I realize I've been grounded awhile, and I hope none of yall have given up on this story! I'd be so sad!

Also my chapters NEVER go over 3,000 words. I simply can't drag it out long enough.

Disclaimer: Arakawa owns everything FMA, I am just simply toying with her ideas

Chapter 8 - Damned and Determined

Edward paced back and forth in his cell with his golden eyes dancing over the dirty white floor nervously. His fingers twitched and his fists clenched just as they always did when he had the need to draw and let out whatever was being bottled up inside him, but now wasn't the time to cast the world away. Kimblee watched him with distant interest, seemingly bored with the two boys. He was only there to make sure the younger alchemist didn't spill all the beans to his little girlfriend.

Kimblee's head jerked up at the rusted door opening with a soft creak, and he straighten his back when his vivacious little blonde hostage entered. A wicked smile played on his chapped lips as he unlocked Fullmetal's cell. Edward had immediately gotten tense all over when he saw Winry—the girl he tried so hard to protect. He forced himself to relax. He needed to tell her what she didn't already know, even if the truth meant that everything he'd told her before had been a lie.

Winry took her place on the other side of Alphonse and managed to get settled on the hard benches neither Elric found comfortable. She gazed up at Ed with a questioning and innocent look.

"Winry," Ed bit his lip and his hands clenched once again, but he continued, "you were only brought to Briggs as a hostage." There he said it; it was finally out there. The words he had locked up inside him the moment he found out Winry was at Briggs came seeping out his soul.

It left Winry as confused as if he had suddenly slapped her, and she looked as if he actually had. Edward had to remind himself that keeping things from her hurt her more than telling the truth in the end. However, at this moment, he felt awfully skeptical of that.

"What?" Her face was blank and her mouth opened and closed, only to open again. She looked to Al, and although he was certainly baffled, it was only because he couldn't believe his brother was telling her the very thing they tried to keep away from her.

In all seriousness, she asked, "Are you joking?"

"Listen..." He took a breath, as if readying himself. "I've been ordered by the Fuhrer to fulfill my duties as a human weapon..." and on he went, watching the disbelief rise in Winry's eyes. They all knew she wouldn't be able to take all of this in, but still she listened. Her world, held together by hope and determination, had come apart once again.

"Why don't you just refuse?" Her voice broke and she stood, about ready to shake Edward back to reality. She wanted to scream at him that he had a choice, and that he could make his own path in life. Only then did it hit her. Bordering hysteria, she came to the realization that Edward couldn't refuse—because of her.

The hard bench managed to brake her fall. A single word left her lips: "Oh,"

She shook, visibly shook, and muttered a sorry and other more unintelligible words. She felt the delicate sketch inside her pocket crumble and felt the yearning to smooth out its edges despite the situation. She blinked, hard. She couldn't cry now, she had to be strong for the boys and for herself.

"I won't cry," she reassured, her jaw setting stubbornly when Edward reached out a hand to console her. He let it hover in the air for a second longer before it drifted back to his side.

"I'm so naive..." Edward wasn't sure if that's what Winry said or not, but at the moment he wasn't focused on anything. For once he didn't know what he was going to do. It was just like when he was a little boy, sitting in a wheelchair while his life raced by him in a dull blur.

He remembered Al, just beginning to get used to his new body, and a small Winry heading toward him, and Winry didn't look as mad as she once had been.

"I'm sorry," she had whispered, "all you were trying to do was get your mom back..."

"I'm sorry," Edward was brought out of his reverie by the sound of the older Winry's voice. "All you were trying to do was get your original bodies back..."

Edward sighed. He knew she felt guilty, but he couldn't comfort her now no matter how desperately he wanted to. He didn't like hurting her, but he knew she'd never let him take all the blame onto his shoulders. Not again.

"About that," he spoke up, grabbing Al's attention, "Kimblee actually offered me a Philosopher's Stone as payment..."

"A stone?" Alphonse's hollow voice rose in disbelief. "We can't, Brother! The ingredients for a stone are—"

"I know, Al." Edward bit him off more harshly than he intended to, but it shut his younger sibling up nonetheless. When Alphonse continued to stare at Ed in silent shock, the elder Elric gave him a look—the look. The look that made it clear he was planning something big, and he needed his little brother to play a part in it.

"Fine, do what you want." All emotion in Al's voice dissipated, and Winry looked up at both of them in sudden confusion. Ed's body was stiff when he replied with an "I will."

He turned, without looking back, and one of the guards let him out. Kimblee pushed himself off the wall separating the cells, and he wore and expression of mild apprehension.

"It's settled. I'm in, alright?" Edward shoved his hands in his coat pockets to keep them from shaking. He managed to pull off the nonchalant look perfectly, and determination burned like a harsh flame in the pit of his stomach. He heard the cell door open again and knew Winry was being let out.

The flamed roared up, engulfing everything in his chest. It pushed him forward as he walked with Kimblee.

"Finding Scar is the first thing I'm going to do." He claimed, locking eyes with the Crimson Alchemist.

"Oh yeah, why is that?" Kimblee inquired in his acidic, normal tone. It was then that Edward looked back over his shoulder and saw Winry looking right back at him. Sadness, confusion, and something else was brewing beneath those soft, aquamarine pools.

"Scar is the one who murdered Winry's parents; they deserve vengeance." He explained, stopping only so that Kimblee could open up the door at the end of the hall. He barely heard his brother and the girl he secretly loved muttering in the background.

He managed to do something good today, despite how he felt, but even so it wouldn't right the wrongs just yet. Edward closed his eyes and sighed heavily.


Winry opened her eyes and gasped heavily. The lack of air in the water carrier had been suffocating her for the past hour and a half. She was thankful they, being the two men from the military in disguise, at least had the lid halfway off.

Crawling awkwardly out of the water container and opening the back door to the Rockbell home, she took another deep breath. All the familiar smells she grew up with came rushing back to her instantly. The smell of oil and grease, fresh wood, musty blankets, wool, and coal all reminded her of the olden days before everything became so complicated.

"Smells like home." Winry breathed with a relieved smile. She knew every nook and cranny of the old farmhouse, but she couldn't escape the urge to look around as if she were walking into some new discovery. She missed her home so much, even if it had only been a couple months. Yet, in those couple months, she'd been to hell and back, laughed in the devil's face alongside danger, and sauntered on back to reality.

She was brought back from her thoughts by the soft murmur of the two military men poking their heads into one of the automail rooms and commenting on the mess.

"Don't touch any of the unfinished pieces." She instructed, turning to head up the stairs and change out of her dirty clothes. She needed a bath badly.

She sighed in relief when she opened her door. Her eyes felt heavy and her shoulders sagged. She relished in the fact she was in the privacy of her own room, and thought of skipping the bath altogether. Her bed was a hell of a lot more comfortable than the other various places she'd been sleeping.

Still, she needed to get out of her filthy clothes whatever her decision to do first. Stripping off the first layer of clothing, Winry hiked up her dark undershirt only to stop when something out of her peripheral vision moved. Something blonde...

Winry's head jerked to the right and stared. Sitting at her work bench and eating a sandwich was the legendary Edward Elric. The last person she expected to see for a long time.

One second passed. Then two...

A whirlwind of events transpired after Winry stopped screaming. The two men who had been traveling with Winry burst through the door and aimed their guns, only to be dumbfounded when they saw who was in the room with the young mechanic. Den's barks grew louder and angrier, two other muscular men showed up with guns of their own, and then Ling appeared, of all people! Honestly, if the Fuehrer, himself, showed up and proposed to her Winry wouldn't have been more confused.

"Get out of my room!" She finally hollered, wrenching them out the door. She turned her glare to Edward, who immediately gulped in fear.

He better, she thought irritably and sighed, lowering her battered tool.

"Winry?" An elder voice called. The blonde Rockbell turned back to the door just in time to see her short grandmother making her way up the stairs. She looked mildly confused and slightly amused, then she grinned, and the wrinkles Winry had missed oh-so-dearly appeared around her mouth.

"Welcome home." The elder woman greeted.

"Hi, Granny." Winry smiled tenderly. "It's good to be back."

"I'll just go get supper started then." Pinako said with a curt nod. She turned to leave, and kicked one of the Briggs' soldier's boots who groaned in reply.

"Get up, you." She scoffed.

Winry giggled, and looked back over her shoulder. Edward's back was to her. He looked like he was trying to stuff something in his pocket.


"Yeah?" He muttered, obviously unaware she was watching him.

"What's that?"

Edward froze; his actions halted. "Nothing," he clipped and hastily shoved whatever he was trying to hide in his pant's pocket. Winry grabbed for it, successfully snatching it away only to have him catch her arm and pry it from her fingers.


"It's nothing!" He yelled and crumpled the paper with one fist.

"If it's nothing then let me—" She gasped when she reached Edward's hardened gaze. She saw something she was starting to see a lot of in his eyes: desperation. He was desperate to hide something from her, but Winry was damned and determined to find out what it was.

Taking a gamble and praying it wasn't too important, Winry ripped it from his grasp and it tore in two. It was enough for her to see what was so important that had to be kept secret from her.

She gasped once again. She looked from Edward back to the torn picture, then to him again. Her eyes were so wide they hurt, but that didn't matter at the moment. Nothing mattered at the moment. The only thing that did matter was the fact that her dream artist, her alleged stalker, was standing right in front of her with the most red cheeks she'd ever seen. She could almost feel the heat from them herself.

"You drew this?" Winry asked breathlessly. She stared back down and the ripped and crumpled paper. It was a drawing of her again, only in her winter coat. She looked troubled in the picture. Her eyes were soft and cloudy with confusion, and her shaded lips were pouted in disbelief. She was stiff, but it wasn't from the lack of drawing experience. The background was filled with hard criss-crosses that gave a dark perception of the place. It looked like a cell.

So that's been been bothering him?

"Yeah..." Edward muttered, referring to her spoken question. He shuffled nervously and his eyes moved over her carpet floor, never meeting her gaze. It struck Winry as something cute; something she'd never expect Edward to do.

"Why didn't you tell me?" She tried searching his sleep-deprived face. The lines and planes of his face couldn't mask the need for basic comforts, and Winry desperately wanted to reach out for him, but his words stopped her.

"I—" He tried, but was cut off by the call for dinner by Pinako.

"We'll talk afterward." Winry decided for them, knowing he needed a check up anyway. She hesitantly placed the drawing down on her work bench. She had a lot to process over dinner, and she knew there were still things on Edward's mind that were keeping him silent.

And like the drawing, she was damned and determined to find out what it was.

Happy birthday, sailorsweetart! I hope you enjoy this, and I hope every one of mi fans enjoys this as well! Review pretty please!