Disclaimer: I don't own, nor am I making money.
Author's Note: Just a one-shot I've had in my head for a while. I always thought it was interesting that Ed would grow his hair long like his father's, even though he doesn't want to be anything like the man. Curious...
Pairings: Ed and Winry, but it's not necessarily romantic.
"It'll be longer than mine soon."
"Hm?" Ed was pulled out of his daze by the feminine voice. He was very relaxed, and almost asleep when Winry decided it was time to talk.
It was late in the afternoon on a hot day in Risembool. Al and Pinako were at one of her maintenance calls, the petite woman insisting the the hulking suit of armor carry her tools for her. Ed and Winry were on the front porch, reclining each in their own chair and nursing some lemonade. Ed and Al were in town for automail repairs, which had been finished that morning, and since the next train to Central didn't leave until the next morning, he and Winry were able to enjoy some downtime.
Ed had really been enjoying the warmth and the quiet until Winry decided to break the spell. What the hell was she talking about anyway?
"You're hair," she continued as if she had read his mind (sometimes Ed wondered if she really could). "It'll be longer than mine soon. Don't you ever cut it?" Ed shrugged.
"I'll take scissors to the front parts if it's getting in my eyes," he answered.
"That doesn't count. Just how long are you going to let it grow anyway?"
"I don't know. What the hell does it matter anyway?" Ed was beginning to get annoyed. Why was this important? And why the hell was Winry so determined to ruin his afternoon off? He sent a scowl in her direction, only to find that her brow was already knit. With that expression, he knew she wasn't going to let the conversation drop.
"Well for one thing," she began, "it's going to start getting in your way. And worse, people are going to start mistaking you for a girl from behind." Ed pulled his feet off the porch railing and sat up abruptly.
"I'm not built like a girl!" he retorted.
"No, but since you're on the small side..."
"Who are you calling so small you could crush him under your boot?!" Winry smiled. She had gotten her point across.
"I didn't say that! All I meant was that if you hair gets too long someone who didn't know better might mistake you for a girl if they didn't see your face." Ed calmed a little. "Don't they have barbers in the military?"
"Yeah, but I'm not gonna let some butcher just hack at my hair." He crossed his arms and put his feet back up on the porch railing, the same position Winry was in.
"When was the last time you got it cut anyway?" Ed paused for a moment, debating whether or not to let Winry in on what he had been keeping close to his heart.
"My mother," he finally replied, nostalgia in his voice. Winry nodded slowly in her understanding. If Ed's mother was the last person to cut his hair, it was no wonder he wouldn't let some stranger at the military do it for him now. That was personal territory for him.
Trisha had always cut her boys' hair as they grew. It was just another one of her motherly duties, and she was happy to do it. After she died, Ed got angry at the thought of anyone else doing it. Pinako had offered once, but he very firmly told her "no" before storming off. Cutting his hair was his mother's job and no one else's. That's the reason he started to grow his hair long, though the only person he ever told was Al, and that was only because Al had asked if he was trying to look like their father. Ed would have punched him for the implication if Al wasn't a suit of armor.
As time went by, Ed grew to really like his hair. He liked the way it made him look, and thanks to alchemy it wasn't hard to keep clean if there wasn't a shower around. But now that Winry had brought it up, he had to admit to himself that maybe it was getting a little too long, but he'd be damned before he let some stranger touch his hair. Maybe he would trim it a little before bed.
"I could do it for you," Winry ventured. "I mean, it'd be better than going to a barber, since you seem to be so against them. And you can't do a good job yourself since you can't see the back of your own head. You'd just cut it crooked." There she went reading his mind again. Ed supposed that if someone other than his mother had to cut his hair, Winry would be the best choice. He trusted her not to ruin it, and her automail was, if anything, proof of her dexterous hands.
"Alright." Ed sat up and let out a sigh. Might as well get it over with. Winry's face completely lit up as she all but jumped out of her chair. Apparently she hadn't expected him to say yes.
"I'll be right back," she announced as she bounded into the house. She seemed too excited. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all. Ed didn't have much time to rethink his decision before Winry reappeared on the porch, scissors and towel in hand. "Sit up straight."
Ed did as he was commanded, and Winry wasted no time in grabbing ahold of his hair and gently untying his braid.
"I don't want it short," he said curtly. "You better not ruin it."
"Don't worry. I'm only going to take off a couple inches," she assured him. She draped the towel around his shoulders and coaxed him into laying back in his chair, pulling his hair over the back of it. "Just relax. I promise I won't make you look different."
Ed relented and closed his eyes to relax himself. Soon Winry's hands were combing through his hair and Ed was flooded with memories from his childhood.
His mother used to run her fingers through his hair just like Winry was doing now. How could he have forgotten that? And on warm days like today, she would take him and Al out on the back porch for their haircuts, letting the trimmings fly away in the breeze. He could hear the scissors cutting now, and knew that Winry was doing the same thing. How did she know what to do? Did all women know these things automatically?
She started humming then, and Ed was eight years old again. He could see Al running through the yard laughing, rubbing his freedom in Ed's face while he was forced to sit still.
"It'll be Al's turn soon enough," Trisha would say to reassure her son. Ed would squirm anyway, and Trisha would laugh to herself over his anxiousness to play. She would gently scratch his scalp with her fingernails before gathering small pieces of hair between her fingers to cut. Sometimes she would hum to herself, but Ed never recognized the tune. The sun was so warm on his skin, and the more she scratched and hummed, the more Ed forgot about his jealousy over Al's great time in the yard. But Ed could always tell when she was finished. Trisha would ruffle his hair to shake loose all the trimmings before coming around to face him. After making sure the cut was even, she'd take his face in her hands, love written all over her expression.
"I have such a handsome boy," she would say before kissing him on the forehead and setting him free. Ed would spring off his stool like a rocket and take off for the yard, yelling to Al that it was his turn now.
Ed felt fingernails on his scalp again and with guilt noted that he didn't even know Winry had grown her nails long. She began to ruffle his hair, and Ed knew that she must be finished. He also knew that it couldn't have lasted long enough. He couldn't remember the last time he was able to simply relax and remember better times. He missed his mother so much then, and silently he apologized to her for letting another woman take her job. But somehow he didn't feel bad about it, he just felt, well, older. Moving on is all part of growing up, right?
The fingers left his hair, and Ed could feel that Winry was braiding it for him.
"It's still past your shoulders," she informed him, "but I think it's a much better length now. More manly." He puffed out a laugh at her comment.
He open his eyes as she removed the towel from his shoulders, the light of the sun drowning out the color for a moment. He looked up to see Winry beaming at him, holding out a mirror for him. He took it and examined the job Winry had done.
"It looks the same," was his judement. Winry rolled her eyes and snatched back the mirror.
"I told you I wasn't going to make you look different. It's just shorter in the back."
Ed pulled his braid over his shoulders so he could see it. It was indeed shorter, by at least two inches.
Winry proceeded to shake out the towel that had occupied Ed's shoulders. She leaned over the porch railing as she did so, so as not to shake hair into their lemonade.
"Granny and Al are back," she announced as she folded the towel, having seen them on the horizon walking toward the house. She rolled the scissors and the mirror she had brought into the towel. "I guess I'll go get dinner started. Would you like a pie tonight, Ed?" She had been walking as she talked and was almost through the door when Ed, who was still in his seat, grabbed her by the wrist to stop her.
"Thank you," he said as he looked straight into her eyes. The sincerity that was written there was something she had rarely seen.
"You're welcome," she replied. Ed could tell she was confused, but he didn't quite know how to explain that it was more than a haircut she had given him.
Winry was trying to wriggle her wrist free from his grasp, since Ed didn't seem to want to let go. He shook himself out of his revelry and released her.
"A pie sounds great," he said before standing up to stretch. She nodded and went inside. Ed turned to wave to Pinako and Al coming down the road when he heard a crash come from inside the house, followed by a string of curses. Ed laughed to himself and proceeded inside to alchemize back together whatever it was that Winry had broke.
Author: Nothing special I know, but I couldn't get the haircut scene out of my head and I needed to write a story for it. Maybe one of these days I'll have time to write something longer... Maybe. Thanks for reading!