the callee let out a tiny sigh.
Edward knew damn well his brother knew he was awake. In fact, he knew Alphonse had a catalog of every sound and expression Edward made, what caused them, what they meant, and what he could do to avoid seeing, hearing, or smelling them in the future if they proved to be of the unpleasant kind, as nearly half of them were. There was no more point in pretending he was asleep then there was in pretending he could feel the fingers of his right hand…
As if to double (triple, hundredth) check, he brought them together, clicking them against one and other with a quick little rhythm. It made a neat sound, but felt like not a thing.
“Nii-san? Are you asleep?”
Edward rolled over towards the wall, burying himself in the soft old quilt Granny had thrown on the end of his bed last night.
“Yes. Yes, I am,” came his muffled response from under the blanket.
He let out a mid-range heavy sigh, knowing his brother was flipping the pages of his mental Edward Gesture and Sound Catalog and would have arrived at the entry on “mild, but growing annoyance,” and that, if he played his cards, and his sounds right, he might just get back to sleep yet.
Unfortunately, Alphonse had a card of his own to play…
Dialing back his tone, his brother let a little of that adorable (and it was very adorable) little boy exuberance seep into his voice and … and Edward pretty much melted like a popsicle in the sun…
“Can I ask you a question?”
“You just did, idiot,” Edward said, grinning.
“Nii-san, that’s not funny…”
“Okay, not my best, but still, I’m laughing.” And he was. It felt good.
Sleeping would have felt better, though.
“C’mon, Ed. I’ll be quick! I promise!”
Alphonse was clearly determined to Have This Conversation. (Whatever it was.)
There was still a chance he could get back to sleep, though. Edward knew his brother as well as his brother knew him. All he had to do was distract him into forgetting what he’d wanted to ask…
Swallowing the giggle threatening to bubble up in his throat, Ed grabbed onto the first inane thing that popped into his head. “Al, make sure you ask Granny for some oil in the morning...”
Edward could almost hear Al switching mental gears, derailing himself from the track he’d been on, onto this newer, and Ed hoped, shorter one.
“Wait …um, o-oil?”
“Yeah, oil.” Ed spoke to the wall, feeling confident now he’d be back asleep in no time. He yawned and stretched, relaxing himself back into the mattress. “I noticed you were looking a little dingy tonight. We’ve been on the road too long. Don’t want to get any grime on Granny Pinako’s couch.”
“Oh! I didn’t realize that!” Al’s voice sounded breathless in spite of its lungless delivery. “Thank you, Nii-san! I wouldn’t want to get Granny’s furniture dirty!”
A satisfied smile spread across Ed’s face and his pillow called his name lovingly.
“We’ll shine you up in the morning, ‘kay?”
“Okay…” Al’s voice was tiny now.
Edward spared a glance over his shoulder. Alphonse was examining his metal forearm in the moonlight. Ed had to stifle a giggling fit as his brother peered more closely at a patch of something on the back of his hand, then grabbed the edge of the sheet to wipe at it.
Ed could hear the tiny squeaks of sheet-on-metal action from across the room, then silence.
Several minutes passed and Edward was still, annoyingly, wide-awake.
Maybe it was the pleasurable feeling of self-satisfaction he always got from pulling something fun off that was quickening his heartbeat and driving the sleepiness away, maybe it was an attack of conscience for having pulled that something fun off at his brother’s expense.
Or maybe, just maybe, it was a somewhat frightening sound that was currently filling the room, a sound that was emanating from the Al’s side; the sound of the metal plates of Alphonse’s left knee rattling against each other, a thing that he did when he was either a) too excited about something to sit still, b) was growing annoyed at his brother, but was trying to restrain himself so they could avoid another one of those embarrassing armor/flesh puncturing incidents or c) both…
“Nii-san?” Alphonse squeaked.
On the verge of admitting defeat, but not quite there yet, Edward heaved a heavy sigh, then rolled over, eyes to his brother…and found himself a little awed by the sight: the moonlight streaming through the window behind him cast Al’s bulky metal body in a golden glow, softening his sharp lines with luminescence, nearly making flesh of what was cold, lifeless armor.
Ed could swear he almost saw his brother breathing…
He couldn’t help but shiver.
Frustrated and sleepy or not, Alphonse was a beautiful thing – inside and out.
The issue now, though, was not whether his brother was beautiful. Or whether this Question he was so excited about asking was important enough to wake Ed out of a sound sleep for. Or if it was important enough to answer. It wasn’t even about Edward feeling responsible for Alphonse having to live in this metal shell of a body and not wanting to ever deny him anything, no matter what or when he asked.
No, the real issue was which one of them had the stronger will.
Ed sighed through his nose, something he did a lot: like when he didn’t know the answer to a simple and reasonable question that he should have; or when the bastard Colonel gave him a hard time about his penmanship and tried to talk him into carrying around a blasted typewriter on the road – and he was trying hard not to swear (too much) at a superior officer (failing miserably); or when they were out of chocolate pudding in the commissary and promising himself a big, fat bowl of it as soon as he arrived at Central had been the only thing keeping him from throttling the ubiquitous screaming brat behind him who had been playing with his braid like it was the best toy ever and wasn’t he just so happy to be connected to it?!
…Or when he’d clearly, soundly, in no uncertain terms…been beaten by the Master.
“I’m not gonna get any sleep if I don’t let you ask your question, am I?”
Alphonse’s red eyes regarded him with a desperation that was almost endearing.
“Nii-san… It’s just that… You’re the only one who can answer it.”
At this, Edward felt his big brother chest swell up with pride; it was kind of cool to be looked up to; he, the older, more mature one, he the seasoned State Alchemist. Cool, but it’d be muuuch cooler at, say 2 o’clock in the afternoon, than it was at 2 am…
“All right, Al, but make it a quick one, okay? I hope you didn’t wake me up from a nice, sound sleep for another one of your “if you combined silica with grass would you get a lawn you’d never have to mow,” questions. Let’s save the contemplation of the real heavy issues for daylight, okay? I’m exhausted. It’s been a rough day…”
Suddenly, Alphonse started to snicker. In fact, he started to guffaw his hollow little head off.
It’s been a rough day…
Now what was so fricking funny about that?
Al didn’t need to breath, so he never actually got out of breath, either from running through desert sands in 100 degree heat (that he did not feel), or carrying his brother’s suitcase (and his brother) through that same 100 degree heat, or laughing until he wiped (non-existant) tears from his cold metal face and was fighting to take in breaths (that he didn’t need to be taking)…
Sometimes, though, either out of habit, or just for affect, he pretended to have lungs anyway…
And from the way he was giggling, if he had needed to breath, he’d have passed out about three minutes ago.
Scowling now, Edward folded his arms across his chest and huffed in his brother’s general direction, his good humor evaporated into so much thin air.
“It’s much too late for theatrics, Alphonse. You may not need to sleep, but I do. In fact, I kind of like it – I like it more than being laughed at by my little brother, especially at 2 in the morning, especially when I don’t even know why.”
Still “breathless,” Alphonse waved a creaking, leather glove apologetically in his brother’s direction.
“I… I’m sorry, Nii-san. I couldn’t help it…” He broke into another fit of hysterics.
Ed was quickly losing patience. If Al had been looking in his Edward Catalog right then, he would have seen a perfect example of his brother’s facial expression described on page 172, “pissed off and getting ready to scream obscenities,” but of course, he was still shaking with mirth and Ed could only sit there and watch.
“What?!!” he managed to grit out through tightly clenched teeth.
Al was waving both hands now, looking a little like a circus act, like he was trying to keep a row of plates spinning on pointed sticks or something…
“It’s just that… you said ‘rough.’ That’s pretty funny, you know?” He seemed to he holding his breath just then, trying to stave off another fit of hysterics.
“Actually, Al, I don’t know. Ya wanna tell me just what’s so fucking funny about the word rough?” He caught himself tapping his sockless automail foot on the wooden floor and quit it, hopefully in time to have kept from rousing Pinako, who was quite the little wolverine when she was woken up in the middle of the night.
Gathering himself on the edge of the bed, Alphonse propped himself up on a big, spiked elbow. (Since Pinako had put that sheet of steel mesh under the fitted cotton one, they didn’t have to extricate those spiked elbows (or knees) from the mattress three times a night anymore…)
“You had a rough day…” Alphonse burst out, almost visibly grinning. Before Edward had the chance to ask him to explain that, Al went on, excitedly. “Tell me, Nii-san. What’s it like?”
Golden eyebrows narrowed in annoyed confusion.
“What’s what like, Alphonse?”
Al swung his heavy metal legs over the side of the bed with glee, somehow still managing to set them down gently on the floor. (Ed swore Alphonse would probably even sneeze politely, if he ever sneezed. Which he didn’t. At the moment.)
“You know…” He was leaning forward now and his left knee was rattling again. [See choice “a”]
“If I knew, would I be asking you?” Something bounced off the back of his brain pan, on the way to his Random Comment Processing Center and [bing!] just like that, current started to flow into his little “Oooooh,” light bulb.
‘It’s been a rough day…’
What had he done today?
Riding into Risembool, falling asleep on the train, waking up and seeing … seeing ‘Winry Rockbell’ etched indelibly under a plate in the palm of his hand, jumping from the still moving train, beating a dusty path to the big faded yellow porch, risking the wrath of Pinako in his screaming, red-hazed search for the girl, finding her on the back porch hanging up Granny’s inordinately large unmentionables, as well as a few, tiny, pink, flowered ones…
Ed’s lower lip went slack and he had to smack himself in the thigh to get his brain back on track…
… straight to the moment she’d pinned him against the back of the house, brought her sun-freckled nose (and the rest of her face) up close, put her full, pink lips on his and … and changed his world forever…
‘It’s been a rough day…’
Al was giggling again, this time more quietly.
From the feel of his cheeks and the way his head seemed like it was going to pop like a balloon and chase itself around the room, Ed would say he was blushing a rather intense shade of Mortified right now…
And Alphonse was way too excited for his own good.
“Yeah, right, like making out with Winry is ‘rough.’ All that soft skin, all those curves… That’s definitely my idea of rough, Nii-san. Definitely.” Elbows on his knees, Al propped his head up on big, leather hands. “So, tell me – what was it like?”
Ed’s blush went from ‘mortified’ to ‘squish me now, please.’
He worked his jaw up and down a few times, but he hadn’t found words to push through it yet, so it just flapped silently.
Alphonse stared at him, his mood starting to shift slightly into scary, patience-losing territory of its own.
“And don’t give me that “I don’t kiss and tell” crap, either. If I have to hear about how great chocolate pudding tastes, when I can’t have any myself, or what it feels like when you jump in the river for a swim on a really hot day, but I can’t go in myself because you keep telling me I can’t get wet, if I get to hear about every girl that’s asked you for directions and checked out your butt as you walked away, if I … if I have to listen to your description of what your last really good poop felt like, you can bet your tiny, little “chick-magnate” b-butt I’m gonna hear about this!”
Edward’s brain had shorted out. Not a single thought floated across its bumpy gray surface. His mouth had dropped open and stayed that way and a tiny bubble of drool was poised to descend from his lower lip.
After a moment, words started to form, but they made little sense. His sanity was doing the best it could, but the usually helpful Rage had found itself a nice big rock to hide under and was doing its damndest to pretend it didn’t exist…
I don’t really talk about my BMs, do I? I’m such an asshole…
Chocolate pudding is good. How can I not talk about it…?
Okay, maybe crowing about how great swimming feels when it’s hot out is a little cruel. I can stop doing that easy…
…but I can’t help it if my butt is a chick-magnate…
When he’d finally processed all the silly, peripheral information, his brain finally got around to the Big One.
I made out with …with Winry on the back porch for over an hour and a half today!!
He looked over at his brother who was leaning farther forward. His right knee was rattling now.
Al knows about it!! How does Al know all about it?
Reality socked him right in the stomach.
And if Al knows, that mean Granny knows, too!! If that’s true, why am I still alive?!
His fear began to blubber like an idiot, remembering the last time Granny Pinako had had reason to be angry with Edward, and it wasn’t a pretty picture.
He’d called her in the middle of the night (why was it always the middle of the night?!) to tell her that his knee cap had fallen off. Well, ‘fallen off’ wasn’t entirely accurate. It was more like it had been smashed in and then fallen off. And it had gotten smashed in (and then fallen off) because he’d been running through an alley in the dark chasing a pick-pocket who’d had the temerity to take his wallet. And the wallet wasn’t really the reason he was chasing the jerk; after he’d taken Edward’s wallet he’d had the nerve to complain about what a difficult time he’d had taking it because Edward’s pockets, being on Edward’s midget body, (grrrrr…) were farther down then he was used to having to reach… and Edward was so distracted, and half-blind from the rage spots floating in front if his eyes and … and wasn’t watching where he was going and he’d run into a wall… [Bam!!] Busted kneecap… He’d called Pinako because he’d thought she was the safer of the two; he’d been afraid to call Winry. For some reason, he’d forgotten that a) Winry was her grandmother’s granddaughter and b) she’d learned everything thing she knew about pitching a fit from the old woman…
Crying like a baby, Fear finally exhausted itself and was laying, prostrate, in a corner.
That’s when his hormones, gleeful for the break in the brain chatter and thrilled to finally, finally get some air time, got together, en masse, and began flashing images of his make-out session with Winry through his poor, bedraggled brain…
Winry pressed against him, his back to the house, feeling her … her curves; even through all those layers of clothing he wore (why did he wear so much clothing?) he could feel her …her soft…soft body…
Winry’s lips against his, her tongue tracing the line of his own; suckling, licking, biting,
The little noises she made in the back of her throat when he stroked her tongue with his, the way her breath caught when he’d spun her around and pressed himself into her… there…
South of the border, he was starting to go numb. His lower lip was contemplating going slack enough to start drooling again, when his speech center, which had been on hold during the slide show, decided it had something to say.
You’re brother’s still sitting there staring at you, you know. He’s waiting for an answer. What are you going to tell him?
mtc (more to come) in Part 2...