His voice had made her nervous for some reason. She remembered clearly how the reverberations of his voice had shook even through the phone's speaker, as if his voice was quivering on the other end.
Edward never sounded like that.
At least not around her.
Winry had always tried not to let it bother her. Growing up with him, being so close to him but being held at arm's length. It hurt when she thought about it. It hurt even more to know that he would likely never return the feelings she felt for him.
The stupid feelings she felt for him. God! What was wrong with her? How on earth could she love someone so pigheaded?
But there she was, wandering around the darkened streets all alone, looking for him. She had dashed out of the house immediately, the clock reading 5:23 AM when she left. She was grateful that she had been ready for school so early, dressed and showered. But she had abandoned her school bag at home. He hadn't asked her to come, actually vehemently told her not to, but it was a farce. He'd wanted her company. And this raised even more alarms.
For Edward, of all people, to call her while emotionally stricken? Something was horribly wrong.
And as Winry wandered those black streets, her heart racing with some nervous energy, she suddenly halted and wondered belatedly: what would she do if she found him?
Winry didn't have much time to puzzle over this however, for the next corner she turned revealed a figure sitting on a bench which rested in a circle of light caused by a streetlight. Winry's heart stuttered at the sight; it was Edward for sure. His golden hair was all aglow in the harsh puddle of light that beamed down directly on his form. The familiar braid was also in view, hanging over Ed's shoulder.
But what made her heart clench was how he sat: with his elbows braced on his knees and his head cradled in his hands.
Something had happened. Something awful. Did he get in a fight with Alphonse? Had he broken up with his girlfriend, Rose? Or had they had a fight? These possibilities flew about poor Winry's head with the speed of hummingbirds, dancing and twirling about her mind with no sense of direction or fluidity.
So she did the only thing she could think of: she dashed over to him as fast as her legs could carry her. He heard her footsteps; her boots were loud in the silence of the ebony morning. He looked at her, and she balked.
His eyes were red, as if he'd been crying. And when he'd spoken, his voice broke.
Stricken by the horror of what that could mean, she made her way over to him slowly, keeping her eyes on him the entire time. She realized as she approached him that her breathing was erratic and across her cheeks there was a mad flush. Her heart raced as if she had just run a marathon.
So what did she do? Ran with it. Pretended that she'd run all the way there. Better that than explain the more likely cause of her irregular heartbeat.
Ed's eyes glanced over her slowly, then he spat a curse. "Damn it, Winry." He turned his face away. "I didn't want you to come find me."
Normally, Winry would have rebutted with a Well then maybe you shouldn't have called me then! It was their way. Their normalcy. To fight and bicker. What fueled Ed during these fights was his unadulterated annoyance with everything she did. What fueled Winry was her buried frustration that he would never see her as more than an obnoxious little sister. But it was still their way.
But this time she didn't shoot back anything mean-spirited in defense. Instead she dropped her gaze to the ground and hesitated. And hesitated. And hesitated some more.
"It sounded like you needed me to." She admitted in a small voice.
She wouldn't know that Ed had glanced back up at her in shock. And she wouldn't see what resembled wonder and shock in his reddened eyes. She would miss all of this because she was staring at the sidewalk.
When she finally looked up, she felt a pang in her chest when he still had his gaze averted, his long golden bangs on either side of his face shielding his eyes from her.
Earlier she had felt like Edward's reaching out to her meant something. He had dialed her number, called her cell phone, and spoken to her. She had thought it would be significant that when he needed somebody, he'd called her. As if he'd needed Winry, not someone else.
But now she was wondering if he'd just pocket dialed her or something.
"What happened?" She questioned, braving a step toward him.
He winced, as if her being closer to him was painful. "Nothing." He hissed through clenched teeth. He still refused to look at her.
Winry frowned in concern. He was lying, of course. That's what boys do. They lie about their feelings, say nothing's wrong when something most definitely was wrong... Wow, now that she thought about it, the genders were not all that different. All the males needed was to put up fronts around their friends to hide what they really felt.
Realizing her train of thought had strayed wildly off course, she returned to gazing at the boy before her. She realized he was wearing the same clothes that he'd worn the day before. His white t-shirt was wrinkled and dirty, as were his faded blue jeans. She also noticed the absence of his favorite red hoodie.
"Where's your hoodie?" She asked out of the blue. It bugged her for some reason. She wasn't used to seeing him without it.
Ed tensed at her question as if it struck a nerve. He dropped his arm which had originally hidden the majority of his face from her. He looked straight ahead and took a deep breath through his nose before answer. "I left it at Rose's house by mistake."
Winry could picture it in her mind: Ed and Rose having an argument (they'd been having it rough these past few weeks), and Ed storming out of Rose's apartment without his jacket. Winry stood there worrying her lip while she stared at her best friend.
She'd truly never seen him like this. Not even when his mother died. It had been Al and Winry shedding tears, but not Ed. He'd been a statue, so strong even at such a tender age of eleven. Winry remembered watching him stare at the open grave with a stony face, and crying harder.
He looked like he was sinking into a dark swamp, being swallowed by the pain that was suddenly plaguing him. Winry, who cared for her friend deeply, couldn't bear to stand there and watch him like this. She swallowed, thinking, formulating, planning. She wanted to lighten his sorrow, no matter what would happen after he felt better. Even if it took convincing him to make up with Rose, she would do it if only to lighten his sorrow.
She was being selfish.
She thought of what she typically did when she was hurting: seek high ground. Normally this meant climbing onto her roof from her balcony, or finding a tall hill that overlooked the town. When her parents died, she'd climbed so high up in a tree outside her house she couldn't climb down. Ed and Al had been there, thirty feet below her. They'd been the ones to locate her and tell Granny.
Suddenly she got an idea. An idea that, thankfully, did not involve trees.
She threw her head back and stared up at the onyx sky above them. The white little dots that were stars were slowly winking out due to the approaching dawn. She thought of the stars, the moon, satellites and the atmosphere.
What was higher than that?
Well she couldn't afford space travel, of course. But she could take him higher physically.
She looked down at the boy she adored. His gaze was unfocused, staring straight ahead of him into the gradually lightening blackness that was the street. Winry had a horrible feeling that he was sinking, sinking into some deep hole that wished to swallow him whole. Like quicksand.
Panicking at that thought, she reached out and took his wrist. She mildly alarmed at the temperature of his skin. It was ice cold. How long had he been sitting out here?
Ed glanced up at her in surprise, the glaze fleeing his golden eyes and focusing on her immediately. Her warm touch was a shock, and a welcome one at that. He stared at the girl confusedly. Her smile blinded him.
Winry breathed a sigh of relief when he came back from whatever sad place his thoughts had taken him, and pulled him to his feet. He went reluctantly, saying her name questioningly. But he rose to his feet and looked down at her hesitantly as she began to tug him in the direction she wanted to go. She didn't say a word, just smiled and pulled on his hand.
Finally he relented and followed.
The September morning was temperate; not exactly cold or warm. Somewhere in between, on the brink of becoming one or the other, but not quite there yet. There were few clouds and chilly breezes, but soon the sun would turn them warm. The town was desolate; the streets were empty. Colorful leaves skittered along the sidewalks and clung to their trees with desperate attempts... Until those futile attempts were plucked away as soon as the wind swept by.
Winry's cheeks had a hectic flush about them and she was grinning from ear to ear. The hand that hung limply in hers was cold, but was gradually warming. Today she could claim the right to take his hands in hers. The innocent gesture still sent her heart thumping at the feeling of his chilled fingers.
Ed followed unsteadily as she practically dragged him along. He didn't want to walk fast. He just wanted to sit down and be alone... But he secretly appreciated her resolve, her persistence. It was distracting. She was distracting.
The sky had begun to lighten brighter and bluer hue, preceding the sun's rising. Winry noticed this, and sped up her pace even more. The smell of salt water reached her and she smiled. Just one more block... And there it was! The towering red structure. The lighthouse by the port.
She could feel Edward's questioning gaze like a touch. And, like always, knowing he was staring at her gave her goose bumps. But she retained her silence, only smiled gently and ushered him into the elevator.
Now thoroughly confused, Ed stared out the window with a frown. It wasn't until halfway up did he realize his hand remained in Winry's. He flushed an embarrassed pink, but did not withdraw it.
Yes, she was very distracting.
Winry smiled excitedly as beams of the structure flashed by the window. It was like an orbit elevator in her mind. She imagined their satellite rising above the clouds, higher and higher until nothing but air could touch them. And then not even air, once they cleared the atmosphere. Just floating, free, and untouchable.
Finally the elevator dinged and the doors slid open with a mechanical rattle. Without pause, Winry darted out of the small compartment, her fingers slipping out of Ed's. With a smile Winry found a spot on the deck and stared toward the East, where the sun was slowly creeping its way up over the horizon. She could see for miles!
Feeling daring, she clung to the railing and looked down. The height was absolutely dizzying! They had to be three hundred meters high! Well, that was a bit of a rough estimate. But it was so high up! The wind was stronger up here, blowing her long blond hair all over the place and plastering her short red skirt to her thighs, rippling her black blouse as well.
Winry whirled around with a smile and met Ed's eyes. He had wandered out of the elevator after her and was watching her with some kind of look on his face... Almost...thoughtful? But then she watched those eyes go blank and stare out at the horizon instead, his hands shoved deep in his pockets.
"Why are we here?" He asked. Not why did you drag me here? or what's so special about this place? Instead, he'd said 'we.' It made it different to Winry somehow.
She took a deliberate step forward, her arms folded behind her back and her eyes curious. She asked him, "Do you feel any lighter?"
Ed cracked and looked at her involuntarily. "What?"
Winry stepped closer, reaching out and taking his elbow with careful fingers. She guided him closer to the railing, never taking her eyes off his face. "I thought that you would be feel lighter up here." She smiled mysteriously and released his elbow, instead lifting her arm to the sky. Her palm facing the sky, she parted her fingers to reveal a star shining through. Then she said, "I wanted to take you somewhere above the earth. Out of the gravity. It looked like it was pulling on you too hard."
It was nothing but a cheap trick, the lighthouse. Just a silly childish thing. But she hoped he knew what she meant. She waited for him to laugh at her, call her an idiot. At least then he wouldn't be sad. He was never sad when he was making fun of her.
Ed couldn't find the will to tear his eyes from her. At least she was too focused on the sky to notice. Finally he looked away, chuckling at her words. "That's dumb." He muttered half-heartedly. He leaned on the cold steel railing, resting his elbows there and letting his hands dangle however-many-feet up in the air.
He would never admit that he appreciated it.
Winry looked at him and scowled. She turned around and hoisted herself onto the railing, hooking her feet to the first bar while sitting on the second to anchor herself. She sniffed indignantly. "It's not dumb. Your weight would be 1/6th up there. And everything else too." She frowned at herself, thinking.
Ed watched her with alarm, wondering if her position on the narrow bar was safe. He looked down, and decided it most definitely wasn't. As a precaution, he inched a bit closer to her.
Winry stared up at the giant beacon that had once alerted ships to the land's position in thought. The lighthouse was no longer in use, but was open to the public still. Oddly, teenagers didn't abuse it. It was a favored memory of all. Winry remembered her parents bringing her up here whenever she asked. Her papa had always made her hold his hand when she wanted to get closer to the rail.
After a beat of silence, she said sulkily, "Well, yeah, it's sort of dumb... But I wanted to take you to the satellite. I don't know how I'd do it; release the chain of gravity myself maybe. But I thought your sorrows and pains would be 1/6th lighter up there too." She was partly musing to herself, her voice a quite murmur.
Ed had to strain to hear it over the loudness of the wind. He wasn't sure he'd heard her correctly. Unsure of what to say, he stared out over the sea. The sun was rising; the water was no longer black and foreboding. Touches of blue lit the sky and sea as light reached its translucent fingers across the line that separated the two. The stars had all faded, the darkness retreating fast.
Winry had twisted around to look as well, her grip on the bar tight and a gentle smile on her face. She looked down at her companion subtly, hoping he wouldn't look up and catch her staring. He wasn't looking straight ahead as he always did. His eyes roamed the entire skyline, taking all of it in. She smiled, wishing she could be the cause of that. The hair that she wished she could run her fingers through was tangled from the wind, the tip of the golden braid also being tossed a bit from the gusts. His shoulders had broadened since childhood, his jaw had become less soft, and he'd even grown taller. He was her height now. She couldn't call him a bean anymore. That was disappointing.
Winry almost jumped at the suddenness of the soft question. She stared at Edward, detecting no change in his face at all. She wondered if she'd heard him at all. "Sorry? Why what?" She asked.
He flicked his eyes in her direction, then went back to watching the sun rise. "Why'd you come? And bring me here?" His voice was gruff, masking any emotions that may have coupled those questions.
Winry blinked, then followed his gaze to watch the growing light as well. She ran her tongue over her dry lips and pressed them together before giving her answer.
"The sun gives its light to let the moon glow..." She murmured out of the blue. "...Can you let me help you like them?"
Edward looked at her again, and this time she met his eyes. Their eyes clashed and the world blurred, but Winry felt heat creep up her face and looked swiftly away, opting instead to stare down at the gunmetal deck. The world was lightening, coming awake slowly as the sun breathed warmth and light to them. The warmth, however, did not reach Winry. She shivered.
She could feel his gaze again. It burned her. Winry refused to move her eyes from the shining metal holding them. Her feelings were so transparent... She wouldn't be surprised if he knew them. He probably knew. Not even he was that dense. He had to have noticed.
But here she was, at the top of a lighthouse with him, trying to make him feel better about the fight he'd likely had with his girlfriend. His girlfriend. How masochistic could she be? But still, she wanted to save him. For the sake of her egoism.
It felt like hours had passed when Ed would looked back to the sea and sigh. It would feel like light years until he spoke again. The wind was blustering around them, buffeting the towering lighthouse and giving the illusion of swaying. But finally he said:
"Well... Space ships are pretty out of our reach, don'cha think?"
Winry looked at him sharply, questioningly.
"But... till then..."
He would never finish that statement. Because right at that moment, a powerful blast of wind threw Winry backward.
Her hand slipped from the bar.
Her feet came unhooked.
She felt the gravity yanking her down, her breath leaving her lungs.
There was a chorus of gasps, and she wasn't sure if it was her imagination or if Ed had gasped as well.
She was slipping backwards, her eyes filled with the vision of blue sky above her.
She remembered looking down, not a fear in her head. How high they'd been. Her stomach plunged –
And a strong arm grabbed her by her waist and yanked her away from the pull of gravity, away from the empty air that would have rushed past her as she would have raced to her death, however-many-feet down. Her knees buckled before her feet hit the metal of the deck, but she had no reason to fall.
She was being crushed into someone's chest by two strong arms.
Her thoughts a flutter and her body shaking from shock, she gasped and panted for breath as the reality of what had almost happened hit her. She'd almost died. She couldn't think about very much after realizing this for a while.
But when she could think again, she realized she was still being held by the person who had just saved her. His face was pressed into the juncture of her neck and her shoulder, and his fingers gripped her with a deadly hold. His arms pressed her to him, very close. So very close.
Winry's breath froze in her throat for another reason entirely.
He was. He was trembling as he held onto her, as if he was just as shaken by the near accident as she'd been. He was warm now, she noticed, her thoughts mildly disconnected.
Winry blinked. She took a deep breath. "Ed...?" She whispered.
He didn't say anything. Only held her tighter. And breathed.
A/N: Okay, yeah. I'm bored. Another oneshot out of nowhere. This is, again, my attempt at avoiding writing for Paper Lilies. Writer's block is kicking my butt... A-GAIN. Bah, just shoot me. x_x
So anyway, this idea has been stuck in my head for a while, I just wasn't sure who to use the idea on. For a while I had an InuKag in my head, but when writer's block came and smacked me in the face, I figured I'd go with the couple that I'm trying to focus my energy on. So EdxWin it is.
If anyone can tell me the song that inspired this fic, they get a cookie. Hint: Only nerdy nerds will get it. xD
Thanks for reading,