Notes: So many things to say! This is my very first FMA fic, and only my second smut. In case that doesn't tell you enough, I AM SCARED OKAY. That's all you need to know. As it turns out, I am also apparently rather explicit in this fic, though I didn't realize this until after reading several Roy/Riza fics and appreciating how tasteful they are. Go big or go home, I guess.

This fic fits roughly in with the canon timeline… I spent a good deal of time trying to figure out where I wanted to be in their relationship. So yeah, I'm not even going to talk about it here because it gets me all stressed out, but for the record Ed is roughly 18 and they are unmarried at this point.

This fic is being posted on a pseudonym (as evidenced by the naked blog). I really don't care if fandom people know who I am; I'm mostly concerned about irl folks finding my secret porn stash. So if you want my regular blog, just inbox me!

I owe thanks: to Snowy ( avatarsnowy), who tolerated my panicked text messages and often context-less flailing during the writing process of this fic; to ginny 214 and l3petitemort (sadly, neither of whom write for this fandom), whose work I went back to for help and whose writing makes me queasy with jealousy; and to Izzy ( bookofstars), who not only held my hand through my entire entry to this fandom but offered up a last-second 1 AM beta AND whose brutal honesty can never be appreciated enough. 3

tldr; I have no idea what I'm doing, but I hope you like this anyway. Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: I own no part of this franchise (obviously) and am making no money by writing this fic (also obvious).


Second Beat

Leaning against the inside of the phone booth, Ed cradles the phone between his ear and his shoulder. The rainstorm drowns out the steady drip of water on its path from his jacket to the floor, but cannot stifle Al's animated voice from halfway across the world.

"—so tomorrow it's back to the capitol, but I can't really complain. Their library is the biggest resource in Xing! And their bakeries aren't too bad, either. I'll have to send Winry some of these recipes."

Ed smiles against the mouthpiece. "Yeah, you should. By the time I get back, I'll be desperate for warm food that doesn't cost me two thousand cenz."

"I still can't believe you're going to Drachma so soon. Can't it wait until winter's over?"

"Nah, I promised the general I'd be there as soon as possible. I need to find out more about the—"

A whistle catches Ed mid-thought. He turns around in the small space and peers out into the dark through the glass. Sure enough, with his hands cupped around his eyes to block the station lights, the outline of a looming train grows larger every second.

"Hey Al, I've gotta run. My train's almost here."

"When's your transfer?"

"Uh, actually, it's just a local train to Resembool," Ed admits with a wince. "I only got one stop out of town before my leg started aching like a bastard. It's probably just the weather… but I can't be too sure, so I'm going back to have Winry check it over. The last thing I need's my automail seizing up in the middle of a snowy desert."

"Didn't she update it this morning?"

"Yeah, well, I'm… I'm gonna be gone for a while!" Ed says. "I just wanna be extra sure."

"Uh-huh."

"It'll just be an hour or so and then I'm getting on the train," says Ed. "I'll call you tonight when I'm back at the station, okay?"

"Sure, brother. I'll talk to you tomorrow." Al says. "Have a good night!"

It takes Ed a moment to process the barely-disguised amusement in his brother's voice, but by the time he's gotten over his confusion the conversation's ended. He stares dumbly at the receiver for a few more seconds before reaching up and setting it gingerly back on the hook.

xXx

Something isn't right. Ed returns with the hope that the alarm sounding in his head really is just his automail, but he suspects that he's missing something bigger. When the train pulls into the Resembool station, he hops out onto the platform and sloshes home through the mud. Ed lets himself into the house and, stepping out of his boots, crosses the threshold to the kitchen. A chill passes over him with the house's warmth, so that his skin prickles against his sodden clothes. Coming home is usually such a happy affair that Ed almost feels this excitement now, out of habit, though this time it's a false return. The time he spends home seems shorter each visit. Last time it was a month. This time it was a week. Now, mere minutes.

Ed drops his bag and has just started on the buttons of his coat when Winry appears in the room. Clearly the sound of the door had startled her out of bed—she's in an oversized button-up that she wears to sleep (even in the dark he recognizes it as his) and a pair of old shorts. The wrench she usually reserves for hitting him over the head is poised to strike, but falls by her side when she spots him by the door.

Winry stares, her tired eyes squinting. "Ed, what're you doing here?"

The downward slant in her smile confirms the twinge in his gut.

"My leg is really acting up. It might just be the air pressure, but…"

Winry cuts him off with a nod and a distracted wave and motions for him to follow her. Winry doesn't ask questions. She doesn't need explanations or half-witted excuses, not after years of screwing him back together every time he falls apart. The good soldier doesn't ask, just obeys and marches into whatever onslaught he might bring.

Ed almost feels guilty, except that the smirk behind her exasperation tells him that she likes it.

Though Winry's permanent place of business is in Rush Valley, she spends one week each month in Resembool to touch base with her old-time clients and spend some time with Granny. Unlike her spacious shop and apartment in Rush Valley, however, the little house can't keep up with her constant movement between the shops. Here the workshop has taken over its intended space and spilled into the basement below. Ed follows her down, bobbing in syncopation with her footfalls, peeling off layer after layer of saturated clothing and dropping them on the stairs. The basement looks like it belongs in a horror story. In the dark all Ed can see are the dark shadows of limbs hanging from the walls, strewn across the workbenches and in lines on the floor. Still, he is comfortable here, even before a flash of lightning catches the metal and reminds him that they're prosthetic. Winry clears a space for him on an examination table while he strips down to his shorts, then tosses him a towel and tells him to dry off before he lies down.

Half an hour later, Winry's head pops up from somewhere around his ankles and tells him that his automail is in fine condition. Neither of them is surprised much by this announcement. This model is just a modification of something that was almost perfect from weight to wear. Ed sighs, but the anxiety doesn't ease.

"Thanks anyway. Sorry for waking you up."

"Don't worry about it, Ed. I can't blame you with this storm…"

Ed feels her thumbs trace along the border where the remainder of his leg meets automail. She presses down on the joint with the heels of her hands and gently rubs out some of the ache. The dull pain is built up, a tension that runs like water down his torso and pools in the stump when it has nowhere else to go. Her touch diffuses some of the ache, drains it out. His head knocks back and he offers an appreciative groan as recompense. Winry laughs quietly.

"See? This wasn't a complete waste of time."

Ed watches Winry stand and link her fingers together and stretch her arms up over her head. She arches her back until her joints pop, then rolls her shoulders and tosses her long hair back. The blood drains from Ed's face. She smiles to see that she's caught his distinct attention. Outside, the rain pelts the side of the house like bullet spray. He can hear it against the tiny ground-level window over their heads, smothering the sounds of their breathing.

"And besides, I'm in no hurry to put you back on the train. It's so cold up north." Winry nudges her tool box aside with one foot before climbing up over him on the table. She straddles him, easing down against his lap, and leans over until their chests are flush and faces parallel. "I'm much happier when I know you're nice and warm."

He raises one eyebrow at her as if he's not flustered. It's so obvious that she has him, it's silly that he tries to feign composure. As an alchemist he had been hyper aware of the earth around him. The earth's tectonic energy paled everything else around it, a force that sharpened his attentiveness to touch down to the molecules. That skill was purged from his body. The residual effect lingers. Winry channels it like a lightning rod, pulsing energy through them both like they're sharing veins instead of bodies. She makes him hard before he even knows he's going to get some.

He eyes her as she brushes a damp strand of hair out of his face. She's looking at his mouth, his brows, running the tip of one finger along his jaw so he might not notice that she hasn't met his eyes. Winry dips her head and brushes a kiss against the soft spot behind his ear. Her breath is hot and tinged with her voice and he can't help but answer with a muted moan, but the hesitation gives her away. She's never kept a secret from him, not since they were kids and certainly not here, where the space between is measured by the atom. He can feel it beneath his hands as they seek the small of her back and pull her down against his groin.

"Are you—?" Ed frames her face between his hands, forcing her gaze on him and not the dip of his collar bone. "Winry, is everything… are you okay?" he says.

A startled look flits across her face—he's caught her, he knew it!—but in a second it's gone and replaced by a smile that's not exactly forced but not as telling as he would like.

"I'm fine," she says. "Quit fussing. I'll be even better once you ditch those shorts, though."

Ed laughs, startled out of scrutiny by the bluntness of her comment. Winry slips off his lap and he sits up, swinging his legs over the side. His feet make contact with the cold cellar floor, one with the dull clunk of metal on cement. Off come his compression shorts, sliding down around his ankles, but Winry pushes him back against the table before he has the chance to kick them off. Once he's sitting on the edge of the tabletop with his shorts dangling lamely from his automail ankle, she takes one hand and sets it against the crest of his hip, holding him in place. With the other she circles her fingers around his erection and slides up and down, drawing him to his full length in a few slow strokes.

Nudging his knees apart, Winry steps into the protective frame of his legs. Ed reaches out to touch her but she grabs his wrist and plants it firmly down on the table. Winry's hands are tiny, delicate-looking hands. In the half-dark, where her oil stains disappear from underneath nails and the grooves of fingerprints, Ed used to feel almost vulgar letting her slip between his skin and the elastic waistband of his shorts. He has to raise his eyes and remember that these same hands are the ones that snap his nerves into place, often literally, and tonight with such a spark that he has to grip the edge of the table to keep a loud moan caged behind his teeth. Her mechanic's hands know just how to handle him. She grips him firm but not tight, her wrist bent at the perfect angle, picking up speed and slowing down before he can get too close.

Ed dips his chin to kiss her and she denies him, leaning just out of his reach and grinning devilishly at the frustrated growl that follows.

"Winry." The breath sounds like a sob leaving his throat, like it could be his last.

"You don't like to wait, huh? Neither do I."

Patience, they both know well, is not a word that can be attributed to Ed. Winry revels in this as she releases his hand to draw a line with one finger from his adam's apple to his navel, then grips his thigh and pulls herself closer. His forehead falls against hers and she lets it, but angles her face so that his second try for a kiss hits her cheek instead. She hastens the tempo again, slowly picking up speed until she reaches the spot where his breath hitches before he can get his lungs full.

His hands are shaking by his sides, knuckles white around the tabletop. If she doesn't slow down he'll come and that'll be it, over for good in an embarrassingly short amount of time unless they go for round two, goodbye for the next five or six months or however long he planned it. It'll be half a year of cold air and cold showers and just plain cold until he sees her again. Before long he's practically panting in her ear, harsh and tempered by willpower alone, and that's when he stops taking orders.

Winry's already pinned between Ed's knees, but he doesn't notice until now, when he loosens his grip to pull up the hem of her shirt. Her hair falls in his face as she looks down to see what's he's doing. He slips both hands under at the small of her back, pleasantly surprised to find the fabric damp with sweat; she may look like she's in complete control, but she gives herself away. Ed smiles and happily explores the areas beneath the button-up, reacquainting himself with her body as if they hadn't done something alike to this yesterday. He lines his hands up with her spine and brings them around, little by little, to meet again on the gentle slope of her belly. Here she tenses, stopping mid-exhale and tensing up almost like she's ticklish. She adjusts her grasp on him, flexes her fingers before she takes him up again.

Winry lifts her forehead off of his to train him with a hard look. Her eyes are round, her pupils wide and dark and heavy, and though for a while Ed felt that everything was fine he senses something different about this look. Something was there the whole week he was home, but never so blatant as now. Maybe it just took all this time to reach the surface of her gaze, locked in and dying to wrench free without permission. Her hand slows on his cock but does not stop threading his length, slowly, all the way in either direction. Through the soft skin of her belly he can feel her heartbeat—hammering and fast, but steady, steady—swimming up into his bones. And only once he moves, sliding up to cup her breasts, does she finally let him kiss her.

There is such a thing as a bad kiss, and they've had them. In the beginning, they had a lot of them. Ed was too aggressive—she once accused him of trying to swallow her teeth—Winry too slow, and the both of them rather sloppy. Years of practice brought them here, and with the time constraints that keep them apart more often than not, he hopes that each will be a good one. Most times they are, but sometimes they're not, and sometimes it's not one thing or another that makes it so. He thinks too hard and loses his place, or the little voice he shuns against the back wall of his subconscious gives a little oh, okay I guess.

A bad kiss can make you hesitate, it can disappoint. Winry lands one on him so quick that he starts in surprise and she only catches the corner of his mouth. For the second he's more prepared. This is not a bad kiss. Quite the contrary, as she draws her tongue across his bottom lip and whimpers into his open mouth Ed thinks that this is very, very good. Then, even if it wasn't, he's too distracted by the even strokes on his arousal and Winry's nipples tightening up under his palms to focus wholeheartedly on any one detail. Ed takes it in, greedily savoring each moment like the last bites of a last meal. He stands, seeks the hem of her shirt and pulls back from the kiss only long enough to yank it up over her head.

When the shirt gets stuck around her ears she swears and her arms fly up to help him, and the graceless battle lasts only as long as it takes her to disentangle herself and chuck the shirt across the room as if it's offended her.

"Damn thing," she says, panting slightly. "We're better off without it."

Ed can't speak with his mouth seeking the dip of her shoulder, but he makes a vague noise of agreement as he licks his way across her collar bone, the notch in her throat, a trail straight down her midline that ends at the tip of her sternum. He waits a moment here, one thumb tracing an idle curve around her breast while he glances up to watch her. She's shut her eyes like it hurts to move, but she's digging little crescent moons into his sides and this only makes him hold out longer. With his nose he draws a faint line across to her nipple, pauses to let her feel his breath, and then slowly takes it into his mouth. He draws his tongue flat across and she gasps like he's doused her with ice. His teeth are an afterthought, but she responds with such a jolt when he gently bites down that he has to run a second trial, and a third, and then repeat the experiment on the other side.

This time it's Winry who initiates another round. She pulls him flush against her, trapping his erection tight between them so that she can kiss him without the nuisance of separation. It's not enough, though. He needs to be closer, crawl right up inside of her and stay until he has no choice. Forget his job for now, forget Drachma, forget the train he's missed and the non-refundable one-way ticket sitting in his pocket on the stairs. Ed is stuck between dreading their return and relishing what he's got in this instant—Winry in his arms, Ed counting the ridges of her ribs and the swoop of her hips. One hand ducks up under her shorts and follows the elastic of her panties to the place where her thighs meet. Her legs part just enough for him to pass the side of one finger over and determine that, yes, the cotton is damp all through.

She makes a funny little noise at his touch, a high and quiet cry that leaves him no choice but to yank her panties aside and seek her cunt. She's so wet already, so hot and slippery that it takes no effort to slide two fingertips in up to the first knuckle. Unbelievable. It's almost unbelievable, Ed thinks, that she can be so strung up for him. That somehow he's the reason behind the throb he feels when he presses on her clit. He spreads the wetness around in a slow circle, like the first time, when she guided his hands and told him how she likes it. Ed dips his fingers again, just enough to make her feel it, gives a half turn and withdraws. Winry rewards him with a growl in his ear.

"Come on, Ed," she says, half demanding and half begging. She jerks against him at the return of his fingers, pulling his cock tight between their bodies so hard it almost hurts. Ed studies her face, the pink flush of her cheeks and the perspiration that's set her hair askew. He watches a lone bead of sweat trail down from her hairline. Then he smirks.

"Not so patient when it's you, huh?" he says, grabbing desperately to whatever remains of his thoroughly jostled ego and hoping that her effect doesn't show on his face.

"Oh, be quiet," she snaps, reaching to pinch his mouth shut. "You know th—oh." Winry stops, her lashes fluttering as he slides into her without warning, all the way to the last knuckle of his hand. Her knees buckle and she has to grab his shoulder to keep steady. The sound comes out again, a drawn-out "ooh" that Ed can feel in his chest.

This is a powerful place to be. Two fingers deep inside of her and Ed has options, has the potential energy of an entire person at his command. He can end it quick or take it slow, a burst or a simmer. But Ed's about to keep her waiting long enough for the both of them, and so he chooses to let this potential energy become kinetic. To come alive. Pumping his fingers in long and even beats, Ed circles his thumb around her clit in time with the motions. He carries her all the way to the edge and holds her there, dangling over the precipice until she gasps that she needs him now, right now.

For some reason Ed at this point still has enough mental space to ask the usual, "You good?" and Winry pauses a second to breath before she answers that she is. He laughs lightly and hooks his thumbs into the back of her shorts and says, "Remind me to tip that herbalist on my way out of town." Winry doesn't appear to be listening, instead tugging loose the knot on the front of her shorts. He's glad to assist her with the rest.

Together they somehow get her shorts and underpants down around her ankles at the same time. Winry almost trips stepping out of them and eventually kicks them off with the same good riddance attitude she'd employed on her shirt. Then they're both standing naked, sweating despite the chill of the cellar and eyeing one another like they're daring the other to move first. Ed is so hard it aches, but he keeps still and watches as Winry reaches down between her legs and gets slick with her own wetness, then grasps his cock in one firm hand and spreads it once from tip to base. Ed swallows and clears his throat but it does little help against the block that's formed there. He couldn't speak if he wanted to; his words are all in a puddle in his brain and his voice is caught somewhere in his pharynx. Luckily this doesn't stop his knees from bending enough for Winry to climb over his lap.

Usually they take this part slow, but she's so wet for him that she takes his full length all at once without resistance. It startles them both, eliciting a gasp from Winry and a groan from her partner. The only trouble is that this standing position doesn't leave much opportunity for movement. The problem—and Ed is secretly quite pleased with this—is his height. He can't line their bodies properly without him bending or her standing on her toes, neither of which makes for a comfortable stance. He figures a quick solution.

Again Ed bends slightly, and clasps his hands around her ass. Winry, catching the message, grabs him around the neck just in time for him to pick her up. He staggers back a step under their combined weight, recovers, and strides across to the far side of the room, sidestepping a year's worth of clutter. Goosebumps spring up across her arms and torso as bare skin meets the cold cellar wall. Her sharp intake of breath is enough to make him shiver, too, a tiny rush that runs like a drop of ice water down his backbone.

Just when Ed has finally let that troublesome doubt out of his head, something new strikes it back into him. They struggle to find their rhythm, and there's nothing about their bodies that should make it so. Winry is secure in her place between Ed and the wall. With her arms around his neck and her heels securely anchored at the small of his back, it takes surprisingly little strength to hold her weight. But even after Ed adjusts the position and the angle and the tempo they still can't get it right.

Ed resigns himself to this. If there really is something wrong—and clearly, it's nothing physical—then she has a right to her silence. That fifteen percent belongs to her. She's entitled to guard it. They don't keep secrets as a rule, which means that, eventually, whether it be in ten minutes or in ten years, he will either know or not need to know anymore.

But just to be sure, Ed whispers her name and eases her back to meet his eyes. What he finds there is that unconditional something that he's too afraid to name and has never felt that he deserves. Not from Winry, whose selfless hands keep building life even when the world destroys it, who reached elbow-deep in suffering just to pull him out, again and again and again. That's what he finds there. That same promise, that eighty-five percent, still echoes out when he leans in and kisses her so softly that it's almost chaste. She breathes his name against the rattling thunder outside and that does the trick.

He repositions again, stubbornly planting his feet on the concrete and pressing into her all the way until she utters a moan that he mirrors low in his throat. Bracing herself with one arm around the back of his neck, Winry seeks her clit and draws circles in doubletime with his pace. It won't take him long now, not when she's wrapped tight around him and the sound of her pleasure is swimming through his eardrums. Just a few minutes pass—long but fleeting, escaping when he'd rather hold on a little longer—when he starts to worry about holding out for her, and that's when she whispers that she's almost there.

Ed bears down on her, but before he can catch up she's already crying out with the wave of her climax. Her chest arches against him, breath strangling itself in her throat as she rocks her hips against him. Ed feels her constrict around him and soon he is overcome by sensation—the stick and pull of skin on skin, the burn that isn't friction but built up low and hot in his belly. His head thrums with the sound of her sex and before she's even landed Ed comes hard, his last fiber of strength ignited as she tenses up a second time and comes again, and with such a sharp intake of breath that she sounds more surprised than anything else. They ride it out together until the very end, until they're spent and Ed's knees tremble under their combined weight.

"What the hell was that?" he says, breathless as he helps Winry stand upright.

She answers with a baffled "I have no idea," and wraps her arms around his waist, pressing their chests together. "I thought that was a myth."

"Kind of felt like one."

For a long time they stand like this, linked together by their arms and a fine layer of sweat. Only when Ed goes fully soft and has to pull out do they part. They clean up with the towel he'd used to dry off before and toss it into the workshop sink to deal with later. He's sad to see her dress, but he watches her do it anyway. When she's done pulling her matted hair back with an elastic band, she turns and looks at him and offers a sad smile.

"Come with me," he says.

Winry shakes her head and bends to pick his shorts up off the floor. She presses them into his hands and answers, "You know I can't. You're not my only client, Ed."

"I know, I know. It was worth a shot anyway."

xXx

The rain continues to fall for his departure the next morning. Ed thinks forward to six months of snow and knows that within a few days' time he'll miss this sort of weather. His old wound still aches, but it's a dull pain that he can manage. More troublesome is the unfinished business that he knows he has with Winry. He knows he shouldn't pry, but the lingering twinge in his head and gut put him in a grim mood as he showers and dresses to leave.

Winry walks him to the door. It's still early. The sun's just risen, but behind the storm clouds the best it can offer is a weak gray light. Ed can see her frowning in his periphery as he heaves his bag over his shoulder.

"Some weather for traveling, huh?" he says.

Winry shakes her head and straightens the hood of his coat. "Six months?" she says. The hand falls to her side.

"Five if I can finish up early. I'll write, though."

"I'll believe it when it happens."

"Well it's not like there's great communication between Drachma and the rest of the world. I'll try."

"Don't lie, Ed."

Sighing as Ed pulls her into a hug, Winry tells him to be careful and warns that he's going to have to stay vigilant with his maintenance. The other option is wrecking his automail in a foreign country with no personal mechanic to save him. Ed tells her to quit fussing, and after a last kiss he's out to catch the first train to East City.

The mud clings to him in such earnest that he has to fight his way down the drive and almost loses a boot. Ed tugs his hood over his eyes to keep from looking back. Even for winter, he feels unseasonably cold.

xXx

"'Tip that herbalist', give me a break," Winry mutters while standing alone in the foyer. "The only tip she's getting is a wrench to the jaw."

She watches until Ed disappears down the hill, enduring as she does an internal wrestling match that ends with her shutting the front door and darting up the stairs to her bedroom. In mere seconds she's wrestled her suitcase out from under the bed, thrown most of her closet into it, and snapped it shut. Sense doesn't catch up until she hears a voice from the doorway:

"Did you tell him?"

She's so alarmed that her feet leave the floor as she starts in surprise. Winry spins, spotting Pinako in the door and concurrently offering up the first response she can rally: "Tell him what?"

Pinako shoots Winry a look sharp enough to draw a wince. "Ed may have been born yesterday, but you can give me a little credit. I am a doctor, you know. And a mother."

Winry sees her grandmother's repose and, wanting to show gratitude, relents completely.

"I know, I'm sorry," she says. "I couldn't do it. I need him back here alive. He gets into enough trouble when he's not distracted, never mind this…"

Spotting the suitcase on the bed, Winry shakes her head, as if freely outing herself has driven some wisdom in and chased the daydream out. This should make her feel better. On a small level it does—a ripple of relief that swells around her, reassurance that things at least have the potential to be okay. But presently it widens that gap in her chest where Ed should be, leaving the space open and anxious and cold.

Winry turns to face the window, but the view from here offers no comfort. She flips the suitcase open and drags the heel of one hand across her eyes.

"Dammit, Ed," she says.

xXx

xXx

End.