I apologize for the lateness of this chapter. It was a bizarre writing experience because and I just got a new puppy who takes up a lot of my attention. I also apologize if the ending was a bit abrupt. I was starting to feel the chapter drag on and I didn't want that. But I kind of like this one. It gets me wanting to write more. Isn't that a good thing? And if you want me to write more PESTER ME. That's how I get things done…seriously.
Chapter 10: Whether Awake or Asleep
If one of wishes could come true…
By the time Edward awoke, hours had passed. He was clean and dry and tucked tightly in bed. He felt hot and dizzy but well enough to sit up and look around and so he did. There, with her head resting on the bed and her body twisted in strange position on the floor was Winry, sound asleep. Smiling softly he glanced around the room and noticed that it seemed brighter, assuming it was close to dawn. Placing his hand atop her head Winry stirred and slowly opened her eyes. Glancing up at Edward she grinned.
"You're awake." She noticed with a yawn. Lifting her head, she made a strange face and stretched.
"And I feel like crap." He admitted, letting his hand play with her hair, twisting it and making it quite a mess. She let him do so.
"It's your own fault. All for the silly flower Ed…what were you thinking?" She couldn't help the smile though. He was an idiot, and she knew that. But she loved him all the same so in her head, at this very moment, it was okay.
"All I could think of was that you'd be sad…" He frowned deeply and felt his over-all body temperature grow increasingly warmer. "I'd be pissed at myself." He was being completely honest but Winry gave him a face like he was full of it. She shook her head and sighed.
"You didn't have to make yourself sick over it." She finally pushed his hand away and moved up off the floor and sat on the bed. She leaned back on the bed board and Edward let his head fall to her shoulder. She smiled.
"I'm probably gonna catch whatever you have now." She didn't mind though, yet she wouldn't tell him that.
"You can't catch stupid." Edward told her straightly. Winry laughed. He knew just how dumb he was to go running around outside in the rain and felt comfortable enough, for just that one moment, to make fun of himself. But with his joke the moment passed and he moved on.
Slipping his head back down to the pillow he looked up at Winry who was smiling to herself and called out to her.
"Hey?" He questioned, turning over on his side. He propped up his head with his hand and Winry turned her eyes towards his own.
"Yes?" She asked in return. Her smile seemed unending and her eyes were bright despite the early hours.
"Where's Al?" He wondered as he glanced over at his bed. He noticed it was empty the moment he sat up before.
"Ah." Winry nodded, "He said "I refuse to sleep in the same room as my stupid, older brother." Winry mimicked as she held up on finger to show how deeply serious Alphonse was when he said this to her. She looked down at Edward who was slightly frowning at her words. So Alphonse was still mad? That wasn't good.
She nudged his shoulder and shook her head. "Don't look so down. Right after he said that he offered to look out for you tonight. I told him I'd do it. It was my fault you did what you did anyway, right?" She gave a quiet laugh then sighed. "But I fell asleep, some look-out huh?"
Edward gave her a serious look before he cracked a smile, "The best." He couldn't help to say, and Winry still thought he was telling jokes.
They were quiet for a moment but the silence was welcomed rather then something to be avoided. It was just the two of them, enjoying one another's company in the early hours of dawn. After a few fleeting minutes Edward let his head fall away from his hand and he sighed.
"Tell me a story." He ordered with lightness in his voice. Winry's eyes found his in disbelief; an unsure smile struck her face.
"…A story?" She wondered aloud to herself, "What about?" She asked him. Somehow this didn't seem fair.
"Anything, I don't really care." He told her lazily. He mumbled something, turned over on his side, then gently closed his eyes. "I just want to hear you talk, okay?" He wanted to be a bit meaner when he spoke this, but he felt so drained in that one instant that it managed to come out rather sweet.
Winry made a gentle face and gazed out the window as her mind raced with an idea. She supposed it would just have to come off the top of her head. Oh well…he'd probably fall asleep before she got too far anyway.
"Umm, well all right." Winry started slowly. She took a quick breath in before she began speaking then laughed. "I'm no good at story telling but here it goes…so once upon a time there was a beautiful princess."
Before she could get any farther Edward interrupted her, "A princess? That's the best you could do?" He glanced up quickly but when he caught the sight of Winry's withering stare he somehow lost his reason to complain.
"Like I was saying, there was a beautiful princess. This princess was the daughter of the king and queen of…of…" She thought for a moment before she continued, finding herself pleased with the idea. "The king and queen of machine land! It was a wonderful kingdom full of gears and wrenches and automail!" She grinned and for a minute fell into her own personal fairytale…that was until Edward nudged her awake. She looked down at him then laughed to herself.
Apologizing she moved on. "And far, far away, on the other side of the land was the Kingdom of…of…magic!"
"Magic?" Edward laughed and rolled his eyes, "If you got automail couldn't you have said alchemy?" He was being completely serious though the conversation was completely childish.
"Hey, this is my story!" She haughtily replied, "And I say it's magic, so anyway…in this kingdom the king and queen had a handsome son, the prince, of course..." She told Edward straightly, she glanced down and smiled softly and he suddenly had an idea about where all this was going. "He was very handsome as I said…golden hair and eyes…"
Edward smiled wider.
"And he was tall with a gentle face."
"Hey, hey, hey!" Edward interrupted half asleep, "That sounds like Al…" Though he could hardly tell what was going on…he was still irritated by that for some reason. If Winry was the princess then he most certainly wanted to be…
"Shh, that's enough let me finish. He was very kind but he needed to find someone to be his queen due to the fact his parents wanted to take a step back and enjoy the reminder of their lives together." Winry tapped her chin and glanced down at Edward for a moment, his eyes were glazed with sleep and she wasn't sure if she was happy or upset about that.
"So the Prince sent his loyal knight all across the land to search for a suitable bride. So the knight went off in search of all the neighboring Kingdoms and when ever he'd find a girl good enough for the Prince he'd personally escort her back to the Land of Magic." She nodded then glanced down again at Edward whose eyes were shut. She decided to go on with the story, maybe more for herself then for him.
"It took a very long time but the knight finally reached the Land of Machines and met with the King and Queen in order to be introduced to their daughter. But when the knight met the Princess he was not impressed…" She sighed, letting out a bit of self-conscious doubts with her story now. "Her hair was pulled back in a tight, simple ponytail and she was covered head to toe in grease." That little bit made herself smile though. Edward rolled over and let his head nuzzle into her lap. She grinned wide and played mindlessly with his lose hair.
"But when she heard that the Prince was looking for a bride she begged the knight to go- not because she was looking for a husband…no that wasn't it. It was because she wanted to travel, even if the end result would be fruitless, and there was just something about this young knight... The knight, who despite being rather cold on the outside, was the warmest of souls on the inside and agreed to take the young Princess away."
"As he should do it right…" Edward mumbled nonsense as he turned away from her lap towards the end of the bed. Winry reached for his warm hand as she went on.
"But the journey back to the Land of Magic was far, the path to his home was blocked by hardships and fierce battles. And yet the entire way, the valiant knight protected the Princess from all the danger that threatened to harm her, even if he did stupid things that made her worry and cry…and because of that the Princess fell for the knight." Winry felt her voice break with emotion she didn't mean to let free. "Though his eyes were sharp and his face was rough…she didn't care…" She gripped his hand tighter. "She loved him all the same."
Edward rolled over again and whispered something in his sleep that Winry's ears could actually catch. Her eyes widened for a moment before then softened and she noticed Edward was well into a deep sleep. And so, leaning over to give a quick kiss to his forehead, she left him to sleep off his fever.
When she reached the bottom of the stair she noticed the wide awake Alphonse seated on one of the living room chairs. She silently moved over towards him and sat down on the arm of the chair. He looked up at her and sighed.
"Sleep well?" He asked sweetly. He meant it to. Any bitterness he felt towards the two of them had disappeared in the late hours.
"Sort of." She laughed, stretching her back in a strange way. "I kind of slept sitting down for hours." She laughed again.
"That must be great for your back…" Alphonse drifted off. Winry's smile faded as she glanced up towards the ceiling and he knew what had just taken place in her mind.
"Is he okay? That stupid brother of mine?" He asked with a gentle smile. He leaned forward and rested his head in his hands.
"Just a slight fever," She told him straightly, "He's fast asleep now. He should be okay by the time he wakes up again." She smiled and slipped off the arm of the chair to sit next to Alphonse, "He told me to tell him a story."
"About what?" He wondered as he lifted his head with a curious expression on his face.
"Oh, he didn't care…I just told him whatever came to mind…a silly story about a Princess." She let her thoughts run before she stopped herself in a nervous laugh.
"You know…I think you and brother should go away." Alphonse told her flatly. He glanced over at her and his eyes narrowed just a bit.
"Well that's nice." Winry scoffed. "I know you're honest Al but really…"
"That's not what I mean." He tried to correct himself as his stern disposition fell. His eyes grew concerned and Winry couldn't help but smirk.
"It's a little hard for you to be mean, isn't it?" She joked.
Alphonse sighed and made a strange noise before he put his head right back in his hands. He mumbled something to himself before he jerked back and let his head rest on the back of the chair.
"I didn't want to be mean. It's just…I want you and Ed…you guys should…" He groaned and got up from his seat, sulking into the kitchen. Winry quietly followed behind him. He could not see her gentle smile as she did so. She knew everything he was thinking.
She wasn't as thick as she made herself out to be at times.
Alphonse pulled out one of the kitchen chairs, grabbed an apple from a near-by basket of fruit and sat down. His eyes closed tight as he took a huge bite out of it and began to chew. When he opened his eyes to glance up at his long time friend, her knowing smile seemed almost irritating.
"Why are you giving me that look?" He questioned after he swallowed all he had been chewing. He was a gentleman, after all.
Winry shook her head and sighed, "I know Edward loves me…Al. I know you're angry he hasn't said it to me, to my face." She sat down in the chair across from him. Crossing her arms over the table, she let her head rest right in the center.
"What are you talking about?" He wondered a loud. He was sure Edward had told him he confessed a feeling of "like" for Winry… He was flat out lying to her but that's what he said. So he was confused.
"He told me right before he fell asleep. I'm sure he didn't mean to but I heard it anyway…" She smiled to herself as she glanced out the kitchen window and caught the first glimpse of dawn. "I don't think it was his fever or some in-between dream..." She sat up straight and grinned widely.
Alphonse smiled back in return. "So what are you guys going to do?" He asked with a bit of excitement. He hoped that once his brother and Winry finally moved past this awkward tension they'd both be happier and in turn make him and Granny a bit happier too.
"I'm not going to do anything." Winry said with the straightest of faces.
And Alphonse felt his fall…
"What are you talking about? You just said he loves you and you aren't going to do anything about it?" He just didn't understand why they were both so slow, so afraid of each other!
He almost felt like laughing realizing how utterly perfect they were for one another.
"I know Ed. I know if I rush him he'll back down and be weird with me and that's the last thing I want…" She drifted off. "I'm going to let him take the steps he needs in order to express his feelings." She laughed to herself and Alphonse rolled his eyes, giving up.
"Now what?" He asked, finding it hard to be pessimistic when Winry seemed genuinely happy.
"I feel like he'll tell me right after a huge argument or something…" She laughed again and this time Alphonse joined her, agree whole-heartedly. Nothing made Edward's blood run stronger then a good fight with Winry.
A small thought in the back of Winry's mind wondered what the make-ups would be like. She gave herself a small smile before she got up and offered to make breakfast for her friend. He nodded and leaned back slightly in his chair and let his thoughts run freely.
Alphonse recalled what Granny had said the day before. That he should just sit back and let Winry and Edward come together on their own. That even though he thought differently from his brother, Edward would figure out how to finally take that plunge.
His thoughts broke when Pinako herself walked slowly into the kitchen and took a seat beside the young man. He smiled down at her and she returned the look briefly before she glanced over at Winry who was still busy preparing the morning meal.
"I need to ask a favor of you Winry." Pinako called to her granddaughter suddenly. Winry turned around and smiled.
"Sure, anything you need Granny." She leaned against the kitchen counter as she listened to what her grandmother had to say.
"I need you to take the train tomorrow and bring something to an old friend of mine in Northwood. I've all ready bought the tickets…but I'm afraid," She coughed, "I can't make it there myself."
Winry's face fell as she moved over towards the older woman. "I feel like I've been leaving you all alone recently." She confessed.
Pinako grabbed her hand and patted softly, reassuringly.
"No, no. It's all fine." She told her forcefully, making sure Winry wouldn't feel bad about herself again. The young girl smiled and leaned down for a quick hug before agreeing to take the trip for her.
Pinako nodded and grinned, pulling her pipe from one pocket and a lighter from the other. "I'm glad. You and Edward should have a nice time together."
"What?" Winry asked and her voice cracked. She felt her cheeks grow pink. "Edward's coming with me? Don't you think he should deicide that on his own?" She asked her.
"Well I'm sure Al doesn't want to go, do you Al?" Pinako asked the young boy and he obediently shook his head no, an evil smirk Winry wasn't mean to see came to his face...he wouldn't say anything to Edward or Winry anymore…but gentle pushing from an old woman? Now come on, who could resist?
"See…we'll be fine and we'll both get lots of rest without you two causing such a fuss all the time…and who knows?"
"Who knows what?" Winry asked with a fallen face.
Pinako shrugged, smirked, and took a puff from her pipe. She then turned and started up a small conversation with Alphonse in order to change the topic as gracefully as she could. There would be no more of this discussion. The case was closed and off the two of them would go.
Winry though sighed as she went back to her morning chore.
She and Edward were being set up…
Though a part of her wondered what a trip away from town with just the two of them alone would be like. They had been spending a lot of time together but still…being in town, so near home, made it feel like old times rather then wall breaking experiences…
So could this be…
Was it possibly…
Was this trip going to be their first date?
With that thought a nervous shiver ran through her body, causing her to drop the pan she was reaching for. Alphonse and Pinako looked her way briefly but Winry shook her head and reassured she was fine.
The butterflies in her stomach couldn't wait for tomorrow, could they?
And neither could she.