Character/Pairing: Ed/Winry with a hint of Riza/Roy
Disclaimer: I don't own them. Wish I did. Then I wouldn't need two jobs.
Feedback: Yes, please! First time fic.
Pinako watched. It was a hobby, an outgrowth of old age. She noticed everything, even though she commented on little. Not much escaped her eagle eyes. And so it wasn't by chance she observed Winry that day, standing at the window. Her cornflower blue eyes were downcast, with a suspicious sheen. Her hands were twisting at the material of the drapes. A heavy sigh, shoulders were set back as she braced herself.
"The boys aren't much for writing." A gasp of surprise, a guilty flush of her cheeks. "No mail again I see." Winry did not meet Pinako's eyes.
"No. Al is the one who will sometimes drop us a line. You'd think Ed would at least have the courtesy to let me know how his automail is working." A fire lit in the soft blue eyes, transforming them to sapphire. "I work and I slave and he takes my beautiful creations and beats the . . ."
"You worry about him." A statement of fact, casual in reference but the eyes were as sharp as ever, missing nothing through the faint haze of smoke from her pipe.
Startled, her blush intensified. "Al too, I worry about both of them. . ."
"But it is Edward in your dreams, correct?" A piercing gaze, spearing through Winry captures her eyes.
Shocked, breathless her hands convulsed, reaching for her wrench/comfort. "No! What? How . . ." Truth cannot be denied and it was written on Winry's face; red, white, red again, with embarrassment and shock warring.
"It is not a cause for upset, child, unless you try to deceive yourself. That way lies harm. Choose to acknowledge it, and just go on." Pinako barely reached Winry's shoulder, but when she chose to don her mantle of wisdom, she appeared to tower over her granddaughter.
A choking laugh and Winry turned away, staring out at quiet hills of Rizenbul. "So what do I do now. I'm little Winry, sister and all-round pest who tagged along. And now just his mechanic. I might as well be invisible. It isn't like I can walk up and say 'oh, by the way Ed, I love you' . . ." The room felt suddenly too small and she began pacing. "He doesn't feel that way about me, grandma. And how can I ask that of him when there's Al? Al needs him more than I do. All I can do is sit and worry and dream. . ."
Pinako loomed above her "Are you my granddaughter? Where is your fire? Where is your determination? Remember WHY you became a mechanic in the first place! Oh – I know you told others you wanted to follow in my footsteps," gray hair swirled out of the neat bun as she waved her arms fiercely at Winry, who cowered against the wall "but I know it was to help Edward, to give him back his arm and leg, to be a part of his life . . ." Abruptly she turned and walked over to the door, standing with her back to Winry. "And now you have a choice. What to do. You will figure it out. But if you have the courage, well now. That will tell me if you are my granddaughter or not." Pinako opened the door. She paused, half turned in the doorway to look at a stunned Winry, and delivered her parting shot. "Rockbell is my name. And your father's. But it wasn't his father's. I know the choices you face. Do you?" Pinako turned and left. Winry slumped to the floor and stared at the closed door, her thoughts in turmoil.
Rockbell, not my grandfather's name? But that means . . . who was he? Does Grandmother mean for me to . . . but how . . . what if . . . will he want me . . .
Winry leaned forward, resting her head on her knees. She had a lot of thinking to do.
The noise from Winry's workroom was deafening. "What do you mean by destroying my best automail arm ever?" The argument was in full force and Winry had her wrench out. Al sighed. This would keep Ed and Winry occupied for the next hour or so, if past experience was an accurate measure. Time enough to seek out Pinako.
He found her on the porch, rocking and smoking. "Auntie, " he began respectfully, "I need to speak to you. He winced, as much as a suit of armour can wince, as a hammer sailed out of the window to the workroom.
Pinako followed the trajectory of the hammer. "Hmm. I have time. Perhaps you would walk with an old woman?"
"Yes," another crash from inside "a walk would be good."
They walked away from the house, a companionable silence dropping over them. After a time, Al glanced behind them to see the house in the distance.
"I remember Auntie. Once Brother and I fought over who would marry Winry. I won, but she rejected me." Fond remembrance in his voice, a hesitant Al warmed to his subject. "Did you notice how Brother has grown recently? He needed to have his automail adjusted again. His body is changing." Another sigh. "I won't change, Auntie. I am still an 10 year old boy, though I am 4 years older. But brother is changing. He still has his nightmares. But he has other dreams too. And I hear him call Winry's name. When he's near her, and she measures him or works on his automail, he blushes and won't look at her." Al stopped and turned, his demeanour serious. "We have always loved Winry as our sister, but I think for Ed it is becoming something more."
Silence. Pinako and Ed stared at the house. The setting sun began to illuminate it.
"And Al, why do you tell me this?" There was no censure, or surprise in Pinako's voice. Just serenity.
"Because I worry for Brother. He is so consumed by finding the Philosopher's Stone, to return us to our natural bodies. I fear he will deny himself any joy or happiness, for my sake." Al turned to Pinako, pleading "I don't know what to do, that I could do anything for that matter. But I needed to talk to somebody."
Pinako nodded sagely, and puffed away on her pipe. "I understand Al. I share your concern. But what happens is up to the two of them. We must trust them. It is good to share our concerns with our family." She reached up and patted an armoured arm. "You are a good boy, Al. To love your brother so." Pinako started walking. "It is getting dark, we do need to return home."
"Yes, Auntie" Al hurried to catch up.
"And Al?" Pinako kept her gaze forward.
"The barn cat you love to play with? She is going to have kittens. The vet and I feel that she could have them anytime in the next 3 days. Would you be able to stay until then? I know how much you love cats . . ."
"Oh Auntie! I will ask Brother – I am sure he will let us. Do you think I could stay with her until she has them?" Excitement radiated from the armoured child, and he skipped with the joy of it.
"Very well," Pinako smiled "She has made a nest in the barn, and will not leave it. I think she will be glad for the company."
Ed rolled his eyes. " You want us to stay for a stupid cat?" His tone was laden with irritation, and he regretted it as soon as he saw the effect of his words on his little brother. Though how armour could look so dejected . . . he sighed. There was little enough he could do for Al. "All right, but only until the kittens are born – and you can't take any with us."
"Oh Brother! I am so excited! And Auntie Pinako said I could stay with the cat in the barn too." Armour hopping up and down was certainly a sight to be seen.
Ed shook his head and smiled fondly. Another few days. He could do it. For Al, he could do it. The smile faded. At least he didn't have any more work to be done on his automail. It was hard to keep thinking about new leads when Winry was leaning over him, especially when she wore that black tube top. I'm so stupid, like she'd be attracted to a short cripple who couldn't offer her anything. And what could we do anyway, with Al the way he is. . . No, it's better not to get involved at all.
He looked up to see Pinako talking to Winry in the distance. Winry glanced up to meet his eyes and he felt himself shiver with surprise. There was purpose in her eyes. What was that all about?
Two days of waiting for the cat to give birth. Two nights uneventful. Or so it almost was. Winry wakened to hear yelling – she paused, thinking that perhaps the cat had had her kittens. But it was Ed's voice, and it was panicked. Winry grabbed a light in one hand and her wrench in the other and ran for Ed's room. No attackers or intruders, only Ed alone in the throes of a nightmare. Sweat glistened from his body as he thrashed around the bed, his braid flying from side to side. Her heart clenched in empathy and she rushed forward to release him from his restless sleep.
"Ed, wake up!" She sat on the bed and shook his shoulders. He sat bolt upright, chest heaving and gold eyes wild as he searched the room for the terrors that haunted his sleep.
"W-w-winry," he panted, "what are you doing here?" There was silence for a moment and he noticed how close she sat to him, barely inches between them.
"You were having a nightmare" Winry spoke softly, her gaze searching his amber eyes; open and vulnerable, defences not yet up. Her blue eyes were soft and dark with an unreadable emotion. She was so close he could feel the heat of her, they were breathing each other's breath as it mingled in the inches between them. Winry was wearing a thin cotton shift, her blond hair tousled about her head. His heart had been racing from the nightmare, and had just begun to calm when it started racing again, for another reason. He suddenly realized he was only wearing boxers.
"I, uh, I'm ok now" he began, only to be interrupted as Winry leaned forward, closing the last few inches and kissed him full on the mouth. She was soft and sweet and warm, smelling faintly of machine grease; a smell that was distinctly Winry. For an endless moment they remained so, arms reaching around each other instinctively as they leaned into the world-shaking kiss.
"I – I – Winry?" Ed stammered when the kiss finally broke. He did not, however, remove his arms. Confusion, hope and fear warred in his gold eyes, as he tried to make sense of it all.
"Edward Elric." Winry's tone was firm, and purposeful. "Do you deny that you want this?" Her eyes dared him to say no, but fear did linger there – he felt her heart hammering in her chest.
"I – no – Winry, I can't say that, but" Edward felt his chest so full of joy, desire, and pain simultaneously. "Al –"
"Ed you idiot!" Winry burst out softly but vehemently, "I know. I love Al too, if not like this." A crooked smile quirked her lips. She reached up and caressed his cheek. "I understand. Al owns your tomorrows. You can't commit to anyone or anything else, until you return him to what he was. I won't change that. I wouldn't let you. If I did, you would gradually start to resent me, and eventually hate me. I want Al back too." Tears formed in her eyes, changing them to limpid pools. "All I want from you Ed, is your now. You can give me that much." He started to speak and she placed her fingers on his mouth to silence him. "Don't you dare say anything about dishonour, Edward Elric," she hissed fiercely, "this is my choice. We have yesterday as brother and sister, and as friends. I want to create some yesterdays where I have you as more than that. I love you Ed, but this quest of yours – as necessary as it is – is dangerous. I've seen your scars, and the shape of your automail" Winry placed her hand on his arm and traced the metal lines "after you come back from these missions of yours. It is a fact we have to face that one day you might not come back." Winry looked deeply into his eyes, pleading "Tell me truly, have you been in a situation where you thought you might die?"
Ed couldn't lie. "Yes" he whispered, his flesh hand reaching out to capture the hand on his arm.
"So you understand." Winry dropped her gaze, leaned her head on his shoulder, snuggling in to his body. "Will you do this? Will you give me your now?" Her voice grew softer yet, as though her courage were failing her.
"Winry – what about Auntie Pinako?" Ed's serious question was rewarded with a soggy giggle.
"Don't worry about her – this was her idea" Ed's body stiffened in shock, before he began to laugh.
"Then I don't need to worry about her causing my early demise, or any consequences for you." His heart was full to bursting with a joy that was hardly hoped for. Shifting her off his shoulder, he lifted Winry's chin so he could look into her eyes. With a rougish grin and a soft voice he asked "So now what? I'm kinda new to this . . ."
Joy shone fully in Winry's face as Ed wiped her cheeks free of tears. "Um, me too" Winry admitted. "But the advice I was given" her eyes twinkled, giving Ed a hint to the source "is to just experiment, and let each other know what feels good . . ."
"Well," Ed murmured as he leaned in "I really did like this . . ." their lips met, hearts raced, and the rest of the world ceased to be.
The morning sun reached through the window to discover the two entwined, tangled with the blankets and holding to each other as if in unconscious fear of loss.
"Brother!" The door burst open and Al rushed in to share his news "6 kittens and they all look . . ." His voice trailed off as he took in the scene before him, bare arms and legs entwined, disappearing into covers, blush stained cheeks and tousled hair.
"Al – I. . ." Ed started, concern evident on his face.
"Oh Brother! I am so happy!" Al interrupted, delighting in the confusion on the faces before him. More gently, he added "you need to be able to love others, and to have them love you. I am so happy that it is Winry, because now she will be even more like a sister. Don't you see? This just makes our family bigger!" Al beamed. "Now I have two reasons to celebrate. Auntie said to come down when you are ready – take your time. She will make breakfast then." And with that he left the two behind, staring in bemusment at the door.
Winry spoke first. "I guess there is no point in secrecy here," She announced wryly, as she rolled onto Ed's chest and began tracing the lines she found there "though it does feel weird".
Ed frowned "Yeah, but it does bring up a point. Do you mind if we don't let others outside of our family" he relished the word "know?" His frown changed to worry as he considered her reaction. The wrench after all, had fallen beside the bed and was well within Winry's reach.
Winry smiled "No, I expected it. You would make such a big deal about me being a target because I am special to you." She blushed at the words and Ed allowed himself a delighted grin that she knew him so well.
"Yeah," he stretched lazily and enjoyed the friction it caused. "You know," he started, rougish smile in place "we have effectively been ordered to stay in this room for a while." He feigned innocence "I wonder what we could possibly do to pass the time?"
Winry grinned back, then dipped her head to his neck – which she had found last night to be very sensitive – and murmured "Oh, I think we'll find something to do . . ."
Al carried the suitcase, Pinako watched from the porch, and between them, Ed and Winry said their goodbyes. They stared at each other, suddenly uncomfortable. Words not being enough, they finally succumbed to a passionate kiss that left them both breathless.
Holding her close, Ed whispered "Any regrets?"
A soft giggle was his response. Winry raised defiant eyes and whispered back "Only that we didn't do this sooner." She gazed at him intently, as though memorizing his face. "Ed," he tensed, perhaps fearing her asking him not to leave "please come back safe, so we can make some more yesterdays."
Ed smiled sadly. "When I am with you, these nows belong to you, Winry. And one day, when Al and I are whole again, I will give you my tomorrows, too." One last, gentle kiss between them, and the boys turned and walked to the train station.
Pinako watched them go, watched her granddaughter bravely wave, then turn and run into the house as soon as they were out of sight. After all, she never missed anything. Especially not the ring in her pocket, transmuted from steel bolts and pencil leads, that was given to her to hold for Winry. A commitment neither would voice, but that was there all the same.
Ed sat in the office fidgeting. The door opened and he jumped to his feet as Lt. Hawkeye walked in. "Fullmetal? The Colonel is not on the grounds right now . . ."
"I know," Edward interrupted. "He's at the library. I wanted to talk to you." A faintly arching eyebrow was the only indication he had surprised the efficient officer. He went and closed the door, then began speaking in low, hesitant tones. "It, uh, it is a matter of paperwork. A matter I would like to keep confidential." Again the eyebrow arched. He sighed and scratched his head, and began pacing with restless energy. "I've found out that when you are in the military, and you uh, die, that there is a uh, provision made for the surviving family . . ." his voice died off.
Edward closed the distance he had put between himself and Hawkeye. "Lieutenant," he spoke in low tones, "I want to register someone as being the person who gets the provision if I die." He looked up, meeting her gaze with a pleading look. Speaking quietly he explained his situation, and watched as a compassionate respect appeared on her face. "And you understand, I don't want anyone to know, it could be dangerous. . ."
"I understand quite well, Edward Elric. You leave it to me and I shall see that it is done, and not even the Colonel will know. Unless it need be invoked." She paused. "Are you sure you want it that way? I think you misjudge the Colonel." Her face softened as she spoke of her commanding officer.
"No, the less people who know, the better." He backed up, and grinned at her, a rougish sharp-toothed grin, "And it is one less thing for him to tease me about!" He paused, then bowed. "Thank you for your help, Lt. Hawkeye!"
As Hawkeye watched him turn and leave, she suddenly felt old. And alone. But you are not alone, young Edward, and I can help you make sure that she won't be either. If something does happen, she won't just get the pension. I will help protect her, if need be. I promise.
Hawkeye finished the paperwork. As she turned to the window, and saw that it had begun to rain. Rain, he's worse than useless in the rain . . . She grabbed an umbrella and ran to the library, not realizing that she too, wasn't alone.
Bleh. I read better than I write.