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Tobu Ishi
Given my tendency to get wrapped up in great epics, I thought it would be fun to have something that I could use up all my little rootless plot bunnies in. Hence, when my forum big sister Hagane no Tokage started the RoyAi 100 Themes, I thought I would give the EdWin set a shot, since I'm more into that pairing.

These are going to be kind of unpolished compared to my usual work, for the most part; they're going to be spontaneous and fun, something to loosen me up and to have some casual fun with. I'm going to range them between 100 (true "drabble" length) and 500 words each. I hope they're enjoyable!


EDWARD/WINRY 100 THEMES

*

Theme 1 – Childhood Friend

“…and here’s Nelly and her mother,” she was saying from her seat on the floor, tracing the tip of her finger over the waxy surface of the aging photograph. “Remember when their cow won first place at the summer fair?”

Sprawled on the sofa, he craned his neck to look over Winry’s shoulder at the battered old album. Fading pieces of their shared past were tucked carefully away within its pages, glued in place with careful precision. Trust a mechanic to set her photos at neat right angles, efficiently labeled with names and dates.

“Oh, look, it’s Michael from down the valley!” she exclaimed, turning a page with a heavy rustle and pointing to the face of a cheerfully smiling boy, perhaps ten or eleven years old with a thatch of brown hair. Edward frowned.

“Don’t remember him,” he said, puzzled. “How’d we know him?”

Winry’s smile was bright with mischief at the memory. “Oh, Granny used to buy apples from his family’s orchards. I don’t know if you ever met him.” She laughed. “I had such a crush on him for a while. I used to beg Granny to make pie so that we would run out of apples faster.”

When Ed didn’t laugh, she tilted her head back to give him a frown. “What?”

“Nothing,” Edward muttered, glaring at the sofa cushions. “You liked that kid?” he added when she wouldn’t stop frowning expectantly at him.

Winry snorted, shifting slightly for a better look at him as she leaned against the couch. “Oh, for heaven’s sake, Ed. It was a childhood crush. Don’t tell me you never had any.”

“Not really,” Edward said, and she threw up her hands in exasperation.

“Honestly, Ed! You’re hopeless,” she said, and went back to her trek through the past, murmuring names aloud as she leafed through page after page.

He waited until she was absorbed again before adding gruffly, too softly for her to hear and turn to see his slight blush, “Just you.”

*
Tobu Ishi
*

Theme 2 – Family

A lot of idle chattering went on between Winry and her grandmother while they worked on automail, and the projects and topics varied daily. Today’s project was finishing the casing on a commissioned leg; the topic of conversation was families.

“I bet Al will have plenty of kids,” Pinako said, tightening a screw and grinning. “He’d be tickled to have a tribe to play with.”

“With half a dozen cats on top of that,” Winry added with a giggle. “He’s going to have to find quite the wife.”

The conversation paused as she passed the soldering torch to Pinako, careful not to knock anything off of the cluttered worktable they shared.

“And you? What are your plans, Winry?”

Winry laughed incredulously. “Plans? I’m only fifteen, Granny.”

“Not too young to start thinking about your future,” Pinako said, shrugging. Winry snorted and shoved her hair out of her way as she leaned in close to check the alignment on two plates before bolting them down.

“Well…I’d like kids someday, I suppose. I always figured I’d live here when I grew up, but I’d like to do some traveling first, before I settle down. After that…” She thought a moment, fishing for the right bolt in a slightly rusted can of mixed odds and ends. “One child. Maybe two. At least one girl, if it was up to me, though I guess I’ll have to take what I get, huh?”

Pinako’s answer was an affirmative grunt; she had several bolts held between her teeth. They worked in silence for a few moments, and then Pinako gave the last nut in the row a quick tightening and reached for the torch again.

“And Ed?” she asked, and Winry dropped the can of screws she’d just picked up.

“Sorry!” she sputtered, dropping to her knees to grab for them as they scattered across the floor.

Pinako made an annoyed little noise and went to help her. “Careful, child! We’ll be finding those under the counters for weeks!” She sighed and dropped a handful of screws into the can Winry held out. “As I was saying, where do you think Ed will end up?”

“Oh,” Winry said, the light dawning. “I don’t know,” she shrugged. “Ed’ll probably never stop wandering. If he does…maybe a house in Central? Then he could be right by the libraries.”

“No family?” Pinako asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Ugh, how many screws can fit in one can?” Winry muttered, still gathering up the mess. “What a nuisance. Where did you find these ones with the funny heads, anyway, Granny? I don’t think I’ve seen this type before.”

The conversation turned to mechanics, saving Winry the trouble of puzzling out why it was so hard to imagine Edward with a family. Perhaps it was the problem of imagining a time when she and Pinako would not be the only girls in his life.

At fifteen, the idea of becoming a permanent part of that family hadn’t occurred. It would come, in time.

*
hagane_no_tokage
yaaay! i inspired tobuchan! XD lovely work as always, hon, the first one is superb! second one is good, too, but i love the first one. <333 "just you." that's priceless. ^___^ wonderful work, let's see if we can both write all 100 themes for our said pairings! ganbatte~!
Chiyo
*sighs and twirls in delight*

Oh so wonderful little fics by a talented writer....happy day.
Le Monkey
Yay.. I like the idea Tobu!!!

Nice work!!
Yukina_Raven
*Squeals* Oh, thank you, thank you, Talented Tobu! XD This kind of fic is exactly what I needed today. Defiantly looking forward to more!!
Tobu Ishi
*

Theme 3 – Remembrance

Aquroya as Edward remembered it was a bustling city, bright with promise, like colorful wallpaper over the rotting walls of an aging house. Seven years later, he stepped off the train out of curiosity, and regretted it the moment he saw the empty skeleton streets, built up relentlessly over the rising water with a kind of stubborn desperation by inhabitants too tied to their vanishing home to leave.

Floating junk dredged up by the currents out of hundreds of abandoned homes swirled in the water beneath them as they passed over the rickety wooden paths, nailed between what had once been the highest spires of the island city.

Winry stopped once, to kneel at the edge and stretch down to rescue a water-bloated doll, whose head was knocking rhythmically against a wooden piling with the soft lapping of the water that cradled it.

When she held it out to him, he pressed his palms together and touched it without being asked, and the water and filth rose from it in a cloud of dirty steam.

Winry shuddered, holding it close and looking out over the silent tangle of waterlogged arches and towers. "It really is a dead city, isn't it? Or dying, at least. It's...tragic."

"I don't see the point in making a fuss now," Ed said with a shrug. "I've seen cities that were destroyed in a night. They've known this was coming for years. Haven't they had time to get used to the idea?"

His traveling companion’s eyes were dark with memory. "That's odd, coming from you," Winry said quietly. "You of all people should know what it's like to watch what you love slipping away."

Ed started to answer, hesitated, then fell silent. The two of them gazed out across the water for a brief eternity, and then Winry felt his human hand slip into hers.

He said nothing, but he didn't have to. They stood there together, two orphans in the bosom of a dying mother, and watched the sun sink past the bloody horizon.

*
hagane_no_tokage
ooooh, beautiful, honey... this one sings. that last line? pure gold, i loved it. can't wait to see what you come up with next! XD

hurray for dueling drabbles! *dashes off to work on her own theme #3*
Tobu Ishi
*

Theme 4 – Dog

He was not the one who heard the weak, frantic whimpering from the bushes while they were playing in the woods. That was Nelly, with her ears tuned to animals’ distress after years of living on a farm.

He was not the one who ran through the underbrush, crying out for their parents in a torn and terrified voice. That was her, with her hair stuck wet to her face with tears and her hands scratched bloody from shoving brambles aside.

He was not the one who sat waiting for help and holding the bleeding dog’s head in his lap, stroking its ears and murmuring to it in a soft sing-song voice. That was Alphonse, with his natural talent for comforting others in their pain, whether they were two- or four-legged friends.

He was not the one who pried apart the cruel teeth of the bear trap, broad hands as steady and skilled with the tools as they had ever been at the operating table. That was her father, telling her to stand back and sighing with relief as the awful thing fell to pieces.

He was not the one who gently pulled aside a fold of furry skin to slip in the needle that made the pain retreat. That was her mother, gently sponging away the clotted blood and filth and bundling what was left of the leg in soft white bandages.

He was not the one who lifted the unconscious animal onto an old doubled-up sheet and carried it home with the same care he would have given to one of his children. That was Nelly’s father, who knew and respected the worth of life, both animal and human.

And he was not the one who trotted halfway across Resembool to shout righteous abuse at a careless trapper twice her height and half her age, who shrank back into his house with frightened promises to never use those outdated torture machines again. That was her granny, patting the sleeping dog’s head and already making plans for a special automail leg.

But when all had gone quiet that night and she was curled in a tiny miserable ball next to her poor broken pet as it slept under the weight of the drugs in a basket next to the stove, it was Edward who snuck out of the house and across the road in the pale blue moonlight to sit next to her and let her soak his shirt with her tears. And she would never forget how freely he had given her that, the only thing he had to give.

*
hagane_no_tokage
tobuchan that is the best speculation on den's leg i have heard yet. you're so clever! i loved this piece! <3 keep up the good work!!

and damn, you're ahead again... grrr...
Agate
waaah! i have now have competition with the greatness that is Tobu Ishi! *0* T.T your fics are really good too. ahhhh i wanna read #4 but if i do, my version's gonna end up like yours or something x_x ganbatte on trying to finish this too! *runs off to finish her own EdWin themes*
ed's secret agent
So awesome...
Le Monkey
cool, Nice one tobu!
Yukina_Raven
Ahhh... "Dog" really made me want to cry. T_T But... a happy sweet sort of crying, you understand. Just because it was so... Ed and Winry. I dunno, it just fit them wonderfully. BEAUTIFUL JOB!
Tobu Ishi
*

Theme 5 – Library

Will she ever get used to these high echoing arches, and the way they catch the sound of her footsteps on the marble floor and toss them back down to her, muffled on the way by the rows upon rows of shelved books stretching floor to ceiling and perfuming the air with the smell of aging paper and binding glue? Winry always feels small in the Central Library, a thin-skinned caterpillar inching across the floor of a cathedral, erected to honor saints whose names she never learned. She frowns uneasily as she walks among the banks of regimented shelves. It’s a relief when she reaches one of the two places here that she considers familiar and friendly.

The other is, of course, the section on mechanics, tucked at the back under a balcony that shields her from the massive height of the ceiling. She can burrow through those books for hours, sitting contentedly upside down and backwards in a library armchair with her ankles propped on the backrest and her hair cascading over the edge of the seat cushion to pool on the floor, a tome held overhead in both hands to rain down the latest theories and designs on her like blessings.

This row is larger, and more spacious, with its own proper reading nook instead of just a few old armchairs left in the rows between the shelves. It takes her a moment to find him; he’s got mercurial habits, following a trail through the information on these shelves until there are books scattered haphazard across the floor in heaps, pages fanned out to show the concentric geometric lines of arrays. One never knows where he’s going to end up by evening. She once found him perched on a ladder twenty feet above her head, flipping his way through a lapful of books too heavy to bother carrying down to the floor. She didn’t notice him at all until he wadded up a blank page from the little book where he’d been scribbling notes and threw it at her. It missed, hitting the floor several feet away, and as she was looking around in confusion he tried throwing the notebook instead, which bounced off her head with an explosion of stars. Her subsequent explosion of temper required two librarians to restrain her and convince Edward it was safe to come down again.

Tonight her search ends at a heap of books in the corner where two shelves meet. He’s asleep there, sprawled half-buried among the pages, his hair fanning softly across the thick leather tome that he’s using as an impromptu pillow. She smiles and kneels to brush a few strands of hair out of his mouth. If she is a caterpillar in this temple of ancients, she thinks, then he’s a golden-winged moth; as tiny as she is, but capable of flying up into the vaults as easily as a ray of sunlight.

“Wake up, Ed,” she murmurs, shaking his shoulder lightly. “Time to go home.”

*
tempest_Strife
Wow. I really liked "Dog". I always wondered why they never explained what happened to Den... the series just about explained averything else.

Silly Ed! Falling asleep on big books just like when he used to study with his brother at home... You'd figure he'd just check a few of the darn things out, bring them home, and read them from cover to cover... Ah, for Ed, old habits die hard.

I would have had a hard time resisting petting those long golden lockes of his...

Hehe... *Imagines a golden Ed moth*
hagane_no_tokage
another lovely piece, tobuchan. happy.gif and dammit, you're ahead again. ;p but i got my cable internet back! yay! no more AOHell!!! *stabs*

er...anyway... the moth line was nice, i liked that. and i liked how you made winry feel all...weird...in the library, that was a nice turn. great job! ganbatte~!
Phyco girl
That's just wonderful Tobu! You're work is so great! I can't wait to see all the themes! I LOVED the Dog theme. That was great as SO EdWin! Good luck with all your themes! I SALUTE YOU!!! biggrin.gif
ed's secret agent
@Tokage: AOHell....... XD

@Tobu: That was sooooooo awesome...
Tobu Ishi
*

Theme 6 – Always right

Her eyebrows are pursed together in dismay as she surveys the mess in front of her, setting aside the newly-detached cover grill with a clank. “Oh, for heaven’s sake, Ed,” Winry mutters, already reaching for wiresnips and tweezers. “How do you manage to do these things? I’m going to have to rewire half of this, the insulation is completely ruined…”

She continues to mutter to herself, leaning close to pick out the fragments of sand driven into every crevice of the inside of his arm.

Ed sighs. It was a stupid mistake, really. The grill worked its way loose after one too many transmutations into his usual blade, and his latest mission ended with him fighting his way through a miniature alchemical whirlwind of sand and dirt. His arm didn’t give out until three days later, as the gritty stuff that got into the casing chewed its way slowly through the rubber insulation on the wires, eventually short-circuiting everything from the elbow down.

“…such an idiot…” he hears Winry grumbling. He’s noticed she only really explodes over the life-threatening damage. The rest of the time it’s just a long string of irritated insults, dissecting every stupid thing he’s done to her masterwork, as she recognizes sign after sign of poor maintenance and neglect scratched into the metal.

Closing his eyes, he remembers Maria Ross’s concerned face hovering beside his hospital bed after the fifth-laboratory incident, as he worked his way through another tasteless dinner.

“You try so hard to be strong,” his escort had commented, watching him struggle to finish the meal. “For your brother…for those you work with in the military…even for the people you help on your travels. You can’t afford to let down that guard of yours for even a minute. Isn’t it…difficult, having to be always right?”

The tweezers clink in an irritated rhythm against the edge of the access hatch, harmonizing with the steady ting-ting-ting of bits of sand hitting the dish where Winry is collecting them, with a pause now and then as she snips away length after length of unsalvageable wire. Ed smiles slightly and leans back in his chair, basking in her perfectly truthful accusations.

“…could have just double-checked the grill once or twice a month, but nooo…”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” he says at last, as she cuts away the last of the ruined wires and tosses it in the trash. “You’re right. I’ll be more careful, okay?”

Winry gives him a suspicious little frown, but nods and reaches for the oil, tapping careful drops into his sand-blasted joints. Ed settles back and relaxes, ready for a long wait and not especially minding.

She may think he’s a reckless, brainless fool…but Ed will never take for granted this peculiar luxury she gives him: to simply, and without consequence, be wrong.

*
Chiyo
biggrin.gif

I read the title and lnew it to be true, then I read it and I knew you had got it spot on.
Yukina_Raven
WONDERFUL! I loved the image of Winry finding Ed sound asleep in the library. I'm enjoying all these little stories so very much. happy.gif Can't wait for more!
Luckyalchemy27
Awwww! That is so cute! I've read all of these themes so far, and all of them are terrific. My favorites are "Library" and "Dog". What a great fanfic, I can't wait for the next one.
Tobu Ishi
*

Theme 7 – It’s kind of a fight…

“I said, you’re not coming,” Ed insisted for the eighth time, setting his battered leather suitcase on the kitchen floor to turn and glare at Winry where she stood calmly behind him, a canvas duffel bag slung over her shoulder.

“We’ve been over this, Ed,” she said, with a too-patient sigh. “You’re not the only one who can’t stand being cooped up in Resembool any more. I’ve heard enough stories from you boys. I want to see some of these places before I settle down.”

“I don’t think so,” Ed growled, crossing his arms. “You know me, Winry, I’m a magnet for trouble. It’s too dangerous. Stay home.”

It was the wrong thing to say. Winry’s eyes flashed, and she let the duffel slip to the floor with a thump, taking a few brisk steps towards him. Edward’s stubborn bravado slipped somewhat, and he shrank back a step...

But instead of diving for a wrench, Winry pushed her left sleeve back, holding out her arm for him to see.

“Two years ago,” she said, rattling it off like a statistic. “A barfight in Rush Valley. Some drunken thug wanted me to work on something other than his automail.”

Ed squinted at her forearm, realized for the first time that there were several pale, ragged scars running across it. Before he could say anything, Winry dropped her sleeve and pulled up the hem of her shirt, exposing her lower ribs and a few whitish puckers between them.

“Three years and two months ago,” she said. “Paninya got in a scrape with some rowdy tourists and I had to step in and help. We laid ‘em out on their asses.” She chuckled, tracing her fingertips over the marks.

Ed’s jaw had long since dropped. “You’ve been getting in fights?!”

Winry’s answer was to tug down the zipper of her shirt a few inches and pull it open on one side to show him a stretched, pinkish burn mark that spread over her collarbone.

“Eighteen months ago,” she said, grimly. “Some two-bit alchemist, swindling a town near Rush Valley by…pretending to be you.”

Ed stared. “You took on an alchemist?”

“I think he’s still got wrench-marks in his skull,” Winry said. “My aim, as it turns out, is just as good on fake Elrics.” There was a whisper of something bitter behind her eyes, and he wondered what it had done to her, thinking maybe he’d returned only to find some bozo masquerading under his name…

“I guess you’ve been a bad influence,” Winry said, her smile turning flippant. “So, what do you think?”

“I think,” Ed said, looking at his old friend with new eyes, “that you need somebody with some common sense to keep you out of trouble, you public menace.”

“Well, that rules you out, then,” Winry scoffed. “Unless you’re planning on going off to menace the public together?”

Picking up his suitcase, Ed grinned broadly.

“Amestris will never know what hit it.”

*
Tobu Ishi
*

Theme 8 – No problem

He’s curled in a miserable ball, hidden in the reeds, when she wades over with a little bundle of wet red cloth in her hand.

“Ed?” she calls, and follows the sound of him squirming further into the water at her approach.

Looking around, she sees a few reeds quiver, and heads toward them.

“I know you’re back there, dummy.”

“Leave me alone!” It’s a peevish little hiccup of a shout.

She giggles. “Don’t you want your trunks back? I fished ‘em out for you.”

There’s a pause, and then a small, muddy hand pokes its way out of the long grasses.

“Don’t you dare peek.”

Winry wrinkles her nose in disgust. “Oh, yuck, Ed,” she scolds him, edging close enough to slap the wet fabric into his hand, which whisks away behind the reeds again. “That’s gross. I don’t want cooties.”

“Oh, thanks a lot,” he mutters. The reeds wave wildly now, and she waits patiently, tracing patterns in the running water with her fingertips.

“What?” she complains. “You’re a boy, aren’t you? I didn’t look in the first place,” she hurries to add. Ed is usually exempt from the category of cootie-carrying boys, but the danger multiplied tenfold the minute his swim trunks bobbed to the surface sans occupant.

“Well, good,” Ed grumbles, emerging from the reeds all smeared with river mud from hiding in the shallows, his trunks cinched tightly around his waist. “I’m going home.”

Winry blinks. “How come?”

“I can’t go back out there now!” Ed insists hotly. “They’re gonna laugh at me more!”

“Oh, for pete’s sake, Ed,” Winry says, hands on her hips. “If they do I’ll punch ‘em in the nose.”

“You’ll get in trouble,” Ed says, since being defended by a girl is sissy stuff but telling her so would put his nose on the receiving end of that punch. “I’m just gonna go home.”

Winry wrinkles her nose. “Fine,” she says, “but I’m coming with.”

“If you want.” It’s a casual acceptance, since it’s just as sissy to want a sympathetic companion with whom to trudge the soggy road of disgrace. Al’s still having a good time, and he doesn’t want to ruin that by dragging him off early just because his big brother was a snorking idiot today.

As they clamber up over the bank of the river, bare feet sinking thickly in the mud, she slings a companionable arm around his shoulders. “I thought it was a great cannonball,” she tells him cheerfully. “Nobody else swung half as high on that dumb old rope.”

“Nobody else lost their shorts,” he grumbles, and she smothers her giggle as they turn their steps homeward. Ed’s dignity is a fragile thing, after all.

“Aw, it was no big deal,” she says instead, and he manages a bit of a smile.

“Thanks, Winry.”

She smiles back. “No problem.”

*
tempest_Strife
Awwe! Lil dibbun winry and Ed! RoFL...

And as for #7...

*breaks out riot gear*

Be afraid... The Rizenbul Rugrats are coming!
hagane_no_tokage
LMAO! omigod, trunksless Edward, hiding in the reeds! there's a mental image that will keep me giggling all week. XD and i loved all of winry's battlescars, there was a great piece. keep up the good work, dear, and i'm falling behind!!! nuuuu~~~!!! >_____<
Tobu Ishi
*

Theme 9 – Only

The last light of evening is fading golden between the mountains to the west, and she stands watching it from the doorway with an unlit candle in her hand. The wind rushes past and ruffles her hair against her cheek, sending a shiver down her back through the thin fabric of her shirt, but she doesn’t turn to go inside.

Not yet.

Her eyes are fixed on the point on the horizon where the road dips out of sight. It’s barely visible by now, a slightly darker ribbon against the dusky curve of the hillside, winding its way through the flat fields and then up the hill like a stepladder to the cool eternity of the darkening night sky.

He’s out there somewhere, she believes. Paying his night at some faraway inn with the work of two hands pressed swiftly together and down, perhaps, or dozing in a tangle of limbs, metal and flesh, on the plush seat of a softly swaying train speeding through the darkness. Or even standing in a doorway, somewhere, gazing with those sunbright eyes at some distant dim horizon, the curve of his cheek lit softly by the same arch of velvet sky.

He’s not dead. She somehow can’t believe it, no matter what they’ve stamped on his record in Central. They gave up too quickly, those military idiots. It’s only been a year. She takes her waiting day by day, and each day is a new star of hope.

Her fingers curl around the splintery wood of the match in her pocket, and she strikes it against the doorframe, setting it to the candle wick with care and watching as the little blue-orange flame sputters and melts away the wax. The wick catches and chars brown, then black, brightening the shadows that have grown up around her.

She gives a last plaintive look to the empty horizon, then sets the candle carefully inside the lantern hung on the outside wall, swinging the tiny door shut on well-oiled metal hinges. It will wait for him here while she sleeps, safe from the wind.

She is careful to close the front door tightly behind her. There’s no reason to be disappointed. He’ll come over that horizon, one of these days.

She’ll wait as long as it takes him. After all, it’s only another day.

*
hagane_no_tokage
oh, that one's beautiful, honey. <333 superb imagery there. XD perfect closing line, too. *applauds*

now quit being such an overacheiver and let your old neechan catch up, dammit! ^.^
Guest
My gosh, that was beautiful!Your work is amazing, i love it!!!
I can't wait to read more! ^^
tempest_Strife
Wow... I almost cried when I saw that episode with the lanturn, and revisiting the subject was definatly agreat idea. I also like how you metioned "well oiled hinges", signifying that it's not a simple gesture but somthing that she puts a lot of work into. Great job!
Yukina_Raven
Oh... "Only" made me sniffle. How very, very, very, very, very... VERY sweet! T____T I absoulutly LOVED the detail in that one, too. It was just... beautiful and perfect. I saw it all perfectly with my mind's eye. Lovely!
ed's secret agent
Awesome... Can't wait for more!
Phyco girl
Great like always! You do such a great job Tobu! I really loved that last thme. I think I'll print it out once I get home from spring break! GOOD LUCK WITH ALL YOUR THEMES!!!
Le Monkey
I love this.. Please carry on now!
Tobu Ishi
*

Theme 10 – Love or like?

“Do you love her?” Al asked him once, during one of his and Winry’s rare visits to Dublith. Ed choked on his bite of fish, coughing spasmodically, and it took several good whacks on the back and a swig of water out of a contritely offered canteen to get him breathing again.

When things had calmed down, the brothers sat gazing out across the lake again, dangling their legs over the edge of the cliff, while Ed thought over the question carefully. If Winry had been there with them, he might have answered differently; but she understood her old friends and their close bond very well, and had stayed behind at Izumi’s to make herself useful at the butcher shop, while the brothers caught up on things with a few days’ trip to Jack Island.

So it was just Al and him, and he could afford to be perfectly honest without causing himself any trouble. For that matter, ten years ago the question would have been much more loaded; but Al’s childhood crush on Winry had mellowed into a simpler, fiercely loyal affection. The worst he could expect if Al didn’t like his answer was a punch in the face, and that was normal, and quite tolerable compared to the guilt of possibly breaking his brother’s far-too-tender heart.

The sun sank toward the horizon and the waves beat a slow, soft rhythm against the shore as they sat in companionable silence, gnawing their roasted fish down to the bones. Ed thought over the last twenty-something years, from childhood play, to the searing pain and absolute trust of automail surgery, to the uncountable hours of teasing and talking over repairs, to the years of loneliness in another world, missing her smile as much as the limbs she’d given him. He weighed her bossiness and selfishness and eccentricity and occasional bouts of violence, against her cheerfulness and natural empathy and mechanical genius and the way her fingers lingered in his hair when she kissed him. And he thought of the utter contentment of knowing that, when this trip was over and they paddled their boat back to the shore, she would be waiting for him, ready to set out on their travels again. Together.

“Yeah,” he said at last, tossing the stick that held the remains of his dinner into the lakewater that moved sunset-red below them, and turned to his brother with a smile. “You know, I think I do.”

*
Tobu Ishi
*

Theme 11 – “Is it okay to cry?”

The problem was not that Edward never cried.

Winry had watched him cry after his mother’s death until he had no tears left and the sobs came dry and hard and shook his small frame like the ravages of a disease. She’d seen him weeping brokenly after they’d survived her kidnapping, his hands over his eyes as if he could blot out a world where madmen stole children and sliced them apart in front of each other, feeding on their fear. It was her hand that wiped away the tears that squeezed grudgingly from his tightly-shut eyes, while the calibrating jolts rocked his nerves until they burned raw and he convulsed helplessly on the surgical table. And she heard clearly the tears choking at the back of his throat as he screamed his fury at the well-meaning friends who had kept the secret of Hughes’ death from him.

No, the problem was not that Edward didn’t cry. But his tears were always in and of the moment, a violent outpouring that occurred only when his emotions had swelled to the overflowing point. Edward cried openly and freely, but if given the chance to think first, he swallowed his tears, forcing them back down to distill inside him like the poisonous stone he was pouring his life into finding.

And that was what frightened Winry. Not the streaked and swollen face that followed his mother’s death, but the exhausted and grimly calm one that he presented at her funeral, clutching his brother’s hand and staring at nothing. Edward bottled up his grief until it forced its way free in those rare moments of mindless shock, bursting out in an explosion of pent-up stress and anger and pain, so that he cried until he could hardly breathe and then wiped his face and tucked down the corners of his dignity and started the whole destructive process over again.

She hated it, and that was why she cried for him, hoping that something in her tears would release the pain perpetually building inside him. He did it to be strong, she knew; to put on a brave face for Alphonse, and to keep himself safe from a world that preyed on the small and the weak. He was already small, bless his poor heart. He could not afford to be weak, and she knew it. But she could at least show him her own weakness; and perhaps someday he would understand.

With her, he was safe.

And with her, it was okay to cry.

*
Tobu Ishi
*

Theme 12 – Lucky charm

He picked it off the sidewalk in a moment of confusion, matching it to the other screws in his arm with a puzzled frown. It was still wet with ice water from the truck that had taken her away. The sun glinted from its curved head like a bright spark, setting off a leap of logic that saved her life.

He tucked it in his pocket before he ran off in hot pursuit of her, and later when he was tied helpless and bleeding among the slaughtered pigs, he stretched shaking fingers out to pull it free, forcing himself to scratch the array slowly into his metal bonds with its sharp tip, as fear hammered wild and sour at the back of his throat.

When all was over and done and he’d cried himself empty on the steps outside and slept the sleep of the broken in a borrowed bed, he dragged himself back there, ducking under the layers of police tape and walking among the frozen carcasses until he reached the spot where his blood still spattered the floor. The screw was there, too, rolled up against one of the table legs. He’d poured out his pain and fear and blood and tears to rescue the girl to whom it belonged. He picked it up gingerly, rolling it between his fingers as he left the slaughterhouse behind him like a bad dream.

He kept it in his pocket, after that day when it saved both their lives. Sometimes he took it out to roll it in his hand again, the metal ridges calming in their familiarity, but mostly he just left it safe in his pocket, tucked in a corner where it wouldn’t fall out and get lost. It remained there like a stone in his shoe, always reminding him of how useful she was to him, and how precious.

*
ed's secret agent
Awesome. mellow.gif ........ biggrin.gif
hagane_no_tokage
zomg, tobuchan 12? spectacular! what an image! i hadn't really put that much thought into that...that's such a great idea! you rock! three more masterpieces, my friend. the imagery in 11 was heart-wrenching, and ed choking on his fish will have me giggling all day. lovely work, as always. <3
tempest_Strife
*Imagines Al punching Ed after #10*

AlWin! AlWin!! J/K! tongue.gif

Hehe.. I wondered why that talk never came up in the series... I guess they were always too busy with other issues.

#11 and #12 were great too. I wouldn't think Ed the type for lucky charms, but Winry might bring that out in him.
Yukina_Raven
Very lovely, as always! #11 was most certainly my favorite, espically the words you used to describe it all. Just... beautiful. I really love how you weave your words together. I envy your talent for it! More please! happy.gif
Spectacal
siiiggghhh...
each and every one of these shorts are beautiful in each and every way. they just make me sniffle with fluff-n'-love smile.gif i love the references to the episodes, rather than making up all of their experiences like many fanfictions.
you can count on me continuing to read biggrin.gif keep up the good work
Sonic-Teal
Keep going dude. Sorry to say this Yukina but i like this more the A Winter in Germany, please don't bring torches and pitchforks to my door *Runs from computer* It was still very good though.
Yukina_Raven
*Laughs* No worries, Sonic-Teal. This is way better than any of my fics by a looooooong shot. Tobu Ishi is a much better writer to boot. wink.gif
Hex-Sama
@Tobu Ishi: I'm very impressed by your themes so far. Some have good humour involved, and other's make me sad enought to cry... A good, long cry... *cries more* laugh.gif My favorite one so far, is the one were Edward lost his trunks (sorry, I can't remember what number the theme was sad.gif ) . That one made me laugh pretty hard biggrin.gif . Your doing a great job, and I'm looking forward to more wink.gif .
-Kr!zY-
I love your work Tobu Ishi!!!!^__^ i've read all the themes so far, Theme 8 made me laugh!!!! I love each theme and their uniqueness!!(did that make sense?)lol^^; well, Great work and keep it up dude! can't wait until the next one!^^
Tobu Ishi
*

Theme 13 – Practical joke

The suit of armor trudged up the road, and it took Winry a moment to realize that he was alone.

She’d thrown open the window for a breath of fresh air and spotted the familiar silhouette on the horizon, glinting slightly in the summer sunlight that slanted over Resembool’s vividly green hills. Propping her elbow on the sill, she leaned out for a better look, shading her eyes and squinting as she scanned the fields for the small golden-haired figure she knew would be trailing his brother. Or running ahead of him. Or off to the side, or…?

Or nowhere. Edward wasn’t there.

But…he and Al were always together…

Winry whirled around, thundering down the stairs, through the kitchen and out the front door, her bare feet pounding the dirt, shoes forgotten.

Al stepped back in alarm as she sprinted up to him, her hair loose in a tangle down her back where her kerchief had fallen away to lie in a red puddle halfway down the road.

“Where is he?” she gasped, doubled over and fighting to breathe. Al said nothing, and she pulled herself upright, glaring steely-blue up at him. “Where IS he, Al?!”

“W-Winry…” Al murmured, his voice timid, holding something back…

She launched herself at him, pounding on his breastplate with panicked fists. “Dammit, Al, you tell me what happened to Ed right now or so help me I’ll take you apart mys…s-self--!”

She choked and let out a stifled wail, her voice breaking up like sugar candy. Al stared down at her with the closest thing to horrified wide eyes that he could manage, and suddenly his gauntlets were fumbling open the straps to his breastplate and something inside let out a yelp as he dragged it half out by the scruff of its neck.

“Brother!” Al scolded the squirming boy in his grip furiously. “You apologize to Winry right now!”

“Oww…!” Ed cried, struggling helplessly, and twisted around to face Winry’s stricken gaze. Ed’s face fell as he saw the tears in her eyes. “Look, Winry, it was just a stupid joke, you always get so mad when I break my arm and I thought—”

Her fist connected solidly with his face, sending him reeling back into Al again with a clang of metal. After a stunned second, he managed to sit up again, wincing.

“Okay,” he said, checking his teeth with the tip of his tongue to make sure they were all still there. “I deserved tha—”

His voice cut off for the second time as her arms went around him, pulling him so close he could feel the hammering of her heart.

“Don’t you ever…ever…do that to me again, Edward Elric,” Winry whispered fiercely against his hair, and Ed hesitated, then nodded, too startled to say a word…

Then she drew back, and he carefully climbed to the ground.

“C’mon, you moron,” she muttered fondly, ruffling up his hair. “I think there’s some fresh pie in the kitchen.”

*
hagane_no_tokage
ZOMG! aaahahahaahahah! that was awesome, hun! 'her fist connected solidly'. great line, great image, great drabble. keep up the good work! XD
Tobu Ishi
*

Theme 14 – Confrontation/Just Between Us

“…Fullmetal, are you listening to me?”

Edward blinked, jerking out of his doze. “Yeah, yeah, political whatever. Are we done yet?”

Mustang’s elegant brows drew together in irritation.

“May I remind you, Fullmetal, that this report is a required duty of your station as a State Alchemist, and that shirking it in any manner is grounds for a withdrawal of your license?”

Ed crossed his arms sullenly. “Colonel, with you, everything is grounds for a withdrawal.”

Mustang smothered a smirk. “Indeed,” he merely said. “Now then, one more issue and we’ll be finished. You are of course aware that your medical well-being is of utmost importance to the State?”

Ed snorted derisively at that, but said nothing.

“And as a minor under the State’s employ, I am required as your superior to pursue certain lines of inquiry, in the interest of your health.”

“What’s this leading up to?” Ed asked suspiciously.

Mustang smiled. This should be entertaining.

“Just between us, Fullmetal,” he asked, “how far have you progressed in your relationship with Miss Rockbell?”

There was a brief moment of peace before the implications sank in; and then Ed’s eyes went as round as a pair of coins.

“WHAAAAAAT?!”

The office door banged open, and Havoc and Fury’s heads popped in.

“What’s going on?” Fury asked nervously.

“Just a routine inquiry. Fullmetal, I haven’t heard your answer.”

Edward spluttered for a moment, then managed to yell, “Dammit, she’s just my mechanic!”

Havoc’s eyebrows migrated towards his hairline. “Ahh, the Rockbell girl again.”

Mustang’s grin expanded. He had an audience now—time to really push Ed’s buttons. “Hm…a mechanic’s hands, Fullmetal? Interesting.”

Ed was turning a fascinating shade of purple. “She’s just a friend!”

A large, bald head appeared in the doorway.

“Edward Elric!” Armstrong bellowed. “What is all this noise I hear?”

“Ah, Major Armstrong,” Mustang smiled. “We were just discussing the nature of Fullmetal’s association with Miss Rockbell.”

“A fine young lady!” Armstrong exclaimed, nodding impressively. “Congratulations, young man! This is the springtime of your life! Why, I remember when I was your age…”

Edward went from purple to green.

At that moment, the men in the doorway scattered, as Hawkeye bustled in with a large stack of papers. “Are you feeling all right, Edward?” she asked briskly, setting them on Mustang’s desk. “You look rather flushed.”

“Erm…” Edward mumbled.

Mustang grinned. “Now, Fullmetal, you know of course that if you need any supplies, the medical center can always—”

“NO!” Edward had had it. “No supplies! No springtime! No…associations! You’re all a bunch of perverts and he,” Ed pointed accusingly at Mustang, “is your chief!” With that he stormed past the watching military staff and out the front door.

Mustang sighed. “Do you think I overdid it, Lieutenant?”

“Perhaps a little, Sir,” Hawkeye murmured.

“I’m sure he’ll bounce back. You’ll notice, Lieutenant,” he added calmly as he reached for the stack of papers, “that Fullmetal never did answer my question.”

And to that, Hawkeye had nothing to say.

*
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