I really shouldn't be doing this. I am far too behind on my other stories to be putting up ANOTHER chapter story. But I've had this typed for a few days and my resistance is weak. I told myself that I would just type up this story, and then not post it until I had caught up. As you can see, having this story actually written out wore me down.

No clue how long this will be. But I've got the storyline mapped out, so I should finish it fairly quickly. It is VERY much EdWin.

DISCLAIMER: FMA does not belong to me. If it did, the movie would have ended differently. And started differently, and had a different storyline...


Chapter One


Blonde eyebrows pulled together over crystalline blue eyes. A muttering, that to a passerby might seem like a string of profanities (though it was really scientific terms) came from her. Fingers drummed on the table, one hand twiddling a screwdriver between her fingers.

Winry sighed in irritation, slamming the screwdriver down on the table. "No use," she muttered, standing, and throwing her tied back hair over her shoulder. She couldn't concentrate, not now. Sighing more softly, she looked out the window, at the bright sunshine filtering through it. Walking toward it, slowly, she placed her fingers in the path of that sunlight, feeling the warmth. It really wasn't like her to be broody...

No, that wasn't exactly true. Perhaps it wasn't 'brooding' per-say, but she did spend much of her time thinking. Absently, she blew a few strands of hair out of her eyes. Dropping her hand, eyes downcast, she walked to the window and opened it, propping her elbows up on the sill. Her head rested in her hands, a light breeze playing across her face.

"It's only been a week..." She muttered to herself. "It's not like they haven't kept in touch for longer than this before..." Three years, in fact, now that she thought on it. She sighed again. Movement down the road caught her eye and she immediately shrank back, so that she couldn't be seen from the window. Though she could see her grandmother, and work on a few of her projects privately, no one else was allowed to know that she was there. It had been difficult, knowing that the people she had left behind in Rush Valley would be worried sick- she hadn't called and had hardly left word. Winry couldn't help but bite her lip as she realized that she had really done what Ed and Al had always done to her. It was odd- to suddenly sympathize, but feel angry with oneself too.

But still, there had been no word, no whisper of their doings- and she supposed the downside to being in the 'know' was that she worried more, knowing exactly what danger they got themselves into. She supposed that she couldn't have expected anything else though. They were on the run from the military after all, and to the knowledge of the military, Winry herself was still Scar's captive. Ed was working for Greed (who used to be Ling), Al's body and soul being pulled away, and all these warnings to leave the country- sometimes; it was almost too much to take. And the fact that she was no longer able to take visits to them was hard too. As much as she knew it was necessary, and as happy as she was to see her grandmother, Winry couldn't help but miss the times that she had been traveling with Ed and Al- knowing they were safe, and keeping up with things- to an extent.

A knock on the front door downstairs made her jump. A smile flitted across her face as she heard her grandmother's grumbling on her way to answer the door. Hushed voices filtered up the stairs, and then her grandmother called up to her- "Winry! It's all right, you can come down."

Winry blinked. The only way her grandmother would tell her it was safe was if it was someone like Riza Hawkeye, or Ling/Greed with Ed or Al...

Without really sure what was going through her head, Winry ran down the stairs, hand slipping on the banister as she thrust herself down the steps. A flash of gold caught her eye and she dared to hope- "Ed? Al? Is everything ov-"

She stopped at the foot of the stairs. For what seemed to be the hundredth time, Van Hoenhiem stood in her doorway, looking up at her.

Winry dropped her eyes to the floor. Her hand gripped the banister as she felt her heart sink yet again. "Oh..." She said, voice very low. "Hn," Hoenhiem pushed his glasses farther up his face. "It's fine. I can understand the sentiments."

She nodded, once, and let go of the banister, feet landing on the floor. Another thought struck her and she looked up, suddenly. "Did you meet with Ed? Did you tell him everything he needed to know? What about Al, did you see him too? Are they all right? Ed's automail isn't broken, is it? If it is then I'll-"

"Whoa, whoa," Hoenhiem held up his hands. He smiled a little. "Yes, I met with Ed. And Al, actually. There were some minor scrapes, but everything is fine." He chuckled a little. "Those boys can't go anywhere without getting into some sort of trouble..."

Winry found herself forcing a smile. "Right." She rubbed the back of her neck in slight embarrassment. Silence enveloped them. The seconds ticked by, and the sound of Den scratching behind his ears suddenly seemed louder than normal. Pinako raised an eyebrow and sighed, shaking her head.

"Well then," she said, sticking her pipe in her mouth. She looked up at the towering Hoenhiem. "I take you're not here to just stand in my doorway? No? Well, in that case-"

She turned around, gesturing for him to follow her into the kitchen. "A drink perhaps, for old times." She turned back toward the still stationary Hoenhiem. Raising an eyebrow, she said sardonically- "Word has it that you've got a battle to fight."

"Uhh..." Wordlessly, the slightly stunned man followed the much smaller (though obviously more in control) woman.

As soon as they disappeared around the corner, Winry sank to the ground, sitting on the last step and curling her legs up to her chest, head in her hands. "Stupid," she muttered. "Of course it's not over. Ed and Al would have come here right away, and demanded that apple pie..." She couldn't stop the smile from crossing her face as she remembered Ed's parting words.

"...So bake me an apple pie, and keep it warm!"

"And I would throw my wrench at them," Winry muttered, closing her eyes and smiling even more, a scene working itself in her head. "For saying that first thing when they got here. And then I'd hug them senseless...so hard that Ed would need a new automail neck!" She leaned back against the stair rail, laughing a little. "And I would cry tears of happiness, just like Ed promised..." She murmured.

"I'll come back when all this "promised" crap is over..."

She sighed again, her smile fading. "He said he would come back..." She whispered, voice quivering slightly. "And he will. He has to."

She stood up, feeling her hair fluttering about her. Running a hand over her forehead, she made her way into the kitchen, where her grandmother and Hoenhiem had gone.

Poking her head around the doorway, Winry saw that the two adults were holding a conversation. Pinako caught her eye and nodded for her to come in. Biting her lip a little, Winry came in, walking to the counter where one of her many toolboxes lay, to give some kind of reason for being in the kitchen.

"So you said that you've seen Ed?" Pinako questioned, and Winry grinned, her back toward them, wanting to run over and kiss her grandmother for bringing it up.

"Yes," Hoenhiem said. "And I must say, I felt the benefits of hit automail. You do excellent work." Looking from the corner of her eye, Winry saw him rubbing his jaw, and chuckling a little.

"Hmmm. Well thank you for the compliment-" –There was a clinking of glass as she sat her drink down on the table. "-But my granddaughter does all of Ed's work. She surpassed me long ago. So Ed punched you?" She didn't sound surprised.

"Yes...when we met here before, he said that the only reason he didn't punch me then was because..." He trailed off.

"...You were standing in front of Trisha's grave."

Hoenhiem sighed deeply. "Yes." He paused. "He told me of...Trisha's last message. He said that you told him to pass it on. Thank you."

A slightly tense silence followed, in which Winry nearly jumped as she rearranged some of the tools in the box- the clinking sounds shattering the air, and bringing the two adults back to their senses.

Clearly striving to change the subject, Hoenhiem continued. "Yes, Ed is the same as ever. Though apparently he works for a Homunculus- the employment hasn't changed anything about him." He laughed. "Hot-headed, unreasonable- even more than I was at his age."

"Hmmm." Pinako's statement held no comment, though there seemed to be something brewing in her tone.

"Yes, hardly like his brother at all. Because of the armor, you could easily think that they weren't related. When I met with Alphonse, after we sorted some things out, he was quite calm. Edward however-"


Hoenhiem was cut off mid-sentence as the toolbox was slammed on the countertop. A shaking Winry stood in front of it, her outline trembling visibly. She turned around, and there was rage written in every line of her face.

"SHUT UP! DON'T TALK ABOUT THINGS YOU CAN'T UNDERSTAND!" She screamed. She marched right up to the stunned Hoenhiem, eyes seeming ready to shoot gunfire from their depths. "You have gotten to know Al a bit it seems," she said, no longer shouting but voice somehow harsher. "But do NOT presume that you know Ed!"

Taking her finger, she jabbed it into his chest. "You weren't there to see two boys- one encased in empty armor, and the other with two bleeding stumps- asking you to help them! You weren't there to see Ed go through automail surgery, and do in a year what most take at least two to do! You weren't there to see them come back, after four years of absence, realizing that everyday they were in danger- and that you could do nothing!" Her voice cracked. She stepped back, and clenched her fists, with eyes like a hurricane.

"Edward Elric is brave." Her voice was low, passionate, and carried a force that seemed so much stronger than the delicate looking body it came from. "Edward Elric is strong. Edward Elric is kind. He intelligent- a prodigy, though he would never admit it! Sometimes he is hotheaded, and I don't understand him, and sometimes he is downright unreasonable, but he always does what is right! He wants to help people." A smile fell across her face, and her eyes closed halfway, as though reliving a memory. Her hands curled together, and she pressed them to her heart. "Edward Elric cares more than you can possibly imagine, about his brother. He has faced so much hardship- I know this, even though there is so much about their lives that I don't understand- that they won't tell me! But he still goes on, because he wants to help his brother, and save all of us!" She looked up, and her eyes held a fire to them, one that scorched and burned and bled with a light all it's own.


She stopped again, and looked at the floor. When she spoke, her voice was choked. "So don't talk like you know him. Don't speak as though you were there and understand."

Hoenhiem stared at her. When he spoke, his was carefully controlled. "You're...in love with him, aren't you?" It was a statement, not a question.

Winry's head snapped up, and for a moment there was such vulnerability in her eyes that Hoenhiem felt sure that she would cry. But instead she blushed, and looked him in the eye. "Yes," she said, voice very quiet. And then stronger, she threw her shoulders back, straight and proud.

"Edward Elric- strong, brave, kind, intelligent Edward Elric- is the person that I love."

She said it with the assurance of one that held no doubt, and at that moment could have shouted it to the world. But the moment passed and she slumped, her eyes glazing over with despair. "And... Edward Elric is the person...that I can do nothing for..." The whisper was pulled from her unwillingly, and almost immediately, she wished that she could draw it back. Her hands flew to her mouth and she sank to her knees, eyes wide.

"Then leave."

Winry looked up, startled by Hoenhiem's sudden words, slowly lowering her shaking hands from in front of her mouth. "What?"

Hoenhiem looked down at her- and for a moment Winry saw an ancient sadness there, before he looked away and spoke: "Leave this country, so that he doesn't return to a dead woman. A dead family. Like I did..." He trailed off into silence.

"No." Winry and her grandmother spoke at the same time. They looked at each other briefly, before Pinako spoke again. "I have my duties here in this country, as does Winry. People here need us." She downed her drink matter-of-factly. Winry nodded, and smiled a little sadly.

"Besides," she murmured. "I have to believe that they will get their bodies back, and that they will save Amestris. There's no cause for us to worry, because I believe that, with all of my heart."

Hoenhiem was silent for a moment. He set down the glass that he had been holding all of this time, watching the swirling contents. "Thank you," he said finally. He stood up. "If I may intrude on your hospitality a little longer Pinako- I could use a place to stay tonight. I will be gone before you wake up." He smiled a little. Pinako cocked her head to one side, staring at the man for a moment before nodding. His smile grew and he nodded back in thanks, walking to the doorway.

He paused, one hand raised in the air, brushing the wall with his fingertips. "You are...a truly special person, Winry Rockbell." And with that, he had disappeared through the doorway, and his footsteps could be heard going up the stairs.


The figure moved slowly through the darkness- each step measured and careful, not wanting to rouse any of the house's occupants. Of course, the downside to being a mechanical prodigy was that one's room tended to be full of the objects that were used for such a job. Scattered things, that easily caused people to slip when left unattended...

"Owww..." Winry Rockbell it seemed, had to learn this the hard way.

Winry rubbed her knee, grateful that the screwdriver hadn't been anything sharper- something that, say, would have required her to give herself automail for example. Blowing her hair out of her eyes, she stood, and grabbed what she had wanted- a length of rope sitting on a table. Coiling it together, she tied it around her waist like a belt.

"Okay," she whispered, fingers fumbling in the dark. "Wrench- always handy, scalpel instead of a pocketknife...backpack...money...flashlight...all I need now is a little food..."

Opening the door slowly, she squeezed out of it, not daring to open it all the way in case it creaked. Glancing at a clock on the wall that she would barely make out, Winry saw that she was right on schedule- it was six AM. She had plenty of time to grab some food, scribble a note to her grandmother, and make it down to the train station in time to sneak on the next train to Central.

Tiptoeing down the stairs was no easy act- but she made sure to skip a few steps that she knew creaked whenever anyone stepped on them. Breathing a sigh of relief that Den hadn't gotten up either, Winry made her way to the kitchen. Opening the refrigerator, she dug through its contents, pulling out a sandwich and a water canteen that she had put there just before going to bed. Her hand had closed around an apple when she heard it- the sound of small footsteps. She turned, blinking in the light from the refrigerator to see a small figure standing in the kitchen doorway- seeming to have it's arms crossed...

"Granny...?" Winry whispered, stepping back and squinting a little. The refrigerator door swung shut, and almost immediately, Pinako flicked on the light that she was holding, staring at her granddaughter, in the midst of sneaking out.

"Now really Winry," Pinako said, voice light. "I'm smarter than that, give me some credit. How was I not supposed to know that you would try something like this?"

Winry lowered her head, sighing. "I'm sorry Granny, I just-"

"I know very well what 'You just', Winry." Pinako raised an eyebrow. "That is not the thing that we should be discussing- what we should discuss, is why you didn't ask me to help you."

"What?" Winry nearly dropped the apple she was holding. "You- you want me to go?"

Pinako sighed. "Don't be silly, Winry, of course not. I don't want you to go any more than I wanted your parents to go to Ishval all those years ago." She stepped closer. "But just like back then, I know you feel that you have to go, and that I can't talk you out of it. The Rockbell women are known for their stubborn streak. I couldn't talk any of my children out of leaving to save something or other, and I've damn well had enough. It's about time I lent a hand, so don't bother complaining." She added fire to this statement with a hard glare that Winry was well used to.

"Granny..." Winry didn't know what to say. Goodbye somehow seemed improper, and thanks didn't seem like enough. "I think I have everything that I need." To emphasize her point, she tossed the apple (Which was most likely bruised by now) into her backpack.

"Oh you do?" Pinako scrutinized her granddaughter for a moment. "Not quite. Granny always knows, Winry." She disappeared for a moment through the door and emerged a few moments later, clutching what seemed to be some fabric in her hands. Placing the light that she had been carrying on a nearby table, Pinako reached into the folds of the fabric, and pulled out something small.

She pressed it into Winry's hands, saying- "A pocketknife. I know you've probably got a scalpel or something of the like in place of it since you don't own one, but having this will help. Keep both if you want." Winry wordlessly tucked the knife into her pocket.

Pinako paused, running her hands over the fabric in her arms for a moment. "And a coat," she said, and Winry heard the slight hitch in her voice as she spoke. "It's colder there in Central after all." She handed it to Winry, who slipped it on, and put on her backpack after it. Winry paused, not knowing what to say now.

She bent down, enveloping her grandmother in a hug. She felt Pinako start with surprise- Pinako was never really the 'huggy' sort. But slowly, she returned it. "I have to go now, Granny," Winry whispered, stepping back.

Pinako nodded. "I know." She stepped back, and walked her granddaughter to the front door. She opened it, and stepped aside for Winry to pass, the sun rising slowly, and casting everything in an odd half-shadow. They paused together, on the steps of their home, and they both knew that possibly this was the last time that they would see each other. Trusting Ed and Al in a battle was one thing- Winry the mechanic was another. Pinako didn't know just what her granddaughter planned to do once she got to Central, but she did know, that whatever it was, it was the right thing to do.

"Come home safe, Winry." Pinako folder her hands behind her back, and bid her granddaughter farewell with those parting words.

Winry smiled, and waved, starting down the road.

She was taking the first steps, of a great journey.

I really hope the characters aren't OOC. Reviews make me smile inside! (And they will be answered in the next chapter.)

Next chapter preview:

A Comrade of Sorts: Winry successfully sneaks on a train. But someone discovers her, and though initially worried and confused, she soon finds herself teamed up with an unexpected comrade and protector...someone that knows all that is going on, and is willing to tell her...

Until next time!