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Disclaimer: I own not anything involving Full Metal Alchemist. It belongs to Arakawa Hiromu.

Tears (after 51 limited spoilers, PG)

A decade.

She sits on the bench, staring across the courtyard.

A decade.

Suddenly she is seven again, all alone and mourning.

She is nearly eighteen now, only a few short days between her and legal adulthood.

She already has adult status among the healers, since the night blood-covered hands saved blood-stained hands.

She does not want to tell him that, tell him that in healers' eyes his actions made she and her mother adults. And yet she wants to scream it in his face.

She hears something behind her, an odd mechanical creaking.

He's pulling himself around the building in that wheelchair again.

She won't acknowledge him. Not today.

He should still be in bed.

He should be leaving me alone.

Leaving me alone.


He is there suddenly, shaky in a flimsy wheelchair with his left arm in a sling and shoulder splint.

The healer training speaks under and through the grief. He shouldn't be outside. He shouldn't be out of bed. He's too weak and the pain drugs are too strong.

"Miss Rockbell?" His voice cracks and fails twice as he struggles through her last name.

He does not ask if she was okay.

He does not try to apologize.

He just sits there with his right arm held limply to the side. "If you need a human shoulder to cry on..."

She is clinging to him a few seconds later, wailing against the base of his neck. She feels him stiffen under her, then relax as he brings his arm around her and cradles the back of her head gently with his hand.

She tries not to be comforted by it and fails.

When she has finally cried all she has in her to cry and his hospital shirt is soaking wet under her face, she blinks a bit without moving much at all and looks up at the wall beyond him.

There, on the fourth floor, in a window...

Aren't those the flowers Ross and Sheska brought two weeks ago to brighten up the suite once the surgeons said it was safe for him to move around a bit in it? That's his favorite looking at the sky window.

How long was I down here before he showed up?

He saw me here and came down?

She sniffles for a moment more.

"Feeling any better?" he whispers.

She nods ever so slightly. "Thank you for caring that I was down here."

He pulls away slightly, something like shock in his eye. "It's the least I could do." Then he looks away.

She can see the slightest glimmer of something in the corner of his eye.

"No. The least you could do is ignore that Grandmother and I exist." She keeps her words even, trying to keep her voice from hitching, and her voice quiet, not wanting the world to hear. "The least you could do is walk away and forget. The least you could do was live the rest of your life convinced you had not done anything wrong."

He looks up, eye wide.

"You haven't done the least you could do. Not by a long shot."

The wind picked up, a sign of the winter storms only a few weeks away.

"And if we don't both get back inside, we're both going to end up sick. You don't need a cough or a cold on top of that arm, Mr. Fuhrer." No nonsense, she got up and within a few seconds was pushing him towards the door to get back in the building.

"Miss Rockbell..."

"And how bad is it going to look if the Fuhrer comes through pulling himself along in a wheelchair using his feet with a perfectly healthy healer walking beside him?"

"You do have a point." He relaxes and goes along with the ride.

Once they are alone on a ramp between floors, he whispers ever so softly, "I am sorry."

And she whispers back, "I already knew that."

Where? (after 51 very limited spoilers, PG)

The old—well, adult and revered—Ishbalan stood to leave, wrap draped over one arm gracefully. "I am glad we can all sit and discuss things like civilized beings now," he says to the gathered leaders.

She is watching from just outside, the healer's demand for an experienced eye on the Fuhrer's condition as he attended the meeting the only thing between him and being drugged into obedient bedrest.

"I must go now and take these proposals to the camps of my people outside the city. I will be back in two days with the results of our own considerings."

Murmurs of assent from around the room.

The door opens and he closes it again behind him.

He is even more exotically elegant this up close. She has seen him before from a distance, when she met Rick and Leo for the second time. Now, she can see him for what he is: a dignified leader of a people who never let themselves forget they were a people.

"You are their daughter, aren't you?"

She starts at the whispered question.

"Urey. Sara. They were your parents."

"Yes, Sir."

"They were good friends to my people. I have heard about you from the young ones and from idle words around the city.

"They would have been proud of you."


"You may work with things some say Ishbalah proscribes, but you are the heir of his mindhealing and of her herb knowledge. You have a good heart, and a bold one."

"Thank you. You knew them?"

"I did. Not as close friends, but enough that I feel blessed to have known them what time I did."

"I don't know much about them."

"So I have heard. They met in the Eastern library; has anyone ever told you that?"

She feels her eyes go wide. "Someone tried to, but my cousins stopped her. She died not a year after they did."

"They were both researching ways to deal with pain. They ended up looking through the same book at the same time. Something about the mind making the body feel false pain. They told me that ever since that day they had been an inseparable team, and I could see in their eyes that it was true. If ever Ishbalah truly made a couple into one being, he did so for them."

A single tear works its way down her face. "Thank you. Thank you so much."

He smiles at her and moves to leave the building. "You are remembering them the right way, Miss Winry Rockbell. Not like the way my pupil Karim tried to remember his people. Oh, the losses we suffered... he and his brother Makram... if things had ended differently, they would be leading our people by now. Karim the devoted of Ishbalah and Makram who studied forbidden ways out of devotion to his people and his woman." A strange something enters his eyes. "We say we forget those we exile. We lie."

"Karim was..."

"The one you know as Scar."

"He was your pupil?"

"I was the one who managed to stop the killing. Not that I would declare it to the Fuhrer, but... Karim lost sight of the laws of Ishbalah in favor of revenging those who violate the somewhat lesser laws of Ishbalah. Souls are more important than anything material." He smiles at her again. "We share that with you healers."

"Yes. I am glad we share that."

"Your parents taught me that your people believed the same. If I had not known them... I might not have tried so hard to convince Karim to stop. We must talk again some time, young healer." He pauses for a moment. "It really is a pity."

"That my parents are gone?"

"No. I have seen you and he outside when he needs the outer air and Ishbalah's open skies. If you had been any other healer and he any other soldier, you would have made a good match, child. It is a pity."

Her jaw is still hanging open as he walks through the door and out into the summer air of Central.

When? (after 51 limited spoilers, PG)

He is rolling through the halls with Winry again because he needs to get away from the same walls he has been seeing for days now.

"Happy birthday, Winry." The words come from one of the herb-women who work there, drab but elegant in the simple country clothes they all seem to wear even here in the city.

"Thanks, Joanna, but you know I don't celebrate..."

"Then perhaps this year is the time to start again, girl." She walks on, purposeful in her steps.

"Today is your birthday?"

"Yep. I'm eighteen." There is an edge in her voice.

"Happy birthday."

"Like I told her, I don't celebrate it. My birthday just happens. I get another year older. That's it."

"Miss Rockbell..."

"The last thing anyone ever gave me for my birthday was my cousins butting in when one of Mom's friends was trying to tell me about when they met, how they fell in love. My cousins decided it was more important for me to want revenge than to really get to know who my parents were. That friend died of pneumonia later that winter. I still don't know the story she was trying to tell me. It was something about a library somewhere."

He sits in silence as they keep moving.

"And then things just hurt too much the next year and I guess we just got out of the habit of doing much more than informing the school I was a year older. I just kept track of things by remembering I was a number older than Edward for a little over a month each year. It isn't like birthdays matter all that much anyway to a healer. We measure things on other timelines, other standards."

"Miss Rockbell?"


"Happy birthday anyway."

He looks up in time to see a hesitant smile flash across her face.

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