Rating: PG-13 (eventual R or NC-17)
Summary: I wrote this for a prompt over at the kinkmeme. The request was "Roy ends up maimed in some way, maybe from being captured/tortured; Ed is the one who finds/rescues/takes care of him" It was meant to be a oneshot, but it's run away with me. Also, a very special thank you to elfen and cryogenia, for read overs and many, many characterization discussions.
Disclaimer: I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist or any of its characters.
The rest of my fics are here.
In all the commotion, Roy didn’t have much time to consider how absolutely boring being bedridden was until day five. Eventually they ran out of doctors and nurses to fight with, and Harcourt seemed to decide that hassling Roy wasn’t really worth the trouble. He was better enough that sleeping constantly wasn’t nearly so enticing as it had been at first.
Ed at least seemed to understand. He muttered something about not having a decent sparring coupled with what might have been a scathing look at Roy if it hadn’t been quite so sleep ruffled and half hidden by a mess of loose hair in his face. Despite his complaining, he eventually crawled out of bed, padding over to the suitcase he’d brought. He shuffled through it, eventually fishing a deck of cards from amidst faded books and rumpled clothes.
Cards lasted all of about twenty minutes. Ed had a string of good luck that lasted a few hands too long. That was about the time when Roy sorted out that he had to be cheating and was decidedly unimpressed.
They tried to work out a crossword, but fared little better. Things were going swimmingly until they were arguing about what exactly the answer was to six across so loudly that the nurse on duty came in and scowled meaningfully at them both. In the end, Ed stomped out of the hospital room, leaving Roy to watch the door slam behind him.
Half an hour later, Roy was starting to worry that Ed was well and truly angry. Not that Ed didn’t have a history of stomping off now and again for no reason, but usually he was back by now. It was irritating to find how much he rather liked having Ed around, and in his absence, Roy lay back and tried to pretend he didn’t care that the room was eerily silent and he was bored out of his skull.
When the door creaked open, Roy couldn’t even be bothered to hide that he was, at the very least, relieved by Ed’s return. He smirked at the door, some manner of almost affectionate insult poised on his lips.
“Sir?” The blonde head that peeked around the partially open door was not Ed’s.
“Lieutenant?” He supposed it was inevitable that she’d have come eventually, but her presence left him shaken and torn. After everything, a friendly face really should have been more than welcome, but all he could think about was the way her jaw tightened in horror or guilt as she looked him over. He was supposed to want her here, but his stomach clutched threateningly and his tongue caught in his throat and it was all he could do not pull the blanket over his face and hope she’d just disappear.
Roy took a breath, forced himself to think. He didn’t want her to see him like this, utterly defenseless and jumping at shadows, and in that moment he was intensely grateful for the heavy bandages that shrouded the true extent of the damage beneath. A nervous glance at the door reminded him that there was no telling when Ed would be coming back, but it shouldn’t matter. She was here now and he could do this.
To her credit, as soon as she seemed to surmise that Roy was not actually dying, Riza’s expression smoothed out a great deal. It didn’t ease Roy’s discomfort with her presence, but at least it didn’t exacerbate the issue further. She straightened up, any hint of something other than professional carefully pushed away. “I apologize for the delay, General. Harcourt only informed us you were here yesterday.”
“Harcourt?” Roy’s brow furrowed. He’d thought Ed would have called her. No, he was sure Ed had said he was going to call her. “Didn’t Ed call you?”
“Harcourt sent Edward out on assignment nearly two weeks ago,” Riza replied. She stood quietly, obviously trying to work out what had happened as much as Roy was.
“Has Edward been here, then? Perhaps his assignment had him closer to you than Central,” she asked finally.
“Ed is…” Roy paused, carefully considering his words. Just because he was feeling like cracked porcelain didn’t mean he was going to let that on. It was not what she needed from him, and it was more of himself than he was willing to expose under the circumstances. When Riza was still staring at him, waiting for him to finish, he continued, “the reason I’m here.”
Riza’s eyes widened and she opened her mouth to say something, but it was lost in the sudden swing of the hospital room door. The handle smacked soundly against the wall as Ed lowered his foot to the floor. Roy almost laughed at the way he was peering into the room over the bag his arms were wrapped around.
“Sorry that took so long. The directions the nurse gave me were…” Ed trailed off when his eyes settled on Riza, and Roy thought for a moment he was going to drop the bag he was carrying.
“I thought you were still on assignment,” Riza murmured, watching Ed as he kicked the door shut behind him.
“Well yeah, I was,” Ed replied, setting down the bag on the bedside table. Perhaps Riza didn’t notice the way he stepped back just a bit closer to the bed than was strictly necessary, but Roy did. “And now I’m not.”
“Have you reported to Harcourt? I’m sure he’d be interested to know the results of your mission.” Roy knew it wasn’t what her irritation was really about so much as a legitimate argument she could make that didn’t cost her anything to put out in the open. He might have defended Edward, but he honestly didn’t know the answer.
“Of course I did,” Ed grumbled. “Who do you think okayed me going on leave?”
Well that was new. Roy made a mental note to ask Ed about it later. It wasn’t something he could afford to dwell on.
Riza’s eyes had narrowed and her lips pursed like she wanted to lash out. Ed faced her unflinchingly, and only spending so much time in close proximity to him clued Roy into the fact that it was all bravado. Mismatched shoulders sagged ever so slightly when Riza finally broke the caustic silence between them.
“Why didn’t you tell anyone what you were doing before you left?” she asked, her voice level if only barely.
“I told Harcourt I was just investigating some suspicious activity. Hakuro called off the search, or don’t you remember that part? It’s not like I could just announce what I was actually trying to do,” Ed railed back at her.
“You should have told us at least. What could you possibly think gave you the right to leave everyone in the dark like that?” There might have been more, but she glanced at Roy and cut herself off abruptly.
Ed fidgeted, obviously unhappy about having this conversation. Roy wasn’t sure whether it was the subject matter of the audience that was getting to him until Ed’s voice came out, a great deal softer than before. “What was I supposed to say? I…I…didn’t know what I was going to find, exactly.”
Riza looked no less upset and if she noticed how badly Ed’s admission had rattled him, she gave it no quarter. “Then you should have called when you got here.”
“You have no idea what this week has been like,” Ed ground out.
“Of course not. No one even knew either of you were here,” Riza replied, giving Ed a pointed look.
“Are you two finished now?” Roy finally barked, tired of the argument. He should be angry at Ed, he supposed, but even if he was it was his situation to deal with. He might have laughed if the whole situation weren’t so frustrating because Riza straightened up immediately, and Ed looked like he’d been struck and both of them were utterly silent.
“Look,” Roy started once he was sure he had their attention. “If Harcourt is just telling you about this now, it’s probably for a reason. By doing exactly what everyone would expect you to do, all you’re accomplishing is playing into that and undermining everything we’re working for.”
He didn’t bring up the threat Harcourt had made to his command, but Ed knew, and the expression on Riza’s face shifted into something that suggested she’d guessed the same. “I appreciate that you came out here Lieutenant, but you have to go back.”
“What about you?” Riza asked, her words carefully guarded.
“I’m hardly in any position to return to Central just yet.” It was an excruciating admission to make, but it wasn’t as if he was putting to words anything she hadn’t unfortunately already seen with her own eyes.
“With all due respect, sir… I really don’t think that…” Whatever Riza might have been saying about not wanting to leave Roy here unattended was cut off Ed.
“Harcourt has you guys all under his thumb, right? Well… he doesn’t get any say over where I spend my time off… Why don’t I stay?” It was almost cute the way Ed put it, like it was some sort of concession for Hawkeye’s sake rather than something he’d planned all along.
Riza considered Ed for a moment, though when she spoke again, she was looking at Roy, “Are you certain that’s a good idea? It doesn’t sound conducive to a very…relaxing atmosphere.”
Roy snorted in amusement. The last week had been anything but relaxing, but it didn’t mean he didn’t still want Ed around for whatever reason. “I think we’ll manage.”
It took him a moment to realize Ed had echoed his words. Ed immediately clapped a hand over his mouth to stifle the laughter that threatened, glancing at Roy over his thumb. Riza furrowed her eyebrows at the two of them and shook her head. “Well, it’s not like you don’t have plenty of time built up. You’ve not taken any since Alphonse recovered his body if I’m not mistaken.”
“I didn’t see much point,” Ed offered, not bothering to expound on what might have caused him to request it now.
Riza stayed, and though it left him reeling in discomfort and sometimes frozen in something like panic, it almost qualified as less than entirely uncomfortable once Ed plopped down on the bed beside him. Riza sat in the chair, and Roy couldn’t help the way his mind helpfully filled in that it was Ed’s chair, and anyone else just seemed out of place. By the time she left, citing a train she had to catch, the sun was already sinking low in the sky.
“You should have asked me at least,” Roy muttered once she’d left. He was no more angry than he had been earlier, but the principle of the thing was worth addressing.
Ed looked askance, but didn’t seem terribly apologetic right away. “Why? I figured you probably didn’t really want visitors right now. Was I wrong?”
“No, but that isn’t the point. It wasn’t your choice to make, and I don’t appreciate you…” began, scowling when Ed cut in.
“Me what? Giving you plausible deniability?” Ed pointed out. He stretched out across the bed, closing his eyes like the whole conversation bored him.
“No, damn it. Just making a decision like you know what’s best for me better than I do,” Roy snapped. That was what it came down to, really.
Ed flinched and scrubbed a hand over his face. “I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Then what did you mean it like?” Roy asked, giving Edward an irritated look.
“You didn’t want them here, but you and I both know that if I’d asked you, you would have felt obligated to have me call them.” Ed didn’t continue, but he didn’t need to. That he’d been trying to give Roy what he wanted and shouldering the blame to boot remained unspoken, but it was a hard thing to be very angry about.
“Just…don’t do that again.” Roy sighed, settling back against the pillows.
Ed rolled onto his side and nodded hastily, his voice hardly above a whisper. “Sorry. I was just…trying to help.”
“No, I know.” Roy gave Ed a half smile that seemed to do wonders. Ed relaxed beside him, pressing his face against his pillow.
He swore the words came of their own volition more than any conscious intention on his part. Ed had closed his eyes again, and if not for the way Roy had memorized this particular cadence of his breathing, he might have thought the young man was asleep. “Ed?”
Golden eyes snapped open, eerily bright even dimmed by the dusk outside. He responded with a soft hmm, not bothering to sit up.
Roy reached out, glad to find the gesture didn’t hurt as badly as it might have a day or two earlier. He wrapped his fingers around Ed’s shoulder, squeezing briefly. “Thanks.”