AN: I'm sure something like this has been done to the death, but I wanted to. (:
Disclaimer: I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist – Ms. Hiromu Arakawa, master of cliffhangers, does.
It's strange, the pleasure one can get from watching a loved one sleep.
Winry Rockbell didn't bother dwelling on such an odd fact of life, though. She was too busy drinking in the sight of the boy in front of her.
Alphonse was still inhumanly skinny – when she'd screamed out loud and hugged him earlier, she had felt every one of his ribs through the thin material of his shirt. Still, the very fact that he was here, in Resembool, meant that he was well enough to survive without an intravenous drip, which was what he'd been kept on in the Central military hospital until a week ago.
Now, the doctor had assured his elder brother, all Alphonse needed was a bit of fattening up(a bit?) and some healthy TLC. He was stable.
Stable wasn't a word Winry would use to describe Alphonse at the moment. Ecstatic, yes. Delirious with joy, yes. Stable? Definitely not. Alphonse was used to residing at the darker end of the spectrum of emotions – all his uncertainty and anguish about his metal body and human soul rejecting each other had bothered him greatly, she could tell, even though she wasn't nearly as good at reading them as she'd been. But now… now, he finally had a chance to experience that heady rush of joy, he was gorging himself on it, and she couldn't blame him.
He was only human(how good it felt to say that! To see that!), after all.
Winry reached out to stroke his hair away from his face without the slightest hint of hesitation. He'd had it cut almost as soon as he'd regained consciousness – Edward had told her that his dark blond hair had fallen to nearly halfway past his back. Winry had been incredulous at the description of the earlier state of Alphonse's body, but she was far too happy to care anymore.
To see his eyes shut in sleep… to see his chest rising and falling, so peacefully… it made her throat tighten with aching relief.
Winry brushed Alphonse's cheek with the back of her hand, and he murmured something, rolling over in his sleep.
"Sleep well," she whispered, getting up from her seat and padding across the room and out the door to check on the other Elric brother.
She paused at the doorway, smiling fondly at the familiar sight. Edward was sprawled across the bed, one arm – his right, flesh arm – flung across his face. He was sleeping with his stomach out, possibly the one thing about his brother that annoyed Alphonse the most. Winry grinned and pushed the door open a little more, moving silently across the room to pull Edward's sheet over his body.
He mumbled something, just like his brother had, and she allowed herself to stand still for a moment and just looked at him. Edward had never been handsome in her eyes – he had been far too rude and brash and angry to be handsome. She loved him fiercely, yes, and completely unlike a sister – but his physical appearance hadn't struck her before.
Okay, maybe it had… but only once!
With the light filtering in through the ajar door, there was only one word for Edward's appearance.
He was so beautiful, she thought with a pang. So fragile and beautiful. She wondered who else would dare call the renown Fullmetal Alchemist fragile, but that was what he was.
He was such a little child sometimes, the way he was about milk and other things he didn't like. And yet, he'd been forced to grow up so fast. Winry often wondered if Edward would be stuck in a perpetual limbo – too young to be an adult, but too old, at the same time, to be a child.
He was holding something in his hands. Winry frowned slightly and bent over to examine the object he clasped between his fingers. Gently prying his digits away, the silver watch glinted softly under the light spilling through the doorway.
His silver state alchemist's watch.
Edward hadn't quit the military yet. He told everyone that it was because he just hadn't gotten around to it – Alphonse had been his main priority, after all. But Winry had a feeling that he wasn't about to quit anytime soon, at least not until he saw Colonel Mustang's idealistic plans through.
Edward was easy to coax if you knew how.
Winry smiled faintly as she cautiously slid the pocket watch out of his grasp. Edward didn't notice, and she stole out the door with her treasure clutched close to her chest.
Edward raised his eyebrows coolly as Winry thrust a very familiar object towards him. He should have known that she'd taken it – she had some sort of an obsession with his things, didn't she? Crazy woman, doesn't respect privacy, he grumbled inwardly.
"Thanks for giving it back," he muttered sarcastically, moving to pocket the watch – until he noticed that something was terribly, terribly wrong.
There was a ticking noise coming from the watch.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
"Winry." Edward's voice was dangerously low. "What have you done?"
Winry didn't back down before his intimidating glower. She took the silver watch from him and flipped the lid open, exposing the pure white clock face to them. Edward watched the tiny black hands moving across the face of the clock and felt an inexplicable sense of loss.
He'd hung onto his goal for so long. That watch – that engraving – that frozen time had been all he'd had left of their home.
He hadn't wanted to unfreeze time, ever.
"Ed." Winry's voice was soft. "I fixed it for you."
He snatched it back and stuffed it into his pocket. "What if I didn't want it fixed?" he demanded hotly.
Winry met his livid gaze with her tranquil blue eyes.
"But when something's broken, you should fix it," she replied quietly.
He opened his mouth to retort angrily, to tell her that she should have at least asked him, that she had no business meddling in his private affairs – God, he knew he shouldn't have told her about that engraving! – but stopped himself at the expression on her face. It was so gentle, so sympathetic – he wasn't used to Winry looking at him like that. His cheeks burned.
When something's broken, you should fix it.
"You don't need a frozen pocket watch to tell you to remember," she said softly.
"I guess I don't."
Maybe, one day, he'd let her fix him, too.
AN: Like I said, I'm sure this has been done a thousand times, but I really like this. (: Especially since I, myself, have never thought of Ed as handsome, but beautiful. In a manly way, I assure you…