End: Where Things Get Resolved, And Begin
"Who could resist an offer like that?"
She'd never met anyone who could lay on the sarcasm like he could. She'd had all day to stew over her predicament, sans a nice several hour nap, before Ed had shown up, citing drily that her absence outside of prison had tipped him off that something was up.
It was nice to have someone to complain with, and she systematically listed all her grievances.
"He must be at least twenty years older than me. Maybe more!"
"How could he possibly think this is the highway to marital bliss? I can tell you, sunshine and joy are the last things on my mind when I think of him."
"I'm pretty sure he's counting on being able to cry into a pile of gold whenever you go through any relational rough patches."
"And I never would have been so insulting in another case," she said piously, "but he is...not attractive."
"Mustache doesn't do anything for you, huh? He didn't get his position on account of his good looks anyway. Though I couldn't tell you what other shining qualities got him the post."
"I still can't believe he actually thought I made that whole limb with just a wrench."
"He was already kind of suspending disbelief that you could make gold at all, what's a little more improbability in the mix?"
"Technically it's not even automail anymore if it's turned into gold."
"Overbearing and dim, there's a winning combination."
She leaned her head against her arms folded over her knees, and the smile sneaking onto her face flickered out. "What am I gonna do?"
"Why are you here?" she said shortly.
"I'm supposed to get my automail adjusted, for free, and I'm kind of mad it hasn't happened yet."
"Why don't you take it up with my current landlord? If you ask nicely maybe he'll let me off picking out a caterer for a few hours."
"He's only interested because you've built up a completely fraudulent version of yourself. Once he gets to know the real you, he'll head for the hills."
"And have me shackled to a life sentence for lying."
"But you won't be married to him, so it's still a happy ending."
"I was hoping for a little more in life than being single and living in a ten by twelve box to the end of my days."
He nodded. "So what are you going to tell your kids about how you met?"
She blanched. "You don't think he wants to have kids with me, do you?"
"Marriage entails many things," he said cryptically. "Can't say he strikes me as the fatherly type though."
She agreed, but the fact that he was dredging up even more things for her to worry about didn't put her in a compliant mood. "Like you have any experience in fatherhood."
"Every kid has a dad," his tone went from darkly snide to solemn, "and what he does or doesn't see of him decides what a father should be and what he should never do."
"My dad died."
"I wish my dad was dead," he whispered hoarsely.
She bumped his arm softly with her elbow, and he grumbled neutrally. Well, she could only spend so long on self-pity, and she was sure if she shelved her problems for awhile they'd be still there waiting patiently for her return.
"Listen, it's not the best environment, but if we do what we did last night I can probably lengthen at least your leg before anyone comes to check on me."
"Yeah, that won't make me feel at all guilty to put you through that tonight."
"Well, there is a lot of automail spread around and you could do your whole -"
"I'm not transmuting more gold. Where do you think that leaves you when your beloved betrothed comes in the morning? You'll end up married to him and he's going to expect you to keep making the stuff for him! Plus you said you'd do the lengthening pro bono."
"What else am I supposed to do? You think he's just going to apologize and let me walk out of here if I come clean?"
"So why not run?"
"Besides how I'm locked in a cell? I don't want to give up being a mechanic, and I'll never be able to work in this town if I don't get this cleared up."
"It's not like this town is the only place you can work. There's other stuff out there, just move."
She fiddled with the adjustment screw on her wrench. "This was my all or nothing gamble. Everything I had saved went toward getting my shop set up and equipped. There was a little bit left over but - "
"But that went into an unfortunately convincing ad campaign."
"Yeah," she sighed. "At this point the most financially stable choice probably would be to marry him."
"The dowry you bring in will have you guys set for life," he snickered. Then he glanced at her sour expression and gaped. "You're actually considering it? Are you crazy!"
"It's not like you've thought of anything helpful," she bit.
"I suggested you escape and skip town. Who cares if you're dirt-poor for awhile? You can do repairs for me with a normal paying for services process. "
"I'm still stuck in jail! My career choices are already on the rocks!"
"You're agreeing to let someone like him be the father of any kids you have. It makes me feel like breaking into your nursery to liberate the innocent anklebiters from their idiot parents!"
"If you're willing to do that for my theoretical baby then why don't you just break me out!"
He looked surprised at his own word, but then shrugged into confident unconcern. "Sure. You can take other clients on the side, but you did imply I need more regular maintenance."
She stared at him with perked optimism. This seemed to come out of nowhere, but part of business was being able to recognize a prime opportunity when it fell into one's lap. At the same time, it wasn't completely spontaneous, it was directly linked to how she'd acted and performed when she'd tuned his automail. He stirred and she realized she hadn't confirmed their agreement. She hopped to her feet eagerly, she'd always wanted to do one of these officially.
"Edward Elric, I consider you my Principal Client."
"Winry Rockbell, your skill will be the first I turn to and all that." His abbreviation didn't dim her excitement in the slightest and she beamed at him. He looked like he might be inclined to smile himself.
She skipped to the side in satisfied glee. "So what changed your mind about me being a shady character on the far side of the law?"
"Before it was about not letting you run rampant with lies against a presumably benign society. Now you're being coerced. This time you're the victim."
"Thanks for making me feel empowered. I prefer 'wronged party'."
"How about 'vengeance bent psychopath you wish you'd never messed with'?"
"Replace 'psychopath' with 'mentally sound and enraged' and I'll wear it."
"Mentally sound and enraged mechanic wreaks havoc on unsuspecting civil servant and loyal bodyguard," he drawled.
"She's an alchemist too."
"Is she now?"
"Does that make a difference?"
"A huge one," his grin went feral. "I was going to put in a complaint over your jilted fiancé in any case, but if his bodyguard's one of our own...we have a whole cornucopia of methods for dealing with indiscretions on the part of our own members and those who hire them."
"He's part of the military."
"We've got an understanding with the military."
"Aren't you well connected," she smiled. "Well, mister alchemy freak, shall we clear out?"
"Mechanical maniac, ma'am," he muttered congenially, and opened the wall.
They proceeded to make their exit with the bare minimum of sarcasm.
Traveling together, they found many reasons to be snippy, and to stick by each other regardless, and their relationship eventually became a little more legally impervious. Ed did have the habit of picking up and jaunting off with her child. She hardly minded though, when he was holding her firstborn child in his arms, he was also holding his.
A/N: The fairy tale this was parodying was "Rumpelstiltskin". I think it's possible for people to figure it out in the first chapter, but just in case anyone was wondering. Winry fills in for the miller's daughter, Yoki takes the place of that gold-grubbing king, and Ed is the replacement for that odd little man who can spin straw into gold. "Small Favors" has a heap more views than "Name Me", but the latter has more reviews, which I'll admit I hold in very high esteem. Thanks for reading and affirming me in the weird ideas that cross my mind!