The room reeks of blood and vomit, and the sickly-sweet scent of ether. Ed’s finally asleep, his body pale, his yellow hair the only bright spot of color in the bed. Tubes run from bottles, bringing blood and fluids to his body. Bruises mar his pale skin where Alphonse gripped him so hard, carrying him from their house to the Rockbell’s.
Winry stands in the doorway, a bowl of warm water in her hands. She doesn’t realize the blood she tastes is her own, torn free from the lower lip she’s worn ragged from her continuous chewing on it. She knows she needs to finish cleaning Ed and the room after the emergency surgery, but it’s hard to look at her friend. He’s so still and quiet, and it makes her heart clench and ache. Her stomach churns, and she thinks she might throw up, but she hasn’t eaten in almost fifteen hours, and the only thing that could rise up would be bile.
She’s avoiding looking at the suit of armor – at it – at Al. He’s even quieter than Ed, and so huge, and looks so strange curled at the end of the hallway. She sucks in a deep breath and forces herself into the room, feeling as if a chill when through her body when she walked through doorway. The stink washes over her and she almost runs, but Ed needs her, and she won’t let him down.
Winry knows how to take a pulse. She checks, shocked at how Ed’s heart is racing. It’s futilely trying to pump blood that’s now staining the basement of the Elric house, and marking the path Al took on his mad dash here. Fighting with her stomach, Winry takes the warm damp cloth from the water and wrings it out before stroking it over Ed’s face. His skin is waxy, and all the color and animation usually in it has bled out over the floor.
“Why’d you do it, Ed?” she asks him, wishing he’d open his eyes. She sniffs hard, trying to keep the tears inside. Ed doesn’t need her crying over him, he needs her care. “Why didn’t you tell me?” Maybe if she’d been a better friend, more curious, more stubborn, Winry wouldn’t need to ask these stupid questions. She swallows down the sickness again, pushing her worry and fears down hard. Ed comes first now, not her foolish hopes and dreams.
Blotting the blood, dirt and sweat from Ed’s face, Winry fights with her thoughts. If she’d pushed harder, maybe they wouldn’t be like this, Ed so close to death, and Al like some sort of metal monster. They’d all get up tomorrow morning, and race each other to school, and argue about who was better in class, and what they’d have for dinner that night. But that’s not going to happen, and she is all that’s left of their childhood dreams.
“…Mom…?” Ed moans.
Winry gulps back her tears. “Shh, Ed. Sleep. It’ll be better soon.”
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