Cold Yet Burning, Like Ice

D M Evans

Disclaimer - not mine, all characters belong to Hiromu Arakawa et al, Square Enix and funimition. I don't make a profit

Rating – PG-13

Time Line/Spoilers – yeah set within the last pages of #69, so spoilers up to there. Manga verse

Pairing – implied Ed/Winry

Summary – Ed feels control slipping away from him as the Fuhrer's boot comes down on his neck.

Author's Note – Written for evillittledog's birthday. Hope you like. Thanks to Mjules for the beta

He had called her a moron. What kind of idiot was he to say something that harsh? Yes, Al had panicked as well when they saw Winry on the other side of the bars to their Briggsian prison, but he was still kinder to her than Ed had been. Anger and confusion warred in Winry's pretty blue eyes. Ed watched Winry deflating when she received a frigid – no, hot, boiling, ugly – greeting from the brothers. The joy she had entered the room with had drained out of her visibly, leaving behind hurt enough to fill the hole Sloth had made.

Ed hated that he constantly made Winry ache, absolutely despised it, and yet he hurt her time and again. All he wanted was to keep her safe. There were very few things of importance to him and both of them were in this room; one as frightened as Ed was and the other confused and growing nervous. Why couldn't he keep them safe? Was it too much to ask?

Wanting to scream, all Ed could do was clench the bars, willing his rage into them. He wanted to warn her away from Kimbley, to drag her away bodily and protect her. From Hawkeye's descriptions he knew damn well that all the Crimson Alchemist needed to kill Winry was to touch his palms together, palms that rested so proprietarily on Winry's shoulders. She would be dead before he or Al could stop him. Did that nutcase general who ran this frigid hell know the danger this man represented? Probably but Ed was even less sure of Olivia Armstrong than he was of Kimbley. He figured the alchemist would be easier to predict.

In a lightning strike, with the smarmy words tumbling from Kimbley's mouth in his oh-so-obviously faked concern, Ed saw the error of his ways. He had thought he could protect Winry by shutting her out, that if he built enough walls no one could ever hurt her. He should have told her everything, all the dangerous stuff he and Al were involved in from the moment Bradley had leashed him with veiled threats against her. How naïve and stupid he had been! He thought he was shielding her from danger when all he did was put blinders on Winry. She hadn't seen the peril. Catching Winry, making her into a pawn, had been all too easy. She didn't know to mistrust the military. She had no idea how dangerous the man pawing her shoulders was. If he had only told her…

Ed could almost feel her confusion building as she stood outside his cell, shivering in spite of her woolen hose. Didn't she have pants outside of her work clothes? Even her very choice in clothing failed to protect Winry properly. His harsh words to her had to seem groundless to the poor girl because neither he nor Al had prepared her for the things that might come to haunt them. Hell, he hadn't even really explained the homunculi properly. What would he have done if Ling had gone back for her? The young man had flirted with Winry, enough that Edward had been jealous. Ling had wanted her but he had been honorable. Greed wouldn't be. He could have lost Winry to the boy. Ling/Greed might have been able to talk her into anything, tossing her aside when he was done, if she were lucky. The fact that Bradley hadn't sent Greed after her might mean he didn't know that Ling had had feelings for her. One lucky strike for my side, he thought bitterly.

'The Fuhrer was dreadfully worried about you two,' words of damnation. Winry was right where Bradley wanted her, in the hands of someone Ed wasn't entirely sure was sane. Crimson, Strongarm, Flame, some of the strongest alchemists in Amestris, had brought Ishbal to heel. Ed hadn't realized how lucky he was to have two of them on his side until now. Looking into Crimson's dark eyes, Ed knew the gamble to come north had been a bad one. He couldn't let Winry pay the price for him but he didn't know how to extract her from this.

A sudden wave of pity and understanding for Mustang nearly knocked Ed back away from the bars, a sheen of sweat breaking out in spite of the freezing air. He had always been so disdainful towards his commanding officer, mostly Ed told himself, because of how rude he thought Mustang was, especially that first day when the older man had spent a long time screaming at him and all he could do was hunch in his wheelchair. Now Ed was beginning to see one thing and it didn't sit well. Maybe he didn't like Mustang because he was just like him and now he shared Mustang's fate. Flame had lost the woman most important to him to Bradley, Hawkeye neatly corralled as the Fuhrer's aide.

And now Ed had lost the girl he realized far too late that he loved. One wrong move and Ed didn't doubt Kimbley would kill Winry. So long as Hawkeye and Winry were controlled, he and Mustang were helpless, only he was worse off. Hawkeye was military. She was damn tough and Ed suspected she could get herself out of the trouble she was in. Because she knows the dangers but Winry doesn't thanks to you, idiot. Winry was strong and capable but she didn't know what she had delivered herself into.

Powerless to warn her now, Ed could do nothing more than grimace at Kimbley, shivering as his sweat nearly froze on his skin. He was down but he wasn't out yet. Looking back at his brother, Ed could almost see Al thinking the same thing. If they got her out of this, Ed would tell her everything, including about how he felt. What did it matter now? Their enemies knew so why not the girl he loved? Glancing back at Al again and Ed remembered one of the reasons why he never told Winry. He couldn't help Al. He couldn't help Winry. He couldn't even help himself. Ed was frozen.