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manda

A Cold Wind Today


The military members are all soaked through sky-blue uniforms to the skin. Their heavy coat-tails stick to their legs as they run around blindly, following orders from other soggy bluecoats.

Edward Elric sees them through rain falling from the sky, rain dripping from his eyebrows onto his cheek. Rain hits his brother's broken armor, clink, clink.

In a haze, he hears scattered words from two blue uniforms nearest he and his brother. Pins and needles dance inside his flesh foot from the cold.

"...he...soul alchemy..."

"...strong bond..."

One of them bends over him. He sees a blurry mass of black hair. Then, a voice.

"Fullmetal."

"No smirk today, Colonel?" The words are harsh as he intends them to be. He wants everyone to leave him alone, not to look at him and his brother like some sort of circus freakshow. It's all your fault that Al is ripped in half. It's all your fault that Al is even like that in the first place. You knew human alchemy was forbidden!

The Colonel's eyes widen the barest amount; something Marco said earlier unnerved him and this hits him enough to make the surprise visible to Edward. He recovers quickly. That must be what they teach in the military, thinks Edward. At least they're learning something useful other than killing people.

"No smirk today, Fullmetal, although I'm sure I'll be able to provide tomorrow. It's time to get you out of here."

Edward notices that somewhere inside the rain and cold a car (black: that's all the military has) has pulled up and waits, door open. Armstrong picks up Al and slides him slowly in the backseat. The Colonel opens the door for Edward and he stares at the car for a second before climbing in. Inside, he watches each individual raindrop hit the car and split into even smaller raindrops.

At headquarters, Edward's coat hangs above the radiator, dripping rainwater. The cold has seeped above his waist now; the Colonel's men ask him questions and he responds in one-word pieces.

He does not hear Alphonse call him several times.

"Brother."

"Yeah, Al?"

"The Colonel wants to talk to you for a bit about what we're doing next, so I'm going to go to our room. Okay?" Alphonse is worried.

Edward forces a smile, though a part of him doesn't want to. "Sure. I'll be there soon, if the old man ever stops yapping."

Armstrong carries Alphonse out of the room with little to no effort and suddenly there is only Edward and the Colonel. Edward shivers. He tries to wrap his arms around himself and is momentarily astonished when only one flesh arm wraps around him. He still feels the nerves from the automail arm and while there should be a second arm wrapped around him—there is nothing.

It was cold the day of their mother's funeral, too - a fall day with scattered rain.

The Colonel's coat hits his lap. He looks up, startled.

"You look cold."

"I don't need help from you," he snaps.

"Then give it back."

He wraps the coat around himself. "Why isn't it wet?"

"It's made of a new substance that deters water."

"Ahh." There is a pause. Edward still shivers. The Colonel stares at him.

"What the hell is wrong with you, Mustang?" he manages through chattering teeth. Al looked at him like that when he suggested they bring his mother back, didn't he? Almost a look of fear.

"You're still shivering."

"So?" It rained the night when they failed. When Al took him to Pinako's he shivered from the cold while his two stumps bled everywhere; he was sick for a week afterward and barely spoke to anyone.

"I understand that you are upset. However, that doesn't excuse you from being rude when my men asked you questions earlier. Or excuse you from being rude to me now when I'm simply trying to help. You're a military officer; act like one. Injuries happen. You're lucky enough that the parts lost are completely replaceable."

"I'm not lucky," Edward snarls. He shivers harder now; or perhaps it is empty sobs. He would have been crying for a long time, but the tears seem to have frozen in this damn cold too. Push them away, you will only hurt them all like you hurt your brother-

"Edward."

He looks up, and protests faintly as he is lifted, carried through the hallway to some sort of study. The Colonel places him on a couch; he is sleepy in the way that only extreme cold can bring.

There is a flicker and a flash; the room explodes into color in the firelight. Edward's eyes are drawn to the white-gloved fingers that guide the flames into the fireplace. His vision clears; he wasn't sure when it fogged in the first place. It was as if he was seeing at the world through ice.

"Edward. Are you any warmer?"

"A little," Edward snaps. "The fire helps," he says, a little less sharply.

"It almost seems as if you are fighting off the warmth," the Colonel says.

"Perhaps I am."

The chair across from the couch leaves a long shadow in the fire-lit room. The Colonel sits in it, and Edward wonders when he took the blue military topcoat off.

"You shouldn't blame yourself for what happened today."

Edward sits up, enraged, and then burrows back inside the black coat as the cooler outside air hits him. The coat smells of charcoal and something he cannot identify.

"It is none of your business, Colonel."

"But on the other hand, you should not make yourself so you feel nothing. Then you will kill in the same manner as Scar."

"It is none of your business," Edward repeats. The Colonel stands; the white fingers snap again and a ring of flame settles itself around the coat and fizzles. The fire is hypnotizing. Edward shivers, but not from cold.

"I would assume the coat is flame-resistant as well?" Edward asks, still a little sharp.

"Yes." There is another pause. "Flame, like anything else, can be deterred." He sits down on the couch.

"Get away from me," Edward says, and edges away. The Colonel lights more and more flame; it lands on the coat and fizzles. Edward is so entranced by the heat and the light that he does not realize he has stopped shivering. The pins and needles have stopped their dance in all but his hand. He stretches his hand out toward the fire and the Colonel's hand reaches out, meets it, rubs it slowly between two hands until the cold is gone.

Edward is more sleepy now, his head full of nothing. The accusatory voices have faded and everything is warmth and fire. He doesn't resist when the Colonel moves his mouth toward Edward's mouth; rather, Edward meets him halfway, then falls into his arms.

"There's a cold wind today, Roy," Edward mumbles.

"I know," the Colonel replies, and they fall silent.

The fire laps slowly at the logs in the fireplace, the wind whistles around the house and makes the rain tap on the roof. The Colonel hears it, but Edward is warm and asleep and safe from the cold.

For now.