Winry tested the word in her mind, whispered it into the darkness above Edward's short, too short hair. She had curled her body next to him; chilled by his words about the child he claimed looked so like her, warmed by his body so real she ached deep inside her chest with want.
For so long she had needed this. For him to recognize any feelings for her…to reciprocate her longing for him in a way she had thought he would never be able to.
Why now? Because of the girl? This Isa? Whom he'd suffered for and lived for?
Winry knew she'd say yes when he woke. She would capture his mouth with her own, tears in her eyes and sigh 'yes, yes, yes' into his lips. He would smile, she knew, he would be happy, but could he truly be hers? The mechanic would fight for him every step of the way even if perhaps she could never win completely. She vowed as she stroked his hair and face that she would support him in any way that she could. She would give her life for him to be happy again…to live finally for himself, to find his happiness. Her eyes grew heavy while her body relaxed into the too warm body next to her. Edward's pulse beat as part of hers and she allowed it to soothe her, comfort her in a way she hadn't known for so many years.
Winry sighed deeply, her feelings bittersweet. She would fight for him. Even if it took forever.
Smoke. Black. Oily. Bitter.
Shapes moving in the cloying darkness…people? Soldiers? A white coat…maniacal laughter…pain!
A familiar body moving through fellow prisoners, striped clothing sagging off his body like a second ugly, dirty skin, like the second face he wore that didn't belong to him. Edward wondered if he were looking into a mirror.
He dearly hoped he wasn't.
"They'll come for you too you know. They always come…in the night…you stand in the bitter cold and snow and if you move you die…" Envy was muttering like a man possessed.
"Who will come?"
"They will come and take her and strip her and hurt her and kill her. They will take all you love and put it against the execution wall and shoot and shoot and shoot until everything is gone and gone and gone."
"Stop it, Envy."
"They will find you in the night hiding among the bodies and laugh and laugh and laugh at the futility of you!"
Stop it, Envy!"
The homunculus' gaze was hollow, looking at Edward for what seemed like the first time.
"You know it's the truth. You know it and you hate it. You are weak! Powerless! Who will save you?"
"You'll die like a dog. Like a dog and no one will hear you suffer!"
"Or scream or live or die or breathe!"
Strong hands were rattling him, shaking his body back and forth. His head hurt, he was so confused, caught as he was in the depths of an all-too-real nightmare. Someone was screaming. Who? Where was Isa? She needed him! His eyes snapped open, mouth frozen open. The yelling continued.
It was him.
Edward sobbed for breath as his one good eye frantically searching for what he didn't even know. He forced the screaming to stop and god it was so hard. Winry flooded his field of vision. She was waving the nurse holding the syringe out of the room. Ed panicked. He'd been found. Envy was right. They had come. They would take her away from him.
"Who was she?" Edward demanded, shaking uncontrollably. "She's working for him isn't she? Did you lead them here?" Winry was confused but she held him tightly anyway while fear worked its way hot and tight up into her throat. "It's okay…even if you did lead them here it's not your fault."
"Ed…Ed you're confused…" The mechanic started weakly, cupping his cheek with one palm, registering the heat of a blazing fever, forcing his wild, glazed, eyes to focus on hers. "Calm down…we're safe here, I promise."
"No…no, no, no I'm not confused…Isa…Winry, we're not safe here. We need to find Isa and get out of here." He gripped her hand so hard it hurt. "It's dangerous…they'll kill you, they'll kill all of us." Looking towards the door he gripped Winry in a fierce one armed hug. "If they try anything I'll kill them…I'll kill all of them I swear it!" The mechanic choked back tears. Ed had no idea where he was, when he was. He was barely lucid, caught in a delusion. The situation was quickly becoming dangerous and Winry had no idea what to do.
"Edward…listen to me…" she stroked his back soothingly and glanced backwards over her shoulder at the door. She could see Roy lingering just out of Edward's line of sight. "I need to go check and see if they're coming back…" The former alchemist let his grip slacken.
"Good idea. I'll check the windows and see if we can climb down from here." Winry shook her head and climbed off the mattress, signaling Mustang with a look she hoped meant 'wait'. There was no way in his condition Ed would be able to get out of the hospital bed.
"Stay here." She told him firmly. "You can pretend to be asleep…they won't suspect anything." He was nodding forcibly, body trembling as the adrenaline of his nightmare wore off with no energy to replace it.
"Yeah…yeah…good idea…" She helped him lie back as he blinked heavily, long and slow.
"Wait here…okay Ed? Wait." Winry smoothed the covers over his body as the first tears slipped unbidden down her cheeks patterning the crisp sheets in dark, oblique spots.
"Shhh…don't cry…we'll be okay…" he gasped for breath. "…Winry…" Edward continued painfully slow, "…I promise…we'll be…okay…" Golden eyes slipped shut heavily, fighting to stay conscious even as his body gave into tremendous weakness, and Roy flowed into the room gesturing for the staff to stay the hell back.
"What happened?" Winry swallowed hard. And swallowed again and again, finally dissolving into sobs that shook her entire frame as she slipped to her knees on the floor. The Flame Alchemist followed her down, gently placing a hand on her back. "Should I get Riza?"
"No…no…he has a fever of at least 39 degrees Celsius." She shuddered, rubbing the tears away viciously and forcing her body under control. "He needs serious medical attention right now." Edward's primary doctor rushed into the room flanked by nurses and immediately began issuing orders. "Thank god Al wasn't here to see that…"
"Miss Winry…" The doctor was crouched next to her on the floor now. Hell…it was a regular floor party at this point. "I believe Edward would benefit from a psychiatric evaluation. He is obviously struggling with something we can't understand." She nodded and Mustang gripped her shoulder.
"We knew this was a very real possibility Doctor." His voice, so strong and reassuring, grounded Winry and she choked in another shuddering breath.
"Yes…" She agreed. "When he is cognizant enough one should be performed…" She stood abruptly, gazing long and hard at her best friend caught in the throes of a very high fever, trying desperately to funnel her own strength into his failing body. "I need…I need I don't know what I need…I'll be back soon." Winry rubbed her face once more. "Please excuse me." And was gone.
It has certainly been a while…but one day I'll finish this thing…
Thank you all for your continued support!