Warning! T for violence, language, and so on.

Story Content: Eventual EdxWin (probably, but not written in stone). Creative licensing on Ed's person. Winry's a tad OOC, but not too terribly.

Written By: Zilo

Beta: Maruka Gomez (AKA Captain Mama)

Zilo don't own FMA, isn't that freaking great for you? You know if it were mine, things would be a LOT worse. And everyone would wear glasses, instead of just the nerdy people. Envy in glasses? Yay!

Dear Grandma:

I thought you'd like to know I made it safely to Central. The train ride was kind of long and boring, but luckily I had my latest project to occupy the time. Once it's finished, I'll be sure to send you a picture.

I didn't have any trouble at the train station, except for one man trying to steal my bag. A taste of my wrench fixed him, though I did get several strange looks after that. Maybe it was me bashing the guy in the face with my wrench. Well, what do they expect? Me to just stand helplessly by while the jerk takes my stuff? They must be crazy; my things are WAY too valuable.

Anyway, after that I didn't have much trouble at the baggage claim. There were a lot of people all around, but it wasn't too scary. They bumped and pushed a lot, so I bumped and pushed back. I'm telling you, Grandma, I'll be able to handle myself in the city before you know it!

When I finally found my way outside, I saw this incredibly pretty girl holding up a sign with my name on it. She misspelled it, unfortunately--she had "Winree". I didn't say anything about it, though, because her heart was in the right place. It turns out the really pretty girl was Noa, Roze's older sister. Roze completely understated just how pretty Noa is--if you could see her, Granny! She should be a model, and I told her so, but she just smiled and said she'd heard that before.

So she helped me load my stuff into her car--which was this incredibly beautiful Mozie DX(1). I'd love to take a peek under the hood sometime!--and then she drove me away in the awesome ride. The drive to her and Roze's house took about thirty minutes, and we got to talk a lot on the way. She's actually a professional dancer--not one of the exotic ones, I know what you're thinking, Grandma--and she teaches dance classes to kids after school hours. She likes to write and dance, of course, and she says her dream is to have an entire dance troupe.

Her and Roze's townhouse is amazing, Granny. It's actually big--I mean, really big. Big enough to fit a regular house in. She says that her dance classes pay really well, and Roze has a job to help out with bills. The room they're letting me stay in is twice as big as mine at home. And they've even got an extra room I can use as a workshop!! Provided I don't have any open flame, that is. They're being so nice already, so I've got to get a job so I can pay them back.

Anyway, I'd better sign off. I've already unpacked everything--mostly--and took a break to write you. When Roze gets back from her classes--she's taking summer classes to graduate early--she's going to take me on a tour of Central's hotspots. That should be fun! I hope there's a good toolshop somewhere.

Lots of love,


1: First Day

I was just sticking my envelope to Grandma in the mailbox when I heard a shout. "Hey, Winry!"

I turned and saw Roze biking down the sidewalk towards me, waving one arm. I waved back, and she pedaled to a stop next to me. "I'm so glad you're here!" She gave me a hug. "What's your impression of Central so far?"

"Really, really different," I said honestly.

Roze smiled and nodded. "I guess it would be. But don't worry, after a while you won't even notice the noise or the hordes of people. I promise, I'll help you feel right at home."

"Thanks Roze, but the reason I'm here is for something different," I reminded her.

"Let me just change my clothes," Roze said as she wheeled the bike around her side of the townhouse, "and we'll head off. You're a walker, right?"

"Yeah. It's not, say, a habit, but I walk a lot."

"Good. We've got a lot of ground to cover. Oh, Winry, I'm so excited!" Roze hugged me again. "I'm so glad to have you here for the summer! We're going to have so much fun!"

I smiled and nodded. "This is going to be the best summer ever," I declared.

After she had changed her clothes and thrown on some sneakers, Roze led me back out of the townhouse and we turned left. "Our first stop will be the library," Roze decided.

"The library?" I repeated in surprise.

Roze nodded. "Yeah. Believe it or not, that's a great place for teens to hang out, especially in the hot months. It's always cool in the library. I bet some of the guys are there now."

"Right, now I'll get to meet the friends you always talked about in your letters," I remembered.

"I bet you'll like them," Roze said as we stopped at a crosswalk.

I hoped so. It would stink to come all the way here and have no friends besides Roze. I watched cars whiz past us, surprised at the speed they were going. When the light finally changed in our favor, at least a dozen more people had joined us at the crosswalk, and we all crossed together.

"Are there any places where people don't show up in droves?" I asked.

Roze laughed. "Not really. This isn't even the worst part of Central. Once you get into the heart of downtown, it's almost shoulder-to-shoulder at times."

"Really?" I said. I had seen that in movies, of course, but never in real life. Only my first day in the big city, and I was already getting surprised.

We came across at least seven more crosswalks before we finally got to the library. I had never seen so many people grouped at one time who weren't even going the same place. It was boggling how many people just seemed to be around. I clutched my tote bag a little tighter when I saw a shifty-looking man walking in the opposite direction. I didn't need a repeat of what had happened at the train station.

"Here we are!" Roze announced. "Stop One: the Central Public Library!"

I looked up at the square brick building. White letters attached to the wall above the doors announced that it was indeed the Central Public Library. However, some of the letters were missing, so instead it was titled the Cent al P b ic Lib a y. Someone had graffitied the side wall, and the ten or so parking spaces were mostly empty. A multitude of bikes were at the bike rack, all dutifully chained up. In the distance, a horn blared, a fire engine blasting its siren went by, and someone's car alarm went off.

"It might not be much too look at, but it's still a nice place to hang out," Roze said. "Come on inside. You can meet Gracia."

I remembered Roze mentioning Gracia in her letters: the librarian that Roze had befriended a couple of years back. As we walked through the glass doors, a blast of cool air hit us, and I felt better stepping out of the heat. It was quiet inside, and all the computer terminals were occupied. A few people browsed the vast expanse of bookshelves, while fewer still were sitting at one of the tables reading. I wondered if there were any books on mechanics and resolved to get a library card.

Roze pointed towards the reception desk, where a woman with chin length, light brown hair was speaking quietly to someone holding a stack of books. Roze waited until the person left to walk up to the front desk, me following. "Hi, Gracia!" she said in a low tone.

Gracia smiled. "Hello, Roze," she said, scanning a few books without even looking down at them. "How are you today?"

"Pretty good. Gracia, this is my pen pal Winry Rockbell. She's staying with me and Noa for the summer."

Gracia's warm smile turned to me. "A pleasure to meet you, Miss Rockbell. I'm Gracia Hughes."

"Oh, it's just Winry," I said, smiling back.

"How's your husband and Elysia?" Roze asked Gracia.

"Oh, they're doing well. Elysia's going to be starting preschool in the fall, so you can imagine how worried Maes is. He's taking more pictures than normal, as if he'll never see her again."

I took a look around the library, looking for the teenagers that were supposed to be hanging out. There were plenty on the computers, a couple even using the computers designated for kids. A small group of teens was sitting at one of the round tables, workbooks and papers spread out. I guessed that they were working on homework or perhaps a group assignment for school.

"I'm going to take a quick look around," I said to Roze.

"That's a great idea! I bet you'll come to library more often. It's good to familiarize yourself with it. Want me to come?"

"That's okay," I said. "You can keep talking to Miss Gracia."

Roze smiled at me. "Just don't get lost. The library's bigger than it looks."

I doubted that would happen, but I promised I wouldn't and walked away.

Roze was right about the library being bigger than it looked. I turned corner after corner, expecting to find the back of the building, but instead finding more shelves of books arranged around tables. Most of the shelves seemed dedicated to fiction, so I tried to find the non-fiction section, which was apparently like trying to find a needle in a stack of safety pins.

Finally I gave up around the audio books section. "Maybe this library just doesn't have any nonfiction section," I sighed, turning around. "A lot of good this did--"

I suddenly walked right into someone. We both fell on our seats with grunts of surprise and exclamation. I rubbed my rear, wincing. I put my hand down to push myself upright, and it landed on a pair of glasses.

"I'm sorry," I said, grabbing the glasses and standing. "I wasn't looking where I was going." I brushed myself off, then turned to face the person I had knocked down.

"Oh, it's no big deal."

I blinked, in an almost stunned way. I had run into a boy who looked to be around my age. He had golden blond hair, very long for a boy, pulled back into a neat braid. He was rubbing his eyes with one hand, and the other was holding onto a slender white cane.

"Um, here's your glasses," I said, sheepishly holding them out to him.

The boy raised his free hand and took them. "Thanks." He got to his feet, brushing himself off, then settled the glasses on his nose.

"I'm really sorry," I said. "I didn't mean to knock you down."

The boy waved a hand, and I suddenly noticed his eyes. They were a light color I couldn't quite distinguish in the gloominess of the audio books section. Whatever color they were, I could tell it was unusual. "Don't worry about it," he said. "I fall all the time." He frowned, as if something was wrong. "Do you see a book anywhere around me?"

"A book?" I looked down at the blue-green carpet and saw an overturned book about six inches from his left foot. I picked it up. "You mean this one?"

"Is it The Destruction Of Self-Esteem Over The Ages?"

I glanced at the title. "Yeah." I looked back up at him. "Can't you tell?"

The boy smiled. "Afraid not."

I paled as my brain finally caught up with my mouth. "Oh! I'm so sorry, I didn't mean any offense, I-I didn't know you were blind, I mean, visually challenged, I mean--"

"Hey, it's okay," the boy said with a chuckle. "But technically, I'm not blind yet."

"What do you mean?" I asked, tilting my head in confusion.

"Well, legally I'm blind, but I can still see if there's enough light," the boy explained, holding out his hand. I gave him the book, and he tucked it under his free arm. "People tend to think I'm completely blind anyway, no matter what I say, because of the cane." He tapped the bottom of his cane on the floor as if to prove it.

I blinked. In all my years living in Risembool, I had never met a blind person, legally or otherwise. So I stuck out my hand. "I'm Winry," I said. At the last minute I mentally smacked myself, reminding myself that he probably couldn't see my hand to shake.

However, he found my hand easily and shook it. "Edward," he said. "But you can call me Ed if you want."

"It's nice to meet you," I said. "Um, so where were you headed?"

"To put the book back. I got a bit turned around, though. This library is so easy to get lost in when you can't really tell where you're going."

"It's a nonfiction book, right? I'm looking for the nonfiction section."

"Where are we now?" Edward asked.

"Audio books."

Edward considered. "Then the nonfiction section should be three aisles over. Want me to walk you there?"

I blushed, as it seemed strange that a blind--or almost blind--person would offer to walk me somewhere. "Sure," I said, falling into step with him as he started walking. I sought another conversation starter. "So, how long have you lived in Central?"

"My whole life," Ed commented. I noticed as we walked that he held his cane out at a slight angle in front of him and waved it back and forth just a little, barely missing the carpet. I guessed it was to keep from tripping over things and running into walls. "What about you?"

"This is my first day in Central," I admitted.

A smile spread over Ed's face. "Really? So you're what? A small town girl?"

"I guess. I never really thought of it that way, but I suppose I am," I agreed.

"Well, the city is much different from a small town, that much I know. What is it like? Quieter? Roomier?"

I nodded, then quickly corrected myself. "Yeah," I said. "There's actual fields of grass, too. And instead of horns and animals and fire trucks, you hear birds."

"Birds, huh?"

We made it to the nonfiction section, and I shelved the book for him. "Do you live around here?" I asked.

"A few blocks down. Otherwise I couldn't come to the library on my own," Edward said. "What about you? Where do you live?"

"Um..." Now that I thought about it, I didn't know what Roze's address was, or how far away it was from the library. I offered up the only measure of distance I had. "About eight crosswalks away," I said sheepishly.

Edward laughed. "It really is your first day," he said, but the way he said it didn't make me feel bad. "I hope you like the city so far."

"It's different," I said truthfully, "but that's why I'm here. I'd like different for one summer."

"Is that how long you're staying?"

I nodded, then corrected myself again. "Yeah. With a friend of mine."

"Well, I hope you enjoy yourself in Central for the summer," Edward said.

"Me too," I agreed.

I heard a sound like someone else was talking and turned, but no one else was in the aisle with us. I turned back to Edward to see him frowning in the general direction of the carpet. He turned his head back to me and smiled. "Well, I'd better be heading home. My mom's always worried about me if I'm even a minute late."

"You'll make it to the door okay?" I said without thinking.

Edward's smile grew, and I felt even stupider. "Yeah, I think I'll manage," he said. "Maybe I'll catch you some other time, eh?"

"Yeah, maybe!" I said. "Um, see you later!" Edward laughed again and waved as he walked off, and I physically slapped my hand to my forehead. What was with me? "See you later"? Was I really that insensitive?

I heaved a big sigh, hoping Edward didn't hate my offensiveness, and started to browse the shelves for a mechanics book.

When I finally joined Roze back at the front desk and we left the library together, ominous clouds had covered the sky. "Oh, shoot," Roze sighed. "Looks like it's gonna rain. I guess we'll have to cut the tour short."

"That's okay," I said. "We can finish it up tomorrow."

"Tomorrow I'm staying after school for a tutoring session," Roze said. "How about we reschedule Saturday?"

I nodded. "Okay. Let's get back, then; I don't want to get rained on!"

We started down the street at a faster pace as more clouds gathered.

It was dinnertime before the rain actually started coming down. Roze, Noa and I all ate at the table in the corner of the family room. We jumped a little when the thunder boomed. Fortunately, the power didn't go out.

"I'm going to review my tapes for tomorrow's lesson," Noa said, rising and stacking our cleaned plates. "Roze, would you mind doing the dishes?"

"No problem," Roze said, taking the stack from her sister.

"Want some help?" I volunteered, getting up from the table.

"Oh, don't worry about it, you're a guest--"

"Who wants to help," I said firmly. "Assign me something."

Roze blinked and smiled. "Well, okay. Can you wipe down the table and the counters?"

I nodded and grabbed a dishcloth hanging off the rack attached to the fridge. "Hey Roze, do you know anyone named Edward?"

"Edward?" Roze turned on the water and put the pile of plates and flatware in the sink. "Hmm, let's see. What does he look like?"

"Long blond hair, a little shorter than me, legally blind?"

Roze snapped her fingers. "Edward Elric. Yeah, he lives a few blocks from the library. He goes to my school. Did you meet him?"

I nodded, starting to wipe the table. "In the library. He seemed like a really nice guy."

"Oh, he is," Roze agreed. "Some people are mean to him because of, you know, the whole legally blind thing, but he's still pretty cool. We were study buddies a few times last semester."

Nice guy. Pretty cool. I wondered if he went to the library often.

"Why?" Roze asked, turning to me. Then she got this sly look on her face. "Ohhh...I get it."

"I know what you're thinking, and you can just stop thinking it right now. I'm only interested in meeting new people," I said primly.

Roze smiled. "Sure you are, Winry," she said.

"I am!" I insisted, flicking some water at her. She giggled and returned fire with a few suds from the sink.

(1) Mozie DX is an entirely fictional car brand. It's perfect for an entirely fictional world, eh?

Tada! Your first chapter. Just getting things rolling. So don't look at me like "WELL WHERE'S THE SCI-FI, HUH PUNK?" It's on the way. See you then!