Edward wrinkles his nose, when Alfons suggests he wear something other than his autumn atire. It is white outside, the snow piling up in drifts, and Edward steps out in just his coat; Alfons sighs, and tugs on his mitten with his teeth before following his friend into the changed world beyond their front door.
"It's cold," Ed says, his breath forming a cloud of condensation and his teeth glinting white in his face; stomps on a pristine patch of snow and then hops back, leaning forward to examine the imprint his boot has left behind, like he's seven and not seventeen.
And a half, Alfons thinks ruefully, craning his neck to glance upwards. The windowsill on their flat is dusted with white, as is the windowbox he's tried unsuccessfully to cultivate; he sees now why Mrs Gracia took all her flowers in, yesterday, when she first felt the nip of the cold patch approaching.
"It's January," he says instead, slipping his hands into the pockets of his coat. "Of course it's cold—it's winter, Edward."
"Well, yeah," Ed retorts, with a huff of air, and grins. "Didn't—ah—think it was gonna be quite this cold, though." He's rubbing at the edge of his new prosthetics, the ones his father came and fitted him with last month, and doesn't even seem aware that he's doing it; Alfons tries not to think about the way the plastic and metal contraptions rub against his skin, rubbing enough to irritate, or about how Ed's... stumps, he supposes is the best word for them—always ache terribly, come winter time. Ed hardly ever goes out, preferring to immerse himself in the library or the study and work, but this time Alfons has an interview with another potential sponsor that Edward insisted on accompanying him to.
"I said you should've taken a scarf," he says, worried, and nibbles at his lower lip; his own is a warm cotton thing, wrapped around his throat and with plenty to spare. "I'll go back and fetch yours for you—"
"No!" Ed snaps, surprisingly vehement. "Don't bother. It's not worth it, Alfons—now come on, you're gonna be late if you don't get a move on."
"... All right," Alfons says, cautiously, and steps off the doorstep and onto the street.
He lasts three blocks before Ed's constant massaging of his prosthetics starts making him worry more than he should; stops in the middle of the street, and watches his friend limp on for the space of a few more houses.
"Alfons?" Ed asks warily, turning back to him. "What's wrong?" He's very slightly leaning to his right, keeping his weight off his prosthetic, and the sight makes Alfons purse his lips.
"Nothing," he replies, even as he marches towards Edward, unraveling his scarf as he goes. Ed's eyes widen as he approaches, and he ducks away, raising an arm in feeble protest; Alfons sighs softly, and stops just before him.
"Stop worrying about me," Ed says, voice muffled. "Besides, a scarf isn't going to help warm up my... arm and leg, is it?" He raises his face, cheeks just slightly flushed and gold eyes narrow, but Alfons is not impressed; simply holds out one end of the scarf and says, "Of course not, but it's better than nothing. Come on, Ed."
Ed blinks at him, taken off guard; he looks almost—surprised, a hesitant curve to the corner of his mouth that Alfons has never seen before, and it makes him look less like the cocky loudmouthed brat he thinks he knows and more like—someone else, someone younger, and slightly helpless. He reminds Alfons of himself, in a way, back after he'd been first diagnosed with his illness; when he used to get up and stare at his face in the washbasin mirror every day and think, I am too young for this.
"Take it," he says gently, and Ed tips his face forward; he wraps the scarf gently around his friend, and smiles. "We can share, if you feel guilty about taking it off me," he offers, voice pitched soft and gentle, "It's more than long enough."
"I—thank you," Ed whispers, and takes a deep breath. "Thanks."
He leans forward and bumps his forehead against his friend's; Ed makes a sound that is almost a laugh and tilts his face up, so their noses press against each other and they're eye-to-eye, and says, voice soft and teasing, "You know that hat makes you look stupid, don't you?"
"Yes," Alfons agrees cheerfully, grinning back at Ed, relieved by the smile on his friend's face, the return of this aspect of Ed he's familiar with, "Yes, I do, but I like it all the same. I think the bobble suits me."
Edward snorts, but doesn't say anything else; merely tilts his head to one side and says, softly, "Shall we make a move?"
Alfons smiles in return; throws an arm around Ed's shoulders—the scarf is more than long enough, as he'd said—and nods. "Of course," he says, "Whenever you're ready, Edward."
He doesn't let on how touched he is when Ed smiles up at him, and he doesn't think he needs to.