Chapter 7
NIGHTMARES


Edward wasn't able to sleep that night. His room seemed oddly devoid of any life, even if he was still breathing and living as usual. Turning over in bed, he shielded his eyes with his arm even though there wasn't any light in the room. He squeezed his eyes shut and turned over again, trying to find some middle line between sleep and light resting. The words Winry had spoken before, the ones denying that she had nightmares kept gnawing at him. It was clear as day that she had been lying! But then, why would she lie? A few possibilities ran through Edwards' mind, the most prominent being the suspicion that she hadn't wanted to seem weak – that ever present stubbornness that had gotten her into trouble on many occasion.

The crickets outside contributed to his lack of sleep. Being in the military had meant that Edward had to get used to sleeping in many different places, but he wasn't yet accustomed to the constant noises of the outside. With a sigh, there wasn't much to do but take a walk. He figured that if he could shout a few things at those bugs, then it might make him feel a little better. Besides, granny always seemed to be sitting on the porch and ready to give advice at a moment's notice. Ed wondered if she had some sort of radar that automatically told her when they needed advice.

He was just getting ready to pass by Winry's room, but stopped abruptly when he heard her tossing and turning in her own bed. She was mumbling under her breath, eyes screwed shut and working up a sweat. The automail mechanic was definitely having a nightmare. He pondered on what he should do. Wake her up? Then again, if he did that, Win might think he'd been watching her on purpose. That would be embarrassing and tiring (even though he needed the latter, the former seemed like too much of a hassle). But just watching the girl was making his heart wrench. He couldn't let her keep going on like this. If it was painful for him to watch, then it had to be ten times worse to experience the nightmare firsthand.

Then, she started crying.

You must understand that Edward was not a person to give into his depression or sadness. Seeing as Winry was a lot like him in that respect, it was surprising to see her crying like this all because of a dream she was having. She began sobbing. That was it. He couldn't stand it anymore. It only took seconds for Edward to wrap his arms around the girl and hold her to his chest. Winry didn't stop crying, though she held on tight to him – her fingers making imprints on his skin. "Uh," he said, stroking her hair. "It's alright, Winry."

He felt as if he was the one lying to her now. How could everything 'be alright' if she was crying like this? Almost without meaning to, Edward held her tighter. He buried his face in her hair and breathed in the faint smell of machinery that always seemed to cling onto automail mechanics. It was her scent, and he loved it. He felt a need to protect her from her mind, from her past, nightmares, and anything that could upset or hurt her. It was only after that he gradually heard her sobbing turn into small hiccups, then slow even breathing. "I love you," Ed whispered. "I love you so much. And I'm sorry… because… because I promised I would make you cry tears of joy and… I'm so sorry, Win."

She stirred, but was now sleeping peacefully. Edward had rectified her nightmare into something better. He really was protecting her without even knowing it. Still, the boy wondered what she had been dreaming about. What was it that terrified her so? If only he could reach inside her mind and defeat whatever monster lay there. He'd killed Homunculi after Homunculi, so surely there was a way to vanquish this enemy as well?

Edward pulled the sheets over Winry and himself, determined to stay here and keep her close to him so that there would be no more nightmares to speak of for tonight. Their blond hair mingled together, looking as if someone had thrown a bucket of straw over them. Every hour or so, Winry would shudder at some horrible leftover of the nightmare, but then – comforted by the warmth provided by Edward – she would quickly fall back to sleep. He dozed off a couple times, but proceeded to snap awake right before passing out completely.

He liked the feeling of being right beside her, being there for her. Even though she wasn't awake and didn't register his presence, it was still nice to be able to finally hold her to his chest and know for sure that she was fine, that she was safe.

Edward had been planning to leave the room before she woke up in the morning, but fell asleep before he managed to actually get himself out of bed. She was just so warm. Yeah, he blamed her warmth, and her hair, and her smell and everything… because there was no way he was blaming himself! Not even if she threw her wrench at him…

Which, she did. In the morning, Winry was quite horrified to see Edward Elric in her bed and snoring his head off, completely oblivious to the world around him.

"Edward Elric! What the hell are you doing here?!"

"Relax Win-OW!" His sudden exclamation was due to the fact that his fiancé had thrown another wrench at him (apparently she kept extras). Before he could explain, she launched into the accusing questions.

"Did you… did… was I… uh… did we…?" Her face suddenly began to heat up as if she'd stuck her head in an oven. The color was starting to become more and more pronounced on Edward's face as well, but he tried to hide his embarrassment by looking at the ceiling, then at the floor… and then the ceiling again.

"O-of course not! You were just having a nightmare so I… I didn't… you…" Ed was really having a hard time forming this into words. So, taking a deep breath and trying to compose himself (while at the same time nursing his forehead), the former Fullmetal Alchemist launched straight into his answer. "I couldn't sleep, so I decided to take a walk outside for a little while. Then… when I was passing your bedroom… you were crying and I thought that… you… well, I just wanted to… to make you stop and… and…"

"And you thought that sleeping in my bed all night would snap me out of it?" Winry supplied, looking more amused now than anything else. Ed's face flushed.

"What?! I… I guess so, because, you know… I… thought…" he flinched, poking at the red spot on his head and looking embarrassed. "Look, Winry, I thought I could protect you… from yourself."

"Myself?" Winry looked puzzled. "What do you mean?"

"Well, you were having a nightmare right?" Edward asked. "So I figured that braving it out on your own had to be kind of…"

At the mention of 'nightmare', Win's shoulders tensed like they had the day before. She tried to smile, but it looked painfully fake and definitely didn't reach her eyes. "Nightmare? I don't know what you're talking about, Ed. Didn't I tell you, yesterday? I don't have nightmares. Besides… you probably just dreamed that I was crying-"

Suddenly Ed had taken a step forward, his fingers grasping her shoulders as he stared into her eyes. His own were serious, and Winry felt the urge to back away or hit him with her wrench again. "I would never dream about something that horrible. You were crying."

"I was not!" The mechanic shouted, probably waking Pinako in the process. Despite her words, Win's eyes filled with tears in an instant. She blinked, pulling away from Ed and turning so he wouldn't see them slip silently down her face. "Leave me alone. I will not cry again!"

"Don't be so stubborn," the boy sighed, wrapping his arms around her from behind. "Just… don't, alright? It's stupid."

"No… I can't cry…" she murmured, hiccuping out a choked sob. "I won't."

"Stop saying that! It's fine if you want to bawl, it's not as if I –"

"No it isn't! It isn't, because I can't! Don't you… don't you get it? If I cry, it'll be admitting that I have nightmares and it'll be admitting that I miss them still. I'll be admitting that I missed you and that I'm afraid every single day that you'll leave without saying goodbye again! That you might not come back this time! I'll… I'll be admitting… everything…"

"Stupid…"

Winry's eyes widened and she gave a startled sound in the back of her throat as Ed's grip became tighter around her waist, his fists clenched. "Huh?"

"Stupid… stupid Automail Geek…"

It took her a minute to realize what he was actually saying, but before Winry could launch into a pep talk about how he wasn't 'sensitive to other people's feelings', the pressure of his arms around her waist tightened even more. She was now only interested in explaining that he was going to seriously prevent her from breathing if he wasn't careful, yet, the realization that his shoulders were shaking stopped her right before the words could come out of her mouth. "Ed?" she asked quietly. "What…?"

"Stupid! How could you believe that? I wouldn't ever leave you again, not ever, you hear me? And if I did have to, then I'd tell you, Winry. I promised, didn't I?"

"Well… y-yeah… I suppose…"

Ed relaxed slightly. "Good."


A/N: First off, I would like to apologize profusely for how long this took me. I had this chapter all ready a while ago, but for some reason I was just too lazy to post it. I thought it might not be good enough (and honestly I'm still not satisfied completely with it). In any case, I hope you like this chapter and that I lived up to your expectations. Thank you ALL for the reviews! I love you guys so much! Every time I was favorited or someone would review I was just out of this world ecstatic. For serious. xoxoxox