Never See Me Coming!
"Wahoo!" Demyx cheered, leading the charge into the mall.
"Demyx, please. You're making a scene," Vexen muttered from close behind. People began to stare at the group.
"Number Four is right," Xemnas barked, "Stealth will be the key to completing this mission successfully."
"Aw fine," Demyx pouted. His mullet seemed to mimic his mood as it drooped. It wouldn't have really mattered how loud Demyx was. They all stuck out in their Organization coats.
Roxas, who was walking in the back of the group, just sighed. This had to be the most pointless mission he had ever been on. Xemnas had stumbled on a copy of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas somewhere in the Castle That Never Was. Upon learning the story of Santa Claus, and finding out he would be appearing at a shopping mall; he assembled the Organization together and announced that they would be going on a mission to ask Santa for Kingdom Hearts. A few members tried to explain that Santa Claus wasn't real, but he wouldn't listen.
As for Roxas, the worst part was that Axel wasn't with them. Xemnas had sent him on a mission to gather intel on Santa's magic. Axel just shrugged and dark portalled away, leaving Roxas all by himself on this ridiculous "mission" to visit a mall Santa.
"Aw, what's the matter, Roxy?" Larxene sneered, "Sad that your boyfriend's not here?"
"Can it, Larxene!" Roxas shot back. Larxene just smirked and kept walking.
Roxas looked down and fidgeted with his gloves. He really hoped Larxene was just being her usual bitchy self, and didn't pick up on anything. In truth, he felt his feelings toward Axel had grown from friendship into something entirely different. But Roxas wasn't sure he could ever tell Axel how he really felt. What if he completely rejected him? Or what if he didn't want to be friends with him anymore? Roxas didn't want to take that risk. He would much rather hide his true feelings than have Axel potentially hate him.
"There he is!" Xemnas whispered. He pointed to the Christmas display in the middle of the food court. Roxas groaned. The mall Santa couldn't have looked any faker. He had to have been a smaller man because there was cotton bulging out of his suit to give him a jollier look. How hard could it possibly be for the mall to find a larger man to be their Santa?
"Alright," Xemnas instructed, "I will go and perform the ritual of sitting on Santa Claus's knee and telling him what I desire from him. The rest of you stay here and cover me. Any mess-ups and I'll turn you all into Dusks!"
Xemnas walked up to the mall Santa and sat on his knee.
"Ho! Ho! Ho!" Santa said cheerfully, "And what would you like for Christmas this y-"
"KINGDOM HEARTS!" Xemnas roared, flailing his arms all over the place, "GIVE ME KINGDOM HEARTS, OH GREAT HOLIDAY SAGE!"
Xigbar, seeing more people start to stare, rushed up to Xemnas and pulled him off of a flustered mall Santa.
"Sorry dude," He smiled, "He's just a little excited, Christmas and all. Anyway, send me some of these exploding bullets I saw a few doors down at Home Depot, okay? Happy holidays!"
"BESTOW KINGDOM HEARTS UPON ME!" Xemnas screamed as Xigbar pulled him toward the exit. Xigbar shot the remaining Organization members a wink before yanking Xemnas out of the mall.
Xaldin brought a hand to his head and sighed. With Xigbar gone and he being Number Three, it was up to him to figure out the next course of action.
"Alright," He turned to the rest of the Organization, "Seeing as the Superior has compromised his ownmission, we are going to take the most discreet route. By rank, we will go ask Santa for something, leave the mall and dark portal back home. Got it?" Everyone nodded, "Good. I'll go first."
Xaldin sat on the mall Santa's knee and asked for pinwheels to put outside his window. Vexen asked for new lab equipment. Lexaeus asked for a new set of weights while Zexion whispered that he wanted the Twilight books. Saix asked for a large amount of weed to keep from berserking on other members of the Organization. Demyx asked for new sitar strings while Luxord wanted a book of card tricks. Marluxia wanted a special type of fertilizer and Larxene demanded new knives.
This left Roxas the last to ask the mall Santa for a present. He couldn't think of anything he really wanted, except to tell Axel how he really felt.
"Oh well," Roxas thought as he walked up to the chair, "It's just a mall Santa. I'll just spit it out. It'll be good to get it off my chest anyway. Then I'll go home and who knows? Maybe Axel will be back from his mission."
Roxas slowly sat down on the mall Santa's knee, looking up at the man.
"Ho! Ho! Ho!" Santa greeted, "And what do you want for Christmas, little boy?"
"Well, it's about my best friend," Roxas explained, "It's about him and me."
"Go on," Santa encouraged.
"I'm...I'm in love with him," Roxas sighed, "But the problem is I don't think he'll like me anymore if I tell him." He hung his head down, "I just don't know what to do."
"Well," came a familiar voice, "You could always just tell him."
Roxas looked up and his jaw dropped. The mall Santa had pulled down his fake beard and torn off his white wig, revealing the face of Axel, who was smiling at Roxas.
"Axel!" Roxas screamed. A little kid close by looked over to see what was going on. When he saw Axel without his beard or wig, he began to cry and ran, screaming for his mother.
"Hey!" Axel called to the kid, "I'm not that ugly!"
"What are you doing here?" Roxas trembled. He can't believe what he had just said to Axel, "What about your mission?"
"Oh that?" Axel laughed, "I went to the dollar store and bought Xemnas a few sparkly Christmas balls. That'll keep him busy until next week when he plots to capture the Easter Bunny."
Roxas just laughed nervously, hoping Axel wouldn't be too hard on him.
"So," Axel wrapped an arm around Roxas, "Is that how you really feel?"
Roxas, at a loss for words, just nodded.
"Well," Axel grinned, "Look up."
Roxas looked above them and saw a few sprigs of mistletoe hanging above them. With wide eyes, he went to look back to Axel for answers. But before he could, Axel caught his chin with his hand and guided Roxas's lips onto his. Roxas's eyes shut as he let Axel pull him closer. A few seconds later, the two broke the kiss for some air.
"You planted that mistletoe there, didn't you?" Roxas breathed, his mind running a thousand miles.
"All part of the plan," Axel grinned.
"So," Roxas began, "Does that mean you feel the same way I do?"
"Roxas," Axel said, "I've felt that way for a long time. You are the only one who makes me feel like I have a heart. What else could that be other than love?"
"But listen," Axel placed his hands on top of Roxas's, "I could never hate you for feeling that way about me. Even if I didn't feel the same way, I wouldn't just impale you with my chakrams. You're my best fr-Well, you're actually something so much more than that. But don't feel like you can't talk to me because you think I'd push you away." Axel took one of Roxas's hands and led it up to his head. He used Roxas's index finger to lightly tap his temple, "Got it memorized?"
Axel's hand brought Roxas's back down to his lap. His other one made its way up to Roxas's cheek, drawing circles with his thumb.
"Axel…" Roxas trailed off, closing his eyes again and enjoying the feeling of Axel's hand on his face. He brought a hand to Axel's arm to try and keep it there.
"Now that we've got all the scary confessions out of the way," Axel grinned, using his hand to guide Roxas's face closer to his. "Shall we pick up where we left off?" He playfully rubbed his nose against Roxas's before he pressed their lips together again.
After enduring another onslaught of enemy ships through the gates and passages between the worlds, our heroes opened the way to a strange, new world that seemed quite familiar.
“Wow, look at all this snow!” exclaimed the Key-bearer. It appeared to be sharing the same quality of shining whiteness as Christmas Town – far as the eye could see.
“Looks like Santa was right, it is like perpendicular Christmas season!” exclaimed Goofy.
“Perpetual!” corrected Donald, but not as annoyed as always when dealing with Goofy’s verbal shortcomings, considering the pristine scenery. “Besides, we’re here because of Santa. No Heartless is gonna ruin Christmas for anyone!”
Sora turned to them. “Yeah, well, we might as well go check out the town he mentioned. Whoville, right? Thanks to you, Donald, we’ll fit right in!”
“Aww, don’t mention it, heheheheh.”Donald giggled as they checked out each other’s red and white Christmas themed-clothing the little wizard conjured up. They were essentially the same Christmas costumes they wore in Christmas town, except Sora’s was now in festive red, white and green.
High above the town on the nearby Mt. Crumpit, a couple of sinister figures loomed over a crag jutting out from a gloomy cave entrance. The shorter figure was humanoid, all covered in green fur including the fingertips. His yellow eyes peered at the entrance to Whoville.The view sweeps outward over the nearby town and surrounding snowfields, bells ringing, snowflakes falling, town and mountain logo pops up, and the title card “Whoville” appears.
World theme music begins: Yoko Shimomura’s “What a Surprise!”
“I really don’t like those yuletide-lovin’, sickly-sweet, nog-guzzling cheermongers!” said the green creature with a sneer on his face.
“Gee, you really hate those holiday hipsters, doncha?” remarked his portly and significantly larger associate.
“Of course! BUT! It appears you’re not the only new guy around…” the creature told him, and offered his binoculars.
“What do ya mean?” the other one peered towards where the creature pointed and suddenly broke into a cold sweat.
“Whuh?! D’ohhh, it’s that punk and his stupid friends! Why do dey always have ta get in the way?!”
“MAX!!” he called, “Get my cloak! If those weirdoes want to tango, I’ll bring the war to their home turf.”
“Uhh, but I’ve gotta tell ya, they’re not to be messed with head-on. Especially the brat with the giant key.”
“In that case, a little reconnaissance will make for good exercise, while you send those Fartless whatchamacallits after them.”
As the Grinch sauntered off in disguise with his dog, the hefty Pete grinned to himself, “He sure drives a hard bargain, but pretty soon he’ll finally be of some use, if what Maleficent says is true…”
Whoville, Commercial District
Upon entering town, nobody seemed to notice the trio due to the crazy way all the Whos were bustling about with Christmas gifts, decorations, and other related trappings. Santa warned them that the Whos were a little overboard with Christmas celebration, but they were not expecting this level of zealotry. Loud, excited chatter, salesmen shouting discounts from stores, holiday music blaring throughout, and an overall sense of cheer.
They couldn’t help but notice a little Who girl standing at a corner carrying an armload of wrapped gifts that hid her face from view. “Cindy Lou!” a man called towards her as he weaved through the busy crowd, off-handedly using seasons’ greetings as apologies. “Dad, doesn’t this seem a bit much?” she remarked blandly. “Well, this is what Christmas is all about, sweetie! Can’t you feel it?” he responded right before a Who in charge of a giant countdown clock yelled out, “Another minute closer to Christmas!!!”
“Hey! Remember what we’re here for!” Donald yelled at the other two. Just then, a nearby sales clerk announced: “And for the next five minutes only, NINETY-NINE percent off!” “WACK!” went the duck, and mindlessly rushed towards the store with a throng of wild shoppers.
“DONALD!” Sora and Goofy grabbed him before he could get trampled by the obviously taller Whos. “Hey! What’s the big idea?! We’ve got enough munny!” he protested. “Man, this all feels really wrong!” Sora exclaimed.
“Yeah, isn’t it?” the girl called Cindy Lou told him. “I look around and see Mom and Dad and everyone getting all kerbobbled! Don’t you think it’s all, superfluous?”
Before Sora could answer back, the crowd suddenly dispersed screaming as the stores shut and locked their doors. “Uh, what’s goin’ on?” Goofy asked as they watched the streets become almost instantaneously vacant. However, Sora knew the reason,as did the rest of their group; just as plain as it was manifesting numerously on the empty streets –
A mixture of common Shadows and Emblem-types that grossly parodied the festive surroundings started to twitch about, searching for would-be (or Who-be) victims.
“What are you waiting for? Come on!” yelled Cindy Lou as her father was pulling her away (but not forgetting the presents). Of course, our heroes never flinched, as they have experienced this sort of invasion time and again in many worlds. “You go on! We’ll handle this!” Sora announced as they merely drew their weapons and jumped into the fray.
It didn’t take long for the three to send away the uninvited guests of darkness. At the end of the skirmish, the other Whos all cautiously returned to the streets wary of the out-of-place out-of-towners. “That was amazing!” exclaimed Cindy Lou, “How are you guys able to do all that?”Clear the area of Heartless!
Battle theme: Yoko Shimomura’s “Happy Holidays!”
“Well…let’s just say we came into town at the right time.” Sora answered. “Yeah – Christmas time!” added Goofy.
Before the dust (snow, rather?) had a chance to settle, two teenage Who boys ran up to Cindy’s father, both panic-stricken and disheveled. “Dad, Dad! We saw him!!” one screamed.
“Saw who?” he asked. The other started, “We were in the woods, looking for a Christmas tree, when it was—““THE GRINCH!!!” his brother finished for him.
Every Who in the vicinity gasped at the mention of that name, traffic stopped, and the music screeched to a halt.
“ Whaddaya want?! I mean - Grinch?! Oh noo!”
A large and rather distinguished-looking Who stepped forward. “Lou? Did they just mention – ‘Grinch’??”
“H-hello, Mayor May-Who, sir!” Lou nervously replied.
“Need I remind you that this Christmas will mark the one-thousandth Whobilation?” “Whoville’s most important celebration!” chimed in the mayor’s assistant Whobris.
“Don’t tell me that your boys were on Mt. Crumpit provoking the one creature within a billion barometers away – who hates Christmas?” the mayor asked. “BUT WE DID SEE…!”
“Oh no!” Lou covered their mouths, “No, no, I’m sure Stu and Drew were just having some fun, playing with matches or defacing public property…” he interrupted quickly.
“Wait a sec,” Sora joined in, “A creature who hates Christmas?!”
“Yeah!” Donald piped up, “Whoever hates Christmas must be a – a…”
“A Grinch??” Goofy suggested.
The crowd gasped again at the name, and the mayor called out, “No worries, people! There’s no ‘Grinch’ problem here! As for you three,” he turned to the heroes, “what the, uh, ‘G’ word means is of no concern for you. However, what does have me concerned is how you managed to get rid of those monsters! They have never appeared in Whoville before, and none of us have the means of removing them permanently, not even the police! All we can say is that most just seemed to lurk on the outskirts of town, so maybe the lights were scaring them off.”
“Hey, don’t worry! We know how to deal with the Heartless!” said Sora.
“Yeah! We’ll make sure no Heartless or, uh, ‘g’ word will ruin the Whoberation!”
“Whobilation, Goofy!” Donald nudged.
The mayor scrutinized them, “You fellas are tourists, aren’t you? Just in time for the festivities!”
“Right, we came pretty far for this. I’m Sora, and this is Donald and Goofy.”
“Then that settles it!” the mayor gestured grandly, “People, allow me to introduce Sora, Donald and Goofy – our new and official Christmas Guardians!!”
“WHA--?” they sounded together.
”That’s right my friends, and you also get a nifty 20% discount in all stores up until Christmas Eve!”
Sora wasn’t sure what they were getting into, but no weird situation ever stopped them from getting straight to business.
Ever since, the gate had closed behind Edward and Alphonse, Winry has worked hard to continue perfecting her automail. It had been another six months, since she last seen Ed with Al in tow. Sheska had offered to return to Resembool with her, but Winry had given her a brave face, not wanting her to see the sadness that lingered beneath the smile she wore to reassure the woman.
There wasn't a moment, when she didn't think about either of them. That it became a touché subject for her to endure, each time someone asked how the Elric brothers were doing. She'd smile, saying they were off on another adventure, and didn't know when, they'd be back this time. Only this time it was a permanent goodbye. It'd take a miracle for them to come home.
"I wonder what Ed and Al are doing right now?" She'd ask herself, time and time again.
Luckily, Winry didn't get too many visitors this far out in Resembool during the winter. The window gave her a perfect view of the snow that lined the hills as far and wide as she could see. The frost on her windows would form into snowflakes, that she'd have to wipe them off in order to look down the dirt road below, hoping for two boys to come running her way. She'd scold every time, she caught herself doing it. Thankfully, the automail kept her mind from thinking about them too much.
This didn't go unnoticed of course, especially by her grandmother Pinako. Every now and then, she'd receive a call from Major Armstrong asking how she was holding up. The answer would always remain the same from the short woman, Winry is doing fine. Pinako didn't mind of course, except at the back of her mind, she wondered if, Winry was still hoping they'd come back?
Pinako sat outside on a deck with a pipe between her teeth, inhaling before pulling the pipe out of her mouth, and exhaling the smoke from within her mouth. Glancing down at the black and white dog laying by her side with an automail arm attached, she gave it a gentle pat; earning her a few thumps of a tail.
"It's getting to be round that time again. Better get to work."
In her room with the heater on, Winry was welding some steel to her automail arm, and wiping the sweat off her forehead with her forearm, when a raspy voice spoke up from behind her.
"Do you remember, when Ed and Al would fight over the mistletoe?"
Winry jolted in surprise, leaning back on her stool, and twisting around face her grandmother Pinako leaning against the wall, with her arms behind her back, and a smile on her face.
"Those boys would tumble around these very floors, trying to kiss my lovely granddaughter first," Pinako continued, chuckling at the memory. "Until she surprised them both by kissing each boy on the cheek."
Winry smiled fondly in remembrance. "Ed tried to cover it up, saying he was high on Christmas spirit. And Al piped in, saying he wanted to open the presents."
Pinako looked over her granddaughter before twisting around, opening the door up. "Winry, we're gonna be having some guests over. Mind helping me decorate the tree, while I get dinner ready?"
"In this weather?" Winry questioned, glancing out the window before looking back at her grandmother. Except she slipped soundlessly from the room before she could protest further. "I guess, it won't hurt to take a break." A rag was tossed onto the automail arm, followed by a pair of shuffling feet, and a door creaking open.
As Winry withdrew some tinsel from out of an old box labeled 'Decorations', she paused upon seeing something else inside of the box. Kneeling down, she peered closer into the box to see an old doll that Edward had transmuted for her on her birthday. Tears began to fill her eyes, that she wiped them away hastily, and begun lining the tinsel along the windows, until she heard a loud familiar voice speak up across the room.
"It's good to see you again, ma'am. Where would you like me to set this here tree?"
"Over there will do nicely."
A set of loud thundering footsteps approached her, dropping a heavy load on the ground, upon closer inspection, it was a fresh pine tree bounded in white cloth with ties to bind it together from falling apart. Winry blinked, seeing a pair of steady hands rip the bindings off of it, and pulled the cloth away dramatically.
"The perfect tree for the Rockbells. If I don't say so myself!"
Winry stepped around the huge tree, seeing the back of a shirtless man with muscular arms in a familar blue military uniform, who was looking around the empty room with a twinkle to their blue eyes, a mustache on their face that smile, upon seeing her. "Winry. It's good to see you."
"Armstrong! It's good to see you again." She exclaimed, smiling and giving the man a hug.
"You haven't grown any taller, have you?" Armstrong teased.
"No. I'm still the same height as last year." Winry replied, grabbing out ornaments, and stringing them along the tree.
"Good. I know a certain pipsqueak would have a heart attack, if he couldn't kiss you properly." Spoke up a voice behind her.
"I highly doubt Ed would let something like height stop him." Armstrong joked, keeping one eye trained on Winry.
There in the flesh was colonel Roy Mustand with jet black hair, a eye patch on one eye, and a fur lined coat hiding his military uniform beneath it. In his right gloved hand was a cookie, lifting up to his lips to munch on, until a shove from behind made him swallow it whole. Behind him stood Riza Hawkeye, who ignored the coughing and sputtering her superior was making.
"Ignore him. He's just trying to act cool in front of you." Riza said with a smiled.
Winry chuckled. "You two would make a good couple."
The two blushed, trying to regain their composure. Without hesitation, Winry gave each a heartfelt hug, knowing they'd eventually work out their relationship amongst themselves. "I'm surprised you came all the way out here to celebrate Christmas with us here in Resembool. Won't that cause problems in Central?"
"We're taking a mini vacation." Roy said, recovering from his coughing spree, and moving past Armstrong to light the logs inside of the fireplace on fire with a snap of his fingers.
Riza sighed. "He really doesn't like to do paperwork."
"Isn't that why I hired you?" Roy joked, taking a seat on the love seat next to the roaring fire.
Pinako carried out refreshments, marveling at the smile on her granddaughters face. "Looks like it's a good thing I called them" The old woman thought, taking in the gorgeous tree, filled with red, gold and green ornaments, and the star on the top, glimmering from the fireplace's soft, radiating warm glow. Riza carrying a glass of milk to Mustang lounging in the chair, Armstrong beaming proudly at his tree decorating skills.
Another knock at the door steered the old woman away from the scene before her, crossing the room with haste, and opening the door to reveal more old familiar faces. One of them being Sheska, shaking from boot to boot with a present in each hand for them. Pinako smiled at the bookworm, ushering her inside. Followed by Maria Ross, who stood proudly before her in the snow, chucking snow at her partner, who was ducking behind a makeshift snow fort.
"Merry Christmas, ma'am. I hope you don't mind us tagging along? We heard Armstrong was visiting the Rockbells, and couldn't pass up the chance of visiting one the Elric brothers family."
Pinako smiled. "Not at all. Thank you for coming. Make yourself at home, while I grab out a few cups of coffee or cocoa for you to drink."
Winry looked on in amazement at all of the people gathered here today to celebrate Christmas. The thought moved her to tears, that she couldn't stop miling as she blinked them away. For the first time in ages, it felt like home. There wasn't a looming silence to set her on edge, that she felt a pair of arms loop around her, shouting into her ear "Merry Christmas Winry!".
Unfortunate, she wasn't steady on her feet that she fell forward onto the floor laughing as Sheska sheepishly smiled, and murmuring an apology, before handing over her present. "I hope you like it, Winry." The present was wrapped in red and green polka dot paper with a silver bow on top, that Winry could already tell what it was by it's rectangular shape. A book.
As she tore off the wrapping paper, Winry gasped in shock at how far off the mark she really was. "A picture frame of Ed and Al..." Winry embraced Sheska, tears of joy sliding down her cheeks as she pulled away from her. "How did you guy's get this, before they left?"
Roy shared a look with his friends, choosing his words carefully. "We didn't."
The sound of rumbling startle all of them from where they were sitting, or standing, moving quickly out of the house. "What's going on?" Sheska asked, allowing Armstrong to carry her out in his arms. Snow continued to drift down slowly around them, the cold seeping into their flesh that they gazed at the house, willing the shaking to stop.
Pinako could see Winry connecting the dots, murmuring two words 'They're Back!' then tearing out of the group, and racing through the snow.
Mustang had also seen this. "Should we go after her?"
Pinako shook her head, patting a quivering and barking dog by her side. "No. It's about time they come home, after making Winry wait so long."
Winry bent over, breath coming out in puffs as she looked further to see the remains of an old burnt house. A part of her hoped she hadn't let her hopes go up, thinking Ed and Al were back, when it could of just been an ordinary earthquake. Something that didn't quite happen to often here in Resembool. "Please, be here." She pleaded, standing upright and sprinting through the snow that was up to her shins. "I want to see you both!" She cried out, her tears clinging to her eyelashes.
A flash of blue could be seen as she got closer to the house, where both Elric boys were rasied. The snow was making it harder for her to see, but she pressed onward, not letting it stop her from seeing her wish come true. There amongst the rubble sprung out a steeled arm. "Geez Ed, couldn't you of picked a closer location?" Some rocks shifted, and a male voice groaned out. "Next time, you do the transmutation. If you think you can do a better job than me." A loud smack followed by laughter could be heard, that Winry almost couldn't believe it. "Ed, you're suppose to set an example for me."
Winry stopped as close as she could to the crater before her. Hesitating a little, she mustered all the courage she had. "Ed? Al?"
The voices ceased into silence, that it felt like a lump fell through her stomach, feeling dreadful and ashamed into thinking they were back. Nonstop scolding herself for doing this to herself, that she called out again as she fell to her knees in the powdery snow, and begun to shake. "Are you there? It's me, Winry."
"Winry?" A voice answered, followed by a shuffling of feet.
"Winry!" Spoke another voice, sounding much younger. "We're home! See, I told you we'd be back someday! Right Ed?"
"I'm dreaming, aren't I?" Winry said, willing her blue eyes to stay shut.
A pair of warm, strong arms made her blink them slowly open, realizing they were real. "We're really here, Winry. This isn't a dream." Winry felt her face flush, seeing golden eyes looking right back at her through parted bangs, and gold hair back in its familiar braid. It really was Edward!
"Welcome Home." Winry said softly.
"Did you miss us?"
Alphonse stood back a few feet, smiling as he watched Winry spring to life, and tackled Ed into the snow. "Easy Winry!" His brother cried out, laughing as he held his longtime crush in his arms, rubbing soothing circles down her back. He knew it wouldn't be long before he greeted the snow, right alongside his brother. Footsteps were approaching their way, that he tore his gaze away from them to greet old friends.
Edward felt Winry pull back enough for him to sit up. In all this time, he never dreamt he'd be able to see her again. Using his real hand, he cupped her cheek and leaned in real close. "Merry Christmas Winry." Then kissed her on the lips, that he could feel his cheeks growing hot from the act, and pulling away shortly after.
"Have you gotten any taller Ed?" Mustang called out, smirking at fullmetal. "It's good to have you back. Didn't bring any trouble back with you this time, eh, Ed?"
Edward sneezed, feeling a scarf being wrapped around his neck. "I knew I wasn't imagining it. I'll have you know that I've grown two more inches!"
Winry could only shake her head in response, looking up at the sky as she held onto Edward's flailing arms. "Merry Christmas."