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 for the readover, as always <3
Author's Note: Sorry for the wait. Real life ate me. The chapter after this will be the last, and it's about half done so I imagine it'll be up soon.
Disclaimer: I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist or any of its characters.
The rest of my fics are here.
Monday came entirely too early. It would have been nice to have one more day where everything he’d worked for wasn’t on the line. One more day was not to be had, however, as the alarm cruelly jarred Roy from sleep.
Ed blinked beside him, his expression something akin to disappointed. Roy was fairly certain he was seriously considering rolling over and just going back to sleep. He met Roy’s eye though, his own widening in some private recognition and he sat up.
They went about their morning routine, and it made Roy smile despite his nerves that they had one. He’d never considered Ed to be particularly steady. He seemed so hungry to take in the entire world. It was almost shocking, when Roy paused to think about it, that Ed had become the most permanent fixture in his life.
Out of the shower, Roy stared at the steam covered mirror. He still never looked until he was safely concealed behind his eye patch and clothing. Still, if he could brave the weapon that put him here, why not the damage it had done?
He’d had enough of hiding. With a deep, rattling breath, Roy raised his hand, swiping splayed fingers across the mirror. The fog dissipated with each swipe of his palm, revealing a reflection he wasn’t entirely ready to see.
Knotted scar tissue sprawled out over an otherwise empty eye socket. It crawled across his cheekbone, threatening to take over his jaw before giving way to unblemished flesh near the corner of his mouth. Roy’s stomach turned; the man he’d once been only a fleeting memory, but he refused to look away.
He shifted his gaze lower, past an undamaged throat, tracing his own collarbones. His chest was no better than his face. There were patches where there was no damage, flat and dull places where he could still feel. They seemed alien, like squatters among their grotesque surroundings.
He couldn’t look anymore. It stung as much as the day it had first dawned on him how permanent this was. Shaking his head, he turned away from the mirror, dressing hastily, as if he might be forced to look otherwise.
He couldn’t get out of there fast enough, and he took the steps perhaps a bit too quickly. When he reached the kitchen, Ed was looking at him, his brows knit as if they meant to somehow melt together. He attempted to hide his concern behind his coffee mug, but Roy knew him far too well for that, now.
They ate in near silence, both lost in thought. Ed cleared Roy’s plate almost before he even realized he was finished. There was a sliver of a painfully fond smile, nearly missed in the turn of Ed’s body as he headed for the sink.
Everything they’d fought for was coming to a head, and Roy honestly wasn’t sure how things would play out if he failed today. It was on the tip of his tongue to warn Ed that this might have all been for nothing. He groped for words, and by the time he’d picked out just how he wanted to couch the potential apology, Ed had beat him to it. “You’re going to pass, you know.”
Despite his own fears, he had to admire Ed’s resolve. It was hard to question the commiserating grin that had wormed across Ed’s lips. “How can you be so certain?”
“I’m counting on you. Because if you don’t show Harcourt up, and I have to deal with his stupid smug…” Ed paused to make a vague gesture, and Roy was pretty sure he was going for ‘demeanor’. It was far more fun, however, to watch Ed scrunch his nose and lips towards his forehead as he waved his arm to make sure Roy got the point, than to correct him or fill in the blank. “His… you know that stupid face he does when he thinks he’s got you… But if I have to see that again, I will probably punch it off of him, and I don’t think that would go well for anyone.”
“I have to pass my assessment to save Harcourt’s face from what will probably be your automail, then?” Roy was smiling in spite of himself. There was something oddly reassuring about how after everything, at the core, Ed was still Ed. Here when it all came down to this one test, Ed was still trying to force his own courage on Roy by brute force.
He hardly remembered the drive to headquarters. Undoubtedly, Havoc had tried to make conversation, had perhaps even managed it with Ed. Roy couldn’t really be sure. Even the back of his head and shoulders in front of Roy had dulled to a foggy silhouette in Roy’s mind. Despite Ed’s best efforts, Roy’s resolve was still threatening to sputter out completely.
“Mustang.” Harcourt’s voice seeped acidly into Roy’s consciousness, interrupting his and Ed’s walk to his office. He forced himself to stand a little straighter and not to smile as he saw Ed make a haphazard effort to salute out of the corner of his eye.
“General Harcourt,” he acknowledged, albeit reluctantly.
Harcourt, however, was no longer looking at him. “Fullmetal. What are you doing here?”
“I returned Friday evening and came in with my completed report as ordered, sir. You were out, so it’s been on your desk since then,” Ed replied. His words were even, and only Roy could be certain of the smug grin he was struggling to keep in check.
“The mission was a success, I take it?” Harcourt demanded. It was only a lead in for whatever else he had planned to get rid of Edward, and he couldn’t possibly know the toll it had taken. Still, it was all Roy could do not to lash out.
Ed set his jaw, schooling away the grief that tried to crawl to the surface. It was a moment before he replied, but when he did, there was only the slightest waver in his words. “The alchemist was apprehended, sir.”
Harcourt didn’t notice, or didn’t care about the volumes it spoke that Ed had expounded so little. “Good. Now, come with me. I have another assignment for you.”
Ed made no move to go. He frowned deeply, obviously racking his brain for an excuse to stay and be present for Roy’s sake. Eventually, he seemed to strike on something, and maybe it had been there all along. Obviously fighting with his own pride, and eventually discarding it in favor of his obscene sense of loyalty, he replied, “With all due respect, sir. As I’m sure you’ll find when you read my report, I was injured during the mission. I haven’t been cleared for duty. I’m afraid my appointment isn’t until tomorrow.”
It occurred to Roy that Ed had probably done that on purpose. He wasn’t much of a strategist, but months spent with Roy seemed to at least having him thinking a little bit ahead. With nothing else to fall back on, Harcourt had no choice but to let the matter drop.
“Very well,” he hissed, glaring at Roy as if the whole thing were his fault. “See that you report in as soon as you are cleared for duty.”
Harcourt stalked off towards his office, and only then did Roy relax. Ed sagged beside him, as if maintaining his composure had taken a great deal more effort than he was willing to own up to. Still, Ed managed a self satisfied grin, and Roy didn’t think he’d ever been quite so proud of him as he was in that moment.
Insisting that he just didn’t have “anything better to do,” Ed offered what distraction he could in idle conversation. Roy gratefully let himself be pulled in, determined not to think about the impending assessment any sooner than absolutely necessary. He tried to believe that he had recovered, that there was nothing to be afraid of, but it didn’t keep his fingers from flinching as they slid against the ignition cloth in his pocket.
He was almost relieved when it was finally time to head down to the parade grounds. One way or another, at least it would be done with. Ed walked with him as far as he could, a steadying presence at his side.
“Look, if this doesn’t…” Roy started when they’d come as far as they could together, but Ed was already cutting him off.
“You’re better than anything Harcourt can put in front of you. Quit being a spazz. I’d hate to think those poor rosebushes died for nothing.” Ed grinned like he hadn’t a care in the world, like he honestly believed Roy couldn’t lose. The corner of Roy’s mouth twitched, itching to return the gesture.
“I never liked them anyway,” Roy replied, feeling a bit more himself. He watched Ed go, ponytail bobbing with each step.
By the time Roy was walking out onto the empty parade ground, he felt untouchable. As much as he wanted to, he refused to look for Ed in the gathering crowd. He’d mastered his gloves again in Ed’s absence. He could do this on his own, too. Moments away from taking his life back from months of nightmares and setbacks, Roy found himself almost eagerly awaiting his opponent.
Finally, the alchemist Harcourt sent to face him emerged. Roy fought the urge to shake his head at the obvious attack on his once fragile psyche. At first glance, Roy might have mistaken the man for one of his captors.
Roy swore up and down that it meant nothing, that he wasn’t bothered. He was far enough from the situation to be untouched, and there was no significance to the heavy thud of his heart in his chest. He stood with his hands concealed in his pockets. Though his muscles twitched threateningly with each step his opponent advanced, Roy only allowed a familiar smirk to creep across his lips.
“It doesn’t have to be like this. You could make things a lot easier on yourself.” For a moment, Roy only faltered, his eye gone wide in recollection. He couldn’t be certain if Harcourt was so cruel as to coach a thing like that, or if his own nerves had simply pulled words from thin air. It didn’t matter, because real or imagined, his poise was shattered. Whatever the alchemist was saying was lost in the frantic snap of Roy’s fingers.
Again and again fire erupted, driving Roy’s opponent across the parade ground. The alchemist didn’t seem inclined to fight back just yet, but Roy masked his confusion with relentless attacks, bright light that arced blindingly in the air between them. He breathed in smoke and it only served to trap him further in his memories.
Suddenly, the alchemist wasn’t retreating. He dodged to the side, grinning like he’d intended this all along. As he reached to press his hands to the ground, Roy caught a glimpse of a circle etched across his palm. It wasn’t the same as the ones on his gloves, but his chest clenched in dread as Roy recognized its intent.
Or course Harcourt would do something like this. There was no finesse to the billowing flames that barreled towards him. He was cowed, frozen in fear that he couldn’t pull himself together enough to shake. The knotted flesh behind his eye patch and sprawled out beneath his uniform, howled in remembered agony, though all that was left was deadened nerves.
Something in the brutal power behind his opponents transmutation struck a chord. Chaotic and explosive, it was as if Ed had decided to try his hand at fire. Ed. If he could just hang on to that… As Roy stared at the relentless blaze, all he could see in that instant was an explosion of debris in a dark prison, and a familiar figure, shrouded in the dust that hung in the air. Had they really come this far only to be overcome now? Even as Roy shook his head to clear away the memory, he was moving again, leaping out of the way of his opponent’s attack.
There was no room left for hesitation. Roy fell back on instinct where conscious thought had so fully betrayed him. Damaged or not, he knew this sort of alchemy. Ignoring the temptation that remained to cower away from the flames, Roy advanced on his opponent, driving him into a corner.
Somewhere behind him, Roy thought he could hear Ed shouting at him, or maybe at Harcourt. He couldn’t hear what, and maybe he’d only imagined it in his need to know that Ed was still there. The world devolved into red and orange and blistering heat. His opponent had retreated in earnest this time, but Roy offered no quarter. He snapped his fingers until there was nowhere left to go.
The match ended as his opponent begged for mercy with wide eyes and frantic words. The crowd that had gathered cheered in the stands, but Roy was deaf to it. He only stared at the scorched parade ground, his personal battlefield. Terrified and inches from breaking, he’d somehow dredged up the strength to overcome it anyway.
The alchemist scrambled off the field, but Roy wasn’t looking at him. Bit by bit, the crowds cleared, leaving him almost entirely alone in an emotionally exhausted haze. He didn’t even notice there was someone else on the parade ground until Ed was standing right in front of him.
“You should have seen the look on Harcourt’s face. It was priceless. See, I told you you’d do fine and…” Ed’s excitable tirade died abruptly as he reached out to clasp Roy’s shoulder. “And… you did.”
He had, hadn’t he? The strange, lingering fear that somehow after all this he’d still failed was all that had kept him upright. He collapsed to his knees, ignoring the dust that smeared the fabric of his uniform. He sagged in relief, glad Ed didn’t ask for an explanation as he flopped down in the dirt at his side. There was finality here, to be able to put it into worlds that he’d done it. He’d won. It was finally over.