Title: Rhythm


Summary: A poetic look at Ed's social failings, Al's limited patience, and Winry's culinary prowess. Short, Cute, Fluffy EdWin.


Disclaimer: Not mine.


I'm standing, listening.

Ed's fingers a-tap-tap-tapping at the kitchen table,

A tap-tap-tapping a tune to a beat in his head on the kitchen table,

And the kettle blowing,

long and

soft and

sweet.

Steam rising and disappearing.

(a-tap-tap-tapping his fingers at the kitchen table)

And the clink!

Then the clink!

Of silverware

And the clatter and scrape of chairs

'cross the wooden floor.

Spring breeze a sigh of air in our ears.

Ed looses rhythm as a cat

Scoots by his foot

Ed stops his beat, whispers a silent curse in a strange language ("Schieze!") and

Then he's a-tap-tap-tapping again, leg bouncing in sync with the tune.

Leg bouncing in sync with the tune he's

Tapping,

Rapping,

Then slapping

'gainst my kitchen table.

Al enters: footfalls his introduction.

Catches Ed's tune with his feet, picks up the rhythm, whips out a strange instrument (he it calls a harmonica) he brought back from the other world (that Germany place) and plays.

He rasps out a tune on that shiny slice of metal,

Ed a rap-tap-tapping,

My silverware and porcelain

Clink clinking

The steam whispers soft hisses, the breeze a sigh,

(what's now) my kitchen alive with noise…


Cheesily understated was the way Ed and Al came home.

Ed stood there at the door, knocked, said Hey Win, guess what?

I said, Ed! Oh Ed, you're home!

Al said, Hey! What about me!

I said, Al, oh Al, look at you! You're so big!

Ed said, HEY! I GREW TOO!

I raise my eyebrow at him, he blushes, I rush and hug them, eyes shinning brightly in the cool September air.

Wet splashes on my cheeks (theirs too, but I wasn't going to say anything).

I take them back inside, feed them because Holy Lord are they ever thin, and fix up two of the operating beds in Granny's old room, give them thick blankets, soft pillows and smiles, they yawn, and then sleep.


In the morning, Ed's up early with coffee made, table set for breakfast and an apology.

Sorry Win, he said, I'm shit at cooking.

I laugh and throw some eggs in a pan.

Breakfast is ready, Al is awake and sitting with us, and they tell me 'bout where they went. That Germany place.

Pretty much, Win, its hell over there, says Al, cheeks a-blushing in the chill of the morning.

Somber mood, then he smiles as he says, Boy am I glad to be home.

I blush too, look down, say, Boy am I glad you're back.

Ed's face is serious, looking at me.


We clean up, Al washing dishes, Ed sitting, frowning, because his strange new automail is, he says, Nothing compared to yours, Win.

It can't get wet.

I'm wiping dishes and setting them down when Al starts up a-whistling.

Ed perks up and joins in.

And before I know it I'm laughing and whistling right along with them.


Al leaves later.

We need milk, he says, glaring accusingly at Ed.

Ed doesn't like milk, he couldn't have finished it, I say.

Al blinks, then laughs, but leaves.

Shares a look with Ed as he closes the door.

Ed yells, You can't make me!

Al yells back, No, and I shouldn't have to!

I say, All this about milk?

Ed says, Al is an idiot.


Ed is sick after I screw his new automail into place.

Leans over the side of the bed, spits the contents of his stomach in a bucket Al holds for him.

Ed's stomach was empty.

I frown, look at Al.

Ed stops heaving, thuds back on the bed, opens his mouth to say something, but I pass a chemical sodden rag under his nose and the fumes knock him out.

Al says, Was that necessary?

I say, Ed's body needs time to adjust. He'd just keep getting sick. You and I both know he wouldn't rest even if we tied him to the bed.

Al nods, understands, and says, Brother's tolerance for pain has gone down because in the other world they have stuff that will put him to sleep when they reconnect the prosthetic limb and the port.

I say, Really?

He says, I know how to make it, but I don't know where to get all the ingredients. Ed would never go for it anyway. He wants you to think he's strong.

My heart thumps.

I say, I do.


We go outside afterward.

Al plays his instrument for me on the porch.

I tap my feet but they are rhythm-less and leaden.

Al says, Why so down, Winry?

I smile, then say, I'm tired. Surgery can do that to a girl, you know?

I lay down on the bench swing.

Ed transmuted it out of wood laying in the yard.

Made the chain and the hooks out of scrap metal.

Al keeps playing, tune changed.

Bittersweet notes.

I listen, no longer try to help out the tune with my tapping.

I sleep.


Wake up in my own bed, hope that it was Al who moved me there.

Worry because I'm sure it was Ed.

Ed shouldn't be out of bed yet.

Go downstairs to fix breakfast, find last night's dishes undone in the sink.

Al passed out on the couch, a strange kitten curled up on his stomach, book across his chest.

Walk to Ed's room and find him awake, staring out at the gray-blue morning sky.

I say, Good morning Ed.

Ed says nothing.

Lips pursed thin. He's mad.

I frown, look down, say, Ed, I'm sorry. I had to.

Ed glares me.

I leave the room.

Fix breakfast, knife slamming onto the wooden breadboard as I chop melon for fruit salad.

Al wakes up, helps with breakfast, checks on Ed, comes back stony-faced.

I fix Ed some food, leave it on the counter while Al and I fix bowls for ourselves.

We bring it all upstairs and eat with Ed.

Tense.

Then I tap my foot to some shaky beat, Al hums some tune or another.

Clash of silverware against the bowl,

And squish of fruit between teeth,

My foot a rap-tap-tapping the wooden floor,

Wind through the window a rush of crisp air.

Ed scowls as he stuffs a piece of grape in his mouth.

Al hums on, starts to thump out a rhythm on the arm of his chair.

Wind blows a picture frame into soft clacks against the wall.

Bird in the yard, at first a silent witness, joins in, raucous cawing adding an air of hilarity.

Ed, still mad, hums a bit.

I laugh, beat falls apart, Al says, Winry you ruined it!

I keep laughing, embarrassed.

Al laughs too.

I look up.

Ed has a soft look on his face.

He quickly replaces it with a frown.

I offer him the last of my strawberries.


Ed gets better by the end of the day.

Comes downstairs for dinner.

Eats with us.

Even offers to do the dishes.

I tell him to leave them.

Tell him to do them tomorrow.

Grab his arm, grab a blanket, grab Al, go outside.

We stargaze, Ed's head resting on my stomach, Al's new kitten resting on his.

Ed says, Shieze (he drags out the word), they're beautiful aren't they?

Al says, Yeah, look at that red one.

I say, Where? There?

I point.

He says, No, there.

Ed says, I see it.

I say, Where? Where is it?

Ed says, Right there Win, next to the one that's really bright.

I say, Oh yeah, ok, I see it.

Al says, On earth that star is Mars.

I say, Where's earth?

Ed says softly, Through the gate.

I say, Is it in Germany?

They laugh.

Al says, No, Germany is on Earth. Earth is the planet. Germany is a country.

I say, Oh.

Ed says, In earth mythology, Mars is also a god. He's god of war.

I say, Is that god real?

They're silent.

Then Ed says, Sure seemed like it.


Al says, next afternoon, We need more milk.

I look at him.

No we don't, I say. We got some a few days ago.

Al takes an empty bottle out of the ice box and shakes it.

No sound but a timid splash.

I frown.

I say, Who's drinking all the milk?

Al's kitten disappears 'round the corner of the kitchen into the hall.

Al grins.

Ed is reading on the couch.

He shakes his head.

You hear that brother, Al says. I'm gonna go get some more milk now.

Ed frowns.

Closes his book.

Glares at Al.

Al says, Yup, just gonna go get milk.

Ed says, Ok.

Al says, Just me, gonna go get milk. All alone. By myself. Leaving you here. You and Winry. Me leaving just you an-

Ed says, Alright Al I get it.

I say, You guys are weird.

Al says, No, brother is the weird one.

Ed says, Me? I'm not the one who snuck kittens in my armor.

Al says, Well, I'm not the one who-

Ed interrupts, says, Good bye Al.

Al rolls his eyes, says, Goodbye brother.

Al leaves.

Ed picks up his book.

Starts to read.

I say, What was that all about?

Ed says, Al's an idiot.


Al's gone a long time, but Ed's not worried.

I try not to worry either.

Lay down next to Ed on the couch.

He carefully wraps his flesh arm around my shoulders.

Keeps reading.

I nap.


Dinner is ready when Al comes home.

He never brought back milk.

I ask him what happened.

He glares at Ed, who looks away guiltily.

Al says, Guess I forgot.

He doesn't look me in the eye.

Ed goes to bed early.

Al tells me not worry about cleaning up the kitchen.

He says, don't worry. I got it.

I nod, go to bed.

Think of Ed's arm around me while I bathe.

My heart flutters.


Next morning, Ed made a disaster of the kitchen.

He also made breakfast.

We throw the burnt mess away, start over.

Ed laughs about it.

Says, That's why I always let you cook Win.

His eyes shine and he smiles softly at me.

I roll my eyes at him, grin, say, Let me show you how it's done, newbie.

I stand at the stove.

Put the tea kettle on.

Scramble some eggs.

Ed starts a rhythm on the table.

I'm standing, listening.

Ed's fingers a-tap-tap-tapping at the kitchen table,

A tap-tap-tapping a tune to a beat in his head on the kitchen table,

And the kettle blowing,

long and

soft and

sweet.

Steam rising and disappearing.

(a tap-tap-tapping his fingers at the kitchen table)

And the clink!

Then the clink!

Of silverware

And the clatter and scrape of chairs

'cross the wooden floor.

Spring breeze a sigh of air in our ears.

Ed looses rhythm as a cat

Scoots by his foot

Ed stops his beat, whispers a silent curse in a strange language ("Schieze!") and

Then he's a-tap-tap-tapping again, leg bouncing in sync with the tune.

Leg bouncing in sync with the tune he's

tapping,

rapping,

then slapping

'gainst my kitchen table.

Al enters: footfalls his introduction.

Catches Ed's tune with his feet, picks up the rhythm, whips out that strange instrument (he it calls a harmonica) that he brought back from the other world (that Germany place) and plays.

He rasps out a tune on that shiny slice of metal,

Ed a rap-tap-tapping,

My silverware and porcelain

Clink clinking

The steam whispers soft hisses, the breeze a sigh,

(what's now) my kitchen alive with noise.


Breakfast is excellent that morning.


Al tries to leave again to get milk that afternoon.

I get mad.

I say, What's going on here?

Ed shakes his head.

He says, Al is being an idiot.

Al rolls his eyes.

He says, Me? The idiot?

His blonde eyebrows meet his hairline.

Ed looks away.

Al turns to me, says, Look Winry, Ed wants to-

Al!, says Ed anxiously.

Brother, you said you would-, starts Al.

And I will I just-, says Ed.

Then do it already!, says Al.

I'm just waiting for the right time!, says Ed.

Al says, Ed, in two days we have to leave for Central-

I say, What!?

Ed says, Shut up, ok, Al?!

Heavy weight sits on my shoulders.

They're leaving me?

Al walks out.

Slams the door behind him.

I say, What does he mean you have to leave for Central in two days?

He says, Listen Win, it's not like that!

I say, You're leaving again?

He says, No! No we're not! I mean, technically yes, but-

I say, Cut the crap Ed, what's REALLY going on here?

Ed says, Come with us!

I say, What?! No way! Ed, how can you expect me to just leave the shop and all my tools? People need me here, Ed how can you expect me to-

Ed says, I don't, it's only for the weekend! You'd come back to-

I say, Are you coming back with me?

Ed swallows, says, No, but-

My heart is in my throat.

Ed looks frightened.

He says, Don't cry Win, please don't cry.

I say, I'm not gonna cry!

He says, Winry-

I say, Don't you like it here?

He says, I love it here!

I say, Then why are you leaving?!

He says, Winry, you don't understand!

OBVIOUSLY NOT, EDWARD, SO EXPLAIN!, I say.

I start crying.

Ed moves toward me, but a quick glare stops him.

He swallows, then pulls me into his arms.

This isn't how I imagined this conversation going at all, he says.

I hold onto him.

I say, Don't leave me Ed. Don't leave me again.

He says, Winry, please, come with me.

I say, Ed! That's impossible, the shop-

He says, Winry, I've got a house in central.

I sob.

It's really big, he says.

I say, You're leaving me for a house?!

He says, It's got a store front on Main Street. A lot of square footage. Big basement.

I say, sarcastically, Well, I'm glad it's not just any old house.

The closing on the deal is four days from now. I bought it straight out, He says.

Edward-, I start.

No. no. Listen Winry, He says.

There's not a single good automail mechanic in Central.

We sure could use one.

What…?, I say.

Perfect place to start a shop, He continues.

You'll have the monopoly in no time.

I pull out of his arms.

Stare at him.

Are you asking me to move my shop to Central?, I say.

Ed sighs, frustrated.

He says, Yes, well no, yes but also-

You're hopeless brother, a voice quips from the window over the sink.

Al's face floats there.

Al, get out of here!, says Ed.

Al rolls his eyes.

Al says, Winry, please catch on to my brother's rambling and put him out of his misery.

Ed blushes scarlet.

Al disappears from the window, shaking his head as he trudges away.

So Al hasn't been going to get milk these past few days?, I say.

No, but that's not important right now, Ed says.

What is important is that you- well, I have everything you need and Winry, I'd like it if you would- the military gives me a good salary, and you could open your store, and Al will live there with us until he-only if you want him to though- Winry, you'd make me a very happy man if you'd-

Spit it out already!, Al's distant voice calls.

Ed's blush intensifies.

Marry me, Win?, he says.

My heart beats languidly in my chest.

Thu-thump

Thu-thump

Thu-thump

Tree branch scratches the window

Ed's soft breathing

Slow Plink-plunk of the leaking faucet in the kitchen

Thu-thump.

I swallow. Breathe.

Say to him, Yes.


-END-
A/N: Shieze- german for shit