A/N: Alright, I've finally got a Fullmetal Alchemist fanfic that I feel like working on. Please sit back and enjoy, knowing that the large multitude of character switches are actually quite helpful in my story telling.
// CHaPTeR oNe //
Winry tightened a bolt on the new automail arm she was creating, hoping to finish the piece by morning. She wiped the grease off of her cheeks wearily, gazing at the hunk of metal that she had prepared for Ed to use in advance. She'd had a strange feeling for almost a week now, as if a stranger was coming steadily closer to her house with uncomfortable news. Not bad news, just uncomfortable, awkward news. The feeling that, for almost a year now, had heralded the arrival of Ed and Al whenever they needed a mechanic. It was a strange sensation, but she knew that it was dead-on. Ed had wrecked his arm or leg, probably his arm again, and needed a replacement. She was ready. She'd finished making his leg three nights before, and had started in on his arm near midnight. The piece would take at least a few hours to finish, but at least she wouldn't have to work so hard while the two were actually there. She could merely enjoy their company, fix Ed's arm, and get back to her routines. Spreading her work over the week had given her more time to sleep and help Granny Pinako with the other customers.
She felt awfully tired now. The arm was almost done and only needed a few adjustments before she could put away her work. A few bolts to tighten, several cables to attach, and she would be ready for Ed and Al. She heaved a sigh, releasing her breath in a huge gush, and set back to work. She had managed to fix the two misbehaving cables and their placement until they worked like normal before she was overcome with the urge to yawn. She held it back, clenching her teeth against the impulse. Ed's automail was more important right now.
Winry worked like a robot for another hour more, finishing her adjustments and then looking over the overall quality. She'd changed the metals around a bit, so it would be light but just as strong. She sighed, pleased with herself, and turned off her work light. She had a very good feeling that made her believe that she had been smart in working ahead, that Ed and Al would be with her soon.
X X X
Winry lay in the grass, looking up at the clouds. They were so puffy and white today, like they were enjoying the weather. There were footsteps behind her, several yards away. Winry sat up and turned around to see who could be intruding on her pleasant day. At first she couldn't recognize the figure who stood before her, the man with golden hair and eyes. Her eyes widened a fraction and her pulse sped when her mind finally placed the identity of the figure: it was Ed.
Suddenly Winry was laying the grass again, pinned down by the playful Ed. He wasn't the same Ed she had remembered, short and hardened by all that he'd seen. His face, inches in front of her own, was smiling, his eyes bright and clear as if they had never seen anything bad. And the right arm that held down her left wrist was pure, human flesh.
For a second, Winry was shocked and excited. Ed had gotten his arm back, so he must have gotten his leg and Al's body back as well. Then she was overcome with a sudden sense of normalcy. Of course Ed had gotten his limbs back and recovered Al's body. They had promised that they would.
Ed moved his face closer to Winry's, brushing the tip of his nose against hers. Winry's pulse rocketed, and she felt her face turning bright red. Ed smiled gently, closed his eyes and leaned in closer . . .
"Winry, come down here! Are most valued customers are here."
Winry sat up straight in her bed, panting. Her dream had been so real. Ed had been with her. He'd been about to kiss her. Heat flooded Winry's cheeks, and she shook her head to clear it. Of course it had been a dream. She tried to reassure herself that it was just her way of worrying about Ed. "Then why didn't you dream about Al too?" her mind whispered. Winry shook her head violently, forcing the memory out of her mind. She hopped out of her bed and changed into her normal clothes. If only Ed and Al could have come just a little later, she could have gotten the dream firmly out of her mind.
The door to her room shook slightly as someone knocked on it. Winry made a noise of affirmation, searching around for her screwdriver and wrench. The door opened, and someone walked into the room. Someone who's footsteps where heavier than Pinako's.
Winry glanced over her shoulder as she turned to snatch up her wrench from a pile of various tools. She felt a slight warmth spread up her neck as she recognized the shortie with the blond hair. There was something off about him, as if something was missing from him. In her short glance Winry had affirmed that his arm was almost completely gone and he was shifting anxiously from foot to foot. He look almost slanted, as if he were standing with one foot raised on his toes and the other flat. it was a rather strange sight.
"Hey, Ed," she sighed, digging through a pile of unfinished automail in search of her trusty screwdriver. "Hey, Winry," he replied behind her, sounding nervous. Winry frowned a little, trying to will her small blush away. With a little effort the unnatural warmth receded from her face.
"Don't tell me: you wrecked your arm," she accused, glad that she'd managed to finish his new arm the night before. When Ed didn't reply she merely sighed and shook her head. His new arm, gleaming and glorious, was waiting on her desk, right in front of him. She smiled to herself, picked it up, and turned around. She allowed herself the satisfaction of watching Ed's face as he registered that the arm was, in fact, his.
"Win, you already had it made?" Ed asked, stunned. She nodded triumphantly. "And, since I've been working on it and your leg replacement for the past week, you owe me twenty thousand sens extra." Ed's surprised face darkened into a comically nervous expression. Winry resisted the urge to giggle, beckoning Ed over to her work station to work on sizing.
Winry measured Ed's arm and compared the lengths to the one she'd made. They were almost identical in lengths, and it wouldn't need any adjustment. Then she measured his left leg, smugly noting that it was at least an inch too short. She could up the cost of his maintenance for a new leg.
Ed objected when he saw Winry pulling out the whole new leg from her cabinet. "Win, I just need an adjustment. You didn't have to completely rebuild it. That must've taken you at least three days to build!" Winry thrust the leg into his arm so she could search for the appropriate screws for attaching his new leg.
"Actually, I did have to. Don't worry, I won't charge you too much for it." She held a screw up to examine the tag, ensuring that it was the right size. "I remade your arm and leg out of different materials." Ed stared at the wall, clearly spacing out. "Ed! Listen to what I'm saying, or you'll freak out later!" Ed's eyes snapped onto her own for a split second, and then he looked away, cheeks reddening.
"I'm listening," he told her, hefting the automail into a better position.
"I changed the materials in both your arm and leg. They are lighter than the ones you've been using, like the northern automail. They are just as strong as you're used to, but they will still break. You'll be faster, and you should grow faster, but since you're faster you might hit things a lot harder. That means that even though the strength is the same they will break easier. You have to be careful. Okay?" Winry stared at Ed, hard, until he turned to lock eyes with her again. He sighed and nodded.
"Okay then!" Winry said, clapping her hands together. "Let's change out your automail. Go downstairs and wait, I need to get the rest of my stuff ready." Her face turned mischievous. "Then I get to attach all your nerves again."
Ed shivered, but obeyed and left her room. He was walking with a slight limp and at an odd angle. He really had grown. Winry'd adjusted his leg the last time he'd been in for maintenance, just a little over a month ago. Winry smiled, gathering up her supplies. He was growing up.
X X X
"Ow!" Ed complained. Winry, shocked out of her reverie, looked down at Ed's right arm. She'd already put it into place and connected the nerves, and then she'd spaced out tightening the bolts and securing the cables of his shoulder. Where the automail port connected to his collarbone there was a thin line were blood was trickling over the metal. Winry put her hand to her mouth in surprise.
"Gomene!" she told him, wondering how she'd managed to cut him. Oh, yeah. She'd been tightening the bolt and her screwdriver had slipped during her daydream. The cut was thin but looked fairly deep, as if she'd stabbed into him involuntarily. She wiped the blood away with a finger and hurried into the kitchen for something to bandage the little wound until it stopped bleeding. She wouldn't be able to work distracted by an open wound, and if she let the blood dry on the metal it would probably rust.
"Brother, what happened?" Al wondered, moving closer to examine the cut. Ed wiggled the fingers in his right hand, getting acquainted with the new nerves of the automail. He glanced up to look at his brother, still feeling a shock to see his brown eyes and light brown hair. Ever since they'd gone and got Al's body back Ed still expected to see the suit of armor his brother had been.
"Nothing, just a cut. I guess even Winry can't focus on work all the time," Ed replied, glancing curiously towards the kitchen. He smiled to himself, pleased with the thought. "Wonder what she was thinking about," he added.
In the kitchen, Winry was taking her time finding a bandage. She was busy thinking, thinking about her daydream and the brothers, and the implications of her mental wandering. Fixing Ed's automail had made her wonder. If they'd managed to dredge up Al's mind and body from the gate, why hadn't they gotten Ed's arm and leg back? Had Ed even wanted to get his arm and leg back? Thinking of that had reminded her of her dream the night before, of the strange Edward in the sunny field, and then her mind had mixed the dream with her wonderings and come to a strange conclusion: Ed had decided against getting his arm and leg back so that he had an excuse to come back and see Winry. That had lead to her daydreaming, and then she'd been wondering about what would have come next in her dream, had she not woken up.
Winry blushed deeply, trying to banish the thoughts from her head. She didn't want to get distracted anymore. Against her will her mind thrust an image into her mind: Ed, in her room, blushing and trying not to meet her gaze for too long. See? It seemed to say. Winry shook her head wildly, tapping her fists to her temples. When she felt a little more focused she reached into the cabinet and pulled out the roll of bandages from the first shelf.
She nearly crashed into Al on her way back to Ed. He took a step back in surprise and smiled apologetically. Winry smiled back, trying to use Alphonse's face as a way to banish the thoughts of Ed from her head.
"Sorry, Winry. I wanted to make sure you were all right," Al explained. "You were taking so long I thought you might have been buried by kitchen supplies," he added, snickering.
"Sorry to worry you," she replied, smiling. "I was lost in thought." Al smiled knowingly. He leaned in closer and whispered into Winry's ear,
"Thinking of Brother?"
Winry snatched the wrench from her belt and hit him sharply on the head. Al rubbed the new bump forming on his skull, laughing at himself. "I guess I set myself up for that," he muttered. Winry stuffed her wrench back into her belt, blushing violently. He'd been spot on.
"Don't talk like that, Al," she murmured, too low for Ed to hear in the other room. "We're just friends." Al looked up in surprise at the sadness and strain in her voice. She slid her eyes over to meet Al's gaze evenly, blue blazing into brown. "Say a word to Ed and I'll beat you with my wrench," she warned. Al's eyes widened and he backed up, nodding fearfully. Winry visibly brightened, smiled at Al, and continued on to fix Ed.
A little over an hour of silence later, Ed's new arm and leg were attached and he was hopping around with wide eyes.
"Wow, Winry, you really made it lighter. What'd you use this time?" he wondered out loud, jumping over a stool with a look of amazement on his face.
"I'm not going to tell you," she replied, putting away her materials. "If I told you you'd transmute it into weird things and end up breaking it."
"But then I can't fight back if we get in trouble!" he yelled, stopping his rapid movement to stare at her in astonishment. "It takes more time to transmute a weapon out of the ground than my arm. And what if-"
"Shut up, please, and let me explain. There's a layer of the old material on the forearm so that you can transmute that. This way you can't change the whole thing. If you want to find out the chemicals in the rest, do it yourself. This time it really is my best work, and I don't want you ruining it. Change the outer layer back to normal when you finish a fight, too, or else it's liable to detach from the rest of the arm. Or at least make sure that you strengthen the attachment every once in a while. Okay?"
Ed stared at her, dumbfounded, and then his eyes turned to his new arm. There was a wide band of dark metal down the forearm, as she had said, and the rest was paler, almost blue tinted. He clapped his hands together and ran his left hand over the lower half of the arm. Only the band of dark metal changed shape, while the pale blue metal remained unchanged.
"Amazing. You're a real genius, Winry." He re-transmuted the metal, bending it back to its original shape, and the metal slid a little on the edges, rooting itself in the rest of the arm. He smiled at the metal, his mind spinning as he thought of multiple ways to transmute it to his advantage. With only a portion of his arm as material he couldn't make anything big or elaborate. He would probably only be able to make his normal weapon, not anything useful in a long-range fight.
Escaping Ed's praise, Winry left the room and moved up the stairs to her room. She smiled to herself as she closed the door softly with a click. Her room, her haven, her workplace, familiar and spread out in front of her, was not the place she wanted to be at the moment. She could only be with the foolish brothers every once in a while, and leaving them for even a little bit was time wasted. She wanted to be with them, but she needed to do something first.
X X X
Ed sat on the roof, admiring the stars. It had been so much easier to climb up the side of the Rockbell house with his new limbs. He was amazed at how light he felt. The northern automail had been light like this, but he hadn't used it in a while. It hadn't been of good use in hot, southern places where the joint stiffened up and the reactions were slower. And it had been almost a year since he'd changed out of the stuff, in preference of Winry's traditional automail. It felt good to be light as air.
There was an odd sound off to his left, the sound of a transmutation, and a ladder appeared at the edge of the roof. Ed ignored it, and the head that appeared over it a few seconds later, choosing to enjoy the rural night before they raced back to Central.
"Brother," Al murmured, knowing full well that Ed could hear him. Ed pretended not to notice his younger brother.
"Brother?" Al called, a little louder, wondering if Ed was very lost in thought. No response.
"Ed!" he snapped, calling his brother's attention with the out-of-character use of his name.
"What is it, Al?" Ed replied, closing his eyes.
"Brother, Winry wants you," he told him. Ed's cheeks flushed a little at the choice of words, but he knew what his brother meant. He waited, opening his eyes to stare pointedly at Al, urging him to continue.
"She said she has something to say to you before we left," he sighed, dropping from view with a parting, "You should see her."
Ed grinned, finding his younger brother oddly funny at the moment. He laid back on the roof, folding his arms under his head. He would wait. If Winry really wanted to talk to him, she'd come out for him herself, maybe even climb all the way up to the roof to talk with him.
He closed his eyes, reveling in the peace of the countryside. Resembool was such a quiet place, so different from the busy cities where Ed and Al always were. You could stand outside and not hear a thing besides the wind, the livestock, and the crickets. You could see the stars, too, because there were no city lights to block out the glow. And the air was clean and fresh, nothing like the smell of civilization, cars and factories and oil. The countryside was preferable.
Yes. Ed liked the countryside more than the city. He liked it a lot. And the people in countryside towns were always so much better. Ed would rather be with Winry and Pinako over Mustang or the homunculus any day.
X X X
Winry sat in her room, waiting.
Al had delivered her message and then slipped away, probably to visit his mother's grave. She welcomed the privacy, hoping to be able to get something out in the open between her and Ed. Anything that would help her, make it easier to be around him. She fidgeted with her screwdriver, running her fingers over the grooves in the handle and switching it from palm to palm.
She glanced out the window at the clear night sky, wondering at the stars and the moon and the science of it all. Ed and Al would understand how the stars made light, and how that light reached them from so far away, and how the cities were able to hide the stars. It was all a mystery to Winry.
Granny was over at Nelly's house, doing adjustments to her father's leg. She had said she would be awhile, because the metal was old and might need replacing. She'd promised to be back in the morning, at the earliest, leaving the house empty. Winry sighed. Ed could be so oblivious. They were the only two in the house and they never got to see each other, and he was spending that time sitting on the roof, completely ignoring her. Winry felt the tip of her screwdriver twist into her palm, biting her flesh. She ripped her hand away, glaring at the angry red line left from the pressure of the metal. She wasn't mad at the screwdriver. She was mad at Ed, for being so stupid and so blind.
She was tired of waiting.
Winry got up from her bed, hand clenched around the handle of her screwdriver. She tucked it into her pocket, hoping she wouldn't use it to mutilate Ed or his automail when she finally got to him. Instead she clenched her fists, knowing that she could use him to hit Ed all she wanted without doing any damage to her work. She let the corner of her lip turn up ever so slightly at the thought of bashing Ed with her fists.
Winry trotted down the stairs, hopping from step to step on her toes, her stomach knotting and clenching at the single thought that had it's grip around her brain: she was going to see Ed, even if she was angry at him, and they were very alone.
Outside, on the side of the house, there was a ladder. She smiled, knowing that Ed wouldn't have made a ladder that would be this easy to climb. It was Al's doing. He'd sculpted the flat, broad panels with grooves to climb up on, and added small places where she could grip it more easily. She sent a silent thanks to Al, grabbing onto the rail and beginning the climb.
She reached the top in seconds, peeking over the edge of the roof to glare at Ed. He was laying on his back, looking up at the sky with a contented look on his face. Winry bit her lip, not wanting to pull him out of his peaceful mood, but decided she had to continue if she was ever going to have any peace of mind.
"Ed--" she began just as Ed said, "Winry--"
The two stopped and waited for the other to continue. Ed glanced at Winry, nervous energy flickering in his eyes. Winry found that she had to look away from his eyes every few seconds. They were like the sun; bright and golden, and you knew not to stare at them too long. But Winry couldn't resist looking back at them, fascinated.
Ed motioned to Winry with his automail hand, signaling for her to go first. Winry took a deep breath and crawled the rest of the way onto the roof. Ed rose into a sitting position, watching her carefully in case she lost her balance. Winry pretended that she didn't notice the caring look in his eyes as she crept across the shingles on her hands and knees. She stopped to sit down next to Ed, her heart beating very fast in anticipation of what she was going to do.
"Ed," she started again, glancing up to meet his gaze. He looked clueless as to what was going on, but a little nervous as if he were afraid that she would hit him. Winry took a deep breath before continuing in one quick breath:
"Ed, how do you think of me?"
Ed stared at her with wide eyes, his cheeks slowly staining darker in the moonlight. Winry watched, pleased with his reaction. She felt the need to continue, to verify what she was trying to say.
"Do you think of me as just a friend or . . . ?" she explained, trying to coax a better reaction from Ed.
"I . . . " Ed said, biting his lip. He'd never really thought about it too deeply. He'd set his sights on getting his and Al's bodies back for years, had been a dog of the military for fives long years. Now that his brother's body was returned, he didn't really have any goals. The Gate had told him that his limbs were no longer in a state that he could get them back, so there was no point in attempting it, and there was no way to bring his mother back, so there was nothing left for him to set his sights on. But now that he didn't have anything to do, why not . . . ?
"I don't really know, Win," he told her, lifting his arm to wrap it around her shoulder. Winry shivered at the touch of cold metal on her skin, but she snuggled closer to Ed to compensate. He felt very warm next to her, and didn't feel stiff or tense at her closeness.
"What do you mean?" she murmured. They were seventeen now, for crying out loud. If he hadn't figured out his feelings for her yet, then he didn't have any.
"I don't know what it is," he told her. "I don't think of you the way I think about Al or Sheska or any of my other friends, but I don't really know what it is," he said truthfully.
Winry thought for a moment. Edward had always been so absorbed in his travels, that maybe he'd never had time to recognize his feeling, she soothed herself. Maybe he just didn't know what falling in love felt like.
"True or false," she said after a moment, "when you're near me your stomach tingles."
"True," Ed replied, smirking.
"True or false, your stomach is tingling right now."
"True or false, that has happened with someone else."
"True," he sighed. Winry stiffened.
"A few girls we met, but don't get your wrench out. We never saw them for more than a few days total. Calm down, Win," he added, noticing the tension in her body. She sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly.
"True or false," she continued, her body relaxing. "You want to just sit here with me for awhile, just the two of us."
Ed paused, trying to decide how to answer: truthfully, to please Winry, or not, to save himself from embarrassment later in front of Al. If he lied Mustang wouldn't have anything to tease him about later.
"True," he whispered, leaning his head over to rest it on top of Winry's head.
Winry's eyes widened. She hadn't expected Ed to answer at all, or to deny it. She smiled softly, leaning closer to Ed happily. She felt like she could just explode, random as it was. She hadn't expected Ed to be so forward. She'd planned on Ed saying something about he felt more towards her than was normal, and then their relationship to grow slowly closer. She was glowing.
Then a figure appeared, moving closer from the direction of the graveyard. Al was coming back.
Winry sighed, wrapping her arms firmly around Ed's torso. She was not going to let him forget what he'd said, no matter the costs. Ed replied with a small murmur of contentment, tightening his arm around her shoulders.
Ed watched his younger brother moving closer to the house, his mind racing. He bit his lip, trying to decide on something without being too obvious about it. Winry didn't seem to notice his hurried thinking, just hugging him and smiling softly. Ed took a deep breath, and came to a decision.
Ed removed Winry's hands from where they clamped around his torso. She glanced up at him, her expression hurt, so he moved quickly. He moved Winry onto her back, turning so that he knelt over her. Winry's eyes were wide as she watched Ed take both of her wrists in one hand and move them over her head. He stroked her hair off of her face, his emotions warring in his eyes. Something in Winry's expression pushed him into a final decision, and he moved in swiftly, pressing his lips to Winry's.
Winry gasped, her mouth working against Ed's. His fingers loosened from her wrists, and she pulled her hands free to wrap them around Ed's neck. She kissed him back passionately, years of bottled up love and frustration showing itself in this one moment. Ed returned her passion a little awkwardly, his emotions still only partly sifted through. Something clicked in his mind as he knelt there, the girl he loved whispering his name as she kissed him, and he understood what she'd been asking for the past few minutes. He finally got it that she'd been asking if he loved her. And he finally realized that, in the most turnabout way, he'd told her that he had.
"I love you, Ed," Winry whispered. Ed just smiled, pulled his lips to her ear, and whispered quietly,
"That's nothing compared to how much I love you."
X X X
When Granny Pinako arrived home in the morning, she found Al sitting a stool in the kitchen, reading a book with a very huge grin on his face, and Winry and Ed sitting in the living room, eyes only for each other. And she knew that all was finally right with the world.
X X X
A/N: No, this is not a oneshot romance! There will be more chapters, I don't know when, but there will be! I have a nice, long story mapped out for these two! It may take me a while, considering I'm writing two other fanfics as well as my own novel, but I will get more chapters of this up.
Since people asked, I'm going to explain what the Japanese means. Gomene means "sorry." The other chapters have Japanese as well, but I'll translate at the bottom just for you guys.
Yes, I am aware that the whole roof scene was so cheesy and stupid that I just want to rip it out of the story and replace it, but this is just how it played out in my mind. Not quite as cheesy, but still a true-or-false thing on the roof ending with a kiss. Deal with it. The rest of the story will undoubtedly be much better. No more bad writing on my part (hopefully).