It was such a weird word, and one Edie never thought she’d use for herself, but these past two years in Resembool made her come to understand the meaning of the word. Granted, not all of it had been spent in their childhood home – she and Al took short trips to Dublith to visit Master Izumi, and to Rush Valley with Winry, where Al would disappear with that little pickpocket (Edie had decided early on that she really didn’t want to know what the hell the two of them got up to).
It felt almost right to be here in Resembool, back where their family lived, where their parents were buried. And for that reason, the idea of leaving to go traveling was a long time coming.
She and Al had talked a little about it, usually down at the river where Edie could skip rocks and Al could lie in the warm grass – what they’d like to do once Al was fully recovered. He wanted to go to Xing and study alkahestry. Edie couldn’t resist teasing him about the bean girl, and Al blushed and stammered, then turned the tables like he always did – “What about you and Winry?”
Edie didn’t blush (much), glaring at her brother instead. “What about me and Winry?” she managed to stammer out.
Al rolled his eyes. “Edie,” he said, as patient as if he was talking to some dumb little kid, “everyone knows how you feel about her.”
Now Edie felt the blood rushing to her cheeks. “How I feel about her?” she half-shouted.
Al winced at the yell, but grinned slyly as he said, “Uh, huh.”
“I – I – she’s my friend!” Edie howled.
“Your friend.” Al stared out over the river. “You threatened to cut off Ling’s balls if he proposed to her again.”
“Well, yeah!” Edie clenched her hands into fists. “Winry could do better!”
Al’s eyebrows rose. “Than a prince?” The flat statement hung between them for a few seconds before he went on. “Fuhrer Bradley made her your hostage.”
“What was he going to do, use you?” Edie waved off that one.
“You scared off all those mechanics in Rush Valley,” Al said, rubbing his chin.
“She could do better than them, too,” Edie insisted.
Al gave her a long look, folding his arms. “So, if Winry could do better, who do you think would be better for her? Someone like Colonel Mustang?”
Edie’s lip curled up. “The bastard?” she yelped. “Oh, hell, no! Someone like…I don’t know. Someone…someone good, who’d treat her right.” Her muscles didn’t seem to be able to hold her up any longer, and Edie found herself squatting on the bank of the river next to Al. “Like Brigadier General Hughes,” she said softly, then turned to look at her brother, “or you.”
“Me?” Al wrinkled his nose.
“Well, yeah,” Edie said, thinking she could get used to the idea, Al and Winry together. Al had wanted to marry Winry when they were kids anyway, so it wouldn’t take much for them to be in love, would it? Winry always said, “I love you guys.” That meant something, didn’t it?
“Why me?” Al asked plaintively.
“Well, you’re,” Edie’s jaw went slack for a split-second. Maybe her brain short-circuited. “You’re,” she flapped her hand at him. “You’re a guy!”
What was Al, dense, or something? “Girls and guys get married and have babies,” Edie explained, as if Al was a little kid. “Together.”
Al stared at her for what felt like a long time before bursting out laughing. He fell back onto the thick grass, curling up on himself as he rolled from side to side.
“Hey,” Edie said, eyes widening. When Al kept laughing, Edie poked at her brother. “Hey! Cut it out! Al!”
He wheezed and gasped and wiped at the tears rolling down his cheeks. “Oh,” he sighed, “I needed that.”
“You’re an ass!” Pushing at Al with her foot, Edie scowled at him.
Al rolled out of reach, getting up. “You,” he said succinctly, “are an idiot.” When Edie gaped at him, he went on. “You like Winry. More than like Winry.”
“I,” Edie stuttered to a stop.
“Uh, huh. Maybe you’d better think about that,” Al said, pointing at her. “And talk to Winry.”
X X X
That was easier said than done, particularly for Edie. Sure, she and Al had sat the old hag and Winry down, and told them almost everything that had happened during their travels, but there were things they didn’t say, either. Edie’d kept too many secrets since she was a little girl, when she and Al had come up with the idea of bringing their mother back from the dead with alchemy. There were still some secrets buried deep inside that Edie hadn’t even shared with Al.
Edie’d thought the way she felt about Winry was one of those things, despite First Lieutenant Hawkeye’s question and Al’s and Hughes’s teasing. Sure, Winry was cute, and energetic, and the best automail mechanic in the world, but Edie had realized somewhere during their travels, maybe…maybe after Scar, or when she’d failed to tell Winry about Hughes’s death, though definitely before Briggs and Kimbley’s threats, that she loved Winry, and it wasn’t the way she loved Al, either. Al was her brother, Winry was…was Winry, and her own person, and just…well, Winry: not just an automail mechanic, but a pie maker, a best friend, a considerate person who cared a lot. And the way she took care of kids, well, Edie figured she’d want to be a mom some day.
Edie had never thought about kids until she’d thought of Winry with kids, and that sent her down a strange path, one where she realized, maybe she wanted kids, too, but she couldn’t even imagine who she’d have kids with. Not someone like Ling, he was too much of a jerk, and Edie didn’t want to think about that stupid kiss Ling had given her that one night while they were traveling. Not someone like that bastard Mustang, oh, hell, no (though she couldn’t help but feel a little tingle when she thought about First Lieutenant Hawkeye, who was way too good for Colonel Shit). Hughes was too crazy, not to mention married, and that idiot Tringham was an asshole. There really wasn’t anyone she could even think of that she wanted to get that close to, except for Winry.
And two girls couldn’t make babies, no matter what.
“You’re thinking awfully hard.”
Edie started at the sound of Winry’s voice, coming over her shoulder. “Uh, yeah,” she said. A flush warmed her cheeks while her stomach tightened around the blob of ice that somehow transmuted itself there.
“About your trips?” She turned around to face Winry, seeing a faint, wistful smile before Winry glanced sideways, toward the window and the late afternoon sun. Before Edie could say anything, Winry beckoned. “Come on, let’s go for a walk. You can think and walk at the same time, can’t you?”
“Of course!” Edie snapped, and stumbled, nearly making herself a liar. Again.
The sun cast their shadows in exaggerated lengths ahead of them. Winry walked along the road, her hands clasped behind her back. Edie thought if someone was just looking at their shadows, maybe they wouldn’t know she wasn’t a guy – Winry had all the curves. Her own body was more angular, and her breasts and hips were small. Edie’s preference for pants and shirts, rather than the skirts and dresses Winry liked, helped hide her sex that much more. When she’d worn that red coat, it almost completed her guise, at least until she’d started her monthly cycles. God, what a pain that was, since her body seemed to rebel against the idea of being fertile, and her periods only came once every two or three months, and almost always unexpectedly.
“Huh?” Edie jerked her head up, meeting Winry’s eyes. The fleeting thought that it was nice finally being taller than Winry crossed her mind.
She teased, “You can walk and think at the same time!”
“Nng!” Edie scowled at her, making Winry laugh. She had a nice laugh.
“Stop sulking.” Winry poked Edie’s ribs with her elbow.
“I’m not!” Edie shoved lightly at Winry’s shoulder. Winry squealed, shoving back harder, knocking Edie off-balance. “Hey!” Edie shouted, scrambling to regain her footing, but Winry took a few steps backward, her mouth open in a wide smile, her eyes shining. Giving Edie a quick once-over, Winry spun on the ball of her foot and took off running, leaping the ditch at the side of the road and climbing over the stone wall that led into the Coyle’s orchards.
Edie gaped after her for a few seconds, then shouted, “I’m going to get you!” and tore after her. She hopped the ditch and vaulted the wall, catching a glimpse of blond hair as Winry ducked sideways through the trees. Damn it, what kind of game was she playing? Edie charged after her, the sweet smell of ripening fruit filling her lungs, the faint buzzing of bees in her ears, and Winry’s laughter leading her on.
Winry was a strong girl – she had to be, working metal – but Edie knew how to run, and made up the distance pretty quickly. Glancing over her shoulder, Winry made an ‘o’ with her mouth at the sight of her. Edie flashed her teeth, triumphant, barely three meters behind and closing fast. Winry dodged down another line of trees and Edie cut the corner, her fingers nearly catching hold of the hem of Winry’s skirt. A wicked grin brightened her face as she put on a burst of speed, thundering up behind Winry.
Her grasping fingers caught hold of Winry’s wrist and Edie dug in her heels, the sudden loss of forward motion acting as a brake against Winry. She let out a surprised yelp, nearly dragging free, but Edie wrapped her other arm around her upper body, dragging Winry back against her chest. Her breasts heaving, Winry grabbed Edie’s forearm with both hands, giving it a fitful tug. “Let go.”
“Uh, uh. You wanted me to catch you,” Edie said, breathlessly, nearly in Winry’s ear. As soon as she said it, the realization was there, and Edie wondered if Winry really had wanted to be caught. Swallowing hard, Edie tried to keep from shuddering. She knew she had the upper hand right now, and she intended to make the best of it.
Winry stiffened in her embrace. “So?” she asked, her voice high and tight.
“So?” Edie mimicked. Under her forearm, she could feel how fast Winry’s heart was beating. She leaned her chin on Winry’s shoulder and sing-songed, “You wanted me to catch you, catch you.”
“Shut up.” Winry slapped lightly at her forearm, the contact barely stinging. Edie could feel Winry’s back relaxing against her chest. It was kind of nice. And weird. And Edie realized it was getting a little weirder. Her - down there - felt like it was pulsing, and Winry’s ass rubbing against her wasn’t helping any. Winry took a deep breath and Edie nearly squeaked, feeling nipples rubbing against her arm. “What if I did want you to catch me? What are you going to do, now that you have?”
Her mind went blank at the implications, and Edie couldn’t think of anything at all. Dazed, she opened her mouth and closed it again, not even fighting when Winry turned around in her arms, and put her own around the back of Edie’s neck. Meeting her eyes, Winry rose slightly up on her toes, licked her lips - oh, wow, her lips - and tilted her head to the side before kissing Edie.
Dumbfounded, Edie clutched at Winry’s shoulders, not sure what the hell she should do. Winry’s lips felt like electricity, like an alchemic transformation, like the beginning of something absolutely amazing and she didn’t know what the next step should be. Winry seemed to know, though (and Edie wondered how, then forgot that question when Winry took hold of her head and pushed it to an angle and kissed her again), and Edie was a fast learner. When Winry licked at the seam of her mouth, Edie opened it with a soft moan, wrapping her arms around Winry’s back as her tongue did amazing things inside Edie’s mouth. Her tongue retreated and Edie’s followed it, a little sloppy, maybe, but willing to be taught how to do things better.
After a few minutes of kissing, and Edie congratulated herself that she did get better, if that humming sound Winry made was any indication, Winry pulled back, licking her lips. “See what happens if you catch me?”
Nodding enthusiastically, Edie wondered if she should try kissing Winry, or maybe doing something else? Her mind whited out again at wondering what she could do; Edie knew what pleasuring herself meant, but to offer to do something like that to Winry filled her brain with static.
She looked down, realizing Winry had somehow managed to get hold of one of her hands, and was kissing the tips of her fingers. Edie bit her lip to stifle a groan. Gently pulling her hand free, she cupped Winry’s cheek, tracing the rim of her ear and the earrings studding it. She leaned in to give Winry a kiss, feeling Winry’s hands moving down her sides, then sweeping back up. Her eyes snapped open at the sensation of Winry plucking at her nipples. “G-guh!”
“Too soon?” Winry asked, practical, letting her hands rest over Edie’s breasts without the pain-pleasure complicating it, and Edie let out a breath. “Too soon,” Winry answered herself, and moved her hands up to Edie’s shoulders.
“I-it felt…nice,” Edie protested shakily. “But.”
“But what?” Winry cocked her head and something glittered in her eyes.
Edie knew she had to answer quickly, before Winry got the wrong idea. “You, me. I mean…we’re both girls.”
“And?” Her hands felt like air on Edie’s shoulders. Edie grabbed for them, before Winry could pull away.
“And…men and women get married, and have babies, and raise a family together,” she said, all in a rush, still not letting go of Winry’s hands, even when she tugged.
“So you don’t…what, Edie?” Hurt stamped itself on Winry’s face, and her mouth twisted.
“I…I…can’t give you babies,” Edie said, rubbing her thumbs over Winry’s palm.
“Do…you want to?”
Winry’s question rocked Edie down to her core. “I…” She stared into those blue eyes she’d known forever. “I…wish I could. I wish…I could give you everything.”
A smile curled Winry’s mouth and she pulled her hands free, hugging Edie tight. “You can.”
Edie sighed, folding Winry in her arms. Maybe she could, even without being an alchemist any more. Maybe. But for now, this was good.
The sharp poke made her yip. “Winry!”
“Stop thinking so hard,” Winry scolded, “we’ll be okay.” And she rose up on her toes again to kiss Edie, soft and slow, the texture and taste and marvel of it leaving Edie all but breathless.
“How,” she said, when she caught her breath, clinging to Winry to keep from falling. Edie didn’t remember when her back wound up against the bark of a tree, but it was a welcome embrace, enough to keep her from falling to the ground – Winry propping her up in front, the tree behind. “How do you know?”
Winry raised her fist. “One,” her pointer finger came out, “Al loves both of us, and wants us to be happy. If ‘together’ makes us happy, he’ll fight anyone who says otherwise. Two,” her second finger popped up, “Granny’s known forever.” Cheeks pinking, Winry muttered under her breath, “She’s probably got a bet with everyone in town about us.”
“What?” Edie yelped.
Winry ignored her. “Three, Major Armstrong and Mr. Garfiel are happy, aren’t they? No one says anything to them.”
“Winry, they’re massive and scary.”
“So? You’re scary.” Winry pursed her lips. “Okay, you don’t scare me, but you scare other people, don’t you?”
Edie let her head fall back against the tree trunk and groaned. “We’re doomed.”
“We’re not doomed, Edie Elric!” Hands on her hips, Winry glared at her. “We’re just different. And that’s not a bad thing. Not everyone should be alike. Not everyone will be alike.” She poked Edie in the center of her chest with a stiff forefinger. “So we’ll be okay.”
What could she say to that? If Edie had doubted, she’d never have tried to bring back her mother. She’d never have been able to use automail in less than three years. She’d have given up trying to get Al’s body back. She’d have died in Baschool, on that piece of metal, or while fighting Father, or she and Al might not have left Truth’s hall as whole as they were.
Taking Winry’s hand, Edie smoothed it between her own. She raised it up to kiss Winry’s knuckles, thinking she was really cute when she blushed. Edie wondered just how far down that blush might go. Well, there was time to find that out. Maybe not right now, but if Winry’d wanted to be caught, she’d done a damned good job of catching Edie, too.
“I believe you,” she said, and pulled Winry into a hug that Winry turned into a kiss, as well.
Content. Yeah, Edie thought, she could get used to this.