Disclaimer: I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist. That honor belongs to someone far more deserving and talented than I.
A/N: So this is the first in my '5 Senses' series. This saga is dedicated to the year between the night Ed and Al tried to bring their mother back until they burned down their house. There will be another '5 Senses' saga that will follow the lives of Ed, Al and Winry after the Elrics return to their bodies.
Hope you enjoy it!
Winry bit her nails, unaware that her thumb had started bleeding from her insistent nibbling. Granny had warned her that nail biting was a bad habit and horribly unfitting for a young girl, but Winry had always chewed on her nails whenever she was anxious, and the ten year old was certain she had never been more anxious in all of her life.
She was standing vigil by a bedside, her blue eyes locked on the person writhing under the sheets, desperate for him to wake up just so she could see the dark gold of his eyes once more.
When Ed had written that he and Al would be returning from their year long sabbatical in Dublith, Winry had been overjoyed, thinking that the brothers had finally come to terms with their mother's death and were now ready to come back home and move on.
The date and train number had been firmly engraved in Winry's memory as she impatiently waited for the days to pass. Finally, the day arrived and Winry was dressed and ready to leave for the station long before Pinako had even had her first cup of coffee. Tapping her feet with uncontained excitement against the aging wood, Winry was nearly jumping out of her shoes when Ed and Al's train heaved up to the station, the steam blanketing the platform and making it nearly impossible to see through the opaque clouds. Winry, however, would not be deterred. Unwilling to blink for fear of missing them, Winry scanned around the few passengers, her clear sky-blue eyes finally picking out twin heads of spun gold hair.
Ed and Al were home.
When they had stepped off the train, Winry had to admit that they seemed much older, especially Ed who held himself with more confidence and appeared to have become even more arrogant in the last year he'd been gone. That didn't matter to Winry, though. Calling out to them, she ran at the brothers at top speed, her straw hat flying off of her head to be lost in the meadows. As she hugged the pair close, Al rubbed her back reassuringly while Ed complained about the chokehold she had on him. Winry just ignored Ed's protests, never once noticing the alarming blush that stained his cheeks.
She was so happy! The Elrics were home, and everything would go back to the way it had been before they left.
How very wrong she was.
The alienation and complete disregard hadn't been what Winry expected.
She understood the bond between the brothers, but before their mother had died they had always kept a special place for her in their lives. After Trisha's death, Ed and Al didn't come by as much. They were always talking in alchemical formulas and keeping secrets from her. Winry had hoped that would change when they returned from their apprenticeship, but if anything, the alchemy obsession got worse.
It was the secrets that hurt the most.
Winry had never kept secrets from Ed or Al. They knew everything about her from her dreams of being a world renowned automail mechanic to the last time she had wet the bed. Winry would never dream of keeping things from either Elric, and knowing that they kept secrets from her hurt more than the time she'd burned herself with a soldering iron. She reached out to them, asking them what it was they were so keen on discovering in the crusty old books from their father's library. However, if she ever did intrude on Ed and Al's secret project, Ed would just call her a crybaby who couldn't possibly understand the complicated science of alchemy before pushing her away and slamming a door in her face.
It left her crying every time.
She was only ten years old and barely able to understand why Ed's rejection had hurt so deeply. All she wanted was to be Edward Elric's best friend again, but it seemed that Ed was determined to keep a firm distance between them.
Now, as she stared at Ed lying on the bed, his skin a deathly grey and an arm and a leg missing, Winry understood why he had not wanted her involved.
A train whistle in the distance disturbed the peace in the room.
Just like Ed's scream had…that night…
"Winry Rockbell! You get your hide back in here this instant!" Pinako Rockbell hollered over the thunder.
"But that was Ed, Granny! Ed's in trouble!" Winry insisted, pushing past the screen door and leaping down the porch stairs to the wet grass.
"Winry, I won't let you go out in this storm!"
"Ed was screaming."
"You don't even know it was him!"
"Yes I do!" Winry cried, spinning back to face her grandmother, her blond ponytail slapping wetly against her cheek. Her eyes were dark and churning, just like the storm that was raging all over Resembool. Pinako was momentarily in awe of the strength in her granddaughter's blue eyes, eyes that looked so much like her son's, but the moment was fleeting and soon overshadowed by her stern anger.
"Grandma! That scream came from Ed's house. I know it was him." Winry insisted, stamping her foot in the sodden grass.
Pinako whipped her pipe out of her mouth and roughly banged it against the doorframe.
"Listen here young lady!" the elderly woman cried, her voice easily overpowering the thunder in the dark sky. "I took a switch to your father and uncles and I won't hesitate to bend you over my knee and give you a sound thrashing…I'm hoping you're smarter than they were."
It was a long tense moment as the thunder roared around them.
This was the first fight that Winry had ever had with her grandmother. Pinako narrowed her dark eyes, glowering at the ten year old. As a Rockbell, Winry stood up to the reputation of her name by being a child whose stubbornness was a solid as stone, and Pinako admired that. After all, Winry reminded her much of herself when she was young, but this situation was dangerous and Pinako would be damned if she was about to watch her ten year old granddaughter and only family march out in a storm in the dead of night.
The old woman breathed a sigh of relief when Winry took sharp stomping steps back towards the house.
"I see you have some sense." Pinako snorted under her breath. Winry's shoes squeaked as she stepped onto the porch. The ten year old's blond tresses were sopping, sticking to her cheeks and neck, and her flimsy nightgown was unable to hide how the child trembled under the harsh light of the porch lamp.
"Get inside and change into something warm. I'll make cocoa."
Winry grumbled under her breath the whole time. Still she did change into a dry nightdress and returned to the kitchen where Granny had left a mug of hot cocoa. Sitting down, her eyes riveted to the screen door, Winry sipped the hot drink and relaxed as it warmed her insides.
"There, nice and warm." Pinako cooed as she placed a towel on Winry's wet tresses.
"Granny…I'm worried about Ed and Al."
"I know." Pinako drawled as she put her raincoat on. "That's why I'm going over to get them. It's late, but even those boys shouldn't be alone in a storm like this."
"Really, Granny? You'll go get them? Can I come, too?"
"No." Pinako said firmly, giving her granddaughter a narrowed stare. "Just sit down, drink your cocoa and I'll be back soon with Ed…"
Pinako never finished her sentence.
The screen door burst open with such force that the hinges broke, and standing in the frame was a sight Winry would never forget.
There was blood everywhere! On his face, in his hair, dripping on the floor and splattering the dull grey metal of a large suit of armor that held him.
"Aunty!" a voice cried from deep within the bowels of the armor. Winry felt herself blanch, her eyes never tearing away from her unconscious friend.
Ed was missing an arm and a leg…what had happened…
"Who are you?!" Pinako demanded. "What have you done to Edward?!"
"Aunty, please!" that haunting voice begged. "You have to do something."
Pinako, not recognizing the voice, was about to grab the broom and beat the intruder in armor but Winry's whispering voice halted the elderly woman's actions.
"Al?" the young girl asked, her body trembling at the horrific possibility. "Al, is that you in there?"
Pinako's pipe clanked on the floor as her mouth dropped open. It was Al.
"Wh-what are you doing in that armor? How can you…"
"You did it, didn't you!" Pinako roared, interrupting her granddaughter and stomping furiously towards the giant suit of armor. Looking over Ed quickly and assessing the bandages Al had applied, Pinako stared into the black eyeholes of the helmet with an accusing snarl. "You tried to bring back your mother, didn't you?"
"We're sorry!" Al howled, his huge metal body slumping forward, pressing Ed into Pinako's chest. "We didn't know…please…he'll bleed to death, Auntie…save him…save brother…"
Sobs echoed from deep inside the hollow chest of the armor and Winry felt her own tears trailing down her cheeks. She hadn't even been aware that she was crying, her vision clouded by bright splotches of blood and dark, empty eyes…
That night had been the longest of Winry's life.
Even worse than when she received an impersonal telegram informing her of her parents' death, Winry was not sure how she had managed to shake herself out of her shocked stupor and help Granny save Ed's life.
What she did know was that Al brought Ed to the operation room in the back of the house where Granny proceeded to sterilize tools for treating Ed's wounds. Winry vaguely remembered Granny telling her to boil water and prepare a syringe, as well as Al's strangled cry when it was determined that a few more inches of Ed's arm and leg would need to be surgically removed in order for Granny to properly close the wounds.
It could have been minutes or hours, Winry really wasn't sure, but before she knew it, Ed was laying in his regular bed in his and Al's room upstairs. He had needed blood and Winry hadn't hesitated. She knew that she and Ed were the same blood type and offered her arm to Granny before the elder woman even had to ask. Besides assisting her grandmother, giving blood was the most Winry could do for Ed.
That had been three days ago.
Three days of waiting, of never sleeping, of barely eating, of refusing to give up on him. Ed was strong, he would pull through.
If only he would wake up.
Granny had explained that it may be a week before Ed regained consciousness, urging Winry to take care of herself. Even Al, who, it seemed, couldn't sleep since he was a soul without a human body, told Winry that she didn't have to stand guard all day. But Winry refused to listen to either of them, never leaving her vigil from Ed's beside for more than a bathroom break or quick run to the kitchen.
She wanted to see Ed's eyes open…she wanted her eyes to be the first thing Ed saw when he woke up. That way, he would know that everything was OK.
Jumping from her chair, Winry leaned over Ed's body. His brow was scrunched, his fingers fisting in the sheets, and a fine sheen of sweat covered his body. He was in pain! Quickly filling a syringe with antibiotics, Winry gave Ed the injection, holding her breath as she watched his body slowly relax, his teeth no longer biting the inside of his cheek, his back no longer arching off the bed. When he sighed, she sighed, the tension flowing from her body as well until she had to lean against the wall for support.
She could feel the tears pricking the corner of her eyes again and knew that it would be only a matter of moments before she was sobbing quietly to herself.
This was all too much.
Winry stared down at Ed. His golden hair, always as bright as the sun, was slick and greasy, and Winry imagined she could still see traces of rusty blood caught in the bullion locks. His skin was a sickly grey, and his eyes…well, until he awoke, Winry wouldn't know if Ed's eyes still held their luminous shine or if they were dark and dead, just as his body seemed to be.
'Dear God,' Winry thought, 'if you let Ed live through this, I promise to never tease him about being short again.'
It was no secret that Ed was vertically challenged.
No matter how much the boy tried to deny it, Ed was short for his age and was often teased for this very fact, with Winry was his main tormentor. Even though she enjoyed picking fun at Ed's height, Winry had never been serious. In Winry's eyes, Ed had never been very short. Yet as she stared down at him fighting to live, it occurred to the ten year old that this was the first time, in her eyes, that Ed had ever looked small.
And that's the first installment of 'I Sense You There'
I'd like to take this chance to thank everyone who has been reading my fics. Your support is so very appreciated!
Reviews are welcomed and appreciated. No flames, please and thank you!