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: I apologize for the brevity of this chapter. I wanted it to stand alone from the next one or I'd have just combined them.
Disclaimer: I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist or any of its characters.
The rest of my fics are here.
It was one breach in the unbalance that had characterized the two of them together. Maybe that should have shattered the hold they had on each other, but as Roy watched Ed sleep the slumber of the battered and weary, nothing felt like it was breaking. He had leaned and leaned on Ed for months as he slowly pieced himself back together, and unflinchingly, Ed had let him. Now, Ed returned to him with cracks in his indomitable exterior, and for once, he leaned back.
Work was starting to make its way back into Roy’s life, starting with his sleep. It was Saturday, and yet when he woke, the sky was still gray, only just beginning to entertain the idea of dawn. A bleary mockery of sunshine poked through the sides of the blinds, just enough light to edge Ed’s sleeping form. He was sprawled under the covers, his automail leg curled like a vice around the back of Roy’s knee, but just at that moment, he was the most beautiful thing Roy had ever seen.
It was enough in that moment just to lie still, the silence only broken by Ed’s steady breathing. Roy lifted his hand to thread through Ed’s hair, watching the strands part around his fingers like rivers of dulled gold. There was a faint catch in Ed’s breathing and for a moment Roy thought he might wake.
Edward hardly stirred at all. He only tightened his grip on Roy, clinging as if he were hardly a breath away from falling into nothing. Roy cupped the back of Ed’s head in his hand, leaning in to brush a light kiss against Ed’s temple.
Whether that was what did it, or whether Ed was well and truly awake on his own hardly seemed to matter. He watched Roy with sleepy eyes still threatening to droop right back into slumber. His lips curved in a lazy smile, as if he were simply too near sleep to remember to be down. His voice was still slurred as he murmured a soft good morning.
Roy wished they could stay like this. Perhaps if he refused to acknowledge the world beyond Ed’s warmth in his arms, then existence could be reduced to bleary eyes and a sleepy smile that wrenched something tender in his chest. For all the time they’d spent in each other’s care, affection was a more recent shift, and love was altogether novel.
Funny how he felt Ed’s smile fall from his lips before he truly saw it. His stomach bottomed out as Ed’s gaze turned hollow before his mind quite registered why. Maybe once he could have pretended it didn’t sting to watch Ed hurt this way. There was no denying it now though, not when every time he closed his eye, all he could see was Ed’s haunted gaze.
Roy said nothing as Ed looked at him, only carding his fingers through loose, golden hair. There were no words to erase Ed’s memory of a hopeless cause. Guilt could be such a tangible thing, and Ed seemed to drown in it, though no hand Roy might offer would pull him free. He offered what comfort he could, soothing hands and a warm, quiet presence that Ed eventually allowed himself to lean into.
He wasn’t sure how long they stayed there. The dingy gray light slowly took on a brighter cast, invading the bedroom with undeniable evidence of morning. If Ed was unhappy, he was eventually less actively so. He didn’t smile, but his mouth finally relaxed its downward tilt. The heartache that had been so violently evident on his features before seemed to dull somewhat as he relaxed in Roy’s arms.
Eventually, Ed shook Roy’s hand from his hair. He wriggled out of Roy’s arms with an almost regretful sigh, leaving the air cold in the space where he’d lain. Roy watched him slip from the covers and stand, and though the sight was familiar and easy, Ed only looked lost. The question was out before Roy could quite stop himself because he never could hope to hide anything from Edward anymore. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Ed did smile then, a sad, remorseful twist of lips with eyes bright and pained and pleading. He might have reached out if he weren’t too far from the bed to touch Roy without moving. His voice was soft, cradled in the silence between them. “Would it have saved her?”
“No, but it might have helped you. I was worried.” Roy sat up, going to Ed when Ed still made no move to come to him.
“It wouldn’t have accomplished anything. You only would have worried more and it wasn’t like I could just pack up and come home,” Ed pointed out, stiffening as Roy’s hand slid across his shoulder blades.
“Do you not trust me to help you?” Roy frowned at how directly his own words came. It was a fear that nipped at him now and then. Perhaps Ed had seen him brought so low for so long that he’d never trust him not to break again. Until now, he’d managed to keep it to himself, but Edward seemed so immersed in his troubles, so unwilling to accept Roy’s support, he couldn’t help but ask.
Ed’s eyes widened in honest surprise. “Is that really what you think? Roy, I… just wanted you to be able to focus on what you needed to do.”
“And I did, so stop acting like you have to take on the world all by yourself.” Roy wrapped his arm around Ed’s shoulders and pulled just slightly. Whatever fight Ed was trying to have quickly dissipated, and he crumpled silently against Roy, allowing this one moment of weakness.
“We’re such a mess,” Ed muttered, his voice laced with a bitter sort of humor.
Ed wasn’t exactly himself, but something in his mood seemed to lift a fraction after that. He stayed near to Roy, and for once it wasn’t because he thought Roy needed it. They were unorthodox perhaps, but there was something comfortable about being needed back sometimes.
Bit by bit, the regret and shame faded as Ed threw himself back into the life he’d grown accustomed to. He insisted on a display of Roy’s regained talents, and let Roy lead him into the backyard. A smile that was very nearly true cracked on his lips at the poor, singed rose bushes. It bloomed into something genuine with the first snap of Roy’s fingers, his eyes drinking in the controlled explosion of heat and light.
The weekend slipped by as they relaxed into the familiar once more. They had lunch on Saturday with Al. He immediately picked up on Ed’s mood, and Roy could only smile at the closeness that never faded between them. Al poked and prodded and Ed never had been able to keep much from his brother.
Roy discreetly left them alone in the study to talk about what weighed on Edward that he would never be able to reach the way Al could. He wondered if he ought to be jealous, but he couldn’t quite work up the will. It was impossible to begrudge Ed this one place he could not tread.
Whatever Al had said to him, Ed’s mood brightened considerably. It was as if he’d finally found the will to fight back. He talked to Roy about nothing, and maybe he was only filling the silence to chase off his own ills, but it was pleasant to hear his voice after weeks without him.
That night in bed, where the darkness was too bleak and crushing for Roy to see his face, he told everything. His voice was ragged and inches from breaking as he explained how much of a failure he believed himself to be. Oh he’d caught the alchemist alright, but it was too late to save his victims long before Harcourt had ever gotten around to sending him. He fell asleep with his face pressed against Roy’s throat, still murmuring, pained and pleading. Roy lay awake long after he’d stopped, struck harshly by the way even someone so strong as Edward could be fragile sometimes, and the only thing he could do was reach out his arms.
Sunday was less cruel to them. Maybe what he’d needed was someone to talk to, one person in his life to assure him that things would eventually be alright, because Ed’s smile didn’t entirely fade when slumber cleared from his head. He only watched Roy for a while, his gaze intensely thoughtful.
“Thank you.” It had been so quiet, the moment so calm that Ed’s words were almost startling. He wanted to ask what for, but there were things they talked about and things they didn’t, and he was fairly certain he knew anyway.
Sunday was lazy and pleasant, all considered. It was hard to tell whether Ed had found peace or simply resignation, but he was more recognizably himself. They argued alchemy, they played games, and Roy was reminded of months spent with Ed watching over him when he was too weak to say no. It wasn’t as bitter as it might have been, not when he had this to show for all of it.
There were things they said, and sentiments that hung between them only in affectionate touches and whispers that never quite left their lips. Where loyalty and mutual desperation had been what held them together for so long, it was something else now that drove them to stay like this. Roy found himself wondering as the sun sank on the last of their weekend, how long this had been in the making. How many months had they loved each other, their minds too wrapped up in their troubles even to notice.
“Do you think we’ll ever be able to just be normal about this?” Ed sprawled over Roy on the couch, and it seemed such a funny time for a question like that.
“This isn’t normal?” Roy asked as he dragged his hand along the fabric of Ed’s shirt, careful to avoid his injury.
“I wasn’t talking about this,” Ed grumbled. His attempt at clarification was punctuated by a lethargic gesture with his hand that might possibly have meant something. “I just meant us in general.”
“I’ve never seen you do anything normally in all the time I’ve known you,” Roy teased, grinning when Ed lifted his head to scowl more effectively. “But does it matter? Has living up to someone else’s definition of what things should be ever made you happy?”
“It’s not… I don’t mean it like… Are you happy?” Ed finally blurted out, looking very much confused about why he was even asking.
Roy smiled in earnest, cupping Ed’s cheek. “I love you. I love you and you’re home. Of course I’m happy. Aren’t you?”
“Fucking sap. I’m fine. Quit fishing for compliments.” But there was no venom in Ed’s voice and his expression was one of extreme relief. So maybe the words were necessary after all, even if they didn’t need them all the time.
It would have been wonderful if he might have lost himself here, stuck in a moment where Ed was falling asleep draped across his chest. There was a soft, pleased hum as Roy’s hand stroked over Ed’s hair. Roy found himself continuing, just to hear the sound again.
The hum faded away as Ed’s eyes slipped shut and he wriggled sort of halfway on top of Roy, and half wedged into the couch cushions. He was heavy and a not a little bit uncomfortable, but Roy simply didn’t have the heart to move him. He only slung his arms around Ed’s waist, cautiously low to be sure he didn’t hurt Ed’s injured side. Ed would probably jab him with the automail squeezed between him and the couch and he would be sore tomorrow, but it was undeniably worth it.