Rachel (inugrlrayn) wrote,

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If I Should Die Chapter 18

Title: If I Should Die Chapter 18
Fandom: FMA
Pairing: Roy/Ed
Author: inugrlrayn
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. Thanks to elfen and cryogenia for read overs and edits and the like.
Author's Note: Just so it doesn't go sneaking up on anyone, this story is about at its close. There are probably three or four more chapters.
Disclaimer: I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist or any of its characters.

Previous parts

The rest of my fics are here.

“Have you ever wondered if maybe just… once in a while, you could make something good of all the awful shit that happens?” Roy snorted at Ed’s question, if only because he hadn’t known it was possible for cursing to be endearing. Ed’s ponytail bobbed as he walked, brushing along the collar of his white button down shirt. Somewhere along their way through the park, he’d shed his uniform jacket and it was slung in the crook of his automail arm.

“What?” Ed demanded, some faint hint of the boy Roy had known showing through. He scowled rather ineffectively, the effect marred by him squinting in the sun when he turned his nose up to regard Roy. Long lashes mostly shaded his eyes, but flecks of gold caught in the afternoon light, and Roy smiled because some days he missed the Ed who argued constantly and yelled at short jokes and like this… he really was beautiful.

Ed had cobbled together a family out of broken hearts and hopeless dreams. He’d done the impossible and set right the most catastrophic thing that had happened in his young life. Then, there was this. It wasn’t perfect, but… they would manage somehow. “Edward. You’ve been doing that for years.”

Crimson crept violently across Ed’s cheek, at odds with his desperate attempts to hang onto his composure. Underneath the irritated pout , though, was a glimmer of a smile. Ed glowered as best he could at Roy, muttering, “You’re an idiot.”

Hope was a finite thing, but it was as brilliant as it was fragile. For just a moment, Roy could entertain the idea that things were right. Each step they took away from the park, dragged him further back to reality. It wasn’t a terrible thing, and it didn’t leave him as cold as he expected it might. Maybe nothing had changed, but it could.

They were scarcely out of sight of the park’s wrought iron gate when the artificial high Roy was on began to dissipate. He was painfully aware of passersby, and it was all he could do to steady his breath and keep going. His fingers tightened around Ed’s, drawing the younger man’s attention.

Ed said nothing, but gave him a reassuring smile, and that was what did it. Roy couldn’t tell if it was Ed being sweet or if it was Ed doing damage control. It occurred to Roy that so long as Ed was playing two roles, he might never be able to tell the difference. It wasn’t something he was sure he could deal with.

They were in front of his house, halfway up the walk when he stopped. It weighed on his chest, and he had to say something before he lost the courage. Roy paused at the foot of the porch, wishing he could be more surprised by the fact that Ed immediately stopped beside him, turning expectantly for some sort of explanation.

“I…” Roy missed, even more than Ed’s arguments, a time when he’d felt sure of himself. He floundered for words in ways he hadn’t since he was a teenager as Ed waited patiently for him to finish. He took his time, looking for a way to put what he needed to say that wouldn’t give Ed the wrong idea. “I…need to not need you.”

At first, Ed only blinked in confusion. There was a shadow of something as he looked to Roy for more of an explanation. Roy swallowed at the way Ed was obviously trying to school his expression into something neutral, “What do you mean, exactly?”

“I mean I can’t tell if you do things because you like me or because you’re trying to help me, and… it shouldn’t be like that.” Roy sat heavily on the steps. Ed flopped down beside him, pursing his lips in thought.

Ed’s shoulders sagged and he leaned to the side, his head pressed to Roy’s shoulder. “Does there have to be a difference?”

“You should have something better than that,” Roy replied, tentatively wrapping an arm around Ed. It was sort of a nice thing to be starting to get used to.

Ed snorted, though he didn’t lift his head. “You remember that thing where I was I wasn’t asking anything of you? I meant it. Don’t change who you are on my account.”

Roy sighed, tightening his grip on Ed’s shoulder. “This isn’t who I want to be, Ed. I want you to be here because you want to be here, because I…want you to be here, not because I need you around.”

Ed looked very much like he wanted to argue. He chewed at the edge of his bottom lip and his brows dipped inwards towards his nose. Finally, he pulled away enough to meet Roy’s gaze. “Look, I… I only ever want to be something good for you.”

“You are, Ed. You have no idea…but we can’t keep on this way.” Roy struggled for a way to explain the way his stomach roiled sickly at the mere suggestion of the intimacy and vulnerability their relationship would eventually prompt. How long would Ed deal with the fact that, for all Roy could appreciate that he had something beautiful in his bed, he was afraid to do anything about it? “I can’t give you anything like this.”

Ed had learned to read Roy almost disturbingly well. He seemed at least to understand the fear behind Roy’s words, if not the specifics. Ed’s voice was gruff and awkward, but he looked steadily at Roy, cupping his cheeks in mismatched hands as if to keep Roy from turning away. “I don’t care. If you only ever kissed me that once, it wouldn’t make me stop caring about you, okay?”

Roy smiled just a little bit in spite of himself, because Ed was not like anyone he’d ever entertained the notion of loving. When Ed leaned in to kiss his cheek, it seemed only natural to turn his head just a little. He caught Ed’s startled breath on his lips, reveling in the way Ed slowly melted against him.

“I just… I have to do this,” Roy whispered against Ed’s lips, fighting the urge to lose himself in the solace of soft kisses and Ed’s arms around him.

“Idiot,” Ed teased affectionately. “Do whatever you need to.”

It wasn’t all better at once, but maybe it didn’t have to be. Edward couldn’t fix him now, not anymore than he’d been able to months ago, and no amount of affection could compensate for what had developed between them. For the first time since he’d woken up with Ed at his side, though, it felt like maybe there was something worth reclaiming his life for.

The next day was a little bit better. Roy woke to a bedroom still gray with not quite sunrise. The flat of Ed’s hand slid lethargically along Roy’s back, as if he’d just woken himself. The pads of his human fingers gently traced the knobs of Roy’s spine, the slight jut of his shoulder blades.

All emotion aside, it was almost second nature now to relax and lean into Ed’s touch. He could almost hear the smile creep sleepily across Ed’s lips as he nuzzled against the base of Roy’s skull. The greeting Ed offered was slurred with sleep as he squirmed closer, slinging an arm over Roy’s side.

Roy had woken to Ed beside him in one form or another easily a hundred times now. He’d thought of the other side of the bed as Ed’s for nearly two months. This was the first time in his entire life that he’d woken up, though, knowing that Ed was his. Roy couldn’t help rolling over, memorizing the first flickers of sunlight as they lit up Ed’s hair and softened the line of his jaw. He took it all in, trying to gather the entire world into one perfect moment.

Ed’s hair fell in silken strands under his fingers, when he lifted a hand to card through it. Gold flecked eyes peeked sleepily at him from beneath too long eyelashes. Roy cupped Ed’s cheek and slid his palm along the side of Ed’s neck, secretly relieved when his companion didn’t pull away. Ed only hummed agreeably, and something twisted almost pleasantly in Roy’s chest.

There was peace simply in being, and if he could feel the steady thud of Ed’s heartbeat against his skin, that was merely a bonus. Ed snuggled deeper into the blankets, and against Roy. It was almost possible to forget that outside this room, everything wasn’t just as perfectly normal as it had always been.

Roy very nearly fell back asleep, lulled by Ed’s breathing, gently ruffling the collar of his shirt. Ed tucked his head under Roy’s chin, and it was so hard not to mercilessly tease him because he fit there perfectly. Roy only allowed himself a fond smile, his eye slipping shut as he settled against the mattress.

He might have happily stayed there the rest of the day, left to his own devices. The alarm clock, however, knew no mercy. Just as he was beginning to doze off again, it wailed from its perch on the table beside him, jarring both him and Ed from anything remotely like sleep.

Ed sat up and scowled at the alarm clock. If looks could have killed, the alarm clock would have fallen over and sizzled right where it sat on the bedside table. Ed’s hair hung in his face, a tangled mess of silk and spun gold that dribbled messily across his shoulders. Roy reached past Ed to turn off the alarm before Ed decided to come up with a more permanent solution.

Ed seemed at least marginally appeased by the bedroom’s return to mostly silence. Roy brushed his bangs aside to press lips to his temple and he hmm’d softly, leaning closer. He whined when Roy finally pulled away, reluctantly slipping out from under the covers to head for the shower.

It wasn’t that anything was any easier than it had been the day before. Roy still avoided the mirror as he undressed and stepped into the shower. Still, maybe it was his imagination, but everything felt just a little bit more bearable this morning.

Twenty minutes saw him dressed and downstairs, a little bit more ready to face the rest of the world than he had been. Ed was in uniform again, and Roy refrained from teasing about it, as much as he’d have liked to. He was granted a lazy, oblivious smile for his restraint.

They fell into the first threads of routine. Ed pushed a plate and a cup of coffee at Roy. The expression on his face just dared Roy to bring up the fact that maybe he was just the teensiest bit domesticated after all this time.

Roy’s bare hands caught his eye once more as he lifted his coffee mug to his lips. For the briefest of moments, the thought of retrieving a pair of gloves crossed his mind. It was fleeting and left him colder than he’d have liked, even as he violently discarded it.

“You okay?” Ed’s voice had that tone again, the one that suggested he was teetering between affection and exasperation. He watched Roy from behind his coffee mug, patiently waiting for an answer.

“I’m fine,” Roy assured him. Maybe it wasn’t entirely true, but it would be someday. He blinked and shook his head, focusing on his breakfast instead of a little slip of fabric hidden away in a box upstairs.

Another nameless soldier chauffeured them to work. Roy tried to pretend he wasn’t every bit as nerve wracked as he’d been the day before, but Ed very obviously wasn’t buying it. He scooted subtly closer to Roy, offering what comfort he could without drawing any unnecessary attention. He’d become rather adept at this, and it left Roy as guilty as he was grateful.

The car halted just a little bit too soon for Roy’s taste. Central headquarters towered over them, and Ed leaned close enough to whisper in Roy’s ear. “Do you want me to walk with you?”

It was such an innocent question, but Roy knew what Ed was really asking. Can you handle this on your own? Do you need me? Really, he was pretty sure he did, actually. He didn’t want to go deal with an office full of people, even people he could count as friends. Even as it was on the tip of his tongue to ask Ed to come along after all, he knew he couldn’t. If he didn’t face things now, he never would. Roy pushed the words he meant to say into something else entirely. “No. It’ll be fine.”

Roy half expected some sort of argument. Ed however, only smiled like he really believed it. He paused for the briefest of moments, giving Roy a chance to change his mind before metal fingers wrapped around the door handle, pushing it open. Ed got out of the car, waiting for Roy to follow.

They walked together as far as their paths entwined. Roy was sure he wasn’t imagining the whispers and stares from the soldiers they passed. Where yesterday, he’d been something like appalled for Ed’s sake, today it was hard to mind. After all, Ed wanted to be here with him, was bright and beautiful and utterly full of life.

For the first time in months, Roy had some semblance of confidence, because Ed wasn’t oblivious to the attention they were garnering, but he didn’t seem to mind at all. He only leaned a little closer to Roy, the faintest of smiles curling on his lips. At first, Roy thought he was egging on the rumors already flying, but it was only Ed being Ed, uncaring of how things might look.

They parted ways in the middle of an empty hallway. Ed rocked awkwardly on his heels, for once at a loss for words. “I guess…this is it, then. I’ll see you at lunch, but… but if you need anything…”

“I know, Ed,” Roy gently interrupted. He managed a smile, trying to ignore the way his heart was pounding nervously at the prospect of doing this on his own. Ed glanced around the hallway, and Roy knew he was thinking about something highly inappropriate for work. He almost wished Ed would kiss him anyway, but he only reached out, clasping his human hand around Roy’s shoulder.

“See you in a while.” A soft smile and then Ed was gone. Roy watched his ponytail bobbing merrily with his every step. Eventually, he disappeared around the corner to wherever he was going, leaving Roy all alone.

You can do this, he reminded himself. He’d walked these halls, commanded this team years before he’d known there had ever been an Ed for him to miss. Roy made his way to the office, carefully schooling his expression into a mask dripping with confidence he wasn’t feeling.

A deep breath and a step through the door was the point of no return. Hawkeye was busy at the filing cabinet, and nodded in greeting. Fuery smiled like he hadn’t actually expected Roy to come back today and the fact that he had was the greatest thing in the world. Falman was working on something and Breda and Havoc were arguing about something, and didn’t even seem to notice him walk in.

“Hey Chief. Hi B…where’s Ed?” Havoc looked something like stunned that Ed wasn’t right beside Roy. It was hard to decide whether he ought to be more embarrassed or amused that his team just assumed they were a package deal.

“I’m sure he’ll be along when he’s finished at the lab. It’s probably better that he isn’t blowing up things in the office.” Roy shrugged like he wasn’t terrified to be without his Ed shaped shield. He wanted nothing more than to escape to the safety of his office, but it wasn’t going to accomplish anything. Instead, he forced a shadow of a smirk, marveling at the effect it had.

It didn’t even seem to matter that he was teetering on the precipice of internal panic. His men saw something they recognized, and it put them at ease the way they hadn’t been the day before. Roy could feel the shattered pieces beginning to slide back into place. It was far from perfect, and maybe their dynamic would never quite be what it once was, when he’d been nigh on untouchable, but this was certainly a start.

He couldn’t stay, couldn’t risk this fragile success by pushing beyond his own limitations. Roy managed to be something almost familiar, though, just long enough that no one on his team was warily staring at him as if waiting for some inevitable breakdown. It was a relief to retreat to his office without awful whispers following in his wake.

They talked of course, like he couldn’t hear bits of their conversation through the door. Roy was grateful for their sense of loyalty, that even after the disaster he’d been yesterday, they were so eager to believe he was okay after all, or would be eventually.

Roy didn’t spend quite so much time watching the clock as he waited for Ed. He did his work, and while he wasn’t ready to go out into the main part of the office by any means, he wasn’t terrified either. It was pride or pleasant surprise that carried him, a hope that sprang up because things weren’t maybe so bad after all.

Ed’s return was heralded by the abrupt silence that all but shouted out what his team had been gossiping about. Roy smiled to himself just a little because Ed was grumping at them, and Havoc muttered something like an apology, marred hopelessly by Breda snickering on the other side of the room. It was almost as if nothing had changed.

There was no knock at the door, just Ed barging in, still scowling irritably. It dissolved into something more relaxed as he closed the door, casually leaning against it. He sighed, relaxing where he stood as he waited for Roy to finish his paperwork. “How’re you holding up?”

“Better than I expected,” Roy admitted. Ed didn’t say anything, but he practically beamed at Roy. There was something decidedly pleasant about knowing how very proud Ed was of him at the moment.

Ed waited patiently for all of two minutes before he was tapping his foot. Three before he sighed dramatically, and four before he was grumbling. “Are you planning to finish sometime today, or should I just set up camp on the couch?”

Roy laughed, too pleased by the familiarity of Ed’s short temper to bother with anything remotely like a comeback. He sighed his last paper and finally got up, circling the desk. Roy closed the distance between them, casually sliding an arm around the small of Ed’s back. “Let’s go home.”
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