jlady_fics: (Writer at Work)
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Title: Belonging

Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist (anime, post-movie)

Disclaimer: FMA belongs to Hiromu Arakawa. It is not mine.

Characters/Pairings: Winry Rockbell, Kain Fuery/OC, other OCs

Rating: PG-13, mainly for ouchies.

Warning: This was written for an International Day Against Homophobia challenge. Therefore, there are not-sexually-explicit non-heterosexual relationships mentioned in the fic. If you have issues with this, the back button is your friend. Likewise, if you are here looking for hot yaoi sex, the back button is also your friend.

Summary: Winry Rockbell has moved to a recovering Central City and discovers she's following closer in her parent's footsteps than she could have imagined.

Notes for those not familiar with the series (as I am submitting this to a multi-fandom thing): Winry's parents died during a war for treating patients from both sides of the conflict. Edward and Alphonse were her childhood friends, and their commanding officer was Roy Mustang. Automail is a mechanical type of prosthetic that simulates the movements of the original limb; due to the nerve endings involved, installation and major maintenance are highly painful.

There had been another incident at the bar a block down the street and around the corner tonight. She'd gotten used to staying up until after the bar closed and falling to sleep with the sound of happy voices walking below her window, just in case the night ended differently.

Winry stood in the safe room, arranging things.

It was odd to already be so automatic about such things, but it was the fifth incident in the three weeks since she'd moved in. The local automailer had been killed in the attack that took Edward and Alphonse away, and she was old enough and skilled enough to do at least repair work on her own, so...

The community needed a doctor, and she needed a place to be. Simple as that, and there was a Rockbell permanently based in Central.

She had liked the city the few times she had been there. Even the first visit had its high points. She could be Winry Rockbell, Automail Mechanic, here, not 'That Poor Little Orphan Girl'. She could see that in people's eyes sometimes at home, and she didn't like it one bit.

It certainly was an odd little neighborhood. Most of the area was merchant or low-officer-rank soldier class housing, but the start of the buildings priced for the workers in the nearby industrial area was only a few blocks away. There were empty apartments everywhere. She had two upstairs she should be renting out soon. For one reason or another, she'd been given the building in the will, as the new mechanic; she supposed Klaus Siegel had wanted none of his patients to need to figure out a new location, particularly given the perennial bar fight problem. One renter had moved out to better lodgings. She didn't know what had happened to the man who had stayed in the fourth floor.

The expected knock on her door.

She went to open it. She peeked through a hole in the door and saw Mr. Ebner, the security bruiser from the bar, outside before she let him in.

With him was the expected patient and a human crutch.

"Another bar fight?"

The injured man nodded slightly, trembling.

Mr. Ebner closed the door as she helped her new patient hobble into the prepared room. "Yet another unfamiliar face coming in for a drink and attacking three shots in. We got the problem out of the bar before he could do much damage. A few cuts, bruises on the rest of us. Kain here's the only one he managed to do any real damage to."

There were speckles of blood on the floor, trailing to where Kain was being helped in lying down on his front against the thin padding of her examination table.

"What happened?"

"He got thrown into the bar mirror," his companion bit out, running a hand through his own brown hair. "He didn't land in the shards."

"Shattered?"

Mr. Ebner nodded.

She walked over and took a look. "It looks like you missed most of the big pieces, Kain." His suit jacket and shirt were shredded in a few places, but the pieces of glass still in him or on his clothing were small. "You seem to have just hit the glass with your back. The jacket and the shirt are a lost cause, but I think we can get you in fairly good shape with a little work."

She saw Kain's companion's fingers tighten around Kain's hand.

She put a hand on each of their shoulders, making sure not to get near where the glass and cuts were. "It's going to be okay." She turned to the companion. "And your name is?"

"Johan."

"Well, Johan, I need you to keep doing what you're doing right now so I can give your buddy here some painkillers before I try to dig that stuff out of his back, okay?"

A nervous nod and another squeezed hand.

"Mr. Ebner? Can you find some more gauze? I think this is going to take more than I have up here." She heard his footsteps leaving. She rolled back Kain's sleeve, both layers, and grabbed the syringe she'd left lying on a nearby table. "This will hurt for a moment. I just need to get your pain down and let you have a little while to recover before I get that stuff out of your back, okay, Kain?"

"Fine." His voice was wavering.

He flinched when she gave him the injection. "You're safe now. Scratched up, but I don't think there's anything major. Just let that work." She pulled a chair next to the bed. "Johan, this is going to take a while. Sit."

Kain started visibly relaxing. "Calming down now?"

"Yes. You're Klaus's replacement?" He blinked at her from under ruffled black hair.

"Looks like it. My name is Winry Rockbell..."

"Of Rizembool?"

She stared.

"Edward is... we were under the same command."

"You were on Mustang's staff before Bradley died?"

"Yes. Master Sergeant until the attacks. I don't know how high the promotions will go once the generals figure out what they need to do to fill in for the dead. I do communications work. Electronics." She could see tears at the corners of his eyes.

"The casualty reports I heard were bad." She rested a hand on his arm. "Particularly for the military."

"We got lucky. No one who was in Mustang's office staff before the coup got seriously hurt." His eyelids were starting to drift.

Mr. Ebner came back in.

"Kain, I'm going to start working on your back now. Tell me if anything starts hurting more than you can handle. Johan, just keep comforting him like you've been doing. And hand me that pair of scissors over there, so I can get him out of this jacket and shirt."

...

Morning, at long last. She'd had to make absolutely sure every little speck of glass possible was off of him, so there wouldn't be any more damage done.

Kain was asleep in the safe room, bandaged and healing. Bruises were beginning to show fully, but that was to be expected. He was lucky he'd fallen onto the barkeeper on his way down, or he'd have cuts on his front too and likely have broken bones.

Johan was snoring next to him, sprawled halfway onto the cot from his chair and hand still clinging to Kain's.

Winry draped a blanket over Johan and smiled weakly. At least Kain would be in condition to return to duty when he needed to, according to something he'd told her as she worked. He had enough time to get initial healing started. He'd need a few minor stitches removed in a week or two, but they weren't in places that could pull without extreme effort.

She stepped out and into the waiting area. She had been in that room, and awake, too long and knew it.

Mr. Ebner was stretched out on a sofa, his slightly greying hair roughly finger-brushed back.

Winry collapsed into a particularly fluffy chair, running her fingers through her own hair before burying her face in her hands and rubbing at tired eyes. "How do you stand this?"

"It used to be worse." He didn't open his eyes. "There's a reason that room got called the safe room. Couldn't be sure you were safe until you got that far. Running battles in the street more than once. Didn't matter if you were going to die anyway; once folk got to the safe room they could do so in peace with their friends and partners comforting them."

She thought she could see a sheen on his cheeks.

"People died, sometimes. More than sometimes, if someone with a loud tongue stirred people up. And it's no accident that our medical decision of choice to run to was the local mechanic." He flexed his left foot deliberately, and she could hear the gears whirring.

She didn't know how she hadn't noticed.

"I was twenty. Klaus hadn't become an apprentice yet." His voice stuck somehow on the name. "Before him was Reynold."

She had no clue what to say.

"Doesn't matter that the scriptures that formed the opinions aren't in general use anymore, and the few that touch them don't care much for the counsel of those verses. Doesn't matter that we're equal in the law, even under Bradley. Doesn't matter that Kain there could rise in rank to General one day and openly live with Johan at the same time.

"The fights still happen. But no one dies, usually. And most of the automail needed is for oldsters like me, or the neighborhood soldiers. We still get the three shots of whiskey and a fist cases. Better than when someone came with a shotgun the night I lost my foot."

Something struck her, leaving her feeling like she'd physically been hit. "You and Doctor Siegel were..."

He nodded, and she knew she wasn't imagining the wetness of his face.

"You were the one living up on the fourth floor. If it wasn't for the will, this place would be yours."

"Miss Rockbell, this building has been the automailer's residence in this neighborhood since it was built. And the building that had stood here was the automailer's residence before that. I knew I'd be moving if..." His shoulders heaved for a second. "We just didn't think that would be the case."

She sat in the quiet for a moment, then reached out at laid a hand on his shoulder. She didn't know what else to do. This was like a war, with casualties and survivors and different levels of risk, but there was no way to call a truce and it just kept going. She didn't want to ask what had happened to the old building. There was just so much...

...and she was an automail mechanic, trained to deal with some of the worst injuries that could be dealt to humans and be survived. Prepared to be an anchor during pains that couldn't be fixed, just adapted to. Informed that no matter where she set up shop, the desperately injured, whether suffering from amputations or not, would appear on her doorstep at all hours.

This was what she'd been working toward since the birthday when her father and mother had given her a woolly stuffed wrench set in bright colors in the morning and caught her banging them on her grandmother's worktable that night. She had the photos tucked upstairs on a shelf. What she'd understood when they'd left for the war, and comprehended when they didn't come back again.

He reached up and laid his hand on hers.

"I need a renter. You could move back in, if you want. The top floor's empty and waiting."

Silence.

"I'm paying you rent."

"Mr. Ebner..."

"Call me Frank. And I'm not staying here for free. I didn't even stay here for free when Klaus... I've always paid my share, and I'm not giving you less help paying for upkeep than I gave to him."

"Deal."

He squeezed her hand.

After a few long moments, he sat up. "I suppose someone should go get the makings of mid-morning brunch for all of us." There was an extra stress on 'someone'. "You and Johan are going to need it, at the least, and Kain's got some healing to do."

"Mr. Ebner..."

"Frank. I took naps last night. You couldn't. Besides, I need to get out and walk for a while- have to figure out a way to tell Kain I stepped on his glasses while we were getting him out of there last night. I'll be back soon."

He stood and headed towards the door. She thought she saw him favoring his automail foot. There was no way she could point it out, and no way she would. Relationships between mechanics and automailed lovers were especially intimate, particularly on the lover's side. It would be a while before he would consider any maintenance that was not absolutely required.

Given that his knee seemed biological, Frank Ebner might be able to decide to never have maintenance work done again. His job would be more of an issue with that than living on the fourth floor would be.

He left.

She walked to the door behind him and stood in the sidewalk for a moment. She could hear the noise of early Saturday morning on the street. A few men and women in uniform were saying goodbye to their families at the doors, off to weekend duties. A block down the road, the family from across the street was being dragged towards the nearest park, a pair of couples who ran the flower shop and hardware store and were raising four children in common. Winry still hadn't figured out which of the two men and which of the two women were the biological parents of each kid, and she suspected that was part of the point of them all living in one connected three floor sprawl over the flower shop.

She picked the milk up from beside the door, and went back inside. She put the milk in the icebox in the small ground floor kitchen, then walked back to the safe room, climbed onto one of the empty cots, and tried to sleep.

She felt something soft fall on her. She opened her eyes to see Johan tuck the blanket around her shoulder. "Thank you, healer."

She smiled sleepily and closed her eyes again.

She was finally starting to belong here... Finally felt like a home...

Date: 2007-05-18 02:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spikespetslayer.livejournal.com
Wonderfully done...you showed the devotion and love between the couples quite well and it did fit the prompt nicely...

Thank you for sharing...

Date: 2007-07-14 09:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tenshiyaki.livejournal.com
Beautiful, peaceful piece. It has a very mature tone to it and I like your great characterization of Winry. Wonderful job! :]

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