All Cylinders Go

by Jude

When Winry had first seized Paninya's hand to examine the damaged automail, it had been out of sheer fascination. The impulsive fascination with the work of other automail designers frequently overwhelmed her. It was, as her grandmother frequently said, the way to learn. Everyone had an occasional good idea, after all, and even other people's mistakes were educational.

But there was something different going on by the time they got back to Paninya's house. They'd had a chance to talk, for one thing, and as Paninya related the tale of the train wreck and her subsequent adoption, Winry had gone through her usual wave of sympathy and come out the other side with something warmer. As she knelt in front of Paninya to work on the bent cylinder, she became painfully aware of her proximity to the other girl, and the combination of the scent of the oil and machinery in the workshop with Paninya's sweat was doing things to Winry's focus.

So when Dominic walked in on them, Winry's blush was for any number of reasons.

After Dominic left, and they'd talked about a way for Paninya to prove that Dominic's automail was amazing -- which it was, of course -- they settled back down so Winry could finish her work. Paninya said, "Hey, Winry?"

"Yeah?" she said, tweaking the cylinder back into alignment.

"D'you have anywhere to stay tonight?"

Winry thought about that for a moment, then said, "Not really." She had a momentary pang of guilt for walking off with all the money that Ed had won, but it was a warm night, and it would serve him right if he got rained on anyway. He was a State Alchemist, after all; he probably had cash for a room.

"Why don't you stay here then?" Paninya gave her a leg-melting grin. "After all, I can't pay you for the repairs. I might as well give you a bed and maybe some breakfast."

Winry looked up at her and was suddenly seized with an urge to do... something. She bit her lower lip because it was trembling stupidly and tore her gaze away from Paninya. "That would be great!" she said, and winced because her voice was just a little too loud, a little too bright.

Paninya didn't seem to notice, but just kept grinning. Winry, with difficulty, focused on the repair job at hand.

She found herself reluctant to get up when she finished. She wanted to lean in and press her face into Paninya's shirt.

She bit her lip again and forced herself to stand up. "All done!" she said.

Paninya flexed her arm as she stood. "It's great! Thank you." She gave Winry a little bow.

"I hope Dominic-san isn't too upset by another mechanic working on it," Winry said.

"I don't think so," Paninya said with a glance over her shoulder at the main workroom. "He... well, I think he's just upset with me breaking his automail in the first place." She gestured for Winry to follow her.

Winry couldn't have not followed at that point.

It was a tiny closet of a room, hot and still, airless despite the small high window that stood open. There was a futon on the floor, and a plank of wood on two stacks of bricks that served as a small bookcase against the wall. Laundry was piled in the corner. A small reading light sat next to the bed, but Paninya made no move to turn it on. The light of the waxing moon and the ambient glow from streetlights gave the room a soft glow.

"It's too hot for the light," Paninya said, and Winry's stomach did a little flip as the sweaty tank top dropped onto the laundry heap.

"Um," Winry said, feeling more than a little awkward.

Paninya stopped with her thumbs hooked in the waistband of her combat trousers, looking over her shoulder at Winry. "Do you need something to sleep in? I've got a shirt here somewhere. I, er..." She stopped, hitching awkwardly against whatever it was she'd been about to say.

"Uh, no! No, it's okay," Winry said, guessing -- hopefully correctly -- that the room was generally too warm for clothes.

"Okay," Paninya said, and with that, the combat pants found their way into the pile too.

Winry couldn't look at her. Face incandescent in the darkness, Winry peeled out of her shirt and skirt and shoes, folding them in a neat pile at the foot of the bed. Then she dived for the bed, dragging the sheet over herself despite the heat.

There was pressure on the futon, and then Winry was sharing a bed with someone for the first time she could remember. Someone who smelled of machine oil and sweat and something like the warm spices in the food she'd gotten from a street vendor earlier.

The futon was small. Winry laid on her back stiffly, afraid to move and accidentally touch Paninya and... what? What would happen if she touched Paninya?

Winry considered that for a few moments, and decided that she would clearly just... explode.

Paninya rolled over to face her.

Warm skin pressed against Winry's arm. Winry failed to explode. She did, however, nearly burst into tears. She bit that damned trembling lip again and inhaled deeply.

Oh, mistake.

"I'm sorry," Paninya said, hot breath brushing over Winry's cheek. "It's kind of an old futon, so it's sort of flat. Is it okay though?"

"Oh, yes!" Winry said hurriedly, and she turned her head to look at Paninya.

Winry lost the subsequent second or two. It was just gone. She came back from under the wave that had swamped her when Paninya's hand settled hesitantly on her hip. It took her a moment more to realize that her lip wasn't trembling any more because it was where it wanted to be, pressed against Paninya's lower lip. It seemed to have been an abrupt magnetic sort of junction, because their noses were mashed together uncomfortably.

A slight alignment adjustment fixed that problem.

In the sultry air, the cool automail was remarkably pleasant. Winry impatiently yanked the sheet from between them and slid herself closer. Paninya responded with the tiniest whimper into Winry's mouth, which induced Winry to press against her more tightly. Paninya worked her left arm -- the one that wasn't automail -- out from between them and slid it under Winry's head. There was a brief distraction as she disentangled her fingers from Winry's fine hair, and then she clamped Winry as close as humanly possible.

Winry's head spun. It occurred to her that perhaps she wasn't breathing enough.

With immense caution, Winry ran her hand from Paninya's shoulder, where she had been absently stroking the meeting of flesh and metal, down the line of her spine, then back up to the base of her neck. There was something like a purr from deep in Paninya's throat, and there was an answering thrill in Winry's solar plexus -- a thrill that ran all the way down.

Winry suspected that they weren't going to get a great deal of sleep.