There were a lot of differences between Central City and her hometown of Resembool. For one, the noise level was constant and undeniably angry. In the countryside the rolling hills sang sweet songs of rustling grass, insects humming and the occasional lone wolf. Here in the city there were horns blaring, doors slamming, raised voices and an industrial complex that ceased to ebb or slow. At first Winry had been starry eyed in her journey, feeling pride at both her admission to Central University and her independence in it all. Now the excitement had waned and she was left feeling awfully alone in this fast paced world.
The sound of the stairwell door slamming once, twice and a third time had her wriggling farther under her covers. A minute passed, maybe more, before she sat up in a flurry of motion with her heart racing. Winry stared helplessly at her alarm clock sitting uselessly on the floor, its plug a good foot from an outlet. For another full minute she half squinted half prayed that the digital numbers were wrong. Then, with a knowing pang, she looked up at the foot still housed in a red stiletto, its owner passed out in the clothes from the night before. Apparently college was an excuse to get drunk and pass out until noon on a weekday. Maybe if her parents were footing the bill for her tuition she might be under the impression she could skip class too.
Morning lectures were the unfortunate consequence of being a freshman and it was frustrating. Managing to pull something on, Winry grabbed her bag and bolted out of the dorm room. The weather was a somber gray, sheets of rain pouring down from the sky and flooding the streets. Winry almost went back up to grab her umbrella but she was determined in her stubbornness to at least attempt to be on time.
Two steps out and Winry yelped as a puddle engulfed her feet, soaking them in mud. Throwing her head back she clenched her jaw and let the curse words dance in her head. Picking up speed she nearly collided with a car as she crossed the street. They honked their horn and Winry rolled her eyes because there was no such thing as courtesy in the city.
It was no surprise her now two minute tardiness had left Winry with a sparse selection of seating. Arriving early gave students their pick of prime real estate within the large lecture hall and with a soft spoken professor that had tiny handwriting this was key. Winry begrudgingly turned her sights on the back of the room. Chemistry was not a class she could afford to slack off in. Maneuvering quickly before she could become an object of the audience's restless attention she spotted a seat in the corner of the back row. It felt like walking through a horse pen and dodging piles of dung as she made her way past backpacks, purses, outstretched legs and unforgiving assholes. Unfortunately the only thing stopping her from reaching the last vacant seat was just that. Obstructing the seat in question was a student slouched in sweatshirt and gave no indication he would be moving anytime soon.
Winry shivered, her soaked clothes providing zero warmth in the cavernous lecture hall.
"Excuse me." She requested softly, trying to avoid any unwanted attention.
When his eyes didn't even flicker Winry tried once again, this time with a little more force. "Excuse me."
Still no movement that he had heard or otherwise acknowledged her request. That was fine with her. Winry had dealt with stubborn idiots many times before. With a renewed sense of contempt Winry pushed his legs out of her way and proceeded past him to the empty seat. Feeling aggravated and strangely alone, Winry sank into her seat and tried to pretend Chemistry was all that was on her mind.
Lectures were long and tedious, but today was challenging all the norms. Winry pulled her arms tighter across her torso to try and quell the shivers as the soaked clothing stuck to her skin. Trying to quell rows of chattering teeth, Winry squeezed her pen and reminded herself she only had a half hour left. This proved to be a much more difficult task when she realized the guy sitting next to her had finally woken up and was apparently trying to get her attention. Winry ignored it at first, but the more she ignored it, the bolder he became. His tiny jabs now turned into a full on shake.
Unable to pretend indifference for any longer WInry turned her fiery stare in his direction.
"What?" she whispered menacingly.
The guy frowned in response, "Take it."
It was then that she noticed the sweatshirt he had offered in his hand.
"Oh, no thank you." she added the ending after hearing her own rude response. Her gran had taught her better than that. But in her own defense all she wanted was to get the class over with. Turning her attention back to the endless ramblings of her professors she was struck once again by his persistence. His hand tapped at her shoulder a few more times before she acknowledged him. Turning back to face him she was about to retaliate when he threw the sweatshirt at her.
"Take it." His tone suggesting he was irritated. "I can't concentrate with you shivering so badly."
Winry's mouth fell open as she stared at the stranger next to her. After a moment she glared before agreeing and pulling the sweatshirt over her head. Initially her plan had been to put it on and continue to shiver but oh did it feel warm. It took everything in her to not nuzzle it back.
Despite her earlier aggression Winry was suddenly curious about this man. The metal appendage which had earlier been hidden was now in full view and he had her undivided attention. She may be going to school to be a surgeon but mechanics would always be her first love.
For the rest of the class Winry fluctuated between analyzing his automail arm and figuring out how to apologize. A simple verbal proclamation might have done the trick, but she wanted something more than a quick exchange. It was easy to see that his automail was top of the line, but maybe she could give him one of the pieces she had worked on back home. Her grandmother's customers swore Rockbell Automail was the best. Then again Winry had to remind herself that small towns bread small competition. Winry snuck a glance out of the corner of her eye at the boy in question. In her rush and irritation she had failed to notice that he was easy on the eyes. After careful observation she noticed his hair was composed of long, silky, golden threads that she wished had not covered his remarkably unique eye color. Golden eyes that were now staring right back at her. Winry quickly averted her gaze and tried focus back on the lecture.
What had gotten into her?
When the lecture was completed she was about to inquire about his automail when she realized he was already halfway through the door. Throwing her messenger bag over her shoulder Winry looked down at the sweatshirt. She was not about to hold on to some random guy's sweatshirt, Rose would never let her hear the end of it. Winry pushed her way through the exiting crowd and attempted to yell his name...only to discover she had never learned it.
Scanning the sea of students she finally caught sight of her target. Racing forward Winry shouted in his direction. "Hey!"
Part of her wanted to laugh as several heads turned toward her, his not being one of them. Now she really wished she had been polite enough to ask his name. Maybe the city agreed with her more than she thought. With one last spurt of energy Winry grabbed at his metal appendage.
Halted by her hands on his arm the golden boy jerked around.
Winry felt her uneven breathing hitch as she stared into his eyes, but the moment passed with absurd ease as he opened his mouth.
"What?" He asked in agitation, the rain still coming down all around them.
Flustered Winry pushed the wet hair out of her face and just stared. What had possessed her to stop him?
Oh right, the sweatshirt. Throwing her bag at him to free her hands, Winry proceeded to lift his sweatshirt off. Her face flushed as the wet shirt underneath clung to the outer garment exposing her bare stomach and bra. Trying to act nonchalant about the whole ordeal Winry quickly pulled her shirt back down and finished removing his sweatshirt. "You left this."
He took the sweatshirt and continued to stare. Winry felt heat on her cheeks and shrugged her shoulders. "Okay then, see ya." About to retreat into some kind of dark hole to hide she was started when he reached forward to stop her.
"Your bag?" He asked, holding out the black shoulder bag towards her.
In the scheme of things Winry didn't normally falter but when it rains it pours, so to speak. If embarrassment could kill she would have died in those few seconds. Sighing she reached out and grabbed it from his grasp. Before she turned to walk away Winry decided she was still a country girl and her gran had raised her well enough to swallow her pride. She offered him a weak smile. "Thanks."
Everyday the same monotonous schedule, wake up, go to class, go to sleep. Somewhere in between he usually ate and stuck his head in a book, but other than that it was pretty dull. Most would count him among the lucky few, but he had a hard time stomaching that. There was no need for him to worry about tuition when the new wing of the library was named after his father. Fucking Hohenheim the scholar. Out of spite he had never stepped foot in that particular part of the building. Then again having a wealthy father did allow him board and tuition at the best school in Amestris. Not that he needed the help, academics had never been the issue.
Currently he was in a foul mood. The rainy weather irritated the ports of his automail and the last thing he wanted to do was sit in a lecture hall while it throbbed. He wanted to retreat to the back of the room and sleep because this unit was entirely elementary. Its hard to take a class seriously when the professor was a quack. Ed found he did better on exams when he didn't listen to the man's cock and bull theories. Instead he was going to ponder something other than his irritating automail, he was going to sleep. That was the plan, until a wet country mouse showed up. There was something oddly and rather annoyingly familiar about the girl from his class. Attractive sure, but there was something about her that reminded him of the past.
All thoughts of sleeping went out the window as he caught a whiff of oil and lavendar. Feeling like a hound he hunkered down and flitted about his room picking up objects as he searched for the source. The search led him to a damp sweatshirt he had just recently thrown across his desk. Feeling vaguely creepy he sniffed at the sleeve and laughed. He had never met a girl that smelled like an autoshop and a flower. Interesting, maybe he should have asked what her name was.
The room to his door opened suddenly flew open, the need for knocking not a custom to the people living down the hall from him. Annoyed at the unannounced intrusion Feeling red handed Ed quickly dropped the sweatshirt.
"Hey boss man, you sleeping the day away?"
Besides Heymans, Jean was decidedly the loudest and rather intrusive man in his dorm. "I'm surprised you're not Havoc, especially after I heard you roll in around 4am." He raised his eyebrows at the party boy.
A grin stretched across his roughly shaved face. "Have you seen the girls on this campus?"
Edward rolled his eyes. "And how many of those girls have seen you and run?"
The blond laughed, looking sheepish. "Yeah well I make it a rule to not meet the same girl twice…if I can help it."
He thought of the blue eyed girl from the morning. "It's a small campus, aren't you the least bit worried this girls are going to figure out your game?"
"Yes." He admitted wistfully, "But until then I guess I'll just have to keep playing.
"I don't know why we're friends." He responded sarcastically.
Havoc frowned, "Sure you do. But as your friend I need to be honest and inform you that reading is not a college activity. You need to get out more Elric."
"Yeah and you need to study more, but we both know that won't happen either."
Folding his arms across his chest Havoc sighed. "College isn't just about academics Boss Man. This is about becoming a man and I think I can help you get there. Listen, the brothers of Beta Tau Alpha are holding their annual fall rush night and that's a guarantee for two things. First, free kegs, second beautiful, wild college girls." He added proudly. "Besides, as membership chair for BTA, it is my duty to bring in new members, what do you say?"
"You just want me to join your fraternity so your membership grade point average will go up." Ed countered.
Havoc feel silent for a moment before the grin returned to his face. "Well I guess that could be a reason, but we would need a hell of a lot more like you before we budge our GPA."
Ed had to admit, the fraternity life didn't exactly sound like something he'd be interested in, but it just might be something that could piss off his father. "Fine, count me in."
Havoc's mouth dropped open in surprise, "You're really going to show up?"
"Yeah." Ed voiced. "My dad was a Delta Tau."
Havoc groaned audibly, "Your dad was a DT? You do realize they are our number one rival here right?"
Edward shrugged, letting a shit eating grin widen on his face. "Yeah, nothing would piss him off more. So what time is this thing?"
"Come on Winry, you have to come out! I just know you'll have fun!" Rose gushed as she sat in front of the mirror.
Winry brushed her long blond hair, the bed behind her looking much more appealing than a night babysitting her roommate's drunken escapades. Not that she was planning on babysitting but judging from her roommates appearance in the morning Winry could do the math. Rose was a classic case of a sheltered, religious school girl that had suddenly discovered freedom. Winry was sure she was trying to cram 18 years' worth of misbehaving into the past three weeks since they had started at Central State University.
In an attempt to escape the pleading look of her roommate Winry shrugged her shoulders. "I have nothing to wear."
Rose rolled her eyes, "Worst excuse in the book. You're practically the same size as I am; go look through my closet."
When Winry made no move towards the closet Rose theatrically stormed across the room and threw the doors open. Having grown up without any sisters Winry wasn't sure if this was normal behavior, but she had her doubts. As Rose skimmed through her clothes Winry found her eyes widening in horror, what did they teach at all girls schools?
When Rose turned back around with a short black skirt and white v-neck Winry breathed again. It was a little revealing, but not flashy or as ostentatious as the other pieces were.
"So?" Rose asked practically bouncing in anticipation.
"I'll try it." Winry submitted skeptically. Reluctantly she pulled the shirt on and shimmied into the skirt. Wearing Rose's clothes almost felt like pulling on someone else's personality. "I don't know, maybe I should just stay in tonight."she mused softly. The image staring back at her looked
"You always stay in. It's Friday Winry, which means no class tomorrow."
Winry rolled her eyes. "I'm aware."
Rose huffed loudly, "Do you ever plan on ever having a social life? Besides are you even looking at yourself in that mirror? By the end of tonight you are going to have all the boys wrapped around your finger. I just don't see the issue here."
It was hard to object with her roommate so excited. To be fair they really didn't do much together so maybe it couldn't hurt to try to get to know her this way. Visit a few parties, have a few drinks and come home. Winry had drank before in Resembool, she could hold her booze. Scratch that, going out and drinking with Rose should never be put in the same sentence as good idea. So she resigned herself to whatever hair and makeup tutorials Rose felt it necessary to impose. Maybe a sister or mother should have showed her just how to do something like this. If only she had had one of those growing up.
"Thank me later." Rose smirked as she made her way over to their mini fridge. Pulling out a jug of orange juice she moved to her dresser draw. "You owe me; you wouldn't believe how long it took me to seduce the guy at the liquor store into letting me buy this." She yanked out a fifth of vodka, her eyes sparkling dangerously as she held it up in salute. "Bottoms up."
Swallowing nervously Winry fidgeted with a piece of her hair. Her gran had let her take a swig of whiskey a few times and of course they had drank beer on summer nights but never a fifth and never just two people. "You want to drink all of that?"
Rose laughed like it was the funniest thing she had heard in a long time. "No, we are going to drink it. Come on! Just have a few shots with me and I promise this night will be ten times better. Besides, didn't you tell me to never accept a drink at a party? We're being much safer this way."
How this girl came from a religious boarding school was mind boggling. Rose's logic was clearly misguided but Winry still felt a twinge of loneliness and the idea of sharing a night out made her feel like she was fitting in. Winry fingered the short edges of her skirt; a few drinks also might make the butterflies go away. Trying not to think about all the reasons why this was a bad idea Winry took a few gulps of the bottle like taking a swig of water. It didn't hit her until the liquid began to burn that this wasn't the sort of thing one could just continue to drink to quench their thirst. Her hands reached frantically for the orange juice. Cringing, Winry gulped down the chaser. Eyes watering Winry tried to keep from coughing it back up.
Rose rubbed her back comfortingly. "Wow champ, way to gulp that down." She laughed, "It's easier if you just take a quick swig. You don't have to chug it. Here-"
She grabbed the bottle, threw it back and then chased it down with a glass of juice. "See." Her lips curled up into a smile, "Not that bad." she extended the bottle towards her, "Try again."
Making a face Winry took a deep breath as he roommate motioned her on with her hands. "Bottoms up."
Tonight he had agreed to come to a fraternity party and after word got out he was considering pledging they had rolled out the red carpet. Potential members apparently were a commodity because his hand always had a beer, there was always a seat for him to sit and girls poured over him like freshman over a keg. At this point the drinks were flowing and after the fourth can he felt himself relax into the social gathering. Edward smirked as he took in his surroundings, his father would be ready with a full on lecture if he could see his son drinking at a college party. Then again, drinking was his father's remedy to their family problems, why couldn't it be his?
"Ladies, ladies, ladies!"
Looking over his shoulder he spotted Havoc welcoming a group of girls into the frat house. The place looked like it was at capacity but that didn't stop guests for coming in. The scene was a chaotic with personalities and relaxed inhibitions but Ed was content to just sit back and observe. He liked the way people just accepted strangers at a party, their guards thrown to the wind. He thought it must be nice to leave your baggage at the door and pretend to be someone else entirely.
Crunching an empty can in his hand he wondered what number it had been. Edward had stopped counting after six and from the way the room swayed it was long past seven. He was content to remain an observer in the background until a girl with a pink streak in her hair forced him back to reality. He stiffened as she stumbled into his lap, her hand carelessly falling onto his groin.
"Opps!" she giggled, her hand slowly retracting.
Edward could only blink owlishly as she stared back at him in curiosity, her mistake a thing of the past. "How come I've never seen you here before?" Her eyes lit up as she drunkenly played with his hair.
There was no denying the pleasure that came with teasing hands and the strange static of alcohol buzzing through his veins. Then again, the girl was obviously wasted and for a moment he wondered how far he could trust himself. He pushed away her hands, attempting to help her stand. "Maybe you were never really looking."
The girl laughed as if that were the funniest thing she had ever heard. "No, I've been looking. So why haven't I seen you before?"
Shrugging his shoulders he tried once again to help her up. Arguing with a drunken girl might be a bit more involved than he wanted at the moment. He was aware of girls like her that liked to dangle off a guy like sweat on humid day.
She swatted away his hands, drained his beer and threw the can over her shoulder in one fluid motion. "Looks like you're all out." She pouted sarcastically, "Guess we'll have to grab some more." The girl brushed her lips against his before settling by his ear. "We should check upstairs for more."
Upstairs? The idea sat funny in his daze because he was fairly certain she knew this wasn't his house. Maybe it was the alcohol or maybe he wasn't in the mood to object such an easy offer. Either way Edward received a few pats on the back as he stumbled after the brunette, even some words of encouragement, none of which really mattered. It took a few mumbled apologies before they managed to find an unlocked room. Havoc had told him that girls like this existed, but he was having a hard time remembering why the idea hadn't sounded good at the time. She stumbled right along with him, and though his body was telling him one thing he was still aware of the alcohol on her breath and the sound of people all around.
The door was barely shut when he was impressed by the sheer force of her. Pushing him off balance the girl tackled him onto the unmade bed. Ed wondered briefly whose room they had just invaded. As the room swayed back and forth in an unnatural and confusing way he began to lose any sense of reality. Where was he? Who was he? Damn, who was she? This was wrong on some level and he tried to push her away long enough to figure it out but she had already discarded her dress and was proceeding to straddle his hips. Oh god.
When he didn't respond to her prompts the girl took matters into her own hands. Even in his daze Edward knew this wasn't right and despite the beat of the music below, the need to piss his father off and several other motivating factors, he just couldn't. She had his shirt halfway off before he could grab her arms. Suddenly she was backing away as if she had touched a hot stove, her eyes wide as they stared at his automail arm she had just revealed.
There was actual fear in her eyes. "What are you, some kind of freak?"
That sobered him up real fast, the comment stirring up bad memories. Ed narrowed his eyes as he pulled his shirt back down. "It's none of your business." He had let this go too far already. The girl fell ungracefully to the floor in her attempt to retreat from the room. Edward grit his teeth and grabbed her arm before she stumbled out the door.
Going to a frat house when she couldn't even walk straight was not something Winry actually wanted to do. Then again Rose had a way of making anything sound good at the moment. She tried her best to stay as close to her roommate as possible but the sheer volume of people made it difficult. Winry realized that in her stupor she had no idea where she was or who these people were. The thought brought on a slight panic, but the silent buzz kept it from firmly taking root. It was only a matter of time before her roommate was lost to the crowd and Winry was stranded in a sea of strangers. Alone, drunk and feeling as if she might puke. Happy Friday to me.
While she tried scanning the room again Winry collided with a stranger. He turned around quickly, his eyes flashing for a moment before he looked her up and down. His face lit up at the sight of her and she was already being cast into his net. Winry quickly pulled her hair over her shoulder in an attempt to cover the cleavage he was staring at.
"What's a pretty girl like you doing all by herself?" He mused.
Winry shot another look around the room she was in, but still no sign of her roommate. The guy was twice her size making it hard to fight down her natural inclination to swat him like a fly. Trying not to create a scene Winry faked interest. "Thank you, but I didn't come here by myself, my roommate left me."
Weird, she didn't mean for that to come out. Winry knew she should have said she came with a boyfriend or something else to turn him off.
Looking like he had just won the lottery the college boy put an arm around her shoulder. "Here have some punch and then I'll help you look for your roommate."
It didn't take a genius to see through his pretense, but she was feeling cornered and very unlike herself. Maybe he would help her. The room ebbed and flowed and Winry found herself accepting the punch and following him. As if she was being launched into the future Winry wondered how she got upstairs or who the guy looming over her was. He was kissing down her neck and his hands were... she started to shake, her mouth not being able to form the word she wanted to say. Feeling queasy and upset she finally managed to get it out. "Get off." she tried.
Either he wasn't listening or he just didn't care because he wasn't doing as she asked. The fear building up, Winry knew the night had been one mistake after the next. Had it only been hours ago that she had decided to break all her rules? Scared of where this was headed, where it had already gone she threw her knee up, effectively hitting him where it would deal the most damage. As he moaned in pain she rolled out from under him and ran out of the room, slamming the door in her wake. Running down the hallway Winry realized the stairs were back past the door she had just come from and her world spun. Afraid that he would see her pass she opened the closest door to her and stepped in.
Relief, shock, embarrassment and finally anger washed over her like a tidal wave. Standing in her bra and underwear was Rose, a boy holding her back. She noticed the upset look on Rose's face and assumed the worst as she caught sight of the metal arm stopping her from escaping. Having so narrowly averted the same predicament Winry took off one of her heels and chucked it at his head.
"YOU LEAVE HER ALONE!" She yelled.
The guy released her roommate as he brought his hand up to his head instead. "What the hell?"
Rose stumbled towards her looking relieved. "Winry!" she gushed. "I can't believe I almost slept with a mutant!" She laughed as if this was a comical event and tried to walk past her towards the door but the guy blocked her off. This time Winry noticed the metal hand and felt her stomach drop. Now that she had really looked at the situation, she knew why the guy was halting her roommate. In his other hand he held out her roommates dress.
"Idiot, you left your dress." He growled out angrily.
Winry tried to process how she knew this guy but her stomach was rolling. Finding it hard to stand, she just stared at the boy from class, completely unaware that her roommate had left without the dress. Wait, why was he staring at her like that? Oh right. She wiped the tears from her face, trying to forget the memory of the guy's hands on her as much as she had forgotten most of the night already. She wished she could just go to sleep.
The crazy girl was friends with the blonde from his chemistry class? He could already tell this was a building nightmare and that was before she beamed him in the head with her shoe. "What the hell?"
It must have addled his brain because he was suddenly feeling like a turd watching as the blonde cried. Hadn't she hit him with a shoe? Feeling unsteady and irritated he tried to get her to stand still so he could properly explain but she sagged in his arms. With a grunt he tried to pick her back up and set her on the bed. Her eyes widened and a look of fear passed over her face, but at least the tears had stopped. He rolled his eyes as he kneeled down and slipped the shoe back on her foot. If she really knew him she would have laughed at the idea of him taking advantage of a girl.
Looking up at her he put a comforting hand on her knee. "I'm not going to hurt you." Getting hit in the head had a good way of sobering someone up he concluded. "I'll walk you home if you want." He offered.
Her eyes closed as if she were already half asleep. "Home is a long way away."
He gripped her shoulders, "Hey!" He snapped his fingers in front of her face. "Don't go to sleep." He ordered her, but it was too late the girl was out cold.