Author –D M Evans
Fandom – fullmetal alchemist
Disclaimer – so not mine
Characters – Ed, Al, Winry
Timeline/Spoilers – no real spoilers set post series
Summary – They owed her
Warnings – none
Word Count - 3894
Author's note – written for the prompt - - Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward/Winry/Alphonse: Pampering – They owed her. There are some old TV shout outs in this. Thanks to S J Smith for editing her own gift
X X X
"Are you sure you know what you're doing?" Al eyed his brother who seemed ready to vibrate his way through the train station's flooring.
"Don't I always?" Ed huffed.
Al couldn't hold back the laugh that exploded out. Ed punched Al's shoulder, but Al didn't care. He could feel the blow and, after so long in the armor, it was good to feel anything. Ed glared at him. "Brother, you are infamous for being utterly clueless at romance. The closest you've come, rumor has it, is being Roy's little lover."
"WHO ARE YOU CALLING MUSTANG'S TINY TOY?" Ed flailed, making a nearby couple look his way. "Wait, how the hell did you know that rumor?"
Al snorted. "There might be a farmer in Xing who doesn't know that rumor."
"In my defense, Mustang is rumored to be sleeping with Hawkeye, Havoc, both Armstrongs and half the women in East City." Ed's lips pursed as he rubbed his chin. "I think a few of those rumors are true."
"On the good chance that at least part of it is true, I got this from him." Al dug into his pocket, pulling up a piece of paper. "I had Roy write down all the most romantic places to take a date and a list of gifts we might want to consider purchasing."
"You have such faith in me." Ed slapped Al's arm again, nearly making Al drop the list.
"I do, hence the list." Al's smile flattened, his fingers tightening on the paper. "We need to do this right, Brother. We owe Winry so much."
"I know that." Ed scowled. "I can't mess this up and I won't. Winry means too much to half ass this." He held out a hand. "Let's see what the shit thinks I should do with Winry besides take her to go shopping for tools."
"And no more earrings." Al rolled his eyes. "She'll be dangling them from her nose next."
"I know." Ed peered at the list. "The aviary? Why would Winry want to go where a bird will shit on her? Botanical gardens? Boring!"
"I'll remind you, Brother, your dating record has a big fat zero on it and you can't count high enough to account for the colonel's." Al smirked, leaning on his cane.
Ed glared again and shoved the list in his pocket. "A bird will shit on me."
Al smirked, no doubt imagining it. "Probably."
"What if she doesn't want to do anything on the list?" Ed's shoulders slumped.
"We can ask her, Brother." Al shrugged. "Winry won't have any trouble telling us what she wants to do. We should pick out a few likely things from the list and just ask her, 'what do you think you'd like to do? These are our ideas'."
"Yeah, that sounds good." Digging out the list again, Ed glanced over at his brother critically. "Do you think you'll be up for a lot of walking?"
Al nodded. "I'm much stronger now. My therapist says I shouldn't even need the cane soon. And if I do get too tired to go, I doubt you'll complain about having time alone with Winry."
At Al's look, Ed blushed. "I don't know what you mean."
"I hope to hell you're joking," Al said and his brother snorted at him.
"Yes, it would be nice to be alone, prove that I'm not everything she thinks I am. She already thinks I'm a freak. Kimbley thought I was a freak. How bad is that?" Ed's face scrunched up.
"Hell, what did you do?" Al held up a hand. "Don't tell me. I wouldn't worry, Brother. Winry's pretty weird, too. Most girls don't clock you with a wrench, after all. You can be a pair of freaks, it's some how fitting."
"I should slug you," Ed's head jerked up, hearing the train whistle. "Here it comes, better late than never." His voice tightened as his eyes gleamed.
The train disembarked its passengers far too slow for the brothers' taste. Al spotted Winry first, dragging his brother off at his top speed, which wasn't particularly quick. Winry hugged them both so hard Ed thought his rivets would pop off his shoulder.
"Winry, it's so good to see you. You look great," Al said, even though it wasn't entirely true. Under her Rush Valley tan, Winry looked worn out, her eyes rimmed with red and her hair matted a little on one side as if she had fallen asleep against the window.
"You, too. I'm glad to have the time off." Winry stifled a yawn.
"What do you want to do first, Winry?" Ed glanced up at the huge ornate station clock. "It's almost dinner time."
Winry sighed. "I hate to say I but I'm exhausted. I rushed through seeing Granny to spend a few more days here, then there were cows on the tracks outside of Thurman and that took forever to clear. Then we broke down in Oak Hills. I really just want to get to the hotel and die. We can get started early tomorrow, right?"
"Anything you want, Winry," Ed assured her.
"It's your vacation, after all," Al added.
"Then I want my first vacation spot to be my bed." She offered up a weary smile.
"I see the luggage." Ed pointed to the porter. "I'll get it for you."
"And we already have a car waiting," Al said.
"Good." Winry pulled Ed over to the porter calling her name and the alchemist gathered up her luggage. He did let Al have one small bag, knowing his brother wanted to help, even though he still wasn't very strong.
A bored-looking private was waiting with a military car courtesy of Hawkeye. Ed tossed the luggage in the trunk while his companions got into the car. Winry was half asleep on Al's shoulder by the time they got to Collinwood Arms.
Ed was stunned by the opulence of the lobby. An enormous crystal chandelier dangled over marble floors. The front desk was gold gilt and carved with flowers. The concierge's suit looked like it cost a month's salary.
"Hello, I'm Barny Collins. May I help you?" The gaunt dark-haired man eyed the teens suspiciously.
Ed did as Roy instructed and flashed his pocket watch. The lines in the man's face smoothed out. "Miss Rockbell has a suite. It's under the name of Major Edward Elric."
"Ah yes, of course. I should have recognized you from the colonel's description. My apologies, Major Elric." Collins turned to Winry with a short bow. "Miss Rockbell, feel free to call on me any time. My staff and I are at your disposal." He gave a little wave and a bell hop hurried over with a luggage cart. "Timmy, show Miss Rockbell to the Empress Suite." Collins produced a key as ornate as the rest of the hotel. "I do hope you enjoy your stay in Central."
"I'm sure I will." Winry took the key as Timmy loaded up her luggage. She turned to Ed and whispered, "Empress Suite?"
He shrugged, grinning. He wondered what the hell the bastard had arranged. They followed Timmy to an elevator with brass doors decorated with carved peacock sprays. The suite was on the third floor. Al tipped Tommy as Winry bounced around the enormous suite as if trying to see all corners of it at once. Ed didn't blame her. On one wall was a marble and mirror liquor cabinet with a table for two in front of it. The open-front cabinet was completely stocked. A few paces from that was a marble fireplace with books on the mantel. Comfortable stuffed chairs ringed around the fire place.
"Ed, Al, look at this," Winry called from the balcony. "What a view."
"Nice balcony," Ed muttered as Winry breezed past him. They followed her into the bedroom. The canopy bed had a padded headboard and both the canopy and headboard were a rich vibrant blue, almost the color of alchemy. The bed overlooked a huge bay window where a gaming table had been set up.
"I am never leaving here!" Winry cried in the bathroom. "Come see!"
Ed exchanged glances with his brother and they went into the spacious marble bathroom. There was a separate shower from the tub but it was the tub Winry was caressing, sitting on the lip of it. It could easily have fit all three of them and Ed wished he hadn't had that thought. "That's pretty amazing," Ed agreed.
"I'm getting in this and going to bed." She looked back at them with her red-rimmed eyes. "You guys don't mind do you?"
"Of course not," Al said and Ed was glad his brother could lie as well as he could. They didn't really mind but they were disappointed.
"This place is better than Granny and Mr. Garfiel's combined." Winry got up and hugged them both. "Thank you. This is going to be a great vacation."
"We sure hope it will be. We have a lot of stuff planned," Al said. "Tomorrow, we'll run some ideas past you at breakfast."
"Sounds great." Winry herded them toward the door. "You're not disappointed."
Ed caught her hand, giving it a squeeze. "Winry, we want you to have fun. If you're exhausted, it's no fun. Trust me, we'll have plenty of time to do stuff."
She left them at the door. Al followed his brother back to the elevator, the thick carpeting eating the sounds of their footfalls. "I see I wasn't the only one who asked Colonel Mustang for help," Al said.
Ed shrugged. "You have a point. He's known for this sort of thing. This is a hell of a hotel."
"I know. Winry will never want to leave." Al glanced back down the hall. "Heck, I want to move in here."
"Better start earning a state alchemist's salary. This place is costing me a bundle." Ed ignored his brother's rolling eyes. "Guess we should go find dinner and get our ideas in better order for tomorrow."
"If we can get Winry out of the hotel."
"And if we can't, we can just sit and talk and that would still be nice," Ed replied and Al had no argument to that.
X X X
Winry wandered into the lobby of the Elita spa, looking as loose and happy as Ed felt. Next to him in a hugely overstuffed brightly upholstered chair, Al sprawled, half asleep, his hair rumpled like a battered halo around his head. Winry flopped into the chair next to Ed, sighing happily. "This was perfect." She reached over and patted his metal knee. "I have never felt so good. How did you know to come here?"
"I've heard about it." Ed shrugged, trying to sound nonchalant. He had only intended to drop Winry off at the spa and come back for her but when they got to the spa, the brothers found out Roy had made appointments for them, too. Ed had only fussed a little. Al went for the appointment with both hands.
"They wrapped me in warm mud. Who knew mud could feel so good?" Al roused himself a bit.
"I know. They followed it up with a scrub of salts from the Salt Lake outside of Rush Valley, then came some kind of scented oil. Smell this. Isn't it pretty?" Winry shoved her arm under Ed's face, startling him.
"Really nice," he agreed. Was it wrong he wanted to sniff more of her without his brother and the rest of the spa-going public seeing him? "Those Xingese girls massaged me in places I didn't know I even had. I feel so loose. I half expect to fall apart."
"Brother, we have to come here at least once a month," Al said, examining his cuticles. "Look at my hands."
"I know, my nails have never looked better," Winry said, flashing her hand around.
"We're not coming here once a month, Al." Ed's jaw jutted. "You're not becoming a pampered ass like Mustang."
"Once. A. month," Al argued.
"Just come with Mustang if Ed won't go," Winry suggested.
Al beamed. "This is why I like you so much, Winry. You have great ideas."
"Yes, please turn my brother into the next bastard." Ed showed his teeth at Winry.
"No fears. You have more in common personality-wise with Roy than me," Al shrugged as Ed's eyes slotted. "So, Winry, still want to go to the aviary next?"
"So, aviary then dinner and a show tonight." Ed ticked it off with manicured nails. He couldn't believe he let those girls buff his nails into shiny little mirrors. "Then tomorrow, the Xingese gardens and shopping."
"Are you sure you're okay with shopping?" Winry shot him a critical look. "I know guys don't like that."
"Anything you want. This is your trip," Ed said, hoping the boredom that idea engendered didn't show in his face.
"Besides, watching you try on clothes will be fun," Al added, his golden eyes bright.
Ed looked at him sourly. "You know you don't get to see her actually doing that, right?"
"Don't be stupid, Ed." Al shot back but there was a dreamy look in his eyes as if he was already imagining Winry in and out of clothes. "Ed gets to hold your purse."
"Women's purses are heavy, brother. You know I'm not allowed to life anything heavy." Al smirked.
"You both have that devious Elric trait," Winry said.
"More like a Von Hohenheim trait," Ed replied, wrinkling his nose. "Mom was sweet."
"You still owe me the full story on your dad," Winry reminded him. "Granny gave me some really weird hints."
"Oh, weird is a good term for that bastard. We'll tell you back at the hotel," Ed said. "Ready to go?"
Winry shook her head. "We still have to get our facials."
Ed shuddered. "I'm scared to know what that even means."
X X X
"Don't fuss with your tie." Winry batted Ed's hand away.
Suits and ties and hats. Why did he agree to this restaurant? Mustang said it was the best in town. It had better be. The set price of the meal had dropped Ed's jaw but only the best would do for Winry. She looked amazing in a deep emerald dress with her hair pulled up.
"People are staring at us," Al said as they walked up to the host's podium.
"We're the only teens here," Winry replied.
"This had better be worth it." Ed dug his pocket watch out preemptively. He showed it to the host. "We have reservations under the name Major Elric."
The man's eyebrows shot up and for a moment, Ed thought he would have to produce more i.d. "Right this way, Major."
The host led them to the hat check first so Ed and Al could dispose of their head gear then led them into the sunken dining room. Tables played peek-a-boo with all the foliage in the place. He stopped at a table that was practically in a grotto, complete with a fake waterfall coursing down rocks and spraying living plants placed on the rocks. The whole area was lit by candlelight.
"Is this to your satisfaction, Major?" the host asked.
"This is very nice, thanks," Ed said, dumbfounded by the opulence.
The host left them after he pulled out the chair for Winry.
"Great, all the sounds of water is going to make me have to pee," Ed grumbled, sitting down.
"My brother the romantic," Al snorted. Winry shielded her eyes with a hand.
"Why did I have to wear a hat if I was only going to check it?" Ed tried to fluff up his antenna.
"You looked good in the hat," Winry said.
Ed's eyes widened. "Really?"
"I barely recognized you all dressed up. I can't remember the last time I saw you two in fancy clothes," Winry replied, her eyes sweeping over the brothers. "You both dress up nice."
"Not as nice as you," Ed said as a redheaded young lady came over.
"Hello, I'm Julie, your server tonight. Welcome to Alastar's. Let me give you our menu and explain a few things. Would you like to see a wine list?" Julie asked dubiously as she handed them a leather folder that held slips of creamy stationary.
"No, thank you." Ed didn't want a scene if someone realized their age.
"The soup of the day is set. It's butternut squash with black truffle cream and a sweet pepper meringue. I'll let you pick the appetizer and entrée. Do have a look at our dessert menu as well. Some desserts take an hour to prepare." Julie smiled. "Would you like anything to drink besides the water?"
Getting a chorus of nos, Julie left them to make their choices.
"What are these appetizers? Seared goose liver with confit of duck in brioche and dried cherry gastrique." Ed's nose wrinkled. What the hell? "What's a confit?"
"No clue." Al shrugged. "What's brioche?"
"I think it's a cream sauce," Winry said. "Our other choice is boneless rabbit presskopf with carrots, herbs and horseradish. I have no idea what a presskopf is."
"I'm not asking," Ed grumbled. "We'll look like we don't belong."
"I don't want goose liver so whatever a presskopf is, I'm eating it," Al said.
"Maybe the entrees will make more sense," Winry said. "Magret of duck in wild pine honey. Okay, not helpful."
"Medallions of venison with wild huckleberries and cocoa nibs. That's identifiable," Ed said with relief. "And the bacon-wrapped fish in a red wine reduction is, too."
"Veal cheeks and sweet breads with onion-fig tarts. I could go for the tart but not the thymus gland." Al sighed. "This is daunting food. Could the rack of lamb with sweet garlic custard be as good as the lamb we have back home?"
"I think we're in over our heads," Ed sighed. "But that duck sounds good."
Julie returned and got orders for duck, venison and bacon-wrapped fish. No one ordered the fancy souffle for dessert. Over expensive, confusing food, they simply talked. Winry told them about the silly stuff she and Paninya got up to in Rush Valley. Ed and Al talked about their future plans, such as they were at this point. No one talked ab out anything painful like the Promised Day.
By the time dessert came, all three of them were already stuffed with rich food and sleepy. Ed was not about to let his crème brulee with sugar cookies on the side go to waste, though. Winry had a honey cake covered in apricots and almonds and Al had gone for the spice cake with date puree and tea glaze. Ed stole nibbles of all the desserts then wrote a big tip for Julie onto the charge slip to his account as his companions struggled up from their seats.
"I'm too full to move," Winry groaned as the brothers fetched their hats.
"We don't have to go to the theatre if you don't want to," Ed said hurriedly.
"Oh no, I want to but you might have to roll me there." Winry laughed, resting her hand on her belly. "That was an amazing dinner."
"It was but I'm still not sure I'm entirely clear on what a presskopf is but it looked a little scary." Al's nose wrinkled. "Might have been brains. Tasted like brains."
Ed gave Winry his arm. "The theatre is just two blocks down"
She linked her arm in his. "Lead the way."
After the play, which even Ed had to admit he enjoyed, they took Winry home. She kicked off her heels immediately then padded to the liquor cabinet. "Let's have something to drink," she said.
"Do you think we should?" Al asked.
"What could a little wine hurt? Ed, open a bottle. I need to get these stockings off. My garters are killing me," Winry said as Ed yanked off his tie.
He half strangled himself at the thought of her garters. He managed to eek out a, "No problem."
Winry snagged more casual clothing out of the closet then disappeared into the bathroom.
"Did she have to bring her garters into it?" Ed mumbled, tossing his tie over a chair. "That's all I'll be thinking about now. Al, which bottle should I open?"
"How would I know? Oh, dry means sour. I don't think Winry would like that," Al said. "Let's find something that might be sweet."
"I know nothing about wine."
"You could call Collins and ask," Al suggested, kneeling at the fireplace. He put in a few logs and tried to start it.
"That would be too easy," Ed replied. He settled for a white wine and got it decanted by the time Winry came back in and Al got the fire started.
Winry tossed herself onto the couch and accepted the wine. Ed sat to one side of her and Al to the other. "This was a perfect day. It really was."
"I'm glad you enjoyed it. I know I'm having fun," Ed said.
"Except when the bird pooped on you," Al snickered.
"I said that would happen." Ed pouted. "Damn bird."
"On the plus side, I got a good picture of that, I'm betting." Al grinned.
Ed made a face. "Thanks for nothing, Al."
"It was funny," Winry said. "I enjoyed the aviary. I'm still a little stunned that you two put all of this together."
"You're worth it, Winry," Al replied.
"And we owe you so much for being there for us." Ed heard his voice crack just a bit. Paused for a moment to collect himself then said, "We had to do something to show our appreciation."
"You're doing fine so far," Winry said. "But should I send the colonel a fruit basket for all his help in this?"
"Hey! You have no faith in us. Couldn't we have done this on our own?" Ed pouted.
Winry patted his hand. "No."
Ed snorted at her. "Fine, grab a liquor bottle out of the cabinet and stick a bow on it. That'll do fine."
Winry wrapped an arm around either of them, hauling them close so hard their heads nearly rapped.
"Winry," Al protested.
"I missed you so much." Her voice was the barest of whispers.
"You were one of the few things that kept us going," Ed said, his voice hitching. "We missed you every day."
"We made a list of places you'd like to see and that we wanted to take you to," Al said, his eyes glistening.
"I'd like to see those places," Winry said. She kissed Ed's cheek then Al's. "You'll take me to them. We'll make time so the chance doesn't slip past us."
"We will." Ed put his arms around her, pulling Winry close. Al's arms went around them both. "We're all together again and I'm not letting us drift back apart."
After a few moments, Winry wormed out from between them, getting to her feet. She took their hands. "There's a full moon tonight. Come out on the balcony with me. Let's sit under the moon like we did when we were kids."
"That's a nice idea," Ed said.
Outside, under the fat moon, they sat in companionable silence. Words were no longer needed. Just being there together, that was all they could need or want.