Title: First Snow
Summary: Izumi has a holiday surprise for her hubby.
Rating/warnings: PG for a teeny bit of language. Spoilers for Chapter 108. Fluff and sentimentality galore. What can I say? It’s Christmas!
Disclaimer: No ownership of Fullmetal Alchemist is implied or intended; no money is being made on this work.
Author's note: Izumi Curtis and her husband were two of the first characters that made me fall in love with anime. I figured if there were old married folks like that in the medium, there just might be a place for me…
Also: Cornerofmadness had “FMA: Sig/Izumi” on her Christmas “Wish List”, so this is a little Christmas giftie for her, and a thank you for her friendship throughout the year.
It was just starting to snow in little swirling flakes as Sig Curtis turned the “Closed” sign to face outward and locked the front door of the butcher shop. He was dead weary after a long hard day of waiting on frenzied holiday shoppers, all of them intent on obtaining just the right meats and poultry for their holiday feasts. As tired as he was, it was the first snowfall of the year, and that always put him in a good mood, for some reason. Still, all he could really think about right now was settling down into his favorite enormous chair by the fire and soaking his tired feet in a nice hot tub of water. As he turned to face the door that led from his workplace into their residence behind the shop, Sig noticed an odd glow coming from the place - an unfamiliar color and intensity of light emanating from within. He raised a curious eyebrow, switched off the lights, and slowly plodded home to see what his wife might be up to.
He tossed his dirty apron into the basket by the washer and grabbed a bottle of beer from the fridge as he passed. Whatever was simmering in that pot on the stove smelled delicious, but he resisted the temptation to peek: he was curious to find out about that weird light.
“Here, Sig,” Izumi answered from their little livingroom in the rear of the residence.
She sounded a little… odd. Sig picked up his pace. He had been worried about Izumi lately, more than usual. That whole cataclysmic “Promised Day” episode, as well as the events leading up to it, had been very hard on his wife – Izumi wasn’t physically strong on her best days, and the physical and emotional demands of the events that had eventually led to Father’s downfall and Ed and Al’s restorations had all taken a lot out of her. Since then, he had watched her with an eagle eye every day to make sure she was not overdoing things, and he’d seen to it that she had plenty of time to rest and recuperate, eat well, and get lots of sleep.
He followed her voice to the small, tidy livingroom, and quickly saw both what Izumi had been up to and what the nature of the unfamiliar light was. He stopped in his tracks and stared for a few seconds, unable to summon an appropriate response.
“It’s beautiful, Izumi,” he finally said slowly. As usual, he felt his words were woefully inadequate to the occasion.
“I know, right?” she grinned, apparently contented with his reaction. She surveyed the small Christmas tree with her hands on her hips. “I think it turned out rather nicely, if I do say so myself. I thought it might be fun to surprise you.”
Again, Sig was a little dumbstruck. He was tempted to also ask her “how?” He had not seen her bringing a tree into their house, and he knew that she was determinedly against using alchemy for anything one could do with one’s own hands. He was guessing that Curtis’ long lunch that afternoon might have something to do with it, and he suspected a minor conspiracy was afoot.
“Uhm, you did,” he said, staring fixedly at the tiny twinkling lights as they bathed the room in their multicolored warmth. “Why?” he asked simply, unable to not ask that one.
Of course, the unspoken part of that particular question was why now? Why after all these years? The last time Izumi and Sig had put up a Christmas tree had been way back when she was pregnant with the baby that she had lost: the baby she had tried unsuccessfully to revive with the ill-fated human transmutation, defying that ultimate taboo because her grief was so great. The baby that had cost Izumi her health, and nearly cost her her life. Ever since that day, neither of them had had the heart to even think about anything as celebratory as a Christmas tree, and their holiday observations had always been simple, very quiet, and private.
His wife turned to face him, her usually-pale features looking deceptively healthy as the light from her new creation touched her face. Sig had to stop his breath to stifle an audible gasp: she still struck him breathless with her beauty, even after all these years.
“I dunno,” she shrugged. “It just…. seemed like the right thing to do this year. You know, new beginnings, and all.” She turned to look at the tree again, her eyes glistening. “Life goes on, y’know, Sig?”
He moved to his wife’s side by the tree and put his arm around her shoulder, trying hard not to think about how frail she felt under her thick wool sweater. Sig Curtis was more than ready to just be happy for once – to enjoy the sight of the beautiful tree as he inhaled the sharp smell of the balsam mixed with the sweet familiar spice of Izumi’s sandalwood shampoo and the rich, savory scent of whatever she had bubbling on the stove.
She slipped her arm around his waist and sighed happily as she leaned into him, and they stood in companionable silence for a long moment. The only sounds were the soft ticking of the mantle clock and the faint tiny shushes of the now huge wet flakes bashing against the windowpanes. Outside their little house, the snow had blanketed everything with a coat of brilliant white that was almost florescent as it reflected the light of the fat, full Yuletide moon.
After a while Izumi shook herself slightly, almost as if to wake herself out of a daze. “You don’t really think I’m gonna let you drink all alone, now do you?” she asked him with a wicked grin.
Sig just looked at her with a puzzled look and shook his head slightly, like a confused child.
“Be right back!” She vanished quickly into the kitchen, mischievously ruffling the fur of their cat Dante, who dozed peacefully by the fire, as she passed.
After she left the room Sig took one slow step towards the tree and tentatively reached out towards one of the ornaments. It wasn’t the most prominently-displayed one, but it wasn’t hidden, either. He stroked its curves softly with the tip of his large finger, gently tracing the pink and blue stripes that swirled around the delicate blown-glass globe, and hovering over the word “BABY”, where it was carefully spelled out in looping scrolls of silver glitter. The sound of a bottle cap popping startled him back to the present, and he stepped quickly back to where he had been and looked towards the kitchen.
“All set,”Izumi said happily, holding her green glass bottle up towards her husband with a broad smile.
“This tree is really something, Izumi,” he said softly.
“I’m so glad you like it, dear. Now, what shall we drink to?”
Sig gave her the same puzzled headshake again, still feeling somewhat overwhelmed by this dazzling, mercurial creature that was his wife.
“Well, of course,” she crowed, tipping her bottle up to her husband’s and throwing her head back with a lusty laugh. “It’s obvious! To new beginnings, Sig - kampai!”
Sig gave her a rare smile, and raised his bottle. “To new beginnings, honey. Kampai.”
Sig and Izumi Curtis clicked their bottles together and took long luxurious swigs of their beers. Before long, they had wrapped their arms around each other again, and as the snow continued to fall, they stood entwined together, enjoying their Christmas treasure.
“Oh… by the way, dear,” Izumi said lazily as she laid her head on Sig’s granite-like shoulder, “I’ve invited everyone over for Christmas dinner.”
Sig looked at her with his eyes wide. “E-everyone?”
Izumi held out her hand and started ticking off the names with her fingers. Her voice was calm, but there was a slight lilt in her speech that betrayed her amusement at Sig’s shock and how much she was really enjoying it.
“Oh, you know…. just, a few… There’s Ed and Al – well, you know they are leaving next week, so this may be the last chance we get to see them for a while. And of course, the Rockbells. Let’s see, General Mustang and Miss Riza… Uhm, oh, Gracia Hughes and her little girl, of course, I couldn’t not invite them… And then there’s Scar and that handsome Major Miles, and Dr. Marcoh– they haven’t left for Ishval just yet, so they really should be here.… Uhm, Falman and Breyda and Fuery… Maria and Sheska, and, oh! and, of course, all the Armstrongs…” By now she was really on a roll, and was showing no evidence of running out of names anytime soon.
Sig held his hand up to stop her. “I get the idea, honey.” Impulsively and without explanation, he suddenly pulled her close and gave his wife a deep and exceptionally-passionate kiss, then turned to head towards the front door without saying a word.
Now it was Izumi’s turn to be surprised. “But… dear!… Where the hell are you going now?”
He grabbed his coat and wearily slipped it on as he surveyed the steadily-accumulating snow outside their window.
“I’m going to go cut some meat. If we’re going to feed all these folks, we have to have something to feed them. Then I’ll have to shovel the front walk, and go door-to-door to the neighbors to see if I can borrow some chairs…. Oh, and I’d better go get some more beer, before the stores all close. Those Armstrongs look like they could drink a lot of beer…”
“Sig, dear,” she interrupted him. He looked up at her from the mental list he had been steadily enumerating in his giant palm.
“Merry Christmas, dear!”