This story was inspired by a photo of an Ed doll wearing Oktoberfest Barbie\\\'s clothes, taken by militsa and posted on her LiveJournal.

a big apple

Oktoberfest With Ed and Hei

Munich, September 1923

"It's official. City Hall announced it."

Ed doesn't bother looking up from his book. "Announced what?"

"Oktoberfest is cancelled due to inflation."

A little startled by the dejected tenor of Alfons' voice, Ed sticks his finger in the book to keep his page and turns to his roommate. "Remind me what that is, again?"

Alfons scowls, slumping bonelessly into a chair with an almost palpable huff—Ed nearly expects his notes to flutter off the kitchen table from the force of the other boy's displeasure. "Only the biggest festival in the whole country, Ed. It's the highlight of the year. Beer, food, pretty girls, revelry, beer, Ed, whole tents of Löwenbräu."

"Oh..." Ed frowns a little in thought. "I think I remember that happening last year, sort of. I tried to avoid it."

"Why am I not surprised?" Alfons replies darkly. "You always try to avoid anything that involves other people. Or fun. Or both."

"That's not true! I have fun sometimes!"

"Pulling my leg with crazy stories doesn't count."

"I'm not...all right, fine, so I'm not a social butterfly, I have work to do."

"Forget it, just forget it! Forget I said anything." His brother's double pushes himself up from the table and stalks out; Ed watches him go, startled by this sudden cold turn in what he thought was a fairly normal, if argumentative, conversation. He can hear Alfons stomping up the stairs, and sets the book down, thoughtful.

What the hell did I do now?

When Ed first came to live with Heiderich, disheartened by his father's disappearance and ashamed to need or ask for help, he'd said the couch would be perfectly fine and there was no need to make any special accommodation for him. A few weeks of worsening aches and cranky mornings, though, convinced them both to try switching for a little while. Ed slept better in a real bed, but Alfons was really too tall to fit on the couch, and finally Ed had had enough.

"Look," he said over breakfast one morning. "I don't mind sharing the bed if you don't. I mean, if you don't mind...well...."

"I don't care about your arm and leg, Ed," Alfons murmured, looking across the table at him with those soulful eyes. "And I don't mind sharing, either. It'd be a damn sight more comfortable for both of us, I'll bet."

Ed flushed with some emotion, or combination of them, that he couldn't name, and rubbed absently at the edge of the harness under his shirt, where the flesh-toned plate fit to hide the automail port beneath. "All right. Then that's that."

They've been sharing the bed ever since, though not always sleeping well, and more recently, not always sleeping at all; some beer-hazy nights and awkward morning necessities have lately given way to an uncertain sort of accord, a mutual desire, and a mutual willingness to not poke or prod that desire too much. Tonight, though, after a tense and quiet dinner and a tenser, quieter evening with noses pressed in books, Alfons' body is stiff in the bed beside him, turned away. Ed studies the angry line of this not-his-brother's back, thinking that he's seen that posture before on Al, and that usually it means he should apologize for something. He can't quite fathom what it is this time, though, so he just detaches his limbs and curls up on his side, letting his back touch Alfons' lightly before the other boy scoots just a little bit farther away.

Ed dreams that Alfons builds a perfect rocket, a two-seater, but takes off angrily by himself, leaving Ed alone and abandoned on the Earth. When he wakes with the early sun on his face, he turns over and presses his forehead against the back of Alfons' neck, nosing his spine lightly. "I'm sorry. I don't know what I said, but I'm sorry I made you angry. Tell me what's wrong."

Alfons sighs slowly, still a little bit asleep. "It's not really anything you said. I was disappointed about d' Weisn, and I just...." He pauses, then sighs again, his voice quiet. "I wish you'd try to belong here. Just a little bit."

But I don't belong here, Ed thinks, though even he isn't foolish enough to say it aloud. Instead he lays a soft kiss against the knob of Alfons' spine where his neck is bent forward, and then a few more along the line of his shoulder. The other boy shifts a little, presses lightly back against him. They don't get out of bed until the morning sun has drifted downward into slanting afternoon beams, spilling over their tangled limbs and coaxing them into the day.

When Ed first gets the idea, it seems brilliant. Then he realizes that it's already mid-September, and he's got only a week and a half to make it work, and no money to speak of. Still, no problem can best an Elric, and he slips away to market with the Kuchen Gracia bakes them before Alfons knows they're there; Gracia's talents are well-known, and he barters two or three for a decent supply of Alfons' revered Löwenbräu. He sells off textbooks he's mostly got memorized anyway to eager University students; they pay him fairly with whatever currency they can, and he blows it all on Würstl and potatoes for Reiberdatschi and noodles and cheese for a batch of Kaasspotzn. He gets a cookbook from the library to study up, and while he's there he charms the girl behind the counter, a chemistry student who's shorter than he is but thick-boned and curvaceous, into lending him a proper costume in exchange for a few private tutoring sessions.

He arranges for Alfons to be out on the Saturday that the festival would have begun, had it begun, and spends the day feverishly cleaning, chilling the beer, surpassing himself in the kitchen with only a few minor disasters. Then suddenly there aren't enough hours left in the day; Alfons is due back very soon, and everything's ready except for Ed.

He sponges himself off quickly in their little bathroom, at least getting rid of the majority of the sweat he worked up over the stove; he squeezes into the library clerk's flirtatiously short dirndl, and it fits him shockingly well, the bodice somehow showing off the sculpted strength of his flesh shoulder and the trim line of his waist. His narrow hips are lost amid the full skirt and lacy petticoat beneath, but it's all part of the illusion, and he lets his hair fall down around his face. It's then that he realizes he left the silk stockings in the tiny living room, and he checks the time, then hurries out to tug them on.

How do women get these damn things ON?! he growls to himself, fumbling with his false hand and tugging fiercely with his left. They almost fit, but stocking and garter belt clips still will not quite meet—and with a frantic glance at the clock, he drops to his back on the floor with legs in the air in the hopes of shimmying them farther up his thighs somehow. He recalls seeing Winry try this once (before she screamed at him for walking in without knocking), and it seems to be working, but the false hand makes things difficult, and he's still tangled up in silk and belt straps when Alfons' key turns in the lock.

Ed's face flushes apple red a moment later, when Alfons catches sight of him sprawled on the floor, in a dress, his legs spread quite indecently in the air with the stockings not quite secured yet. He gives up on them, sitting up and shoving the skirt between his legs in a fit of sudden modesty.

"Shut up. Don't say anything. I made you food, and there's beer in the icebox, and happy fucking Oktoberfest."

Alfons gapes at him like a fish out of water, then closes his mouth with a sharp click of teeth, those wide blue eyes skittering over the low neck of the bodice and the curve of Ed's calves sticking out from the frills of the skirt and underthings. Then slowly his face lights, a smile quirking the corner of his mouth and then widening, widening, and he drops his notes and his jacket where he stands.

"Say something, you—whoa! Alfons, get off, you're—the food's gonna get cold—hey, do you know how long it took me to get those on? Get your hands out of—mmnph!"

The amazing bob_fish did an awesome illustration for this fic, which can be found either on her LiveJournal or mine. :)