Title: Burying the Axe
Summary: Ed and Winry find a fun new way to resolve their arguments.
Rating: T-for minor coarse language and adult concepts.
Warnings: spoilers for chapters 108 of the manga, episode 64 of Brotherhood.
Disclaimer: I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist nor do I make money from this fic.
A/N: This was my entry for the springkink community on LJ with the prompt of "New relationship/claiming; What do you think you're doing?"
Self-beta'd, but I think I've found and fixed all the gaffs that were present when I posted to springkink.
(A/N 8-29-10: since corrected, changing minor elements so this story it would better fall within the TOS requirements and not be deleted by a malware program being propagated by a malicious individuals…)
(A/N 6-12-12: major changes made to assure this fic fit properly within the TOS. If you would like to read the original version, please find it in my journal at AO3, where I go under the same username.)
"Bury the hatchet" a.k.a, "Bury the axe: To settle your differences or conflicts with an adversary…
Burying the Axe
Ed brought the axe down onto the upended log, driving the head of the tool firmly into the wood and beginning the split. The hard steel wedged into the fibrous material and the young man brought both up to slam them down on the chopping block, finishing the division. Chopping wood was hard work, but Ed didn't mind; it helped him to keep his body conditioned and he rather liked the sense of accomplishment that came with a well-done task.
It had been a year since he and Al had returned from the battle in Central, coming home to Resembool and an ecstatic Winry. Life had become normal, routine, with Al recovering his strength and Ed learning to live a normal life, one that no longer included alchemy. He didn't mind working with his hands now, glad that Al had returned to his body and that he could enjoy living a normal existence, like chopping wood for Granny and becoming more skilled at repairing things around the Rockbell house.
He hesitated from his work to draw a sleeve across his brow, wiping away the sweat that threatened to trickle into his eyes. His eyes drifted across the horizon as he glanced up and Ed caught sight of Winry walking up the dirt path, coming home from the neighboring farm where she'd gone to trade eggs for cheese and milk. A faint smile tugged at his lips; she looked like a vision in her light blue sundress, soft, and feminine although he was well aware of her steel will and strength of spirit.
However, his smile faded when he noticed Thomas Miller walking beside her, carrying a large basket and a covered pail of what he assumed was *shudder* milk. The pair was engaged in lively conversation and as they came closer, Ed could see Winry smiling at Thomas while the young man brazenly flirted with her; it was obvious that their neighbor was smitten with the beautiful automail mechanic and was pouring on every bit of charm he possessed. Thomas walked close to her, close enough that their arms would occasionally brush together, and it didn't escape Ed's notice that Winry made no effort to avoid the contact. An odd feeling churned in his stomach, twisting it into knots and a prickly sensation crawled over him, heightening his anxiety.
His chore now forgotten, Ed rounded the corner of the house as the couple approached the front steps, his attention so fixated on Winry and Thomas that he had forgotten to leave the axe behind. This new situation did not sit well with him at all and he was going to get to the bottom of it this very instant.
"Hey, Winry," he called out, stopping the pair before they climbed the porch steps.
Winry jumped at the sound of his voice, spinning to face him. Thomas merely turned his head and grinned when he saw Ed standing near the corner of the porch with axe in hand.
"Ed," Thomas acknowledged him with a nod. There was no fear in the other man's body language and this caused Ed to be even more worried. Had Winry been seeing the other man without his knowledge? It also didn't help that Winry was disturbingly calm.
She smiled at him and tipped her head toward her potential suitor, "You remember Thomas, don't you, Ed?"
Think, Edward, think of something glib. Don't say anything to make her mad.
Instead, just the opposite came out of his mouth: "Oh, yeah, Toadface Thomas. I remember you used to tease Winry about being a tomboy when we were kids." Ed's attempt at returning a friendly smile turned out to be nothing more than fiercely bared teeth. "I also seem to remember you got the nickname because you used to chase all the girls at school with toads you caught in your mother's garden."
Thomas' face went blank but Ed noticed that, while Winry's face was expressionless, it was slowly turning a vicious shade of purple.
"Ed-WARD," she ground out between clenched teeth. Her fingers tightened into fists at her sides.
"So," Ed started in a thinly veiled effort to change the subject and hefted the axe onto his shoulder, "What brings you by?" The former alchemist shifted on his feet as he pinned the other man with a fixed stare.
The young dairy farmer blinked in confusion before raising the pail and basket, offering physical evidence as to why he had followed Winry home. "Just helping out Miss Winry. I couldn't let such a beautiful woman carry these heavy things all by herself."
Something akin to a chunk of ice settled into the bottom of Ed's stomach when Winry turned to beam at Thomas. Why was she allowing her former tormentor to bring her bartered goods home? She was more than strong enough to do that without assistance—what Thomas carried weighed nothing in comparison to the metal parts she usually brought home from the train station by herself.
On top of all this, she was flirting…
"Oh…I'm not that pretty," she remarked, the purple warming into a pink blush across her cheeks.
What the…? Since when does Winry flirt with guys?
A new emotion boiled up from his gut, a raw, hot sensation that Ed reacted to without thinking. "Thanks for walking her home." It was closer to a snarl than friendly praise. "I'll help her from here." He stepped up to the pair and reached for the pail.
Again, Thomas didn't take the hint. He merely grinned and placed a foot on the first step. "I've got it." He tipped his head toward Winry, "I thought I'd visit for a while, anyway. Winry invited me in for some apple pie and lemonade. Besides, you're hands are full," he said with a pointed smirk.
Ed saw red at the fringe of his vision; Winry had asked this dick in to eat his apple pie and drink his lemonade? His Winry? (Wait! Why did I think that?) He could hear blood pounding in his ears as he fought back the urge to take a swing at the other man. Instead, he lifted the axe from his shoulder and, in a fancy flip, brought it down near his side, driving the cutting edge of the tool into the earth, leaving it securely embedded so it would remain upright when he let go.
"Looks like they're not empty anymore," Ed declared with a rakish grin as he held both hands up to emphasize the relevance of his words then plucked the pail and the basket from Thomas' suddenly lax fingers. He cast an annoyed, questioning, and very fleeting look Winry's way, "Geeze, Winry. When did you become one of those girls, the ones in school we used to think were so stupid because they were so…girly and annoying," he said in a blasé manner.
"EDWARD!" Winry barked in shock and outrage. There was no mistaking the fury in her eyes and it was plain to see by the way she bit her lower lip she was holding it back a full list of insults. Apparently, she didn't want to make a bad impression on Toadface.
Thomas, on the other hand, had finally taken notice of Ed's passive, thinly veiled threat. Now white-faced and wide-eyed, he stumbled back. "L-Lets just stay calm, everyone!" the dark-haired man laughed nervously, "I know you always liked to protect Winry when we were in school, but we're grown up, now! She doesn't need you to watch out for her anymore!"
Ed's response was a subdued shrug; after all, he didn't want to upset the milk or jostle the eggs. Granny Pinako would kill him if he ruined this week's dairy supplies and he had no intention of making two Rockbell women angry today. One was quite enough.
"She can protect herself," he commented in a dismissive tone, "She's strong enough to take you on." He snorted, "Hell, she's strong enough to take me on." An exaggerated innocent look settled onto his face as if an afterthought came to him, "And watch out for her temper. I can't begin to tell you how many times she's dented my head with a wrench for nothing more than not calling ahead and letting her know I was showing up." The rakish grin returned to his face, "As a matter of fact, it usually doesn't take very much to set her off. Just ask my brother Al when he gets back from Xing. Winry's got one hell of a temper and she'll thrash you with that damn thing with little or no provocation." An inflated white lie, but a white lie, nonetheless.
The frightened suitor jumped back from Winry as if expecting her to do just what Ed said she would; beat him within an inch of his life with tempered steel. His hazel-brown eyes went from Winry to Ed several times before settling on the blonde woman, and glazed over in fear when he saw the look she was currently casting Ed's way was full of murderous intent and that her hands were reaching for non-existent pockets in her dress. Seeing this made Ed smile an evil, clandestine smile; that should be enough to send this unwelcome guest packing.
"Um…um…um," Thomas stuttered as he stepped back even further from her, "I-I-I think I'll be going now, Winry. See 'ya round!" With that, he turned on his heel and all but sprinted down the dirt path, wasting no time making his escape.
Winry spun on Ed and this time took a step back, reflexively retreating from the sheer intensity of the fury that fairly radiated from her.
"EDWARD ELRIC! YOU…YOU…ASS!" Her cerulean eyes brimmed with tears as her fisted hands trembled at her sides. For an instant, Ed believed she wouldn't bother with a wrench and simply belt him with her wicked right hook.
"What?" he snapped back, genuinely confused. Why the hell should she be mad at him? He had protected her from making a horrible mistake, so why wasn't she more grateful?
"What in the world possessed you to say such mean things like that?" Her voice, while no longer at eardrum-shattering levels, still carried a great deal of menace.
Ed thrust his jaw out with indignant outrage and faced down the stormy eyes that bore into his, "He wasn't any good for you, Winry!" he shot back, equally angry, "You don't need to be around anyone like that! There're a lot better guys than him!"
Winry wasn't giving her ground, "Really? Like whom, Edward!"
"I-I don't know!" Anxiety twisted in his gut and his heart raced. Why had the idea of Winry seeing the handsome neighbor bother him so much? Just what was this feeling surfacing from deep within? Was this fear? Jealousy? Possessiveness?
When she began to pant with the effort necessary to hold her anger at bay, Ed started up the steps with the milk and cheese. Facing her wrath wasn't something he wished to do right now, and putting away the perishables seemed like a better choice than standing here weathering the forthcoming storm of words.
"Edward, don't you dare walk away from me!" she shouted after him. He could hear her steps pound up the stairs his wake.
Winry followed him as he took the goods to the kitchen and dutifully put them away. All the while, the young woman shadowed his every move and Ed continued to ignore her until he had finished his tasks. Once the cheese was tucked away and the milk transferred to a large pitcher and placed in the coldest spot in the icebox, he finally turned around, only to find her right under his nose.
"Tell me, Edward! If Thomas isn't good enough for me, then who is?" The young woman stood stiff-backed before him.
Ed simply glowered as his answer and when the silence went on for too long, Winry continued her tirade. "Since you can't seem to suggest someone else, then why isn't Thomas good enough for me?" She leaned in closer to him, as if challenging Ed to back down. His eyes shifted over her pinched features before focusing on her lips, on how soft they looked and how temptingly near they were to his. His brain went foggy and her words seemed distant for a moment.
"Well?" she persisted, still holding her ground.
"Um, uh…well, b-because—" Ed stammered, his brain no longer able to process information, especially with Winry standing so close.
Don't think about her lips, Elric, just…don't.
"Answer me, Ed!" Winry demanded, literally getting right in his face.
Ed felt like a cornered animal and wanted nothing more than to find a way out of his predicament and to a place of safety. He had to say something, anything that would keep her from taking her revenge out on his hide, so Ed said the first thing that jumped into his mind.
"BECAUSE YOU BELONG TO ME!" he bellowed back before he could even register the answer that exploded from him. "Urk!" He slapped a hand over his mouth as Winry snapped straight again and his eyes went wide in horrified disbelief, aghast he had blurted out something akin to…feelings to her.
Winry stood, wide-eyed, for a long moment, stunned into silence. The stillness stretched out into a long, excruciation moment of stupefied bewilderment before she finally found her voice.
"I belong to you? Since when have I been your possession?"
"Y-y-you're—" No response, at least not one that would make any sense, would formulate in the former alchemist's numbed mind and she was close, so close that all he had to do was move forward just a tad…
The higher reasoning of his brain shut down and all he could think about were how her soft, pink lips might feel against his and answered that curious notion with action: Ed took the defensive, angry, and very attractive mechanic by her bare upper arms, yanked her close, and kissed her. Of course, it was hurried, sloppy, and without a lick of finesse, but it was most definitely a kiss. Once Ed's brain caught up with his actions, he was mortified beyond belief, and jerked back from Winry as if she were suddenly too hot to touch.
Winry's face went from an embarrassed shade of pink to a livid red and her fingers flew to her lips, touching them as if she couldn't believe Ed had actually kissed her. However, she didn't seem to be as upset over it as he expected her to be. "What do you think your doing?" she yelped.
At this point, Ed was ready to rip his hair out by the fistfuls. When had the situation turned and left him with mixed feelings of frustration, dread and satisfaction? He sputtered, tried to respond in a way that made sense to him yet not further infuriate her. Hell, he wasn't quite sure what had just occurred between them. How could he give her an answer if even he couldn't define the moment?
Finally, he rejoined with a rousing, "What does it look like I did?
"Answering a question with another question in not acceptable, Edward!" Winry shot back, stomping her foot and jabbing finger into his chest, "Tell me! What do you think you're doing?"
Okay, is this a trap?
"What do you want me to say?" he tossed back, still not sure what he could say that would explain his actions and not end with a new welt on his head. After all, he couldn't tell her that one of the reasons he had kissed her was simply because her lips had looked so tempting, and most certainly didn't want to discuss the other reason with her, one that involved feelings.
How I feel about…her?
When Winry fell oddly quiet, Ed's anxiety level shot through the roof. It was like the calm before the storm, that ominous, heavy feeling in the air that portended imminent destruction at any second. Then, the moment passed without incident and her head tilted to the side as she gazed up at him with a quizzical expression.
"What's all this really about, Ed?" she said evenly and with more curiosity than anger.
Ed's face grew warm; somehow he felt as though he had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Alarm threatened to overwhelm his senses when Winry took a step forward and clutched at the front of his shirt, curling her fingers into the open edges above the undone buttons.
"Stop stammering and tell me."
The young man swallowed down the knot of fear that rose up into his throat; how did he answer her, how could he tell her it had really been an expression of how he felt, specifically about her? He forced a grin onto his face and scratched at the back of his head, "S-sorry about that. I didn't mean it, really. I-It was just a way to get you off my case."
The look in Winry's eyes told him she wasn't convinced. The next thing she said confirmed her doubt:
A knowing grin crossed her lips and she pulled him closer. "Why Edward Elric, I do believe you're jealous because Thomas was paying attention to me." An amused light danced in the deep cerulean of her eyes as one of her eyebrows canted upward with the expectation of an honest answer.
"That's not true! I just didn't want you to make such a big mistake, that's all!" A drop of cold sweat rolled down the side of his face as she leaned even closer and those moist, perfect, lips drew closer to his.
"Liar," she proclaimed in a whisper and closed the distance between them, "You don't want me seeing anyone else because you want me to be with you." She claimed his lips in a soft kiss, ending the conversation.
Damn it. She's right.
This kiss was a bit more refined, more carefully thought out, and Ed found he actually enjoyed it once he figured out the logistics of how their faces could fit together without bumping noses. He knew Winry was also taking pleasure in the moment when she relaxed and began to kiss him back in earnest. Seconds later, Ed found his own arms creeping around her waist, returning her gesture without thinking.
When the pair came up for air, both were taking deep, slow, shuddering breaths and their faces were flushed.
"How do you do that?" he breathed out, edging closer for another kiss.
"Do what?" she asked absently, her attention focused on his mouth.
"Read my mind?"
She gave a breathy little laugh, "Ed, I've known you all my life. I can read you like a book."
"Not as evil as you."
"Yes you are." He bent his head to match her forward movement and mouths merged again.
Several long minutes were spent making out as the pair explored this new and very exhilarating activity. Without realizing it, they ended up on the opposite side of the room, up against the wall. At one point, Ed pulled back long enough to reluctantly pant, "W-we should quit before this gets out of hand."
Winry's answer was a sly smile and "Why should we?"
Ed lost all interest in debating the pros and cons of the possible outcome to their present behavior and took her by the hand.
"Your bedroom. Now," was all he had left to say.
Ed groaned as he tumbled away from Winry and sprawled unceremoniously onto his back next to her, gasping like a leaky bellows. "Wow," he panted as he caught his breath. There was no mistaking the smile on his face or the glazed look in his eyes as he stared vacantly at the ceiling; Ed was feeling quite gratified right now.
Winry, on the other hand, wasn't feeling as warm or fuzzy. She knew her first time would probably be painful, but hadn't expected it to hurt quite as much as it had. If not for that, her experience would likely have been more pleasurable, more fun, even though she hadn't reached her finale, and she wouldn't need to face Ed's forthcoming apologies for being so…premature. It had been over, not that long after they had started, with Ed finishing long before Winry could recoup from the shock of their initial (for lack of a better word) merging.
Still, she couldn't find it in herself to be mad at him. After all, this was the first time for both of them and rarely did sex go smoothly for beginners. With time, it would get better; or, at least she hoped.
The trip from the kitchen had been a desperate scramble up the stairs and to her bedroom, where a frantic search of her shelves ensued as they looked for the tin of condoms that had mysteriously appeared there several months before. Winry had silently thanked her wily grandmother's forethought as they sloughed off their clothes to topple onto the bed and promptly proceeded to expand upon their newfound relationship.
Eventually, Ed's breathing calmed and Winry felt his hand on the top of her head, scruffing her hair like he had always done in an affectionate moment, a habit of his ever since she could remember.
"Sorry about that," he sighed.
Winry rolled onto her side to tuck herself against him. "Sorry about what we just did, or…?"
"About the 'or'. I didn't expect it to feel so…so… I-It just kinda happened a-and I had no control over it." He looked back up at the ceiling, unable to meet her eyes as he spoke.
"It's okay," she reassured him, "Practice makes perfect, right? We'll get better at it." She smiled over at Ed when his eyes shot wide again and his face pinked up.
"Right," he mumbled after a long hesitation. He slipped his arm around her shoulders to cradle her against him and they lay quietly, content to be together as a couple and no longer denying their mutual feelings.
Eventually, Winry voiced the question that had been plaguing her since she had reasoned out that Ed's earlier performance in the front yard was, in fact, his own way of him expressing how he felt about her. "Ed? Was all this some elaborate way of you saying you want me to be your girlfriend and that you don't want me seeing anyone else?"
Ed's face puckered like he had just sucked on a lemon. "Maybe."
She smiled; his answer was so very Ed-like yet said all she needed to know.
"So, in other words, you were claiming me as yours, right?"
His eyes rolled to the side, "Well, I—um… Maybe."
She gave a facetious, long-suffering sigh. "A very stupid way of going about it, Edward. Flattering in a primitive sort of way, but stupid."
"Hmph! What would you know about it?" he muttered, then yelped when Winry flicked a finger against his forehead.
"I know enough to know you can be as dense as a brick, sometimes," she retorted and grinned as Ed threw her pissy glare.
"Whatever," he finally conceded, ignoring Winry's answering giggle.
Winry rose onto an elbow to bend and peck him on the lips. She pulled back just enough to be able to speak.
"You idiot. I was always yours. All you had to do was ask."
The expression on Ed's face was priceless, even up close, as her words finally sunk in and Winry kissed him again, this time playfully.
"So…you won't get mad at me if I suggest we 'practice' some more. Right?" Ed ventured timidly, expectantly.
Winry allowed her fingers to dance and tease downward, over his chest, his hardened abs, and tickle his re-awakening member. "Of course not," she whispered into his ear, "I think we should practice whenever we can." She lifted herself and threw a leg over his hips, straddling him. "Remember, practice makes perfect!" she reminded him.
A wicked gleam flashed in his golden eyes and Ed's mouth pulled into a cocky grin. "Then let's get to it."
His arms shot up, pulled her close, and Winry let out a squeal as he rolled to pin her onto the bed once again.