Rating: R, just to be safe
Characters: Ed and Winry.
Word Count: 4,113
A Loving Note From The Author: There are a couple of points I’d like to make clear…one is that YES THIS IS AN EDWIN FIC. I realize that for some odd reason or another EdWin is not a favorite in the fandom; however, it is what I ship, and I do not want to hear about how much you hate EdWin. kthx. The second thing is this: I’ve had this up on ffn for awhile, under a different alias from my usual for fear of scandalizing my poor innocent friends, and it’s done far better than anything else I’ve ever written. So it’s kind of like my baby. Constructive criticism is always welcome, but please be gentle. I’m a big fat softie whose stories are her children, her love interest and her best friend all wrapped up in one.
All right, I’m done. That’s my little rant-of-the-day.
Ah yes, and a timeline note…this sort of exists outside of any existing timeline. I have no idea where the rest of the characters are. They’re…floating in space or something.
Also, Ed and Winry are maybe eighteen or nineteen.
Anyway. Read, and enjoy, and leave a comment, because comments make me happy. And happy-me is a good thing. Angry-me tends to scream and throw heavy and/or sharp things.
Silence met Winry’s ears as she opened the door to her friend’s room. She knew she’d heard him, screaming, crying out in his sleep, in the throes of some horrific nightmare. “Edward?” she whispered again.
“Go away, Winry,” he finally replied, his voice shaking slightly. “I’m fine. Go back to bed.”
“No you’re not.” She slipped in, shut the door behind her, went to sit on the edge of his bed. He was facing away from her. “Ed…I could hear you all the way down the hall in my room.”
He sighed and burrowed deeper into his pillow, ignoring her.
“I’m not leaving until you talk to me,” she said, prodding at his shoulder.
He heaved a sigh and rolled over until he was facing her. “It was just a bad dream, okay? I’ve had them before, you know.”
She sighed, too. He was so stubborn. “Well, fine. Don’t tell me. But I am going to sit here with you.”
He rolled his eyes. “Fine. Whatever.” And he closed his eyes and, to all appearances, went back to sleep. Winry settled herself against the wall behind the bed, watching him. She was almost irresistibly tempted to reach down and play with his hair, but she knew that if she did, they’d just end up in a shouting match. They had far too many of those for her taste. He just made her so mad. If she were honest with herself, she’d admit that she’d had a crush on her best friend for years, and that she worried about him constantly.
She’d never admit it to him, though. That would do her about as much good as cutting off her own leg. Edward wasn’t the type to have ‘relationships.’ He was so quiet. Well, unless she called him a pipsqueak, but that wasn’t the point. And he wasn’t one, not anymore - last year he’d finally had a growth spurt and surpassed her in height: he was now a good three or four inches taller than her. She just called him names to get a reaction out of him, to try and make him show something other than sullen resentment - and it worked, too. Hah hah, she thought to herself.
His breathing finally evened out, and she assumed he’d gone back to sleep. But his voice stopped her as she slid off the bed and stood to go - “Winry?”
She turned to face him, startled. “Yeah?”
He hesitated. “…Stay?”
“You mean here?”
“Yeah.” His eyes slid away from hers. “Please?” he added, so softly that she wasn’t sure she’d heard it.
“Well…all right…” she said, finally, and returned to the bed. This time she slid under the covers, lying on her stomach. She rested her arms on the pillow and her head on top of them. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” he said again, still refusing to look at her. Actually, she was glad he wasn’t; she could feel herself blushing. They’d slept in the same bed before, but that was when they were little, and, to each other, at least, genderless.
Eventually Ed drifted off to sleep. Winry lay awake for a long time, just watching him. He looked so peaceful in slumber. It calmed her, made her happy that, at least for a time, he could escape the burdens he carried when he was awake.
Over the next several nights, a pattern developed. Winry would be woken late at night by Ed’s cries, and she would go to sit with him - and end up staying there, lying beside him, giving him what little comfort she felt she could offer. Eventually she didn’t even bother going to her own bed, and would simply slip into his when she finally put down her gears and wires for the night.
It had to be the strangest thing that had ever happened to her.
He was always gone by the time she awoke in the morning. They never discussed it during the daytime, but the unspoken understanding remained between them that she would already be there if - when - he needed her.
Of course, the quid pro quo they’d arranged couldn’t remain in place for too long. She’d known it would happen eventually, but it still took her by surprise when it did.
The dream had been particularly bad that night. Of course, he still wouldn’t tell her what it was that haunted him, but he’d woken shaking harder than usual, his eyes especially frightened.
“Edward?” she whispered. “Ed, it’s all right. I’m here.” Very hesitantly, she lifted a hand and brushed his bangs out of his face. He closed his eyes and drew a shuddering breath. Her own breath caught in her throat. She could practically feel the pain radiating from him. He continued to take deep, wavering breaths, and she could tell that he was struggling not to break down into tears. She continued to run her fingers through the hair that she’d moved aside, whispering soothing nonsense.
When he finally calmed, he did something that shocked her - he reached over and wrapped an arm around her, pulling her close. She first thought to resist, then realized that he still needed comfort and allowed him to tuck her up against his bare chest - he slept only in his boxers (she’d known this before, but it still made her flush slightly). The arm - his flesh arm, she noted - wrapped around her shoulders; she noticed that he very deliberately kept the metal one away from her. “Thank you, Winry,” he whispered in her ear, softly.
That changed things, too - they started to sleep snuggled close together, his arm snaking around her shoulders or her waist, her hands tucked up against his chest, heads bowed together, sharing the same pillow.
The silly teenage girl part of her couldn’t help but squeal and giggle at it each night as she fell asleep with his heartbeat echoing in her ears, his breath warm on the crown of her head, her nostrils filled with his own unique smell - steel and motor oil, old books and ink, a hint of cut grass on a wet morning. The rest of her was just astounded he let her get this close.
That part of her also noticed that he was always careful to keep his metallic parts from touching her skin - perhaps because he thought they would be cold, but she suspected that some part of him was still ashamed of the fact that he was no longer made entirely of flesh and blood and bone. She wouldn’t have minded, of course, but there wasn’t a way to tell him. She was afraid that if she did, they’d lose the closeness they’d gained.
Time passed. Winry had thought that over time the fact that they were becoming so close would somehow help her to get over him, but of course her emotions had to be contrary. She found herself falling for him even harder. The nights spent in his arms were close to torturous for her, knowing that he held her because he needed someone to hold, and not because it was her that he was holding.
She began to be irritable during the daylight hours, easily provoked into a quarrel. On those nights, she clutched him closer as she slept, pushing her head up under his chin, winding her legs around his. She knew Ed had to be seeing the difference, but if he did, he said nothing to her, just let her wrap her arms around him, holding him tightly.
What she didn’t, couldn’t, realize was that on many such nights Ed would lay awake long after she’d drifted off to Dreamland, watching her sleep. How did this happen? he would ask himself. When did she become like this? It didn’t escape him that she wasn’t the child he remembered so well. She was a woman, not a girl. A clever and witty and quick-tempered woman, and in his eyes an impossibly beautiful one. He didn’t allow himself to dare hope for anything more than what they had. Even it was more than what he could have dreamed was possible. She’d never questioned him, never pressed him, never forced him to tell her from what source the nightmares stemmed.
In truth he hadn’t had one in weeks. They had begun to fade after that first night she’d held him as, inwardly, he dealt with the aftermath of one of his night-terrors. They had vanished entirely only a few days later. He scolded himself regularly for letting Winry continue to believe that he still needed her there, but simultaneously reasoned that her presence was what held the dreams at bay. Once he had dared to press a feather-light kiss to her forehead, and she had stirred and muttered something unintelligible, presumably about gaskets or wrenches or bolts or something similar. He had held very still, and, fearing her admittedly formidable wrath, hadn’t tried that again.
He had, however, grinned foolishly to himself until he, too, fell asleep.
“I wish--” she began to say one afternoon when she was feeling particularly irritated with him.
“Wish what?” he asked, glancing at her bemusedly; she had one hand clamped over her mouth, and her eyes were wide.
“Oh, nothing!” she exclaimed. “Nothing at all!” And hurried out of the room.
He raised an eyebrow at her suspicious behavior, but didn’t comment.
What she’d been about to say was I wish you’d let me hold all of you.
They were finally jarred out of their routine when Winry was called away for several nights.
“I’m only going to be gone for two days,” she told him as she threw clothes in her suitcase. “I’m really sorry, Ed.”
“I’ll be fine,” he said nonchalantly. He was leaning against the doorframe of her room, watching her pack.
“I know you will,” she replied. “You’re all grown up now!”
He scowled at her. “Funny, Winry.”
She just smiled. “I thought so.” She brushed past him, then added, more seriously, “Really, though, you will be all right - you know where everything is, and if anyone calls in for an appointment, unless it’s serious just ask them to call again when I get back.”
“Okay,” he said, following her down the stairs. “Where exactly are you going, again?”
“Central,” she said; then, upon seeing the look on his face--”Honestly, Ed, the military aren’t the only people living there. It’s a big city.”
Her traveling repair kit was already packed, and she scooped it up as she passed through her workroom. “You coming down to the train station with me?”
“Then you get to carry my bag - lucky you!”
Her laughter stayed with him for the next two days.
It was a lucky thing, too, because while she was gone he discovered that he couldn’t sleep properly without her. If he fell into too deep of a sleep the nightmares returned to plague him, and the few catnaps he stole during the day did nothing to bring him rest.
She returned to find him pacing the living room, muttering to himself.
He jumped and whipped around to face her, striking a battle pose, then scowled when she laughed at him. “Thanks, Winry.”
“Who else is going to keep you on your toes?” she asked, giggling. He just rolled his eyes at her and flopped onto the couch. Looking more closely at him, she realized that he looked rather pale, and that shadows ringed his eyes.
“You feeling okay?” she asked, dropping her bags on the floor. “You look like you haven’t slept in days.”
“I haven’t,” he replied. “Not since you left.”
“You didn’t try, oh, going to bed?”
“I did,” he snapped. “I couldn’t sleep, not without you he--”
There was a deafening silence.
He folded his arms over his chest and glared at the wall.
“Ed…what do you…” she paused, then continued in a soft voice, “You were going to say that you couldn’t sleep without me here. Weren’t you.” It wasn’t a question.
There was a long silence. “Yeah,” he finally agreed.
“I don’t know!” he cried, throwing his arms into the air in exasperation. “Every time I tried to sleep, all I could think about was - was - well, the nightmares made it impossible.”
“And you don’t have nightmares when I’m here, is that what you’re saying?”
“Yes! Yes, that’s what I’m saying!”
They stared at each other in shocked silence.
“Ed…do you mean to tell me that…that…” she trailed off, unsure herself what it was she was trying to say.
“It’s different with you there,” he said softly. “I…I feel…I don’t know…”
She said nothing, afraid to interrupt.
“Safe,” he finally said, so quietly she almost couldn’t hear him.
Edward, she mouthed, amazed that he’d actually said something so…revealing.
Finally, she stepped forward, pulled him off the couch, and wrapped her arms around him, holding him tightly. After a moment’s hesitation, his left arm came up around her shoulders to hug her back. She gave an irritated sigh and leaned away from him, glaring up into his face.
“What?” he exclaimed. “What did I do?”
In response, she reached down and took his metal hand in her own. He offered a token resistance as she pulled it up before her. Then, very deliberately, she placed a kiss in the center of its palm. She wrapped the arm around her and leaned back against him.
“Winry…” he said finally, shocked.
“I don’t know why, but you won’t touch me with these, not - not at night,” she said, determined not to let her own embarrassment stop her, though she couldn’t look at him. “I don’t mind, Ed, you do know that, don’t you?”
“But they’re not…”
“I don’t care what they’re not. I made them, you know,” she added. She turned her head to glare up at him again. “You were going to say they’re not real, weren’t you?” He opened his mouth to protest, but she barreled on. “Don’t lie to me, Edward Elric. After all these years, you’re still ashamed of the fact that some of you is made of automail! Aren’t you. Ed, why?”
“Because!” He exclaimed. “You’re too - you’re too--”
“I’m too what?”
“I’m too what, Edward?”
“You’re too beautiful!” he finally burst out. She gaped at him. “You are! I’m not - I’m not whole, I’m not right, I don’t know, I don’t have a word for it, I’m not something that I should be.” He lifted his automail arm from her back, turned his hand over, stared at both sides of it. “And this is part of it. I can’t explain it, Winry. It just isn’t, okay?”
“No, not okay,” she said, very carefully keeping her voice even, though she wanted very badly to shout at him - if only it would get her point across better-- “Don’t you understand yet? I’m not ashamed of the fact that you have automail parts, and you shouldn’t be, either! It’s not a bad thing, Edward, just different! And that’s not bad! Okay? It’s not!” She realized, suddenly, that tears were gathering in her eyes, and she thumped her head against his chest, trying to hide them. “Can you accept that, at least? I - like you just the way you are.”
“Yeah, okay,” he agreed softly after a long moment.
“Do you really think I’m beautiful?” she asked.
Heh, he thought to himself. I did say that, didn’t I? Now what?
“Yeah,” he finally said. “Yeah, I do.” He gulped, hoping that would suffice.
“Oh, Ed…” she whispered, and wrapped her arms around him, hugging him tightly. He could feel the tears spilling from her eyes where they dampened his shirt. He hugged her back, with both arms this time, and bowed her head to rest upon her own. They stood like that for a long time, drawing comfort from one another’s touch, until Winry’s tears ceased flowing and Ed stopped feeling so unsettled.
“You need sleep,” she finally said.
“Yeah,” he agreed. “I’d imagine you do, too. I know how you get when you work on a project.”
She gave a soft chuckle and followed him upstairs, going into her own room to change into the tank top and shorts she wore as pajamas. When she entered his room, he had already gotten into bed and looked to be halfway to sleep. His eyes opened as she closed the door, though, and he offered her a small smile. She smiled back and crawled in beside him, feeling suddenly nervous. He said nothing, just reached out and drew her close, again with both of his arms, and she sighed contentedly as she snuggled into his chest. The metal was cold against her back, though she’d never admit it to him, and she also knew that if she gave it some time, it would soon warm from contact with her own body.
“Thank you, Winry,” he whispered eventually.
“Anytime,” she said, and they both drifted off to sleep.
Winry woke slowly the next morning, feeling warm and content. She looked up to find that Ed was already awake, his eyes slightly out-of-focus as he looked at her.
“Morning,” she whispered, not wanting to break the calm stillness that hung over them both.
He jumped slightly, flushing. “Oh. Hi,” he replied.
“Were you watching me sleep?” she asked, then grinned as his face grew steadily redder. “Relax, Ed, I was only teasing. I don’t mind.”
“Oh,” he said again.
She tucked herself closer to him and smiled as his arms pulled more tightly around her. There was a long, comfortable silence.
“We should probably get up,” Winry finally said.
“Yeah,” Ed agreed.
Neither of them moved.
After a moment Winry began to giggle softly. “What’s so funny?” Ed asked, causing her to break out into whoops of laughter.
“I - have no - idea,” she managed to gasp out.
He grinned as he watched her merriment finally fade. She wriggled around until her head was resting next to his on the pillow, her eyes still sparkling from amusement. She watched as his face grew suddenly serious.
“You…are so beautiful,” he murmured uncharacteristically. Her eyes widened in surprise, but she had no time to react further as he leaned forward and very, very gently kissed her.
It was over in moments, too soon for her to respond. She lay there in shock, staring into his eyes, gold boring into blue.
“Sorry,” he finally muttered, dragging his eyes away from her own, turning his face away. “I shouldn’t have done that.”
Wordlessly, she reached up with one hand and turned his head back around to face her. Then it was his turn to be shocked as she kissed him. This time, though, she didn’t let him pull away, keeping her hand on the back of his head. After a moment, he reacted and began to kiss her back, sliding one hand around her waist, trying to pull her closer to him. They finally broke apart to stare at each other again, breaths coming hard, faces flushed. Neither of them dared speak for fear they’d break the spell that seemed to have woven itself around them.
Minutes later they found themselves drawn back together again. Where the last two kisses had been chaste, soft, this one was rough and demanding. Her fingertips dug into his scalp, holding him against her; his hand slid under the edge of her shirt to skim across her bare back. Their breathing grew ragged as hands wandered, and neither offered any resistance as clothing was stripped off and thrown across the room. Some inner part of her thrilled to the way his chest and abdomen seemed to fit perfectly against her own, and she pressed closer to him. Their surroundings faded away; they knew nothing but the feel of lips and hands on one another’s bodies. They moved with each other, slowly at first, then faster as they reveled in what they had discovered within each other. She cried out at the loss of contact when his lips left her own, then surprised herself with a growl of pleasure when they began to burn a searing trail down the side of her neck and onto her shoulder.
At some point she realized that his face was damp with tears, and she began to kiss each one as it fell. “I love you,” she whispered, over and over and over again. “I love you.”
Hours later, they lay exhausted, arms and legs entwined, drawing comfort from their shared warmth. At some point, she realized, their combined body heat had also warmed the metal of his false arm and leg, and where they pressed against her they felt no different from skin.
Heart rates slowed, finally, to a more normal pace.
He broke the silence by asking, “Do you really?”
“You know…” He couldn’t seem to say it himself.
Her lips curled into a smile. “Yes, I do.”
A lengthy pause. “Years.”
“Why didn’t you ever tell me?”
“I was scared.”
“You’re scared of me?” he asked, bewildered.
“Not anymore I’m not.” She smiled up at him. “I love you.”
He smiled back, then blinked in surprise as a tear spilled from the corner of her eye. “Winry! What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” she said, and sniffled loudly. “I’m happy, that’s all. It’s good crying.”
“All right,” he said, smoothing sweat-dampened hair out of her face. “Just…the last thing I want to do is hurt you, okay?”
“I know.” She turned, burrowed her head into his chest, traced with a fingertip the muscles of his stomach. They convulsed under her touch -
“Winry, stop it, that tickles!”
“Oh, it does, does it?” A wicked grin spread across her face and she attacked him with all ten fingers as he laughed, giving up on getting away. She sat on his hips and poked him in the chest. “Hah!” she crowed. “I win.”
He said nothing, just stared at her, golden eyes dark. “Winry…” he finally managed, “do you have any idea how tempting you are?”
Her eyebrows shot up and she fell sideways off of him, hiding her face under an abandoned pillow. He laughed and pulled her out, wrapping his arms around her from behind. She struggled until he pressed a soft kiss to the spot where her neck met her shoulder - and then she felt as though she was melting from the affection in the simple gesture. She rolled over and smiled brilliantly at him. “I love you,” she said for what must have been the millionth time. “So much.”
He smiled back, for what felt like the hundredth time that day. “I know you do.” She sighed contentedly and snuggled against him; he located the covers with his feet and pulled them up over them both, wrapping one arm around her shoulders. She lifted his other hand and twined their fingers together, and then, to all appearances, drifted off to sleep.
He looked down at their interlocked fingers, steel against flesh. I could learn to live with this, he thought. If it meant that she would stay here with me, just like this…I could live with it.
It had only been recently that he’d realized that he had begun to think of her as something more than a best friend. She’d always been special to him, of course, as best friends are. But something in him had always wanted more - and this, it appeared, was what he’d been looking for. She’d been telling him for years to stop being ashamed of his metal parts; now, she’d shown him that he had no reason to be ashamed. What he felt for her was overwhelming, and he knew now that said feeling had lurked inside of him for a long, long time - he just couldn’t yet put it to words, couldn’t say I love you as she had to him so many times already. Some bruised, battered, scarred part of him kept saying She’s lying, she doesn‘t love you. All she wants is sex, and you’re as good as any other idiot that’s ever come along. He didn’t believe that, he didn’t, but the doubt still existed, and while it did…he sighed to himself, and forced his thoughts to the back of his mind. They could eat at him another day. Right now, all he wanted to do was hold her, this woman who had given up so much of herself for him.
So he pressed a kiss to the top of her head and pulled her close, tucked the blankets in around them, and drifted off to sleep.