Characters: Ling, Ran Fan
Word count: 531
Setting: Fullmetal Alchemist, mangaverse, probably before or just after the Ling gang first meet Ed and Al in Chapter 32.
Summary: Ling likes exploring. Ran Fan spends a lot of time grinding her teeth.
Notes: First in a series of seasonal FMA ficlets, each vaguely inspired by a different winter festival.
Disclaimer: Not mine. All hail the Great Cow!
He's in and out before the late winter dawn, and she can't quite believe that he's given her the slip again. It's a bad habit of his, to make use of his talent and training like this: to guard him properly, she will one day end up having to give up sleep entirely. He motions upwards, and they go to sit on the roof, so as not to disturb her grandfather.
The prince waves his paper bag at her, and pulls a pastry out with an air of triumph. "Doughnuts!" he says. "I got them at the flower market, it opens ever so early. I tried one on the way home, they're a bit like yóu tiáo, and I know it's unpatriotic of me but I actually think they're even nicer."
He breaks a bit off his ring-shaped pastry and holds it out in front of her mouth, as if he was feeding a cat. She looks at it and ponders the correct response to the situation. Here is another of his bad habits: he often surprises her with some action that's so far beyond correct, polite behaviour it will take her some moments to work out the proper response.
He carries on holding out the pastry scrap. "The powdery stuff is sugar," he says helpfully, as if that's the problem here. His smile, as always, goes all the way up to his eyes.
Well, Ran Fan will look like a fool if she sits here like this, and to open her mouth for the scrap would be so improper it's quite impossible. The only way to preserve face is to take the pastry in her fingers and pop it in her mouth. So she does.
It's delicious. The dough is crispy on the outside, and still warm. The sugar crunches between her teeth. It's not quite as nice as good yóu tiáo. Her young master can occasionally verge on being a little too open-minded. No food can ever be quite as good as the food of your homeland.
Ling grins, gets out another doughnut, and offers it to her with his free hand cupped under it to catch the sugar. There's something about the courteousness of the gesture that feels wrong, as if he's putting them on an equal footing. Yet another bad habit. Considering that her master is one destined to be the most just and deserving occupant of the august throne for generations, he has an awful lot of bad habits.
She hesitates, trying to work out the best thing to say. "You take things too seriously sometimes, Ran Fan," he says. "Have a doughnut."
What else can she do? She takes it from his hand. Does he know what he's doing here after all? Is there a lesson she can't see, something about kingship and humbling oneself? She takes a little bite and looks at him sidelong. He's shamelessly licking the sugar off his own fingers. Hmm, perhaps not. Perhaps it might be possible that she does take herself a little bit too seriously, sometimes?
They sit together in silence and eat their odd, Amestrian yóu tiáo, and watch the little town waking up in the foreign sunrise.