As I held Alex and stroked her gently, I realized just how much I cared for her. Words couldn’t describe how I felt about her loss.
“Shhh…” I said, quietly. “It’s okay… I’ve got you…”
Alex slowly pulled away from me, tears streaming from her red, puffy eyes. “I’m sorry…”
“No, Alex. You’re okay. Don’t worry about anything.” I gently placed her hands in mine.
“Alex, we won’t ever judge you. You’re still our friend.” Al told her.
“And we can be together. Two state alchemists, side by side. You don’t have to be afraid of being rejected anymore, Alex.” I added.
The tears stopped flowing down her face. “Do you mean it?” She asked.
I smiled. “Of course! We’d love it if you stayed with us!”
Alphonse nodded enthusiastically. “Absolutely! That’d be great!”
Alex looked happier than I had ever seen her before. “I wouldn’t be alone anymore…” She said.
“You wouldn’t have to be alone ever again, Alex.” I put my hand on her shoulder.
She smiled, looking at the ground. “You two are the best friends that I could ever ask for.” My cloak slid down, allowing her automail to peek out.
Alex blushed and began to hoist it back up. I caught her eyes, and slowly, she let the cloak fall just enough to reveal her shoulders.
“You see, Alex? You don’t have to hide yourself from us anymore. We’ll love you no matter what.” I told her.
She looked at me and Alphonse, eyes shining. And then she pulled us into a group hug. “I love you too, guys.” She said softly.
Her words struck a chord in me. I didn’t know why, but I suddenly I got an idea. I looked at Al and mouthed my question to him. He nodded, excited.
“Hey, Alex. Is it true that you have feelings for my brother?” He asked as we pulled apart.
Alex turned bright red. “Whaaaaaaaat?” She looked over her shoulder.
I blushed too. “Al!”
Alphonse apparently didn’t take “Whaaaaaaaat” for a legitimate answer. “Answer the question, Alex.” He said, patting her head.
She looked at me, and then lowered her gaze to the ground. “Maybe…” She squeaked, sitting down and putting her head in her hands.
That was a good enough answer for me. I put my hand on her shoulder.
“Hey, Alex.” I said, sitting down across from her.
She looked up at me. “I’m sorry… Are you alright with that? I mean…”
Our eyes met. “You have nothing to be sorry for. I’m perfectly fine with it.” I smiled at her.
“Hey, Edward?” Alex asked me.
I nodded. “Yeah?”
She looked down. “Thank you for rescuing me.” She said.
“Huh? Oh, no problem. I was just glad…” Alex, who quickly kissed me on the cheek, interrupted me.
Never in all of my life had I seen Al so happy. He was practically jumping up and down. Mustang seemed to be pretty pleased too. He had been keeping quiet, allowing for our dialogue to go about uninterrupted.
Alphonse stood up. “Well, we should probably go…” He handed Alex her suitcase and backpack, which he had retrieved when he had knocked out Alex’s attacker.
Alex blushed. “And I should probably put on another shirt.” She looked at me, embarrassed. “That guy took my old one.”
I turned red as well. It was true that my cloak didn’t cover her. It was too big and kept sliding down her body. She couldn’t walk around town in it…
Alex opened up her suitcase and took out another long-sleeved shirt. She looked at us expectantly.
“I’m gonna… You know… Head outside?” Al said, heading out the door.
Mustang nodded. “Yeah… Me too.” He followed Alphonse.
Pretty soon I was alone with Alex. She looked at me.
“Are you gonna…” She started.
I blushed. “Yeah. I just wanted to say… I’m glad you’re safe.” The words fell out of my mouth quickly, one after another. I ran outside before she could respond.
“What’d you do, brother?” Al asked me as I walked next to him.
“Nothing.” I told him matter-of-factly.
“You kissed her, didn’t you?” He said.
“NO! I… just… Never mind.” I sat down, waiting for Alex to return.
I couldn’t believe that I had chickened out on thanking Alex for her kiss. Though I wasn’t about to admit it to anyone (except her, maybe), I had actually enjoyed it. Oh, well. I’d tell her later, when we were alone. I had an idea, and I think that she would enjoy it.
After a few minutes, she walked outside. She handed my cloak to me, turning a bit pink. “Here. Thanks.”
I rubbed the back of my neck. “No problem.”
We started walking down the street. I noticed that Alex was lagging behind a bit, so I slowed down and walked with her.
“Is everything okay?” I asked.
She looked at me and nodded. “Yeah. It’s just… Well… I don’t know.” She bit her lip.
“You can tell me, Alex. I’m here for you.” I told her.
She hesitated. “I guess I just regret keeping myself a secret from you two. Who knows what our lives would be like if I hadn’t avoided you. But I didn’t. I was too afraid of rejection.” She said, looking down.
I nodded. I was a bit disappointed that I hadn’t known about her before a few days ago, but I understood her reasoning. Al and I didn’t exactly go around displaying our mistake either. I respected her motive, and I wanted to help her.
“Alex, I completely understand what you’re feeling. And I just want to tell you that if you want to talk about any of this to me, you can.” I looked at her.
“Trust me, all that you would gain from talking to me is an extremely wet shoulder and a lot of confusion. It’d be better if I kept everything to myself.” She looked at me, her eyes dull.
I personally disagreed. I had been through a lot, and I wanted to help the girl in any way that I could. If I could take some of her hurt away, I would do it. But I didn’t want to force her to bring down her walls. If she wanted to close herself off, she could, and I accepted that. It hurt me, however, to see her in pain and not be able to do anything about it.
“Alright. Just let me know if I can help.” I said. Suddenly I remembered my failed attempt from earlier. As the minutes passed in silence, I racked up the nerve to talk to her again.
“Hey, Alex?” I asked.
“Yeah?” She looked at me.
I turned red. “You know… You know that… Kiss you gave me earlier?” I looked down.
She blushed. “What… What about it? I’m sorry, I know it was so straight-forward and everything… I shouldn’t have…” She stammered, putting her head in her hands.
Dang it. This was not what I had been expecting at all. Oh, well. No chickening out now.
“No, Alex! I wanted to… Thank you for it.” I said quickly, squeezing my eyes shut.
She stopped rambling. “Thank me? Really?” She asked quietly.
I nodded quickly. “Yeah. So, thank you.”
Her eyes widened, and she seemed to be taken by surprise a bit. “Oh. Heh. No… Problem.” She smiled softly and looked at the ground, her face a little pink.
We continued walking in silence, and after a few minutes, we had caught up to Mustang and Alphonse. By that time, we had reached our hotel.
“Oh! You guys were staying here, too?” Alex asked as we walked inside the building.
“Yeah. You rented a room at this place?” I looked at her.
She nodded. “Huh. I’m pretty sure that there’s only one hotel here… But the thought that you might be here didn’t even cross my mind.” She said.
I hadn’t even considered the idea either. “Huh. Same here.”
“I’m gonna… Go get a room. I checked out earlier this morning.” She said, sounding a bit awkward.
“Okay.” I probably seemed a little bit uneasy, because Alex looked at me.
She laughed. “Don’t get the wrong idea, Ed. I love spending time with you and everything, but… Well… I’m a girl, and… I’m gonna stop there.” She blushed and ran off.
I turned bright red. I hadn’t meant anything weird like that. I was just wondering why she seemed to be acting so jumpy around me.
She returned a few minutes later, holding her key. “I’m back, boys.”
“Hey there.” I greeted her. Al waved and Mustang smiled at her.
Alex grabbed her bags. “I’m right next door to you.” She smiled.
I grinned. “Sweet.”
We walked down to our rooms. After (literally) throwing her suitcase in her room, she walked over to us. It was then when I had an absolutely amazing, and quite possibly crazy, idea.
“Hey, Alex? Can I talk to you privately for a second?” I asked.
She nodded. “Sure.”
Alphonse made some sort of squealing noise, but quickly quieted when I stared him down. Mustang raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything. The two left us, though, and I was standing with Alex alone in the hall.
“Let’s go to my room.” She said, opening the door. We walked inside and she closed the door.
“What’s up?” Alex asked.
I glanced down. “Well, I’ve kind of had something on my mind.”
She looked at me. “What’s wrong?” She asked.
“You know about the kiss you gave me earlier?” My heart started speeding up.
“Yes?” Alex cocked her head a little.
I bit my lip. Here it goes. “Well… You obviously know about The Law of Equivalent Exchange…”
She turned pink. “Yes?”
I blushed as well. “You gave me a kiss. I didn’t give you a kiss. So, according to The Law of Equivalent Exchange, I owe you a kiss.” I said quickly.
Alex’s eyes widened. “Uh… I guess you do.” She giggled. “Okay. Go ahead and follow the law.” She looked down shyly.
I leaned forward and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. She turned bright red.
“Well, I’ve cleared my conscience. I’m gonna go back to my room and unwind.” I said, trying to sound as casual as possible.
Alex nodded. “Okay. I should probably… Unpack. So I’ll… See you later?” She asked.
I smiled. “I’ll see you… Later.” I waved and left her room. I smiled. I had just kissed Alexandra Hagane.