Just Another Round

S J Smith

Rating: Anyone should be able to read….

Summary: Ed, a bar and a solicitous ear.

Disclaimer: Arakawa owns all. I just play in her sandbox and will put the toys away appropriately before I leave.

A.N. After that movie. Why I write "after that movie" fic when I've yet to see "that movie" is beyond me.

A.N. 2: You should be able to fill in the conversation by Ed's answers.

I don't need another, thanks. Trust me, I know my limits and I'm not here to get drunk.

What? You'll have to speak up – Oh. Because. Why does anyone come to a bar? Comradery? To talk to someone other than the voices in their own head?

Hmm? Who'm I with? Hear that rowdy bunch in the next room? I'm with them.

Yeah, that is a bachelor party.

No, I'm not the guest of honor.

Trust me, I'd rather be here.

Because I don't really feel like celebrating.

Yes, I am seeing a girl. Joanna.

I don't know…a few months? Why?

…When am I going to ask her…? I'm…not. It's not that kind of a relationship.

Cold feet? No. Hell, no. The only thing I've ever been afraid of in my life, okay, the two things I've ever been afraid of in my life, they have nothing to do with this.

…okay…one of them does.

See, a long time ago, there was this girl. Not like that. We were kids together. Grew up in the same town. My brother and I practically lived with her when our mother died. But Al, he's my brother, he and I did something stupid and had to go away. We left her behind, left her waiting. We'd always come back because, even when we – when I – didn't realize it, that house; Granny, her, that was home.

But then I did something really stupid, even if it was the only way out I could see, and I wound up here. I've seen her once since then, and she's…she'd grown up. She was beautiful and I didn't even tell her. I didn't tell her how much I'd missed her or how many times I'd dreamt about her. I didn't say anything important to her, just told her thanks and ran off and left her again.

Do I miss her? What kind of question is that?

No, my fault. I'm sorry. I got a little loud. Do I miss her. You know, I thought once I got my brother back, I wouldn't miss anything about that place. But I do. I miss the people I used to know. I miss traveling by trains through the countryside. I miss her singing, while she's working on her latest project.

Hmm? Yeah, she sang. Not very well but it was comforting, listening to her. It was like…hearing her sing, you knew everything was gonna be okay. That you were in good hands. She'd take care of you. She'd find a way to fix whatever was wrong with you.

And I never got a chance to tell her how much that meant to me.

Now? There isn't anyway to contact her. That door's closed, has been for years now. Three, to be exact. Three years, four months and fifteen days, if you want to know.

Yeah, I probably could give you the minutes and seconds. Why?

What do you mean, do I want to see her? That's a stupid question. Of course I want to see her. I want to know if she learned how to make apple pie like Mrs. Hughes. I want to tell her everything, for once, not have any secrets.

I just want to hug her back.

Because there isn't a way to see her. I told you, that door's closed. This is my world now and I have to live here. If that means I have to live with regret, well, what man doesn't? She'd…understand that. It wouldn't make her happy but….

Joanna? What does she have to do with this?

No, I've never told her…I mean, I said there was a girl. There's always a girl, isn't there? Every man has a girl he thinks of once in a while, right? But I never told her, not everything. I told her the truth, just not all of it.

Yeah, I know. Everybody deserves the whole truth. Well, sometimes that truth gets people into trouble, gets people killed, innocent people, who don't deserve it. If that means not telling the whole truth, then I'll keep my secrets. I'm not going to let anything happen to her.

Not Joanna, Winry!

I – I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me. I'll pay for the glass. No, it's my fault. Sometimes I don't know my own strength. No, I don't want another. I told you, I didn't come here to get drunk. I came because of those guys. You know, the bachelor party.

Do I want to get married? That's a stupid…I care for Joanna. She's a good woman. She accepts me. She's kind and generous.

What do you mean, it sounds like I'm describing my mother? Joanna's not anything like my mom. No, she's not like Winry, either, but Winry was – is – one of a kind.

I heard you. …Damn it, yes, I do miss her.

…Wait, what? Say that again. Say it again! - Where's my brother? Al! Alphonse Elric! Al! No, I don't want a drink. We're going. No, I don't want to be toasted. Let them finish their party. I don't care. Al. Al!

No, I'm not drunk. Yes, I'm fine. Come on.

Come on.

Research, Al. We've got a lot of research to do.

We're researching windows. Windows that stay open after doors have been closed.

I know but we'll find a way to get around that. We're smart, aren't we? Besides, we've kept Winry waiting long enough.

…Joanna? I think…she won't mind at all.

Come on, Al. Let's go home.