Covalence

By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer: Don't own these characters. R/R because you love me.

It's odd how the world balances itself out sometimes. Ed would say it has to do with Equivalent Exchange. He'd go on for hours on end and his amber-colored eyes would light up till they were a wonderfully brilliant, golden hue. I don't really know much about alchemy but you have to agree that somehow the universe becomes balanced. Good comes from bad, bad from good, it all flows together.

For once, the house is quiet. It's not usually quiet when the Elric brothers are around. Al's usually clunking around in his metal body. Ed's usually yelling about the fact that my grandmother keeps making fun of his height or keeps forcing him to drink milk. But there's none of that this morning. I ponder that as I sit on the porch and stare out at the green grass of our lawn. It's a beautiful spring day. The birds are chirping and the sky is a brilliant shade of blue. It's a day you should enjoy outside with your friends. So where the hell are those two?

"Ed?" I call suddenly as I turn back inside, "You really should come out here, Ed." I remember how we used to spend days like this when we were young. We'd go down to the river and fish or pretend we were adventurers in search of hidden treasure. We'd play tag or hide-and-seek or some other silly game. I sigh as I now realize how much I miss those days. Those days were before things became complicated. Those were the days when we could still be children.

"Ed? Al?" They aren't in the kitchen. It's still early in the day but usually they're up by now.

"Al went out," explains my grandmother as she sits at the kitchen table, "I don't know where the little runt is though."

"Oh," I reply, "I'll check their room. This isn't a day to spend cooped up inside."

"I suppose not," she says calmly. I walk towards Ed and Al's room. Knowing the Full Metal Alchemist, he's probably got his nose buried in some book, hunting for the Philosopher's Stone. I swear, sometimes I wish he'd never heard of that God-forsaken rock. It's too hard to worry about him all the time, especially since he's so damn reckless and hotheaded.

I sigh as I approach the door of the room he and Al use when they stay here. I stop for a second and hear something inside, something so unexpected I double-check to make sure it's what I think it is. Crying? I slowly open the door. It's not a sight I enjoy seeing because it involves seeing someone I care deeply about reveling in a moment he shouldn't have had to experience in the first place. But I see it all the same and it tears me apart inside. There, sitting on the bed with his back to the door so no one can see, is Edward Elric crying as if he was still nine years old and his mother had still died yesterday.

"Ed?" I ask quietly.

"It's stupid," replies Ed suddenly, the disgust at himself plain in his voice, "I'm stupid."

"Ed," I say to him in a tone that's both consoling and scolding. Can't he see? Can't he see what a wonderful person he is? Or does he only see a tangled mess of flesh and machine, a walking monument to his own biggest failure?

"No, Winry," says Ed, still not turning to face me, "Just . . .please just leave."

"You know I won't do that," I reply as I move closer and sit beside him on the bed. The universe really does balance out. Beauty lies outside, the beauty of nature, while ugliness lies inside this room and inside him, the ugliness of humanity.

"It's stupid," repeats Ed, "I'm too old for this. I'm not a child anymore." I gently take his hand, the real one and not the one I helped construct for him. He is still a child, a kid who got thrown into the adult world so fast and quick that it scares the hell out of him. I look into his eyes and see so much pain, too much to simply go away with time. God, I want to help it go away for both our sakes.

"It's not childish to miss someone you care about," I tell him softly, "Just cry, Ed, just let it all out." He wraps his arms around me now and I return the favor. He presses himself up against me, sobbing and shuddering. It's always that way when he cries. A dam inside of him just bursts suddenly and he spills his guts out, crystallized in the form of the salt water running from his eyes.

"God, Win," he says into my shirt, "Today . . .it's . . .it's . . .."

"Sssh, Ed," I whisper gently to him.

"It is . . .it was . . .her birthday," explains Ed. It hits me how bad a beautiful day can really be. The universe is about coexistence, sharing. Good and bad intermingle to create the world we live in. He and I know how horrible beautiful days can really be. We both know what it's like to lose a mother. But maybe good can come from bad. Maybe we can hang onto each other.

"I know, Ed," I tell him, speaking about the pain he feels inside and not the fact he's just revealed, "I know you miss her so much."

"Don't talk," says Ed, "Just . . .just let me . . .."

"Okay," I reply. It was the same when we were younger. He pours himself out when he cries, expels all the excess pressure the crippling weight he carries puts on him. I realize in that moment that I love this boy I have known all my life. I love him more than any other person I've known. He and I are like survivors of a train wreck, both of us having the shared experience of losing the people who were supposed to take care of us much too young.

"I love you," I whisper to him gently, "So much."

"I love you too," replies Ed as he suddenly stares into my eyes, "but don't talk." In that instant, I feel his lips gently press against mine. I get it now, the whole bit about Equivalent Exchange. We both lost things, people, very dear to us but we gained something very valuable in exchange. We gained each other to help us through the times when all we can do is remember what we lost. I sigh as I return his kiss, reveling in the knowledge that good can come from bad and that sharing another's pain can also lead to having that person's love.