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Playing to an Audience of One

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Playing to an Audience of One
Evil_Little_Dog
Disclaimer: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Holstein.
Rating: Adult. Yeah.

* * *

~ Kimbley ~

* * *

The boy, Kimbley thought, really was clueless in the ways of the world. Oh, yes, he'd allowed Fullmetal to disclose all his secrets to the girl – how more effective of a way to turn her into a hostage than that? Letting her know she was the collar around the dog's neck had caused a delightful reaction. Now it was time to shorten up the leash and show them both who was in control.

The girl waited outside with Heinkel and Darius while he discussed the issues with Fullmetal. The boy was a delight – the kind that, were the country a few hundred years earlier, songs would be written about. He had that heroic air to him and, of course, that tragic past. Kimbley wondered if he would've been included in that song; how the lyrics might be written so as not to offend sensibilities but still tell the tale. No matter. Perhaps he'd write the song himself.

"Is there anything else?" Fullmetal slouched in his chair, arms folded, eyes cold and glittering like coins.

"Well, yes." Kimbley took a sip of his tea, smiling around the rim of the cup. "I want you to take Miss Rockbell."

A long, slow blink happened before his expression twisted with suspicion. "Take her where?"

"Take her, Fullmetal." How old was the boy, anyway? Sixteen? What was he, a slow learner? Rising to his feet, Kimbley went to the door. He shook his head at the chimeras, laying his hands on the girl's shoulders and guiding her into the room. Closing the door behind them, he locked it with a decided click, seeing the girl flinch slightly in response.

"You're letting us go?" Fullmetal started to his feet.

That was hope in the boy's eyes. "Why would I do that? So I could be punished?" Kimbley shook his head, speaking slowly. "It's been a very long time and I like a show."

"Show?" Was the boy really that dense?

"Ed." The girl trembled under his hands. Maybe she wasn't as clueless as Fullmetal.

"Yes. Look at her, Fullmetal." Kimbley caught a strand of her hair, sniffing at it. So fresh, so clean. Releasing the strand, he swept his hand along her torso. "Look at her. I'm giving you a gift and all I want to do is watch." Yes, she was shaking now, so hard his hand resting on her shoulder vibrated.

The light went on over the boy's head, his larynx bobbing. The shocked expression changed to rage in barely the space of an eyeblink. "That's not part of the deal!"

Kimbley slipped his arm around the girl, pulling her back against him. His forearm pressed into her chest, her ass tucked up against his crotch. Oh, long-legged girls were the best. "Isn't it, Fullmetal? Do you really want to know what could happen to her if you don't do what I say?" He rested his chin on the girl's shoulder. She smelled so sweet, her cheek brushing against his. She was trying to stay so still. "Do you?"

That creaking sound was from the boy's automail. He looked ready to leap across the room, probably would if the girl wasn't right in front of Kimbley. "Let. Her. Go." Each word was ground out between clenched teeth.

"I'll be happy to release her to you, Fullmetal, as long as you two provide me a little entertainment." Kimbley dragged his eyes down the boy's form. He quivered with what Kimbley hoped wasn't impotent fury or at least an emotion that could be harnessed into something else. "So? What will it be?"

"Nnnggg." His head jerked to the side, his eyes clenched closed, but his hand reached out, palm up.

Kimbley smiled, dropping his arm away from the girl's chest, pushing her gently toward Fullmetal. "You have a good time, Miss Rockbell," he whispered. She staggered, her legs stiff and quaking. Fullmetal had to catch her before she fell, his hands on her shoulders, his glower focused on Kimbley. Kimbley smiled urbanely in return. "Well, Fullmetal? I'm waiting."

His glare seemed to sizzle the air between them though he pulled the girl a little closer. "Ed?" Her voice quavered but she retained enough sense of self to shoot Kimbley an angry look over her shoulder. "We don't really have to do this."

"Oh, you do, Miss Rockbell. Fullmetal understands completely what will happen if you don't." Kimbley sat down again, taking a sip of his tea. It had gotten cold. "Please, proceed."

Fullmetal took a deep breath. His glare flared up again but dimmed as he turned to the girl. His voice was low but the room was small enough that even a whisper would carry. "Winry, I'm sorry. I never…I mean…when I thought about…this…I never…."

"You thought about this?" Sharp anger stiffened her body.

"Not this!" Fullmetal snapped back at her. "Never like this!" His hand flapped at Kimbley. "After Al…you know!"

The girl's mouth made an 'o'. "…Really?"

He ducked his head, looking at her through his bangs. "Yeah." The boy sighed heavily, his hands flexing on her shoulders. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry you got dragged into this and I'm sorry that…that…."

Kimbley sighed, setting the cup down with a decided click. "I am waiting and there are time constraints involved here, Fullmetal."

The boy jerked his head up, showing all his teeth in an impressive snarl. Kimbley was reminded of Envy for a moment before that furious gaze switched to something a bit more tender as he looked at the girl. Kimbley shifted in his seat, a slow smile curling the corners of his mouth. Yes, this should be interesting.

* * *
~ Winry ~

* * *

We don't have to do this. The words screamed in her head but wouldn't even come out. Ed had already told her they did and from Mr. Kimbley's expression, something bad would happen if they didn't. You just want to get your bodies back and…I'm one more obstacle. The thought made her close her eyes, her shoulders stiffening under Ed's hands. I'm so stupid. Winry really thought she should've figured it out. Ed never called her to talk to her, he wasn't at all tactful except the one time – but she'd been so pleased he'd called, she hadn't really questioned what would make him do that.

I don't want to do this. Not now. Never with an audience. And…it was her first time. Though Winry didn't believe the 'magical encounter' stories she'd heard from other girls or read about in books, she thought it would be special, with someone she knew loved her.

Oh, Winry was sure Ed did love her in some way, but not if he was in love with her, and that made the difference. Even though he said he'd thought about this, Winry didn't know if he really meant it or was just trying to comfort her or something. The way Ed glared at Mr. Kimbley, he might not even remember she was in the room, except his hands kept moving back and forth over her shoulders. And that could be nervous energy.

Winry considered her options. That didn't take very long – there was just one, really, unless Ed suddenly transmuted them out of the room and from his hesitation, Winry guessed that wasn't going to happen. Especially not with Al still locked up. Ed can't protect both of us. The realization slapped her in the face, almost rocking her back with the force of it. Winry didn't want to be the one dividing his loyalties and that meant she had to do something.

She ground her teeth together, gathering all her will. If they had to put on a show to get the hell out of this, then Mr. Kimbley was going to get a show. Forcing her body to relax, Winry flattened her hands on Ed's stomach. It was tight, hard, under his black shirt, and she made sure drag her palms up toward his chest then back down again. The shirt wrinkled under her hands but didn't untuck and Winry mentally growled, grabbing a handful of fabric and tugging.

"Winry!" Ed's attention was focused on her now though Winry ignored him as she pulled his shirt free from both belt and waistband.

She glared up at him (up? When did that happen?), the corners of her mouth turning down. "You heard Mr. Kimbley, didn't you?" Pushing his shirt out of the way, Winry ran her fingers over Ed's stomach right above the waistband of his pants. His skin jumped and quivered under her touch and Ed grimaced, grabbing for her hands. Winry snatched her fingers away, her brows drawing further down. If Ed didn't play along, someone was going to be hurt. Winry wasn't going to let that happen. "Look, Ed, you'll like this." At least, the older girls said boys did and Mr. Garfiel seemed to think it was something wonderful, when he'd tell her and Paninya stories on slow days at the shop.

"You should let her have her way, Fullmetal." Mr. Kimbley's voice slunk across her shoulder and it was all Winry could do to keep from vomiting. "You might enjoy it." He paused and Winry could almost see his oily smile. "I might enjoy it."

Ed's fists clenched and his body tensed up again. Winry dug her fingers into the waistband of his trousers, giving the fabric a sharp jerk. "Damn it, Winry - "

Why was this so hard? Winry kissed Ed, hoping that would shut him up and, from the shocked expression exploding in his eyes, she thought she might have finally gotten his full attention. His mouth remained both slack and unyielding under hers but at least he was quiet. She pulled back just far enough to lick her lower lip (chapped, of course), and kissed him again.

This time, Ed responded, his hands moving up to rest on her hips, though resting there so lightly, Winry could barely feel their weight. His mouth tried moving under hers and Winry wondered if he'd never kissed anyone at all. Something in that seemed so sad and she didn't want to think about it, not now, not when so much was at stake. At least Ed was responding to her rather than just standing there like a stump. She scolded herself immediately for thinking that. It wasn't like Ed had a lot of time for this sort of thing and he was Ed and probably oblivious to girls anyway.

Winry pulled away from his mouth, Ed making a weird, disappointed sound, at least until he saw Mr. Kimbley over her shoulder and then he bristled up again. She wanted to scream at Ed to ignore the man but that wouldn't do. Instead, she began working the tongue of Ed's belt back through the buckle. Ed jerked in reaction, his eyes big as those antique five thousand gold sen pieces of Granny's. Winry stared up at him while her fingers continued to move. Ed's belt unbuckled, she went on to the button of his trousers.

She hated that Ed was trembling – or maybe she was, Winry couldn't tell any more – as she undid the button and started moving the zip down. Beneath the heavy fabric of his trousers, he wore a pair of cotton boxers, soft and warm to the touch. Winry steeled herself, trying to think of her grandmother and what she'd do in this sort of situation - probably ask Mr. Kimbley to join in then brain him came to mind. If she had her wrench, Winry thought she could probably do something like that but she'd left her tools with her kit and mentally swore at herself for doing so.

"Winry," Ed's voice was so low, she almost didn't hear him. She raised her eyes to meet his again, reading all too well the embarrassment and rage in them. Something in her died at his expression but Winry firmed her jaw and, grabbing the waistband of both his trousers and his underwear, pushed them down as she dropped to her knees. Ed hissed, his body rocking, but he couldn't move easily with his legs tangled. Winry ignored the feeling of his eyes boring into her skull.

It wasn't the first time she'd seen a penis, certainly not the first time she'd seen Ed's, though the last time Winry had seen it had been when he was recuperating from automail surgery. Granny had kept him unconscious for a little while to let his body heal and Winry had been in charge of taking care of him, keeping him clean, making sure his catheter didn't clog. She wondered if Ed realized she'd been the one to remove the catheter and decided she wasn't about to tell him. It didn't really matter anyway, Winry thought, sliding her hands back up the outside of his legs until she reached his thighs.

Her face was almost on level with his penis and she hoped that Granny was right and boys did shrink up when it was cold, otherwise, some girl was going to be very disappointed later on. Putting aside the thought it might be her, Winry closed her eyes and nuzzled him there. The funny thing was, he felt really warm and he smelled…good. Ed gasped out her name, a funny, breathy note to his voice, and Winry felt his penis twitch. Her hands clenching on his thighs, Winry licked the tip of his penis, where the head stuck out of the foreskin.

"Nng!" Ed jerked, nearly stumbling, catching himself though he had to take a step back, one leg ripping out of her hand. Winry let him go, wondering if she was doing this wrong. It seemed pretty simple, open mouth, insert penis. Well, Mr. Garfiel – and Delores back in Rezembool – had said there was a little more to it than that (Delores, in particular, commented about how nasty come tasted, and if possible, not to let your boyfriend come in your mouth, in your hair or on your clothes). Mr. Garfiel had said it was an act of love and had done a demonstration with a spoon when Paninya asked for more information.

Ed, of course, was being as noncooperative as usual and, while most of the time, Winry was willing to let that slide, maybe with a wrench to his skull in response to his pigheadedness, this time, she wasn't going to tolerate it. Scowling, refusing to look up at him, Winry concentrated on his penis, curling her fingers to cup it and his balls in her palm. She could feel Ed shivering as she leaned forward, taking the head of his penis into her mouth. Bathing it with her tongue, Winry concentrated on the texture and the shape of the head, careful to blunt her teeth with her lips. She probed the slit, something acrid burning against the tip of her tongue, but Winry persevered.

Behind her, she could hear Mr. Kimbley shifting on his chair. "Something wrong, Fullmetal? Is she not to your…taste?"

"Damn you, Kimbley," Ed grated out, his voice trembling, "this isn't right." His groan immediately afterward gave lie to his words and Winry almost wished she hadn't thought about sucking right then.

Mr. Kimbley laughed softly. "Why, Fullmetal, it seems like Miss Rockbell finally has your attention. I'd wondered if I might need to call in someone else, like that second lieutenant who seems to be fond of you."

Above her, Ed growled, shocking Winry by burying his flesh hand in her hair. "She's fine," he bit out, pulling her head closer. Winry responded by opening her mouth wider, swallowing more of Ed's penis down. The wiry hair at his groin tickled her nose and she thought the musky scent clinging to this area of his body had intensified. Winry just hoped it was enough of a show for Mr. Kimbley. Tightening her lips around his shaft, she could feel it hardening under her ministrations. She nearly choked on the increased length when she sucked at the same time Ed shifted forward. Gagging, Winry had to pull back, taking a couple of breaths. Ed's hands moved over her head, his flesh hand slipping down her cheek and cupping her chin, making her look up at him.

"Sorry," he murmured and there was something in his gaze that made Winry want to cry. She would not tear up, not in front of Mr. Kimbley, certainly not while doing this. Licking her lips again, Winry took a couple of deep breaths in preparation. "Here. You…you don't have to…" With an exasperated noise, Ed grumbled, "Give me your hand."

Winry obeyed, feeling almost like she was in the middle of someone else's story, and let Ed mold her fingers around his shaft. He moved her hand down the length and back up to the head, showing her what she should do. "Y-you can squeeze tighter," he mumbled, and Winry did, hearing him sigh. Leaning in again, she closed her mouth around the head, tasting again that acrid fluid leaking from the slit. "Gnnn…"

A scraping sound came over her shoulder but Winry didn't bother looking. Mr. Kimbley probably wanted more of a show and was moving his chair so he could see better. She kept her eyes closed, concentrating on Ed. Breathy little moans stuttered out of Ed's mouth as he moved her hand faster over his penis. Winry could feel his body tensing; her palm slipped on his sweat-slicked thigh.

"Winry…" Ed gasped and pulled free of her mouth with a 'pop'. His hand squeezed even more tightly around hers, making Winry bite back a yelp. Letting out a groan, Ed came, ejaculate spurting past her curled legs. Winry hid a shudder, glad she hadn't had to swallow that stuff. Ed moved her hand for her a few more times, more fluid leaking out, sticky and smelly and coating her palm and fingers.

Ed took a deep breath, loosening his grip on her fingers. He swayed in place, almost as if he was too weak to stand. "There, you bastard," he panted, "you got your show."

Risking a glance in the man's direction, Winry saw that Mr. Kimbley had indeed moved his chair, sitting in it with his legs spread, his arms folded across his chest. She tried to ignore the bulge at his crotch, instead dropping her gaze to her hands, clenched on her thighs. "Mmm, I suppose," Mr. Kimbley said, his rich voice making Winry's skin crawl. "It lacked something but in time, you two might be able to do better."

"Not that you'll ever know." Ed bent over, grabbing the waistband of his underpants and trousers, yanking them up. Quickly fastening everything into place, he offered his hand to Winry, jiggling it in front of her nose when she didn't move to take it fast enough. "We're going."

"How disappointing, Fullmetal," Kimbley said as Winry let Ed haul her to her feet, hurt that he dropped her hand immediately after. "I would've thought you might want to reciprocate. I'm sure the girl would like a little attention, too."

Winry blanched, feeling like her knees were about to give out on her. Ed crossed the room and she forced her legs to work to catch up to him before he walked through the door. She was not going to stay in this room alone with Mr. Kimbley. Ed didn't seem likely to wait on her, not even holding the door for her to exit. He shoved past the two men outside the room though Winry caught sight of them sniffing and giving each other knowing looks. Her stomach flip flopped. Did everyone know what happened? Would it be gossiped about in the breakroom later today? Would someone tease Ed about it when he went to get Alphonse out of that cell?

Her feet felt like lead but she forced them to keep moving, even if Ed didn't want her to follow him. Winry didn't know where else to go. She bit her lip hard, trying to keep control of her emotions. Whatever Ed had said earlier, it was pretty obvious he'd been lying. Her disappointment curdled in her stomach, churning into fury as Ed rounded a corner, not even checking to see if she was still behind him. Winry increased her pace, storming down the cold corridor. She wheeled after Ed, stopping abruptly.

Ed was gone. Just…vanished.

Winry felt like screaming. What the hell was he doing? He could've at least thanked her for what she'd done for him instead of running away. But no, he'd just left her, the jerk. Gritting her teeth, Winry decided she'd had enough of Edward Elric. She'd find her own way back to the cell and tell Alphonse what had happened – well, maybe not everything but enough – and then she'd get her bags and go back to Rush Valley and forget all about Briggs. Her mind made up, Winry stomped down the corridor, her boots clattering on the cement floor.

The hand that grabbed her arm came out of nowhere, dragging her through a doorway. Ed pushed the door shut behind her, slapping a hand over her mouth before she could scream. Winry promptly bit him, kicking him in the flesh shin when he let go.

"Damn it, Winry!" Ed hopped out of range, glaring at her. "Will you at least let me explain?"

* * *
~ Edward ~

* * *

Winry didn't look like she was ready to listen to anything, Edward thought, with her arms crossed like that and a thunderstorm brewing on her face. Scratch that, the storm was moving on to worse weather. "Why should I?" she hissed, hands on her hips, fury snapping in her eyes like lightning.

Edward wished he had a glib answer. "Winry, I'm sorry, all right?"

"That doesn't give you the right to act like a jerk." Winry took a step toward the door.

"Don't go out there." He reached out his hand, hurt that Winry jerked sideways rather than let him touch her. "I'm serious, Winry!"

"Why should I listen to you?" She spat out the question like it was acid.

"Because I know I'm acting like a dick but I have my reasons." Edward slipped between her and the door, making sure Winry couldn't leave. "Do you think I wanted that to happen with Kimbley? I could've gotten us out of it but you jerked down my pants!"

"So it's my fault?" Winry's voice went high and shrill and Edward winced in reaction, knowing he'd said something wrong. Again.

"I didn't say that!" Well, he had. Edward ignored that. He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. That did nothing for Winry's temper except rachet it even higher.

"Get out of my way, Ed." She tried to shove him aside to get to the door.

Edward didn't shove well, just rocked back into place. "No. I'm not letting you go out there, Winry. It's dangerous."

"And I don't want to stay here with you!"

The words cut deeper than Edward wanted to show, rocking him harder than her push. He slumped back against the door, folding his arms, lowering his gaze to the floor. "Just let me explain and you can go."

Winry groaned, throwing her hands in the air. She turned around, walking a few paces away, obviously looking around the small storage room for another exit. "Fine. Say whatever it is you have to say, Ed, so I can get off this mountain and back to Rush Valley." When he didn't respond immediately, she turned around, her fury practically radiating off of her, making Edward want to shrink back and let her do whatever she wanted.

He had to explain and make her understand. Edward knew he'd have one chance at this and whatever he said could easily destroy a friendship he valued more than any other. "Winry," dammit, she looked like she wanted to cry, "Winry, I didn't want to screw everything up and…" and now she was getting angrier. Hell! "And I didn't want you to get hurt. I know I'm not saying this well, Winry, but I…I don't trust Kimbley. If I acted like a jerk to you, maybe he'd think you weren't the right person to be my hostage! I was trying to make him believe I don't care!"

Her hands clenching into fists, Winry shouted, "You made me believe you don't care!"

Edward took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I know." He glanced at Winry through his bangs. "I know and I…I do care, Winry. I'm sorry I acted like that but I was scared." Scared that bastard would hurt you. Scared he might do something to Al. Scared to death I might say something that Kimbley could use to hurt us both.. Risking another glance, Edward realized from her expression Winry didn't believe him. "Winry," his voice cracked and slid up the register, "please."

It was her turn to look away, rubbing her hand furiously on her skirt. "Just let me go, Ed." At his hesitation, Winry turned a spotlight glare his way. "I want to walk out that door," she pointed past his shoulder for emphasis, "and forget today happened."

That hurt, a hell of a lot more than Edward thought it would. He knew Winry was upset but by now, she'd usually be beating him up with a wrench. Wanting to say it wasn't his fault Kimbley was a freak, Edward kept his mouth shut. He should've protected Winry more. Now, her dress was rumpled and her leggings were dirty at the knees. Her mouth was all red; so were her eyes. There was a stain on her skirt where she'd scrubbed his come off her palm. She looked like a victim but Edward didn't know if she was Kimbley's casualty or his own. "I can't let you."

"What did you say?" Winry had her fists ready to sock him, not that Edward didn't think he didn't deserve any punishment she dished out.

"You look terrible." At her gasp, Edward realized he probably could've said that better. "I mean, you're dirty." From the mottling on her face and the incoherent sputterings, he knew he was digging himself a really deep pit. "Your clothes! I mean your clothes!"

"My clothes are dirty because I was trying to save your neck and you weren't doing anything!"

Edward snarled back, "I was trying to think of a way to get us out of that!"

"You didn't think fast enough!" Winry howled, her face almost savage.

"I'm sorry, I was distracted by your hands down my pants!" Edward realized they were standing nose to nose and wondered how they'd gotten there. He didn't remember moving. He wasn't even sure he'd consciously decided to grab Winry's shoulders but his hands were moving and on her shoulders and he was pulling her even closer and before Winry could scream again, Edward kissed her. I must have a death wish. This close, it would be hard for her to build up the momentum to kick him but that didn't stop the hard heel of her boot from slamming down on Edward's toes.

Edward screeched, losing his grip on Winry's shoulders, and she rushed for the door. "Dammit!" Slamming his hands together, Edward lunged for the wall, making it cascade over the doorway, obliterating it from sight. "You're not going out there, Winry!"

"You're not making me stay here!" she screamed back, reaching for the doorknob that was no longer visible. With a wordless growl, Winry pounded her fist against the transmuted wall, leaning her forehead against her hand.

Sighing loudly, Edward flopped onto a stack of boxes. "God, woman, I don't know why I put up with you."

"Let me out of here and you won't have to," Winry shot back over her shoulder without even turning around.

"I'm sorry, Winry." Edward stared at her back, hoping that she'd relent, turn around. It didn't seem likely. "I didn't mean to make you think…" Words. He hated words. Instead of saying anything else, Edward pushed to his feet, moving to stand behind Winry. He felt her stiffen as he slipped his hands over her hips, wrapping them around her stomach. She felt like wood when Edward nuzzled his way past her ponytail to kiss the back of her neck. "I'm sorry you got stuck with an idiot like me for this."

"What are you doing?" Even though the question sounded waspish, Edward could hear Winry's curiosity – and mistrust. He shoved the hurt aside, figuring he'd hurt Winry just as bad, if not worse.

"Apologizing?" Edward had listened without really paying attention when men talked about girls and their moods and how to get around them. It really wasn't anything he had figured he'd have a need to learn, at least not for a while. Winry, on the other hand, probably needed him to figure it out right now. Saying he was sorry wasn't working and Edward was sure telling her how good it felt when she touched him wasn't a good idea. At least she wasn't trying to find his feet with her boot heels or elbowing him in the ribs. "I wanted to keep you safe and instead, you had to save me."

"I figured you'd get us killed, just standing there." There was a sulky, petulant tone to her voice and Winry tried to cross her arms, only to find Edward's hands in the way.

"Yeah. Sorry." Edward wondered why she smelled so good. Not that he went around smelling people but Winry really did smell nice. "I told you I was stupid. And I didn't want Kimbley to see you like that." His jaw clenched tight. "Bad enough he had to see me. A show." He grumbled. "I'd've liked to have shown him my fist." Was Winry laughing at him to shake like that? Edward craned his neck, trying to get a look at her face. From the side, he couldn't tell much but at least she didn't turn her head away. "I was kinda hoping you had a wrench and could beat him to death." He gave her a squeeze. "Winry?"

"I didn't have a wrench."

"I figured that out." Edward sighed, his chin resting on Winry's shoulder. "I'm sorry, Winry. Seriously, seriously sorry." Squeezing her waist, he mumbled, "I couldn't think of a way to get us out of there. I didn't want anything like that to happen." She stiffened again and Edward mentally smacked himself. "Shit. No. That's not what I meant, Winry. I mean - " He licked his lips nervously. "What I mean is that I want to do things with you. Things like that. But not…not with an audience. Not yet." Wincing, Edward let go of Winry, taking a step back, turning away from her. "I'm not good with this. Winry, I…you and me, I mean. I want to be with you but not now…the time is wrong. You know that, right?"

The silence felt like the lash of a whip and Edward hunched his shoulders, knowing he'd spoken out of turn, that Winry had to hate him now. He should just let her go, arrange for her to get out of Briggs and back to Rush Valley. The only problem was if he did that, he'd never know if she was safe. Kimbley would just make a single phone call and Winry would be…dead. Or worse, they'd get her and still use her as the collar around his neck. The images flashed through his mind, of how Winry could be hurt through his own stupidity.

"You idiot."

Edward jerked at the feeling of Winry's hand, squeezing his flesh wrist. He was almost afraid to look at her but peeked through his bangs over his shoulder. "Me?"

"You." Winry turned him around to face her, her fingers catching hold of his chin, lifting it up. "Thank you." Tilting her face up, she kissed his cheek. "Ed, you're right. Now isn't the time." She sighed, smiling faintly, and Edward hoped that wasn't a glimmer of tears in her eyes. "But some day." She patted his chest familiarly, her grin broadening, "Some day you owe me big."

It felt like a steel band loosened from his chest and Edward let out a stuttered laugh. "Some day, Winry, I promise." He caught her hands, squeezing them. "Some day."

* * *