As Simple As That

He was like a whole new class of human to her. He was a whole new type of alchemist when she thought she knew them all. He was still arrogant and untrusting; he still toted the same god complex that every alchemist worth his circles bore. But, somehow, it was different. Roy had a goal, a real, tangible, world-changing goal that was planned and plotted and reviewed. He had the paperwork to prove it; he had the timeline that he later confessed to have written during his bouts of insomnia after Hughes's death.

Winry never expected anything to come of it. He shuffled into her store nearly six months after she had moved to Central, a year after the instatement of parliament. She was shocked to see him leaning heavily on a cane and sporting a black eye patch. He was obviously worse for wear, and she did not believe it at first. He bought a coffee and told her he thought her apron was cute. Winry blushed, took his money, and stared as he limped out of the café.

That seemed mundane enough. When he came back in the same time the next day, Winry was not shocked either. He had started to walk by the door but paused, turned, and came inside. Winry figured he was on his way home from work or on a late lunch break. She gave him his coffee, took his money, and blushed again when she realized he was watching her. He smiled, took his coffee, and left.

He did not come back the next day, and Winry reprimanded herself for being disappointed.

He returned on a Thursday, limping a little more exaggeratedly than before. His remaining eye disclosed the slightest wince with every step of his right leg, and Winry felt a twinge of sympathy for him. She knew better than to show it, though. No alchemist appreciated being pitied.

"Good afternoon, Winry," he said as he came to the counter.

"Good afternoon," she replied, her tongue feeling thick and languid. "Cup of coffee to go?"

"I believe I'll take it for here, today," he said, putting his money on the glass surface between them. Winry was not sure how to interpret that, so she resolved no to.

When she returned to the counter with his coffee cup, Winry felt him watching her again. He accepted and began to turn away. He stopped, however, and looked back. "If you're not too terribly busy," he said rather humorously; the café was empty save him, "Would you care to join me?"

She had no reason not to other than the soaring acrobatics her stomach was doing, so she accepted.

And somehow, in the little oasis he created in the back corner of the café, Winry found herself telling him everything. He did not have to coax; he barely had to speak to her at all. Winry was very grateful that, just as she felt tears stinging her eyes, a second customer came in. She excused herself and did not come back.

He asked her to dinner shortly after. Winry was all nerves until Roy broke the ice by asking if she were old enough to drink. Winry laughed so hard that the people at the table next to them turned to look. She quieted herself and nodded; she had turned eighteen two weeks prior.

"Is this a military hang out?" Winry asked, noticing an abundance of blue uniforms around her. Roy nodded. "I feel underdressed."

He smiled. "You'll learn eventually that the people who tend to wear the finest are simply compensating."

"I don't know if that's true," Winry replied, looking around.

"Why do you say that?" Roy asked.

Winry forced herself to meet his eyes. "Did I tell you how much I like that tie?"

They grudgingly admitted, after their third dinner together, that they were dating. They, of course, gave each other hell for it.

"How does it feel to be back in the game?" Winry asked after she and Roy had slipped into the back of a cab.

"I wouldn't know," he said. "You were hardily a hunt."

In place of dinner for their fifth date, Winry offered to prepare something at her apartment. She forgot to warn Roy about the flight of steps leading up to the door to her flat, but he made his way all right. He was only slightly winded when she opened the door for him and welcomed him inside.

She showed him around the flat: "If it's on tile, it's the kitchen and dining room. If it's on carpet, it's my parlor, living room, and bedroom."

Winry made them pancakes and eggs for dinner, and they split a beer at her tiny kitchen table.

"I was actually embarrassed at first," Winry said. "I didn't want you to see where I live."

Roy looked around the room, dimly lit from the single lamp on over the table. "I think I would prefer this to my house. It's a shorter distance from the bedroom to the kitchen."

Winry laughed. "You look like you're doing better," she said, putting their plates in the sink and turning on the faucet. "Is it getting easier?"

Roy rose and stood next to her at the sink. "Everyday," he said. He leaned his cane against the counter. Pulling a dishtowel from the nearby rack, he began to dry their plates. "I hope to be done with this in a few months."

"You will be," Winry said.

"I have to admit, though," he said, laughing at himself. "I'm not looking forward to making my way back down your stairs."

Winry handed him the last dish and turned to him, leaning her hip against the counter. "Then maybe you'll just have to stay."

"Why on earth would you agree to it, Roy?"

"Perhaps I'm just a glutton for punishment. Why would you ask me to?"

"I feel like a better person when I admit to liking you."

"You must feel like a saint now."

Winry laughed out loud. "I don't think I care anymore."

"If that's true, you're more enlightened than I; I feel like a better person when you admit to liking me."

"I like you very much, Roy."

"You must not know me that well."

"I think I understand," Winry began. She paused so she could word her reply just right. "There aren't many men that I let off easy. There are even fewer men that I let off hard. But you're the only one that, when I think about it, it doesn't feel like resignation or admitting defeat."

"And what does it feel like?"

"I'm not sure. But I like it. And I like you very much, Roy."

"I like you very much, too."