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Sound Business Practices

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When Paninya stumbles in through the door, Winry gasps and her eyes go wide, her hands frozen over an intricate piece of nerve wiring. “What did you do?”

“Don’t worry!” Paninya holds up her hands like she can push back Winry’s concern. As if. “It’s not as bad as it looks.” She sways and grabs the doorframe again – dizzy, alright, it happens – and tries to push herself into a more healthy-looking upright position, because Winry is still looking at her like that and she’s already regretting this interruption. “Really.”

“Your arm,” Winry says, and sets down the wrench she’s holding, half out of her seat at the workbench already as she starts to pull off her gloves.

“Oh. That.” Paninya sneezes, disturbing the fine layer of dust and plaster that covers her, which makes her sneeze again. “The Breuns’ repair shop roof has been leaking so I was over looking at it and it looked great from the ground so I went up to look closer and.”

She has to stop then because Winry is practically on top of her, silent and focused, hand closing around her wrist and tugging it out to extend her arm. Like always when she touches Paninya in the evenings after work, or briefly in the middle of lazy afternoons when traffic ebbs and they can be together, her fingers are warm, carrying the heat of molten metal despite all their gentleness.

“I thought if you weren’t working you could take a look at it,” Paninya says, and makes the mistake of looking down herself at the throbbing place on the inside of her arm where a jagged chunk of stone introduced itself to her on her abrupt journey down from the Breuns’ roof. The blood is red and glistening and ooze-y, streaked dark down her arm, and then Paninya’s brain gets all ooze-y too and the next thing she knows she’s opening her eyes in the chair in the corner with Winry bending over her, so close Paninya can count her eyelashes and feel warm breath tickling her cheek.

Paninya’s first thought is that this situation would be a lot more comfortable if she hadn’t just passed out on her girlfriend’s shop floor at the sight of her own blood, which embarrasses her enough to make her try to struggle out of the chair only to be stopped by a fuzzy white wave of dizziness and Winry’s hand firm on her shoulder.

“You stay right there,” Winry says. “Drink this.”

Still dizzy, Paninya takes the water Winry presses into her hand without arguing and drinks it in sips, careful not to look this time when Winry takes hold of her arm. She hopes her hands aren’t trembling too obviously.

“Hmm.” There’s wetness, and the feeling of Winry’s fingers, probbing carefully around the place where it aches. She’s smiling a little now, which doesn’t help with Paninya’s dizziness. “I think I can fix you up. It needs to be cleaned, but we won’t have to amputate.”

“Sorry,” Paninya says.


“We won’t have to amputate.” Paninya grins through the next wave of dizziness. The smile feels lopsided on her face, but Winry looks up and smiles in response, and clouds and butterflies fill her chest. “You’re probably disappointed. No automail necessary.”

“Funny.” Winry pretend-frowns, her lips pursed together, and fastens a bandage around Paninya’s arm with the same practiced ease she uses for automail tuneups. “There. You’ll be fine, but try to go easy on the lifting for the next week. And be more careful! What if the ceiling had been higher?”

“Thank you, doctor.” Paninya wriggles her eyebrows and tries another grin, feeling better already.

“I’ll have to take you to a real doctor if you don’t listen up,” Winry says, but it’s obvious she’s trying not to laugh as she tugs the bandage tight.

“It wouldn’t be the same.”

“You’re right about that.” Winry sits back for just a second to wipe her hands clean on a towel she pulls from the workbench. “You wouldn’t get the signature Rockbell treatment from Doctor Estevan.”

Paninya decides to push her luck. “I wouldn’t get the signature Rockbell kiss from Doctor Estevan either.”

“Hmm. I don’t think that’s ever been included in our services.”

“You could start now.” When Winry’s eyebrow twitches higher, Paninya scrambles for reasoning to back herself up but her mind goes gooey under Winry’s stare and she has to settle for “…Sound business practices?”

“Oh, fine.” Winry sets the towel aside, her cheeks going pink. “Here.” She leans in and kisses Paninya’s wrist quickly, just below the bandage, lips dry and ticklish on the inside of Paninya’s arm. When she stretches up to look into Paninya’s face again, she rolls her eyes at the smile. “Seriously, you need to be more careful,” she says, and kisses her.