Disclaimer: I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist or any of its components.
Author's Note: So, things you should know... Well, first things first so you know what you're getting into...this story is NOT just about trying to get Ed and Winry getting in the sack together. I am hoping to write this story as if I were to publish it, with a real plot line and a real point that I do reach (eventually). So do enjoy if you decide to give this a chance. If you haven't hit the back button yet, please know: this story is based on the idea I had about a movie, only to be told, yeah, I'm totally wrong since I never did see the movie. And as of December 26, 2009, I'll be reuploading some chapters that I've re-edited...again. Something else that's imperative to your knowledge bank: if you don't like my story, don't waste my time and yours by flaming. Save everyone a lot of trouble by hitting the back button and moving on, forgetting that you ever read this. If you do like it, well thank you and good for you, you get cookie points. Something else...this story is AU, AKA Alternate Universe, so it is in no way meant to be the same as the original plot. There are many likenesses but this is not set in the story we all know so well or so I hope. So thanks for clicking my link and reading at least this far. If you read no further then thanks for saving time.
I'm going to try to complete this monster so if you're coming across this for the first time, have no fear! =D
"Hey, get up," an angry voice ordered with the accompanying noise of a thick folder slapping the desk. The person the order had been meant for snapped his head up, blond hair flying backwards behind his head. He looked at his boss, giving him an offending scowl. "You have a new assignment."
With that, the dark headed man left to go to his office twenty paces away. Why the man even bothered to get up was beyond the young, blond haired man. He could have just shouted for him, having the same effect.
Just before his boss disappeared into the office, he held his left hand up, imitated a gun and pretended to shoot at the testy man of higher rank. Scattered laughter hung in the air as the young man lifted his feet off his desk and dropped them to the floor. With a frustrated sigh, he stood up and pushed his long bangs behind his ears before shoving his hands in his pockets. The day was only halfway through, and he had a feeling it was about to become much longer.
As he strutted down the long aisle of desks to the office door that read "Captain Roy Mustang," on the glass, the young man highly contemplated going back to his own desk and sleeping for a little while longer. But the better part of valor told him that he and his younger brother needed whatever money this assignment could bring in. So he kept on reluctantly and opened the door without bothering to knock.
Mustang was sitting at his desk, filling out some form or other. "Sit down," he said absently.
So he did and then felt the wave of sleepiness come back. The younger man stifled a yawn as he waited not-so-patiently for his assignment briefing. It was about five more minutes and five yawns later that he was finally spoken to again. That could have been five more minutes catching up on lost sleep at his desk.
The captain leaned back in his chair and stared out the window. "Winry Rockbell," he said wistfully. "Have you ever heard her music before?"
The young man lifted an eyebrow. "My brother listens to her music while he works; says her voice is soothing," he answered hesitantly. In truth, he actually owned one of her earlier CDs, but would never let anyone know, not even his brother Alphonse. "Why?"
"If you've been reading the paper, you'll know that there have been threat notes sent to her lately from some anonymous person," Mustang said. "She's come to our police station and requested a bodyguard of the best sorts."
"I'm just part of the Criminal Intelligence Division, sir," he argued.
"And with that training, you can take care of Ms. Rockbell and find the person who is after her life," the captain said with such a calm voice that it unnerved the younger man. "Here is the case file with copies of the letters sent to her." He pushed the folder towards the end of the desk nonchalantly. "Go research it," he ordered dismissively, returning to his other paperwork.
The light haired man gritted his teeth as he snatched up the folder. In his head, he was growling very many not-so-nice phrases about his captain. He didn't dare to ever say them aloud, lest he lose the job he had been working at since he'd been able to work.
"Oh, and Elric?"
Edward Elric bit his cheek and took a deep breath. Very slowly, he turned around. "Yes?" he grumbled.
"Don't fall out of your chair when you fall asleep again."
The blond man let his breath out in a hiss. The captain wouldn't let him live that down, would he? The day that he could get away from Mustang without hearing two words about that incident would be the day he fell to the floor and kissed that man's steel toe boots. Unfortunately, he didn't see that day coming any time soon.
Later that evening, Ed Elric trudged in through the front door with heavy, tired steps. It was a little after six, and there was nothing more he wanted to do than to go back to sleep. But from the sound that greeted his ears, he likely wouldn't be able to sleep for at least another two hours. So he dropped his briefcase on the counter and walked toward the freezer. He pulled out a bottle of clear liquor from near the icebox and contemplated using a glass. Since his brother was too young and had no taste for alcohol, he drank straight from the bottle and drained a small amount of its contents.
Feeling decidedly better, he capped the bottle once more and placed it carefully on the counter once more. Maybe there was hope of getting his brother to read a book for a little while or to at least make some dinner. So Ed approached the basement door and the sounds of a metal grinder became louder. He opened the door and started down the stairs to the near deafening workshop.
His brother, Alphonse, was an armorer. His clients were usually people who attended renaissance faires for the joust, or they were just purists who wanted a spectacular costume. Then there was the occasional freak who wanted a sword made for his collection. On especially rare occasions, a rich somebody requested Al's service for a decorative suit of armor. Even rarer were people who ordered Al's favorite armor to make - the unusual and unique. But since there were no faires coming up in the next few months, Al was reduced to mere repairing of armor. Why his brother chose to use his hand tools was beyond Ed, though. They were both fully fledged alchemists - illegally, however - and could do most anything they wanted with their unusual skill. But still, Al seemed to like to do things his way – the manual, old-fashioned way.
As Ed stepped down to the concrete basement, he was surrounded by the usual sounds of Al's metal shop and Winry Rockbell's CD blaring over the speakers. They were lousy neighbors; Ed readily admitted that. He was about to step over to the stereo to at least turn down the music to get his brother's attention when he saw a breastplate with a particularly nasty rip in the side. He figured he'd give his brother a hand and fix it. So he clapped his hands and then covered the tear. A blue light emanated from the metal and soon there was no more tear - the armor was good as new!
Then Al turned around as he heard the alchemic reaction. "Brother!" he cried. "I was going to fix that myself!" He scowled at the armor.
Ed shrugged. "I decided to give my little brother a hand," he said nonchalantly. Since they had to yell over the music, he reached out and turned Winry's voice down.
"I'm supposed to do these jobs myself, Brother, or else I don't feel right about giving it back to the person." Al looked away and back at his present job.
"Well, I saved you some time and effort. But I can always undo it." Ed made to clap his hands again.
Al turned around hastily. "No! I wouldn't want you to undo your alchemy, Brother, since you don't get to use it as often anymore," he said. Ed snickered to himself and walked over to his brother. Al, however, didn't want to discuss his work at the moment. "How was your job today?" he asked.
Ed shrugged and went over to the refrigerator in the corner. He pulled out a can of soda and popped the top. "You want one?" he asked Al. His brother shook his head. "It was work," Ed went on. "I fell asleep at my desk again...did my usual paperwork on that one case." He took a long drink from the can. "Oh, and I got a new assignment," he added as if it were nothing.
Alphonse was immediately excited. They had been living well enough off of Edward's usual paycheck, but things were beginning to get a little tight, what with Al's lack of work. It was a good thing when Ed was assigned a new job. "What is it, Brother?" he asked, his enthusiasm apparent on every word.
With a sly smile, he headed towards the stairs. "You'll never believe me. You'll just think it's some cruel joke Havoc made up for me to play on you," he threw over his shoulder.
He heard Al going through the routine of throwing off his work apron, turning off the machines, taking off the goggles, and running up the stairs after his older brother. "No, I won't; what is it?"
Ed threw himself on the couch and reached for his briefcase. "Start on some dinner, would you Al? I'm starving," he said dismissively.
Al jumped on the couch next to his brother, disrupting his orderly papers. "Brother! Tell me!" He gave Ed an impatient look. "Or no dinner."
The elder brother's jaw dropped. "That's a cheap shot, Alphonse. You know I can't cook to save my life," he murmured.
"Then tell me! You can't just say you got a new assignment and leave it at that. It has to be somewhere in the Handbook of Being an Older Brother." Al pointed at the rather thick book on the bookshelves lining the wall.
Ed grimaced at the thought. "You're like a kid on Christmas, Al," he mumbled. Then he started rifling through his papers until he came across the folder Mustang had given him earlier that day. "I, Edward Elric of the Criminal Intelligence Division of Central City Police, have been ordered to be the bodyguard of one Winry Elizabeth Rockbell, the newest diva to grace the ears of most inhabitants of Central City." He took a deep breath after expending all those words in one sentence.
Al's jaw dropped. "There is a line—I can find it, hold on—in the Handbook on lying to me about something like that!" he exclaimed, jumping for the book. Since he was a lot taller than Ed, he had the advantage of putting it up high enough so Ed couldn't burn it.
"Alphonse, it's in the folder here," Edward laughed incredulously. "Come take a look. And get dinner started before I eat your book while it's down here."
Immediately, the young man dropped the book on the floor and dove for the couch. Ed slid onto the floor just before Al landed in the exact spot he'd been sitting. That had been close...too close. When Ed sat up, his younger brother was leafing through the folder. When he finished, Al looked up from the papers in disbelief, his jaw slack and eyes wide. It took him a moment to recover enough to speak. "Is-Is she going to come here? Will she live with us? Can I meet her? Oh, but how long are you on this assignment?" Questions spewed forth in the exact order Al's thought process worked when he didn't think before speaking.
It took a bit for Ed not to laugh at his excited brother. "She might come here only once if it's absolutely necessary," he answered. "I mean, look at his place Al; it's a mess. And I'm not ever here half the time."
"Well, can I meet her?" Al's eyes glistened hopefully.
Edward shrugged a little. "Maybe, if I ever get time to put one word in for her busy schedule," he mumbled. Then his stomach alerted him to its unfed stated. "Al," he said pitifully.
"Just a minute, Brother. Waiting to eat will do you good. I really want to meet her."
The eldest blinked. "Yes, I know. I really want to eat something," he returned.
"Brother!" Alphonse pleaded.
"I'll see what I can do," Ed finally said. "But essentially it's up to the diva."
Al didn't hear the second phrase. He was already in the kitchen preparing something edible.
Later that night, a storm was ravaging Central. The wind was howling and beating the rain mercilessly against the windows. Lightening split the sky and thunder crashed very shortly after. It had been going on since dinnertime, and it was nearly midnight now. There was no sign of it letting up anytime soon.
It was nights like this that reminded Ed of his past. He could feel the pain in his right shoulder and left thigh more intensely than usual. The doctor's he'd seen have given him a little bit of pain medication for a while, but it hadn't worked as well as Ed had hoped. He left the doctor to go to a psychiatrist, recommended to him by Hawkeye. She'd said that officers who were having troubles overcoming something about a case, usually killing someone for the first time or seeing someone die right in front of them, went there for help.
As per Hawkeye's suggestion, Ed had gone to the psychiatrist for a few sessions, unwillingly of course. He didn't like to talk about the incident, not even with Al. But a few facts had been dragged out of him, only to be told what he was experiencing was called 'phantom pains.' It had to do with the lobe in his brain controlling his memory.
In great detail, he'd been told that people often remember things from certain smells or sounds. Even certain words could trigger a particular memory. Only if the smells, sounds, or words were spoken at the time the memory had been recorded, of course.
Well, on the night of the incident, the smell of rain had been in the air, and the sound of thunder had been all around him. The psychiatrist's diagnosis had cleared up a lot, but Ed wasn't happy.
Mainly because he wasn't without pain.
But it wasn't likely, he'd been told, that it would go away.
Of course, he'd asked if it was only a "malfunction," he'd called it, with his memory. The psychiatrist had said that sometimes patients of the same trauma—who were quite rare—held a grudge against something to do with the incident.
Ed had become silent for the remaining minutes of his session and never returned.
He had assumed there was nothing he could do to relieve the pain for a while. Then about three weeks after putting up with the pain of "having no limbs," he'd decided to do something about it. He knew that when experiencing at least two different kinds of pain, the brain focused on the worst. So he had tried many different ways to do just that: to equal or create even greater pain than his arm and leg. Until finally, he'd come across something rather ridiculous that helped.
He'd been at work one night, putting in extra hours, during a storm. Of course, he'd been hurting but hadn't alerted anyone to it. Havoc, the chronic smoker he was, had come over and offered Ed a cigarette. Ed usually couldn't stand the smell or taste of nicotine, but for some reason, he'd taken the hit and gone to the locker room. He had lain on his back with his head hanging off the edge of a bench and smoked. Halfway through the cigarette, his pain had left him. Now, if the pain became too much that it kept him awake, he would go out on the covered porch, lay on the bench, head hanging off the edge, and smoke until he felt better. Strange, he knew, but it helped him escape the pain.
Edward would be on the porch doing said procedure, but he was so tired. He would have been asleep if he didn't have the pain now. So if he went to smoke, he would probably fall asleep after half a stick and end up burning to death.
He hoped the rain would stop soon so he could sleep; it had been raining quite a bit lately. He still had to go to work in the morning. Because of the wet weather bringing on the phantom pains, he was falling asleep more and more often at his desk. Ed knew it was bad for his job performance, yet none of the higher-ups had ever reprimanded him for it. He knew why, too, and it aggravated him. They never took off his job performance because they pitied him. Ed tried not to let that bother him too much, but he couldn't help it some days.
After some deliberation, Ed decided that there was another painless way to get to sleep. So he climbed out of bed, not bothering to pull his robe over his boxers, and limped out to the hallway. He peeked into Al's room briefly to see his younger brother bundled in blankets from the cool mid-autumn air. Ed smiled a little as he turned the thermostat down to fifty-seven. Immediately, the heater kicked off and the cool air started to come out of the ceiling.
As Ed climbed back into bed and pulled the thick fleece blankets up to his ears, he smiled. He would be asleep in no time.
The next morning, Ed woke up shivering. At first, he couldn't figure out why. Then a faint throb in his shoulder reminded him. So he threw his blankets off, immediately wishing he hadn't as the freezing air chilled him to the core. Shivering, he reached for his robe. Upon his fingers touching the fuzzy cotton, he encountered a hole. He frowned at it briefly before pulling it on. He would fix it later.
He liked his robe. It was red and had an alchemic symbol on the back. His mother had given it to him when he'd turned sixteen. Not having grown much since the age of ten, he still wore it. Now it was finally showing signs of its age, after five and a half years of early mornings and late nights.
Hastily, Ed made his way to the hallway to fix the thermostat before Al woke up. The poor boy, though he had been there during the horrible incident and understand Edward's pain, wouldn't appreciate the reason why Ed had turned the heater off.
But Ed hadn't woken up soon enough, he saw as he entered the living room. Al was sitting in the middle of the floor, looking none too happy about the temperature. He had about four blankets on and was watching the TV quietly. Ed had a feeling he would have a lot of explaining to do for this one.
"Morning, Al," he said in what he hoped was a cajoling tone. No response. "You're up early." More silence. "It's, ah, it's a bit chilly this morning. You think we'll get some early snow this year?"
Al looked up at Ed, expressionless. It was rather disturbing. "The heat was off all last night," he said in a monotone voice. "I woke up half an hour ago, freezing to the bone. Naturally, I assumed the heater was turned down for the morning since you would be up soon for a shower. But something told me to look at the thermostat."
Edward immediately busied himself making cereal, something he had mastered about cooking.
That was all it took to make Ed flinch, causing his hand to twitch and spill soymilk on the counter.
"That's what the air was set at when I woke up, Brother," Al grumbled.
Ed recovered quickly. "For a twenty-year-old, you complain a lot," he said and sat down at the bar.
"Why did you turn it down so low in the first place?"
No questions, no prying, no checking to make sure it really was Ed. Just flat-out accusation. The love he received from his only surviving blood relative.
"I was having pains again," the older man explained. "And my usual method couldn't be done for unspoken reasons so I figured I'd freeze myself to sleep. It worked." Yeah, he kept secrets from Al. He knew it wasn't very nice and the Handbook would have something to say about it. But there were just some things he couldn't tell Al. His pain relief method was one of them.
That he had once killed a man was another, though he suspected that Al knew in a strange, younger brother way.
"Well, you froze me out of bed." Al paused. "In payback, you have to take me to meet Winry Rockbell," he decided.
Ed scoffed at his colorful cereal. Men of his age either had a maid or a wife to cook them hearty breakfasts, stopped at a coffee shop for a bagel and coffee, or couldn't afford more than what they found in trash cans. Ed was none of those, and happily so. He had Al, who was a decent enough cook. They hadn't starved yet; that said something. But then again, they were both on a strict diet of soy products and non-greasy foods. Meat had to be cooked a certain way, eggs were either 100 pasteurized, cooked very well, or not eaten at all. Then there were countless other things Al had a fetish about for their diets.
This all happened two years ago when Al had won a free subscription to this health journal. There were "true" stories of how people's lifestyles had been changed for the better by the recommended diet for their body type and amount of exercise. There were endless amount of recipes that had eventually inspired Al to create his own and submit them for compensation. Then there were those small print lines advertising something completely against the magazine's food "ethics."
Nevertheless, Ed was just happy to be eating real food. He didn't mind the "no dairy" part since he hated milk. There were a couple things he didn't agree with, but as long as Al was happy and Ed had food on the table…err…bar.
"—goes best with boots or regular shoes?"
Ed realized too late Al had been talking to him about something. He didn't want to let Al know he hadn't been paying attention, so he took on a thoughtful look. Al had mentioned shoes, so it had to be an outfit, likely to meet Ms. Rockbell. But what had Al mentally selected?
"Uh…boots. Definitely boots. The ones Hawkeye bought you for your birthday this year." Oh, God, Ed prayed, please let this be right! He cast a mental look heavenward.
"The gray ones?" Al asked slowly.
Ed nodded uneasily. "Have you outgrown them already or somethin'?" It was very hard to be casual at this point.
"No," Al replied as easily as Ed wished he could have. "I was just wondering why I didn't think of that first." Then he trotted off to find them.
Ed nearly collapsed on the bar. He looked up and mouthed the words "thank you" over and over. Then Al poked his head back in. The elder froze.
"Can I meet her today?" Then he paused, taking in Ed's leaning on the bar and looking up at the lights.
"What were you doing?"
"Nothing," Ed said as casually as he could, slowly straightening. "And I'll see what I can do. But you will meet her eventually. I promise." He smiled encouragingly at his brother. Al bounded off again to have whatever outfit set aside for what would be known as "the day" from now on.
Before he left the house every morning, Ed made sure he had a very full thermos of hot, black coffee. He'd been drinking coffee since he was about ten. Though he didn't believe it for five seconds, he'd heard from numerous people that coffee stunted growth. It was nonsense, all of it. Al drank coffee on occasion and he was a whole head taller than Edward. Then he knew a few people who had been drinking coffee longer than he. They were all tall. But sometimes, Ed wondered if he were just…short…or if the coffee had to do with it since was only a few inches taller than he had been at ten.
He shook his head as he stepped out of his car at the police station. Crazy, all the people who had even told him that. Absolutely crazy.
The second he walked into the station, he felt the temperature change from a quite cool breeze outside to air hot enough to taste it in the station. The first surface he reached, he set his thermos, now about missing one fourth of its contents, on the desk and began to take his coat off. He slung that over his shoulder and took up his drink again to continue to his desk. It was still messy, blessedly. The janitor had left him a note on many occasions that she would get a big trash bag and throw all the plastic, collectable coffee cups, stray pieces of paper, the crumpled paper that had missed the trashcan, and many other items into the dumpster. Ever since then, he'd been paranoid about his work space. When the area was clean, his thoughts tended to roam more often. When in a messy space, his mind didn't have much room to contemplate anything other than what was in front of him. Usually a case file or a summons.
Ed set his thermos down on the space left clear for just that reason and dropped his coat near the trash can. Just as he sat down, Captain Mustang appeared outside of his cubicle.
"What are you doing here?" he asked incredulously.
Edward looked at the captain as if he'd lost his mind. "Working, maybe?" he suggested.
"If you were working, you wouldn't be here. You would be at Ms. Rockbell's house. She's called three times, demanding to know where her bodyguard is." Mustang scowled at Ed as if he were some vile substance that needed to be removed immediately. He supposed there was some truth to that.
The two men stared at each other for a few minutes, waiting for the other to make the first move. Finally, Ed leaned to the side to retrieve his coat. He stood again, returning the captain's less-than-pleased look.
"Her address?" Ed prompted.
Mustang lifted an eyebrow. "It should have been in the file. Where is that, Elric?" He was waiting for Ed to give a wrong answer like the folder was at home under a bottle of booze, unopened.
Ed smirked inwardly and opened his briefcase. He slowly pulled out the folder and opened it. "Ta-dah," he said sarcastically. Then he searched the paper for her address and pointed at it. "I'll just be on my way, then." It was probably best to leave now before Mustang's disappointment made it to the point of anger to take out on a certain prosthetic-limbed CID member.
So he took his thermos in hand and left the station wordlessly, feeling quite smug on the inside. Before he slid into his car, Ed made sure he had his wallet and cell phone. No one ever called him unless it was an emergency. At least, no one but Detective Maes Hughes.
That man never needed a reason more valid than that he was bored to call someone. Of course, he made rounds of who he would call, because if he called Ed whenever he was bored, Ed wouldn't own a cell phone anymore. Or at least he would have blocked Hughes' number by now. And Ed had a feeling it was his turn soon, since he wouldn't be at the station much for an indeterminate amount of time. Ed hoped he could tolerate the man's overly cheerful disposition when Ed was feeling less than tip-top shape.
Just as Ed was shutting his car door, a big raindrop hit the windshield. As if on cue, his shoulder started to ache faintly. More rain fell until a not-so-happy drizzle was coming down.
Oh yeah, it was going to be a long day. It had just barely started, too.
Whew! Okay now that the FIRST chapter is reuploaded I have to continue this don't I? Okay! Let's do this thing!