Title: Literary Torture
Author: Jordanna Morgan
Archive Rights: Please request the author's consent.
Characters: Edward, Winry, Alphonse.
Summary: When a visit to Winry for repairs is poorly timed, Edward does not go unpunished.
Disclaimer: They belong to Hiromu Arakawa. I'm just playing with them.
Notes: This story is purely silliness (with a dash of contempt for certain persons who have corrupted the modern image of classic monsters). I've been thinking about this scenario for a long time, and even hinted at it in my story "Night-Riders". Now, I'm finally writing it as a Fandom Stocking gift for Evil Little Dog.
"Winry's going to kill us," Edward groaned, as he trudged along the road from the Resembool train station to the Rockbell house.
A sharp metallic rattle sounded at his side, as the suit of armor that was his brother Alphonse looked down at him. "Excuse me? You're the one who went and broke your automail again."
Ed shot Al a glare, and walked the rest of the way in stormy silence.
The summation was accurate enough, as far as it went. At the moment, Ed's right coatsleeve fluttered emptily in the breeze, while his detached and mangled prosthetic arm was slung across his back by a rope. Although mostly intact, it was a long way from being in proper working order. But hey, it wasn't like he'd known that illegal weapons dealer had automail under his clothes too… and, well, the guy was three times Ed's size.
Standing on the Rockbells' front porch, it took him several seconds to work up the courage to knock. After nearly a minute passed, he was just raising his hand to knock again when the door was flung open—and he could have sworn flames of hellfire leaped out around the figure who stood at the threshold.
…Or maybe it was only steam from the cup of hot cocoa in the figure's grasp. Because really? On second glance, hellfire just didn't go with the fuzzy pink bathrobe and slippers Winry was wearing.
"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE NOW?"
On the other hand, that primal roar and that soul-devouring glare of rage were about as good a substitute for hellfire as there was.
This was bad. Ed expected Winry to be angry as usual about the damage to his automail, but not quite like this. Not hot-enough-to-melt-Al's-armor angry.
"Uhm…hi!" he squeaked, instinctively ducking behind the cover of Al's metal shell, to peer at the young mechanic around his sibling's elbow. "Is this a bad time?"
"Yes it's a bad time! It's always a bad time—but of all the bad times, you just picked the worst!"
Ed gulped and cringed away, turning toward the porch steps. "Maybe we should come back later…"
"Oh no you don't!" Winry caught him by the hood of his coat and dragged him backwards through the front door, with Al following nervously in their wake.
In the living room, further signs of deliberate relaxation were added to the evidence of Winry's pajama attire. The couch was loaded with plush pillows. A row of fragrant candles burned on the coffee table, alongside a box of her favorite chocolates—and a thick book. The cover art of the novel appeared to depict a full moon and rose petals. Or wait… Were those splashes of red supposed to be blood drops?
"I get the feeling we're interrupting something…" Al observed tremulously.
"Darn right you're interrupting," Winry snapped. "Darkness Kissed just went on sale yesterday—and since our little book shop here couldn't get a copy, I had to go all the way to Selna and stand in line for three hours to get it. I'd been planning this special day to relax and read it for months!"
"Darkness Kissed?" Al muttered dubiously. It was hard to tell through the expressionless armor, but the way he peered at the book on the table was not unlike the way many people would stare at a nest of live snakes.
For the moment, Ed remained more preoccupied with Winry's seething rage than her choice of leisure reading. He pasted on an awkward grin, rubbing the back of his neck. "So, uh… where's Pinako? If you're busy, maybe she can—"
"I got Granny to visit with friends for the day, so I could have the house to myself."
"…Okay, wow. You're really going overboard with this." Ed's eyes narrowed, as intimidation and chagrin began to give way to annoyance. He picked up the book with his solitary left hand—ignoring the way Winry choked at his daring to place his fingerprints on it. "What's all the fuss about, anyway?"
Al flinched noisily. "You don't know? All the bookstores have been advertising that for weeks, because the first book turned into this crazy fad for girls." His tone dropped. "It's some kind of romance story about a farm girl and a vampire."
Ed stared at the book in his hand, and then at Winry… and he burst out laughing.
"Oh, Winry, I never thought you'd be the type to fall for junk like that! Who got you into reading this stuff, anyway?"
"It is not junk!" Her face red, Winry snatched the book from his grip. "Mellie let me borrow her copy of Darkness Touched a few months ago… and it was so amazing, I just had to get the second book in the trilogy as soon as it came out. Besides, who are you to talk? You used to get so wrapped up in books that you'd forget to eat!"
"He still does," Al chimed in, a bit too gleefully.
The elder brother snorted. "Hey, I read books that will improve my mind—not rot it."
"Jerk, what do you know about it?" Winry stormed. "How do you think you can just judge something like that if you haven't even read…"
She suddenly interrupted herself, and from the fiendish narrowing of her eyes, Ed knew the next words out of her mouth would mean complete and utter doom.
"…Fine. So you want your automail fixed, huh? Alright then—but only if you read the book to me out loud while I'm doing the work."
In spite of himself, Ed blanched. "Uh, Winry? If your plan is to make me realize that I like your book, I'm pretty sure that's going to massively fail…"
"I don't care if you like it or not! You're the one who came barging in here, all busted up, on the one day I set aside for myself. I'm going to find out the next part of the story today, one way or another!"
In short order, the candles and chocolates on the table had been cleared away, to be replaced by Winry's toolbox. The girl snatched the broken mechanical arm Ed reluctantly offered up, and grumpily sat down to her task.
"Now read," she commanded sternly. "From the second paragraph on the page I bookmarked."
Sitting with the book on his lap, Ed cracked the pages open warily, as if afraid demons would come flying out at him. When nothing emerged to do him bodily harm, he quickly skimmed over the text… and he cringed. Just having to run his brain over the author's idea of prose was worse than bodily harm.
"Ugh, seriously?" he groaned, holding out the open book on his palm at arm's length, as if it smelled like a dead fish. "I've read better 'fiction' in a military regulation book!"
"Do as I tell you if you want this arm back!" Winry snapped, shaking the automail at him until its finger wagged scoldingly.
Alphonse quailed. "Uh, Brother, I really don't think you should argue with her right now."
Ed glared at Alphonse and then Winry. However, he submitted at last. Wrinkling his nose, he focused on the page, and began to read in a flat monotone.
" 'It barely hurt at all as Darius' fangs sank into Britta's neck. She leaned her head back and sighed, enjoying the feeling of intimate closeness with the vampire, and the way his strong arms slipped tighter around her as he sated himself. After a few moments, she began to feel a little bit lightheaded, but only in a rather pleasant way… ' "
It was too much. He looked up from the book with a grimace of disgust. "Oh, come on! What kind of pervert thinks this is romantic? I can tell you from personal experience that there's nothing pleasant about blood loss!"
Standing rigid beside the couch, Al was nonetheless faintly quivering. Ed wasn't sure whether the reaction was from horror, or—even worse—from suppressed laughter. As for Winry, she said nothing; but from the trembling of the wrench in her tight fist, Ed knew she was half a second from taking a swing.
For the sake of sheer self-preservation, he cleared his throat and tried to make another valiant effort.
" ' "Oh, Darius," Britta moaned, after his lips had parted from her neck. "I…" ' " Ed forced down a choke. " ' "I love you. I don't care if it means the vampire hunters will come after me and try to cleanse me. All I want is to be with you forever…" ' "
And that was enough. Edward Elric knew when he was beaten—and what two lost limbs, the machinations of military politicians, and countless insane alchemists had failed to do, a single book had neatly accomplished.
Squirming off the couch, he dropped the novel, and tried to make a bolt for the door.
"You know what, maybe I can live without a right arm after all…"
Author's Note: …And then Ed finds out the real truth about vampires in my story "Blood Ties". Let's hope that after hearing his tale of those horrors, Winry was later mortified to look back on her love for the Darkness Trilogy, and burned the books as they richly deserved.
© 2015 Jordanna Morgan