Author's Note: A quick edit; it seems some of my lines got lost, making this story's jarring plotline even more confusing. All fixed now!
It also should be said that while I'm borrowing an anime plot device in this particular chapter, the characters in this story are based around manga Ed and Winry. Yes, they are that different, if you've only seen the anime. It shouldn't matter if you've only seen the anime, but if your wondering why Winry is so WAY out of character, it's because your missing some details in the manga that make dark!Winry a little more believable.
An update, after months of silence. My apologies to you all. Hopefully you'll be pleased to hear that the chapter planning is all done; the plot is set, this story will be finished. As far as I've planned, there will be seven chapters in all, all much longer than the first two experimental chapters. Yes, longer chapters.
The chapters have been renamed. I wanted my chapter titles to be a little more elaborate, and it's good for my vocabulary. So thank you for waiting so very patiently, and here is Afterglow of Sound. Reviews are ever appreciated!
She opened her eyes slowly, the sunlight pouring in the window; making her squint. Blinking, she took in her surroundings, trying to make sense of where she was, and what had happened.
This is a bathroom, the blonde mechanic registered, staring at the bath and sink in her line of vision from her place on the ground. My bathroom, she decided when she saw a bloody razor sitting in the soap dish, left from her last bout of self medication.
She sat up, suddenly aware of a less than attractive smell. Vomit clung to her hair as she stood up, sticking to the back of her neck in an unpleasant manner.
That's right…I threw up last night. And passed out, apparently.
The girl stumbled over to the sink and stared at the huge bags under her eyes, head thumping from when she fainted and hit the floor. I'm never hitting Ed with a wrench again, she resolved, pressing her forehead to the cool mirror and wincing in pain.
Wait – Ed? Her eyes flicked open, and she remembered – he's here! She whirled around to stare at the locked door, heart racing as she recalled running from him and locking herself in her room.
Is…is he still here? The engineer clung to the rim of the sink behind her as she wondered what had happened since she had locked herself in the en suite and passed out. How long has it been? Hours? Days? What if he wasn't here anymore?
She ran to the door and hastily unlocked it, pushing on the handle and stumbling out of the bathroom as the lock mechanism gave way under her weight.
The sun was streaming into her bedroom, too. Mechanical instruments lay haphazardly around the room; wires draped her bedside table and a collection of bolts were scattered on the dresser, oil sitting by the perfume bottles.
More weird and strange then anything, you abnormal kid.
But she didn't have long to dwell on that memory, because there was a pattering of paws – and she inhaled sharply as Den jumped off her bed and padded towards her, the odd clink sounding when her artificial leg hit the wooden floor.
"Den!" the girl cried joyfully, and the dog wagged her tail, equally enthusiastic. "Did you sleep in here last night?"
She licked at the stale sweat on her face in response, and she took the action as a sign to go freshen up. Den followed her back to the en suite, and as their shadows stretched out behind them under the glare of the radiant light beaming through the windows, the blonde girl reflected on how brightly the sun seemed to be shining, as if somehow this day was set apart from the rest, and was destined to become something truly wonderful and different.
She unlocked her bedroom door hesitantly, Den's presence giving her courage as she made her way out of her room and down the stairs. There is talking, and sounds of movement – somebody was definitely home, at least.
But it still came as a shock when she walked into the kitchen and saw a small granny instead of a small alchemist, the older woman making clangs and crashes as she pulled jars and tins out of the pantry, muttering to herself.
The blonde mechanic's mouth fell open in shock. "Gr-granny?" It has to be a dream!
"Honestly Winry, this place is a mess!" the small woman barked in reply, and her granddaughter shrunk back a bit at the reaction.
The older woman extracted herself from the cupboard and glared at her. "What have you been eating? Half of this food is rock solid; it's totally inedible. And that's only the cupboard," she said as she slammed the pantry door, "who knows what's hiding under the sink."
It was all too much. The younger girl grabbed the bench ledge for support as her knees nearly gave way from shock. "Granny," she started again, looking at the woman with an almost scared expression on her face. "How are you here?"
The older lady sighed and put the jar she was holding down. "Well…I wasn't going to stay away forever, you know." Pinako looked the girl squarely in the eye. "Did you really think I would do that to you?"
The blonde girl looked away and stared at her fingernails, a shamed blush curling across her face.
She couldn't live like this. If there was a next time, she wasn't going to hesitate.
The girl laughed, scattering the silence like a flock of birds taking flight, and jumped from her place beside the window to her bed, the springs on her mattress cracking under the sudden weight.
"Ah…" she sighed, putting her fingers to her forehead as her mind spun wildly. Why was her situation so messed up? Ed was nothing but a ghost of a memory, and she was back in Rizembool for some lame-or-other reason. In Rush Valley at least, there was always something to be entertained by, always something to do - but here, here in this slow, slow country…nothing.
The mechanic laughed again, but this time her mirth was humorless, merely expelling some of the frustrated tension that was coursing through her wired body.
"Life is such a bitch," the girl said aloud, staring at her bedroom ceiling, and then at the sleeping dog on her bed. "Isn't that right, Den?" she cooed, and the canine rolled over in her sleep in reply.
The blonde girl jumped off the bed. "There's gotta be something to do around here," she thought aloud, hands on her hips as she surveyed her room for inspiration.
"Oh, Winry," the old woman sighed, as the young mechanic avoided her gaze. "It's all in the past now, alright? Let's move on," The old mechanic put her hands on her hips as she gazed at her granddaughter. "You don't look at all healthy with that depressed, weary look about you."
The girl looked up, hardly daring to believe that this all too abrupt and easy act of forgiveness was real, and her grandmother patted her on the back as she broke down into tears of relief.
The rest of the day went swimmingly. Together they made apple pie, Granny correcting her when she put in too much baking powder, and nitpicking her pastry consistency; they tidied up the house and the workshop, and in the afternoon customer after customer came to get maintenance and repairs. The old woman scolded her all day for not studying any medical or automail theory since she had left Rush Valley, and the smile on the blonde girl's face just grew bigger and bigger. To top off everything Paninya rang in the evening to tell Winry about a new hand model with a much higher dexterity rating then anything else on the market, and Granny made fish for dinner. This day is perfect, she thought, and the sun continued, oddly, to shine brightly as it set and night started to fall.
The mechanic walked into the kitchen with Den in tow, and admired how clean it looked after Granny had cleaned it in the morning.
"Have you been letting that dog sleep on your bed again, Winry?" Pinako asked as she rummaged around for the salt in the cupboard. "There's hair everywhere on your-"
"Granny." The girl cut across the grandmother's words, troubled. "Why have you only set two plates out?"
The older woman turned to where Winry was looking. "You mean on the table? Is there someone else coming for dinner?"
The blonde girl shook her head. "No, not like a customer or anything, I mean – what about Ed?"
The old woman stared at her blankly. "What about him?"
Den whined a little as Winry jabbed at the table angrily. "His plate, Granny! I'll go get another chair," she dismissed, making for the corridor.
But the older woman replied before she could leave the room. "Winry, Edward's not here." she said quietly.
The small sound of the fish frying in the pan crashed around the silent room as the girl stopped and looked at her, confused. "Uh…he is here, Granny. He turned up yesterday morning." A ripple of anger swept through her as Pinako shook her head at her sympathetically. "He's here, Granny! His arm's screwed, he needs new sensitivity wires and he can't move three of his finge – don't look at me like that!" she screeched, loosing her temper as the woman failed to understand.
"Winry, we don't know where Ed is, remember? Or Alphonse, for-"
The young mechanic put her hands over her ears. "No! He's here; he's really here Granny, why don't you get it?" The lamp flickered over their heads as the ground shook slightly, but Winry barely noticed – she realized how she could show the older woman the truth.
She ran upstairs, into her room and onto the balcony, fumbling for the switch on the light she kept up there now purely for sentimental value.
Flick. Light. Flick. Off again.
She hit the switch desperately, straining her eyes over the fields for a sign that the alchemist would come back from wherever he was (He can't be far, I know it, he was here this morning! I know I'm right!), and show the older woman that he was really home.
She could hear footsteps – Granny was catching up with her, and the girl flicked the light switch quicker, growing panicky as she ran out of time.
Flick. Flick. Light. Light.
Her pupils grew bigger and smaller again as she stared at the bulb in the lamp. The footsteps became louder, and she felt total fear and numbing desperation. Then there was a crash, her eyes rolled up into her head, and her vision blacked out as she fell.
Splash. She felt the cold water run down her face and neck, and the mechanic's eyes flew open, the liquid running into her eyes and blurring her vision.
There was a dull thud as someone fell to the ground beside her, and she felt her shoulders being grabbed roughly and pulled up to a half-sitting position. She blinked as someone clicked in her face; and blinked again when somebody wrapped their arms around her shoulders in an awkward embrace.
The first thing she noticed as how much her head hurt, and then the blonde girl realized that the person who had thrown water into her face and had her in a clumsy hold was Ed.
She swallowed and felt phlegm travel back down her throat; she saw the sink with the razor in the soap dish and understood.
"It," the girl said hoarsely, "was a hallucination, wasn't it?"
She felt him swallow as well; her temple against his throat.
"You hit your head," the alchemist said apologetically, equally hoarse, and her headache magnified as she was ripped back to the reality, and recounted what aspects of her wistful dream were in the past: destroyed, or out of her reach.
She could have turned around to see the kicked down bathroom door and her sparse bedroom, ransacked of all its automail tools and pieces, but she knew what it looked like anyway. Reaching up to curl her hands around the alchemist's shoulders in an attempt to reciprocate, she winced as her head ached, and as she felt Ed's remaining working artificial fingers on her back as he tried to hold her properly, it almost made her want to cry.