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murder of crows

Keyhole


"Mail call!"

Winry's voice run out through the house as she roused the two Elric boys from their early morning drowse. Edward was probably still in bed, and Alphonse was already up, preparing to go to class; a world-class alchemist he might be, but after losing five years of his life, he'd had to go back to relearn everything.

Three separate letters from Izumi Curtis were there, one for each of the boy, and one for Winry herself; another letter was tucked beneath them, and this one was also for Winry, and the address was from Rush Valley; perhaps some of her correspondence with some of the other mechanics there.

Al's was handed to him as he went out the door to get on the truck that would swing by to take him to school within the nearest city, over an hour's drive away; Winry waved, shut the door, and wandered upstairs to find Edward's door shut, and when she tried the knob, locked.

"Edward?"

There was no answer.

She pressed her ear to the door, and the sound of movement caught her attention. "Edward?" she asked, softer this time, but there was no answer.

She began to worry.

Down on her knees she went, and out of her belt she drew her tools; there was no lock in the house she couldn't undo within twenty ten seconds; she glanced through the keyhole, just wanting to check on Edward, to make sure he was okay—

—and got quite a nice view of what he had under his boxers.

Winry sucked in a gasp, and dropped backward in shock. Since when had he started sleeping without a shirt or shorts?! Was that why his door was locked? It'd been barely a glimpse, a flash of skin and pale, fuzzy curls, but—that had definitely been—more then she'd seen of him before.

Blushing crimson, she grabbed her tools, and skittered downstairs; twenty minutes later, her composure regained, she sat at the table and tried not to think about it. She opened her letter from Rush Valley, trying to keep her hands from trembling, heat from flooding her.

She shouldn't think about her best friend that way; he never looked at her like a girl, really—she was a mechanic, greasy and not feminine in the slightest, with dirt under her stubby nails and-well, she supposed she cleaned up all right, but Ed saw her when she was smelly and filthy.

What boy—no, Ed was certainly a man now—thought of a woman who stank of engine fluid and steel? Alright, so it wasn't like she'd never been kissed; Edward had been gone nearly five years, and she'd dated once or twice; felt the brush of lips and even the occasional roaming hands. But nothing lasted with those boys; they went to find girls more feminine, less passionate, less sure of themselves to get what they wanted.

His footsteps on the stairs roused her from her depreciative thoughts, and she glanced back, thankful that blood didn't rush to her cheeks again.

"Morning. Did you just come upstairs?"

"Oh, yeah. Mail call," she waved his letter at him. "What took you so long?"

"Just—a slow morning is all." Now in shorts and a shirt, Edward was far more presentable, and Winry found it easy to keep her eyes on his face.

"Did you sleep all right?" she asked, and then slid his letter over the table to him.

He nodded mutely, and then took up the letter, opening it up; he began to read its contents, while she did the same with her missive from Rush Valley.

"...Not good," he said.

"Mmm?"

"I think I may need to go down to Dublith; Izumi-sensei's condition has taken a turn for the worse."

"Really?" She laid down the letter, and said, "I'm sorry this letter isn't so unhappy; I've been invited to an automail competition." She hated sounding so shallow, talking about her beloved automail when Edward's pensive expression told her that he had barely heard her. Trying to salvage, she brightened with an idea. "Perhaps we should go down to Dublith together? I could go back to Rush Valley from there on my own."

"But what about Alphonse?"

"He can take care of the house," Winry said, with a roll of her eyes. "He's fifteen now, you know. You were doing much more dangerous things at that age then he is now."

Edward grimaced, and Winry tried not to sigh; he didn't like to be reminded of what they'd once done, in the pursuit of the Philosopher's Stone.

"Besides," she suggested, arguing for Al's sake, "he and his girlfriend might like the privacy for a change, and you not slamming the door at them when they try and enjoy themselves..."

Edward groaned. "That's what I'm afraid of. I don't want to come home to find I'm an uncle."

"Edward!" Winry gasped. "He wouldn't!"

"Mom married that bastard at eighteen," Edward drawled, though 'bastard' was spoken like an affectionate; he missed his father fiercely now. "I was born before they'd been married a year. You tell me it doesn't run in the family."

"He'll be good. I'll talk to him."

"And I'll put the fear of castration into him," Edward added.

Winry sighed, and then opened her letter from Izumi as Edward got up to make coffee; there was just no helping some things. But at least now they had a trip to plan.