Summary: Ed and Winry are trapped in the basement of the Rockbell home. With no way out.
Spoilers: Minor things for the manga.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Arakawa Hiromu, and her many, many well-paid lawyers. I am NOT making any money off this, nor am I trying to infringe on anyone's copyright. Believe that.
Authors' Notes: Written for dragonsinger's Variations on a Plot Theme Challenge '06. This year's challenge: two characters who are attracted to each other are trapped in a room together. The time-line is definitely AU, post chapter 45. However, if you're not a manga reader, you won't have a problem following the story as I tried to be general in presenting Ed and Winry.
Questions, Comments, Suggestions: Send to donnacsoprano76 AT yahoo DOT com. All flames are read, laughed at then deleted with extreme prejudice.
"Love Is A Verb"
by Net Girl
"Love, love is a verb ... love is a doing word ..." - "Teardrop", Massive Attack
"Watch where you're going!" Edward Elric exclaimed as he leaned over for a moment to massage the foot Winry Rockbell had just stomped on with her boot.
"I would, if I could see," Winry grumbled. The staircase which led to the basement of the Rockbell house was dim. She'd not gotten around to repairing the light fixture and probably wouldn't for a while.
"Why didn't you bring a flashlight?" Ed's leg slammed into something then he muttered a few curses. "OW!"
"That's what you get." A light overhead flipped on and a smiling Winry stood in the middle of the basement. "Make sure you don't let the door close, okay?" She turned around and headed for the boxes stacked in the far corner of the room.
Ed, however, was leaned over, rubbing his right shin with his left hand, scowling all the while. "Hope you're happy," he muttered. As he lifted his head, he noticed the basement wasn't cluttered with the usual junk. His brow slightly furrowed. "When did you clean this place up?"
"A few weeks ago." Winry opened one of the boxes and dug through the spare parts she and her grandmother, Pinako, used for repairing automail. She glanced over her shoulder. "Let me see your arm again."
He nervously laughed as he made his busted right arm visible to the mechanic.
This wasn't anything new, though. He and his little brother, Al, were on an extremely dangerous journey. The only thing more dangerous than battles with Homonuculi was going to Rush Valley or Risembool (depending on which town Winry was currently in) for repairs. Winry always voiced her annoyance with how the brothers lived these days and did so until they left after she fixed whatever Ed had managed to break. This month, it was his arm. Again.
She shook her head. "You're lucky I don't charge for the work I do, Ed. State alchemist or not, you'd have been broke a long time ago."
He narrowed his eyes as she turned her back on him. Sighing, he leaned against the wall, looking around the basement at what was left there. "Why did you move everything?" he asked after a few moments.
"Too damp down here," she answered as she examined each part, then set it beside her on the floor. "These are the last boxes left. Leo is supposed to help us move the rest next week. You remember him, don't you?" She tossed a piece of metal aside when she decided it wasn't usable for Ed's repairs.
Ed searched his memory, to place a local face with the name "Leo". "That kid who lives down the road from here?"
"He's not exactly a kid anymore, he's our age, but yeah. That's him." She sat back on her heels then stretched her arms over her head. "He's been helping us out lately, and I know Granny appreciates it."
"Yeah, I guess so." Leo. He remembered that kid. He used to trail after Winry when they were little, giving her flowers he'd picked from a nearby field and generally annoying her. He was still trying to get Winry to like him? Didn't he figure it out by now that she wasn't interested? Ed frowned, wondering why the idea of it bugged him as much as it did.
"Anyway, it's good," Winry continued as she went back to digging. "That door's been sticking lately. And it's so bad that Granny and I together can't get it to open when it does."
Ed shifted his gaze to the door they'd come through a few minutes earlier. "Winry ..."
"Mmm?" She found another usable item and placed it on the pile to her left. When he didn't answer, she turned at the waist, looking to him. "What is it?"
He lifted his left hand to point to the right side of the room. "Do you mean ... that door?"
She followed his finger under her gaze came to a halt on the heavy basement door. Closed. Gasping, she jumped to her feet and sprinted to it. "I told you not to let it shut!" she cried. She threw her weight against the door which only resounded with a loud thud. She pushed again and again without any success. "Oh no! Oh no ... oh no ... please..."
Ed joined her, confused by her alarm. "Why are you so upset?" He watched her push and pull on the door knob, more frantically than before.
"Don't you remember? Al and Granny went to the next town over for supplies!" she exclaimed as she gave up struggling with the door. Her eyes were wide as she turned to him. "They probably won't be back until tomorrow morning!" Her heart raced as she watched the expression on his face change. "We're stuck down here! We're stuck!"
Ed approached the door, examining it carefully. "We're not stuck," he assured her with a smug smile. "It's no problem! No problem at -" He brought up his left hand but his right remained limp at his side. He'd forgotten his arm, the whole reason they were in the basement to begin with.
Winry folded her arms across her chest as she lifted an eyebrow of her own. "You're the great alchemist! Do something!"
He motioned to his arm. "How?"
"W-well," she spluttered as her arms fell to her sides. She waved a hand at the door. "Draw one of those things, then!"
"One of those alchemy things!" She pressed her palms flat against it. "You have to get us out of here!"
"I can't!" He paused when she whirled around, her eyes desperate. "I don't have anything to draw one with! I haven't needed to do that ... " His voice trailed off. Not since that day.
She hugged herself. "I can't be stuck down here. I can't ... I can't." She half-whimpered as she fell back against the door. Slowly, she slid down it until her rear-end hit the floor. "This isn't happening," she groaned as she buried her face in her hands. "They won't be back until tomorrow, at least."
Ed blinked. He'd never seen Winry act this way. Sure, she'd gone nuts over broken automail before, or he and Al nearly being killed and a number of other things, but the prospect of being stuck in a basement?
"Winry." He knelt in front of her and placed his good hand on one of her shoulders. "You have the material to fix my automail temporarily, don't you?" He nodded in the direction of the spare parts she'd fished out of the boxes. "It doesn't have to be perfect."
She raised her head, looking him in the eye. "I can't fix it for you."
She bit her lower lip. "No tools."
The boy's face paled slightly. "Winry ... where are they?" he slowly asked, already guessing her answer.
His hand slipped away from her shoulder. "We're stuck down here?" he exclaimed, just as panicked as she'd been moments ago. When she nodded, he fell against the door and ended up on the floor beside her. He stared at the wall across the room, considering their situation. No windows. Nothing. "Trapped," he whispered, not even realizing he'd spoken aloud. "This is insane. We're trapped, in your basement!"
Winry lifted her head again, scowling. "I told you not to let the door close!"
"You didn't tell me it wouldn't open again if I did!" he shot back.
Her eyes narrowed. "This is my fault?" She motioned to herself. "We wouldn't have needed to come down here if you hadn't destroyed your arm again!"
"Maybe if you'd fixed the door, you wouldn't have needed to move everything and your tools would still be here!"
She gritted her teeth as her hands tightened into fists. "It was more than the stupid door! You'd have known that if you were here more often, and not just for repairs!" she snarled. If she'd had something heavy at her disposal, she would've whacked him upside his fat head with it.
Ed, on the other hand, sat back, dumbfounded. He attempted to regain his composure after her crack about him never being around. That stung, too, more than he would ever let her know.
Crossing her arms over her chest, Winry turned her back on him. How was this her fault? He was the one constantly breaking the limbs she so painstakingly crafted for him. She put more effort and care into Ed's automail than any other. Even her grandmother commented on her dedication, several times. And this was the thanks she got in return?
Still smarting from her vicious response, he dared to look at the girl. Maybe he'd deserved it. He could've taken more time out of his life to let her know he hadn't forgotten about her. A call, a visit when he was able to do so, anything. Really, how much time did it take to pick up a telephone? "Winry ..." His voice was quiet now. "Whomever's fault it was, it's not important."
She quickly glanced over her shoulder at him then glared at the boxes in the corner again.
"We can't do anything except wait for Al and Granny to come home," he continued.
"Fine," she shortly muttered.
He leaned his head back, letting out a breath as he stared at the ceiling. "We won't be stuck here for more than a night, right? It won't be that bad. We'll sit ... and wait." He shrugged a little. "It's not as though we're going to die." He side glanced at her. "We have air, we have light. We'll be just fine until tomorrow morning."
Almost as if on cue, the bulb in the light socket hanging in the middle of the room flickered a few times before it completely sputtered out. The basement was pitch black now.
Winry heavily sighed. "At least we still have air," she deadpanned.
"Don't you have an extra bulb down here?" Ed felt around in the dark with his left hand, searching for the a spot on the wall to steady himself so he could get to his feet.
"Maybe. In one of the boxes, on the other side of the room," she answered. She heard the sound of Ed moving beside her. "You think you're going to find one?"
"I'm not sitting in the dark for who knows how long," he muttered. His good hand waved in front of him in the blackness as he slowly took steps forward. He hoped he was headed in the right direction. Uncertain, he kept repeating the process. When he hit a wall, he came to a stop. He sighed. "I have no clue where I am."
"You're in the basement, bonehead." Winry smirked, even though she knew he couldn't see her. She heard him shuffling around on the other side of the room. "You should be careful. If you get hurt -"
The sound of metal scraping against metal followed by Ed yelling, "DAMMIT!" interrupted her admonishment.
"I hit my leg on something." He felt around. "It might've been one of the boxes." No. Whatever it was, it was cold. Metal. "It's the stuff you pulled out earlier," he reported.
Another clang, immediately chased by a loud thump and a stream of curses, came from the same area of the room.
"Would you stay in one spot, Ed, before you end up breaking your leg, too?" She felt around on the cold floor. She knew the basement much better than he, and she figured it was only a short crawl to where he was. Getting on her hands and knees, she made her way towards the sound of his muttering. After going about what she suspected to be ten feet, Winry's hand came down and her fingers curled around what felt like -
"ARGH!" Ed shrieked in a voice two octaves higher than normal. "WINRY, THERE'S SOMETHING DOWN HERE AND IT HAS MY LEG!" He drew himself into a ball, his eyes wide as he anxiously searched the dark for whatever the hell it was.
Winry sat back on her heels. "It's me! And that was my hand!"
The boy stopped shuddering. At that moment, he was glad it was pitch black. Winry couldn't see how embarrassed he was. (Plus, the fact he'd gone into the fetal position a second ago.) He uneasily laughed. "I knew that," he lied as he relaxed. "I was only trying to ... to have a little fun." Yeah. That sounded good.
She rolled her eyes as she crawled to her left until she found the rest of the boxes. "Whatever you say." She opened one of the other boxes, then felt around inside, hoping to find something that could help. If they were lucky, she could find a tool along with a bulb, so they could get the heck out of there. Ed was making her angrier than usual today.
Ed heard Winry making noise not far away. "What are you doing?" On his knees now, he carefully moved towards the sound of her rifling through ... something. Suddenly, he pitched forward as his automail knee caught on a piece of the metal lying on the floor. His hand jutted out in front of him, to keep himself from falling flat on his face. When he came into contact with something soft, he knew immediately what, or more accurately who, it was. "Um ... "
"Ed?" Winry's voice was even.
"Do I ... want to know where I grabbed you?" he nervously finished.
Her hand brushed against something in the trunk and she yanked it out. Flipping the switch, Winry shined the beam from the flashlight she'd just found behind her. With the illumination, both of them looked to where he'd put his hand to stop himself from falling.
Ed's cheeks warmed when he saw his hand gripping onto Winry's butt. "Uh ... sorry!" he apologized quickly then chuckled.
She flashed the light in his face, blinding him as she narrowed her gaze. "Why don't you stop apologizing and get it off, then?" she suggested.
He quickly yanked his hand back. "Oh, yeah. Sorry," he repeated. His face was so flushed now, he felt sweat beading on his skin.
As she turned the light back to the box, Winry couldn't help but smile herself, her own face slightly reddened.
"Oh, dang it," she sighed after a few minutes of searching through the last of the boxes. "We don't have any bulbs down here." She turned back to Ed, shining the light on him. "This is all we have until ... "
Ed had made himself comfortable leaning against the wall during her search. "Better than nothing," he admitted.
Using the light, she navigated her way to an empty space near him. Placing it strategically between them, she managed to create enough illumination for them to see one another clearly. Sighing, she, too, leaned back against the wall and began to drum her fingers on the floor.
"Are you bored? Because I'm bored. I don't think I've ever been this bored. I didn't know it was possible to be this bored - "
He looked to Winry. "What?"
"We're been sitting here for fifteen minutes. How could you be bored?"
He paused before asking, "You want to play a game?"
"No." She tilted her head back until it touched the wall then sighed.
An uncomfortable silence fell between them for several minutes. The sound of a foot tapping against the hard concrete floor was all that could be heard.
She swiveled her head to look at him. "What?"
She narrowed her eyes. "Good. I'm glad I'm irritating you! See how you like it for once!"
His own gaze narrowed back. "What do you mean?"
"Like you don't know!" She shifted in place so she faced him. She pointed to his busted arm. "Look at yourself! You think that doesn't irritate me? No. 'Irritate' isn't a strong enough word. It infuriates me!"
He casually shrugged. "It's only automail, Winry. You can fix it. That's what you do."
"Only automail? Do you believe that's all I care about? Your automail! What about when Al comes back here with massive holes in him?" Her tone grew angrier as she continued to speak. "Do you have any idea how that makes me feel?"
"You know how dangerous this is, Winry! You know from first-hand experience!" he snapped. He did his best to keep his head. They were cranky from the situation they were in. If they lost it, it wouldn't help them.
"Is it so important, Ed?" She fought back her tears. She'd thought she understood their quest, why they'd burned down their home and set off for Central four years earlier. Yet, after everything she'd been through lately, she worried about them more than ever. "Is it?"
"I promised Al." Edward's face hardened with the resolve he'd had before they even left Risembool. Just like that day he vowed to be ready in a year after he was outfitted with automail limbs. "We won't stop until he has his own body back. I won't leave him that way!"
"And if you never succeed, what will you do?" Her eyes glistened with the tears she refused to let fall. "What, then?"
"I won't fail."
Her jaw clenched. It was useless. Pointless. Having this discussion with him was, as always, a waste of time. He would never understand that she would rather have Al simply come home as is than just never come home at all.
"And there is nothing in this world that will stop me."
Picking up a metal pipe she'd found in one of the boxes, Winry used every ounce of strength in her body to whack Ed upside his head with it. She watched as the boy – his face frozen in that usual expression of surprise – toppled over onto the floor before finally losing consciousness.
"Nothing, huh?" she said as she glared down on him. Tossing the pipe aside, she snatched the flashlight up from the floor and turned it off. No use in wasting the battery.
Ed's eyes slowly opened. He wasn't sure if they were open, though, when only blackness greeted him. He shifted as he placed his good hand on the floor and pushed himself into a sitting position. "Ohhh ..." he groaned as his hand went to the side of his throbbing head. He remembered why everything was dark now.
"You were out for a while," Winry's voice commented from somewhere in the room. "I was beginning to think I might've hit you too hard." A moment later, the flashlight came on and Ed shielded his eyes from the sudden brightness. "It's almost 11 o'clock."
"PM?" He touched his head, wincing. She'd left a knot there. As usual.
He lowered his hand as she pointed the beam of light to the ceiling. "How do you know it's 11 o'clock?"
She held up something shiny. "It's a good thing they gave you this."
He patted himself when he recognized it as his State Alchemist's watch. She must've taken it off of him while he was unconscious. That was the only way she ever could've. He raised his head when he heard her footsteps approaching.
"Here." She carefully placed it in his outstretched hand. "I didn't take it apart, either," she assured him as she sat on the floor beside him.
He glanced at her, seeing the small smile on her face. He couldn't help but smile, too. "I trust you wouldn't break it. You're the best mechanic I know," he quietly told her.
Her smile weakened as her hand rested on his damaged arm. "Maybe," she replied.
He rested his good hand on hers. Without his gloves on, the sensation was different. Because of his automail, he was rarely without them. Then again, he didn't come into contact with other people in this way, unless it was a fight. If that was by choice, consciously or unconsciously, he wasn't sure. (The contact, not the fighting.) He'd never considered it really, until now. "There's no 'maybe', Winry. You are."
She shifted her gaze to his hand clasped around hers. "Thanks."
After a few moments, he let out a breath. "You should get some sleep. We're okay down here, no reason for the both of us to stay up all night." His hand slipped away from hers. "I'll stay awake, though, in case they come back early."
She nodded. "Okay."
He watched her lie down on the floor beside him, shifting into the best position possible for sleeping comfortably on that hard cement. Once a few minutes had passed, he looked to the flashlight resting on the floor between them. Leaning forward, he picked it up. Then, before flicking it off, he gave the girl one final glance.
The low sound of rumbling thunder roused Edward from his sleep.
Lazily, he rubbed his eyes, looking around in the dark, trying to remember where he was. His hand came to rest on the flashlight laying in his lap. Remembering now, he turned it back on. He shifted its beam from the blank wall across the room to the floor to his left. Winry was still asleep. Her legs were drawn close to her body and she had both arms folded underneath her head as a pillow.
The thunder rolled again, louder. He tilted his head back, listening carefully. It wasn't raining yet but it would be soon enough.
"Hmm?" He shifted his bleary gaze to Winry who'd just murmured his name. She shifted on the floor, whimpering at the same time. "What?"
"Ed ..." she murmured again. She rolled onto her back. Her eyes were still closed but her face was twisted up in worry. Or agony. It was hard for him to tell. "No ... please ..."
He watched as she continued to writhe on the floor. What was she dreaming about? Besides him, obviously. Judging by the expression on her face and the strange noises she made, it wasn't anything good.
"Don't ..." Her fingers dug into the floor as her brow furrowed and her lips pressed together. "Please ... don't leave ... " The girl's body relaxed, and she fell silent as she shifted back onto her right side.
Ed frowned as he regarded Winry. Rarely did he consider what he and Al's leaving had done to her. Ever since they were small children, they'd been inseparable. Of all the people they knew, Winry understood exactly how it felt to lose her entire world at a young age. She'd experienced that pain, even more than the Elric brothers had. Winry's parents were taken together, she'd barely had any time with them ...
His gaze traveled down the rest of her body. She wasn't in her overalls. No, she was still in that simple black skirt and a light blue top. The skirt, he couldn't help but notice, had bunched up on her leg, near the top of her thigh. She'd grown up and become a rather pretty girl. He'd never tell her that to her face, though. It would go to her head and she'd never let him forget it, either.
For some reason, the guy's name popped into his mind. When they were younger, he'd been nothing but an irritation in Ed's opinion. But that was years ago. Just like everyone else, the other boy had grown older. And what was he doing with his time? Donating it to the Rockbells.
Outside, the thunder rumbled louder.
He scowled. Leo. Who did he think he was? Winry didn't need his help to move a bunch of boxes out of the basement. She was the strongest girl Ed knew. She definitely wasn't some wilting flower. When they were kids, she could beat both him and Al up. In a fair fight, too, but neither brother would admit that in a million years.
"Leo," he muttered, his scowl deepening. That kid didn't need to be there ... in her house, in her basement ... with her. No. Whatever the reason, it wasn't to help move anything anywhere.
Winry rolled onto her back again, but remained peacefully asleep. One of her hands absently brushed at the loose hair hanging over her neck.
Ed entertained the idea of waking her up and asking her what the deal was. She didn't need help, so why did she let the guy hang around? Was she that bored?
The thunder clapped so hard it shook the ground. Also, it woke Winry from her slumber. Her eyes drifted open and she noticed almost instantly that the flashlight was on. Yawning, she propped herself up on her elbows. Edward was still awake, amazingly, and staring at her in a way he never had before.
"Is it raining?" she sleepily asked. She yawned again and rubbed her eyes with the back of her left hand. Ed only kept staring at her. "What's your problem?"
He remained silent for a few seconds. As she started to get to her feet, he finally asked, "Do you like that guy or something?"
She froze, her hands on the floor at either side of her as she looked to him, semi-shocked. "Huh? Who? What're you talking about?"
His tone remained even and low, his eyes never left her. "Mr. Helpful, from down the road," he answered. "I assume you do. That's the only reason he'd be here." Off of her still confused expression. "Like you'd need help moving boxes."
Her confusion melted into annoyance. "He has a name, Ed. And he is helping us. And ... even if I did happen to like him, that's none of your concern." She rose to her feet and stretched her arms over her head. Her back and neck were sore from sleeping on the floor.
Ed put the light down and stood up. "Yes, it is."
Her arms dropped to her sides and she looked over to him, eyebrows arched. "Excuse me?"
"You're my friend, so it is my concern, Winry," he firmly replied. "You don't know what kind of person that guy is! He could be a ... well ... " He paused, his gaze shifting to the floor as he tried to come up with something.
"A psycho?" she suggested.
His head jerked up as he snapped his fingers. "Yeah! A psycho!"
"Just like you?"
"Yeah, just like - " He stopped when he realized what she'd said. "Hey! I'm not a psycho! What makes you say that?"
She put her hands on her hips as she came closer to him. "Maybe since you're acting like one all of a sudden?"
"Because I care if you get mixed up with some serial murderer?" he exclaimed, throwing his good hand up into the air.
She blinked, surprised. "Now he's that?"
"Who knows what he is!" he cried, waving his hand around.
She shook her head, slowly and deliberately. "I can't believe you! Honestly! You haven't seen Leo in five years and you're calling him a serial killer!"
"He could be!"
"Gee, that's funny," she tightly said as she came to a stop in front of him. Her arms folded across her chest as she continued. "You didn't seem so concerned when Ling proposed to me!"
"What?" He hadn't expected that to ever come up again.
"I could've married a prince! You sure didn't throw a fit like this then!"
He scoffed, trying to think of a good response. "I never expected you to take his proposal seriously," he finally said.
Her eyes darkened. "And why shouldn't I have?"
"Because the guy's a jerk, that's why!"
"Well ... it's something else the both of you have in common, then."
The sound of down-pouring rain, along with vicious thunder, filled the odd silence which had fallen between them. They stared at each other for a few more moments until Winry finally turned her back on him. She couldn't look at him anymore, he made her so ... so mad.
"Winry ..." Ed softly began after almost a full minute of awkward quiet.
"Just shut up, I don't want to hear it," she sighed as she lowered her head.
His shoulders slumped. "Look ... I'm sorry. I ... I shouldn't have said that stuff." He paused, mulling over the statement then added, "Except the part about Ling being a jerk. That's true."
The girl noiselessly laughed despite her desire to keep on hating him.
"The rest of it? I'm sorry. You're right. I don't know that guy, and it doesn't mean he's bad." He would keep his real opinion of Leo to himself, however. He probably was a serial murderer. Nothing surprised Ed these days. "Whatever the reason he's here ... with you ... it's not my business."
Her eyes closed as she sighed. She knew Ed had swallowed a considerable amount of his own pride to say that. He wasn't someone who readily apologized for anything he'd said or done. Mostly because he believed himself to be right all of the time. Opening her eyes, she pivoted on a heel. He had that look on his face. She called it the "little boy lost" look, because that's exactly what he was whenever he wore it.
"Ed ... I have a confession to make ..." she quietly said.
His eyes widened a little. "Don't tell me you're engaged to this guy?" he asked, a bit of panic in his tone. That expression, her eyes, the sound of her voice ... it was so serious. Winry didn't get that way unless whatever she had to say was extremely important. Was she, though? She could've been for ages and he never would've noticed. No, not Winry. Something like that, she would've told him and Al first. Wouldn't she?
For the first time since she'd been trapped in the basement with Ed, Winry laughed. A real, happy laugh. And she couldn't stop. Not even when she began to wipe the tears from her eyes as she doubled over. It was too funny! He was so ... so serious!
Edward wasn't amused in the least. His eyes narrowed on her as he frowned. "What's so funny?" he grumbled.
"You!" she cried, pointing at him. "Oh!" She took in several deep breaths, calming herself as she came closer. "You should've seen the look on your face! Asking that question!" She snickered as she recalled it in her mind. "I could've sworn the idea bothered you!"
His good hand balled into a fist as he bowed his head, his narrowed eyes peering at the darkened floor in front of him. "Maybe it does," he muttered. He let out a breath as he shook his head a few times. Perhaps he shouldn't have said that. Either way, the damage was done. He felt Winry's hands come to rest on his shoulders. Slowly, he lifted his head until he was gazing into her bright blue eyes. She'd stopped laughing. She was serious, but not stern. "What?"
The girl pressed her lips together, wondering if she should do what she planned to do. It would change everything. Then, so what if it did? She'd stopped lying to herself about her feelings long ago, perhaps it was time to do the same where Ed was concerned. He should know. It might cause more harm than good, though. Ed already had enough to worry about with Alphonse. She knew he worried about her, too, but ...
"Winry?" he prompted when she only stood there, staring at him. Whatever debate she was engaged in inside her head, it was tearing her apart. He could see it in her eyes. Loneliness. Pain. Then ... something else. Hope.
Her hands slid away from his shoulders and she looked away. "Nevermind. It's ... it's nothing ... important."
"Then let me say something."
Winry's head lifted when she sensed Ed closing the distance between them. Her face momentarily scrunched up in confusion as his good hand gently slipped to the back of her neck. He was serious again, determined almost. She knew that look. Her lips parted, a small noise escaped them as she attempted to ask what he was doing. And then, it happened. He pulled her closer, bringing his lips to hers in a soft kiss.
She couldn't believe it. Had she fallen asleep again? Or maybe this whole situation was a dream? Was he actually ... kissing her? He'd chosen this? Why? Once the initial shock was over, she had the presence of mind to return it. She felt guilty. No. Why should she feel guilty? He'd done it, not her. The guilt quickly turned into irritation. Why now? Why not five years ago? Why not five months ago? The urge to shove him away, which would be followed, naturally, by a swift slap across his face came and went.
After a several moments, he released her and didn't say a word as he took a step away. If that didn't convince her to dump this Leo jerk, he didn't know what else to do. When she just stood there, staring at him, he felt uncomfortable. Was she planning on where to hit him next? As long as it wasn't with that metal pipe again. Why didn't she say anything? Uh oh. Maybe she was too mad to do anything, even yell.
"Um ... Winry ..."
He was silenced by the girl throwing her arms around him and firmly planting her lips to his. He stumbled backwards, startled by the sudden response, and his foot knocked the flashlight over. A few seconds later, it spluttered out. They were enveloped in total darkness once again.
This was better than being knocked out. Much better.
"Brother?" The door to the basement creaked loudly and Alphonse Elric poked his head through the crack. "Brother, Winry ... are you down here?"
Upon their return, Al was surprised not to find Edward waiting for him. Or even Winry. Neither one appeared to be in the house. He and Pinako searched the entire place and the surrounding area for the teenagers. Pinako decided to check the cemeteries, in case the pair had gone to visit their parents. Al, though, was assigned the last spot in the Rockbell home – the basement.
The door creaked as it opened wider, allowing a larger stream of sunlight to fill the room. He froze when the light touched a familiar leg. Ed's. As he stepped inside, the door opened fully and the basement was dimly illuminated.
On the opposite side of the room, Edward was leaned back against the wall, asleep. His good arm was thrown almost protectively around Winry's shoulders. The girl was curled up next to him, her head and one of her hands resting on Edward's chest. Al glanced around the basement. Junk was strewn everywhere and a broken flashlight lay not far away from his brother's feet. Had they been down there all night? If so, why?
"Brother?" Al carefully reached out a cold metal hand to gently shake Edward. "Brother, wake up. It's me."
"Hmm?" Edward's eyes drifted open and the world slowly swam into focus. He found himself staring straight up at his brother, Al. "Hey ... is that really you?" he murmured.
"Why are you and Winry in the basement?"
Edward realized someone was leaning against him. His gaze shifted down to Winry. It all came back to him – the door closing, the light going out, the fighting, the ... He blinked as he sat up, fully awake. Wait. That wasn't all that happened down there. He felt his cheeks warm as he remembered more and more of it. He hoped Al didn't notice.
"Mmm?" Winry rubbed her eyes as she sat upright. "Al? Is it morning?" She stretched her arms over her head as she yawned. Her gaze shifted from Al, who was obviously confused by what was going on, to Edward, who was almost as red as the overcoat he sometimes wore. She smiled a little. She remembered the same things he did. "I'm pretty hungry."
"Were you stuck down here?" Al glanced from Winry who was now on her feet, to Edward. His brother kept avoiding eye contact with him.
"Yes. The door accidentally fell shut while we were looking for more spare parts," Winry explained. She caught Ed's eye briefly then focused on Al. "The light went out." She motioned to the blown out lightbulb. "So we had to use a flashlight."
Al picked it up and examined it. "It's broken. How did that happen?"
Winry smiled again. "Well, Al, it was -"
Edward jumped to his feet, placing himself between Winry and his brother. "She hit me with it!" he exclaimed. "Yeah! She hit me with it and it broke." He forced a laugh. "You know how she is, Al!" He winced when he felt Winry smack him in the back of the head. "See what I mean?" He grinned.
Rolling her eyes, Winry folded her arms across her chest and left the basement. Of course he would act like nothing happened! Typical. That was the last time she would ever get stuck in a basement with him! Still, as she ascended the stairs, a grin appeared on her face. He may not ever admit it in public, but something happened between them last night. And it was something wonderful.
Al peered at Ed for a second. "Brother ..." He lifted a finger to point at a specific area. "What's that on your neck? Did something bite you?"
Ed's eyes widened as he slapped his left hand over the right side of his neck. "Never mind it, Al."
"But, brother, it looks like something bit you," he said, concerned, as he followed Edward up the stairs.
"Never mind it, Al!"
"I SAID, NEVER MIND IT!"