Steel Valentine
by Kaihua Mai

Genre: Guuhh…. angst? Romance? Drabble?
Word Count: 2759
Setting: Rush Valley I guess. It's just Winry thinkin' some schtuffs.
Summary: She knows that at least for now, the only Valentines she may make for him will be of steel. This is manga based, so don't harp on me about not saying the implied pairing when it's pretty damn obvious there, and from the fact that it's ME doing this story.

Disclaimer: I. Don't. Own. Hagaren.

Dedication: If this is actually good, then by all means I'm dedicating it to LaBOBuren, whose fic Concrete Statistics was what inspired me for this. Uh… but if it ain't good, you can forget I ever said that. Or wrote it, for that matter. -.-()

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Damn, I so hoped to have gotten this out by Valentine's Day. I guess you can see how well that worked out. :sigh: Half of this was written then, half today… let's just hope it's not too choppy. Shmeh. This is just my depressed drabble from hating V-day and... um... being depressed. Gah. I hope Winry's in-character.

Woot. Now, on with it!

Steel Valentine


It's Valentine's Day.

I'm sitting at the widowsill, staring out of it wistfully while fiddling with an arbitrary piece of automail in my hands, trying to find a better motivation to repair it. Usually I'd be moving some box, inspecting some prosthetic limb... but for now, I am just relaxing by the window, taking in the nothing that there is to view out of it and thinking of how insignificant this day should be to me.

Perhaps it wouldn't be so bittersweet if it weren't so near to his birthday. Perhaps if there were snow, making the dead trees seem somewhat alive again, I could enjoy the day more. Perhaps I wouldn't be so depressed if we were together... or just if he were here, and safe... Forgetting the fact that, if he were here, he wouldn't want to spend any time with me anyway. I guess that's my fault, for beating him so much with the wrench. Then again, he deserves the hits. Every time I see him, the fact that he's constantly in danger is symbolized all too clearly by another broken creation of mine. Too often he's returned to me with his automail ripped to shreds; recently he's even come back without anything but the docking ports. And when he does return in such a state, rather than running to hug him or exclaiming joyfully that he and his brother have come back, I oh-so-intelligently channel any emotion that I'm feeling into rage, and then proceed to bash him into the ground with my favourite tool.

Oh yeah, that's love. No question.

Am I angry that my metals have been torn apart to the point where I must create them anew rather than repair them? Does it enrage me to see that he shows so little regard for something I'm so passionate about? Of course.

But that isn't the half of it.

What is the other half? The half, no, the all of me that wants to cry at seeing him injured in any way, shape, or form. Part of me dies inside, simply from the thoughts that his broken automail brings about. His scars may heal, his cuts may mend, but he can't hide his prosthetic limbs from me. 'Look at what you need to fix, Winry. Look at what he must be going through, for his metal arm to be in that condition, and don't yell.' I tell myself, but only after physically and verbally beating him up. "DON'T BE SO RECKLESS WITH YOUR AUTOMAIL!" I shout every time, to which he huffs and sighs in response, tired, as I'm sure he is of my annoying ways. This of course, is always preceded with a few whacks from the wrench and maybe a few punches thrown without the assistance of a hard metal object.

As if he needed any more bruises.

But, that is how it goes every single time. He returns - to see his automail mechanic, never his best friend. And I, his automail mechanic - since he's made sure to shout to anyone who suggests otherwise that I am only his automail mechanic, nothing more - see what of his is broken, make a few dents in my wrench courtesy of his head, yell at him, he shouts back, and in the end it's just another dead fight. In the end there have been nothing more than useless words, inevitably forgotten by the end of the day. In some ways that's a good thing - I don't want to remember all the cruel things we've said to one another. But I wont try and deceive myself any longer by trying to convince myself that I don't want more to happen during our interactions with each other.

I should be happy. I should be happy when he returns at all. I should be happy that the two things I care about most - automail, and my family - are so often intertwined. I should be happy that he cares so much for his brother. I should be happy that they are striving so hard to make right what they believe themselves to have done wrong. I should be happy, and proud, that they have gotten this far. I should be happy.

I'm not, though.

Too many questions arise from that realisation. Why am I not happy? Is it not selfish of me? Do I deserve to be happy in the first place? It's so ironic that I would have all these unanswered speculations with regards to people I'm so dead-sure that I need to survive. I'm so positive that my relationship with the Elric brothers matters most to me, and yet I'm so unsure about so many different aspects of that relationship at the same time. It makes me wonder if my love is all a facade, perpetuated by my familial obligations. Do we even have a relationship at all? What is our relationship? We're 'friends,' who never see each other. There are oftentimes, birthdays missed and presents un-given. There are relatively no kind words ever said. If there are words, at least between Ed and I, they are evilly screamed from one of us to the other and back again. Our friendship is made from the remains of something seemingly strong; we've known each other for years, we used to spend every day together, I fix him and he protects me... but it's too easy to wonder at how strong that relationship really is when considering how much we see each other nowadays, and how little information is shared between us.

I can't help being reminded of steel. So many people see it as such a strong material. It is used as a foundation material... there is even the phrase, "strong as steel." But it's all a masquerade. Steel is made from the insignificant, unwanted parts of iron that fall into the scrap pile. It is lighter than iron, and flexible, and therefore more desirable to the masses... but it is not strong. There are rocks, yes, rocks stronger than steel that are, ironically, oftentimes carved. Jade, for example, is often chipped into the shape that the sculptor wishes. Jadeite was even, incongruously like steel, used in the making of weaponry. Isn't it odd that what so many view as sturdy is really such a breakable substance? Why would people choose such a weak metal, or stone, to make what is used to defend and protect lives?

Is that what our friendship is? I fix him, something so supposedly admirable and so supposedly indicative of the ties that bind us tighter than any other... but I only fix his automail. Edo-kun would never let me fix his soul. How close can we really be, then? With the simple existence of that question, is it not possible that the ties that bind us are really made of steel, something so bendable to the point where it can become twisted and easily as broken as his spirit is?

If that is all that our friendship is, is it ridiculous to hope that it might be something more? How did I realise that I wanted it to be so in the first place? Oh yes, by looking at his back. A sight I'd grown so used to seeing… a sight I often fear I'll never see again. I guess I wouldn't be thinking about this so negatively if it weren't for the fact that today is supposed to be the day to celebrate your love for someone. How may I celebrate it, without him here?

What would there be to celebrate, anyway?

And even if there were… What, would I make him a card? We're not five anymore. Girls don't really give chocolates or flowers to the guy… although, knowing Ed, chocolates would be a safe bet with him. Anything edible would be a good choice for a gift, regarding him… Which makes me wonder if the flowers would make sense as well…

Why am I thinking about this? It's so self-defeating. Round and round, in circles I go, dreaming of what might be and wondering why it only 'might' be in the first place. I sigh sadly, looking at the automail I'm currently working on. And that's when it reminds me… that the only gift I can give to him is one he doesn't want the need for in the first place. I don't either… I don't want Ed to have missing limbs; I don't want Al to need a body. It was that problem which drove them away from me; it was that which changed our days from the happy and carefree ones before. The deaths of our parents set the wood of inevitable heartbreak that would burn from the spark of their 'mistake.' And somehow after that, I became an automail mechanic rather than a friend. Even if I were to be thought of as a friend… it would be a friend rather than something more. If I were to be something more to him, it would be a sister, rather than a love. No, never a love. For now, the only Valentines I could ever make for Edward would be made of metal.

Looking down once more on the automail I'm working on, I realise the full irony in that statement. What metal is his arm made of? Steel.

Steel.

I made his arm and leg out of steel.

Symbolism, Winry. How do you view him? 'That's not fair, I just recently realised what I felt for him…' I think to myself. But the voice that resides in the corner of my mind resents that statement. 'Have you not always viewed him as your family? Did you ever want to protect him? All those times he returned to you, battered and broken, and you weakened him even more? You say to him that the steel limb is lighter, but more fragile, knowing he will not listen, and then you end up going to fix him again. What if one time your masquerade gets him killed before you can add to it once more?' It says to me.

'Steel is more convenient for him…' I think, defending myself - from… myself? Steel is more convenient… it is lighter, easier to handle…

And easier to destroy.

I have never meant to hurt him, but don't I always? 'Didn't I forget that stupid screw? Didn't I have to go to Central to fix my mistake, and didn't I find him there in the hospital, bruised and battered and scarred?' I still hate myself for that… he was so nice about it, as if he didn't even know… thinking of that moment makes me sigh. Thinking of Ed generally makes me sigh; Ed, the genius - who is somehow at the same time ultimately oblivious.

Ed, who is amazing in every way – including in his possession of a never-ending list of names for me, most of which would be categorised as 'profanity.'

Ed, who is handsome to no end, even with his automail – which he hates to have.

Everything positive can always be turned into something negative, it seems. The alchemy that he loves so much is only the cause of his pain. Automail, which I love so much, is something that no one wishes to have. Automail is the only way I can help Ed, but isn't it only to help him find a way to no longer need it.

Again, why am I thinking this? Is this another full turn that I have made? Once again, have I started thinking of automail, then of Ed, then of how wonderful he is, and then of how much I don't mean to him? Yes. Always to that question, the answer is yes. Always I am left in a melancholy mood, brooding on what I wish to be. Only now, what I want to be to him has developed past a sibling status.

I don't... want to think these things. I don't wish to sullen myself with thoughts of what could, can't, should, or shouldn't be. So of course, after coming to that realisation, I duck down to the neglected metal prosthetic piece in my lap. Lately I've been slacking because I'm too worried about my friends. I love automail, and metal, and tools, and anything of the sort, but even I have to admit that all my negative thoughts can be a bit distracting. I don't want to brood; I don't want to become a depressed and lonely person from dwelling on the what-ifs in life.

So then, what do I want?

The question rings in my head like the hum of dull machinery. What do I want?

What do I want? Ed. Al. For them to be safe, and whole again. To be the best automail mechanic in the world... after Grandma that is. I want to see her and Den again, to be back home and to be carefree. I want to lie in the grass on the hill by our house with the Elric brothers next to me, about to partake in some asinine game of chase. I want it to be summer, and warm, and for their to be a soft breeze on my face in harmony with the rays of the sun on my skin. I want the world to be encased in light instead of some wintery shadow from this cold day; I want my whole world to be made up of metal and my family and friends. There is nothing more to me than that. I want to be happy. I want everyone to be happy.

I want Edo-kun and Al to be happy.

I want Edo to be happy.

I want Ed.

I make his limbs from steel so that they can be shaped and molded and handled easier, not so that they can be broken. Maybe it does resemble our friendship - a friendship that can someday shape into something more. Maybe I compare that steel relationship to Jade only because it's carved as he's carved himself into my heart. Thinking of it in that way saves me from thinking about what he's carved into his watch, I guess. Maybe someday I can rid him of all the guilt he feels. For now, I can only do his automail... and I hope that helps enough. I don't think Edo knows how loved he really is.

I want him to know that I care about him. I want so much, when it comes to him. Sometimes I wonder if maybe those wants and wishes are really asinine. Are they the same as me wanting to see my parents somehow magically walk through the door to hug me and tell me everything is fine? Is picturing Edward and his brother coming home to me as foolish-sounding as the thoughts of my parents doing the exact same thing?

Perhaps. That wont stop me from yearning for them all, though.

There's a perpetual sense of longing that comes from losing someone. There's some part of you that always feels empty without them there, and with the knowledge that you may never see them again. There's some reminder of them in everything you see and hear and feel and taste, and some part of you that wishes they were still here. Of course, in most ways, it's more difficult if they're gone forever, if the flame of their life has burnt out and you can't rekindle it. But in other ways, it's harder when they haven't left the world - when they have only left you. When you pine for someone still alive while you are, at the same time, still wishing for someone who no longer lives, some part of you feels like you're missing someone who's right next to you.

Sometimes I do miss Ed and Al when they're right next to me. I miss the past...

But.

I want the future. One day I swear I will get that future that I long for. One day I'll make Ed a million stupid Valentines, just because I feel that I can. The thought of what his face will look like when I give them to him makes me laugh to no end.

One day, I will laugh like that every day, and he and Al will too.

One day, Al will have his body back and I can bake him a million cakes just so he can taste them.

One day, I'll tell Edo how I feel and maybe we can be together.

One day, we'll all be happy. Together.

One day...


FIN


A/N:
- A note about Ed's birthday: I've heard that it's possibly October 11. Perhaps in the manga, but in terms of the anime, THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE. I will explain – Ed's watch states the day that he burned down his house. That day is October 3. That was the same day that he LEFT to go to Central (by train) with Al and prepare for the exam. When he is on the train to central, Hughes is on the phone with Roy. Riza interrupts their conversation saying that 'babies aren't born after just five months' referring to Hughes' unborn daughter Elycia. Presumably four months later, as babies are usually born after nine, Elycia is born – on Ed's birthday. What's four months after October? FEBruary! Now, it could also be at the end of January just because it was early in Oct. when he left and pregnancies don't last EXACTLY nine months. But you get the gist. Also, you have to remember that there is a snowstorm when she is born. Snowstorms don't usually happen in October! So… yeah. Elycia – born on Ed's birthday. Elycia – born in January or February. Therefore, Ed's birthday – in Jan or Feb. Even though this fic is manga based, since I saw this anime episode first before the manga, this is how I've always thought of his birthday. (I mean come on, is it even mentioned in the manga? Where did people get Oct. 11 from anyway?). Sorry that's kind of poorly worded. Eh. BUT ANYWAY! So, that is why, when Winry is talking about V-day, she says it's near his birthday.
- A note about Steel Automail: you know, when I re-read the manga, it said in Volume five that his automail was only one percent steel... I wanted this to be manga based, what with her being in Rush Valley, and noticing that she liked him by looking at his back... but hey, I never really mentioned that this was in Rush Valley, and I think the idea of his automail being steel arises from the anime (lab five? doesn't that thought run through his head, that it's steel and lighter to handle? Eh? AH well. I guess this is both anime and manga then. Or maybe just more anime than manga. Bleh.
- Winry is not, I don't think, a depressed person at all; she is strong and fun and happy, which is why I tried to make the ending really positive. However, you can't tell me that she doesn't suffer some inevitable depression from the events in her life. No one's said that this is OOC before.. but... eh. Just wanted to mention it.
- Repetition: this is SUPPOSED to be repetitive. Usually I have a policy of not using the same adj. twice in a paragraph (or chapter!) but I'm trying to work on that.
- Spellings: I'm an aussie, and I spell-checked this, so no, it's not spelled wrong. It's just not spelled the
American way. :D
- My reviewers are so so so so so awesome! Thank you to Hotaru and June who reviewed (you guys are annonymous, so I can't respond:pouts:). AND thanks to DeadlyNightShade90 who reviewed FIRST! Those are all the people who've reviewed as of now. :)


Reviews are appreciated and always replied to.