Disclaimer: I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist
A/N: Well, this is it, the first fic I've written since the last chapter came out. And OMG, what a final send off! Seriously, loved it, though I'm not sure if I'm happier that the story had such a wonderful conclusion, or that my fav pairing is now indisputably canon. You can't deny that that family portrait was beyond adorable. Ok, now that's out of my system, I'm very happy to be sharing this next fic with all of you. It's not a spoiler by any means since it takes nothing from the manga, but I think you'll enjoy it all the same.
As always, happy reading!
Ed rolled onto his belly and grunted as he glowered at the rays of sunshine casting slants of light on the walls of the room he shared with his brother. Furious that the sun dared to intrude on his hole of self-pity, the former state alchemist pressed his face into his pillow, willing the light to leave him to the swirling grey chaos of his irritation.
He could hear Alphonse laughing outside, his chortles accompanied by Den's playful barks. They were probably chasing each other around the yard, fully enjoying the first day of summer and loudly announcing their good humor for all of Resembool to hear. Folding the pillow over his ears, Ed tried vainly to block out the noise, his little brother's guffaws and shouts grating on his sour mood like nails on a chalkboard. Unable to stand it, Ed threw his pillow across the room before stomping to the window and slamming the shutters closed. While he had managed to block out the sunshine, Ed couldn't muffle his sibling's giggles and it made his hair bristle.
On any other day, Edward Elric would have sighed and watched with tired happiness as his little brother bounded across the expansive Rockbell yard, his yellow hair ruffling in the breeze, his bare feet padding against the dirt and grass, his hands pulling at Den's rope toy and his face full of color as he smiled and laughed. On this afternoon, however, Ed couldn't stand the sound of Al's sniggers because he knew his brother was laughing whole-heartedly at him.
Ed hated being the butt of any joke (short ones especially) and while he knew he should be ecstatic that Al was safe, healthy and happy in his flesh and blood body, the disgruntled teenager was silently cursing his little brother for finding a very upsetting situation so humorous. Edward didn't even like to think about it, but as he collapsed back onto his bed and stared blankly at the ceiling, Al's laughter dredged up the humiliation of an hour ago…
"Remember when I clocked Ed with that snowball?" Al wondered happily as he bit into a fresh strawberry tart.
"But I got you back," Ed snorted, pieces of ham sandwich sputtering from his mouth.
"Ed, don't talk with your mouth full," Winry admonished, her tone only slightly warning. "And besides, knocking down a six year old's snowman isn't something to be proud of."
"Well, Al shouldn't be so happy about smacking his older brother in the head with a snowball," was Ed's retort.
"Kind of hard to miss a target so fat," Winry teased, sipping her milk. She ignored the narrowed stare her friend threw in her direction, smirking as she licked the frothy moustache from her upper lip. "How are you feeling today, Al?" she wondered.
"Better and better all the time! You're a good doctor, Winry," the younger Elric praised.
"I'm only as good as my patients," the sixteen year old commented as she moved to clear the dishes. "Seriously, Al, you look great."
She pinched his nose and smiled before leaning forward to take his empty dish. Blushing, Alphonse rubbed the back of his neck, chuckling nervously as he watched Winry walk towards the kitchen sink. His eyes became inevitably focused on her bottom, concealed in a pair of overalls, dark grease smudges accenting the plump swells. Still getting used to his body, the fifteen year old felt his skin tingle and his blood surge, the blush on his nose spreading along his face as his eyes became dark and thoughtful. Lost in the hazy daydreams caused by Winry's backside, Al was taken completely by surprise when a boot thwacked him painfully in the head. Jolted rudely out of his ruminations, Al turned to stare at the only offender.
Ed was livid, his pupils so dilated they were almost black, his jaw set at a dangerous angle as he gnashed his teeth together. With fists clenched tightly he leaned heavily against the table and snarled.
"See something you like, Alphonse?"
Easily recognizing the jealously in Ed's tone, Al smirked and leaned in close.
"I'm not sure, Brother. Do you see anything worth appreciating?"
Sputtering at the audacity of his brother's teasing comment, and making a mental note to forbid Al from ever speaking to Mustang again – because where else would he have ever picked up that sort of attitude? – Ed tried to come up with a clever comeback, but was cut off by Winry.
"You'd better be careful, Al. Gain a few more pounds and you'll be so cute all the girls in Resembool will lose their hearts," she said, completely oblivious to the brothers' argument.
"No," Al gushed.
"I'm serious. We'll have to get you working on your dating skills soon," Winry said as she rejoined the brothers at the table, ignoring Ed as he continued to stew, his face taking on a gruesome shade of burgundy as he snorted between the pair.
"Well…do you really think so?" Al wondered, rubbing his neck a second time in delightful nervousness. Winry nodded her firm belief, her smile brighter than the summer sunshine. "I guess…I mean, I don't know if girls would like me very much, or what I should do…but, at least I'm not completely unprepared. I've already had my first kiss."
"You what?" Ed demanded.
"Oh yeah, that's right," Winry sighed, tapping her chin thoughtfully.
"What do you mean, 'that's right'? How would you know?" Ed shouted.
"You never told him?" Winry asked, flashing Al an inquisitive look.
"No. I knew he'd react like this."
"Like what?" Ed hollered, standing sharply, his legs knocking his chair over.
"Like a short-tempered idiot."
"Dammit, Winry! Don't call me short! You can't call me short when I'm taller than you!"
"Your height has nothing to do with anything," Winry responded, her tone bored and dismissive.
Grumbling under his breath, Ed decided to drop the short argument and focus on the more pressing situation.
"So, are you gonna tell me? Who have you been kissing behind my back?" he demanded, throwing Al an irritated sideways glance.
"It wasn't behind your back, Brother. And who I've been kissing isn't any of your business."
"Don't tease him, Al. He'll just drive us crazy until you give in," Winry requested. Unable to say 'no' to her polite pleading, Al sighed and turned to Ed, blushing sheepishly as he answered.
"Well, it was Winry."
"What?" Ed cried.
"And, she kissed me…
'She kissed me.'
The confession echoed through Ed's mind, more terrible than Mustang's snide taunts, louder than any short comment thrown in his direction, even scarier than fighting all seven homunculus and Father combined. Winry had kissed Al – she never bothered to deny the younger Elric's claim – and it seemed than neither one of them had regrets. In fact, they had chuckled, fondly, over the memory. Insulted beyond measure and frightened of the coursing desire to strike his brother in the face, Ed had stormed out of the kitchen and sought refuge in his bedroom, hoping Al and Winry had the sense to leave him alone.
Throwing his arms over his head to muffle his groan, Ed didn't bother to acknowledge Winry's entrance. He felt the bed shift as she pressed her weight on it, but he still waited a few minutes before bothering to look at her. She was kneeling on the floor, her arms resting on the mattress and her blue eyes boring into him like a drill.
"What?" he snapped.
"Stop being jealous. It's not good for Al."
"I'm not jealous."
"That's right. You're beyond jealous. You're being selfish."
"Take that back, woman!"
"No! It's true."
"I'm not being jealous or selfish. I'm just sick of listening to you gush over Al all the time. It's even more annoying than when you get worked up on one of your automail lectures," Ed grunted, struggling to maintain his sincerity, not daring to allow himself to even consider the truth in Winry's blunt observations.
"Listen, my 'gushing' is for your brother's health,"
"Ed, Al's soul was stuck in a suit of armor for five years, and when you got his body back it wasn't the ten year old body he had lost, but a teenager's. It's been seven weeks and even though he's almost physically recovered, we still need to think about his psychological health."
Ed stared at Winry, his eyes focused on her lips as she spoke, but his brain absorbing all she said. He frowned as he silently admitted that the girl had a point, but he still wasn't quite clear on her full meaning.
"Ok. Think about your arm," Winry suggested. "When you got it back it had grown to fit your body now."
"And doesn't it sometimes feel weird to suddenly have a limb you didn't have for five years? Even weirder that when you first got it back it was frail and had atrophied, the complete opposite of your left arm?"
Ed nodded dumbly, flexing the limb in question, acknowledging only to himself that sometimes it did feel strange to have his flesh, blood and bone back where it belonged. He had thought he had been subtle over his occasional twinges of unfamiliarity, but he should have known that Winry would notice. It seemed sometimes that she noticed everything.
"Take that feeling, Ed, and times it by a whole body. I don't want Al to feel uncomfortable in his own skin, so if a few compliments and extra attention are what will keep his confidence up, then it's no big deal."
Frowning at his childish behavior, Edward sighed and sat up, ashamed of how he had acted. Though he and his brother had a history of fights, there was no true malice towards his sibling. He wanted to see Alphonse grow and be happy…to live the life he should have had he not so blindly followed his brother through muddy rivers to the edge of Hell.
And yet, as much as he loved his brother, Ed couldn't help the curiosity – or the desperate uncertainty – that plagued his heart.
"Is that why you kissed him?"
"I'm serious. I want to know. Why did you kiss Al?"
"I was eleven!" she barked.
"Tell me anyway!" Ed barked back, disguising his relief that the incident had not taken place very recently.
Crossing her arms, a becoming rose blush tinted her cheeks as she begrudgingly forced the confession past her lips.
"It was a few weeks before that spring," Winry began, not needing to clarify for Ed the year she meant. "You and Al were working on your alchemy so much I hardly ever saw you expect at school or the few nights you'd have dinner with me and Grandma. Do you remember we used to meet at the bridge before walking to school? Well, one day when I was waiting for you and Al…
Winry ran her fingers through her hair, assuring herself for the seventh time that her blond tresses weren't frizzy. The humidity caused by the rain always made her hair stand on end and while she normally wouldn't have cared, today was a special day. She was wearing a new skirt, one that her Grandmother had ordered from a catalogue, and her galoshes were gleaming with the three coats of polish she had painted on them the night before. Her teeth were scrubbed thoroughly, her breath minty fresh, and her courage was beating through her body with each excited thrum of her heart.
Today, she was going to kiss Edward Elric.
After talking with some of the girls at school, Winry had been inadequately embarrassed to learn that most of her peers had already had their first kiss. Normally, kisses wouldn't have concerned the eleven year old whose mind was oft occupied with fantasies of ball-bearings and monkey wrenches, but the looks of charitable pity that her friends had showered on her when she confessed to not having shared her first kiss was all it took to make up her mind.
Winry Rockbell accepted no one's pity, not since the day a steam engine had squealed into town bearing the bodies of her parents.
While she was known to get into her fair scuffles at school, Winry didn't feel that fists and feet would ease her insecurity on the delicate matter. The only solution was to simply get her first kiss over and done with so that she could brag of her new experience to the others. Her mind made up, deciding which boy to kiss hadn't been difficult. The only two choices she had were Ed and Al, and although Alphonse was much sweeter than his brother, Winry wanted her first kiss to belong to Edward.
Of course, knowing the elder Elric so well, Winry knew he wouldn't agree to kissing her, so the sharp-minded child had come up with a clever scheme. She had secreted herself behind the large maple tree at the end of the bridge. The brothers raced each other everyday over that bridge on the way to school, the tree acting as the finish line, and Edward always won. Listening with focused purpose, Winry was waiting to hear the padding footsteps, and just when they would reach the tree, she would pop out from behind the trunk and kiss the temperamental boy before he had a chance to realize what was going on.
She held her breath when she heard the footsteps, first on the soggy path then on the stone of the bridge. When the steps were excitingly close, Winry shut her eyes and slipped from behind the tree, lips pursed. She caught the boy completely by surprise, kissing him perfectly on the mouth just as his hand reached out to slap the maple's bristly bark. The contact lasted barely a second, but it was firm and soft and had hit the mark. Breaking away, Winry kept her eyes closed and savored the feeling, wondering if she was any different for having kissed a boy. It was strange, though. Winry was sure Ed was a bit shorter than the boy she had just kissed.
"H-h-h-hi, W-Wi-Winry," Al stuttered, his round face getting redder and redder by the moment as if he was caught in the throes of a fever.
"Al?" Winry hollered, opening her eyes to discover that she had ambushed the wrong Elric. "Where's Ed?" she asked, unable to think of an explanation for her actions.
"H-h-he, he-he…um, he's not feeling well. I think he caught a cold from the last rainstorm. I made him stay in bed today."
"Oh," Winry replied, her bravado completely deflated before her ire began to rise. Leave it to Edward Elric to get sick on the day she decided to kiss him. When he was better, she was going to beat him to a pulp!
"I called Granny and she said she'd go over to make Brother some soup and watch him 'til I got back from school," Al explained, his blush prominent. When he finally had the courage to look Winry in the eye, his caramel orbs were sparkling with immense joy, his smile rivaling the sun and moon and stars and the happy ending of every fairy tale ever written. Just as her irritation with Edward had reached the breaking point, her sympathy for his brother made her heart swell and she knew she couldn't tell Alphonse about her mix-up.
"Let's go, Al."
"OK. Let me take your bag."
Biting her bottom lip as the guilt swam in her stomach, Winry let Al carry her books for her to the schoolhouse…
"So that's why he started carrying your books to school," Ed said, his voice touched with realization. "I couldn't get him to focus on alchemy for weeks."
"Well, I guess that's why," Winry offered, feeling her face get hot. "He seemed so happy about the whole thing, I didn't have the guts to tell him. Hurting Al is like watching titanium rust – it breaks my heart."
"Does he know now?" Ed wondered, his mind whirling with the ramifications of Winry's admission.
"I told him a few years later, one of the times you guys were visiting because you busted up your automail again. He laughed about it and said he got over his crush on me a long time ago. He even said that after he thought about it, it should have been obvious I was waiting for…" Winry trailed off, her eyes catching Ed's across the small distance between them. She saw the flecks of amber among the molten ore swirl and shudder with realization as the core of her confession struck his sharp mind, and the fact that her secret was out made the sixteen year old's nerves spasm with the unquestioning need to retreat. "OK, so you know why I kissed Al. We can leave this all behind us now," Winry decided firmly, her words coming out so rushed they sounded like one convoluted sentence. Blushing from the tips of her ears to the roots of her hair, she scrambled to her feet and moved towards the door when Ed reached out and caught her wrist.
"You were waiting for me," he said, his words measured, even, and so quiet they could have almost been the refrains of a prayer.
"You were going to kiss me."
She turned to face him, determined to be brave when confronting the truth she had revealed. Still, the way that Winry dealt with honesty was much the same way Edward did, with flippant coolness.
"Yes, I was going to kiss you. It' not like it's a big deal. So wh –"
Because Ed was never coordinated when it came to girls, his spontaneous kiss landed more on Winry's chin than it did her mouth, but he still managed to catch her bottom lip with his top one and the sensation was as startling as a lightning strike. He pressed his body as close to Winry's as she would allow, his movements made all the easier when she looped her arms around his torso and held him against her. Not sure of what else he should do, Ed kept his lips idle, enjoying the simple sensation of kissing Winry lightly, her bottom lip caught between his own and just barely tasting of cherries. It was a moment he had been denied five years ago because of a bothersome spring flu, and now, the former state alchemist was determined to catch up on all of the small delights he had missed out on…at least, if they were still offered to him.
And from the way Winry kissed him back, it seemed she was more than willing to give him another chance.
Like most first kisses, it didn't last long. It was chaste and simple, something pure that both teenagers could carry with them well into their golden years. When they parted, Ed placed his brow against Winry's and breathed in the silence of the moment, relishing the way her long hair tickled his temples and how her nose crinkled just before she opened her eyes.
Unable to hold back his grin, Ed smiled at her cheekily before breaking out into muted chuckles that shook them both.
"What's so funny?" Winry wondered.
"I was just thinking," Ed snorted as he pulled Winry close. "The town gossips are going to have a ball with this one."
"What do you mean?"
Her question, delivered almost breathlessly, made Ed laugh so hard it was causing Winry's teeth to chatter as his grip strengthened.
"They're gonna start calling you a tease," Ed blurted out, his chortles making his cheeks burn burgundy when he noticed the agitated look Winry threw at him. "I mean, you did kiss both of the Elric brothers!"
If he wasn't so deliriously happy, Ed might have had the sense to duck when Winry swung her wrench at his head.
And that's another chapter added!
To those who have reviewed and have not received a reply from me, I am truly sorry for my tardiness. My college classes run through the summer, so my time isn't always easily avaliable for writing. I do make it a priority of mine to reply to those who review, so I swear that I will respond, I'm just not sure when. Please, accept my apology and you will hear from me soon!
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this fic. I know that the BIG scene in the manga has Ed and Winry confessing at the Resembool train station, but do you really think two years went by without either of those two getting up to a little romantic mischief? If anything, they did seem closer in that scene, and I think that some flirting and kissing along the way could easily be why.
Please, leave a review. No flames, please and thank you!
Holla if you loved the FMA final chapter!
Lots of happiness all around the internet!