Assaulting an Officer
By Yellow Mask
Spoilers: Kimblee being back in the military, but no specific episode.
Disclaimer: I do not own FMA.
"The Colonel told me Kimblee might drop the charges if you just apologised…"
"No. Chance. In. Hell."
Al sighed, he'd known it was probably pointless to try and make Ed apologise, but he'd had to try. "Brother…why did you hit Kimblee?"
Ed's eyes flashed dangerously. Al instantly knew this hadn't been your typical rage-inducing height joke. This had been far more personal.
But Al, ever the optimist, tried again to persuade his brother to forget it. "Winry still needs to fine-tune your automail, do you want her to have to come down here to do it?"
Ed glared. "No, but it looks like she'll have to."
He was prepared to admit that he didn't want Winry coming down here. He was prepared for the inevitable wrench throwing for the stupidity of being thrown in here in the first place. He might be prepared to admit that reining in the impulse to deck Kimblee would have taken more self-control than he possessed. But he wasn't prepared to apologise. Not ever. Apologising would be condoning Kimblee's comments. And condoning them meant…
Ed felt his blood pressure rise to dangerous levels and quickly ceased his train of thought.
Al had spotted the murderous scowl on Ed's face. "He must have really done something bad."
"You could say that," Ed grunted.
"Brother…why won't you just apologise?"
"Because he deserved to get his jaw broken! He was lucky I didn't break his whole freakin' face!" Ed took a deep breath, calming himself down somewhat. "Look Al, it's quite simple. I broke Kimblee's jaw, Kimblee pressed charges, so now I have to spend two weeks in a cell."
"It might have been less if you hadn't done so much damage. Did you have to break his jaw?"
"It's only 'cause I hit him with my automail hand."
"Right after your maintenance! Winry'll kill you! Why didn't you hit him with your left hand?"
"It was poetic justice."
Ed opened his mouth to reply, then snapped it shut as Winry walked in.
"Hey, Winry…" Ed gave a nervous laugh. "I need you to-"
"Fix your automail, again?" Winry said, in what Ed had come to identify as the 'I-am-one-inch-away-from-making-you-an-unpleasant-memory' tone.
Discretion being the better part of valour, Al made himself scarce.
Opting for survival over pride, Ed remained silent as Winry worked on his arm, adjusting the metal digits where they had bent against Kimblee's jaw. Winry often muttered under her breath when she was working, but it was usually about gears and screws and wrenches, not about how much of an idiot he had to be to bend his automail only a few minutes after her repair job, how thick-headed he was to take whatever Kimblee had said to heart, etc, etc…
He almost sighed. It seemed everyone thought Kimblee had made a crack about his height (he wasn't that short!), and Ed had no problem with keeping it that way.
He was jerked out of his musings when Winry sighed.
"Ed…why didn't you let it go?"
His eyes met hers and, for a heartbeat, he considered telling her. Considered telling her just what Kimblee had said, about how why it made him so furious…and then he dismissed it.
Winry seethed when Ed's eyes slid to the side and he answered with a defensive, "I just couldn't." His tone left her with no doubt this was the last he'd say of the matter…to her, at least.
Winry felt as though she could scream in frustration. This wasn't a new feeling around Ed; she'd felt it many times before, and would probably feel it for many years to come. She felt it whenever he demanded she repair his automail without telling her what had happened to it. She felt it all those times he looked straight through her, as though she weren't important compared to the latest alchemy text. She felt it whenever he told her to mind her own business, completely oblivious as to how much she cared for him…
Winry squashed the thought quickly. She'd become quite good at that. She'd had to – Ed didn't see her as anything but a friendly mechanic (and there were times when she couldn't help doubting if she was even a friend in his eyes anymore), and the last thing she needed to do was scare him off.
Ed couldn't help noticing the change in Winry's demeanour – the sudden sadness heavy in her eyes. He curled his flesh hand into a fist to resist the urge to reach out and cup her cheek, to bring those blue eyes to meet his again.
"Winry, are you okay?" he asked, slightly hesitant, wondering if he was treading on dangerous ground.
Winry was startled. Ed was asking about her? Edward Elric? Mr. I-need-my-automail-done-as-soon-as-possible-don't-waste-time-talking -to-me?
Okay, she might have been exaggerating a bit with that last part.
Ed looked slightly disgruntled at having to repeat himself. "I said, are you okay?"
"I heard you, it's just…" Winry's forehead creased. "You never ask things like that."
Ed almost winced, remembering Kimblee's words. He hated to admit that there might be a dull ring of truth in them. "Well, I'm asking now."
"I'm…I'm fine…" Winry replied, sounding a little wary, as though wondering about his motives for asking.
She turned away before he could say anything else, rooting in her toolbox, frowning as she didn't find what she was looking for.
"Ed, your automail needs three new screws, but I can't seem to find mine." An irritated huff escaped her lips. "I'll have to go out and buy some more, don't bash your automail around while I'm gone, alright?"
She took Ed's indignant grumbling as an affirmative.
Roy sighed as Al left his office. That fact the Ed refused to apologise was disappointing, but not entirely unexpected. Whatever Kimblee had said, it had to have been bad for Ed to hit him over it.
Roy had been hoping this could be resolved without Ed spending two weeks in detention, but it seemed there was no other recourse. Kimblee wouldn't drop the charges, and as Ed wouldn't tell anyone what he'd actually said, he couldn't claim justifiable provocation.
Roy couldn't shake the feeling that it would all make some sort of sense if he could just get Ed to tell him what Kimblee had said…
The door to his office opened and Roy looked up, anticipating Riza's return (with another stack of paperwork, no doubt), but was disappointed. Disappointed that it wasn't Riza, not disappointed about the lack of paperwork.
It was Fuery. Fuery looking very uncomfortable.
"Colonel Mustang, sir?"
"I have some information for you, sir."
Roy checked for a document or folder tucked under Fuery's arm. He saw none. "What is it?"
"Sir…I saw the fight between Ed and Kimblee."
Instantly, Roy's full attention was focused on the man in front of him. "You saw it?"
"Yes, sir. My door was partly open, and while I didn't see the whole thing, I heard something that…well, it might shed some light on it."
"Don't keep me in suspense, Sergeant."
Ed was jerked out of a slight doze when the door to the detention cells opened. Expecting Winry, he was surprised to find Roy Mustang, accompanied by Al. Preparing for a lecture, he folded his arms and rested his elbows against the bars of his cell as they drew level with him.
But there was no lecture.
"Fuery told me something very interesting, Fullmetal."
"Hmm." Ed didn't seem interested in the slightest.
"Apparently he was close by when you hit Kimblee, close enough to hear some of the things you said to him…"
Roy now had Ed's undivided attention.
"He told me you hit Kimblee, then said, and I quote 'if you ever mention Winry and whore in the same sentence again I'll break more than just your jaw'."
Ed's eyes went dark as burnished gold.
"So, is Fuery right?" Mustang asked.
"He's right," Ed said flatly.
"But Brother, that's nothing to be ashamed of," Al cried. "You were defending Winry – no wonder you wouldn't apologise, if Kimblee said something like that – but if you would just explain, I'm sure-"
Al started. "No?"
"No." Ed shook his head. "If I explain, the whole thing'll come out. To everyone here, and that includes Winry. I don't want her knowing what that…that bastard…said about her."
"What happened," Roy asked, "And I want the full story. Tell me everything, there might be some way we can get you out of here without having the whole story come out."
Ed's eyes narrowed. "And if there isn't a way, you never tell anyone, got it? I do my time, and no one ever finds out what he said."
Al and Roy nodded, both knowing that agreeing to his condition was the only way Ed would ever tell them anything.
Apparently satisfied, Ed began. "Winry had finished with my arm, she was walking away down the corridor, and Kimblee was…looking at her. I swear, I could have punched him just for that look alone. It was so…dirty…I could practically see every sleazy thought crawling through his brain the way his stare crawled up her body."
Ed clenched his teeth, remembering the sick lust in Kimblee's eyes. Winry didn't deserved to be looked at like that, especially if she didn't know she was being looked at.
The young alchemist took a deep breath. "Then he looks at me and asks 'Is she a good fuck?'."
Ed felt a brief burst of satisfaction at both Mustang and Al's shocked look. Never mind that Al was a suit of armour, with the younger Elric, you always just seemed to know.
"The way he said it," Ed seethed, "Like that was all she was good for. I mean, forget the fact that she's an intelligent human being; in his eyes she was just…just a warm body."
Ed spat the words as though they were poisonous. And Mustang could imagine that, to him, that was exactly what they had been.
"And then he called her a whore," Ed continued. "And that's when I…"
"Hit him?" Roy supplied.
Ed nodded. "I just saw red. I smashed my automail into that stupid smirk – sort of fitting, you know? Something she'd made breaking his face…"
"And then Kimblee pressed charges," Roy finished.
"Yeah." Ed blew out a huge gust of air.
"Don't worry, Al," Ed sighed. "It's only a couple of weeks, I'll serve the time."
"No, you won't!"
Everyone whipped around. Winry was standing in the doorway, a bundle of screws clutched in one hand. Roy sighed, Al made a sound half-way between a gasp and a yelp, and Ed bit back a curse. Dammit, the whole point of staying in the dank cell was so Winry would never know what Kimblee said about her.
"The door was open…I couldn't help overhearing…" Winry took a deep breath, "You have to tell them, Ed. Don't keep quiet on my account. Maybe they'll grant you extenuating circumstances or something…"
"No!" Ed yelled, dimly registering that Al and Mustang were quietly slinking out past Winry. "No! I won't stand in front of some council and repeat what he said-"
"Was it really so bad?" Winry asked, even as she fought down a burn of humiliation as she remembered what she'd overheard.
Ed's eyes shifted to the side, and it hit Winry like a bolt of lightning. There had been more.
She approached slowly until she was directly in front of Ed, blocked from moving closer by the bars. "There was more?"
Ed turned his head to the side, and Winry knew she was right. She reached through the bars and snagged his hand, holding it tighter when she felt him tense.
Ed gritted his teeth. He always had a hard time resisting the voice.
"Ed, if he was talking about me…I have a right to know."
Hard to resist Winry's logic too.
Winry knew she'd won when his hand relaxed, and his fingers slipped through hers. But he still didn't look at her as he spoke.
"Okay, so I cut a bit out," Ed admitted. "He…well, he…"
"He asked if I was a good fuck," Winry supplied, cheeks going pink again.
Ed flinched as though cut with a whip. "Yeah…and then he…"
"Called me a whore?" Winry supplied, sensing Ed was going to need a lot of prompting to get him to talk this through with her.
Another flinch. "Yeah, but he…went a little further than that."
Winry waited, giving his hand an encouraging squeeze.
"I told him not to call you that…and he asked me…"
Another pause. Winry restrained a sigh of exasperation. She didn't know why Ed was taking this so badly – sure, the words were humiliating, but that's all they were, right? Just words. She was tempted to drag him around to look her in the eyes, but if he felt more comfortable this way, she'd let him keep looking at the floor.
"He asked me…wasn't that what you were? Wasn't that how I treated you? He said that a…a whore…was someone you called up to…to take care of you…and then paid to go away. He said…you don't pay a whore to come to you…you pay them to…to leave. A whore is someone you pay to…to have them do what you want and you don't…don't have to talk to them and you send them away as soon as you're done with them…"
At first, Winry was confused. Sure, it was a pretty nasty insult, but why had it got to Ed so badly? But then she heard it – the faint tone of guilt and recrimination in his voice, growing stronger the longer he spoke.
And she realised. Did Ed think that Kimblee was right…did he think he really had been treating her like a whore?
"Ed," she interrupted, "You don't think he was right, do you?"
Silence, but she felt the shift in Ed's stance as he prepared to pull away from her. Winry had her answer – he did think he was treating her like that.
She dropped the screw set to the floor, her now-free hand reaching through the bars to seize hold of his collar and yank him around. She leaned in until they were practically nose-to-nose, piercing blue eyes meeting guilty gold.
"Don't be an idiot," Winry growled, "Kimblee was just trying to get under your skin. Think about it for a minute; calling to have them do what you want, paying for services and sending them on their way? By that description, there's no distinction between a prostitute and a company executive. That could easily describe any legitimate tradesperson, mechanic included. And that's what I am, your mechanic."
The words hurt. She could admit (to herself, at least), that she wanted to be considered more than just his mechanic. She wanted to be a whole lot more. But this wasn't about her; this was about helping to erase some of Ed's guilt.
Strangely enough, Ed only seemed more upset at her words.
"But what? The way you treat me is a perfectly acceptable way to treat your mechanic, in fact, it's better – I doubt every customer would let me hit them with a wrench. And I suppose that's why you asked me if I was okay earlier, because of what he said, but that isn't needed, Ed. Really, I'm just a mechanic-"
"BUT YOU AREN'T JUST A MECHANIC TO ME!"
Ed could have kicked himself – he hadn't meant to say that much! But hearing Winry refer to herself as his mechanic, and nothing more…that hurt. Was that really what she thought? That he saw her as nothing more than a friendly tradeswoman?
Her grip on his collar had loosened in shock, and Ed took the opportunity to take a step back and turn his head away once more. But he couldn't bring himself to release her hand.
"Is…is that really what you think?" he muttered dully, "That you're just my mechanic?"
Winry sensed she was treading on thin ice, an area made tender by Kimblee's stinging words. "Well…sort of…" she admitted. "I mean, all those years ago, you just up and left without even saying goodbye, you never write or call except when you need work done, you never make a social visit, and when you come to Risembool you only stay long enough for repairs to be completed…I always just assumed…that you wanted…to move on."
Winry's eyes began to sting. She swallowed and blinked hard, trying to hold the tears at bay. It wasn't like she was one of those weak, weepy females – so why did she have to cry almost every time she saw Ed?
Ed, for his part, detected the slight hitch in Winry's breathing that told him she was fighting off tears. His stomach twisted, as it always did when she cried, and he scrambled desperately for something to say, something that would stave off the tears, that would prove to her that she was far more than just his mechanic…
As per usual, words deserted him. But something drove him to reach through the bars, cradle the back of Winry's neck in metal fingers, and pull her as close to the bars as he could as their lips met.
For a split second, Winry went perfectly still. Then she kissed him back, her own arm sliding through the bars for her fingers to reclaim his collar again. Their linked hands untangled at last, Ed's seeking Winry's waist as hers curved around his neck, trying to pull him closer.
The cell bars confounded their efforts, and eventually, the uncomfortable pressure of cold steel overcame their eagerness.
Slowly, Ed and Winry drew apart, each slightly out of breath. There was a short pause, a comfortable silence. Winry's fingers were toying with the end of Ed's braid, and his hands were stroking her back leisurely.
Winry sighed when his automail brushed the back of her neck. "I still have to do your automail."
Ed made a non-committal noise, more interested in the soft sounds she made when he traced the shell of her ear with his fingertips. He was disappointed when she stepped out of his range.
"Someone's sure to have the keys," Winry assured him. "One of the officers let me in last time, so if I can find him again-"
"No need," Ed snorted.
He clapped his hands and pressed them to the bars, using alchemy to warp and bend them until Winry could step through comfortably.
"You could have escaped at any time, why didn't you?" Winry asked as she stepped into the cell.
Ed shrugged. "Didn't see the point. All it would have gotten me was a punishment that didn't involve jail time. They could have restricted library access, and as long as I need the research, I need to play ball."
Winry hummed in agreement, already getting out her tools.
"Finished!" Winry crowed in triumph.
Ed grinned, curling his fingers and testing the joints. "Thanks, Winry."
"Now," Winry's eyes were serious. "You'll tell them what Kimblee said, won't you?"
Ed scowled. "No."
"What!" Winry was indignant. "Why not?"
"I don't want everyone knowing what he…what he said about you, alright?"
"Ed, I don't want you locked up in this cell for two weeks just because you felt some misguided impulse to defend my honour!"
"But thank you," she said as Ed opened his mouth to retort. "I do appreciate it."
She punctuated her words with a light kiss.
At least, it was meant to be light kiss. But Ed's arms wound around her as she began to pull away and pressed her to him urgently. They were able to get much closer without the bars in the way.
Gradually, the need for air asserted itself, and they drew back. Not by much though, only a couple of inches.
"Winry," Ed whispered, his face very close to hers, "I don't like even thinking about what Kimblee said, it makes me feel…I can't explain it, I just don't like it, okay? I don't want to stand in front of the military brass and tell them about it-"
"You won't have to," Mustang's voice rang out from behind them.
Ed froze, slowly turning around. Mustang and Al were in front of the cell, Mustang smirking broadly and Al chortling.
"Having fun, Fullmetal?" Mustang raised an elegant eyebrow.
Face flaming, Ed whirled around and stomped to the front of the cell. Her own cheeks feeling suspiciously warm, Winry followed. Ed helped her through the prominent hole in the bars, before clapping his hands and shifting them back into place.
"Brother, Winry…does this mean you're…?" Al was practically leaping up and down, he was so ecstatic.
Both nodded, their flushes darkening. While Mustang was generally the first to taunt Ed, he decided that he'd bide his time on this one. Maybe when he had more witnesses…
"Yes, well," he coughed. "We came down here for a reason."
"Major Edward Elric, the Fullmetal Alchemist," Mustang said, very formally. "The charges of aggravated assault against an officer have been formally dropped, and you are hereby released."
He produced a ring of jangling keys, and unlocked the door to Ed's cell.
"You could have told me you were gonna let me out before I put the bars back," he grumped.
"Brother!" Al admonished.
Ed gave an unrepentant huff. "So, how'd you get Kimblee to drop the charges?" His eyes narrowed in suspicion. "You didn't tell them what he said, did you?"
Mustang shook his head. "I simply told him that what he said about Miss Rockbell could easily be construed as slander and sexual harassment. I told him that unless the charges were dropped, he'd be the one charged in military court. We don't look too kindly on offences involving civilians, and since he's on probation in the first place…"
"He'd be out on his ear," Al finished. "So Kimblee dropped the charges."
"Technically speaking, isn't that blackmail?" Ed asked.
Winry stifled a chuckle as Mustang shrugged.
"Right," Ed nodded decisively, "So I'm out of detention. Winry?"
"Come with me." Ed snagged her hand, and began walking purposefully towards the door, ignoring Mustang's catcalls and Al's well-wishing as they left.
"Ed…where are we going?" Winry asked, having the presence of mind to pick up her tools as they left.
"First, you're going to drop your tools off at the room." Ed's voice was confident, but a light dusting of crimson across his cheeks betrayed his nerves. "Then you and I are going somewhere for dinner."
"You mean, like a…" Winry hardly dared to hope. "Like a date?"
Ed's blush spread. "Yeah, like a date."
A slight pause. "Does that make me your girlfriend?"
"I-I guess so," Ed stuttered.
He stopped in mid-stride, turning to look at her. "If…if that's alright with you…?"
Winry grinned, throwing her arms around Ed and kissing him swiftly.
"It's alright with me."