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Linked- Mangaverse FMA Lady Fest fic

 

Written for the fma_ladyfest, for the prompt 'Riza and Winry talk after the promised day.' This was a fun opportunity to show two of my favorite characters interacting, and draw attention to the many parallels between them. Enjoy!



Title:
Linked
Recipient:
elle_white
Rating:
T for swears and implied violence
Characters/Pairings:
Riza, Winry, implied EdWin, Royai, and very slight implied Havoc/Rebecca
Summary:
Some bonds are never broken. Mangaverse, post 108. Set around six years after the Promised Day.
FMA belongs to Hiromu Arakawa.

Notes: First attempt at Riza POV.

The faint chatter from people and clink of glasses carried gently over to them. The young girl- woman, Rica corrected herself, smiling a little- tucked her long sunny bangs out of her eyes and smiled, bright and warm as fire in the dead winter.

“It’s been a long time,” Winry said, hands folded delicately in her lap. “Three years since we’ve been face to face. Too long.”

Riza dipped her head, drinking from her water glass, offering a smile of her own. They’d written regularly to each other (as regularly as their lives would allow) but it had indeed been far too long since they’d been face to face.

“You’re growing out your hair again,” Winry nodded toward the older woman. Her lips twitched. “And I noticed that Mr. Mustang is very clean shaven all of a sudden.”

Riza snorted, rolling her eyes. “After the newspapers started speculating he had a cancerous growth on his face, it had to go. With Roy kicking and screaming the whole way, I might add.” She smiled again, absently tracing the ring on her finger. Winry giggled.

“At least now Ed will stop saying that he can ‘sure as hell grow a better fucking mustache than that pansy-ass thing’ and so on.” Winry shook her head, tucking her hair back again.

Riza noticed a glint that had been absent the last time they’d met. “I thought you said Ed lost your earrings since he never gave them back?”

Winry smiled, flushing a little. “Turns out he liked carrying them with him. He said it reminded him of home.”

Riza was oddly touched by Edward’s words. Romantic was not a word to describe the young man, but that hardly mattered. Romantic gestures meant nothing without truth behind them. The truth was something Ed of all people understood very well.

“So, how is your clinic?”

Winry grinned. “Thriving. You should have seen Ed’s face the other day when a kid asked if he was the Edward Elric, married to Winry Rockbell, the famous automail engineer. He muttered for a good while about the Full Metal Alchemist being so easily overshadowed.” Chuckling, she shook her head. “Did I tell you we just added to another room in the clinic? So that its easier for people first getting their automail- they have a room to stay in that way.” Taking a sip of her drink, she asked, “And with you? I haven’t heard about any recent Bradley-ites, but things like that don’t always reach the newspapers. How is that friend of yours I met the last time…Rebecca?”

The waiter passed by their table. “Everything to your liking?”

Riza nodded. “Yes, thank you.” The waiter smiled and went to a booth next to them. Turning her attention to the other woman, Riza went on. “The Bradley supporters are mostly out in the open these days- though the extremists are still out there. Waiting.” For a moment her eyes focused on something behind Winry’s head. “The regime changes are being met with both praise and opposition, as is to be expected. So far the press is equally divided- there are a number of private papers supporting us, and just as many that are against us. Ishval reform has been one of the hardest, to be honest. So many are still prejudiced against them.” Riza sighed, running a hand over her forehead.

Winry scowled. “That I did hear about. I’ve gotten a couple in my clinic. I keep the radio on in the waiting room, and a few have made quite a ruckus, though nothing I can’t handle.” She laughed. “My wrenches are becoming legendary.”

Riza chuckled. “To answer your other question, Rebecca is doing well. As loud and man-hungry as always, although I think Havoc has been satisfying her appetite for some time now.” Smirking slightly, she added, “And she’s glad for all the excitement of a big city, making waves within the ranks.”

“Not unlike yourself,” Winry pointed out, smiling.

Riza paused, taking a sip of her water. She gave her own slight smile. “I suppose you’re right. I am.”

For a moment they picked at their food and drank from their glasses, and then Winry spoke again.

“Did I…” Winry glanced down at her hands, and then looked up, smiling. “Did I ever tell you that you sort of inspire me?” The frank honesty and innocence in her voice, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, made Riza blink. “Ever since that day I met you. And all the days since. You carry so much on your back. You’re strong in the ways I’m not. You fight, you move forward.” She smiled. “You do whatever you can to help. You helped me to realize that I have to do whatever I can…even if it’s not enough.”

Winry was kind and shining and brilliant. She could say any word or sentence and it was beautiful, in thought and feeling. She was one of those people that others were naturally drawn to, flocking around the flaming light. Riza also knew that Winry cried with an ease she sometimes envied, that she had known pain and heartbreak, that she could be unreasonable and quick to anger, but quicker to forgive. Her hands too were stained with blood, but blood from pressing desperately at the terrible wounds of others, hands stained with what it took to give them life.

Riza saw bits of her own personality within Winry, and she felt more deeply honored than she could express that the other woman admired her in such a way. The admiration was mutual.

It seemed strange, then, that of all the emotion Riza felt in that moment, she laughed. When she bit back more inane giggles, she gave her own brilliant smile- bright, but differently so, like the emerging dawn.

“I grew out my hair the first time because I thought it looked nice on you.”

Winry’s eyes widened, and she said wonderingly, “I pierced my ears because I saw you were wearing them.”

Suddenly they both smiled. Winry touched her hair, and Riza ran a thumb over her earrings. Her hand trailed down her face, to her neck, feeling the scar that was still there. Winry’s eyes followed her fingers, and she bit her lip. Her own fingers traced the rim of her glass.

“Ed and Al told me about what happened down there that day. Some of it I knew.” Her eyes gazed off into the distance, a little frown marring her face. “All of those souls together. That creature…Father…made no effort to speak to us, as I’m told Hohenheim did. It was a swirling mass of pain and fear and screams. I knew who I was, yet I couldn’t remember.” Her words became softer. “At times I would brush another soul, and there was almost a familiarity to them- someone I knew. But the terror drowned out this faint knowledge. Still, I was somehow…aware…of what was going on. Faintly, but somehow I knew…” her hands clenched together, a shiver running up her shoulders. Winry turned her big bright eyes to Riza, giving a wavering smile.

“I don’t know how to really fight. I would have been a hindrance. Still I sometimes wish I had been there. Been with Ed and Al.” She spread her hands. “What I can do, I do with all my strength. But the problems is, its often as if there is little I can do at all.” She smiled then. “Still I know I help. I’m their home, their family. My grandmother and I will always be there for them.” She chuckled and shook her head. “Sorry for going on like that.”

“Not at all.” Riza was surprised at how quiet her voice was. Her fingers still traced her scar. They’d both been there, in a sense. Both mere inches from death, surrounded by pain. Riza with a sword through her throat, Winry with her very soul sucked out of her body. She thought it morbidly fitting- for all the other parallels in their lives, their similarities, they had this in common too. It was what it was. They were not lessened for these painful things, their terror or inner evils. Riza had no illusions. She had done horrible things. Things that she could never make up for, no matter how long she lived. Justice and fairness were not clear cut; if she were to die that night, she would leave behind grieving friends- like the young woman before her that did not need more tragedy in her life. Perhaps she deserved to die, some would say. She couldn’t really argue the case. She did know however, that she also deserved to live, wanted to live, had to live for the tiny hope that she could make things better, that she could make herself and those she loved happy.

She and this young woman were separated by years and ideals and professions, and yet brought together with dreams and love and hope. Bound, as the Elrics were with those they had met on their journey.

“When I was a young girl,” Riza said softly, watching the swirling water in her glass, “My father sought to impart his greatest alchemical achievement onto my shoulders. The secret of flame alchemy. He couldn’t trust that the knowledge would be picked up by someone clever enough to find a book containing it. No, he had to hide it, keep the most powerful, the most dangerous, form of alchemy from reaching the wrong hands.” She looked up, and gave a slight smile. “I was still very young, when he told me I could help him. We lived in a big empty house. My mother had been dead for years. My father was always up in his study, and in truth I hardly knew him, or him me. He made sure I had a good education- knowledge was the most important thing to him, after all. He gave me a tattoo in red ink representing the knowledge of flame alchemy.” Her smile didn’t falter. “It took a long while. He had to make every line precise.” Her smile faded, and she looked off into the distance. “I trusted Roy, and his ideals for the future. I gave him the secrets of flame alchemy. After the war, after I had seen its power, I asked him to burn the array on my back, so no one could ever know it again.”

Riza looked over at Winry, her gaze never faltering. “In many ways, I am just as responsible for all of those Roy killed during the war. Years have passed, and I know I will never be able to make peace with that fact. The only thing I can do is try to make the world better, make it so that something like Ishval will never happen again.”

For a moment there was silence. Winry nodded slowly, some of her hair slipping over her shoulder, looking unsure of what to say. “I…I can’t save everyone,” she said in a rush, her hands tight on the glass in front of her. She closed her eyes, her next words deliberately slow. “The first time a patient died on me, I was thirteen. It was an old man named Jim Carson. He’s gotten his legs crushed under a tractor and we tried to give him automail but the blood loss was too much, and one day he just starting coughing and he wouldn’t stop and then he did, and-” her tone was hushed, but her knuckles were white around the glass, and she took a deep breath. As the seconds passed, her fingers relaxed. “I couldn’t save him,” she said softly. “This happened so soon after everything with Ed and Al, and it seemed like I just kept failing. So I tried harder. I put so much into automail, into saving lives and helping people move forward. Still, I didn’t always save them. And I never will.” She looked up and gave a colorless smile, one so unfit for her face.

Riza knew what that was like. She killed to save lives. Winry- Winry healed as best as she could, but even then it sometimes wasn’t enough.

“But I keep getting better.” Winry’s voice was stronger. “I keep saving more and I have to keep trying- because people depend on me. They need me, and I can help them. I helped Ed and Al during their travels when I could. I help people that need automail. I truly help people, and I can’t stop doing that, no matter what. Even if it feels like it’s never enough.” Her smile grew, bloomed, determined and stubborn and bright again.

Riza smiled with her. Winry continued, her voice bubbling over with the truth of her words. “Six years ago, all I would have been able to see is what I can’t do. Now I know what I can do, how it helps others to live. I see people, living normal, content lives with their automail, and happiness fills me in ways I can’t describe. When I see Al’s face. Ed’s leg. That they are alive and happy shows that you can beat the terror, that you can move forward and find a life.”

A life.

Riza nodded, her hands sliding gently off the table, to her stomach, tracing down, arms curling around the bump that was still invisible. “Life,” she echoed, smiling. “New life. For the future.” Her fingers tip-tipped down, and for a moment she closed her eyes, picturing it there, curled and warm, safe.

Winry’s light gasp met Riza’s ears, and she opened her eyes, nodding at the other’s unspoken question. A silly grin spread over Winry’s face, and she touched her own stomach in wonder, eyes flicking to Riza’s and then back to her own.

Through all the years, and all the sadness, the difference in age and backgrounds, this moment, this common moment for them both. They’d faced death countless times, both been surrounded by it, nearly consumed in different ways. They sat there, happy, new life coiled within their bodies.

Riza lifted her water glass, Winry lifted her own. “To new life.”

“New life,” Winry echoed, “And the many more that will come.”

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
musogato
Oct. 17th, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC)
This is lovely, amazing, and wonderful. <3 Excellent job.
evil_little_dog
Oct. 18th, 2010 12:02 am (UTC)
I very much enjoyed this story. :D
haganeneko
Oct. 18th, 2010 04:14 am (UTC)
Very nice interaction between Riza and Winry; love how they found their common ground in both their experiences of the Promised day and the symmetry of learning that they were each expecting.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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