|The Pen is Mightier! (penismightier) wrote in chaotic_library,|
@ 2013-02-21 18:57:00
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|Entry tags:||alphonse elric, alternate timeline, ed and al, ed x riza, edward elric, fma, fma: alternate anime timeline, fma: alternate post-anime timeline, fma: anime, fma: post-anime, het, multi-parter, novella, pg-13, post-series, riza hawkeye, winry rockbell, yuuo, yuuo: fma|
[Edward Elric/Riza Hawkeye; PG-13] That Summer: Chapter 5
Character/Series: Edward Elric/Riza Hawkeye; Fullmetal Alchemist (2003)
Notes: AU to EoS. Generally, assume that Ed never went to Germany and the military group stayed status quo.
Title: That Summer Chapter 5: Never Been Another Summer
Word Count: 10,102
Summary: Winter had finally given up its hold, leaving them in a pleasant spring full warm sunny days with cool breezes, punctuated occasionally by thunderstorms as the fading winter air did a violent dance with summer's advances
And then I watched her hands of leather,
Turn to velvet in a touch.
There's never been another summer,
When I have ever learned so much.
Winter had finally given up its hold, leaving them in a pleasant spring full warm sunny days with cool breezes, punctuated occasionally by thunderstorms as the fading winter air did a violent dance with summer's advances.
"Is it always like this this time of year?" Edward asked as the wind howled outside.
Riza glanced out the window at the rain pouring in waves down the pane as a flash of lightning nearly blinded her. Thunder followed seconds later. "Every spring. Some worse than others. This has been a quiet spring so far."
"The rainy season sometimes brought storms like this to Rizenbul," Edward said, holding her tightly as they lay in bed, listening to the nighttime storm. "But mostly it just rained."
Riza smiled. "Yes, the East does get thunderstorms sometimes. But the West gets worse. We're plains territory out here, not desert. Wait until summer, you'll regret living here. It gets so humid."
"That does it, we're moving you back East," Edward said. "The weather will be kinder to your hip."
She frowned. "Edward, we said we would discuss this later. You just finished the repairs, let's enjoy the house for awhile, first."
"We should probably discuss this tomorrow, after we've had sleep," he said, kissing her neck.
She made a happy noise in the back of her throat at the contact. "After we sleep," she agreed.
Edward kissed her one more time, then settled in for sleep. She stayed awake a bit longer, listening to the sounds of the storm as Edward's breath finally evened off into sleep. About ten minutes later, she drifted off with him.
When she woke, the bed was empty. She blinked, feeling cold at her back. The sky was still pink through her window; the sun hadn't even finished coming up yet. She sat up, ignoring the pain in her hip. "Edward?" No answer. Could he have already gotten up? Or was he just using the commode?
She put her feet into her slippers and grabbed her robe from her wardrobe, wrapping herself in it and hobbling down the stairs to find him. "Edward?"
"Out here, Riza!" his voice came from the front porch. The smell of coffee drifted in from the kitchen. Wondering why he was up so early- could he not sleep? did she wake him somehow? -she followed his voice to the patio.
He looked up at her from the swing as she stepped out, a cup of coffee in one hand. "Mornin'. Did I wake you getting up? I didn't mean to."
She shook her head. "No, you didn't. I'm more worried that I woke you somehow. This is rather early."
He shrugged, taking a sip of his coffee before answering. "Nope, just woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. Come on, come sit by me." He patted the empty space on the swing next to him.
She smiled and limped over, propping her cane against the wall of the house before sitting down next to him. He slipped his free arm around her shoulders; she leaned her head against him, smiling faintly. "It's a bit chilly out here," she commented idly. "I'm glad I have my robe."
"Yeah, but it'll warm up," Edward said, looking off into the distance. She smiled, snuggling up under his arm and letting her eyes close and her mind drift off.
After a few minutes in which she wasn't sure if she'd actually fallen asleep or not, he tensed, waking her up to an adrenaline-fueled alertness. "What is it?" she asked quietly, looking around.
"Were we expecting guests today?" he asked
"No." She followed his gaze out to the road, where distantly, she could see two figures approaching. She got up and walked back inside, grabbing a shotgun out of the front closet before returning outside. She held the shotgun down, ready but not aimed.
He looked at her with a raised eyebrow. "Always prepared for the worst?"
She smiled grimly. "It's my job as a bodyguard. I'm afraid even if I never go back to that work, you're going to have to deal with my instincts."
"That's fine," he said, setting his coffee down on the railing surrounding the porch and walked down the steps, watching with crossed arms as Riza stood to his side and behind him up on the patio.
The two figures walked slowly into view, finally proving to be a blonde and someone with slightly darker hair. Edward lowered his arms, then took off at a run. Riza frowned, watching the figures as Edward ran towards them, then abruptly realized that was Alphonse and Winry approaching. She went back inside and put the gun away and then stepped back outside, watching as Alphonse tackled Edward into a hug that ended with both Elrics on the ground.
Riza smiled faintly as Winry helped them up and Edward walked back between them, his arms flung around their shoulders. "Riza! We have breakfast guests!"
"So I see," she said. "Please excuse my state of dress."
The siblings and Winry walked up the porch. "It's okay, Riza," Winry told her, readjusting her bag and the long suitcase in her grip. "We'll ignore it if you give us a place to set all this down. I brought tools to work on Ed's automail, and they're heavy."
"Of course," Riza said. She grabbed Edward's coffee cup for him and went back inside, leading the three Elrics inside. "Edward, would you show them to your old room?"
"Yeah," Edward said. "Come on, bedrooms are upstairs."
Riza pretended to not see the look Alphonse shot her at that, that sort of Elric look she recognized that said 'you're not taking care of yourself to my satisfaction.' Well for heaven's sake, of course she climbed stairs to get to bed! What was she supposed to do, sleep on the couch in the living room? The bedrooms were upstairs. Yes, she'd bought this home with that in mind, but even if she hadn't, it was how the house was arranged.
She set Edward's mug down on the kitchen table, then headed back for the stairs. She could hear the Elrics talking upstairs as she climbed the steps, heading for her own room to get dressed, since it was obvious they weren't going back to bed for the day. Damn. Her privacy had just been invaded further, and it didn't feel like she'd had enough time alone with Edward for her liking before people reentered her life.
In retrospect, she shouldn't be surprised by their appearance. Not after the phone call a couple weeks ago. The Elric brothers didn't like being separated for long; Alphonse and Winry probably packed right after Alphonse and Edward hung up.
She dressed into Edward's favorite red dress, braided her hair, then headed back downstairs, following the sounds of voices to the kitchen. Edward looked over at her when she entered and brightened. He walked over to her and kissed her forehead. "Hey, you." Then he put his arm around her shoulders, and Riza felt herself flush, a bit embarrassed by the public display of affection, even if 'public' was relative, quite literally, in this case.
Alphonse shook his head. "I still can't say I saw this one coming," he said.
Winry grinned. "They're cute, aren't they, Al? Ed finally realized he had hormones."
Edward scowled at her. "Shut your mouth. I just hadn't met anyone before, that's all."
Riza looked skyward, wondering what sort of family she'd gotten involved with. An Elric family, that's what kind. Although she noticed that apparently, Alphonse and Winry didn't know about Edward's little tryst in Rush Valley. Riza was surprised by that. Edward had said they didn't keep secrets. Obviously, either they did, or Edward had spaced it. Which didn't seem likely.
Alphonse sighed. "Sit down, I'll make breakfast. Miss Riza gets a break today."
Before she could do more than blink, Edward had walked over to his brother and smacked him upside the head. "Whaddya mean she gets a break? I've been doing all the cooking!"
Alphonse stopped and stared at him. "You? But you can't cook."
"I can too," Edward said. "Now go sit, get away from my stove."
Alphonse looked at his brother dubiously, then over at Riza. She blinked, not sure why she was being looked at, until it occurred to her a second later. "It's true, Alphonse, he's been doing the cooking. He's good at it, and I'm not."
Alphonse eyed his brother. "Since when can you cook?" he asked, sitting down at the table across from Riza. Winry took a seat between them.
"Since a long time ago, but you never let me cook for the family," he said. "What, did you think I was just eating sandwiches when you and Winry were out? I cooked for myself. You just never knew because I actually cleaned up after myself."
"You clean up after yourself too?" Alphonse looked shocked.
Edward threw a towel at his head. "Brat," he said as he got around the breakfast dishes and raided the ice box for some pork and eggs and a few other odds and ends. It looked like he was making pancakes, eggs and sausage patties that day. Good, Riza liked his pancakes.
"So how long do you two intend to stay?" Riza asked as Edward got to work on breakfast.
Alphonse turned away from his brother's work to face her. "We're not sure, I guess as long as you can stand us, since it sounds like you two might be staying out here. Seeing each other is going to be hard with two of us on one side of the country and the other two on the other. I'd like some time with my brother. But if we can convince you to move back home with us, we won't turn that down, either. If you haven't decided yet, like it sounded like a couple weeks ago, that's fine, we won't pressure you either way. Or at least, we'll try not to."
Riza looked around the kitchen idly. "I admit I'm getting attached to this place now that Edward's fixed it up. But no, we haven't decided yet."
Winry smiled. "It's easy to get attached to a place that a lot of love has gone into," she said. "So I definitely wouldn't blame you if you wanted to stay. We'll miss Ed, and we'd miss out on a chance of having a sister-in-law nearby, since I kinda assume with the way Ed is that we'll be related eventually, but I get better business out East than I would here, I think. There may be farming accidents that happen time to time, but most farmers are too poor to afford automail services, even if I dropped my prices to the minimum I could get away with to cover expenses."
"You know I could make up for that loss with my state alchemist income," Edward said from the stove, flipping a pancake.
"I know," Winry said, "but I'd like to help with the financial situation, and Al would have to find new work. Besides, all our friends are out East."
"It wouldn't be hard for me to find work out here," Al pointed out. "I've worked with Fletcher and Russell enough that I know plants pretty well, I could help out in the fields easily enough. But you're right, your business would suffer."
Riza pursed her lips, feeling guilty that her new family was already trying to rearrange their lives for her, when, if she were honest, she ought to be going back East anyway, to a home more suited for her handicap. But she loved this old house, loved the life she and Edward had made in it so far, she didn't want to give it up.
"I can probably get Mustang to reassign me out here," Edward said, glancing back over his shoulder at his family. "So far, he's been happy to pay the bills for us while I fix the place up, because it's helping Riza, but he'll wonder eventually. Riza called dibs on telling him."
"You're right, I did," she said. "I've known him longer and he's given me more headaches, despite what you might think. I get to throw him a curveball for once."
"He caused you more headaches than he did Brother?" Alphonse looked incredulous, then entirely too sympathetic. "I am so, so sorry, Riza. I didn't think such a thing was possible, with as much as Brother griped about him."
She smiled faintly. "Your brother likes to exaggerate," she said.
"I do not," Edward said, dishing up plates and taking them to the table. "God, I make breakfast for you people and I get abuse in return. I see how it is."
Riza laughed quietly. "Oh, Edward, you know it's true. If you didn't exaggerate so much, the general wouldn't pick on you half as much as he does."
Edward dumped the cooking pans in the sink before taking his seat between his brother and Riza. "So you've said. I still have to find those people and thank them for teaching him how to be a grade A jackass."
"Who?" Alphonse asked, still poking warily at his pancakes.
"Never mind," Edward said, digging into his sausage. "Some people Mustang knew at one time that I'm bound by promise into secrecy."
Alphonse made a face at his brother. "Sure, just keep things from me, and how long were you going to wait to tell me you and Riza had gotten together if I hadn't called?"
"It would've occurred to me eventually," Edward said with a shrug.
Alphonse was aghast at his brother. "Eventually? You'd forget to tell me, your only brother, your precious, wonderful adoring little brother, that you'd found someone to love and share your life with?"
Edward made a face. "When you put it that way, I sound kinda horrible, Al. And what's this about you being a precious, wonderful and adoring little brother? You're a brat, that's what you are."
"I am that, but I'm those other things too," Alphonse argued. "Winry and I told you right away."
"Yeah, but I wasn't surprised by that," Edward said. "You two had been beating around that little bush for awhile."
Riza kept her thoughts on that little matter private, or rather, her thoughts on his wording. She'd been military too long to ever hear that phrase without her mind heading straight for the gutter. The same applied to the 'a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.' She wasn't even sure that one had any other meanings beyond the perverted one. If it did, she didn't know them.
"Maybe," Alphonse said after taking a bite. "And okay, I concede, you can cook. This is really good."
"Thank you," Edward said. "I learned from Breda, and I've had lots of practice out here." He gave Riza a teasing grin. "Riza's not much of a cook. She makes soup, oatmeal and tea."
She looked indignant. "You forgot toast, you heathen."
He laughed. "How could I ever forget that?" he said. "But no, honestly, she doesn't cook much. She's eaten better since I got here."
She frowned. "I'm also going to gain weight if you don't be careful."
Winry looked over at her. "I can come up with some exercises you can do with your hip to keep weight down and improve mobility," she said.
Edward grinned. "Told you."
Riza gave Edward a sour look, then smiled at Winry. "That would be appreciated, Winry. Edward's been babying me since he got here, so I'm afraid I haven't been doing much but some housework and eating his cooking."
Winry glanced at Edward, then over at Riza. "Lemme guess, he's practically tied you to chairs to keep you from getting up?"
Riza shook her head. "Not quite that bad. Probably because he doesn't ever know if I have a gun on me at any given time." She shot her lover a sweet smile. "But he's fussed a bit, yes."
Edward chewed silently, pointing his fork at her. "Try to train me the way you trained Hayate, and there will be words, lady."
She gave him a bland look. "It certainly taught him not to pee on the carpets, dear, are you sure it wouldn't be as effective for you?"
Alphonse choked on his food, while Winry just laughed outright. "He's more likely to pee on your skirts than your carpets, Riza," she said.
Edward looked at her, slack-jawed and terribly offended. "I would not, what does that even mean?"
"You're territorial, Brother," Alphonse said after coughing a couple times. "You practically scented the place when we moved into the house we live in now."
Edward stabbed a pancake. "I did not and I am not," he protested. At the looks all three of them gave him, he frowned. "I'm not! Not that bad, anyway!"
"Yes, dear, of course dear," Riza said.
"Do you infuriate Mustang like that?"
"Yes." She smiled at him.
"It's very annoying. Keep it up."
That made her laugh. "Oh, Edward, I will never stop trying to annoy the general. He deserves every headache I can give him, for all the headaches he gave all of us in that office, including you."
"Damn right he does," Edward grumbled.
Riza looked down at her half-finished plate. He'd made too much, as usual. She took some sausage and gave it to Hayate, after putting him through his paces, then placed her plate next to Edward's. "Good as usual, but you made too much again."
Edward frowned at her plate. "Damnit, I will learn someday."
She grinned and kissed his cheek. "I think you're just used to cooking for a very big appetite, dear."
He turned his head to catch her lips with that kiss. "Don't push yourself cleaning those pans," he told her.
"I won't, Edward," she assured him, propping her cane against the kitchen counter as she started in on the dishes.
Winry and Alphonse quickly added their empty plates to her pile, and shortly thereafter, Edward added the two plates he had. He kissed her cheek. "Want me to dry?"
"I'll do it, Brother," Alphonse said. "You should let Winry look at your automail, you probably have lapsed in its care again, like you usually do when you don't have one of us to remind you."
Edward managed to look horribly offended and horribly guilty at once. "All right, all right," he said, giving Winry a worried look. "You're not going to wrench me, are you?"
"That depends on how bad your automail is," she said brightly. "I'll go get my tools, go sit down somewhere comfortable."
Alphonse picked up a towel and stood ready next to Riza while Edward and Winry disappeared into the other room. Alphonse gave her a scrutinizing look that made her feel uncomfortable. She finally looked at him after handing him a clean frying pan. "Thank you for doing this, Alphonse," she said. "That goes on that wall hook there."
He looked over where she indiciated, the nodded. "All right."
They worked in silence for a minute, then Alphonse spoke up again. "So you and my brother, huh? I said it before, I'll say it again, I didn't see that one coming."
She didn't look at him, keeping herself focused on her work. He was giving her a mandatory family grilling that Roy would probably inevitably try to give to Edward, and her grandfather would because Edward would let him at least get away with it. "Neither did we, Alphonse," she said, handing over a plate.
"Are you happy?" he asked, taking the plate and drying it slowly, not taking his eyes off her.
She kept him in her peripheral vision, but kept her self otherwise looking at the dishes. "We both are, yes."
Alphonse set the plate and towel down, turning to her and leaning against the counter. "You don't need to be so tight-lipped," he said. "I know my brother, you two are going to be married sooner or later, that makes us family. In this family, we don't stonewall each other."
She sighed and looked at him finally. "Alphonse, I know what you're doing, you're doing a very subtle attempt at the 'you make her cry, I make you cry' speech that Roy will try to give to Edward and my grandfather will give to him. I will not hurt Edward. And if that means leaving this house and moving back East so he can be with you and Winry, then I will do it. But we have not decided because we both have put a lot of love and time into this house and we're attached to it. Give us time, please."
Alphonse blinked a few times. "Oh, Riza, I wasn't even talking about that," he said. "Well, yes, I was, I wanted to make sure you both made each other happy. I know you're not the sort to love and leave, and neither is my brother. And I wasn't even talking about you two leaving here. If you want to stay, we'll either just have to visit, or we'll move out here, one of the two. It's entirely up to you, don't worry about Winry and I in it. We'll adapt around your choices."
Riza's eyes felt wet. "You should not have to," she said quietly. "I'm lucky to have Edward, and he's lucky to have you. Neither you nor he should have to rearrange your lives for me."
He put a hand gently on her shoulder. "Riza, listen to me. You've known us since Brother was twelve. When, in all that time, have you ever known us to do anything but go above and beyond for our loved ones?"
Since he was twelve. She felt ancient all of a sudden. "Alphonse, you make me feel like a cradle robber," she said, half grumbling. "Your brother's already tried to pound into my head that a nine year difference isn't so bad."
Alphonse sighed deeply. "Riza? I didn't mean that, either. No, nine years is not a bad difference. You're twisting my words."
"I'm good at that," she said with a weak chuckle. "I do it to drive Roy crazy. I'm sorry, Alphonse, I know you're just making sure we're all happy, and other than the decision of where to live, we are."
He smiled, lighting up his whole face. "Good," he said, drying another dish and setting it aside. "I wouldn't want anything less for you two. And like I said, don't feel guilty for whatever you decide on the living arrangement."
She handed him another dish with a faint smile. "Those go in that cupboard there," she instructed. He put the dishes away, then motioned for her to follow as soon as the dirty sink water was drained. She followed him out to the living room, where Edward was stripped down to his boxers and Winry was crouched on the floor in front of him, fiddling with his automail leg. Alphonse joined them, sitting on Edward's right side and examining the port.
Edward looked at him. "So tell me, Doctors Elric-Rockbell, what's the verdict? Do I get wrenched or do I escape punishment this time?"
"Well, your ankle's a bit loose," Winry said. "But Al says something about you fixing a roof, and that's a tough on ankle joints. Lotta weight on it. But you've kept the port and leg clean, the rest of it looks good. What say you, Al?"
Alphonse lifted Edward's arm, poking around at the delicate wiring in the underarm. "Well, it's a little dirty, but not too bad, given all the mud he's been mucking about in with that well. I think he gets to live."
Edward grinned. "Damn right," he said. "So what can you do about the ankle?" he asked his sister-in-law.
She opened her suitcase and pulled out what looked like a cheap, plastic leg. "You get to wear a loaner while I work on it," she said.
Edward groaned. "I hate those things, Winry."
"Maybe," Winry replied, pulling out another tool Riza didn't recognize and detaching Edward's automail leg. "But you can't hold still long enough for me to work on the ankle while you're wearing your leg, so a loaner it is."
Edward sighed. "All right." He sat still while Winry hooked up the loaner, wincing at the connection of nerves, which was, to Riza's knowledge, nothing like having a regular limb hooked up. He stood up, testing the leg. "It'll do," he said, then grabbed his pants and pulled them back on.
Shame. He looked good like that.
Alphonse went through the routine of cleaning Edward's arm port while Winry took the leg to the coffee table and sat down on the floor. Riza glanced back into the dining room behind her, where a table that was largely unused sat. "Winry," she said, looking back at her, "if you want a better work station, there's a table in the dining room that never gets used. We use the kitchen table more often."
Winry looked up, then stood. "You're sure?"
"I'm sure," Riza told her, nodding once. "It'll probably be more comfortable than the floor, with more room than that table."
Winry packed up her parts and tools in the suitcase the spare leg had been in, then hefted Edward's regular leg up onto her shoulder and headed over to Riza, glancing past her shoulder. "This room?" she confirmed, motioning with Edward's leg.
Riza was morbidly amused at that. "Yes, that's the room. Just don't fling my boyfriend's leg around, please."
Winry stopped and looked at her, blinking, then laughed. "Oh don't worry, this leg is my masterpiece, I treat it better than he does."
Riza smiled. "He is rather rough on himself," she admitted. "The dining room is yours, like I said, we tend to eat in the kitchen. I don't think I've been in that room except to dust, honestly."
"Extra rooms to clean?" Winry said, raising an eyebrow as she set her toolbox and Edward's leg on the table.
Riza shrugged. "Not by choice. The house was built for a family, not just one person. But I liked the location."
"And Ed's been round and round with you on your choices, I'll bet," Winry said, opening her toolbox and starting to work.
Riza rolled her eyes, leaning against the door frame to take weight off her bad hip. "And round, and sideways and up and down. He's intent on babying me."
Winry smiled without looking up from her work. "That's Ed for you," she said, popping off some metal casing from around the ankle workings. "He babied Al a bit at first after Al got his body back. Al was so weak and malnourished. It just pushed Al into getting better faster so he could kick Ed's ass for being a pill."
Riza laughed. "Sadly, I can't do that. I've threatened to train him the way I did Hayate, but that usually ends with a stern look and a promise to tie me up and take away my guns."
Winry paused in her work and looked over at her. Then she burst into laughter. "Careful, he might actually do it someday," she said, going back to work. "Oh damnit, Edward Joseph Elric, how did you get mud in there?" She started scraping out caked-on mud from inside the joint. "That explains why it felt so off." She sighed. "That boy."
"That probably happened when he was working on the well," Riza said. "He was digging down quite far."
Winry looked up at her. "I take it he fixed it if he's gone on to fix everything else around here?"
Riza nodded once. "Yes, he did. It was such a relief to have real, clean drinking water and water to bathe in."
"I'll bet," Winry said. "Speak of water, can I have some to clean this out?"
"Hm? Oh, of course." Riza straightened. "A bowl, a pot, what would be best?"
"A pot, probably," Winry said, "And a washrag you don't mind getting dirty."
"All right." Riza walked out into the kitchen, first filling a pot with water, then hunting through her towel drawer for a washrag she wasn't attached to. Upon finding one, which wasn't hard as they were all rough and worn, she returned to the dining room. "Here," she said, setting the pot down next to Winry on the table. "Does this work?"
"Perfect," Winry said, grabbing the rag and dipping it in the water, and going to work on the ankle. "This is boring work, so you can go join Ed and Al. I won't be hurt."
Riza nodded. "Call if you need anything, Winry," she said, then headed back to the living room where Edward was sitting on the floor, his right arm raised while Alphonse took a rag to the wires in the underarm, cleaning off the soft leather that protected them.
"You need to pay better attention to cleaning your automail, Brother," Alphonse told him.
Edward sighed. "Yeah, I know, I try to get it all, but..."
Alphonse pulled back and looked at him. "Use your alchemy," he suggested. "You love any excuse to use it, and it'll help keep your ports clean. Your limbs will function better, and you'll make Winry happy. Win win."
"I keep thinking to," Edward said, "but I forget."
"You and your memory," Alphonse said, shaking his head. "You'd forget your head if it wasn't screwed on."
Riza smothered a smirk. "He's shown that tendency plenty of times here. How he manages to not burn meals because he forgot something is beyond me."
Edward looked over at her, frowning. "I put the same effort into cooking that I put into my alchemy," he said. "That's how."
"Now if we could just get you to treat your automail that well," Alphonse said. "Okay, I'm done."
"I treat my automail like the rest of me," Edward said with a shrug of his left shoulder, dropping his right arm into his lap.
"Yeah, badly," Alphonse said.
"And yet he harasses everyone else to take care of themselves," Riza said, giving Edward a scolding look.
He ducked his head. "I know, but I just get concerned. And this is nothing like you taking care of that hip. I get regular enough treatment for my arm and leg that a little dirt doesn't stop me. Start on those exercises Winry gives you and I'll back off a bit."
She raised an eyebrow quite high. "Is that a promise?"
"No." He gave her a stern look. "I know you, Riza, even with those exercises, you push yourself too hard."
She huffed. "Very well."
Alphonse laughed. "Forget it, Riza, he's going to fuss until the day you die. He's bad that way. He still fusses over me and I haven't been in bad condition for years."
Edward looked insulted. "I do not either."
The look Alphonse gave him screamed incredulousness. "Brother? Please. You fuss."
Edward sputtered a bit, then finally crossed his arms petulantly. "I'm your older brother, that's my job."
Alphonse laughed, kissed his brother on the cheek, then stood up. "I'm going to go settle us in while Winry works on your leg. We'll try to stay out of you guys's way."
"Don't worry about it, Alphonse," Riza told him. "I don't mind having guests."
He smiled at her. "Thanks. We'll try to give you two your privacy." He glanced back at Edward. "And you, start taking care of your automail, or I won't stand in the way when Winry flings her wrenches at you."
"You never do anyway!" Edward protested as his brother left the room. He frowned a grouchy sort of expression, then smiled as he looked at Riza. "Sorry about my family, they're nuts. I didn't expect them to show up."
Riza shook her head. "It's all right, Edward. I knew that I was getting them as part of a package deal with you."
He stood, walking over to her and pulling her into a tight hug, nuzzling her neck. "I love you," he whispered, then pulled back and rested his forehead against hers.
She smiled, closing her eyes. "I love you too, Edward," she said. Then she lifted her forehead. "I should start on housework."
"We'll guilt it onto Al today," he said. "Today, we're taking a day to just enjoy. Come on, we'll get you more tea, I'll get some more coffee, we'll sit outside on the swing and let my siblings do all the work."
Riza frowned. "I can't possibly expect guests to do housework, Edward."
"They're not guests, they're family," Edward said. "Come on, let's go sit on the swing and let them deal with shit for awhile."
She wanted to protest. She liked dealing with the day to day work! It made her feel useful. But on the other hand, he made a tempting offer. A day off to just spend with him however she pleased, pretty much, without them going their separate ways to tend to duties. The house repairs were done, Alphonse would do the cleaning while Winry worked on Edward's leg. That left her and Edward all the time in the world to spend together. At least for a day.
"Oh, all right," she finally conceded, her desire to just be with Edward for awhile winning against her practical side.
He took her hand, leading her to the kitchen with a stop at the stairs to call up to his brother that Alphonse had housework duties for the day, then let go long enough to set up the kettle for her and the percolator to make another pot. "So. We have the day to ourselves. What should we do with it while still being subtle enough that you don't erupt into flames from embarrassment?"
She flushed hot. "Edward," she scolded quietly. "We most certainly will stay subtle, thank you. We'll sit out on the patio to start with. I'll decide what to do after that."
His eyebrows raised. "You'll decide?"
"Yes, because you may have revenge on your mind when it comes to your brother and sister-in-law, and there'll be none of that," she said primly.
He laughed. "None at all? Not even that shower idea you had?"
She stared at him. "I'd forgotten about that. You're tempting me." She frowned. "But your brother and Winry are right there, they'll know."
Edward put on a long-suffering look. "If I had to count all the times I knew they were up to that sort of thing, I think I'd be using scientific notation."
Her eyebrows shot up towards her hairline. "That's impressive."
"Yeah. So whaddya say? Swing first, then shower?"
Realizing that likely they'd likely end up living with Alphonse and Winry one way or another, so hoarding her privacy like a dragon hoarded gold was probably pointless, she surrendered herself to the idea that if they took a shower together, the Elric-Rockbell couple would know what's going on, and probably not give a whit.
In fact, they may take a hint and do it themselves at some point, if they hadn't already back East.
She sighed. "Well, it's not like they're ignorant to the workings of a relationship, so why not? I never did get a chance to try that, I'd like to."
"Don't act like it's a chore," he said with a laugh. He poured himself a fresh cup of coffee as the percolator finished, then rescued her kettle and poured her water and dropped in the tea ball. "Here you are." He handed her cup to her.
She took the cup with a quiet 'thank you', turning to head back to the front patio. "It's not that, Edward," she said. "It's just. Oh, you know how much I value my privacy."
"I know," he said, walking with her. "And depending on what living arrangements we end up, we'll have that back. Or we won't. But for now, they're here, and they've planted their butts, so we may as well get used to them being around for the moment, you know?"
She leaned her head against his shoulder briefly, then smiled at him. "All right," she said, walking out to the patio with him.