Title: 2,000 Miles
Summary: Two thousand miles and more ghosts than that to haunt them.
SpoilersPost series, so yeah. A little bit of an alternate ending. No movie though. Doesn't even exist.
Rating PG - NC-17 This chapter: PG
FMA does not belong to me and I make no profit from any of these tales. Any further archiving of my fiction is strictly prohibited unless cleared by me.
The sun was setting on the first day of their trip and Winry had never felt sorer. Ed had offered to drive but she had refused, calling him out on the fact that he didn’t know how.
He had pretended to sleep for most of the afternoon. She found it reassuring that even though they had grown apart, she could still tell when he was really sleeping.
Frowning, she looks over to the dour boy next to her and wonders where all these barriers came from.
She tries to think of something to say, just so the sound of gravel hitting the side of the car isn’t the only thing she hears.
“You know what I wonder sometimes?” It sounds awkward coming out of the blue and hanging out in the quiet, but it has the desired effect. The silence isn’t so deafening anymore.
Ed turns his head in a way to imply curiosity. He does that a lot; letting his body speak for him. In the first few days he didn’t say anything at all or even make eye contact. Granny had pulled him out of it though. She had a way with people that Winry just couldn’t accurately reproduce.
“Sometimes I wonder what my parents would think about my life, you know, if they could see me now.”
Edward just looks at her and she wonders if he ever thinks about the same thing. She doesn’t wonder long and asks him outright. At that moment she thinks that she’s never seen him look more guilt-ridden and desolate.
“I try not to,” he looks down, hiding his eyes and feelings from her under the pretense of picking at the calluses on his hands, “She’d only cry if she knew.”
A few lights glow in the dusk, distinguishing the small town from the miles of dirt roads and forests. Winry tells him that they need to stop for the night and pulls the car into a small, single-pump gas station. The thought crosses his mind that he could transmute gas with just a few basic ingredients but he doesn’t offer.
He doesn’t have the energy to do it anyway. He never seems to have the energy these days. He feels so lethargic.
Getting out of the car, she asks him for money and he wordlessly hands over all his cash. She can handle the finances, he doesn’t care. For a second she stares at him through the open car door. He looks away and hears the door slam. Whatever she had wanted to say she had obviously decided against it.
The whole car rattles as she fiddles with the cap and spout, clearly upset. His legs start to cramp and he pulls the car door open. Movement is blissful agony as his muscles protest and bones pop. He feels old.
Without a word, he wanders to the rickety old building. A large painted sign above reads Gatewood’s Gas and Convenience Items. Moths gather around the same lights that had drawn them in as well. There is a newsstand inside and he glances over the dates on each: July 15, 1918. They are all a week old.
He asks the clerk for a restroom and hates the sound of his voice. He hardly uses it anymore. He feels so disconnected.
Using the restroom, he emerges in time to find Winry paying. She turns to him, any traces of distress gone. He’ll never understand her mood swings.
She tells him that there is an inn a few miles down the road. She makes it sound like the best news she’s heard in months. The sad part is that it’s true. He could use a good night’s sleep in a real bed. He feels so tired.
The inn is further down the road than the clerk had led her to believe. She finds herself pining for the glow of artificial light more and more with each mile they drive. She should have used the restroom back at the gas station.
Finally she sees lights in the distance and pushes the car as fast as it will go. The town is bigger than she thought it would be. One main street is cluttered with stores. Spotting the inn, she searches for a place to park. It is not a modern town and horses are still hitched up outside. A small sign nailed to a supporting post on the front of the building advertises a place for automobiles to park in the back and she quickly heads there.
A few men cluster around a table inside. Loud and rowdy, they laugh and drink, evidently celebrating the end of a long work day. They are all farmers, she can tell by the dirt covering their blue overalls. The man behind the counter looks the type as well, but one look at the sleeve hanging empty at his side lets her know what put an end to his days in the field.
Ed is silent as she handles the registration. When the inn keeper asks her ‘one room or two,’ she checks their cash and decides on one. Who knows how long or how far they will go. She will need to conserve.
She leads them upstairs to the room, Ed obediently carrying their bags. The door squeaks open and she finds herself a bit alarmed at the sight of a single bed. It had been so long since the last time they had shared a bed – not since they were eight – that she wondered if it would be weird now that she was eighteen.
Her companion doesn’t seem concerned and sets their bags near the room’s battered old dresser. That task complete, he sits on the bed and falls back, his eyes closing as the soft mattress folds around his upper body.
“I think I saw a washroom down the hall. Did you want to use it first?”
His eyes don’t open and he takes a deep breath before speaking. “Nope. You go ahead.”
It’s the most normal he’s sounded all day and she happily sets to the task of gathering her bathroom items and a change of clothes. She’s at the door when the question crosses her mind.
“Ed, do you know where we’re going yet?”
She knows he hasn’t fallen asleep but he still doesn’t answer. His eyes open though and he frowns up at the ceiling.
“If we keep going north, we’ll reach East City in a day.” She supplies, really doubting that to be the destination he has in mind.
He pulls himself up slowly, as if gravity is too much of a foe. “That sounds fine.”
Hairs are sticking out of his pony tail and his eyes are dark underneath. He yawns and rubs at a sore spot on his shoulder. She wants to pursue the subject more but doesn’t feel like starting a fight. Dropping it, she turns and walks through the door.
Under the warm spray of the shower, she regrets her decision. A fight with Edward would be a break in the monotone existence he held himself in these days. Gone was the fiery and blazing blond boy. A stranger had taken his place, one who never laughed at his own jokes or even made them anymore, one who never boasted about his intelligence, or dazzled others with stories of his adventures.
It was a long shot, but she figured that if they were going to be traveling together for a while, there may be an opportunity to pick a fight with him. She was good at that sort of thing. Maybe she could even get him mad enough to yell. It probably wasn’t the best plan, but she figured that feeling anger was better than feeling nothing at all.
The air is cold when she steps out of the shower. The warm water had helped loosen her muscles and she feels more than ready for bed. Ed is already fully asleep on the bed when she enters and she is pleased to see that he has moved over enough to allow her room next to him.
Crawling in, she is careful not to touch him and lies on her back. Surprisingly, Ed rolls over and an arm is flung around her middle. Stiff backed, she turns her head to see that he is still completely asleep.
Edward was never a very touchy-feely person, but since he came back, she can’t so much as take his arm without him flinching or pulling away. His right arm especially. ‘A gift he didn’t deserve,’ he had said in a voice so low and hoarse that she didn’t fully understand what he said until he lowered his head and walked away from his brother’s grave.
She smiles; it seems that in his sleep he is able to let go of the afflictions that plague him.