Ed came awake clapping.
It took a few moments for him to realize where he was, and then- for what felt like the thousandth time- he was exquisitely grateful that he could no longer do alchemy.
Winry stirred, blinking at him with sleepy blue eyes. “You okay, Ed?” she asked.
Ed was kneeling on the bed, his hands still pressed together. He pulled them apart, his hands shaking. He dropped back onto the bed and swallowed. He didn’t feel good. His leg and arm and belly hurt like a bitch, and his stomach was doing flips. He closed his eyes, trying to catch his breath.
Winry was there, pushing his sweaty bangs back from his face. “Hey,” she said, softly. “It’s alright. You’re here with me, okay?”
He reached up, catching her hand in his. “I’m awake,” he said, trying to push away both the memories of the nightmare and the gnawing fear of what could’ve happened if he’d still been capable of summoning giant spikes from the ground.
“You okay?” Winry repeated, rubbing her thumb over his knuckles.
“M’fine,” Ed lied, knowing that he wasn’t going to fool her.
She put her hand on his forehead. “You’re a little feverish,” she said. “It’s the storm, huh?”
Ed closed his eyes. Rain had always sucked for him, but the arm almost hurt more since it had been returned. The wound in his belly always played havoc with his system, too. It was just another reason to hate Rush Valley. The rainy season was a bitch for him. Ed swallowed, trying to fight down the nausea. “It’s not that bad,” he said.
“Uh-huh,” Winry said, not impressed. “Lie down. I’ll go get some hot pads, and something to drink.” She pushed him gently down onto the bed. Ed let himself be pushed. He felt weak and miserable. His skin felt hot and cold and clammy, and everything ached.
He closed his eyes, and remembered his nightmare- Pride’s shadows again, dark and unrelenting. Ed shivered. This was stupid. Pride was gone. Ed had personally ripped that monster into a thousand tiny pieces and left him mewling on the ground. There was no reason to see Pride in his dreams, or Greed, or Envy, or Number 48, or Father, or Al’s armor breaking into a million pieces, or Hohenheim dying, or his mother bleeding from her eyes, or-
There was a touch on his cheek. He startled, his eyes flying open and his heart beating like crazy. It was Winry, of course. She sighed. “It’s okay, Ed,” she said. “Scootch over.”
Ed’s head was spinning, and he suddenly realized that the burst of adrenaline had been too much for him. He pulled himself out of bed and bolted for the bathroom. He only made it halfway down the hall before he doubled over and retched onto the floor. Winry was there again, pulling his hair away from his face as he heaved. When he was finally done, he flopped limply against the wall. “Oh, Ed,” she murmured, scooting up next to him and leaning against his shoulder as he recovered from the effort. “Come on. Let’s get you back to bed, and I’ll worry about cleaning this up.”
She pulled him up, and he leaned on her shoulder. She was strong from handling metal; every bit as strong as he was. She deposited him in bed, and then offered him a drink of water to rinse his mouth out. She touched his forehead with the back of her hand. “How are you feeling?” she asked.
“Like shit,” he grumbled.
She swatted him, rolling her eyes. “Symptoms, Ed. I could tell that.”
Ed shrugged, rolling over and burrowing his face into the pillow. “Hurts,” he admitted.
“I think you’re coming down with something. The storm’s probably making it worse.” She paused, frowning. “And the dreams.” She stroked his hair. “I know they’re always worse when you’re hurting.”
Ed wasn’t sure that he had ever felt so pathetic. He hunched in on himself. “Why d’you want to be with someone as messed up as me?” he asked, suddenly “You’re smart and pretty. You could be with anyone. I’m just... just...”
Winry glared at him. “What kind of question is that?” she asked. “You’re not messed up, Ed. Why do you think that?”
Ed gestured vaguely at his naked torso, at his shoulder and leg. “You could be with a guy who doesn’t look like this,” he said. “Or who doesn’t throw up every time there’s a thunderstorm. Or who doesn’t try to kill you in his sleep-”
Winry death-glared at him this time. “You’re just feeling sorry for yourself now,” she told him. “Besides, these scars?” She brushed her fingers gently over his shoulder. “I put these here. I did it giving you an arm to live with, and I’m not sorry. But I’d never look down on you for them.” She moved her hand down his chest, brushing it across the numb-not-numb skin of the scar on his belly. “This,” she whispered. “This just means you survived. Every time I look at this, I’m grateful you came back to me at all.” She frowned. “We were so afraid for you, you know. Al insisted that you had to be alive, and that we had a job to do anyway. But we were both so afraid.”
“Sorry,” Ed whispered. He paused, closing his eyes, remembering Baschool. “When it happened,” he started, his voice rough, “I thought, I’m dead. And then I saw your face in my mind, and I thought- I thought- She’s gonna cry when they find me. But I couldn’t.” He paused. “I couldn’t make you cry over me.”
Winry started crying then, of course. She leaned over and kissed him, which was kind of gross because of the vomiting thing, but if she didn’t mind, he wasn’t going to argue. She squeezed his hand, her calluses rough against his skin. “I love you, idiot,” she told him. “I don’t care about the scars or the nightmares or any of it, because it’s you.” She blushed.
“You too,” Ed got out, blushing furiously. “Um. I love. You too.”
Winry laughed. “Yeah,” she said. “But you really are sick, and I’ve still got vomit to clean up. Just rest here, okay?” She picked up two little white pills off the nightstand. “I got you these for the pain, and there’s water here. And don’t gulp it; you’ll just make yourself throw up again. I’ll be back in a minute to help you with those hot pads.”
Ed caught her hand as she stood up. “Thanks,” he said, though he wasn’t sure exactly which thing he was thanking her for. Everything, probably.
“Hmmph,” she said, and swept out of the room.