Needed Author – DM Evans Disclaimer - not mine, all characters belong to Hiromu Arakawa et al, Square Enix and funimition. Pairing –Ed/Win Rating – PG-13 Time Line – manga based. SPOILERS up to the most recent chapter (#83) Summary – Winry wonders at her place in the brothers' world

Author's Note – This was written based on something Ling said about Ed's possible future. Thanks to S JSmith for the beta

She wonders if he still needs her. Winry mulls the painful thought over as she mashes bread and bananas into milk to soften it for Al because Ed won't touch milk and as far as he is concerned, neither should anyone else. Winry knows Al needs the calcium but does his brother need anything? No, she decides, Ed never really did need her, not the way she wanted him to and now…

Eyes pricking, her pride holding back the tears as she reduces the bread to nothing but soggy bits, Winry tries not to think about her newly restored friend. She knows it's all Edward ever wanted. She should be happy for him but all she can think of was, 'he won't need me at all now that he has his limbs back.'

If he needed her, he would be here. Winry winces at that unkind and untrue thought. She knows full well Ed wanted to be here tending to his brother, if for no other reason. Mustang had gotten Ed a furlough just long enough to get Alphonse settled before the military police took Ed away.  'But he's been cleared of wrongdoing,' she reminds herself as she climbed the stairs to Al's bedroom. 'Couldn't he come back, if only for a little while?' She knew the military wouldn't pull their claws out of Ed easily and she could wait for that, if only she knew that he actually needed her.

There had been kind touches and looks in the past. Had she misinterpreted them? Did she want to see love in his eyes when there was nothing there but brotherly affection for a childhood friend? She was more than his mechanic and now, less. He no longer needed her at all. Ed was free, whole, and could do anything, be with anyone he wanted.

Winry knocks softly on Al's door then takes his snack in to him. "Hey, Al."

He smiles, struggling to sit up. It takes all Al's strength, she knows. Winry wishes Ed could be here, for Al's sake if not hers. Alphonse couldn't walk yet, should be in a hospital but Ed didn't want that, neither had Al. Winry understood and volunteered to play nurse but she had expected Ed to stay, somehow. Now, she and Granny had to move Al off and on bed pans and clean him. Al had become so flustered that they hired a live-in nurse to help to spare him the indignity of having his best friend wipe his bottom. "Hey, Winry. Did Brother call?"

"I would have woken you up," Winry says while thinking, 'no, of course Ed didn't think to call.'  "Up for a snack? I smashed bananas into it."


Winry sets it on the bed tray then drapes the tray over him. "Then later, we'll practice standing up."

"I think I can do it on my own this time." Al manages to spoon up the mush with a shaking hand.

"It's all right if you can't." Winry falls into small talk with Al. He is so sweet. Why can't her heart want Al? Edward was so weird and yet, he set fire to her blood like no one she had ever known. Oh, there had been others, mostly farm boys she had known all her life, coming around to woo her. In Rush Valley, she had gone on dates but none of them were Edward. None of them mattered and yet, with them she knew that they wanted her, that she did matter to them. Once Al was healed, would they both drift out of her life now that her mechanical skills weren't needed? She pouts a little at the realization that Edward hadn't even given back her earrings.



"I was asking you about going to Central."

"Oh, um why, Al?" She realizes she has no idea what Al is talking about.

"There's going to be a celebration. I want to be strong enough to at least walk into the dining hall alone."

"I'm sure Ed will help you."

"Ed's supposed to be escorting you." Al says, digging in his bread and banana mash. He says it as if it were fact.

Winry wonders if he knows something she doesn't. Did Al know she loved his brother or did he mean Ed loved her? It was too awkward to ask.  She smiles softly. "We'll see."

"Wish I could ask Miss Hawkeye." Al sighs. "I know she loves the Colo…General but she's so pretty." He blushes a little, laying his spoon down.

"Al," Winry laughs, realizing his crush. "Yes, she is and I'm sure you'll find someone yourself one day, sooner rather than later. You're too sweet not to."

He beams at her. "And not dense like someone I know." Al yawns widely. "Sorry, Winry."

She took the tray away. "Sleep, Al. We'll talk later," she say but he is already gone.

Sighing, Winry goes downstairs to wash the dishes up and work on her latest designs. She promised Mr. Garfiel she wouldn't come back to her apprenticeship empty handed. Hearing Den having a fit out in the yard, Winry peers out the window to see the big dog romping around after a smaller male. Dropping the dish rag, Winry runs to the door, yanking it open before Mustang could knock.

He smiles. "Sorry for the ruckus, Hayate doesn't mind me as well as he does, Hawkeye." He jerks a thumb back to where the markswoman is locking up the car.

Winry wonders if Mustang ever does anything for himself. Ed would be just like this, living in his head, and expecting the world to tend to his needs. He had been like that as a child. "That's okay. Den needs the exercise. Why are you here?"

"Sorry to come unannounced but someone just couldn't wait to get here." Roy steps inside, sliding past her. He strolls upstairs as if he owned the house.

Winry didn't care. Coming around the car, that bright red coat like a flag fluttering in the wind, is Ed. He holds out two good, tanned hands to her and the look in his eyes answers the question that has been gnawing at her. Winry ran, those hands catching her around her waist. He still needs her.