for Morning is made
of mysteries and uncertainties
the hopes of beginnings
the risks of unknowns
the potential for greatness
~ -:- ~
The sunlight of a newborn day peeps through the window behind her and coaxes its way past the curtains, falling across a table covered in sprawling wires and metal parts to touch golden strands of hair. A girl just shy of 17 years stands bent over her work with lips pursed, oblivious to everything but the stubborn bolt she's attempting to wrestle into its socket.
The phone rings from a few feet away, and she automatically reaches for it and tucks it under her chin, still keeping her focus on the new shoulder plates being assembled.
"Rockbell Automail Repair and Maintenance, Winry speaking."
Silence. And then:
The wrench falls from her fingers and clatters to the floor. For a second her mind goes numb, as if those two simple words had struck some kind of mental funny bone, and the only coherent thing she can whisper is his name: "Ed?"
"Yeah. I know it's been a while."
"I-I'll say!" she manages to gasp out, one hand fumbling around for a kitchen chair to collapse into; and the numbness gives way to a flood of...something. She can't tell if it's joy, relief, rage, or a combination of all three. "What have you been doing all this time, anyway?"
"Heh, you have no idea; there's so much to tell you. Anyway, I'm sorry," says Edward, sheepish and apologetic (and is it her imagination, or does she hear a hint of eagerness there, too?), "but, um...can you come to Central?"
"Al's here, too. I'm at the hospital."
The flood swells into a tempest. Something snaps inside her, like a worn-out rubber band that's been stretched too tight for too long, and shaky, frightened, frustrated words lash out:
"You go off for four months to go fight some big, epic, life-and-death battle, everyone in Amestris passes out for no reason and I don't get one phone call from you, and then you ring me up out of the blue just to tell me you need maintenance? And you're hospitalized?" The questions tumble out of her, practically tripping over each other in desperation to be let free; she's held them back for so long. "Where the heck have you been? What happened?! And why did it take so long for you to contact me again? Why didn't you call or send a letter or something to let me know you were...okay?"
Her voice breaks on the last syllable and she feels hot tears pricking at her eyes, but she sets her jaw and firmly pushes them down. Both of them made a promise, and she has no intention of breaking it now.
Then, she hears him say softly,
"I'm...sorry, Winry. I didn't mean to make you worry so much. You're right; I should have talked to you sooner, especially after something so big. God, I'm an idiot..."
She can't see his face, but...he really does sound sorry...
"You aren't crying, are you?" he suddenly asks, slight panic in his tone.
"No, I'm not." Winry sighs as the anger drains away, leaving a twinge of mild irritation behind. He's safe, he's alive, and that's all that matters. She presses on with her usual tirade of questions. "So what did you do to yourself this time? And what's the situation with your automail?"
"Um, yeah. About that..." Ed's voice is flat. "It's gone."
"There isn't a screw left of it."
"Edward Elric, you are SO dead..."
"I know, I know, I'm sorry. I just really need you to come down here; it's important-"
"And how exactly did you obliterate my handiwork this time?"
"Well, it's...it's complicated..."
"Oh for crying out loud, I just want to know how you blew up the darn thing! How 'complicated' could it possibly be?"
"Look, I'll explain everything once you get here. And it's not as bad as it sounds, I promise."
"Oh sure it's not, not when you've gone and...oh, forget it," she huffs. (Honestly, how many more of these destructive escapades is he planning to go on?) Reminding herself for the umpteenth time that this is just her typical Ed, she pulls the scattered pieces of her mind together. "Anyway, why do you want me to go down there if your arm's been totally smashed? If it's that bad, shouldn't you finish recovering and come up here so I can build a new one for you?"
"Ermm..." He makes an uncomfortable noise, hesitates for a moment, and his next words all come out in an awkward rush. "Well...what I was thinking was, um...you could come down here to make the measurements you need, then go back to Resembool and build a new one while I'm still at the hospital, and when I'm ready to leave I'll come up to your place and you can put the finished product on me. Or something like that. Oh, and...could you bring some of your apple pie with you? Please? The hospital food is awful."
Winry blinks, then narrows her eyes. On second thought, this isn't so typical. Something feels extremely...off. It's not like him to be so rambling and vague...and he doesn't say "please" unless it's something he badly wants...
"S-sure," she stammers, shaking her head and tucking those thoughts away for later. "I would've brought some, anyway, but...Ed, this is stupid. What's going on? I don't understand why you can't just finish recovering and come up here yourself; it'll be less of a hassle for both of us..."
"Err...i-it'll save more time this way. I know I'm asking a lot of you, but you'll just have to trust me. I need you to come."
"Fine, whatever," grumbles Winry. "I'll be there as soon as I can."
"Good." He lets out a long breath, almost as if he's just finished wrestling with a hard calculation, which only adds to her suspicion about the whole situation. "Thanks so much; you're a hero."
She snorts. "Right. As if I'm the one who saved Amestris from certain doom which I'm assuming you two and the rest of those goons succeeded at, since Resembool still appears to be in one piece," she dryly adds.
And Edward laughs. A wonderful, clear, genuine laugh with no hint of bitterness in it. The sound sends warm reassurance washing over her, loosening up all the uncomfortable knots in her chest and coaxing a few bubbles of laughter from her own lips; and Winry knows everything will be fine as long as he can still laugh like that.
"You've just saved my sanity," he says, a grin in his voice, "and that's no small feat, either."
And she is suddenly happy - so, so happy that she's agreed to go see him.
Some more short unimportant words she can't remember are spoken, goodbyes and see-you-laters are exchanged, she hears a click, the dial tone buzzes in her ear, and she's left to pack for a trip to Central and mull over what was said...
...Or left unsaid, Winry thought, trying in vain to stop replaying the conversation in her head. The carriage swayed slightly as the train went around another bend and she leaned back into the corner where her seat met the wall, blue eyes lost in thought as she stared out the window. A murmured half-plea brushed mist against the glass:
"What are you up to, Ed?"
The rise and fall of his voice, the slight changes in tone...every detail pricked and tickled at her, persistent, irritating. There had been restraint in his words; she was sure of that. But what was he holding back from her? Nothing added up, nothing made sense. The whole thing felt like a gigantic riddle; the sort that that seems impossible to solve but has a ridiculously simple answer to it.
"It's not as bad as it sounds, I promise."
(Promises. What tricky things they were, especially with him. He'd made so many of them; to his brother, to himself, to her...so many, neither broken nor fulfilled, and only time would tell the difference...)
She grunted in frustration and slid the window open, resting her arms on the sill, hoping to lose herself in the world roaring past and the wind blasting in her face and the rhythm of wheels against tracks. The last thing she needed right now was more stress. Stress over nothing, probably...or making molehills into mountains, as Granny had put it while helping her pack.
Of course, the fluttering ache in her chest wasn't helping, either.
"This is just another trip," she muttered to herself; "Just another case of Edward-carelessly-destroys-automail-and-calls-for-mechanic-while-trying-to-avoid-her-wrath. Right?"
But why was everything telling her otherwise?
Winry groaned and buried her face in her arms. This was going to be a long ride.