Author: Yellow Mask PM
Was he really that obvious? Edwin oneshot, spoilers up to chapter 58.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Edward E. & Winry R. - Words: 3,979 - Reviews: 52 - Favs: 147 - Follows: 9 - Published: 11-03-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3228263
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
By Yellow Mask
Spoilers: Heavy spoilers up to chapter 58 of the manga. Any Edwin interaction is fair game.
Disclaimer: I do not own FMA.
AN: This will be similar in style to 'Weak Spot', except this will be focusing on EdxWinry instead of RoyxRiza. And I am posting this fic in celebration of the end of high school!
Many things are obvious about Edward Elric. His talent, for one, his temper, for another...not to mention his complex about his height. He knows that he is obvious about these things – he makes little effort to hide them.
But he never quite realised he was also very obvious about the one thing he tried his hardest to conceal.
His distinctly un-brotherly affection for Winry Rockbell.
At first, he'd tried to downplay it. He'd told himself that he was a teenage boy, and feeling attracted to a pretty teenage girl was fairly inevitable. He told himself that it was no surprise he found Winry attractive – any heterosexual male would. He told himself it made sense that he would be attracted to someone he already knew, and knew rather well.
He told himself it was just lust.
But the 'teenage hormones' excuse only got so far.
When he found himself enjoying her smiles and her laughter more than the skin and enticing curves displayed by her tube top, then he began to realise he'd been fooling himself.
This wasn't just lust. This wasn't just hormones.
This was something bigger. Something much more frightening.
Sometimes, Ed is honestly astounded at Winry's clothing. Who fixes automail in tube tops and miniskirts, anyway?
Apparently, Winry does, and she isn't shy about it.
What's even more amazing, is that she isn't brazenly displaying her body or flaunting her beauty or anything of the kind. She just doesn't care. Miniskirts and tube tops are comfortable, so she wears them, and Ed knows however much skin she reveals in the process is completely incidental. She's not really aware of it, and certainly never thinks her body might be anything to look at.
Of course, if she ever sees the way he looks at her, her opinion might change. At times, when she's bending over his arm, with her face only inches from his...it's all he can do to keep from leaning just that little bit closer and seeing if her lips are really as soft as they look.
At times, he wonders if he is being a bit too obvious. All these sneaking glances, these longing gazes...he has to exert more control, or Winry is sure to notice.
He can't afford to be too obvious.
The wrench seems to descend from the sky, as though flung by an avenging angel. The metaphor is actually not that far off – the wrench always avenges whatever wrong he has done to her automail, and she does have the whole angel look, with her blonde hair and stunning smile as she leans out over the balcony.
He may be yelling insults to her, but the bump on his head is strangely reassuring. Here, at least, is someone who doesn't treat him like child, who holds him responsible for his actions...and at the same time, doesn't try to place the weight of the world on his shoulders.
He feels a little guilty for leaving without saying goodbye, especially after she did so much work for him.
But he doesn't want to be too obvious. And if he actually went upstairs, and met her half-asleep, her hair tousled and her eyes baggy after the work she's done for him...he has a feeling he might end up doing something embarrassing. So he tosses out an excuse about not wanting to hear her ramble on about taking care of the automail, and starts for the train station.
But he hears a call as they start to trudge away, and when he turns back, there she is, waving from the balcony. As usual, she has met him halfway.
Her whole body droops, her hair is lank and sticks out from her scalp in clumps. Her eyelids are drooping, her irises are glazed, and there are shadows under her eyes that look almost like bruises.
And he's never seen anything more beautiful.
She's right, of course. It is rare for him to call them – something she's constantly scolding him for. He has his reasons, of course – he doesn't want to be too obvious.
The yelling he expects, what he doesn't expect is the quiet, almost resigned compliance to his request for her to come to Central. Just for a moment, Ed wonders if Winry is ill, to give in so quickly to him.
Secretly, he's always loved their arguments. There's probably something very twisted about that, but he can't help himself.
"Calling your girlfriend?"
"Getting it on with a woman in your hospital room?"
"You seduced a mechanic?"
"She'll make a good wife."
Ed tells himself it's just teasing. It doesn't mean anything to them. They don't know anything – not the way the fear of discovery weighs on him when they say things like that, not the way his heart leaps whenever she's near, or the way a single smile from her can somehow make him feel better about himself almost instantly.
They don't know. They can't know.
He tells himself they're just teasing him. He can't be that obvious.
He knows she hates it when he shuts her out. He knows she hates it when he tells her nothing. Sometimes he thinks she would prefer to be lied to, so he'd at least tell her something.
But he can't.
He can't tell her anything without putting her at risk. Especially now...he has a feeling things are soon going to become much uglier than anything he and Al have faced before. He will risk her hate to keep her safe.
Ed would rather have Winry alive and hating him, than loving him and dead.
But why doesn't he lie? The answer is simple...he can't. Winry's piercing, sapphire-blue eyes have a way of demanding honesty from him. Even when he makes the attempt, it is weak and pitiful, his dishonesty only too obvious.
He can't look into Winry's eyes and lie.
At times, when he's around Winry, Ed feels like he could drown in the flood of mechanical knowledge that she lets loose. Bent over Paninya's leg and muttering, he can understand only about half of what she's saying. Then she launches into a new spiel and his comprehension drops to a fifth of what she's saying.
And people call him obsessed.
But it's times like these, when the fire lights her eyes and reveals the passion blazing inside her, that the urge to kiss her is the greatest.
Sitting outside the room, waiting for the baby's delivery, Ed wonders if this is what Winry feels, as she waits for he and Al to return.
It makes his gut twist a little further. He wouldn't wish this feeling – this horrible, crushing worry – on his worst enemy. A fight he can deal with, he can't cope with the terror of anticipation.
And if this is what Winry has been carrying all these years...her strength astounds him.
Ed is aware the comment was on his height, not his features. He still feels the need to toss out the old 'you're not cute' line, just to make sure he isn't too obvious.
It wouldn't do to let her know just how much he likes the feel of her breath caressing the back of his neck.
The revelation that she has looked inside his watch startles him. He doesn't drop her out of surprise, though – he can admit to a touch of spite. But when she whimpers in pain and apologises, he feels almost instantly contrite.
He doesn't want to hurt her.
He helps her into the chair and sits beside her, not entirely sure of what he is feeling. There's some anger, some regret, and a bit of just plain 'pissed off that she did that' thrown into the mix. But on the other hand, he can't help but feel...almost relieved...that she knows this secret of his.
Not even Al has seen it, and perversely, this now feels like their secret – his and Winry's – and some part of Ed feels it's about time.
He and Al have many secrets, it's about time he and Winry had one.
Looking at her, her burning determination to be the best, he feels his chest constrict until it aches with the desperate desire to hold her and tell her she can do anything she sets her mind to – that she's the strongest woman he knows.
But he doesn't.
That would be far too obvious.
Ed grits his teeth at Ling's simpering, far-too obvious flirtations. Though his anger may have something to do with the current recipient of those flirtations.
Winry doesn't seem too impressed. Flattered, maybe, but she certainly doesn't look like she'd ever think of taking him up on his offer.
For some reason, when she cites him as the reason she has to remain in Amestris – even if it's only because she says he needs her automail – the wild, angry part of him calms, like a wild beast that's been tamed.
More waiting. Ed's only had two doses of it and already he's sick and tired of it. He wonders how Winry could possibly have stood it.
Winry's somewhere out in Central, with the knowledge of Hughes's death weighing her down. He doesn't know where she is, what she's doing, and the uncertainty gnaws at his gut like a vicious rat.
The knock on the door makes him jump up, and he yells Winry's name as he flings it open.
No Winry, and he tastes bitter disappointment in the back of his throat, until he's told there's a call for him.
Looking back on that episode, he's probably lucky it wasn't Winry at the door. His behaviour was just a little too obvious.
In the middle of his depression, the thought crosses his mind that Winry never came down for dinner. She never asked for some to be brought up to her either.
He stands and makes his way to Winry's room. He may not know what to believe anymore, but he does know that he won't stand by and let Winry starve herself. She needs to eat.
He refuses to entertain the possibility he is just making excuses to see her.
Her blue eyes look dull, and she wears sorrow like a heavy cloak. Ed wants nothing more than to pull it from her shoulders, to see those eyes sparkle and those lips pull into a smile once more.
He knows that learning of a death close to you makes people want to 'seize the moment', so to speak, but he's still unprepared for how keenly the urge to hold her hits him. He wants to pull her to him, wrap her in his arms and just hold her there.
But if he gives in to that urge, he doesn't know if he could ever find the strength to let go.
So he tells her she should eat something, starts to turn away...
And is completely surprised when she pulls him into her room. For a wild, desperate moment he thinks she could feel the same way he does, but then he watches her unwrap the pie and realises she just wants to feed him.
He's surprised at how nice it tastes. He knows that Winry can do anything she sets her mind to, but he hadn't expected her cooking to be this good. There's a bitter taste on his tongue, but he knows it doesn't come from the pie.
It comes from watching Winry weep, and not knowing how to comfort her.
Ed's stomach wrenches and his heart rises into his throat to choke off his breath.
Winry shouldn't have found out. Not like this, at least.
He's beginning to realise that what he doesn't tell Winry, she finds out anyway. In the worst possible ways.
The gun looks too large for her small hands, and painfully out of place in the grasp of one who heals for a living.
He's never wanted to kill before, never really threatened to kill before, either. But he meant it when he threatened to kill Scar. If he hurts Winry, if he makes any move in her direction...
Ed doesn't know what scares him more. The thought of watching Winry kill someone, or the thought of watching someone hurt Winry. He has to stop her firing the gun – as he sees it, it's the only way he can stop this whole situation from going to hell.
He pleads with her to put the gun down, but she doesn't seem to be listening to him. He can't really blame her – he didn't tell her about Hughes's death, he didn't tell her about her parents...would he listen, in her place?
He knows he wouldn't. But Winry is a better person than he is, so he continues to talk.
The gun is shaking, and Ed can almost feel his nerves doing the same.
But Scar is acting. As he attacks, Ed strafes over him and drops in front of Winry, placing his body between her and Scar as the Ishbalan bears down on him from the front. He shoves the gun to ground with one hand, as the other flings wide in an effort to leave no inch of her body open to Scar's attack.
He refuses to let him hurt her.
'He'll have to kill me first!'
Ed is certain he is about to die, but Scar pauses, just long enough for Al to intervene and force him away from them.
The relief he feels is not for himself – it is for Winry. She hasn't become a killer, and she hasn't been harmed. It feels strange – this apparent indifference to his own fate.
It could have been the end. The end of his life, the end of his quest...the end of everything.
And yet, it would have been worth it. For Winry.
She won't let go of the gun, and even though it would be classed as 'far too obvious', he says it anyway.
"You're hands are not those that kill people...they're hands that let people live."
He envies those hands. As an alchemist, he must destroy before he can create. Wound before he can heal. Not so with Winry. He envies her ability to heal without damaging, even as he wonders if she ever gets tired of giving without ever taking.
He wants to be able to give her something to equal everything she's ever given him. But he can't. Nothing could ever equal what she's gifted to him again and again; her expertise, her smiles, her happiness, her encouragement...
So he holds her as she cries. It's all he can do, this silent comfort is all he can give, and it feels so pathetically inadequate he thinks he might cry too.
And when he has to leave her, sitting on the ground, her cheeks streaked with the tracks of tears, it feels like a cold hand is reaching inside his chest and tearing his heart from his body.
Ed stiffens as he spots the Fuhrer sitting opposite Winry. Or, more accurately, the homunculus sitting opposite Winry.
Adrenaline floods his veins, and it's only with great self-control he doesn't yell, 'What do you want with her?'
But the Fuhrer leaves, muttering something about her being a 'nice, honest girl'. Ed works to breathe evenly, and he can't figure out why those innocent words are making his stomach twist.
At the train station, he listens to her admit to feeling conflicted about her parent's death. He can't help but think that Winry is far braver than he and Al were – she is trying to move on, rather than cling desperately to the past the way they did.
When she entreats him not to die, something in him snaps. Barely audible, he breathes a promise, one he knows he will move heaven and earth to keep.
He hasn't promised anyone anything this fervently since he vowed to restore Al.
Ed spins on his heel and strides away, but he hears Winry calling after him. She didn't hear him. Some part of him finds it rather ironic, she's forever hearing what he doesn't want her to, and not hearing what he does want her to.
He gathers his courage again, turns back to her, and shouts his vow for the entire station to hear.
It's the closest he's ever come to a declaration of love. His heart thuds against his ribs at how obvious he's making his feelings. One part of him is terrified she'll pick up on them, and another part is actually hoping she will.
But she smiles at him and waves, and he knows his secret is safe for another day.
Ed can feel his breath beginning to come in short, sharp inhalations. Riza has been transferred, working directly under Wrath, held as a hostage. Something the homunculus can hold over Roy's head, something he can use to force Roy's obedience.
And Ed is sick and tired of this. He's had enough of this constant struggle. He's learnt all he really needs to know, and now, he's ready to walk away.
But the Fuhrer's tone is far too flippant, too confident, and Ed has the nasty feeling an anvil is about to be dropped on him from above.
"What was that girl's name, again?"
The words send ice water through Ed's veins. Some part of him already knows what Wrath is going to say...
'Please, not her!'
"It was Winry Rockbell, wasn't it?"
He draws out her name like an obscene caress, his voice twisting those beautiful syllables into poison. The innocuous details of Winry's life somehow sound far more menacing than any threat could ever be.
Ed's teacup rattles in its saucer as he leaps to his feet, his hand smashing down on the table as though the wood is Wrath's heart. He snarls out his empty defiance, but he already knows he is defeated. Winry's safety has been dangled in front of him like the carrot in front of the stubborn mule, and he already knows what will happen. Like the mule follows the carrot, he has no choice but to walk whatever path laves Winry safe.
So he reaches for his watch, and defeat has never been quite so bitter.
For a moment, his hand stutters in mid-air as he absorbs what he is truly doing.. He will be bowing to a corrupt and murderous monster. This one choice may later condemn hundreds of people to death. Is it worth it?
His logical mind cries out that one person's life is never worth hundreds of others. But his heart speaks, speaks and screams that Winry is worth anything and everything.
So he swallows his pride, his ethics, his morals...and picks up the watch.
The phone rings. Ed's hands are slippery with sweat as he grips the earpiece, silently pleading with a god he doesn't really believe in for her to answer.
All the way to the phone, his mind taunted him, painting a hundred bloody scenarios like some gory horror film, with Winry playing the starring role. A thousand ugly images flash before his eyes in the few seconds he waits for an answer from the other end.
Ed hasn't realised how tense he is, until her voice washes over him and he relaxes. Winry isn't hurt.
He asks after her, trying to ease the last of his worries. When she comments on the fact he never calls, he knows he should take it in good humour, but his nerves are strung as tight as a violin bow, and he starts shouting.
He's about to scream into the phone about how worried he was for her, when she cuts him off, her voice calm as she comments that she's glad he called.
The conversation closes a few moments later, with him leaving a parting warning to be careful. It's only when he hangs up the phone that the adrenaline in his veins finally begins to die...
Only to surge back into life at the sound of an all-too familiar voice behind him.
Ling – or rather, Greed – is behind him, and is all but sneering at them. He calls Winry his 'weakness', and Ed can't help but agree.
She's his weakness, yes. But what the homunculi and Father will never understand is that she is also his strength.
The homunculus continues, smirking at him about being easy to take advantage of. Ed tenses, feeling his fists clench in preparation for a fight. He's already dealt with far too many threats to Winry's life in the past few days. If Greed even implies harming her...
But he doesn't say anything more about Winry. He passes a scrap of cloth to Ed – supposedly a message from Ling to Ran Fan.
Then he's gone.
Ed and Al walk away from the phone booth, Ed already brooding. Greed's comments have unsettled him deeply. Those words seemed to imply...that he knew Ed held more than friendly sibling affection for Winry.
But he isn't that obvious...is he?
Ed has no idea why he's talking. No idea why he's spilling these secrets to Riza Hawkeye, but he finds himself not caring.
This is the first time he has told another what he thinks of Winry. His amazement that even he had been unable to see through her cheerful exterior. His admiration for her strength. His promise to her to make her weep tears of joy, his fear he won't be able to uphold it.
But he doesn't breathe a word about his fear that he was far too obvious in his affections. His fear that his enemies have noticed his feelings, his fear that from now on, Winry will be a target for everyone who wants to hurt him, scare him, control him...
Riza's next words, however, yank him out of his musings and send him into a tailspin.
"You love Winry, don't you?"
He chokes on the tea in his mouth, spitting it out and spraying Black Hayate with the steaming liquid. His thoughts scatter in all directions like rabbits running from a fox.
He blurts out some stupid excuse about Winry being a 'family friend', but he can tell his face is flaming, he's stuttering...and he's certain not one word of his denial is even remotely believable.
He can't even invent a plausible lie – there is only one thought running through his mind.
'Was I really that obvious?'