Timeline: Post CoS

Rating: PG-13? 15? There are references to alcohol and sex, (one) use of the f-word and ANGST.

Character: Winry.

Disclaimer: I AM NOT WORTHY (i.e. no, it's not mine).

Note: I haven't posted FMA fanfic in almost a year. What the hell. This was written for October 3rd, 2009. Obviously I didn't finish it in time! :-D

Ashtray (Lying Still)

October the 3rd, 1921. No, it's long passed midnight. October the 4th, then. Good. It takes away the symbolism, as if I wasn't fated to end up in a bar drinking… vodka, on October the 3rd. There once was a house on fire on October the 3rd; fire in my throat would only be fitting. But I don't care about fate; I don't even like the concept of it. It's too much of a convenient excuse for lazy people. I'm not lazy, not even on Remembrance Day.

Strange, drinking vodka (or any other kind of alcohol for that matter) doesn't make me feel all grown-up and cool. They're like this, half of the people in this bar, holding their glass as if it enlightened them: I drink; therefore I'm cooler, wiser, better, than you, sober girl. I feel like a little girl, like when I was six years old and told Granny I couldn't go to bed because Mommy and Daddy weren't there to kiss me goodnight.

I couldn't go to bed tonight either, that's why I'm here. It's been gnawing at me all night, an insidious hissing acid voice at the back of my mind. I can't go to bed. Fellow automail mechanics knocked on my door at about ten; already drunk and on their way to celebrate someone's birthday. They wanted me to come along. I agreed, not because I like spending a night in a bar with people who somehow enjoy drinking themselves sick, stupid and senseless, but because I couldn't go to bed. It happens once in while. I should count days, maybe it's a cycle; maybe it's perfectly predictable. I know the reason for this, of course. I usually spend those nights on the couch, analyzing and theorizing, taking it apart before putting the pieces back together because that's what I'm good at, that's what I do for a living (Rockbell Automail - business hours: 9 to 5, Monday to Saturday).

They're almost afraid to come into her room after her initial outburst, but their mother's words are still fresh in their minds: their friend is hurting; she needs them there. They go back to her house because, as little as they know at six years old, they do understand about sadness - some days it's all over their mother's face, delicately sewn into the lines of her skin -, maybe even about pain.

She's lying curled up on her bed, facing the door - it could be only a bad dream, her parents could come home and walk through her door to tuck her in, she can't miss them if they do - something terrible will happen if she misses them coming in, they could really die. Even at six, the boys don't like what they see in their friend's eyes when she recognizes them. Disappointment. Pain. She really is hurting; more tears fall on her mattress.

"Granny said you should try to sleep, Winry."

Disappointment, pain, anger. She'll miss her parents coming back to see her if she sleeps and then they'll be gone forever (and she'll be parentless forever after), can't the boys see? How can she sleep?

I can't, Edward. You're not here. Kiss me goodnight?

She shakes her head and tries to look at them defiantly but they won't be scared out of her house, this time. They sit on her bed instead - Al first, then Ed - and lay a hand on her back and shoulder.

She did end up falling asleep and, as expected, never saw her parents again. Ed and Al were still there though, curled up beside her on her bed. At first she resented them for not waking her when her parents had come (because they had, they had to have come). Now she knows better.

No Ed, no Al, no Granny, no Mom, no Dad. I'm not lazy; I'm pathetic.

Three in the morning, head on the table. There are about twenty people around it, all more or less drunk, all more or less comatose. I'm no better, sitting cross-legged on my chair with my cheek resting on the table - the right one, my neck is too stiff for me to be comfortable when I put the left one down. Guess I spent too many hours bent over automail today. Whatever.

Everything, sound, light and motion, is so… slow, as if moving through water.

I look up, slightly. The guy on my left and the girl on his left are eating at each other's face, rather than kissing (the other half of the people in this bar: I've got a drink and a fuck buddy, I'm so much better than you, baby). She's moaning; I wish she would stop. She's making the tables and the alcohol, the people, everyone, the entire place, seem dirty and disgusting. I rub non-existent filth off my arm, slow and awkward; I'm too drunk and too lonely for my movements to be coordinated, not that anyone cares. The bar is dirty in the middle of the night though, what with drinks spilt on the tables and ground and the clouds of smoke that cling to the walls and ceiling. It's not Granny's sweet-scented tobacco either, it's acrid and burns in my lungs, but coughing would be too uncomfortable in the position I'm in and frankly, one gets used to it after a while. Impressive really, the number of things one can get used to.

I wish I could go to Xing, see its architecture and art, learn about its refined culture. Xing is always sunny and warm-but-not-too-much and colorful and beautiful in my mind. I'd go and then I'd come back, and I'd tell Ed and Al about it. They would love it.

The rest of the people around the table, they're all talking about their latest date or the next one, and exchanging tips on how to get them into their beds. None of them cares about Xing or Granny's tobacco, or even about Ed and Al. Fire in my throat. Fire in my eyes, but it already is October the 4th. I guess I can go to sleep, now.