What Hurts the Most
What Hurts the Most
Disclaimer: I Don't Own FMA In Any Way.
Rating: PG—PG-13 Due To Some Angst and Crude Language.
A/N: Thanks for reviews! :)
When Winry finished bathing, she changed into the clothes she had gotten from Ed's dresser and then went to Ed's bedroom with her clothes in her arms. She knocked on his door but heard no response. The Rockbell looked inside and didn't see him there so decided to check downstairs. Once there, she placed her clothes on a chair before looking to the sofa. Her eyes widened as she saw the Elric on said couch, fast asleep on his back while his right leg hung off the edge and his Automail arm was on his stomach, lifting his shirt slightly and exposing his firm stomach a little.
She shook her head humorously before walking up to him and smiling at his face; it was the exact face she had pictured as she was bathing, except a little older and even more mature-looking. Her smile faded, however, when she noticed something beneath his loose, closed eyes. Something she hadn't taken notice of until right now; stress lines, deep stress lines. She knelt down beside him before, gently, tracing the lines with her index finger. The Alchemist shrugged silently from her touch right before Winry jerked her hand back, afraid he would awake. Instead, Edward turned on his side, letting his back face Winry as he brought his leg on the sofa and leaned on his flesh arm while the other lay next to his chest.
Winry couldn't help but smile at this somewhat humoristic action. But now she had a piece of evidence that something was wrong with her childhood friend. She looked from his face down the rest of his body. She stopped at his chest as she noted something else. Luckily, his black tank top was tight enough for her to clearly see it; the outline of his rib cage. Her eyes widened slightly at this; she had never been able to see his rib cage, not so defined, anyway.
Ed had always been rather lean; there was no denying that fact. Even since he was much younger, he was skinny but, in due time, he grew muscles that stuck out more. He had a six pack of abs and even his flesh arm had defined volume to its muscle. He had, however, never been lean enough for her to see his rib cage as clearly as she could see it now. This worried her greatly, as weight-loss was another sign of depression.
The young woman sighed sadly; things were worse than she thought. She expected him to just be sad but what she had found was unbelievable. She had no choice anymore; what Al said was true and that confirmed her fear. Now she needed to find out if it really was her causing his pain or if it may have been some other thing in his life; stress from work or perhaps even the fact that the younger sibling wasn't around. She figured she should find out how long the younger Elric had been gone and what led to his leaving.
She looked back to the Alchemist's precious sleeping face. The blonde Rockbell mechanic suddenly felt very guilty for having to wake the poor thing. Not only that but she asked herself how she could've possibly hurt this adorable soul in any way. She sighed, discontent, before looking back to the Elric before her. Nervously, she placed her hand on his metallic shoulder before leaning over him.
"Ed? Edward, wake up," she told him softly while gently shaking him. Unsurprisingly, Ed shrugged silently but irately, obviously not willing to wake up from the comfy slumber he had fallen into. "Ed, it's me, Winry, wake up," she tried again, surprisingly getting a different response. The Elric's eyes carefully opened before he blinked a few more times, obviously getting accustomed to the little light. Soon after, he awoke finally and looked up to the two sapphire orbs looking down at him.
"Winry?" he asked with his voice somewhat scratchy as he had just woken up. "What is it, is something wrong?" he asked, his voice becoming worried but staying tired.
"No, no," the Rockbell replied anxiously while shaking her head slightly. "I…I need to talk to you," she told him, her voice still hinting with nervousness. She noted that Ed's eyes widened slightly, undeniably surprised that she would want anything with him after how she had been acting. Nevertheless, he obliged.
"OK…" he mumbled before sitting up on his knees and rubbing his eyes with the back of his metallic hand, obviously hoping the cold metal would awake him more. Winry took the liberty of standing up and sitting next to the other blonde. Once Ed had stretched a little after rubbing his eyes, he sat on the sofa properly and faced the girl to his left side.
"I'm surprised you didn't leave while I was asleep," he told her, half humorously, half angrily.
"If you had fallen asleep earlier, I probably would have," Winry clarified sadly as she looked down to her hands. Edward picked up on the sadness in her voice and widened his eyes, obviously taken aback.
"What's that mean?" he asked her, intrigued. It stayed tensely silent for a few moments before Winry spoke, finally.
"Ed," she said edgily. The blue-eyed young woman thought carefully of the words she would tell him. "I…I owe you a huge amount of gratitude…" she said as her fingers fumbled and she timidly looked up to the Elric. Ed, on the other hand, cocked a brow at her.
"Gratitude?" he questioned. "Why? I didn't really do anything significant…" he trailed off, unsure what he possibly could've done to suddenly earn himself the appreciation of the Rockbell, seeing as she had apparently hated his guts the moment she noticed him. Winry, however, was surprised at his inquiry; how was saving her not significant? Not only that but he tended to her wounds, even if she wanted to deny his help at the time. She sighed silently before responding.
"Ed…if it weren't…if you hadn't shown up when that man attacked me…" she began, unsure of how to speak of it and tell him; there was so much she suddenly wanted to say to him. "I…I don't even want to know what could've happened…" she said as she looked away and hugged herself. Edward's eyes widened and he began thinking of the possibilities. It scared him. He didn't want to think of it either.
But he still didn't deserve the young woman's gratitude; when he saved her, he was just doing his job. He didn't even know it was her until after he had saved her. At the time, as far as he was concerned she was just another citizen in need of help. He wanted her appreciation at the moment, seeing as he was desperate for something positive from her, but he couldn't take something like that for just attending to his duties.
"Winry," he said quietly. "You don't need to thank me; I was just doing my job. As a matter of fact," he mentally slapped himself with an Automail hand for what he'd tell her. "I didn't even know it was you until Mustang and Riza pointed it out," he explained dejectedly. The girl at his side gave him a sympathetic look as she watched him look away from to the ground.
Taking a deep breath, she forced a small smile to appear on her face before, nervously, reaching over and placing her hand on his flesh one, making sure he felt what she was doing. This small act caused the Elric to widen his eyes greatly but not say a word. His cheeks tinted with a light shade of pink.
"I kind of figured that," Winry told him. "When you asked me if my name was Winry Rockbell," she explained silently while gently clutching his hand in hers. Ed's eyes reduced in size once more and he sighed before looking up to a nearby window. His blush faded and he sighed sorrowfully.
"You can go, you know?" he asked but Winry could tell it was half-hearted.
"Why do you say that?" she questioned.
"The rain should let up soon …I can only use the whole 'it's dangerous when it's raining' excuse for so long," the Alchemist explained, slipping his hand out of Winry's grip as he stood up and walked to the wall that concealed the staircase and leaned on it with crossed arms on his metal shoulder. His facial expression was a mix of desperateness, sadness and frustration. Winry stood up after him and then walked behind him.
"Do you want me to leave?" she asked quietly, only loud enough for his ears alone. She noticed his shoulders tense up a bit as his hold on himself became tighter. It stayed silent for what felt like an eternity before the Elric finally came up with an answer.
"Of course not," he said. "But I'm sure you don't want to be here as much I want you to…" he said, his small voice full of depression.
"Ed, how can you be so sure?"—"Just go, Winry!" he interjected heatedly. The Rockbell took a step back, surprised by his demanding outburst. "I know that's what you want so just go!" It was a false command, only fueled by the knowledge of thinking that once she left, she would never come back.
"Edward…" Winry mumbled to him, trying to remain calm. "I…I'm worried about you…" she confessed finally. Her declaration only made Ed cock his head up and widen his eyes, surprised. How could she possibly be worried about him when she had come into his home with hatred towards him? He stayed still, contemplating and speechless. The Automail tech then, carefully, walked up in front of him and looked up into his golden eyes with stress lines evident beneath them. Surprisingly, Ed snapped out of his daze and managed to look into her eyes as well.
He gave a confused look as he tried to make words but shook his head and looked to the ground.
"I don't understand," he told her finally. "How can you be worried about me? I don't get it…" he looked to her once more. Winry took another deep breath before reaching up and gently brushing away a few random strands from the Elric's face, all of which simply fell back in their previous place. It was silent as the two simply gazed into each other's eyes, admiring the sight they hadn't seen for two full years.
"I'm starting to believe what Al told me," Winry explained in a soft voice as her arm came back to her side.
"What do you mean?" Edward asked curiously.
"He…he thinks you might be suffering from depression." Ed's eyes widened, unbelieving and surprised, at the words that had just left Winry's lips as his lips separated slightly.
"And so do I," she continued. "You've changed in the past two years, Ed, and something's aren't a good change…" she explained quietly. Edward shrugged, all his muscles tensing as his eyes fell closed and his right eyebrow twitched.
"Al overreacts about a lot of stuff, Winry," he muttered. "If you believe him about that, then both of you have lost your minds!" he said to her heatedly. "Besides, where could you have pulled such a ludicrous idea? Al's just a bit concerned is all; he can't possibly think I'm suffering from depression." This explanation caused a sigh to escape the young woman's lips as her eyes tensed and she glared at the golden-eyed young man before her.
"Al doesn't overreact unless it's something serious, Ed!" she said strongly as her hands balled into fists and her stance became defensive. "And even then, he tries to keep a cool head. Besides, I can prove it to you!" she said, her voice becoming worried again but her hands remaining in rock-hard fists. Ed growled lowly before he got off the wall he was leaning on and stood up straight, glaring back at the Rockbell.
"Really?" he questioned, his arms crossing once more and his hip locking to his left side. Winry recognized the pose immediately and couldn't help but mentally smile in spite of everything.
I suppose something's never change, she thought humorously. Her thoughts became serious once more, however, and her muscles stiffened up. Her already-tightly-clenched fists clenched even tighter if that was possible and she could care less if her nails broke the skin of her palm or not.
"After I bathed, I came down here and saw that you were asleep. Had I not been so worried, I probably would've had half a mind to leave without a word but I didn't!" Ed's golden orbs softened; he was surprised that the blue-eyed young woman didn't leave him when she had such an open chance. When Ed was asleep, he usually preferred to stay that way until he was fully rested. Whatever little disturbance tried to wake him, he would just try his own best to ignore it and keep to the darkness, and stay dreaming. Dreams were so much better to him that his reality; in his dreams, he was calm and content instead of paranoid and spiteful.
"So what? You woke me up so you could leave and make sure I saw it!?" he demanded, his eyes tensing once again as the negative side popped into his mentality. Winry, in turn, shrugged heatedly and clutched her fists even tighter.
"No, you idiot!" she responded immediately while glaring with boiling blue eyes. "I was looking for anything that could prove to you that you were suffering and, you know what? I did find something!" Ed's eyes widened nervously at this and he brought his arms down to his sides.
"What do you mean?" he asked as his shoulders slumped simultaneously.
"Ed, have you even looked in a mirror lately?" Winry questioned, her voice both angry but also filled with worry. The Elric shrugged and looked away.
"No," he muttered lowly. He couldn't stand to look at himself in the mirror; the man he saw was pathetic and lower than dirt. The man he saw always disgusted him and he couldn't stand the sight of his golden eyes; the eyes that had brought Winry so much pain in the past. His golden hair taunted him in a similar way, as did his metallic limbs, of course. Winry, on the other hand, looked at him more concerned.
"Well you should," she told him quietly.
"For what?" was the Alchemist's response. "To see someone who hurt you for so many years? To just see what a complete failure and jerk I've been? Or to be reminded of how many times I let you and everyone else down? Take your pick," his voice was low, sad, and filled with every possible negative emotion known. The blonde was obviously angry at himself and sad for what he's done in his life.
"You never let anyone down, Ed," Winry told him dejectedly.
"Of course I did!" he retorted immediately. His hands now also balled into fists and his eyes grew tenser than what they were. "And because of that, I can never look at myself again! Every time I see myself, I think about what I've done to so many people, including you!" He was trying so very hard to keep back the tears that were threatening to break his barrier as these words left his mouth.
"What about those lines under your eyes!? Do you even know that they're there!?" the Rockbell before him demanded angrily. Ed sighed, obviously growing annoyed.
"That's a lie, isn't it?" he asked back. Winry's eyes widened, surprised at the words he had told her.
"I don't lie, Ed! Especially not to you!" she defended instantaneously. Edward's eyes, for the umpteenth time this day, widened greatly and he was left speechless. How could he make a comeback, after all? Winry was right; she had never lied to him. Of the two of them, she was the most honest, trustworthy and healthy-minded. As much as he wanted to prove her wrong, he just couldn't; she was right and he needed to accept that. He needed to trust her again. Sadly, he was much too full of pride to do so.
"I…I don't believe you!" he retorted angrily.
"Then let me prove it to you!" Winry didn't even give the golden-blonde time to think as she quickly grabbed his metallic wrist and forced the Automail arm in front of his face, so that the protective plate was mere inches away from his face so that he could clearly see the truth. Once his arm was in front of him, Ed's eyes widened and the two stayed silent as he stared into the reflection of his golden orbs for the first time in many months. He was shocked, to say the least. Winry was right; there were deep, deep stress lines beneath his eyes that looked like a bird had scratched him with talons the devil himself had carved.
Winry noted that his eyes began trembling but she stayed in her position, trying to force back her emotions as she waited for her friend's response. There was a long pause before; finally, she felt his metal arm begin to pull away from her grasp. She, reluctantly, let his arm go and right after looked him in the eye. Just by the way he looked at her; Winry could tell that he was unconvinced. She shrugged silently.
"That could be caused by anything, Winry," Edward told her defiantly. "I do work really hard, you know; maybe I'm just stressed out from work, especially with all the freaking paperwork Mustang gives me," he explained. Winry couldn't argue there as it was generally true; each person reacts differently to different kinds of stress. Work as hectic as being a Major in the Military probably took its toll on the Elric's fatigue. This wasn't the only proof she had, however.
"What about your weight?" she questioned the teen sternly. Ed gave her a confused yet intrigued look.
"What are you talking about, I'm fine!" he told her strongly.
"No, you're not!" Winry denied instantly. "While you were sleeping, you turned on your side. Ed, I have never seen your rib cage as clearly as I saw it in that moment!" she said. Her voice was softening as she spoke to him; worriment was beyond evident in her voice as she stared at the Elric before her sympathetically. "Ed…I'm really…" she looked him in the eye, momentarily unsure of how to speak. She swallowed the lump in her throat and forced herself to continue. "I'm really worried about you."
The golden-eyed Alchemist widened his eyes and became breathless. Was his broken and tortured heart playing tricks on him? That was the third time she had repeated that phrase. Did he really just hear Winry say she's worried about him? It felt much too good to be true. Perhaps this was another one of his dreams; the ones where everything was right and no one hated him…especially not Winry. His eyes fell, half-lidded, as he looked to the floor at his side and his brows tensed slightly.
Winry took note of his minor body movements and also noticed his fists clenching tightly. She could lightly hear the sound of his metallic fingers silently clanging against his palm. She looked back to his face and stared at him with soft, nervous ocean-blue eyes. It felt like an eternity before Ed finally made another move. The Elric lowered his head and allowed his bangs to create a shadow to hide his golden orbs.
She saw his body back up as she heard his boot-covered foot take a step back. Her eyes widened as she saw his face tense up further, in a saddened manner.
"This isn't…this can't be real," he mumbled as he brought his head up once more and shook his head.
"Ed…?" Winry asked back, worried. She watched as the Elric continued to take small steps back and eventually stagger. Unconsciously, Winry quickly came up to him just as his back hit the wall. As saddening as he looked, Winry was grateful; she'd rather have his back against a wall than have him staggering on shaky legs. Then, however, she saw as he let the back of his head hit the very wall he was leaning on. Afterwards, the Alchemist slowly slid down until he was sitting on the ground, his flesh leg folded up while his Automail lay straight on the ground. His metallic arm sat on his lap while his flesh one was slightly stretched about his false limb.
The Rockbell mechanic was surprised at the look in his eyes; he looked dazed and lost, almost empty. Immediately, she fell to her knees before him and waited for him to speak. She didn't have to wait very long for, the moment she was eye-level with him, he did not move but spoke very softly.
"Why does it hurt so much, Winry?" he asked as he continued to stare at some invisible thing that was at the ceiling. What he said next confirmed Winry's question; what was causing his depression? "Why does it hurt so much to miss someone?" Now the question was, who did he miss? Was Al's leaving taking such a toll on him? Did he still miss his deceased mother from so long ago? Or…did Winry's supposed anger and rejection of his decision two years ago hurt him so badly? Did he miss her?
"What do you mean, Ed? Who do you miss?" Winry asked him while still sitting on her knees but leaning forward on her palms in intrigue. Ed's attention was finally caught as his eyes widened for a moment and then tensed. His head lowered from his previously undying gaze until he was staring down to his side again. He stayed silent, almost as if he were refusing to speak. Something's never changed and Winry supposed they never would.
She waited a few moments but Ed was still as stubborn as ever. It was clear in his face. She sighed sadly and her shoulders and eyes drooped. She figured the only way to get to him was hurt him. Although it made her heat ache, she mentally slapped herself for what she'd say to him next.
"If you have nothing to say," she mumbled silently as she looked back to him. "Then I have no reason to stay here." She began to stand up once more. However, in that moment, something in Ed's brain must have clicked because he jumped and grabbed the Rockbell's wrist, forcing her to kneel before him once more. She whined slightly at the pain of her knees meeting so harshly with the floor but, when she went to protest she was unable to do so. Her cerulean eyes were now locked with his rare golden ones as she felt his grip loosen slightly but his metallic fingers remained wrapped around her wrist.
His eyes; they were like windows into his everything. His past, his pain, his anger and hate, and even his hope; it was all so clear within the pools of molten gold that resided in his iris's. They were the definition of intoxicating and addicting; once you fell into the undying gaze of the young Alchemist, you couldn't get out, no matter how hard you tried. Winry was so lost that she had completely given up on talking; instead, she would just sit there and stare into him as if they were the only human beings left in the world. In her mind, they were.
The silence was broken, however, when Ed finally allowed his lips to move and words to be produced.
"Don't leave," was all he said; so subtle was his voice that Winry was almost sure that he hadn't spoken at all.
"Then tell me what's wrong," she said back to him gently, letting him know that she had no intention of hurting him at the moment. She heard him shrug and his grip intensified slightly, causing Winry to wince without a sound.
"I just…I…" it was as if he no longer knew any coherent words; they were all escaping and flying away like a small dove desperately trying to escape from the danger that was trying to injure it. However, this dove felt sympathy towards the Elric and flew back into his palms, just as long as he promised to be gentle. Words once again formed in his mind and he was able to speak. But, keeping his promise to the dove, his voice was soft and gentle. "I miss you."
Winry's eyes widened but then drooped sadly once more at his response. She looked down and thought for a few moments before making another move. She advanced towards the blonde, forcing her hand out of his grasp. He resisted slightly but, reluctantly, let go of her wrist, allowing his metal hand to fall upon his leg. He noticed, though, that her hands now snuck their way to his sides, at his hips. Again, for the umpteenth time that damn day, his eyes widened and looked up into the blue eyes that were staring back at him.
It was quiet for a few moments as the two simply stared into the other one's eyes. That changed when, suddenly, Winry laid her lower half between the Elric's legs and cuddled her upper body into his chest while burying her head under his chin. The Alchemist's eyes remained wide, he blushed a deep crimson at his cheeks and he swallowed a very large lump that had formed somewhere between staring into the mechanic's eyes and the transition of her kneeling to her laying on him. His body was very unsure of what movements to make, as was he. Then Winry said something that surprised him greatly.
"I'm so sorry, Ed." Those four simple words caused the Elric to be surprised but then relax nervously.
"Why?" he asked quietly. "You shouldn't be sorry for anything; I'm the one who left you so many times and then decided to leave again...what could you be sorry for?" he asked. The tone in his voice had not changed since the last time he had spoken; the only difference was that, now, he spoke a tad bit more loudly.
"I'm sorry I hurt you so much…I'm sorry I caused you even more pain…I'm sorry if it felt like I had rejected your decision." She was trying so hard to fight back the tears in her eyes that wanted to escape. She forced them back and continued. "I should've been happy for you; you're risking your life every now and then just to save a life…just for that, I owe you this apology." The only word that could describe Edward at the moment was speechlessness; words, once again, escaped him. Then he remembered something; confession was good for the soul.
With anxious, shaky hands, he wrapped his arms around the young woman's small waist, blushing further and awaiting something from Winry. When he was certain that she wouldn't speak, he continued after sighing to himself.
"Winry?" he mumbled, his voice matching the actions of his hands.
"Yeah, Ed?" the blonde mechanic replied quietly a she held the golden-blonde tighter around his waist.
"For starters…I accept your apology; I'm happy to see that you don't hate me anymore…" his grip around her became tighter but Winry kneeled up and came up to his eye-level once more.
"I didn't hate you," she told him as she, once again, brushed away strands of hair that were in front of his eyes. "I was just upset…I was wrong to do what I did to you and, again, I'm sorry for that…" she looked away from him sadly, her shoulders drooping dejectedly. "I'm just surprised you don't hate me for that." This certainly brought intrigue in Ed. He sat up and leaned forward so that his flesh leg was folded up but behind Winry's back and his Automail leg was folded that leg. His metal hand was hanging onto his flesh leg's knee while his other one was free.
"Winry," he said, causing the other blonde to look up into his eyes. "After two years of missing you and thinking I was never going to see you again…how could you possibly think I could hate you?" he asked her. Unconsciously, his real hand slipped onto her face and cupped her cheek. Winry's eyes fell half-lidded, as did Ed's after a few moments. His warm hand remained in its place but their faces were inching closer together. Eventually, they had no choice but to let their lips connect and close their eyes.
And so began their first kiss. Ed slipped his other hand onto the young woman's cheek and Winry responded by slipping her hands onto his chest and then sliding them up and around his neck. Immediately giving the other permission to come into each other, the kiss intensified deeply. It was so loving and burning with passion; long, overdue love and passion that each was grateful to be expressing. They finally pulled away gently after they felt their lungs begging for breath.
Their eyes stayed locked as their breath was heavy. It could only stay silent for so long.
"I love you," Edward suddenly breathed, refusing to take his gaze away from the ocean-blue orbs staring into his gold ones. Winry gave him a gentle, lopsided smile and replied.
"I love you too, Ed."
The next morning would find the two blondes cuddled together against the wall they had been near the night before. Edward was leaning on his back while a sleeping Winry lay on his chest with her arms folded and laying upon the elder Elric's chest while his own arms were wrapped, protectively, around her small waist. Neither had anymore worries and that was something to be happy about. Which they were; a closer look would show that the two were sharing small, almost unnoticeable, smiles on their lips. A smile; something the two had practically been faking for along while until now.
They would awake soon; Winry would say she had to attend to her work while Ed was beg her to stay, saying that missing only one day wouldn't kill her. After a bit of playful arguing and protesting, she would fall under the intoxicating spell of his strong golden eyes and his eager-to-explore lips and tongue. Ed would win the victory and he'd spend the rest of the day holding her as she cooked breakfast and relaxing and going shopping with her, also playing hooky along with her.
A/N: OMG .-. this has taken way too long DX I'm sorry for the long update XP but, I got it up, finally!! DX Please R&R, constructive criticism, no flames ;) thanks!
This story is complete! X3