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Ficlet: Apprentice

Title: Apprentice
Characters: Winry, Pinako, Ed
Rating: R for gory automail surgery
Word count: 393
Summary: Some people would probably say that eleven years old was a little young to be performing surgery.
Notes: written for evil_little_dog for fmagiftexchange.

Some people would probably say that eleven years old was a little young to be performing surgery. That'll be the Eastern work ethic for you, though.

Winry had been second surgeon before. Officially, Granny had a colleague, a middle-aged mechanic, Mr Stefanson, whom she'd call out for any procedure that needed two to perform. He lived two hours' drive away. After the two of them were done, they'd share a drink and a smoke on the porch, and Winry would hear their rumbling laughter drifting up to her bedroom window.

Mr Stefanson had a family. After Winry started sitting in on surgeries, just after she turned ten, her granny gradually, quietly started to replace Mr Stefanson with Winry. At first she'd just ask Winry to pass her tools, to hold kidney bowls: little tasks to calm her nerves and stop her dwelling on the sight of blood, exposed bone, the drill and the saw, the excised tissue dropping into the bowl. Soon, Granny was saying, "I hope I won't have to bother Mr Stefanson for this. You can help me out, can't you, Winry?" It wasn't long before she knew how to use a clamp competently, before she was making her first incision along a line of grease-pencil Granny had drawn.

Most of Granny's patients, being unconscious at the time, were blissfully unaware that they were being operated on by an eleven year old girl.

So, by the time Winry was holding a mask over Edward's face, watching his eyelids flicker and his eyes roll up into his head, she was well-practiced; but that first operation on Ed's shoulder was still, in some ways, the worst of her life.

As Granny debrided tissue and discarded, cauterised and sewed, Winry was there passing her instruments, monitoring the patient, wiping the blood away from the flesh again and again so Granny could see to work. The whole time, it was as though Winry could see two things at once: the patient, on whose shoulder Granny had done such excellent, exemplary preparatory work; and her friend, Ed breathing thickly and smelling like blood and iodine, so horribly hurt and so horribly determined. She tried to keep her eyes on Ed's shoulder, and not to look at his face.

Afterwards, Granny gave her a cup of strong, sweet tea, and told her how steady her hands had been.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 9th, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC)
I really like this. It totally fits within series canon, and it feels so right for both characters and the setting. Thinking about that night when Al showed up on their doorstep ... what an awful night that had to have been for Winry (and, uh, for the Elrcis too?).
Nov. 10th, 2011 11:13 am (UTC)
Thanks! It had been sitting on my hard drive half finished for a while. Yes, DIY Mom-gate was not a good night for anyone. But that panel always sticks in my head from Chapter 9 - where Al appears in the door with Ed cradled in his arms, and then next panel is the reaction shot from Pinako and Winry. Poor Winry - eleven, already seen her hometown bombed, lost both parents to a war, and now she has to go through this. It only makes it more impressive that she turns out so strong and well-balanced. *pats her*
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )