Alrighty...I promise, an Al fic after this! I promise! It's just hard to watch "The Waiting Family" episode and not be inspired for Ed+Winry fluffiness...As always, I own nothing; not the song (The Pretenders do), and not Hagane...this idea's been in my head for a while. And just because I feel like saying it, someone changed the cursor on my computer to Sephiroth..:grins:

I was going to have Hawkeye and Fury at the end of this, which would spur a HavocSeskia fic later...but I decided against it. Funny how being awake so late can inspire fanfics...

Song lyrics are in itallics. And if it's crappy, or overly sappy, please say so...I feel like I pushed Ed a bit OOC...urg...Damn my being a romantic at heart! Damn it all! (goes off to find something less sappy...)

I'll Stand By You

Winry rested her head in her hands; trains were so dull. Normally, she'd be itching to know what was going on inside the engine, but it was early morning and fatigue had drained her of all such desires.

Why was she on the train? She kept asking herself, to keep awake. It wasn't like Eastern was a hard stop to miss, but even so, she didn't want to fall asleep, on a train of all places. In the city, even. And she answered herself; Pinako has something to give to Ed. Don't open it, Winry, she chided herself when her fingers skirted the wrappings of the package.

The big clock in Eastern's main station chimed six a.m., and Winry glared at the device as she stepped off the train. The signs that were to lead her to the Eastern office seemed better maintained than the rest, if only slightly. She'd sent notice of her arrival ahead, just in case she became lost. She searched for anyone in a State uniform that looked familar. The automail smith did not have to search for very long; a bleary-eyed Kain Fury greeted her.

"Ms. Rockbell?"

Winry smiled.

"Just Winry, sir," Winry answered; despite his appearence, she reminded herself, Kain was still part of the military, and she had long ago settled on sir or ma'am when she was unsure of the title to call someone. The officer smiled groggily and gestured towards the headquarters.

"Sorry that you had to arrive so early, Ms...Winry," Fury's demenor, and often his voice, much like Al's, Winry had noticed, was timid. If she had borne witness to the events of the day the Fullmetal challenged the Flame, she would adhere to the strict belief that there seemed to be only two sane people at Eastern; Fury and Hawkeye.
Everyone else, including Roy, was insane.

"I'm afraid the Fullmetal won't be here for a few days, Ms. Rockbell," Roy was formal in his addressing, but his tone said otherwise. Winry looked towards the ground with a soft, "Oh, alright," and turned to leave.

It was one of the few times she didn't have to wait for Ed to return, for as she pushed the door open, Ed entered through the other. Al stopped, prompting his elder brother to stop as well, glancing back towards the automail smith.

"Winry? Why're you here at Eastern?"

After a debreifing with the Taisa, Ed took a seat in the lobby across from Winry.

"So, whaddya got in that box, Winry?"

Winry handed it over to Ed without looking at it.

"Grandma sent it; she said it'd be impractical to send it by post to you, so that's why I came here."

"Huh...the shrimpy hag sent me something, eh?" Ed grinned and shook the box lightly.

"Ed! Don't talk like that! And if the box had to be hand delivered, don't you think shaking it would, I don't know, break something?"

"Spoilsport," Ed muttered.

"I heard that!"

"Yeah, Yeah..," Ed lifted the wrapping off the package slowly, trying not to create a huge mess. A few moments later, he was holding a small, silver locket in his hands. The Fullmetal held it by the chain and examined it.

"Huh..I wonder why she sent you here with this; clearly, it could've come through the post just fine...," Ed's eyes observed it, his fingers felt it; he analyzed it, so to speak, and set it back down. His eyes went wide for a moment, and he smacked his forehead.

"Oh, damnit!"

"What," Winry stood up with Ed. The elder Elric looked up.

"Ah, it's nothing..."

" it. Ed?"

"I said, it's NOTHING," Ed's voice rose.

"Why won't you tell me?" Winry's voice elevated in tone.

"You don't need to know everything, you machine junkie!"

"I didn't say I did, Ed! I just...," Winry stopped, tears forming in her eyes. She blinked them away, to the confusion of the Elric present, and continued on her tirade, "I want to know why you never write to me! Why you don't want to come home! Do you hate me that much, Ed?"

"I don't hate you, Winry! When did I say that?" Ed seemed oblivious to the fact that half the building could hear their arguing.

"Everytime you leave!"

"Winry, why do you ke...," Ed turned around, cutting his sentence short when he realized he'd hit Winry across the face; his automail hand had connected with her cheekbone. He bit his lip; great, now he'd hurt her. He knelt next to where she had sat, losing the glove on his automail hand. He pressed it close to her face, the rest of his body well away from the Rockbell; as far as he could go within the limits of his arm, of course.

Why you look so sad
Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now

"Ed," she tried to pull away, "what are you doing?"

"I hit you pretty hard; and automail doesn't exactly come with heating. So by doing this, it's sort of like an icepack. I sort of used Al in the same way, a long while ago," Ed's voice softened, and he shifted his hand's position on Winry's face.

The automail smith looked at Ed, blinking a few times in confusion. He seemed...concerned. And all he'd done was hit her...really, it didn't hurt all that bad.

"Why don't you cry, Ed?"

"What? That's a strange question..," he brushed a strand of hair from his face with his free hand, and stared out the doorway. He sighed.

"I dunno...guess I just can't. I suppose it makes me feel...; aw, nevermind. It's my own buisness, and I really don't care to share it.

Be ashamed to cry
Let me see you through
'Cause I've seen the dark side too

There was silence for a moment.

"You know, sometimes you can be really selfish, Ed."

"And what, praytell, is that supposed to mean, Winry?"

She frowned, the effect somewhat dampned by the sight of the Fullmetal's hand on her face.

"You have the worst habit of thinking you're the only one who lost something"

"Not true!"

"It was...and sometimes it still is...," Winry's eyes closed for a moment, and Ed winced. It had been Winry's parents who had been killed by Roy; and he really didn't want Winry to know that. Ever.

When the night falls on you
You don't know what to do

"Ed...," Winry's voice was soft, shaking, "why do you think you're worthless?"

"I don't," the Fullmetal spoke, shifting the position of his hand again to rest it more comfortably, "I feel guilty. I feel a myriad of the worst emotions. I feel horrible for what I'm making Al go through."

And you, his mind said. But he couldn't bring himself to speak it. Winry sat herself up on the chair, as best she could with Ed still applying his hand to her face.

"Is that why you never write home, never tell me anything?"

There was a pause.

"Yeah. Yeah it is."

Nothing you confess
Could make me love you less

Winry pushed Ed's hand away, and leaned her head against his shoulder. He sat silent, stunned, but unable, and unwanting, to move.

I'll stand by you
"I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you"
I'll stand by you

Ed was surprised. Winry...cared?

Of course she cared, you dunce, his mind sneered, why do you think she gives you so much grief when you go and mess up your automail?

Well, that part Ed had figured out a long time ago.

"Winry, how can you pro..," Ed sighed. God, he hated to see her sad. He really, really did.

"Please, Ed," Winry's voice was barely above a whisper, "whatever you need to say, say it; if you keep everything inside, you'll kill yourself."

So If you're mad, get mad
Don't hold it all inside
Come on and talk to me now

"Winry, I..."

"I don't care what you say, Ed...just don't, please, don't, keep thinking you have to hide anything from me."

Ed would've been concerned for Winry's mental health, but the fact that she was shaking, shaking in his arms, clued him in that he had definetly missed something.

And he felt like a total ass for hurting her.

What you got to hide
I get angry too
Well I'm a lot like you

"I..can't...Winry, I...I'm just not..."

"Am I not worthy of your trust or something? Do you know what, Ed," Winry looked up, and she was crying.

"It's not that, Winry!" Ed struggled not to shout, "I still don't trust anyone all that much yet...besides Al."

When you're standing at the crossroads
And don't know which path to choose
Let me come along
'Cause even if you're wrong

I'll stand by you.

" you know what scares me the most?" Winry turned her head from the Fullmetal.

"I'm so scared that Colonel Mustang or somebody from the military is going to show up on our door and tell us you're dead; or that Al's going to come back to Risembul alone," Winry looked up, "That's what scares me most."

Ed could say nothing.

And when
When the night falls on you
You're feelin' all alone
You won't be on your own

"Please, Ed, don't leave me scared like that," she continued. The Fullmetal closed his eyes.

"I'm sorry Winry, but..I have to," even as he said it, he winced, "at least, until I can get Al's body back. I don't care about my arm and leg now...Al just was tagging along; he never said he wanted to...wanted to...," the Elric stopped, keeping himself from reliving memories that, at the moment, were bound to drive him to tears.

Very little made the Fullmetal cry.

It was Ed, this time, who rested his head against Winry's shoulder.

"Don't forget me, Ed...I'm scared for you everyday."

"Don't be stupid, Winry," Ed chuckled softly, sullenly, "I wouldn't do that. And don't be afraid for me, please."

I don't deserve it, his mind added.

Take me in unto your darkest hour
And I'll never desert you

Ed pulled back from the half-embrace and watched Winry wipe her tears. She reached for the box and pulled out the locket, fastening around the Fullmetal's neck, much to Ed's surprise. The automail smith stepped back and admired the necklance. She leaned forward and hugged Ed, resting her head in the crook of his neck. The Fullmetal blushed slightly, and held Winry close.

I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you

Ed lifted his gloved hand to turn Winry's face, and he gently pressed his lips to hers. Winry was suprised for a moment, but it quickly faded. She felt like she conformed to Ed's embrace, and when he pulled back to breathe, he grinned and softly sang.

"Happy birthday to me..."

Winry blushed, not putting up a fight when Ed kissed her once more.

"Happy birthday, Ed," she whispered.

Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you