My second attempt Ed/Win. I think I'm doing pretty good, but let me know if you see any messups, please. Also, this is based on the first series. I mentioned a little scene in "Let Your Guilt Go" and I decided not to leave it untold, so, here you are! FYI, this occurs before "LYGG". I don't own anything! It's all Hiromu Arakawa! Oh, and by the way, if you notice that it says Winry's hair just reaches to her shoulder blades, it's because she'd cut it a few months prior to this story.
Edward Elric sat at the kitchen table of the Rockbell residence, which was now also his home, fingers dancing across the wooden surface with anticipation. Right fist clenching and unclenching, he could hear the sound of metal grazing metal and gears shifting around inside his automail hand. It took all his will power not to just grab the edge of the table and break it half, so he settled himself somewhat by tapping his flesh and blood digits mercilessly on the hard surface. Unable to stay settled, he began shaking his leg, pushing off of his toes over and over, but quickly stopped when he noticed the unpleasant sound his automail leg made against the floor, even through his boots.
This is a bad idea, he thought, biting the inside of his jaw. This is the worst idea you've ever had.
That, of course, wasn't true, since he'd come up with the idea to bring his and Al's mother back to life. He'd faced the consequences of his actions, but it still haunted him and always would, the way it had felt when his leg was ripped out from under his body, his brother's screams for help, the creature they'd brought to life.
Edward flushed these thoughts from his mind, trying to stayed focus. Everything was alright now. Al was back in his flesh-and-blood body and they were home in Amestris, away from the alternate universe on the other side of The Gate, called Earth. He was with his little brother for good, he had a place to call home. He was happy.
So, why was it that he now sat on agonizing needles, entire body stiff and ready to jolt at the slightest sound?
"Brother, we're home," a voice called as the door opened. Ed jumped up into a standing position with utmost speed, arms rigid at his sides as Alphonse walked in, a black dog on his heels that Edward couldn't remember ever not having around, and her.
This was all Winry's fault. If it wasn't for her, Edward wouldn't be in this situation, the one that would determine everything from now on. Why her? Why in the world did it have to be Winry of all people?
And then, he remembered why.
As she walked through the door, a bag of groceries in her arms, she eyed him carefully, then smirked, giving him a look that said Wow, alchemy freak, what did you break this time? She sat the bag down on the counter next to the two Al had carried in, then began unloading the multitude of products.
And Ed was transfixed. That was why it had to be Winry, because no one else gave him that look, a look that held so many different emotions and meanings, yet he couldn't even begin to understand a single one. She was the only one that could make him feel so confused and infuriated, yet utterly incredible and ecstatic all at the same time. He watched her move from cabinet to cabinet, noticed the way her hair moved gently against her shoulder blades, still shorter than before, yet growing longer. As she passed him, everything was clouded over with her scent; rain water, with a mixture of lemon, lilac, and mechanical oil, something he'd associated with her since they were preteens.
"Brother?" Edward hadn't even been aware that he'd been holding his breath until Al called his name. He looked over into his brother's amused, slightly concerned gaze. "You okay?"
Ed sighed softly, tried to plaster a smile on his face, then said in the most convincing tone he could muster, "Yeah, just tired."
"How in the world are you tired?" Winry asked, coming up beside him, arms holding a bowl of apples. "Did you stay up until one in the morning working on someone's automail arm?" She gave him a soft, joking glare, then sat the bowl on the table.
"Uh, yeah, thanks," he muttered, looking away from her before he lost his nerve completely. Winry studied him for a moment, eyebrow cocked as she smiled, then turned to Al.
"Hey, could you go find Granny and tell her I brought the part she needed for Mr. Vidar's leg?" she asked.
"Sure," Al said as he unloaded the last of the groceries, then walked to the doorway. "Did you set it on your workbench?"
"Yeah, it's the one wrapped in white paper," she called after him. She made sure he had grabbed the tool and gone into her grandmother's workshop, knowing he would talk with Pinako for several minutes, then turned to Ed. "Okay, I know you told Al you're fine, but really, are you okay?"
Edward felt his heart hammer against his chest, like the organ was trying to break through his ribs cage and scream, to just get it over with. He gave her a crooked smile. "Yeah, I'm fine. Like I said, just tired."
"And I could have sworn I heard you say thank you," she said, grinning in mock astonishment at him. "Most unlike you, Mr. Alchemist."
"Ha," he replied halfheartedly, fits only slightly relaxing. Get a grip, Edward! You're a grown man, you can do this, he thought. I mean, I saved Amestris. So what's this compared to that?
Everything, his other half told him trepidatiously. He took to biting his lip as she watched him, eyes no longer teasing, but somber and concerned.
"Are you really sure you're okay? You look kinda feverish."
"No I don't," he replied hastily, surprised at how his voice exited his throat, so high and squeaky, sounding foreign to his ears. Eyes closed, he felt his hands shake as he tried to calm himself. Nerves, he though. Just nerves. That's why I sound so ridiculous.
He practically hollered, though, once his eyes were open and Winry was in front of him, just inches away, eyeing him softly. Her hand moved to his forehead. Edward nearly screamed, every muscle in his body crying out to move away, but his feet wouldn't cooperate.
"You're really warm," she said, voice holding a somewhat maternal quality. "And your face is red." She touched his cheeks, hands warm and, despite working with automail, amazingly soft. Edward felt his voice lodge in his throat as he tried to deny the facts she stated, only to realize they were true.
A strange, unfamiliar heat filled his entire being, not just his face. Body on fire, he felt himself begin to quake. Why now? he thought miserably. Why her?
"Ed?" Winry, who thought he might be a little sleep deprived and feverish, was surprised when he'd started shaking under her touch, eyes wide and filled with an inner turmoil, looking almost afraid. "Ed, what's wrong?"
Edward was never like this, not even when they were children, really. He'd always been the strong one, the one who never exposed the feelings he kept hidden deep inside himself. Now, here he was, raw emotion spread wildly throughout his features and actions.
"Hey? Ed! What's wrong?" Winry's voice cracked as she called to him, frightened by the way his eyes seemed to be staring into nothingness. His lips parted slightly, as if he was forming words, but not a sound came out.
Inside Edward's mind, all he could see was Winry. Every memory, image, thought, and feeling of her flooded his brain, years worth of sensations entering at one moment and threatening to implode. The first memory of her hit him hard and fast; he saw her curious eyes and friendly smile as she had took his hand, pulling him along to play for the first time. He remembered the nights she had slept over with him and Al, the three building forts to sleep in, her head against his shoulder as the children's limbs tangled together in their sleep.
He saw her the day she'd first seen their alchemy, the fear etched into her young features, one of the first times he had made her cry; he saw her, slightly older, tears pouring down her cheeks as she told them her parents were dead. The pain he saw, but chose to ignore, when he and Al left her out of their secret plans to resurrect their mother, her comforting smile he'd somehow been able to make out even through the fever and delirium of automail surgery, gaze soft and understanding, the feeling of her small hand gripping his. The night they left for their journey, her smiling miserably, thinking at best, they would come back in a few years; at worst, they wouldn't return at all. He'd somehow found himself hugging her for the first time in years at that moment. He remembered the way her body had felt so large against his, yet so fragile, as he found himself hugging her with a painful longing he didn't know even existed.
Winry, who was so much stronger than him, who always welcomed him home, who always forgave him, always saved him. He remembered seeing her for the first time in nearly three years, older and more mature as she looked down on him with a mixture of immense rage and euphoric relief, how his heart had somehow lifted to know she still forgave him. He saw her as she told him he'd always have a home and family waiting for him, even if it was just her, eyes wet with the tears he utterly detested. Winry, the only other form of comfort besides Al he'd had along their journey. Winry, the last time he'd seen her before he'd left for two years, the feel of her fingers in his hair as she braided it. Her arms around him as she hugged him when he got home, tears in her eyes, the way she'd felt when he finally decided to hug her back.
She was everything.
When Ed felt her fingers brush against his lower arm, his flesh arm, it felt like his skin was being scalded by her touch. Frantically trying to pull away, a whimper escaped his lips and his body shook harder as Winry grabbed him by both arms.
"Edward, look at me! What…"
He had to get out of there, to get away from her, fast. It felt like the walls were closing in around him, a sickening claustrophobic feeling taking over his sanity. He couldn't hear anything beyond the blood pounding in his ears as his body finally rediscovered movement; uncontrollably, he jerked away from her. Desperately trying to ignore the shocked, hurt look he saw in her eyes, he whispered, "I'm sorry. I…I can't…"
That was it; Edward bolted from the kitchen and toward the exit that led to freedom as quickly as he could. He grabbed the handle and flung the door wide, letting the cool spring air hit his heated body. Barely hearing Winry's frantic voice calling after him, he rushed out onto the porch and jumped the steps, landing clumsily in the yard, but kept moving. Not even realizing where he was going or what he was doing as he ran, he could only create a few coherent thoughts.
She'll kill me…she'll hate me…it's over…everything's ruined…I've lost her…I've lost everything…
When Edward finally realized that he'd run nearly a mile from the house and that he was finally beginning to feel his legs again, along with the stitch in his side, he slowed until he was barely walking. Body already heavy with the weight of two automail limbs, he felt like he was made of lead as he sat down on the bank of a small stream that ran throughout the entire town of Risembool, one that he'd played in as a child with Al and Winry.
Winry. Taking deep breaths, he tried to steady his racing heart as he rested his elbows on his knees, head in his hands.
"What the hell's happening to me?" he panted, sweat running down his face and neck, coating his chest and back. Now that he wasn't anywhere near Winry, he could actually function properly. His brain was working and he wasn't frozen anymore. He sighed roughly, rubbing his temples as he closed his eyes. "It can't be this hard," he muttered, annoyed with how weak he was. "All I have to do is go back there and say it." Edward could picture Winry, armed with her notorious, lethal wrench as he walked back toward the house, ready to smash his skull in before he could even apologize or beg for mercy. "She probably thinks I'm a nut case," he laughed harshly. "She already thinks I'm a jerk, so that's just something else to add to the list."
Lying back harshly in the grass, Edward looked up at the sky through a leafy canopy. He threw his automail arm over his forehead, hoping the metal would cool him off. Just thinking about Winry made him feel nervous all over again, no matter how she would greet him. Maybe I am sick, he thought, but quickly dismissed this assumption. Nothing was wrong with him, he just couldn't say it! Painfully forcing the image of her upset, concerned face from his mind, he closed his eyes and tried to shut down all thought processes.
He wasn't sure how long he'd lain there, it could have been five minutes or fifty, but the next thing he new, bleary-eyed and disoriented, he awoke to the feel of raindrops gently hitting his face through the protection of tree limbs. The sun, which had been a bright and luminous figure when he'd first arrived, was now no where to be seen, enveloped by a pale gray sky. Of course, this would be a time when he should have heeded Pinako's warnings about the coming rain; his stumps hadn't even pained him, but maybe he'd been too numb earlier to feel anything. Only slightly wet, he stretched, not exactly looking forward to returning home, but not in the mood to be drenched either. He stood, battling the idea of staying under the tree until the rain stopped or walking the mile back home, butt decided against the latter and chose to walk.
As he slowly dragged himself along, walking over small hills until a dirt road came into sight, his thoughts went back to Winry. He felt fine now, only slightly queasy at the thought of her. All he had to so was go through the front door, find Winry, apologize, then say it. His part would be over.
What really worried him, though, was would he be able to say it. It was easier said than done, and Edward, although he'd convinced himself at least a dozen times he could do it, had finally realized earlier exactly how hard it was going to be to actually admit it to her. He'd admitted it to himself almost a year ago and, although he'd nearly hyperventilated at the realization, he'd been able to manage the overwhelming terror he'd felt for the most part. He couldn't believe something like this scared him so much, even at that moment.
Of course, her reaction scared him more than anything else. Would she pull out her wrench and beat him to death? That might not be so bad. Ed wondered what she'd say; would she say anything at all? His stomach flipped back and forth as he forced himself to move faster. The sooner he got there, the sooner he got it over with.
And then, he heard it.
Not exactly sure if he was still groggy from his nap, Edward completely froze. Hoping he was imagining it, he listened carefully, and when he was almost sure he was hearing things, he heard it again.
Her voice, at first slightly muffled and distant because of the rain, became more lucid and stronger after a few minutes. Even in the distance, he would recognize that voice anywhere.
"Ed! Edward?" Winry called, finally coming into view over a small hill, hair stuck to her face, entire body soaked through with water, her sandals caked with a mixture of mud and grass as she walked along the pathway. She turned in several directions, calling his name, voice filled with worry and fear, and Edward found himself, again, fascinated with her, even at a far-off glance. He felt his throat close up, then open as he took a deep intake of breath.
"Winry," he whispered, entire body going limp as, almost like she'd somehow heard him, her gaze found his.
Time seemed to slow to only this moment as they simply stared at each other, Winry's eyes filled with relief, Edward's with unease. He looked down as she began walking forward, her steps agonizingly slow. She came after me? he thought, staring at his feet, rain hitting his back and seeping in through his shirt. She actually came. Wanting to smile, though afraid to, he bit his lip until he faintly tasted blood.
When he heard her footsteps stop, he managed to force himself to look at her. Her hand, slightly shaking, was reaching out as if to grasp him. Edward noted her lips were trembling and she kept her eyes directly focused on him, like she'd done just last summer when he'd returned to their world, like she was afraid he would vanish. "Ed?" she asked softly, voice thick with unshed tears.
"Hey," he replied quietly, nervously, then felt the air leave his lungs as Winry crushed his body to hers. Her arms wrapped around his broad back, holding him as he stood rigid and unmoving, warmth flooding his body.
Edward was shocked. She hadn't hit him, or yelled at him. She'd come after him, without an umbrella or a raincoat, and had gotten completely soaked, just to find him. He realized, ashamedly, how much he must have scared her. "Winry?"
"Are you okay? Did I do something that hurt you? What happened?" She held him tighter, her hands gripping his wet shirt; he liked the way his skin tingled as he felt her fingers through the thin material. Edward felt her body shaking and knew she was about to cry; sighing at his own ineptness, he gently patted her head with his automail hand, then managed to wrap his other arm loosely around her waist. He rested his head against hers, fingers in her hair, suddenly overwhelmed with how much pain he truly had caused her.
"No, you didn't hurt me. I'm fine."
She pulled back, glaring at him, only letting a few tears escape. "You expect me to believe you're fine after that?"
"Yes," he growled, annoyance blossoming from out of nowhere. He watched her glower at him, then felt horribly ashamed as her face fell and tears spilt down her cheeks. He hated that face, those tears; they made him realize just how big of an ass he was. "I really am okay. Now, I mean." He tried to give a convincing smile, which came out more like a grimace, and, resisting the urge to use his flesh hand so he would be able to feel her skin, reached to carefully wipe the tears and rain off her face with his right hand.
Before he could, however, Winry pulled his left hand up and placed his automail arm around her in the other's place. She held his hand gently, her thumb rubbing over the calluses on his palm. Edward, barely breathing, watched in amazement as she placed his hand against her cheek; he felt his mind go blank, but then somehow found himself wiping the two forms of water from her face, his thumb brushing over her cheek as the electrifying sensation took over and he gladly gave into it. He felt his finger softly graze her bottom lip, then took another intake of breath as she reached up to hold his hand against her face, leaning into his touch. She kept her eyes open, always watching him with a assortment of emotions.
"Are you gonna tell me what happened?" she asked, still holding him, one hand on his back, the other holding his hand to her face, brushing the skin against his gently.
Wanting nothing more than to remain captured in her embrace, yet at the same time, wanting to break away so that he could think again, he sighed heavily, then forced himself to let her go, turning away so he wouldn't have to see that face he'd caused so many times in his life, let alone today. "I don't know."
They walked side by side, one feeling the urge to remain quiet, the other longing to start a conversation. Rain now fell in fat drops, and again, Edward wished he hadn't run so far from the warmth of the house. Hands shoved deep in pockets, he kept his eyes straight ahead, trying with all his might not to just sneak a glance at Winry.
Winry. She was warmth. She was home, and she was right beside him.
Resisting the urge to shake his head at the thought, he forced away the memory of the strange, almost lightheaded sensation her body hugging his had brought along. Although it had given him a pleasurable, soaring feeling, Edward still wasn't completely sure why it made him turn to mush around her, and decided not to risk experiencing it again.
Winry, on the other hand, was wondering why Edward was scowling at nothing and turning bright red, mumbling under his breath. "Uh, Ed?"
"What?" he said, voice strained with the urge to scream. He watched her from the corner of his eyes, ignoring her when she stopped walking, then as she tried to catch up to his longer strides.
"Well, you don't have any reason to get all snappy," she muttered, crossing her arms once she was beside him again. Disregarding her pout, he sighed deeply.
"I'm wet, tired, and ready to get home. I think I can be snappy if I want to. Besides," he murmured, "you could have at least brought an umbrella." Voice bored and unpleasant, he waved a hand slightly in her direction, then let it fall to his side. Secretly, though, he was somehow thrilled she hadn't brought one. This meant she'd been so worried with finding him that she'd disregarded the coming rain, even after Pinako's premonition.
"Oh, so it's my fault you just up and ran off?" she asked dangerously. Edward heard her stop and, being only a few paces ahead, decided to turn and face her, yet not daring to make eye contact.
"I didn't say that it was your fault," he mumbled. He somehow managed to look her in the eyes, then nearly cowered when he saw the rage, the hurt, in them.
"Well, excuse me, but I'm not the one who has something wrong with them and won't even tell their best friend. Ed, do you realize how freaked out I was, what with you shaking like that? You were barely even breathing!"
Guilt gnawing at his stomach, tension tearing him apart, he'd somehow caught that gut wrenching word, even though his mind was fogged over.
"Friend?" he questioned, surprised at the calmness of his voice.
Winry, for her part, looked vaguely confused. "Huh?"
"You said friend," he replied, glancing at her expectantly.
"Well, we are friends," she said, voice sounding slightly off to Edward. Her hands were holding her elbows as she swayed back and forth, a nervous stance he had grown used to seeing over the past few months. She looked at her feet, then back at him, when she noticed he was staring. "What?"
"So that's it," he muttered, voice acceptant, eyes watching her blankly. "I'm just your friend."
Winry frowned, then countered, "Well, aren't I just your mechanic?"
Edward, who had just felt like every function of his body was completely shutting down, suddenly experienced a unknown anger that made his frame shake and mind run in overdrive. "That," he said, voice dangerously low, "has nothing to do with what I'm talking about."
"Really? Edward, the only time you ever came and saw us was when you needed your automail fixed. You never called, you left me in the dark, and I can understand that you were trying to protect me, but you could have at least had enough faith in me to explain why you were going to burn your own house down, dammit!"
He was surprised to see her eyes were dry, as possible as that could be in the rain, and that her voice was strong and clear, revealing none of the signs that she was about to shed tears.
Seeing her like this, strong, not tearful, made it easier for him to be mad.
"Do you honestly think I liked not seeing you?" he yelled in return, fist clenched as he glared right back at her. "You really think I'm that heartless that I liked not seeing you for years? I hated it! I hated not knowing what you were doing, not knowing if you were safe and happy. But I did that because I didn't want to make you worry about the things we did, to keep you safe. Any sick bastard we met would have hurt you to get to me! I could never live with myself if something like that happened, so that's why I always blocked you out, that's why I never told you anything.
"How would you have reacted to me killing someone, huh? There was no way I could stand to see the look on your face if I did that, because everything would have changed! I've always been scared of how you'd see me, if I was a dog of the military, or a human weapon, or just an alchemist in your eyes.
"Or just me. That's all I've ever wanted to be, just me, not some fancy state alchemist with a stupid title." Edward wasn't aware that he'd taken several steps forward until he was less than a foot in front of her, or that he was no longer screaming, but sounded exhausted and defenseless. He grimaced, then forced himself to keep eye contact as she watched him, eyes wide and lips parted. He sighed, feeling some relief, but realized he was standing on the edge of a boundary line, one that would change everything if he crossed it.
Winry watched in hesitant astonishment. This couldn't be her Edward. This Ed, who had nearly had a stroke at the house earlier, was now screaming his true feelings at her, the emotions he kept locked away in a secret part of his heart. Her arms hung limply at her sides as she watched his golden eyes burn with a foreign fiery light, more dazzling than the sun.
"And if you honestly think you're just my mechanic, you're a complete idiot," he growled, seeming to deflate as his fury began to recede. He felt tired, only slightly angry, but mostly sick. Sick at how he felt about her, how she felt about him.
Friend. That word haunted him, making him feel weak and inadequate, like a child. He'd hid it so well all these years, and her she was, saying it straight to his face. They were friends. Best friends, but nothing more.
"I hate it when I make you angry. I hate myself. I'm the reason you've cried so much, because I'm a jerk and a bastard." He laughed humorlessly, voice growing quite as the rain began to dissipate. "I'm the idiot, not you. But, still…Winry, you honestly think that's all you mean to me?"
"Ed, I don't get it," she whispered, voice hesitant, almost afraid of the calmness he displayed.
His composure, though, disappeared, and she saw his eyes fill with life again, blazing with so many emotions she became lost. The way his entire presence seemed to encompass her and extend into her very soul enthralled Winry as he glared at her like she was blind, voice on the brink of being a scream.
"I'm saying I love you, woman!"
Everything seemed to freeze. Winry, no longer feeling the rain hit her bare arms, was filled with amazed wonder as the anger and annoyance quickly disappeared. Her cerulean blue eyes grew wide, watching him as his face suddenly went a shade of red unknown to her, darker and brighter than his old coat. Blushing down to his neck, eyes wide in horror, he looked lost and scared and completely adorable.
Edward, immobilized in awful awareness, realized what he'd actually said. Of course he'd been planning on telling her for what seemed like years, but did he have to say it at that precise moment? Fighting with a girl in the rain, then screaming you love her definitely wasn't romantic, he knew that, but it seemed the only way he could tell her was when they were fighting.
What really terrified him, though, was the fact she'd just said they were friends, and here he was, finally admitting he was in love with her.
Beginning to fiddle his thumbs, he looked down, mortified, nausea creeping into his body, as he watched his feet. "And I don't mean in the family way or just like a best friend. I mean…more. In love. And I…ugh…well, I…ugh, dammit, I can't do this." In one quick movement, Edward had turned around, his back to Winry as he shoved his hands in his pockets, wanting nothing more than to just be alone. "Forget I said anything, okay? It doesn't matter."
Before he could commence with the agonizing voyage home, a small, pale hand gently touched his arm. Skin on fire, he didn't turn to face her, humiliation still fresh, but listened for her words. "Edward?"
"What?" he asked, grimacing at the way her gentle voice still sent chills up his spine. Forcing himself to remain calm despite feeling that he was about to throw up, he stayed rooted on the spot.
"Did you mean that?" she asked, voice barely above a whisper.
"Huh?" Whipping around, Edward faced her in shocked confusion, trying to ignore the aching pain and dejection that was filling his heart. She just had to rub it in, didn't she?
Winry, though, was watching him carefully, a tender, almost adoring sentiment in her eyes he'd never seen before. It wasn't like when she was looking at automail. She wasn't acting crazy or obsessed, she was calm and looked extremely happy. Her cheeks were stained a soft pink, hand still on his flesh arm as she blinked several times before repeating, "Did you mean that? That you love me, I mean."
Unable to look at her, he stared out over a vast field to his right, desperately attempting not to run out and break the nearest tree with his metal hand, just to rid his body of a fraction of the severe tension that had built up since he first decided to tell her he loved her.
Oh, did he love her. To his horror, he felt his eyes begin to sting, signaling the coming of tears. Oh, nononononononononono! I cannot cry! Dammit, why now? He forced the unwanted emotion away, trying to keep his composure and not break down. Damn, why was this happening?
At that moment, he would give almost anything to just be back in that alternate universe, back on Earth, where there was no Winry Rockbell; of course there would be a Winry there, but not his Winry.
And it hit him; even if he lived in a world where Winry didn't exist, Edward wouldn't love anyone else but her.
Desperately trying to force the tears from his throat, he couldn't even bare to look at her. "If I didn't mean it, why would I say it?" he muttered darkly, quickly picking out a nice sized elm tree to snap in half the first chance he got.
Winry sighed, then, to his anger and frustration, giggled. Feelings and pride already deeply wounded, he felt she was mocking him, but missed her true purpose of amusement.
"Why the hell are you laughing?" he groaned, pulling his arm away from her so he could cross them over his chest, steel arm on top, daring her to touch him again. She looked at him, all serious once again.
Then slapped her palm to his forehead, not enough to hurt, but enough to annoy.
"What was that for?" he yelled, suddenly hating the fact that there were pretty much eye-to-eye.
She smiled, then smirked. "What took you so long, alchemy freak? I've been waiting for you to say that for years." She smiled brightly, eyes closed, and through the remaining thinned-out rain, Edward saw two small tears trickle down her cheeks. "I love you too."
Edward's arms fell limply to his sides as he gawked at her, resisting the urge to make her repeat herself so he'd know he had heard her correctly. Watching wide-eyed, mouth agape, he heard her laugh softly. She smiled sheepishly as she said, "Sorry for putting you through that, but I didn't think you felt the same."
Finally finding his voice, he asked timidly, "So, I'm not just your friend?"
"And you…love…me too?" he questioned, voice catching on the unfamiliar word, the prospect that she could actually love him.
"Yeah, I do."
"Oh, okay," he muttered, still in shock. "Then, that's good." He felt his body suddenly relax, every worry disappear. She loves me. She actually loves me back? Blinking rapidly, he felt the tiniest of smiles appear on his face.
"Uh huh," she said, smiling at his slow understanding. "Geez, Ed, sometimes you can be so dense. You really never noticed?"
"No?" he replied, telling the truth, yet asking it as a question to observe her reaction.
Winry sighed patiently, then laughed. "I guess I'm dense too. I didn't think you'd ever like me like me."
"Why not?" he asked, arms crossing as he watched her blush, suddenly discovering just how much he liked it when her cheeks were flushed, the way it made her glow and look even prettier.
No, beautiful. She was beautiful.
"Well, I'm the automail geek. I was never girly like the others, like Rosé." Holding her elbow, she looked at the ground with chagrin.
"Wait, you honestly thought I liked Rosé?" Edward asked, resisting the urge to laugh.
"Well," she muttered, eyes bright with slight annoyance, "yes. I know she loved you; she still does, Ed. And what about that girl in the other world, Noah?" Edward couldn't help but notice the slight jealousy that was hidden behind her words, or the way that, for some reason, it made him proud to think she loved him enough to get jealous at times.
"Winry, Rosé is Rosé and Noah's Noah. You're Winry. And that's all I want." You're the one I want. Edward smiled crookedly. "And besides, you're girly enough," he stated complacently, playing with a piece of her hair.
The smile she gave him made his heat soar as she asked, "Is that why you were so terrified in there?"
"Pretty much," he stated casually, deciding to forget how nervous and frightened he'd been when he'd first tried to admit it to her. That would definitely not be a moment to relive ever again.
"You feel better?" Winry looked up toward the sky, followed by Ed; the two just now noticing the early spring shower had ended, only a small amount of sunlight filtering through the clouds. Edward looked back at Winry, finding it somehow convenient. Although he was still soaked and wanted nothing more than to change into some dry clothes, Edward felt a sense of contentment. The rain, it seemed, had cleansed him of all his worries and troubles, his pains and sorrows. Oh, they'd be back, he knew that. But for now, it was just him and Winry.
Placing his left hand gently on top of her head, he smiled, not obnoxious or conniving or fake, just a smile. "Yeah. Let's go home."
They walked home in enjoyable silence, Winry smiling softly, Edward grinning with amazed delight, both contemplating their thoughts of the future as their hands lightly entwined, limber, soft fingers against hard, cold metallic ones.