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I'm surprised at myself even. I'll explain it. This was quite possibly the wierdest crack pairing to come out of my hat. I had no idea how I was going to handle it...

And then it came to me! I wrote a drabble to this AU, and ended up liking it so much, I've decided to dedicate myself to the long haul. With some luck, I will actually be able to update, and maybe even finish this one. I have most everything planned.

The pairing? Secret, secret! (Well, I'll be mixing a lot of pairings in here, but primarily... well, you'll see.)

This chapter is looong. (By my standards, at least)

Blame it on the rain.

Chapter 1


History was a standably dull subject, Winry Rockbell noted, with moderate boredom, as she gritted her teeth, and snapped the lead of her pencil against the notesheet.


It was just something to be gotten through; notes, studying, the works. Not really any worse than any other subject. But...


Taking notes on the Industrial Revolution, was something of a difficulty, especially when her desk had it's own delinquent-induced seismic level.


She slapped her palm against the surface of the desk and spun around, to glare at her neighbor and hissed,

"Do you want something?"

The other blonde blinked innocently, and then grinned with a drippy smugness,


Winry exhaled, rotating back to her notesheet and trying to the best of her ability to finish up her writings before she completely snapped and tore up the whole textbook.

She was beginning to regret having excelled in previous years of classes, seeing as that was directly responsible for putting her in advanced placement among all these seniors, but most importantly, this particular girl; The dirty blonde with a smart mouth, sketchy background, the enigmatic single name by which she was called to exclusively by both teachers and gangmates, that damned facial tattoo that had sparked the school board into an uproar over dress code and decency policy, but first and foremost, she had a persistant, and terribly annoying, fascination with getting under Winry's skin.

It had started with droll stares and snickering, which she had simply passed off as normal goof-off behaviour, and was able to ignore the idea that some good for nothing gang of teens were making fun of her behind her back. She'd dealt with worse, after all. Then came the badgering and name-calling. It wasn't, as she'd supposed, the entire group, but more singly, it was this one girl; the pouty lipped and sharp tongued rebel, with a vengeful glint always present in her strong gaze. Random insults were exchanged, which she started out ignoring, and when she became fed up with it, she began, much to her senior's pleasant satisfaction, snapping back, and hitting with her own comebacks and arguments, which, in contrast to her usually pleasant nature, were skillfully stinging and clever.

Then of course, came greater trouble. And although it grew no worse than tripping, shoving, and constant knocking of papers out of the Junior's hands, occasionally, in spite of her always trying to smile through it all, she felt the urge to turn back and yank a lock of that strange hairstyle she sported right out of her scalp.

Alas, it was a time for quiet work, and aside from the tittering of a few other students, and the blipping of cell phones as a few slackers passed off their time with text messaging, the room was completely silent, and left no room for her to shout obscenities at her rival unnoticed. Maybe.


The heavy boot hit the back of her seat once more.


"Do you mind, Martel!?" She fumed, punishing the innocent desk once again with her strike of rage.

A wave of complete akward silence came, followed by mixed giggling and thus sparked initiative for everyone else to take the chance to begin their own higher decibel conversations.

"Is there a problem, Miss Rockbell?" The teacher asked, dryly, and rather expectantly from her desk.

"No, nothing, ma'am." She responded, trying to separate herself from the troublemaker behind her with distance and mannerism. If anything pissed her off, it was being grouped with the irresponsible morons that generally populated her own age group.

The teacher shook her head as if to pass it off as 'Kids will be kids', and returned to shuffling papers.

Winry shot a venemous glance back at the girl behind her, who smirked victoriously.

There were some days she wished her history book was heavier.

"Dammit, that Mustang guy is just trying to send me to a young grave!" The braided boy scowled, slinging one strap of his bag across his shoulder, and kicking his locker shut, with a booted foot, scuffing the surface with a streak of black.

"Don't kick the lockers, Mister Elric!" Snapped the hall monitor, peering over her tortiseshell glasses. He completely ignored her and continued his woeful lamentation to his friend.

"What did he do to you, today?" Winry sighed, mildly amused, rolling her eyes. The blond raised his singed sleeve dramatically to illustrate the damage.

"He goddamn near blew me up today! And he said it was my fault! The hell it was! He was helping me mix my beaker! He was the one who initiated the explosion! And yet, he still insists it was my responsibility, because, of course, the bastard's so perfect, he could never make a mistake. 'I have a PhD in science, I'll have you know, Mister Elric!'. PhD, my ass! Either he's been taking his college courses under a bridge somewhere, or he is making a deliberate attempt on my life!"

"Did you remember to use the chemical measurements in metric terms?"

"... uhn?"

"Did you?"

"... Sh-Shut up!"

"Ha ha! Were you too caught up trying to find a human growth formula to make your proper measurements?"

"Shut up! I gave up on that idea months ago! Besides, it wasn't my fault! It was that damn Tringham kid. You know him, the sophomore? He kept on trying to pester me with notes while we were supposed to be writing the formulas."

Winry simply shut her eyes and clicked her tongue.

"It's always someone else's fault with you, isn't it, Ed?"

"All I know is that one of these day's I'm gonna-"

"Brother!!!!" A cheerful voice cut him off, as the younger Elric nearly strangled his brother in an enthusiastic jumpstart of a hug from behind, making Edward drop his knapsack completely.

"Guess what!" Alphonse piped, nuzzling his cheek affectionately against his brother's.

"Wh-what?" Ed, chortled, swaying under his younger brother's weight.

"I got the solo! I made it! Isn't that great?"

"That's awesome, Al!" Winry declared, cheerily, "Which song?"

"Brat'ya." Al announced, grinning from ear to ear.

"Waaah! I love that song! It's so you, Al!" Winry gushed, clasping her hands together.

"I don't get it," Ed ejected, with a twisted expression, "It's just depressing Russian. And... do you mind, Al? You're heavy."

"Ah! Sorry, brother!" Al apologized, sliding off Edward's back, but still smiling proudly, as he quickly shifted to Winry to award her with a celebrative clinging.

"Come to think of it," Winry thought out loud as she returned Al's squeeze, "Brat'ya is a song for two people. Who has the other part?"

"Clause!" He peeped once again, squishing against her neck.

"Clause sings?" She asked, perplexedly.

"Mm Hmm!"

"You mean that snot-nosed little tomboy actually joined choir? And tried out for a solo?" Ed snorted in disbelief.

"Come on, brother. There's more to Clause than just that. She's actually really good! Plus, she can play the role of a boy easily. And since I was the only actual boy with the right voice for it..." Al trailed off and his face dropped into a pout. Winry instantly recognised his chagrin and patted him on the head,

"Don't worry, Al. Your voice will change soon enough,"He gave a lopsided guilty smile that she couldn't help but pity and she continued, "But for now, you and Clause will make adorable brothers!"

"Yeah, I don't doubt that at all," Ed mocked, now grinning as brightly as his little brother, with a beaming unhideable pride, as he swept Al into a playful headlock, grinding his fist against the top of the boy's head, "You little cutie, you!"
"Ow! That's- ow! Don't make fun, brother! O-owie!"

"Aw, don't mind him, Al," Winry waved off, separating the two, "He's just jealous that he's- OUCH!" Her sentence was cut off at a most inopportune moment as the pain of having her long ponytail yanked backward siezed her by surprise.

"Hey, dork!" Martel passively greeted, not pausing in her forward motion, and quickly disappearing down the hallway with her group of friends.

"Why I outta-" She snarled, making a fist.

"Huh? What's wrong? Is she bugging you again?" Al noted sympathetically, "You shouldn't let it bother you."

"I don't," Winry huffed, rubbing the back of her stinging scalp, "But there are just some times when I wouldn't mind running her over with a truck."

"Hey, speaking of running things over!" Edward interjected. It was never a good thing if he began with a segway like that.

"Oh God, Ed. What did you trash this time?" She sulked, realizing her day was suddenly tumbling downward.

"Nothing much. Just a brick wall- A small one!" He clipped his sentence and tried to soften the reality for his friend who was clearly not happy about this.

"You're such a reckless driver, Ed! I worry for your safety- and your brother's for that matter. And aside from that, your insurance has got to be hell. I pity your poor mother!"

"Well... what do you say. Can you give the ol' Elric Jalopy a once-over?" Ed pleaded, scratching the back of his head apologetically.

Winry sighed with defeat,

"Can you get it to the shop?"

"Yeah, it'll still make it that far."

"Then bring it by, and I'll look at it. Pretty soon, preferably. It looks like it's going to rain."

Expectably, it was a horribly slow day. The kind of gray, dreary day you hear about in depressing country songs, and melodramatic novels, where everything seems to go wrong, and all people caught up in the haze just float by depressedly.

That is, if any people floated by at all, they might have. Instead, Winry was left to the command of the repair shop while Pinako went out to do errands, and inside the empty garage, she had only the Elric Jalopy to keep her company. She supposed all sane people were staying inside today. At least those lucky folks who weren't trapped out in the nasty weather. They were probably curled up by their cozy little fireplaces, sipping from their cozy little coffee mugs, and enjoying the presence of their cozy little families. Not really that it made such a huge difference whether her grandmother was there or not, since she would have been stuck with the task of repairing the solitary busted car anyhow, but she still somewhat envied the Elrics, probably all snug at home right now, doing their homework together while their mother baked cookies. Well, okay, so the cookies were something of an exaggurative touch, but she was pining all the same, hoping to see some familiar face pop by, or any face at all.

Be careful what you wish for.

The cooled air swooshed in as the side door was opened to the elements, alerting the young mechanic of her new guest. She rolled herself from beneath her current project, and stood up, to shockedly meet the gaze of her undeclared arch-rival in the doorframe. She shrugged casually and implored,

"You're not just gonna let me stand out in the rain, are you?"

Her attempt at an 'innocent victim' smile rather gave Winry the desire to boot her back out into a huge mud puddle, but the water dripping off her hair and sheeting the surface of her leather jacket also triggered her instinct for pity (against her conscious brain's protests) and some ingrown fear of pneumonia and other such ailments.

"My bike's busted," Martel declared sheepishly, stepping inward.

'Aw great. Now she's a customer!' Long lectures of keeping the business alive, and about how a Rockbell never refused a customer instantly came to mind. 'Damn you, Granny and your honor issues. Never planned for this to happen, did you?'

She sighed with defeat and reached for a pile of clean towels which had been destined for use with oil spills, and chucked one overhead to the dripping girl, who caught, and briefly paused to smirk and comment,

"You look like hell," As she noted Winry's face streaked with grime, and her normally flawless blonde hair caught up in a complicated pile of tangles.

"I'm certainly surprised to hear you say that, Miss Sorry Wet Rodent."

That shut her up for a second. Unfortunately, only a second.

"So, what'cha working on, coveralls?" Winry ignored the question, as well as the scathing fashion commentary and bitterly asked,

"Do you need me to fix your bike?" She folded her arms and looked away, at some object that was located upwards, stuck in the ceiling.

"Duh," Martel ever so eloquently replied.

"Well I can't fix it if it's out there, now can I?"

"Nope. Guess you're stuck with me until the rain lets up," Martel moved the towel from her hair and began dabbing at her dampened clothing.

'No... way.'

"Well just... stay out of the way, then." The mechanic sulked and returned to her work, sliding again beneath the royally screwed up car of Edward's, and reached for her wrench.

She worked in silence, trying to forget about the other girl's presence, and for a short time, was able to consume herself completely in her happy land of mechanical workings. She was able to go for several minutes, used to the comforting sounds of minor adjustments, and clinking metal, when a sound that definitely did not fit in added itself to the mix. It was soft, echoey, and went 'click, click, click'.

She swiveled her head to see where the source was, and sat up so quickly that she altogether forgot she was sitting underneath a very solid object.

"Ooooow!" She hissed, holding her sore forehead, but not hesitating in stomping towards the now lighter-happy Martel who had a cigarette hanging from her mouth.

"Hey!" the gangster pouted stunnedly staring at her empty hands and then commenting, "Aw well, it was empty anyway. I was just trying to see if you were still awake-... or alive down there."

"Since when do you care? Anyhow, were you trying to start an oil fire? Jeez, you moron."

"I wasn't trying to start anything. Don't get your panties in a bunch, dweeb."

She'd had it. It was time for confrontation, and if it wasn't now, alone, then it wouldn't ever happen.

"That's enough!" She snapped, commanding the full attention of the girl leaning against the wall, "I've had it with all of this! Do you have nothing better to do than to do than pester me, or do you just really think you're this great gift to earth and I'm just your lame playtoy? Are you so much better than me?"

"I-I don't think I'm better than you," Martel stuttered a bit, gaping at the sudden outburst.

"Suuuure, you don't. I'm not as dumb as you think. I see you laughing at me. I hear what you say about me. So don't even try to pretend like I'm the only one who knows you hate me."

"I don't hate you. I didn't think you took it so hard."

"Well I do. And I'm sick of it!"

"But it's not-... I don't... Look, I won't do it anymore, okay?"

"So you say, as long as your bike still needs fixing." Winry scowled and sharply looked away, folding her arms, as Martel looked up, betraying shame with her shocked expression, and she softened a bit, exhaling.

"But really... do you think you would have even noticed me, if I hadn't done all that shit? Would you even... know my name?"

Winry was caught a little off gaurd by the raw truth, and even vulnerability of this question. She looked back at the downtrodden face with confusion before contemplating and shaking her head.

"No," she replied, "We're way too different."

"Is that so?" The older girl muttered, letting out a melancholy chuckle, "I guess I sort of knew that all along."


"It dosen't matter," Martel interrupted, before Winry could ask what it was all about. She adjusted her jacket and stood up, "Sorry for wasting your time."

"Wait," Winry spoke up, as Martel opened the door, "What about your bike?"

"Oh, that..." She paused in the doorframe, looking upwards at the darkened sky, "It's not really that bad. I can get by."

With that, she let the door fall shut, and stalked outwards into the downpour.

Winry ran her gloved hand along her arm, and noted that the room was suddenly considerably colder.

A day passed, then two, then several, and soon, a week was gone, completely eventlessly, with no disruption of a negative kind. In fact, the week passed by so peacefully, that it nearly drove the young mechanic insane. Not to say, mind you, that she in any way liked or looked forward to being harassed by the senior, but being ignored, avoided and altogether shunned was another issue altogether. She had no idea what it was that she'd said to make this happen, but whatever it was, it was annoying her moreso than any classroom projectile making contact with her head could have.

As Al suggested, perhaps she really did feel sorry, and was leaving her alone. She wanted to agree with him, and move on, forgetting the whole thing, but even while she returned to her normal pattern and went through the typical antics with Ed and Al, the nagging itch continued to grow inside her.

An itch that would need some scratching.

History, once again was heck to go through, but this time, not because it was endured with interruptions, but because of the pure silence. Well, that could be credited to the fact that they were taking a test.

She tapped her pencil against the page, making a small circle of marks, as she twitched, trying to reason things out. Martel had moved to the other end of the classroom, and was, much to her surprise, concentrating on her test, something Winry wished she could be doing right now.

Perhaps Al was right, and she was just trying to make things better. Maybe this was just where optimism had to take over for doubt.

She tried to smile weakly as Martel looked up at her for a brief moment, and she quickly averted her gaze when their eyes met. Winry's pencil broke against the desk.

She glowered at the opposite end of the room, and then at her broken lead. Growling under her breath, she shoved her seat back and lifted herself up, and prowled up the aisle towards the pencil sharpener on the other end of the room.

She met the gaze of the other girl who looked away quickly, as she casually pretended to be sharpening her pencil particularly slowly. She stamped her foot loudly to command her gaze once again, as she angrily mouthed,

'What is it?'

'Nothing!' Martel mouthed back, just as angrily.

Winry left her frustration and just, accidentally hissed out loud,

"Dammit, Martel! You don't just do this for no reason!" She only caught herself slamming her hands on Martel's desk a little too late, and the teacher spoke over the ensuing silence,

"Miss Rockbell. I'll see the two of you after class."


Detention wasn't so bad, really. The only responsibilities were wiping off the boards, and keeping your mouth shut. Unfortunately, being the only one in the room besides Martel and the teacher on Duty, who was currently dozing off. Her strong desire to either break out in a torrent of cusswords, or knock the girl out cold was very high. The silence was mandatory, however, the constant avoidance was intentional.

She wasn't sure whether to be grateful or woeful that the teacher had to take a brief leave of absence and leave the two teenage offenders alone, but she finally burst out for the second time that day, and long overdue.

"What the hell is your problem?!" She yelled, stepping so closely that Martel couldn't avoid eye contact any longer, "You pester me unstopped for months on end, then all of the sudden, you just stop and start avoiding me altogether. What's going on?"

"Nothing," Martel insisted again, "You told me to stop, and I did."

"There's more to it than that, and you know it! You don't just give me the cold shoulder if nothing else is wrong. Now what is it?"

"It's noth-"

"I don't want to hear that,"


"Just tell me the truth!"

Martel stared and finally caved, looking to the side,

"Because I like you," She confessed quietly.

A stagnant, unsure stillness lingered, where Winry wasn't quite sure what she'd just said. Martel sighed and filled her in,

"I like you; I love you; You make my heart beat faster; I have "Special Feelings" for you; I want to be the person who brings you flowers, and holds your hand, and all the works. Got it all?"

The exact shock she experienced upon having another girl confess her love for her, was something that can't precisely be expressed in words. It was a strange mix of shock, disgust, intrigue and altogether confusion, mixed together blender style in her frantic brain, churning up long supressed memories of adolescent confusion, and folding down any shred of reason she might have had in her mind the moment before. In an attempt to regain function of her jaw, and her vocal chords, she stamped her foot and out of instinct blurted out the most Winry-ish thing that she could have said,

"Well, dammit, why didn't you just tell me!?"

(To Be Continued)
*grins* The FMA a high school setting....oh god, this is too much. *starts laughing* Ahahahahahahaha!!! XD XD

This is great, keep it up!!
QUOTE(Luckyalchemy27 @ May 25 2005, 04:53 PM)
*grins* The FMA a high school setting....oh god, this is too much. *starts laughing* Ahahahahahahaha!!! XD XD

This is great, keep it up!!

... It's not like it's a new idea.

Just way better than all the other AU's that try it. ::Narcy pose::
Well, I've never read anything like it and I am thoroughly enjoying myself.
Hagane no Renzy
True. Toby-chan's ingenious hat-picking strategy is what makes her fanfics teh excellent. good job.

*you are a girl...right? 0__o*
QUOTE(Hagane no Renzy @ May 26 2005, 02:55 PM)
True. Toby-chan's ingenious hat-picking strategy is what makes her fanfics teh excellent. good job.

*you are a girl...right? 0__o*

::Shifty eyes:: Nooobody knooows.

::checks:: Yup, I'm a girl. Or else, I'm a guy who ain't all that happy. >>;;

Thanks ya guys. I'm working up the next chapter. This fic is horribly cliche'd and melodramatic, just so you know ahead of time. Oh yeah, and OOC... Mostly on Martel's part. She kinda has to be a lot more civil in a highschool setting.

It's like... Mars crossed with a really bad soap opera. XD But I like playing with the characters in such a setting.

In spite of my trying to eschew stereotypes, this is getting very troublesome in that area. I'm working on it.
Phyco girl
QUOTE(Toby-Chan @ May 27 2005, 01:26 PM)
QUOTE(Hagane no Renzy @ May 26 2005, 02:55 PM)
True. Toby-chan's ingenious hat-picking strategy is what makes her fanfics teh excellent. good job.

*you are a girl...right? 0__o*

::Shifty eyes:: Nooobody knooows.

::checks:: Yup, I'm a girl. Or else, I'm a guy who ain't all that happy. >>;;

Thanks ya guys. I'm working up the next chapter. This fic is horribly cliche'd and melodramatic, just so you know ahead of time. Oh yeah, and OOC... Mostly on Martel's part. She kinda has to be a lot more civil in a highschool setting.

It's like... Mars crossed with a really bad soap opera. XD But I like playing with the characters in such a setting.

In spite of my trying to eschew stereotypes, this is getting very troublesome in that area. I'm working on it.

LOL! Well I like it anyways happy.gif Update soon!
Ugh. Too long of a chapter again! But I can't believe I continued it!

Keep in mind, the character development is slooooowww...

But I have everything under control! Really.

I need to work more at making believable dialogue, methinks. I suck at it.

Blame it On the Rain.

Chapter 2

Although the mass of a crowded highschool hallway can be compared to something of an amoeba; an ebbing, sticky, communative mass of bodies, there are a few select presences that can act as a catalyst of sorts to split the ferocious creature in two, or at the very least, weave through unscathed. On this particular morning, said presence was that of a small, unimpressive lanky boy. He was average height, skinny, to put it in the most polite of terms, and unnaturally pale of skin. Tendrils of his green-toned hair fell and kept shape almost of their own accord, falling in shadow over his eyes, and adding to the aura he emanated that made the female passers by skip a heartbeat, and step aside in awe. But mostly, what it was that parted the crowds, and kept most onlookers at a respectful (and fearful) distance, was the smile he wore; smug, vicious, the grin that can only be worn by a person with the utmost self confidence (Although the common term was "Self-important ass.")

If ever a student took second place to Martel's infamous tattoo incident in the matter of ruffling the schoolboards proverbial feathers, it was him. It was common business dealing with girls' dress code violations, with the standard problems of cropped tops and miniskirts that could pass for belts, but they'd never before dealt with a male pupil who so frequently, and so absolutely unabashedly loved to show off his figure. Although the school policy had it's rules of general decency, it was exceedingly akward having to deal with chastising the ridiculous getups he came up with, most frequently, midriffs and oddly enough, miniskirts, and they also had to deal with hordes of upset female scholars, whose spirits were clearly dampened everytime the rebellious teen was forced into an oversized gym uniform. Most everyone agreed, it really was a shame for him not to show it off.

He eventually found loopholes and ways to beat the system; mostly through ever-present use of a handy sweatshirt which he could quickly use to cover his indiscretions every time a particularly prudish staff member crossed his path, and as time passed, they nearly gave up altogether.

Today, the article that was catching attention, as he stalked confidently past the writhing mass, were his shorts; or what passed for them anyhow. His hands were shoved confidently into his pockets, albeit with some difficulty considering the very ungenerous amount of cloth that they were stitched with. The garment ended at a ridiculous length, revealing proudly the circular tattoo which he brandished in honor of some mysterious thing or another for which there were countless rumors floating about in theory of.

As he exited the greater part of the crowd, he passed a smaller group who snickered, and glared. He continued walking confidently, just as a particularly bold young man in a blue jersey called out,

"Hey faggot! Nice legs!" Much laughter and pseudo masculine friendly punches were exchanged.

The accused faggot paused, and cooly flicked back a long green lock back from his face, to fix his piercingly violet eyes on his verbal assailant.

"Oh? Were you addressing me?" He asked indifferently.

Laughter and highfives ensued. Of course, it quickly died down, as the boy walked toward them calmly. Too calmly.

"So, you like my legs, do you?" A bloodthirsty grin painted his face as he drew nearer...

And somewhere far away the patron saint of regrettable comments (If there is such a thing) would most definitely be clicking his tongue and waving an admonishing finger, as if to chide, 'You shouldn'ta done that.'

It isn't really necessary to indulge the details of the ensuing several seconds, save for that it ended as uneventfully as it began, with the boy gaiting away just as casually as before, his smirk unwiped, wryly muttering within earshot,

"The better to kick you with, my dears."

And the collective female heart skipped another beat.

"Hey," Winry said, as she eased her shirt over her head and leaned against the splatter-scratched gym locker, "You guys date a lot, right? I have a really dumb question."

Nelly grinned energetically beside her friend as she snapped her brunette hair into a ponytail.

"Ohmigosh! Cue the Dawson's Creek music; Winry has a dating question!" This comment earned her a snap on the head.

"I'm serious," Winry insisted.

"Shoot," Paninya said, flinging a t-shirt over the hook in her locker.

"Um... If someone likes you, but you don't like them back, in 'that way',- but you don't hate them or anything- but you just don't know them... well, how do you deal with that?" Winry finished her question as she fiddled with the clasp on the back of her necklace, and stared fixatedly at the ceiling.

"That's it?" Nelly asked, sitting on a bench, and swinging her legs, staring upward trying to find whatever was capturing Winry's attention skyward, "Well, if you're going for the least amount of emotional damage, I guess you should just say you want to be friends. Either that or tell them to go and shov-"

"Nelly!" Winry snapped, unamused. Paninya, however, was somewhat amused, and she giggled merrily, as she snatched her uniform shirt and slung it over her shoulder, to turn and put in her two cents,

"Friends is always a good solution," She said, casually propping her arm against a locker, "Although it's reputed to be the biggest heart-breaker out there; it's really not that bad. And who knows; maybe someday you'll get to like each other."

Winry smiled at Paninya as the girl grinned back enthusiastically. Although using the adjective 'enthusiastic' was rather redundant when coupled with Paninya. It was exceedingly difficult not to like the girl; she was strong, mouthy, honest, and always seemed to share her vivaciousness with those she was near. Which was why it was very nice to be sharing a gym class with her; since sharing a bit of that youthful energy that leaked from her was very advantageous.

"I guess that might work," Winry said, breathing a sigh of mixed relief and retained pensiveness, as she pulled her gym shirt over her head and yanked the cloth across her chest.

Paninya's grin remained glued.

"Imagine," She mused aloud, "Our little Winry is finally on the dating scene! I was worried you'd been getting too caught up in your mechanics and all,"

"There's nothing wrong with mechanics!" Winry said, "Besides, I DO date!"

"Oh, you mean that thing with Ed?" Nelly interjected.

"That wasn't a 'thing'," Winry protested, blushing, "We're just friends!"

"Oh, then there was that issue with Cain..."

"Jean almost killed me for that one..."

"Be honest, Winry," Paninya said, patting her friend's shoulder, "You haven't done much in the romance department since your middle school love-letter fiascos."

"And why would I?" Winry shrugged, passing it off, and seating herself on the bench, "I have awesome friends. What more could I ask for?"

"Aaaaw," Paninya sang, closing the blonde in an affectionate snuggle, "You're so sweet!"

"Mmmmph," Winry managed, squashed against her friend's middle.

A click came from the direction of the teacher's office, as the door swung open and a dreadlocked head appeared.

"Ladies! Talking isn't getting you changed any faster! Get your butts out on the gym floor right now, or I'll get medieval on them!"

"Yes, ma'am!" the girls sang in unison.

Martel leaned against the chalk holder on the board, rolling her eyes and exhaling, ever so decidedly, as she desperately wished to be anywhere but where she was. Professor talks-a-lot was currently waving some recent printoff and admonishing her with the same 'I'm dissappointed in you' speech that they all seemed to have up their annoying sleeves. It wasn't that she had a problem with teachers as such, but there was a certain quality of condescension and judgement that she always felt, in spite of their standard disclaimers, of "I don't know what you're going through, but-..." that got under her skin and made her itch with the mixed sentiments of worthlessness, but moreso of bitter superiority.

Today it was about her latest chemistry report, or lack thereof. Mustang was currently issuing the stern-and-pseudo-sympathetic gaze, as he brought up her track record to add to the already far-too-long encounter.

"-not to mention you've already missed," He picked up his clipboard to check, "Five days of this class in this semester. And it's barely begun."

"I was sick," She muttered, scratching a fingernail against the dusty slate.

"Miss Martel, I'm very concerned. I would like to see a better effort in this class from now on," He slowed his words a bit as he noted the way she nodded with his speech, as though counting the exact words she'd heard many times before.

A group of girls with their backbacks and books gathered up passed to leave the classroom, and a brunette waved,

"Hey, Martel. Still on for this weekend?" She asked.

"Yeah, sure, Jen," She called back, and begrudgingly resumed eye contact with her teacher.

"This is what I mean," He continued, "I don't know how you're spending all of your time, but I would hope you would at least try to use it more productively." He held out the printout which she snatched with a gruff, "Mmnf."

She slung her bag over her shoulder, and angrily stepped into the hallway, and hastily tossed the report into the trash, mumbling indescernable curses under her breath.

Of course, since the fates have the tiniest little guilty pleasures, this was also the moment that another certain person she didn't want to have contact with passed her by and simply with her almost fanged grin could carried enough umbrageous animosity to spark the other girl to start hissing. (Which wasn't something she made a habit of, mind you, but was an impulse she often found tempting when frustrated words failed her.)

"Hello, there. It's been a while." She greeted, her wavy black locks bouncing in stride with her step. The blonde responded in a sarcastic snarl,

"Piss off, Lust," She responded, curtly.

The darker girl paused in her tracks and stepped back to face Martel, and click her tongue,

"Don't you know that grudges are so unbecoming, Martel?"

Martel may have responded, but before she could grasp a decent comeback, two distractions presented themselves from both sides of the hallway, one being a mossy haired boy calling out

"Hey Lust, you coming?"

and one being a spritely blonde cautiously approaching Martel, watching as Lust confidently made her way off with her lanky companion. (Had she just winked?)

"Um, hey!" was Winry's brightest idea of a conversation starter.

"Oh, Hi, Winry... What's up?" Martel asked, suddenly relaxing at Winry's presence.

"I just noticed that we have the same lunch hour together, so... if you don't mind, I was thinking we could eat together, or something... just for today. If you don't mind, that is." She shifted and twisted a pink sneaker into the floor causing a squeak.

Martel needed a second to mount the sudden surprise of Winry's request before she gathered her voice,

"Yeah- I mean, of course! That'd be great! Um, where do you usually sit?"

"I was thinking we should sit in the commons. You know, in front, by the windows?"

"Sure," Martel responded a little too enthusiastically, "See you there, then?"

"Alright," Winry beamed, "I gotta go." She turned and bounded away enthusiastically.

Martel's heart fluttered for a few moments, and she drifted back to what was something of a kinder reality than she previously thought.

Outside of the chemistry lab, the squeaking of dilapidated old wheels, exhausted with corrosion and the wear of time, serenaded the halls, now emptying of bodies, and opening up to a much more empty airy expanse, and signaled a well recognized, albiet generally avoided presence. The man pushed his mop and bucket combination ("Of Doom") along the empty passageway, darting his gaze in a matter that was decidedly suspicious and altogether disturbing.

He stopped in front of an abandoned cart stacked with boxes upon boxes of cheap state issued science accessories awaiting their centenial cleaning. He opened a box, ignoring the greasy strands of hair that fell in his face as he hunched over to do so, and fingered one of the greasy tools with a loving delicacy, and raised it to his eye level, inspecting it's intricacies with a beady eye. It was a sparker, definitely, in spite of how the caking rust may have disguised it; it was the so-called safe device, used to light the gas streams on bunson burners, and the constant of fascination for teenagers with low attention spans and an attraction to shiny things.

He held it close to his face and inhaled, slowly, releasing his breath for a shudder. The fumes of metallic aromas overwhelmed the wafting scent at first, and then gave way to the pleasureful subtleties that followed and intermingled; the faint hint of sulfur; the bouquet of alchohol, and gasoline fumes. Ah, those scents brought to him such joy; such elation at the mere thought of the things they could do. The images; those wonderful images of all the burnable fumes mingling and creating their greatest potential sum; a wondrous explosion of flame and heat...

"DAMMIT, KIMBLEY!" A door slammed open, the frame in which a very enraged Proffessor Mustang was standing, "How many times do I need to tell you? Clean the equipment; don't fondle it! That's just creepy!"

Winry breathed deeply in the warm light of the sun that was filtering through the large windows and across the messy beige floor. She seated herself upon the wide sill that doubled as overflow sitting space, and avoided the airvent, seeing as the last time she had sat on one of them, the marks stayed on her legs for a good two hours. She happily patted the spot beside herself, as she saw Martel drawing near, and remembered the conversation she practiced numerous times in her head.

"Hope you like ranch," Martel said, tossing a bag of chips to Winry, and settling with her own vending machine finds.

"Hope you like Oreos," Winry responded cheerily, digging some of the cookies from her paper bag and sliding the baggie to Martel. They relaxed into their sitting positions, satisfied with their trade, and both inhaled simultaneously as if to say something.

"A-" They creaked in unison, both quickly resigning to let the other take initiative in the conversation.

"You have something to say?" Winry said, insistently.

"Oh, no, no you go first,"

"You had something to say,"

"No, you go. I'll wait." Martel insisted, holding her hands up.

"Um, okay," Winry said, as she poked at her bag, and gathered the confidence to look up, "I wanted to say..." Martel waited tensely as Winry blushed profusely, "I'm not gay." She rushed the final part of her sentence, as though she were spitting out the words.

"Oh," Martel was not at all surprised, but not altogether pleased.

"But!-" Winry interjected, sensing Martel's sudden droop, "I'd still like to get to talk to you more, and maybe we could be really good friends." The senior looked up incredulously and smirked,

"Weren't you the one who said we were way too different?"

"You brought that up first. Besides that, I don't even know you yet, so I don't intend to judge that until I'm confident that I do."

"... alright?"

"So," Winry declared, gathering up confidence, "Every good relationship must be based on trust. I must know that I can trust you to tell me the complete and honest truth when I ask you something."

"I haven't let you down so far, have I?"

"You lied about your bike."

"Come again?"

"Your bike. You said it was broken when it wasn't."

"Yeah... that was-"

"Just an excuse to talk to me. I know. You don't need to do stuff like that anymore, though. From now on, we're on a truth-telling policy. And we're starting now. Kay?"

"Okay... so, what truth did you want to know?"

"Um..." Winry bit off a piece of her sandwich, and chewed it pensively as she ground her thoughts over, "Everything, I guess," She shrugged off the generality.

"Okay then, shoot. I'm an open book," Martel, snapped open a can of coke, leaning against the windowsill.

"Alright. First question. What's your first name?"

"... Martel."

"No, seriously."

"I am serious."

"What kind of first name is Martel?"

"Sorry, if you don't like it, but if your parents were abusive crack addicts, maybe you wouldn't get such a pretty name either!"

"Yeah, okay; that was a lie too. I honestly don't know exactly where the name's from. My Dad's ex-military, so I think he got the name from one of his old buddies, or something like that. I never really got the full story. We're not exactly on what you might call close terms," Martel spoke just as casually as though she were commenting on the weather, and grinned to put Winry at ease, letting her know it wasn't that big of a deal.

"And what-"

"My mom? Heck if I know. She took off." The older girl shrugged, "I don't remember her much, so I can't really say."

Winry took another bite from her bread, trying to mull over what to respond with. She couldn't really liken her situation to Martel's at all. She got along just fine with her Grandmother, and had with her parents up until...

"Well, you know my-"

"I know about your parents," Martel interjected, "So you don't have to... you know."

"It's alright," Said Winry, "It dosen't bother me. I was only five then. I just live with my Grandma."

"I could have sworn you'd adopted those Elric kids or something. What with all the time you spend together."

"No, we're all just friends. It's been like that since we were little. Their mom used to get sick a lot, so they would stay with us while she was in the hospital. She's still a little unstable, but they're taking care of her more now. Of course, they still come by the shop all the time since Ed's such an irresponsible speed demon."

"Figures as much. The kid's so short, he needs to compensate?"

Winry supressed a giggle as she admonished Martel for insulting her friend. She bit from one of her cookies as she glanced toward that larger mass of occupied tables, and spied the raven haired girl who she'd seen speaking to Martel earlier.

"That girl," She said, pointing vaguely, "You were talking with her before. You didn't seem to be very... friendly. What's the deal with that?"

"Oh, Lust?"

"Yeah, that was her name. Weird isn't it? I heard it was gang-related or something."

Martel laughed at this, and scratched the back of her head,

"Sort of. You might say it's a gang thing. Or more like- a tribute to one that's dead. Stupid girl just held on to that name for looks." She shook her head dissapprovingly. Winry was wary, but intrigued,

"You seem to know a lot about that sort of thing," She began, uneasy on the subject.

"You mean gangs? I'm not in any. Not currently, at least; so don't you worry. There are kids in this school who think they are, but they're all harmless. I guess they think I am too, but it all goes nowhere. All the people I hang out with are-" She paused and shook her head, "Well, they just have big heads, is all."

"But they're your friends, aren't they?"

"Not really. They're just..." Martel paused in thought, "Well, whatever. It dosen't really matter."

Winry was confused by this. The thought of having friends that aren't really friends wasn't exactly a familiar concept. She knew and trusted those she kept close to her, and always had.

"Does that mean friends don't matter to you?" She asked, trying to probe further into Martel's confusing and foreign mind.

"God, no!" Martel Replied, shocked at the question, "I have good friends. They're just few and far between. And far away." She scratched at the rim of her soda can for need of some sort of movement.

"What about her? Lust?"

Martel stared straight at Winry's face, in mild surprise that Winry had guessed so well.

"I guess you could say we were friends once. It was through wierd circumstances though. I doubt anything like that would happen again."

Winry was about to inquire further, when Martel broke the depth of their conversation with an out of the blue observation,

"Hm. It's five 'till." She pointed out, bundling the last remnants of her lunch inside the empty chip bag and making a three-pointer for the nearest garbage can. The color drained from Winry's face.

"Crap..." She barely mouthed jumping up to see the clock face for herself.


"Oh crap-crap-crap-crap-crap!" She repeated to herself balling up her fist and assaulting her forehead in frustration.

"What is it?" Martel yanked the girl out of her psychotic little rut.

"I was supposed to head back to the shop and open it at noon for Mister Garfiel! I have five minutes until that."

"Four minutes and thirty five seconds if you want to be more exact. Why can't you just go now?"

"I completely forgot! I didn't get a pass, and furthermore, the Elric Jalopy is still broken, so I can't get Ed to drive-"

"You mean you don't drive? I thought with all your car obsessions-"

"Shut up! This is not the time!" Winry pressed the heel of her hand against her eye, trying to reason, "Okay... Walking's way too long... I can't take my bike; that'd be too long also."

"We could take my bike," Martel offered.

"I said, a bike would take too long!"

Martel flicked Winry on the head, and dangled her keys in front of the girl's eyes.

"Oh... that bike," Winry came to her senses, then smiled wryly, "It's not still broken is it?"

"Do you want me to help you or not?"

"How am I going to get out in time without a pass?"

"I'm the master of skipping. When you're back, nobody'll notice you were gone. Next hour starts at 12:15, and you'll be back with no one the wiser."

Winry gaped, and Martel rolled her eyes, grabbing the junior by the wrist,

"Come on, it's three minutes fifty five seconds now. Let's move."

The older girl expertly wove through the hallways, avoiding all potential discoveries, and brought them safely out the back door by the side student parking lot where the emergency chariot awaited them.

"Here," She said plainly, sticking a chipped gray helmet over Winry's head. She jammed her key in the ignition, revved up the motor, and sat down, instructing, 'Hop on', which Winry did, hastily.

"Don't let go," She smirked, looking back.

Winry almost asked- "Of what?" when the metaphorical voice of gravity forced an answer upon her. The bike lurched forward, and she clung for her life to Martel's waist, as the school blurred into the background, and they zoomed to a speed that couldn't possibly be within the legal speed limit. The younger girl squeezed her eyes shut to prevent herself from growing nautious, as she felt her insides shift and flop to her left with a wide turn.

It couldn't have possibly been less than an hour of insanely irresponsible motion, but somehow, at the end of the trip, she'd still miraculously made it by noon to the front door of her shop. Of course, she needed a moment to recuperate; She stumbled off the motorcycle and tripped dizzily, landing on her knees, feeling the gravel against her palms. She breathed heavily, tingling from the adrenaline, and when she regained some sort of nerve control, she raised a shaky arm to point at the driver who was leaning complacently against her vehicle, and shouted,

"That was insane, and stupid and dangerous!"

"But fun, right?"

--To be Continued--
It's about time you update!! *grins* It just gets better and better...
Phyco girl
Sorry I didn't reply. It's just it takes you a long time to update.

Nonetheless I still want you to continue with your fic happy.gif Maybe check out my fic, Where Are We, later on. It's pretty funny laugh.gif

Well update soon Toby!
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