Yay! An EdWin one-shot! This is set in COS- towards the end, before Ed goes back across the gate, and Al is trying to get him to stay. Al shouts "What about Winry?" and for just a second, Ed hesitates.

This is my take on what is going through his head during that moment of hesitation.

DISCLAIMER: Yes, I own FullMetal Alchemist. I also own half of Canada and know the location of Atlantis.

I'm kidding. Please don't sue me.

Oh, and a BIG, HUGE, thanks to please-knock, who beta-ed this for me. She deserves a virtual cookie :)

Enjoy!


Hesitation

"WHAT ABOUT WINRY!?"

The moment the words leave his brother's lips, Ed hesitates.

He stops, and a million scenarios pass over his eyes.

((()))

The first is quiet. In some corner of his mind that surprises him- but as the scene folds out that surprise fades. Because the silence makes sense, for what is happening.

He sees himself, sitting on a couch. His hair is falling out of his braid and the light in the room is dim. He cannot see his face, but he doesn't have to. Imagination does not have to provide the expression that would cross his face, as he looks down at a sleeping Winry, her sun-gold hair falling around her in waves, a small smile on her lips, her head in his lap. He sees his hand reach down- flesh hand, not automail –and brush back some of her hair, tucking it behind her ear.

Winry moves at the touch, and the silence is ended as she softly mumbles his name.

And for a moment Ed is not watching the scene- he is in the scene, feeling the scene, looking down upon the woman in this tranquility he had never thought possible, he is touching her face and her hair and she is whispering to him, and to him only-

And then he is gone.

((()))

The second scene is loud. For a moment, Ed finds himself quite shocked, but the noise doesn't seem that important- not even the various familiar faces that are around him.

He sees his brother, but somehow his gaze doesn't stay on him. And Ed finds himself searching- for what he isn't sure. And then he finds it- knows it and feels it as his gaze is inevitably drawn to the image of himself, talking to a circle of people. The conversation ends abruptly, as he sees himself cross the room unexpectedly, meeting Winry halfway across it. His image does not look at her face, instead, it immediately goes for her hand, and Ed sees his own hand reach out- not his image, his own, for suddenly it is all very real –and touch the simple ring that is wrapped on her finger.

Winry chuckles, and Ed feels himself look up at her smiling face. She speaks, and her voice is the first defined speech that he's heard in this scene.

"Relax, Ed. I'm not planning on taking it off." She grabs his hand, making a circle on his finger, where a ring would lay. "You put it on, and only you can take it off. Soon you'll have one too."

Ed feels himself smile- no that is not right. He is smiling, because he has hardly ever felt this happy, this relieved, this free, and he grips her hand in his, the grin forming on his face as though it will live there forever-

Then he is holding nothing.

((()))

The next scene is outside.

Ed finds himself blinded for a moment, the sun is so bright.

A hand touches his, and he looks down, seeing the small hand with a silver ring. He looks at his own hand and sees one identical to it- and for a moment he wonders why he didn't feel it. But it comes to him, as he looks around at the blonde girl leaning against him. He realizes that he did feel it- but he felt it as one felt their own hair- like it was a part of him, something that was always there. Ed looks up, and meets Winry's eyes.

And in this he doesn't hesitate.

He kisses her- and for one glorious moment he feels as though the sunlight is in his chest, brimming and warm and full- but then it passes, and unlike everything else, it doesn't feel real, it isn't really there, it doesn't exist- and he breaks away into the blackness, knowing that he was feeling what he would never have.

((()))

The next scenes pass in a whirlwind. Images and sounds and feelings all crashing together in a confusing spiral.

"Ed... I..."

"Congratulations Mr. Elric, it's a girl."

"Winry..."

"Miss Rockbell, do you take this man to be your husband...in hardship and happiness...to cherish and love...for the rest of your life?"

"I do...for even longer..."

"Mister Elric, do you take this woman...?"

"I..."

"Happy anniversary, Ed!"

"Winry...I..."

"Let's sit for a while, okay?"

"I...Winry, I..."

"I don't want this to end...Ed, will you hold me?"

"I...lo..."

"Please Ed...don't leave me..."

"Winry...I lo..."

"Ed, I'm scared that you'll go away again..."

"Don't cry...Winry, I..."

"Good night, Ed."

"...love..."

"...I love you..."

"...You...Winry, I..."

And a fractured image seems to hold, fading as it begins to slip from him. She is smiling, and her eyes are crinkled at the edges.

"I love you, Ed!"

She cries, grinning, leaning forward, even as she grows fainter. She speaks again, in a whisper, her grin fading and tears filling her eyes...

"Goodbye..."

"Winry! I-"

He reaches out, but she is already gone. The pictures and voices have all jumbled together, and for a moment he is alone in his mind- shattered and despairing, he lets out a cry-

"I love you!"

((()))

It is in that hesitation, that Ed sees everything. It is all over in less than a second, but to him it has been much longer. For in that moment, in his shattering mind, Ed had cried.

But it is over, and he is himself. The hesitation has ended.

And Ed realizes that a part of him is broken- defeated, sad. Because he will know, for the rest of his days, exactly what he could have had.

Some might have thought that it meant nothing- the momentary hesitation, the short halt. But Ed knew better. In his hesitation he had seen what could be- what had been building, all of this time- what he wanted, above almost all else.

And those that knew Ed well- especially his brother – would know too, that in that hesitation, Ed's heart had been broken.


Whew.

Okay, I have two other FMA fics- one is strictly EdWin and is a chapter fic, while the other is about the relationship between Ed and Hoenhiem. Both are set in the Manga, which is a zillion times better than the anime. Check em' out, if you're interested.

'Till next time-

AerithHeartilly