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Of the many things Alphonse Elric was rediscovering, now that he wore his

flesh outside of his soul once again, the one that intrigued him by far

were his very own hormones.

Of course he'd read about them, fancied himself having them while he was animated steel, but to truly experience them it seemed an epidermis was required.

He'd watched his elder brother deny them with a determination that would make the most stoic of men bow their heads in reverence. Now that they were past the need for denial, it was also fun to watch them run away with his elder brother and anything that got in his elder brother's path. But he didn't want to burn the candle at both ends to make up for lost time. He wanted to take it slow: as long as slow was right now.

No really: there was no need to go rushing off into anything now that he had his flesh and memories back and life was becoming a living experience.

And First Lieutenant Hawkeye's butt skirt was getting in the way of what would otherwise been a great view.

Although her uniform was not what could be considered overly feminine, it didn't quite hide all the curves and valleys and hills and planes that might have otherwise needed to be hidden in an all male environment. He could sit there for hours watching her walk and bend and stretch and sit and get up again, just to see the blue fabric stretch and pull and offer those titillating bits to his subconsciousness.

His subconsciousness was turning out to be much more overly repressed than he might have previously guessed. Now that it had free rein to fantasize about flesh, it wanted to do so constantly. And not Al's flesh, oh no; the novelty of being able to experience pleasure, pain, heat and cold wore off quickly enough. It was other's people's flesh it had ideas about now. Particularly feminine flesh.

If he'd ever been able to get an erection in steel, the most likely candidate to have perpetrated this wonderfulness on him would have been First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye. Never mind she was older than he was, a career woman and capable of scaring most men back into their mother's wombs; it was just the thought of her that made him fantasize about his loin cloth becoming a embarrassing circus tent shape.

But that was the past and this was the now and his eyes where trained on the woman as she bent over to retrieve some papers the Brigadier General had helpfully knocked off of his desk. Al didn't realize he had an ally until the First Lieutenant stood back up and he let his eyes wonder elsewhere. That's when the Brigadier General had winked his remaining eye at him.

At first, Al turned to see if Ed was in the room and he'd failed to notice him, (then the impossibility of that struck him. If Ed were in the room he was either glued to Al's side or being pried off of Al's side and glued to the Brigadier General, either way, it was impossible to be in a room and not know Ed was in it), or if one of the other members of the Brigadier General's staff was Morse-coding with their own eyelids from across the room.

No, it seemed to be just him, just her, and just the man in the eye patch.

The Brigadier General cleared his throat and gave the First Lieutenant a smile as she laid the papers back on his desk.

"I have a favor, First Lieutenant," he said and she looked at him, and Al noticed that her eyebrow twitched ever so slightly.

"Alphonse and I had a lunch date," the Brigadier General plunged ahead merrily, "but something has come up, could you possibly clear your schedule, and as a favor to me, take him to lunch so his trip here won't have been in vain?"

Al shifted and gripped the edge of the sofa hard to keep from running across the room, sliding over Roy Mustang's desk, and kissing the man into unconsciousness. Every nerve ending he had began to thrum steadily against his skull and he shook with the suppressed tension of waiting for her answer.

She turned to look at him then, and he almost threw himself on the floor and rolled over to show his belly. Her look never wavered though, and she nodded slightly.

"It would be my pleasure," she said, and both of Alphonse heads, (the normal one and the one in his pants), swelled with joy. "Is there anything you prefer, Alphonse?" she continued. "If this was a luncheon date we shouldn't go to the mess hall."

I would prefer you. I would prefer you and perhaps noodles with meat sauce at the same time. I really missed noodles with meat sauce and it was very unfair of my brother to eat it in front of me. I prefer you to feed me the noodles with meat sauce in your underwear. No wait. With no underwear. I prefer my noodles and meat sauce naked.

"Anything you want is fine, " Al got out after much throat clearing.

"Alphonse likes noodles with meat sauce," the Brigadier General then helpfully supplied. Both he and the First Lieutenant looked over at Alphonse when he slapped his hand over his mouth to suppress a groan.


"So how are things now?" she asked to the open air of the sidewalk cafe. "Are you and your brother doing well? We miss you around the office."

Al sat, mesmerized and stunned opposite her, in the same sidewalk cafe. She spoke to him about normal things. Conversation, it was called, and yes, he'd had them before, but never with her and never like this.

"I miss you, too. I miss you a lot," he suddenly blurted. "Ed is a slave driver, I'd visit more but all he wants to do is work, work, work. I don't get it, I'd think he'd want to take a breather, I know I do, and he got decommissioned and all so he's all private sector now. He's really eating that up because everyone remembers him and he's so famous," Al waved his hands. "I'm not famous and I don't care. Ok maybe I do, a little. I guess I'm unrecognizable without the armor. I'm babbling aren't I? How's Hayate?" and he promptly clamped his mouth shut.

The First Lieutenant, (no, Hawkeye, no Riza, he should try calling her Riza. He should work up the nerve to call the woman by her first name. But in all his best fantasies she was still "First Lieutenant" and how messed up was that?) nodded her head and smiled.

"Hayate is fine, I'm sure he missed his ear scratches," she told him. "Your leather gauntlets hit the itchy places just right."

Al held up his flesh and blood hands and pondered them, feeling inadequate in dog scratching now.

"Well, I guess I can do the best I can with what I have," he said. "I'm not sorry to have them back. Hayate will have to forgive me."

"You've been walking around like the rest of us these last few months. You can be hot and cold again, you can feel pleasure and pain; what is it like to be newly human?"

Al's mind flashed back to the people gathered around his bed in the safe house. The place that had been arranged for he and his brother when Al was first restored.

A new human.

The Brigadier General has smiled and said, simply: "Pinocchio".

A real boy.

"I can breathe, and I don't mean just the biological function of taking in air," Al said softly. "I can fill my lungs and feel the rush through my blood. I can feel, and no sensation is too small, to faint. The world is no longer two-dimensional, it has a pulse and I share it. I would argue the newly human remark, but... I am new again, aren't I? New to life."

"You have a lot to catch up on," Hawkeye informed him, smiling softly and lifting her glass to her lips. "What is it you intend to do first?"

"Sex," Al said without hesitation. "I intend to have sex, because that is obviously what my body thinks I should do. I find myself thinking of it quite often and the most innocuous remark can have my imagination off and running a marathon. Ed says I'm repressed and has given me this funny Xingian book with lots of positions. While I appreciate the gesture, I'd appreciate more having a partner I can try out some of the positions with; because really, I can only get my hand to bend just so many ways." Then it struck him just want he was talking about and whom he was talking it about it with.

She smiled. It wasn't condescending in the least, it looked faintly amused and if she was shocked, none of it showed on her features. "I'd say that was natural, after all, I'm sure your hormones are making up for lost time," she said.

Al could feel the flush creeping up on him. It was all ready to burst from its bonds and run havoc over his face and perhaps into his hairline, yes, definitely there. It would then make a molten trail down his neck and into the neckline of his shirt. It would make his chest glow and incinerate anything left in his stomach from lunch. His toes would be toasty warm.

"I'm so sorry," Al stuttered. "It's really not a subject I should be bringing up in..."

Now he couldn't say delicate company, he couldn't say gentile company. He could most definitely not say mixed company, for there were only two of them at the table. He could try moral company, but that sounded odd. Maybe female company, but that was even odder.

"I shouldn't have brought it up," he opted for.

"Don't apologize," she said and inclined her head a bit. "I'm honored you think so much of me you can share whatever is on your mind. Really Alphonse, we have always been close. Please don't think you have to measure your words with me."

Well that was interesting. Especially the close remark. Alphonse looked around a bit and cleared his throat, then leaned over the table a bit toward her, as to keep their words guarded.

"In that case, I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions," he said conspiratorially. "Brother gets all flustered when I do. It's cute and all and he stammers a lot, but I feel so bad about asking him, because really, he's not inclined to give advice about female company. I used to think that odd, but now I just think it's just "him." Anyways, what do women find attractive in men? I mean in the sense that would make them want to be intimate with a particular man? I'm really thinking I must have some deficiency. I try to put out all the right signals, but maybe I'm not broadcasting loudly enough. Do you find me attractive? I mean in the way a woman might find a man attractive in order to, um, have sex?"

She looked contemplative a moment, her eyes roving his face, then his neck and chest. Then, and only then, the flush he’d been struggling to repress howled in glee and set loose the hounds of flush hell upon him, and they raced with merry yapping glee to all the places he feared they'd race.

"I would say you are definitely attractive in all the ways a woman would find attractive in a man she wished to be intimate with," she said in very measured tones. "In fact, I'd say you were beyond average in a few of the categories."

"There are categories?" Al said faintly.

"Every woman has categories, Alphonse," she said, sitting back in her chair. "Appearance, demeanor, character, financial security, parentage," she ticked off her fingers. "Visual attractiveness, hygiene is a big issue, fashion sense, sense of humor, desirability, the list goes on," she supplied.

"Is there a score card? I mean purchasable that I could have for reference?" he asked hopefully.

"I'm afraid not. I think the intimidation factor of such a score card on the male sex would keep a lot of women single," she sighed.

"Or like brother," Al murmured.

"But don't worry, were I to score you, well the points would be very high," she reassured him.

"Very high?" he said, brightening.

"In the top 5 percentile," she said with a sage nod.

"So, I'm a more likely candidate to have sex with, I see, I see," Al nodded. "So how do I know when a woman wants to have sex with me? Are there any signals or secret words I should know?"

"That has variables which vary from woman to woman," she told him. "With some women, they lean more toward the physical aspects. Appearance is a bonus with that type of woman. You are a good height, you have nice eyes and a lovely frame. Your nose is straight and narrow and your bottom lip is a touch fuller than most men, I personally think that is an advantage."

Al sucked on his lower lip.

"With other women, intelligence is valued, so see you have a double advantage there with both of these types of women," she finished.

"What about the other types? And what about competition from other men?" Al asked.

"Well, as for the other types, I really wouldn't suggest them," Hawkeye explained, "and with competition: well Alphonse, what type of woman do you see yourself with?"

Any woman would do at the moment, but he could hardly say that.

"I hadn't thought about it," he confessed. "But I think the outline you just gave could work for either gender. I find that intelligence and physical appearance play key roles. Not that I want to put myself out of the running with any interested woman," he explained. "I think, at the moment, maybe I shouldn't focus on particular aspects."

"I think in your circumstances, that a few minor things could be conceded," she said. "At least to those who know of your special circumstances."

"I'm being shallow, aren't I?" he sighed.

"It can be forgiven," she said, folding her hands in her lap.

"You would forgive it?" Al asked, his eyebrows raising.

"I would say that I would forgive it. Although you could hardly tell your adventures to just anyone, you radiate enough tragic yet triumphant exuberance to attract many women. I'm surprised myself that Edward isn't beating them off with a stick by now."

"Is this working on you?" Al asked hopefully.

"Yes," she confirmed with a nod. "It is working on me. I already know your tale and it still touches me. I can definitely say I am attracted," she confirmed.

"Can we have sex?" Al ventured.

"I would say the answer is yes," she told him.

Al jumped up from the table and was halfway down the walk before he realized she wasn't following him. He hurried back and all but jogged in place at the table.

"You don't mean right now, do you?" Al said.

"I'm working the rest of my shift," she confirmed.

"But tonight, definitely tonight," he asked.

"Most definitely," she told him. "You can meet me on the front steps at six."

"Alright then, I'm going to go and work out for a bit and do some reading; I'll bring that book if you'd like," he said.

"Bring the book, I'd like to see what sort of positions interest you the most," she agreed, putting her napkin on the table and standing up.

"Well then, until six then, First Lieutenant," and he stuck out his hand. "Thank you for accompanying me to lunch."

"It was my pleasure, Alphonse," she said, shaking his hand. "I'm glad we had this time to talk and make arrangements."

"Well you know how hopeless I am about being spontaneous, Brother seemed to inherit all the reckless genes in the family," he smiled.

"I should be heading back, I don't want to be late," she told him.

"Right. I would walk with you, but I'm afraid I'm becoming rather distracted by the anticipation of the evening’s outing. In fact, to the point it might get embarrassing to be seen with me. I think I will go home and shower," he said with a nod.

"See you at six," she said, and made her way down the walk, mentally tallying up her scorecard as she went.