Title: So You Can Sleep At Night
Summary: Ed decides to stay in Risembool. It takes five days.
A/N: Post 108 fic. No real spoilers, but they're there.
In her haze of happy morning sleep Winry vaguely heard the sound of the door opening and closing; for a strange minute she thought she might have been dreaming until she felt the mattress dip and the warm weight of somebody prodding at her shoulder.
Ed's leaving, she thought suddenly, adrenaline shooting through her. She sat bolt upright, throwing back the covers, and was shocked at the sight of Edward himself sitting at the edge of the bed, a surprised look on his face. She'd been expecting Gran, coming to rouse Winry from bed so that she didn't miss Ed's leaving; Ed liked to leave early and never had the heart to wake her up.
At least, that was what he liked to say; Winry harbored a secret suspicion that he was never sure what to say at these partings. Either way, it had become something of a tradition, Ed leaving early, Winry barely waking up to say goodbye from the balcony, and the simple wave over his shoulder as he promised to visit again soon.
"Ed?" she asked, rubbing her eyes. "What are you doing here? Aren't you leaving?"
"Yeah," he said, shrugging. She'd noticed something slightly off about him ever since he'd arrived without warning the day before. It was there all through lunch and dinner, although it had seemingly disappeared when they'd retreated to the privacy of her bedroom. He'd been quiet, and thoughtful, when normally he was full of boastful stories about his accomplishments during his travels. "I got down there and realized I'd forgotten something, so I came back."
"What'd you forget?"She was sitting up in bed, leaning forward against her knees, part of her weight leaning against Ed.
He was blushing. "This. Here. It was in my bag." He wouldn't make eye contact with her as he handed her the small box, and Winry couldn't stop herself from smiling. All these years, and only once had Ed gracefully given her a gift, even if he'd never missed the opportunity to pick something up for her. She wasn't sure when, but at some point the gifts had turned from bribes to prevent her from denting his skull into genuine expressions of his affection, proof that he thought of her while he was gone.
"It's… teeth?" Winry asked, confused as she held the box up to her face, trying to see if she'd misspoken. There were definitely two triangular shaped teeth lying in the box, and gingerly she picked one up and held it to the light.
"From the shark!" Ed supplied eagerly. "Remember, I told you at dinner last night?" He had told her about catching the shark in a letter and actually acted it out breathlessly the night before, much to her and Gran's amusement. "I thought about getting them made into some really cool earrings or something, but then I –"
"Talked to Al?" Winry asked suggestively, raising an eyebrow. She gave Ed credit for at least asking his brother before getting Winry jewelry; Al tended to steer Ed away from some of the more… unromantic options.
"Yeah, well." Ed scratched the back of his head and rolled his eyes. "I still think earrings would have been cool, but Al said to let you decide."
She smiled. "Thanks Ed," Then, with an anxious glance at the clock across the room on her dresser, asked, "You came all the way back to give these to me? Did you miss your train?"
Ed shrugged. "Yeah, I'll check out the train schedule later. Wouldn't hurt to stay another day. I can patch that rotten section in the railing on your balcony. I can leave tomorrow."
That was Monday.
There was a piece of toast on a plate, forgotten, and a cup of coffee now lukewarm sitting on the table in front of her. Her feet were propped up on the table, her sketch book balanced in her lap as Winry considered the plans in front of her. Mrs. Reynold's surgery was coming up, and Winry was trying to avoid doing a partial chest plate for her – partial chests were more difficult for women than men, both for the surgeon and the patient.
She'd been up early to see Ed off, and almost as soon as her back was turned she'd had a thought about reinforcing what was left of the clavicle and padded downstairs to try and puzzle the idea out. If she used a lighter alloy, she might not have to worry about the strain it would add to the neck…
The door slammed then, and Winry sat bolt upright, expecting Gran to storm into the kitchen and scold her for putting her feet up, but it was only Ed who came back through the door, so she relaxed and leaned back again.
Ed pulled the coffee pot off the hot plate and sniffed at it curiously. "Is this fresh?" he asked, and suddenly it occurred to Winry that he should have been on the train at that moment, not standing in her kitchen.
"Ed!" she exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"
Ed shrugged. "Train broke down. I waited around for a little while but it doesn't look like anybody's getting out today."
"Oh." Winry put down her pencil, her eyebrows creasing. Ed was taking the delay remarkably well; as little as a year ago this would have put him in a bad temper, whining about how this would have put him behind, that he was going to have to scramble to catch up. "Well maybe we can walk down to the train station later and see if they've got it fixed. Sometimes they send out one off-schedule to try and get back on track."
Ed shrugged, pouring himself a cup of coffee. "We'll see. You've been getting some of my mail, haven't you? I could get caught up on some letters. You know how Mustang gets if he doesn't hear from me every once in a while, and writing letters on the train is a pain in the ass."
Winry smiled gently at him. "Whatever you want." Inside, however, she was quietly celebrating – two full days with Ed was almost unheard of, even with the promise between them. Once he'd come home three weekends in a row, but only after he'd spent the weekdays between visiting three different directions.
That was Tuesday.
Winry was actually up before Ed that morning, having slipped out from under his arm and run downstairs into the workshop to double check on a few things that had been gnawing at her mind – had the boiler sterilized her tools properly? Had she measured out the correct joint ratio from the metacarpals to the carpals? Had she cut enough gauge 1.5 wire for the nerve grafts? – and had therefore been the one to catch site of the plume of smoke outside of the window.
It was coming from the direction of the Foster's farm. Mr. Foster had a habit of burning the midnight oil – Winry wondered if he'd finally gone and dozed off and knocked the lantern over. Then she heard the bells ringing, and realized that others had noticed and were calling for a fire brigade.
"Ed!" she called, running back to the bedroom and shaking him from his sleep. "Ed, wake up, they're calling for help at the Fosters!"
"Eh?" he sat up, squinting at her, and then seemed to understand what exactly she had said. "Shit!"
Ed hopped out of bed, reaching for his pants and trying to stuff his legs into them and run at the same time. "Don't forget your shoes!" Winry called after him, and moments later she heard the door slam as Ed ran from the house.
It was almost lunchtime when Ed trudged back, sweat beaded around his brow and soot over his hands and mixed into his ponytail. Winry greeted him with a cool glass of lemonade, asking anxiously as he stripped off his shirt, "How bad was it?"
Ed shrugged. "It was only in the barn. Didn't spread to the house. The horses and cattle were already outside, so he didn't lose any animals. He'll have to rebuild and he lost a lot of hay, but it could have been much worse."
"That's a relief." Winry tucked her bangs back behind her ears and sighed. "I'll go up later and offer to help with repairs. If you want to catch a shower I'll make you lunch."
"Thanks." Ed smiled at her and started up the stairs. He stopped, however, when Winry called his name.
"Are you going to try and catch a late train?" she asked, and for some reason, her heart was pounding in her chest. The whole thing seemed so strange to her – that Ed hadn't acknowledged how he'd been delayed, that he didn't seem as concerned about it as he normally acted. She had no idea what she should think; she'd always supported Ed and his goals wholeheartedly, and didn't know which way she should support him now.
Ed shrugged, but didn't turn around. "We can go tomorrow," he said easily, and for some reason, instead of feeling relieved, Winry's heart beat even faster. A seed had been planted, and now it was blossoming into something that Winry couldn't quite put her finger on.
That was Wednesday.
Late spring in Risembool was generally a warm, if windy, affair. Once the snowmelt cleared away it seemed like the countryside dried out quickly and the shining sun drove everybody's sweaters and hats and winter coats back into closets. Sometimes, however, rainstorms blew through the area and the temperature would plummet; on those occasions it wasn't uncommon to wake up shivering under the spring quilt and find a freezing house with an ice cold floor.
Today was one of those occasions; on top of it Winry had left the window cracked open to let the breeze through, though at this point it felt like icy fingers raking down her body. She groaned, and momentarily debated whether she should get up to shut the window or just wind herself deeper into the covers. The warmth of the covers won, however, and as Winry snuggled back in, burying her cold nose into the pillow, she realized suddenly that the heat surrounding her wasn't coming only from the layers on top of her.
It was Ed pressed up against her hip and shoulders. Her eyes flew open as she confirmed her instincts. It was Ed , his eyes tightly shut, his golden hair spread across the pillow underneath his head. It glinted in the morning sun as she stared at him, her brain trying to process the image.
Waking up with Ed still in bed with her was a rather new experience, particularly when she'd been expecting to wake up alone.
Her heart started beating in that funny way again as she reached out to wake him, scarcely daring to hope – could it be on purpose this time?
"Ed," she murmured, rocking against his shoulder softly. "Ed, wake up. I think you overslept."
"Huh?" he murmured, not opening his eyes but squinting nonetheless as he rolled onto his back and lazily grazed a hand across his forehead. "No I didn't."
Her voice was tight as she responded, "I think you missed the train Ed."
Ed snorted a little bit at that and actually opened his eyes, glancing at the window, before rolling back of to face her again. "Mm. Yeah. I guess I did."
"Well," she slithered back under the covers, one of her feet nudging between his legs, wriggling closer to him. "What are you going to do then?"
She'd been talking about the train, but in response he made a soft noise – at first Winry thought it was a snore – and slipped his arm over her waist, his fingers drumming a pattern at the small of her back. "My mom's property's still in the Elric name," Ed murmured, his eyes slipping shut. His breathing was evening out but he added, "I thought I'd scout it out today. See how far it goes. I wanna check with Al and see what he wants to do with it."
Winry blinked, studying his face. It was smooth, calm and unconcerned, almost stoic. She'd always been proud of her ability to read Ed, understand what he was really thinking and feeling even if he wouldn't say it. This time she really had no idea what Ed was trying to say – or maybe she was just unsure if she should really believe it. "What do you want to do with it?"
"I want to keep some. Enough to build on," Ed said easily, immediately, as if he'd been thinking about it. "Al might want to split it in two, or maybe parcel it and sell it off. We could probably stand to sell some, since we're not going to farm it. I don't know." He yawned, then murmured, "We'll see."
She waited a few minutes, and finally asked in a cautious tone, "What about the train?"
He never responded.
That was Thursday.
On Friday morning Winry woke up in bed alone, the sheets wrapped around her ankles and the pillow next to her cool. The sun was shining through the blinds and lacy white curtains, filling the room with a weak yellow light that hurt Winry's eyes as she rubbed them and tried to adjust.
She sat up in bed and stared down at her bare feet on the carpet, trying to wake up her mind and think about what she needed to accomplish today. There were pre-op instructions with Mrs. Reynolds, at least two maintenance appointments, and she needed at least a good hour stretch of time so that she could put the finishing touches on a couple of pieces she'd been working on. A steady day, but not stressful.
A pair of overalls was laying on the floor by the door; slipping into them and tying them off at the waist she stumbled down the stairs, bumping into the walls sluggishly as she turned corners. Her mind was entirely on her task list, and not at all on the empty bed she'd woken up in or the bit of hope she'd been shrouding in her heart.
Ed was standing at the sink when she walked in the kitchen and sat at the table.
"Morning," he saluted, handing her a cup of coffee. She took it gratefully, smiling a greeting in return as she curled her legs under her and leaned back in the chair. "Gran said Mrs. Reynold's is coming by in half an hour and to make myself scarce."
Winry rolled her eyes. "Mrs. Reynolds likes you. You can hang around."
Ed held up both hands. "You said that. I'm not getting between you and the old hag in an argument."
She laughed and sipped her coffee before reaching for the plate of toast in the middle of the table. Her fingers had just barely grasped a piece when Ed cleared his throat and asked, "So… have you thought about any plans for a wedding yet?"
Winry dropped her toast. It lay on the table, forgotten, as she stared at Ed.
They'd been promised to each other for almost three years now; the agreement had been between them alone, and hadn't been spread to anybody – except, of course, Alphonse and Granny, who weren't considered "anybody." She'd never said anything to him about it, had never pressured him to settle down. It had just always been there between them, implicit, while they took care of their own affairs, because if there was one thing she knew about Ed, it was that he always kept his promises no matter how long they took.
"I – um." She coughed, her throat suddenly dry. "I was waiting. For you. For some things. Before I decided. Um."
"Ah." Ed sipped orange juice. His face was calm, but there was the slightest hint of a blush on his cheeks. "We should decide, then."
That was the beginning.