A/N: Takes place 6 years after the end of the manga, so it'll probably be a bit AU once the manga wraps up, depending on how Arakawa decides to finish things. Everything is fair game for mention, though, so spoiler warning up to chapter 96. My first try at Roy/Ed! And my first ever Winry! So needless to say, there will probably be some more editing on this later, since I'm still trying to get a feel for the characters, which is difficult what with the whole six years in the future thing. So let me know what you think, please! This is definitely a work in progress. :)
It wasn't, Edward concluded over a fresh pint in a backlit bar, that he was unhappy.
He could never be unhappy, for God's sake, not with Al whole again. Even if Ed were to awaken one day, chained to a concrete slab, deprived of every human dignity, and beaten on an hourly basis, he would still be content. His life's work, his penultimate achievement, had already been attained at the age of sixteen, and he'd helped save the country, to boot.
No, he was content, and he was fairly certain that Winry was, as well...although they haven't seen much of each other recently. She had been very busy with her automail shop, and he had been consulting with anyone who would need an alchemical expert; his latest client was Poole Construction, and he was fetching a fine sum.
Enough to raise a family, his annoying flea of a grandmother-in-law had suggested repeatedly.
He frowned into his glass. He was twenty-three, married, and it should not be out of the question that he start a family...and yet.
(She nibbles on the bottom of her lip, her blue eyes wide and studying the hotel ceiling. She is perched precariously on the bed, and as awkward as the entire situation has become, Ed can't help but chuckle to himself.
She scowls for a moment, and Ed can't help but look around for potential tools of destruction, but then she shuts her eyes and smiles wanly. He holds out his arms and she accepts his embrace with a soft sigh.
"Well, shit," he mutters into her hair.
She shakes her head and laughs, but he feels something wet against her lashes. "Some wedding night, huh," she chokes out.)
"You come here often?"
A tired line, of course, but the wry note of self-awareness in the young man's speech pried a slight lip twitch from Ed.
It's not like he was there for the conversation, anyway.
"You asked me that last week," he replied easily. "And the week before."
"Mm." The brunet man smiled. "And yet you still don't remember my name, do you?"
"Yeah, yeah." Ed absently twirled around his wedding ring. "What is it this week?"
The man replied, but Ed couldn't quite catch it because his brain exploded.
He made some half-assed excuse – he never had been much with manners, even if he had managed to tone down his abrasiveness over the years – and walked like a man possessed towards the VIP lounge.
He'd heard rumors about the room, of course, since he'd begun to frequent the establishment. Those that entered paid well for the bar's discretion, and they didn't just let anyone walk inside.
The first time he'd entered the bar, the bartender had assumed he wanted to go inside, but Ed had never been one for pomp and circumstance. Besides, he'd never been one to be upset by gossip.
He hesitated, and the bare-chested bouncer raised a laconic eyebrow. "Finally decided to upgrade?"
His eyes could have been playing tricks on him. It had only been a hot second, out of the corner of his eye...
Ed shoved a crumpled tip into the man's disconcertingly large hands, and ignored the man's leer with a snarl. "Open the fucking door already." He swallowed, then absently added, "Please."
"Such a dirty mouth," the bouncer taunted, but the door opened and Ed mindlessly stepped inside.
No, his eyes were still as finely tuned as ever. He strolled casually behind the older man, who was busy chatting up some blond, skinny thing, and cleared his throat.
He wasn't a colonel anymore, of course. He was...well. He had always been a man of contradictions, at least superficially. After years of scheming and plotting and political maneuvering, he ascended to the role of fuhrer for exactly seventeen days, after which national elections were held and he abdicated his position to the popularly elected Olivier Armstrong.
After which, upon trials held at his urging, he had served five years in prison for his role in the extermination of the Ishval people. He had obviously expected at least exile or execution, but he spent his time in prison well, writing articles and shaping the views of his nascent political party.
He had been a free man for one year, and a member of parliament for eight months.
"Fullmetal," the man allowed with a cautious smile. "You've grown. A bit."
He had grown, damn it, and more than a bit, but Ed refused to be baited. "The gray in your hair looks very distinguished. Is that how you conned your constituents into voting for a felon?"
Mustang didn't have a strand of gray hair, and he knew it. "I imagine they voted for me because I promised to provide affordable housing, improved roads, and an overhaul of our education system. Speaking of which, you're consulting with Poole on several projects we've commissioned."
"Still keeping tabs on me, huh?"
Mustang smiled dazzlingly, and Ed hated to admit how fuzzy brained it made him, especially when he realized it was aimed over his shoulder at the bartender, who practically sprinted towards the older man. "Would you care for a drink, Fullmetal? On me, of course. I'm eager to hear how my projects are progressing from a reliable source, not just the company spokesperson...Could I have another glass, Mario, and my friend will have...?"
Ed shook his head. "I've really got to be going. Winry's waiting up for me..."
Mustang narrowed his eyes. "Ah, yes, of course. How is married life, Edward?"
Ed stiffened a bit. "I could ask the same of you."
"So you heard!"
"The entire country heard, you bastard!" The news of the country's savior turned prisoner turned parliamentary candidate's nuptials had flooded the tabloids and, to Edward's intense disapproval, even the front pages of his morning newspapers. Riza Hawkeye was an envied, hated, and admired woman.
"Sorry for the lack of invitation, but it was a very private ceremony."
"It was a last minute ploy to make you more electable." Ed crossed his arms. "Anyone with a damned brain could see right through it."
"That's a very cynical world view," Mustang huffed with a gleam in his eye. "But yes, I suppose that's the crux of it. What's your excuse?"
Expectations. Comfort. Understanding. Ed's arms uncrossed and fell to his sides. "This isn't the sort of establishment a member of parliament should be found in, is it, Mustang?"
"You're dodging the question," he drawled. "Quite skillfully, I might add. Have you considered a run for office, Edward?"
And Mustang, Edward thought wryly, had just dodged a question by bringing up his having dodged a question, and as entertaining as it might be to verbally parry with the man, he needed all his energy to do so, of which he suddenly found himself quite lacking. "I'll save that for the professionals. Good night, Mustang. See you around."
"Back door's this way," the bartender called as he turned to leave.
Ed jammed his hands in his pockets. "I'm not hiding," he countered lightly.
As he walked home, he wondered if that were true.
Winry limped slightly as she perused the local bazaar. She'd been sitting at her workbench much too late, and now the sun had already set, her muscles were cramped, and she had nothing to cook for dinner.
She could just order take-out, of course, and was considering stopping by the Xingese restaurant down the street when she heard a familiar, whiskey smooth voice.
"Three pounds, please."
"Lieutenant Hawkeye!" Winry exclaimed, although she wasn't sure why she was so surprised to see the woman. If anything, it was astonishing that they hadn't crossed paths more recently.
The older woman, though not much older, Winry realized, only in her thirties, turned her head away from the fruit stand and smiled politely. "Miss Rockbell, how have you been?"
Winry opened her mouth to explain that she wasn't really a 'miss' or even a Rockbell anymore, but then she recalled that Lieutenant Hawkeye wasn't really a lieutenant or a Hawkeye anymore, either, and how had she been? Well, really, that was quite a personal question, but she supposed that she was fine enough, at least business was quite brisk and she loved her job and that was a hell of a lot of apples.
"Oh, I'm in charge of making some pies for some fair or other, and I'm not exactly the best baker, so I thought I would do well to practice."
Winry slammed her mouth shut, and wondered just how much she had said out loud.
Hawkeye's...Mustang's?...eyes twinkled. "Just the part about the apples, although I must admit I'm curious to hear the rest."
Winry blushed. "I'm sorry, I've been working all day, and I guess I'm a bit peaked."
"It's quite alright, I understand completely. All of us night shoppers are in the same boat, I'd figure."
"I...I make a pretty good apple pie. I could show you, if you'd like?"
Hawkeye smiled, a wide, genuine smile. "I think I'd like that very much Miss Rockbell."
Winry had never seen the woman smile like that before, and before she knew it, she was grinning like a fool. "I think I'd like that, too, I mean...I, uh, love to bake, and I just haven't had the time...when do you need them ready?"
"Tuesday evening," she answered. "Perhaps you could stop by tomorrow evening, after work?"
They exchanged contact information, and Winry's head churned so quickly with her future plans that she didn't realize she'd returned home without dinner until she unlocked the front door of her house to discover her husband scavenging their cabinets.
He turned towards her with hopeful golden eyes, which narrowed unhappily at her empty arms. "I'm starving," he whined.
"You're home early." A pang of guilt knotted her stomach, but she pushed it ruthlessly aside and folded her arms across her chest. "You should have picked something up. Grocery shopping isn't just my responsibility, you know."
"Last time I went, you yelled at me."
That was true, she allowed, but only because he'd purchased the entire market. "Since when has that stopped you before?"
He grinned. "I don't know how we're gonna survive if we're both this lazy."
"Take-out," Winry smiled in return. "Or do you want to call for delivery?"
Ed offered her his arm. "Maybe the walking will take my mind off the fact that my stomach is digesting itself."
She looped her arm around his, and to any passerby on the street, they would appear to be like any other young couple. Ed caught her grimace and shot her a questioning glance.
She shook her head. It was nothing, really.
They were happy, in their own way, and that was all that mattered in the end.
She was happy.