For the fifth time since they'd gotten on the train, Edward looked out the window and frowned. Winry wondered when he was going to stop that; it was getting very, very distracting.
Not that she hadn't found him distracting in general; she still wanted to ask 'so when did you start sleeping naked, Edward', but couldn't bring herself to admit that she'd peeped through his keyhole and gotten an eyeful. That was a guy thing to do. Girls, even greasy tomboy mechanic girls, did not peep. Pinako, God rest her soul, would have clubbed her for it.
He did it again; that was number six. "Edward!" she couldn't help but say with exasperation. "Relax! Al will be just fine in the house alone."
"He'll be more then fine and he won't be alone," Edward said, lips twisting in a sour grimace.
Perhaps there was something there; something she didn't know. "Are you jealous?" she asked.
"Oh, never!" Edward replied without hesitation. "I've never had time for women. If Al wants them, he can have them."
"You were chasing the Stone, Ed, when you were Al's age."
Edward frowned, folding his arms tight across his chest. She'd just poked a wound unhealed, she could tell. What was it now? Leaning forward, Winry rested her arms on her knees, and looked at Ed, frowning just slightly.
"Are you still upset he lost that time?"
"No," Edward replied, sulkily biting his lower lip. "Yes," he finally told the truth, releasing his worried flesh. "It's hard to explain."
"I can imagine," Winry said, "Though I cannot fathom it totally. But you know, it doesn't... means he loves you less, Edward, just because he can't remember those years. He—he wanted to find you from the beginning..."
Edward shrugged his shoulders, and then said, "It-it's nothing, Winry, forget about it."
He only had a moment to say that, though; Winry was already sliding a wrench free of her belt pack when he took it back with, "He's just so far away sometimes, Winry. Everything we went through, every struggle, every moment, is just-with me, now. It's..." He frowns slightly. "It's like he did die, but he didn't, you know?"
Releasing her wrench, Winry put her hands back in her lap; she was certain she couldn't understand, as much as she wanted to, the bond between the brothers. They'd gone through hell together, and if Ed told truly, Envy had slain him, Alphonse had died for him, and then, Edward had died for Alphonse again—or at least, intended to, in the end—only to escape death in another world.
It was complicated in a way only alchemy could be. She preferred mechanical work for just that reason; at least you knew with relative certainty what automail was going to do when you did something to it.
"Edward," she finally began, choosing her words carefully and speaking slowly, "Alphonse didn't die. He lived. He lived because you loved him enough to make him live, you know? And he knew, even then, that we weren't whole without you. He isn't as far away as you think... I think..." she steeled herself for the coming outburst as she said, "I think you're more afraid of knowing him all over again and finding out he's going to change and be different then you remember, and that you'll some how be disappointed in who he's becoming now, rather then who he was then."
There was no outburst. Edward remained silent. That was, quite possibly, worse then the outburst. It left her tense, sitting at the edge of her seat, feet curled up onto her toes.
Couldn't he say anything to that?
"I think maybe you're right," he finally said. "And I think I'm awful for feeling like that."
That was in fact worse then his rage. He spent so much time, these days, locked in a dark place that she couldn't reach! At least now he wasn't spending all his time outside, away from his family, but—couldn't he understand?
She reached across, and laid her hands over the one still on his lap; he started a little at her touch, but he didn't draw away. He merely stared at her, that small frown still on his lips.
"You worry too much," she noted to that dour look, "And you're too fearful. What happened to your bravery?"
"I don't know," he finally said. "I want to remember what that's like, Winry. I do. I just don't know where to start."
"We will, when we get home, with you and Al getting some time together, okay?" she suggested. "And you and I will handle it right here and now."
Conquering her own fear, she got up out of her seat, crossing the short space to lean down and catch the poleaxed alchemist with a chaste kiss, leaving him in his seat a moment later.
Secretly, she hoped he's 'misinterpret' it, secretly, she hoped he'd return it. But he just looked at her, and then blinked mutely.
Finding his voice moments later, he finally asked, "What was that for?"
"You needed it," she said; he did not make more of it. She could see him rationalize it away in his eyes. She's like a sister. She's not like a girl.
She'd have to work harder, if she was going to make it clear to him, just how much his family loved him; her, especially.