Edward lay as still as he could, doing his best not to aggravate the new soreness of his already sore stumps. Laying still should be an easy task, no matter the pain he was in, if only it weren't for the damned cold. He could see that the window was fast shut and the little furnace in the corner had a red glow in its window vent, but he was still abominably cold. Horribly cold, awfully cold, the worst cold he'd ever felt. Never mind numb toes, Ed didn't even know if he still had a foot. What he wouldn't give for dry hair, hot tea, and about thirty more quilts. Or maybe just Al climbing under the covers with him like it used to be before his little brother declared, "I'm too tall now and you always pull the blanket up off my feet."
And thinking of Al, where did he go? If someone would just come talk to him, maybe it would distract the ice monster from eating away at his remaining limbs. If he called out would Al come? And maybe with a warm, understanding, furry companion in tow, too? But if he called out and Al didn't come? Was his little brother still mad at him? And what if it's not Al that hears, but Winry? Or worse, Granny? He really wasn't in the mood to fight with that little old shrew and definitely didn't want any more of Winry's "therapy". No, perhaps it's best to just lay here and let the ice monster slowly devour him.
He had just completed his rambling thoughts and made his conclusion when the door slammed open, kicked too hard by whoever was coming for him. After recovering from his initial jump, he closed his eyes and opened his mouth wide, letting a little drool leak out of the corner in hopes that the intruder would buy his act.
"No such luck, Ed." He groaned inwardly at the voice and let out a convincing snore.
"I'm not buying it." His curiosity did flare at the rattle of china accompanying this last declaration, but he stuck doggedly to his plan; pushing down the quilt and pulling up his shirt until his bellybutton could just barely peep out. Edward kept his breath steady as he waited; more china rattled around beside his head.
"Ed, come on. I know you're faking. And if Al sees your belly hanging out, you know he's going to fuss."
"Isn't that what you're doing?" He asked, opening one eyes, but staying still.
"No, I brought you some hot tea."
He gave it up, rolling his head over to look at her while trying to pull the quilt back up to his chin without attracting her notice. His heart skipped a beat as her eyebrows drew together in concern.
"Are you cold?"
"No." He shook his head a little and forced his hand to go lax, leaving the blankets. He was too slow as her hand darted out. It felt cool against his forehead and he couldn't help closing his eyes and leaning into her touch.
"Anyone else would have bought it."
"I know." She giggled at this last and he felt a little warmer at being the cause of her mirth. "I brought something that might help."
"Tea?" Ed asked hopefully.
"Among other things. Let's sit up first."
As they labored together until he rested against the headboard, his thoughts drifted to everything Winry had done for him; to what she was doing for him. He could only stare at her as, now settled, she brought a spoon of broth up to his lips. He didn't talk while he ate and Winry was strangely quiet. He studied her in secret, alarmed at the shadows under her eyes, panicked at the redness in them. Suddenly, he wanted to see her smile again, hear her laugh, any sign of happiness.
"Did you –Mmmph"
"Don't talk, just eat."
He pretended to be grumpy while she giggled and wiped spilled broth off of his chin. It hadn't been exactly what he wanted, but Ed would gladly take a spoon shoved in his mouth to see her smile. He waited until the entire bowl was finished before he tried talking again.
"Do I….Do I have to do more….therapy….today?" He hesitated and looked down at this, afraid of her answer, afraid of his own weakness. He hoped that Al was really downstairs and not listening at the doorway again.
"Not that kind. Granny will want to test the nerves later, but she'll wait until after you take a nap."
"A nap?! But I've only been up for a couple of hours as it is." Edward did his best to fight back a yawn as he said this, knowing Winry was right about him being tired, but not liking it.
"I'll tell you what; you don't have to go to sleep if you're not sleepy. We can go over the automail a little bit."
"Does this mean the old bat is going to let me have it in two weeks?" He couldn't help the grin spreading over his face, victory!
"We've been over this. I'm not letting you have it in two weeks. Maybe your leg in six, but no sooner."
"It's not happening and I made a deal with Al not to fight about it with you anymore. Do you want for me to stay and talk to you about the automail or not?" Ed watched as she began gathering up the dishes, unsure of what to do. A deal with Al is different than a promise and he wondered what had been exchanged. She was leaving. He was on the wrong side to grab at her wrist, so he swallowed hard and choked down his pride.
"Stay…….please" Edward instantly regretted the please when she turned back with a smirk on her face.
"I was going to; just let me put the dishes away and grab my book."
14Nov07 Author's note: Made a few changes to take into account overusage of pronouns. Added a few lines to help indicate who is speaking. Thank you.