Rating: PG-13 (some language)
Notes: Set in the prisonfic world created by vikki and cryogenia and inspired by the latest mikkeneko prisonfic “Weakness” (this fic won’t make much sense unless you’ve read “Weakness” first).
Summary: Winry offers what comfort she can.
Special thanks to gritkitty for the beta.
She was pounding on a piece of metal, smoothing the edges, when she heard the bell above her front door chime.
This, Winry thought to herself, is not a good time. She blew a strand of hair from her face and looked at the metal in her hands. It was coming along fine, and it pleased her to be able to put her mallet to use, to shape something. She had just found the groove of work: there was no way she was going to answer the door.
Winry made a small frustrated sound and gripped her mallet tighter. Her hours were posted, right there next to the door and she had made it very clear that she wouldn’t see potential customers at this time of the day. This time of the day was for working, damnit, for putting metal to metal, grease to bearings, and sockets to bolts.
In the front room, she heard footsteps milling about. Two people, she surmised, with flesh legs, from the sound of things. Winry frowned and pounded her mallet again. The sharp ping drowned out the footsteps and for a moment, she was lost in the rhythm of the work. But the bell didn’t chime again and she knew someone was out there waiting for her.
Abruptly, she stood and gripped the mallet. She was working. Working! Posted hours not enough, eh? From now on, she would lock the door.
“Just as soon as I get rid of these visitors,” Winry heard herself spit out. Vaguely, she was aware that she shouldn’t be so angry. These were potential customers, after all, and business was business. She knew she should calm down, change her ‘demeanor’, put on a ‘pleasant face’ for her ‘guests’ or else run the risk of scaring them away. She didn’t need Alphonse or Edward or Granny to tell her she looked scary when she was mad. She could see it on their faces.
But, really. She couldn’t bring herself to care about her angry face enough to change it. And so she stomped out of her workroom and into the front room, ready to raise hell to whoever had disturbed her.
“Who the-“ Winry began, but stopped and blinked at the two men in uniform standing before her.
The taller one stepped forward and, somewhat nervously Winry noted with a small sense of pleasure, asked, “Are you Miss Winry Rockbell?”
Winry frowned before she answered. “I am. Who are you?”
The second man stepped forward, and glanced at his partner. “We’ve been sent by the Warden to get you-“
Winry felt her heart stop. “Wha?” she managed. “The warden of Central Prison?”
The taller man nodded and spoke again. Winry registered only certain word as it seemed she was very far away, even though she understood what they telling her. Edward was sick, very sick, and they needed her to come right away.
And did she want them to carry her toolbox for her?
Winry blinked. Her toolbox. They wanted her to bring her toolbox for this? She seemed to slam back into herself.
“I can carry my own toolbox, thank you very much,” she said. “I’ll only be a minute.”
She kept her traveling toolbox mostly ready to go and in a moment, she was staring at the two guards again. “Let’s go,” she said and took a step forward.
“Ah, Miss Rockbell,” the taller guard said and she stopped. She could feel her face fall into a sharp frown again.
The shorter guard gestured to her, “It might be a good idea to change before we leave.”
“Change?” Winry looked down at herself, then back up at them. “These are my work clothes,” she said.
“Yes, but,” the shorter guard said, “we are going to Central Prison.”
“I know that.”
“Oh, hell,” the taller guard said, “it’s a prison! Put on a damn shirt!”
Winry felt herself flush, then realized that they were right. She untied the sleeves of the coveralls she wore, pulled them over shoulders and zipped the front.
She locked the door behind her.
Hours or days later, Winry found herself standing in front the front room of her shop. She locked the door behind her and moved into her workroom. The pungent smell of grease and gears greeted her warmly and, weary, she put her tool box on the workbench.
She unzipped her coveralls and tied the sleeves around her waist. Her mallet was where she had left it, right next to the piece she had been working on when they had come to take her to Edward. Edward, lying unconscious in a prison medical ward, his automail only partially attached because, as she’d immediately seen, the flesh inside and around the ports was swollen and angry. And she could tell from the angle the arm latched at the shoulder that Edward must be in agony because the prison doctor didn’t have much experience with automail and wasn’t sure what drugs to give to Edward to stop this sort of pain.
But she knew and she proceeded to show the doctor how to take care of Edward, to soothe the flesh around the ports in a way that would allow the automail to connect. She showed him how Edward liked to have a wet cloth on his forehead when he was in this much pain, and how to keep Edward mostly quiet. She had left strict instructions on the future care of the ports and had, after things were looking up again, carefully reattached Edward’s arm and leg because she knew she could do it with a minimum of pain.
The weight of the mallet was soothing in her hand and Winry tapped it to the metal piece. It was for an arm, a new design that had been living in her head for some weeks now. This piece was the first of many and she had to hammer it just so, into this shape, to make it work right. Because automail wasn’t a toy, it was a machine and even though it was metal it had to be taken care of the right way, or else it would succumb to entropy and lead to pain and become completely non functional and people needed automail, needed it to walk, to grasp things, to *be*. You couldn’t just throw anything together, it had to be right and it had to the right weight and the connections had to align properly, to keep the body from rejecting it, from becoming inflamed, keeping the metal from reading abused nerves and damnit!
Winry stood and threw the mallet across the room where it clattered down the wall in a cascade of metal bits and tools. She stared at the mess, flushed and panting slightly. When the avalanche of metal subsided into a heap, she turned back to the piece she had been working on. It was flattened and cracked. She had pounded it too hard and made it worthless.
Some things, you really shouldn’t force.
She squared her shoulders and moved toward the desk in her bedroom, then rummaged through a stack of letters until she found what she was looking for. Roy Mustang, Fuhrer. Winry stood for a moment, staring at the letter as images rushed through her mind; Ed laughing, Ed angry and flailing, Ed stoic and silent as he was sentenced to prison, Ed sweating in agony.
Winry felt something well inside of her, something angry and pulsing. Hot tears threatened and she swallowed hard against them. She wanted to march in to the prison and break Edward out and she wanted Alphonse to help her. She wanted her parents here to advise her. She wanted, wanted, wanted, and despised the helpless feelings that fought to drown her.
Mostly, Winry wanted Fuhrer-President Mustang to get off of his ass and let Edward out of prison. How could he claim he would work for the people when he kept the People’s Alchemist locked up on false charges? She had a good mind to march into his office and take a wrench to his head and to hell with the consequences.
Not that it would do much good. Some things you can’t force, after all. Winry frowned. But Mr. Mustang really seemed to listen to what the people wanted. He seemed to actually care. And now Winry began to grin. So she couldn’t hit him over the head with her wrench, maybe. That sort of thing wouldn’t work.
But she could write. She could get all of Resembool to write. She could search out those who had met Edward throughout the years and knew he wasn’t a murderer and get them to write, too.
It was a different sort of mallet, Winry mused, but a mallet none the less. She sat down at the desk and pulled out some clean paper.
No, some things you really shouldn’t force, Winry determined. But some things you should.