Word Count: 15,598
Summary: Ed disappeared back through the gate a year and a half ago. It's taken that long for Roy to really come to terms with it, and now he's moved on in the belief that Ed is truly gone. It's working out well until a familiar face shows back up on his doorstep.
A/N: Written for fma_big_bang. It was actually intended to be Roy/Ed/Riza, mostly plotless, and full of smut. It proceeded to grow a mind of its own, give me the finger, and this is the result.
A huge, huge thank you to elfen. She is utterly amazing, and I absolutely could not have pulled this together coherently without her.
Thank you also to my big bang artist, jojo_kun, who did a lovely illustration for the story. It can be found here.
It was not until Ed returned with death and destruction nipping at his heels from a world not their own that she began to understand. There’d been no explanation as to why Roy had left, abandoning those who’d stood behind him and leaving a lifetime of potential in shambles. She may have never understood, but then Ed came home, if only for long enough to gather his failures. She might have missed it, was certain just about everyone else did. Just a brief press of lips, a longing that bled from burnished gold irises, and a lingering of fingers. She felt like she was trespassing just by seeing the way they looked at each other.
In the end, Ed had disappeared once more into the oblivion that had spit him out. She’d thought it cruel, at first, to kiss and touch and abandon that way. It was only in the aftermath when she’d seen Roy smile for the first time in years, when he chose to stay, to no longer hide away from the truth that she began to comprehend. It had been a release, a goodbye he’d never given the first go around. Roy was still melancholy sometimes, but he was alive once more.
Life is constant evolution, and their dynamic slowly shifted into something recognizable, something that was the same but not. He leaned on her again and she believed in him again, faith renewed by his very presence. She was no longer a soldier standing behind him, backing an officer with her gun and her loyalty. Instead she became a woman, standing beside him and backing him up with her friendship and love.
It happened so slowly, such a gentle easing until leaning into the palm pressing at her jaw felt normal, tasting pale lips, bourbon faint on a tongue that beckoned to her, played at her mouth until she gave seemed inexplicably right. She sighed against his mouth, fingers moving against her cheek, up through her hair, nails scratching pleasantly, slow and lazy, across her scalp.
She wished she could just enjoy this, that her mind did not invent a catch at every turn, but she knew too much, privy to things Roy had confided during the early parts of this landslide, before his eye held something beyond a warm friendship, before his smiles were really for her and not the shadow that haunted him.
It seemed so harmless at the time, to allow him one more drink, to grant him the release of sharing all that he’d loved and lost. After all, it was better than where she’d found him, heartbroken and empty, staring forlornly at the Gate as if he could cry Ed back into their world. Roy painted a picture in soft, broken words, caught and released from his throat before sticking again, as if he’d swallowed glue instead of whiskey. He spoke of golden eyes that pulled him to pieces without even meaning to, of metal fingers that could have reached into his chest and yanked out his heart for all the power they had. He spun a tale of passion as wicked and wild as the anger Ed was known for, tempered only by what had to be love, to be true for so long. She gathered that Ed was fierce in his loyalty, that it was exhausting to be held onto, not with hands and arms gathered against automail, but to be so obscenely loved that there was no choice but to move forward, to melt against the forest fire.
Ed had been quiet sometimes too, soft and warm, and caring for nothing beyond just being touched and held and spoken to. One might have mistaken it for a sleep addled expression, or lips that had drunk too much wine, but it was simply a defining moment, where lust had completed its shift into something more, something that did not require sex to be quelled.
As she lingered by Roy’s side, the words had come less and less. Roy spent less time raking over her eyes, making her feel as if he searched for flecks of gold. He spoke less of a young man who was quite awkwardly sweet when he knew no one would be any the wiser. He no longer looked off into the horizon, the direction Ed had come home from, so very often.
They would never be free of him, not completely. Even now he danced in Roy’s gaze, a brilliance that glittered from afar that the man was loath to relinquish to both the Gate and the past. His name was whispered and sobbed in the dark of the night, dripping from lips that spoke sweet nothings to her by the light of day. Roy loved her, but his heart refused to forget a touch that was hotter and colder, arms that grabbed and held on for dear life, lips more fervent, and a loyalty that had continued over two years and lonely worlds away.
Still, Roy tried and seemed to be truly moving on, and so she gave in. She told herself that she could forgive waking to someone else’s name being called out. She swore that she could ignore the way that sometimes Roy stared at her right hand when it brushed across his cheek, as if he were stunned it wasn’t metal.
Ed’s memory haunted them sometimes, but it was only a memory. All that remained were a set of oil stained sheets and a few of his things, safely tucked away in the back of a closet. The house was otherwise wiped clean of Ed’s presence, and by the time she moved in, it was as if he’d never been there at all.
Standing in the living room of the house she shared with Roy, Ed was the last thing on her mind. Rain battered the windows, a distant symphony in the face of teeth scraping her throat, warm hands sliding surely across her skin.
He was adept at this, practiced in pushing all the right buttons even if it was often more skill than passion, leaving her asking wordless questions in the aftermath. Right this moment she was caught up, lost in heat and pressure and the feel of Roy’s fingers plucking free the snap of her pants and pushing them down over her hips.
The first knock at the door was easily lost in the distant roll of thunder outside. It came again though, more urgently this time, and Roy’s hands fell away from her body. They looked at each other, both curious as to who could possibly be at their door so late at night.
“I’ll get it,” Riza murmured, whisking her undershirt up from the floor and slipping into it. She hiked her pants back up, not bothering to button them as she headed for the foyer. She very sincerely hoped that whoever had seen fit to interrupt her evening had a very, very good excuse.
She opened the door, her expression flat and unimpressed with the intrusion. She might have offered a terse greeting to their late night visitor, only who she found stopped up her throat before she had the chance. Riza stared out at wide, golden eyes and the happiest smile she’d ever seen poking out from behind soppy, blond hair.
Edward Elric had always been hopelessly expressive. In the old days, it had made for a great deal of amusement when he was in the office. Now… now it meant that Riza had a front row seat to the instant Ed’s heart broke in recognition of the state of affairs. The smile fled his lips, and his eyes widened to horrified saucers. The soft, bereft sound he made was hard to catch, but it could not be mistaken for thunder.
The journey home was long and painful. Ed sustained himself with manic research that devoured most of his days. His dreams were of phantom touches, warm lips and ignition cloth, and they urged him on when he could go no further.
Al might have made a home anywhere, so long as he could see his brother. Despite the time and distance, Ed was Al’s world in many ways, and if Ed had been happy on the other side of the Gate, he would have managed. Ed, however, had shared his world with Roy. The brutal loneliness left him drifting without an anchor, listless and empty. He was trapped in an endless litany of what he desperately wanted versus the greater good, and no matter how he rationalized it, his heart still ached for something out of reach.
In the end it was Al’s idea, and he started reading while Ed still did not dare hope. He could not hold out forever though, and eventually sheer curiosity got the better of Ed. He threw himself into this the way he did everything.
One last time they sought passage through the Gate, fearing for their very lives. That they managed to beat the odds, that they survived at all, was nothing short of a miracle. Ed wasn’t sure he’d ever stop looking over his shoulder, waiting for it to come to collect the price it had let slip by.
First came Rizembul, though Ed practically twitched with the urge to claim what he’d come home for. They stood on the stoop of the Rockbell home, faced with a stunned Winry and an oddly unsurprised Pinako. Just this once Ed would have tolerated the wrench he knew Winry would be throwing, but it never came.
“You… you were gone. You weren’t coming home. I mean… they all said,” Winry finally managed as she gaped at them like she was staring at specters.
“We weren’t,” Ed replied with an impish smile that stretched across his cheeks.
“And…” Winry prodded, desperate to make sense of it all.
“And now we’re back.” The smile never left, and Ed couldn’t wait for two days of hard train seats that would take him home.
Central had never looked so good as it did when he finally reached the station. Rain poured down, threatening to drench him the moment he stepped off the train. He happily ignored it, only pausing long enough to grab his suitcase before running a path he still knew by heart.
Puddles had already formed on the sidewalk, and he splashed through them mindlessly. Soppy bangs hung in his face, obscuring the already dark path in front of him, but it didn’t matter. Suitcase swinging at his side, he ran for a house he hadn’t been to in far, far too long.
Roy’s neighborhood couldn’t come fast enough. When he finally reached it, only a concerted effort slowed Ed enough to catch his breath. After all, how was he meant to kiss Roy senseless if he couldn’t even breathe?
He walked the last block, smiling up into the sheets of water that splashed from the heavens. It was just warm enough outside to be pleasant, for the water to be as much relief as anything. When he finally reached the patch of sidewalk in front of Roy’s house, he simply stopped.
Ed stared at the old house, every bit as dark as the night it was shrouded in. Its silhouette was familiar and welcoming, like a lighthouse in the storm. A soft, low light glowed in the living room window and Ed’s lips curled in an elated smile as he made his way down the walkway to the porch.
There was so much he wanted to say, a thousand thoughts frantically tumbling over each other in his head. He climbed the steps, setting down his suitcase and rapping at the door. He listened carefully, waiting for the telltale thud of steps toward the door. None came, but they might have been lost in the rain.
He waited impatiently for a few moments more, the smile still glued to his lips. He’d waited years for this. What was just a little bit longer? He rapped at the door once more, almost frantic to make sure Roy could hear him over the storm. There were footsteps this time, creaking faintly across ancient floorboards, and Ed could hardly contain his elation.
The door opened, and he very nearly reached out. No, he didn’t want to give Roy a heart attack. Ed settled for a smile that threatened to burst at the seams, softening all the more as the door swung open.
Ed’s eyes widened in surprise when the living room light shone, not on Roy, but on Hawkeye. Nearly midnight seemed awfully late for guests and… and… her hair was mussed, her clothes even more so. The slip of a tank top she wore was all askew and Ed’s gaze involuntarily followed it down her torso to unbuttoned pants.
And that was it. He’d been gone for too long. Two feet in front of him was all the proof he needed to know he’d lost all he came back for. Ed crumpled inwardly, his expression slipping as he was forced to face the truth.
“I…” But what could he say? The possibility that Roy’s life had continued on without him hadn’t even entered his mind. Now he was here and his stomach flopped sickly at the realization that all he’d put his faith in was dust and lies, hopelessly out of reach.
“Ed…ward?” Riza seemed every bit as stunned as he did, and neither of them noticed when the door was yanked open wider.
He might not have noticed the door but the man behind it, a familiar face that swam in his dreams, was impossible to ignore. Ed’s heartbroken face turned upward, searching for words as he stared at Roy. The need for something kept him frozen, soaked through and staring on the stoop.
“Ed…” Roy’s whisper was nearly lost in the violent spatter of rain on concrete and shingles, but it struck at Edward as surely as any fist. He swallowed and looked away, because he couldn’t stomach taking in another second of Roy and Riza, equally disheveled like he’d never been missed at all.
Finally something cracked, a fault line that split viciously through him. Ed backed away, forgetting even his suitcase in his desperation to escape. “I… I… shouldn’t have come. I’m sorry.”
Ed turned to flee, but slender fingers reached out, curling around his shoulder. It was Riza who held onto him, pleading, “Ed… Ed wait.”
“Wh…y?” Ed asked in a voice that cracked with desperation. He wanted to get away; he wanted to hide from world.
Riza said something, or maybe it was Roy. Whatever was said , Ed was lost and hopeless and unable to hear anything He swayed on his feet, hesitating. He knew he should get a hotel, lick his wounds and get as far from Central as he could go. When he took a step, however, it was into a house that would never be home again.
Riza wasn’t sure how they coaxed Ed into the house. He was sweet and Roy loved him, and she couldn’t let him stand there, a broken mess on their doorstep. Eventually, he did come inside, dripping miserably in the foyer.
She hurried to the linen closet to retrieve some towels, her mind reeling. Roy loves him. She’d been something of a substitute once and maybe she wasn’t now, but Ed had been there first. He was back, and there was no telling what it might mean.
Riza fastened her pants and straightened her shirt as she stood in the hallway, out of sight. Ed was already distraught, and it seemed cruel to subject him to more than he’d already endured. Her arms laden with towels, she returned to the foyer, not entirely sure what she’d find.
Neither Ed nor Roy had moved. The two of them were scarcely an arm’s length apart, but it might as well have been miles. They hardly even looked at each other, as if eye contact would shatter all that was left.
She might have guided him to the bathroom, but the moment she offered him towels, Ed was on his way. He snatched up his suitcase and dismally trudged off down the hall. Of course he knew the way..
Roy stared after Ed, looking for all the world like he’d seen a ghost. He forced a smile when he noticed Riza watching, but there was no truth in it. Riza fled the false, sickly curve of his lips under the pretense of making tea.
The kitchen was a sanctuary where she could pretend she didn’t fear the mismatched thud of Ed’s feet toward the living room. She stood by the stove as the kettle heated andtold herself she wasn’t really straining to hear what Roy said when quieter steps finally trailed after Ed. It didn’t matter if she was eavesdropping or not. There was nothing to hear but heavy silence.
What could they do? Roy loved Edward in a way Riza still struggled to wrap her mind around. It wasn’t less than the way he loved her, but it was wholly different. And there was Ed to think of. Despite their current impasse, she was fond of the boy he’d been. He’d fought and fought, and all his hard work, all his unshakeable loyalty had bought him what? Empty hands and a broken heart were all this trip had offered him thus far. It felt hopelessly inhumane to withhold this one thing from him.
The kettle screamed, yanking her brutally from her morose contemplation. She pulled two mugs from the cabinet out of habit, a frown creasing her lips and brow as she remembered to pull down a third. Water and tea leaves were left to steep as she glanced through the doorway, but Ed and Roy were nowhere to be seen.
Out of excuses to hide, Riza finally loaded the mugs on a tray, heading back into the living room. She paused in the doorway. There, five steps in front of her, Roy’s hands and mouth had been all over here scarcely half an hour ago. Ed and Roy sat carefully apart, but she’d have been a great fool to believe anything had dulled between them.
Now they sat in a parody of companionship with Riza and Roy carefully situated at opposite ends of the couch, and Ed was curled up in the chair, buried under blankets. Hot tea and dry clothes seemed to have done a great deal for him physically, but there was nothing to ease the stunned sorrow on his face.
It was an awkward thing, sitting around like nothing was out of the ordinary. It left a sour taste on Riza’s tongue that refused to be dismissed. Despite her fears about what might happen in her absence, she needed to escape, craved the sanctuary of peace and quiet where she could pretend for a while that Ed had not just accidentally dragged her world down to its shaky foundations.
Some excuse, errands to run tomorrow, sheer exhaustion, bled from her lips. Roy murmured something like goodnight, but he didn’t look up, and she didn’t dare kiss him, not when Ed was bleakly watching her, waiting for another wound. She left as calmly as she could manage, and if she stayed on the staircase for a while, shielded from view, neither of them seemed to notice.
There was silence when Riza left, the same and not. It was thick and vile between them, full of unspoken promises and shattered faith. Ed was growing so used to the way Roy avoided his gaze that he was stunned when his former lover looked up to murmur a soft, “I’m sorry.”
“No… no please don’t apologize,” Ed all but begged. Bad enough that he felt his heart had been gouged out. He wouldn’t let Roy hurt too.
“I just… you weren’t coming back. You were gone.” There was something frantic there, desperate to be understood. “If I’d just…just known...”
“You’re right, Roy. I wasn’t coming back. I never meant to,” Ed admitted. The words did nothing to ease his own throbbing chest, but perhaps they could do something to assuage Roy’s self inflicted guilt.
There was silence again, drawn out like taffy and stretched so thin Ed could feel the holes opening up. Roy heaved a sigh, standing to light a fire in the hearth. “So what now?”
He meant to stay put. Ed fully intended to curl up in his chair with a swath of blankets and a mug of hot liquid between Roy and himself. He could no more maintain the distance than he could decide not to breathe, and his feet moved of their own volition, dragging him nearer the fire.
“What do you mean? You… youou love her. She loves you. I’m the one getting in the way here. I’ll just… I’ll just… go home.” Ed’s heart balked painfully at his traitorous lips, but he could deal with this. He could endure any pain for Roy’s happiness.
“Where is home?” Roy asked. The fire flickered across his skin, leaving it soft at the edges, beckoning Ed’s fingers
“It was wherever you were… Now? I don’t know.” Ed hated himself even before the words left his mouth. Until now, remnants of Roy’s masks remained in the flat press of his lips, the determined set of his shoulders. He looked at Ed now as if he’d been struck, his expression crumbling into something like agony.
“Fuck, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.” Ed did reach out then, fingers curling around Roy’s wrist. It shook against his fingers and Ed nearly leaned in to taste Roy’s lips before he remembered himself.
“I’ll leave in the morning,” he muttered, jerking his hand away before he could do something stupid.
“Ed…please…” Roy never asked him for anything. He took or he accepted Ed’s priorities, suffering the consequences without complaint. The moment Roy said that word, Ed’s heart clutched, threatening to give whether Ed wanted it to or not.
“I love you,” Ed choked out. “I want you to be happy, I do, but you can’t… you can’t ask me to stay here and watch you live your life with her. And I won’t be a home wrecker. She’s good for you and… and you deserve that.”
Roy chuckled bitterly, gingerly sitting down in front of the fire. “I only ever get you back to lose you again.”
Ed flinched, reaching out before he could stop himself. He wrapped around Roy fully, like an Ed-shaped leech. “Do you think I want it to be like this?”
Roy’s arms came around him, a gentle cocoon from the agony this evening had been. If he closed his eyes and wished hard enough, he could pretend it was normal, that Roy’s embrace wasn’t full of sorrow and regret. Ed frowned, letting himself lean into it just for a moment.
How they ended up on the floor was entirely beyond him. The rug in front of the fire was soft and thick, a perfect bed though Riza had said she’d made up the guest room. Truth of the matter was, Ed didn’t want to be a guest. It was a status foisted on him regardless of his own desires.
Guest or not, he no longer belonged here. Even Roy’s arms around him felt foreign if he thought about it too long. He did his best not to, reveling in the soft feel of someone stroking his hair, protecting him from the unfathomable depths he was sinking into.
Somewhere along the way, sitting by the fire became sprawling out across the rug. There were no kisses, because Ed knew he would not stop at one, and even if his body ached for what he could not have, he couldn’t overstep his boundaries like that. Roy stretched out beside him, and Ed told himself that it was okay, he could have this just for tonight. Surely after all he’d lost, one night would kill no one. When Roy’s body curled around his, as naturally as if it’d been made to do just that, Ed didn’t argue. He only waited as Roy’s fingers skimmed and settled against his belly. His own flesh fingers slid over Roy’s knuckles, threading lovingly between his fingers.
He wanted more, his every nerve pleaded for it. Ed staunchly ignored the temptation, only shuffling back until Roy’s nose pressed into the damp fall of his hair. He closed his eyes, pretending just for tonight that this was his, and that he’d never have to let go. Tomorrow might be chaos, but tonight he had Roy, and Ed slept the sleep of the weary and wanting.
Riza wasn’t sure what it was she expected to find when she came down the stairs in the morning. Something in the back of her mind whispered wicked things, promising that all she’d grown attached to was over now that Ed had deigned to return. She wanted to be furious, to demand Ed leave, give up, go home, but when it came down to it… she couldn’t. She’d spent so long living with the echoes of what had come before she was here that everything seemed inevitable. She was halfway down the stairs before she came to the realization that, deep down, whatever she found, she could not really fault them for.
Roy had never joined her in bed, and while she had tossed and turned and worried, she hadn’t gone to fetch him. Her traitorous mind offered up suggestions that made her chest tighten painfullyand by the time she reached the living room, she honestly expected to find them in a rather different state. Riza blinked in surprise at the two figures curled up on the hearth rug, still entirely clothed.
She might have smiled if the two of them together didn’t wrench quite so violently at her heart. Ed was curled up tightly against Roy, strands of gold trickling across the rug behind him. In slumber he was oblivious to the chill, to the long dead ashes in the fireplace beside them. He clutched at Roy’s shirt in his sleep, his clothes only disheveled by slumber. Roy’s face was pressed to his throat, and if the intimacy of it all made her want to shrink away… she could ignore that for a moment.
Ed’s eyes flicked open, hazy and disoriented with sleep. It was long moments before they settled on her shadow in the doorway, widening in guilty recognition. He flinched, trying to scramble from Roy’s arms without waking him, but Riza only held up her hand and shook her head. They’d been like that all night. What did a little while longer, matter?
She could accept that, had expected far worse in fact. It didn’t mean that she could stomach standing there, watching the proof that for all Roy loved her, he’d never stopped loving Ed. With a heavy sigh, she escaped to the kitchen, leaving them in what semblance of peace she could.
“I… I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have…” Ed’s voice faltered, breaking the silence where she had hidden. Ed hung back in the doorway of a house he knew and no longer seemed to feel he belonged in. He warily eyed his surroundings, as if nothing quite meshed with what he remembered. Every new addition, from the curtains she’d picked out to hang over the kitchen window, to the food and water dishes for Black Hayate, seemed to stick out to Ed, only making him retreat further into himself.
“I understand,” Riza offered, although she supposed it was only a half truth. The dynamic Roy had alluded to between them was so vastly different, snarky and adversarial. And yet, something had been enough to wait for, enough to run away for. For all it didn’t make sense to her, she fully comprehended wanting something you could reach out and touch but could not grasp. She wanted to say that it was alright, but it wasn’t, and she couldn’t forsake the truth that far.
One step at a time, Ed made his way into the kitchen. Eventually, he was almost near enough that she could have reached out if she’d wanted to. She wasn’t sure what to make of it until he was speaking, murmuring softly so that Roy would not hear. “I really am sorry. If I had known that… if I’d known, I never would have come.”
She could see the agony creep across Ed’s features just as plainly as she knew what he was saying was not a placating lie. She said the only thing she could: “No, you should be here. He loves you. He’s never stopped loving you.”
“And he loves you. I know he does,” Ed replied with a brisk shrug and a sad, rueful smile.
“Where does that leave us, then?” Riza asked with a mildness she did not feel.
“I’ll leave, of course. I just…want him to be happy. He’s happy with you and that’s… that’s enough.” Ed fought with the words, choking on them like bile. She knew he was used to sacrifice and it wasn’t fair after all he’d given.
“I could go,” The offer jabbed angrily in her belly. She’d devoted herself to Roy every bit as much as Ed, more in some ways. If she walked away now, where would it leave any of them? She was almost relieved, despite the guilt that pricked at her selfishness, to find Ed already shaking his head.
“He would never forgive me. I would never forgive me,” Ed replied, idly picking at the side of a counter top. “Just… Let me say goodbye at least, and I’ll be on my way.”
Ed had already reached the doorway again when Riza finally gathered the courage to call out after him. “He can’t let you go, and... I can’t, I won’t make him. Do you really think he’ll ever be happy, knowing you’re not lost, but you’re still gone?”
A worried frown tugged at the corners of Ed’s mouth as he considered it. Roy’s wellbeing got to him where he would not consider his own desperate wants. “What do you expect me to do, then?”
“Stay,” Riza blurted out, feeling very much like she was conceding everything. But, no matter how much she longed for simpler moments, she couldn’t watch Roy suffer, or Ed for that matter, so she forced herself to keep going. “Stay, just… just long enough for us to sort something out.”
Ed didn’t look convinced or happy. His shoulders sagged with a weariness that cut deeper than physical exhaustion. He finally nodded his head before disappearing, leaving Riza with her demons.
Roy seemed a bit bewildered having both of them there. He shared a bed with Riza, although he kept firmly to his side of it. It was as if he thought Ed would instinctively know, and could not bear to cause him any more hurt. He didn’t touch Ed either, but Riza would have had to have been blind to think he didn’t want to. Even though he was distant with both of them, he stared longingly after Ed sometimes and that hurt nearly as much as if he’d just given in already.
It was a delicate, precarious thing, but they managed a sort of balance. Riza couldn’t help wondering if it might be possible to carry on indefinitely. She could deal with Ed. He was sweet sometimes, even to her, though it was cautious and gruff and guarded. She also could deal with Roy loving Ed, if she didn’t fear it was at the expense of her. She couldn’t quite bring herself to suggest such an unorthodox solution though, and so kept the thought secret.
Ed had no such qualms. Days passed and no other solution presented itself. Roy was unwilling or incapable of forcing either one of them out of his life, but he still kept them both at arm’s length, which was perhaps more maddening. Finally, Ed came to Riza and asked, “What if neither of us left?”
Riza opened her mouth to gape, to reply, or both, but Ed was already anxiously barreling on, giving no room to interject. “I know it’s weird, but… but… well, we both love him, right? And, and he loves us both, and I just want him to be happy. He obviously isn’t keen on losing either of us, and I mean, under the circumstances I guess I can get that, but what else can we do?”
“Okay,” Riza finally cut in, stalling Ed mid rant when it was obvious he planned to keep rambling until she answered him. “It might work or it might not, but I’m willing to give it a try.”
Roy balked considerably more than Riza and Ed had at their proposed setup. He insisted that dragging them both along on account of his own selfish want was fair to neither of them. Ed pressed, prodding Roy until his guilty conscience coughed up that yes, he loved them both. The thought of losing either of them left him hopeless and lost.
Well that was alright then, Ed pointed out. It wasn’t selfish to love like that if he meant it. They loved him back, and maybe they didn’t want each other, but they were friendly and… and they could make it work if he’d just let them.
Riza was quiet, but there was no reproach when he dared to look at her. He wasn’t sure how it had happened, but she seemed in total agreement with Ed’s eccentric approach to solving their problem. Not quite ready to concede, Roy opened his mouth, searching for something to make them see how insane this was.
Whatever argument Roy was grasping for, it died in his throat when Ed drew closer. He leaned in, offering a kiss Roy had refused to take since he’d come home. Roy melted mindlessly into it, lost in the familiar, faded emotions that flared to life with Ed against him. He hoped Riza wasn’t terribly angry, but if she was even the slightest bit perturbed, she hid it well.
Long moments passed before Roy had the strength to relinquish Ed’s lips. He lingered with his forehead pressed to Ed’s shoulder, trembling involuntarily in the onslaught of all he’d not been allowed. It was all he could to do nod when Ed panted out a soft, helpless, “You okay?”
He was… or he wasn’t, but he would be. He was elated, overwhelmed entirely. He had no idea how to begin to deal with this. It was an undeniably strange setup, but they’d manage somehow.
They got through the day with little harm. Riza and Ed’s affection was understated, if only out of respect for the other’s proximity. Still, the affection was there, and well worth adjusting to the oddness of the situation if it meant Roy could keep it.
That night he wasn’t sure what he’d thought was going to happen. Ed had been staying in the guest room since that first night, but it seemed even more wrong than it had initially in light of… recent developments. He wasn’t sure how they meant to negotiate this, but he was unmistakably glad when Ed glanced briefly at Riza before following them up the stairs and into the bedroom.
For a moment, things were truly awkward. Eventually though, they sorted it out and the three of them managed to make it something vaguely comfortable. Roy cautiously slipped into bed with Riza on one side and Ed on the other.
Roy pulled Riza against his chest, relieved when Ed didn’t bristle over it. He felt a lean, muscular body press against the curve of his spine, Ed’s nose pressing against the back of his neck. He managed somewhat of a smile as human fingers carefully draped over his side, as if they’d been doing this for years. It wouldn’t be easy, perhaps in the long run it wouldn’t even be doable, but for this it was worth the fight.
There were times when one responsibility overrode another, Riza had told him, though he was too near slumber to understand what she was talking about. Likely it had something to do with the disheveled blond head that poked out from the blankets, shoved up against Roy’s shoulder. It was the Monday after they’d settled things, if one could call what they’d done settling, and she’d left in her uniform with Roy still in bed, promising she’d let the office know he was simply too ill to come in. She was never so lenient, no matter how long they’d shared a bed, a home, a life. Perhaps if Ed brought out this softness in her, he should stick around more often.
He could scarcely believe he had regained one without sacrificing the other. The situation was far from ideal, but Roy couldn’t quite bring himself to complain when it meant that Ed was home. Ed was more than home. He was squirming under the covers, his slumbering form working its way closer to the warmth of Roy’s body.
One eye flicked open slowly, hazy amber glinting in the light through the curtains. Ed gave him a soft, sleepy smile, and nuzzled against Roy’s jaw. “Keep expecting to wake up alone.”
“You won’t,” Roy promised, refusing to believe his words could be anything other than true. One way or another, they’d make this work.
It was the first time they’d really been alone together since Ed had showed up, sopping wet and broken hearted on his doorstep. It seemed only right to reach out, drawing his fingers along Ed’s jaw to guide it upward. Ed let his head be tipped, happily humming into the kiss he got for his compliance.
The years had nearly faded the exact feel of Ed’s mouth under his, but eager lips and tongue and teeth sparked it back to life with an urgency Roy could hardly contend with. One kiss became two and three, and then his tongue was teasing Ed’s lips apart, desperate to delve within. The arm Ed had slung over him in sleep tightened around Roy’s body as he opened his mouth in invitation.
“I never thought I’d see you again,” Roy admitted brokenly, whispering the words against Ed’s lips as he rolled them over.
“I’m home now. For good this time,” Ed gasped out, tipping his head back in the pillows as Roy sucked at the junction of his jaw and throat. He arched up off the bed, only Roy’s weight above him keeping him remotely still.
They were quiet, lost in the feel of warm skin and soft lips. Ed whimpered as Roy’s hands slipped beneath his shirt. The fabric was unceremoniously shoved up as Roy memorized the smooth contours of Ed’s body. For too long he had subsisted on memories of this, and it was maddening how poorly they held up. Roy clenched his jaw against the grief of realizing he couldn’t quite recall if this was what it felt like before.
But Ed was clinging to him, mismatched hands drawing him back to the present. Ed yanked plaintively at Roy’s shirt, unable to remove it himself. Reluctantly, Roy released Ed long enough pull it over his head, noting with a faint smile that Ed was wriggling out of his own. He scrabbled at it for a moment, finally managing to lift his shoulders enough to get rid of the offending fabric, and immediately reached out to Roy.
For all the wicked scars that framed the edge of his automail port and littered his body, Ed himself was beautiful. Roy’s mind tried to pretend that Ed’s face had always been so soft, that his body had always been so graceful, and although he knew it for lies, he couldn’t quite wrap his brain around the truth. He’d clung to his memories of Ed for so long, and all that was left of them now was smokescreens and painful falsehoods.
“I’m here now.” Ed’s voice was soft against his ear, gently drawing him back to the present. Metal fingers traced his spine until he couldn’t help but draw closer, pressing against the warmth of Ed’s body.
Even after all this time, Ed fit against him like he was made to be there. The slide Ed’s bare skin against his drew a sharp gasp from his lips, echoed in the sharp press of Ed’s fingers into his back. If he could not remember, he would begin again, and his hands were everywhere, rewriting each inch of Ed’s body in his mind.
Soft pants and stuttered gasps spurred Roy on, taking on a desperate note as his teeth raked the column of Ed’s throat. Tender flesh gave beneath his nips, and there’d be marks later, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to care. Ed writhed against him, murmuring low, approving words as he tried to offer up more of his throat.
But it wasn’t enough, not when Roy wanted everything. He mouthed at the side of Ed’s neck, soothing sharp bites and already bruising marks with the flat of his tongue. Ed cursed, sharp between his teeth, and Roy couldn’t remember if that was new or not, but he guessed it was something Ed had always done that hadn’t made it as far as the rest of his memories.
Roy’s lips met the jut of Ed’s collarbone, tracing it with peppered kisses. He traced the edge of Ed’s automail port, reveling in the way Ed’s human hand slid up into his hair, settling against the back of his head. Ed’s chest rose and fell against straying lips as Roy worshiped bare, smooth skin. He could feel the frantic litany of Ed’s heartbeat, hammering against his mouth.
Ed’s breath whistled through gritted teeth as Roy’s tongue flicked against a nipple. He writhed under Roy’s hands as if no one had touched him in all the years he’d been away, which in all actuality was most likely the truth. Roy scowled at the guilty ache in his chest for the fierce, stubborn loyalty that Ed refused to give up, even separated by the Gate itself. Every whimper that bled from Ed’s lips was a subtle reminder of how Roy had failed.
Too late for regrets, all Roy could do was make-up for lost time and pray for forgiveness. He kissed and nibbled and touched, learning by heart the faint press of Ed’s ribs against his skin, the smooth expanse of Ed’s belly that trembled and gave under his kisses. Ed did not complain, though Roy couldn’t think for the life of him why he’d expect him to. There were only hands fisting in his hair and Ed encouragingly arching up against Roy’s mouth, eager for more.
Roy hesitated when he reached the band of Ed’s boxers. It was one thing to give, another to take, and what right did he have when he couldn’t even hold on? Oblivious to Roy’s inner turmoil, Ed wiggled his hips, wordlessly begging Roy not to stop now.
Slowly, Roy hooked his fingers in the waist of Ed’s boxers. He smiled in spite of his melancholy as Ed immediately lifted his hips, all but shoving the offending fabric off himself. He let out a shaky sigh when Roy pulled them down, easing them off flesh and metal legs.
God, but he was beautiful, flushed and panting and Roy had hardly even touched him. Roy managed an affectionate smile which Ed returned with lust-drunk, half-closed eyes, and hands that flopped and settled against the covers. For a moment, all he could do was sit still and take it in.
Eventually, want won out over reverie and Roy nudged Ed’s legs apart. Ed complied like he was made for Roy’s touch, his eyes closing in utter and absolute trust. With a shivering sigh, Roy settled between them, his fingers lightly skimming the tops of Ed’s thighs.
Roy dipped his head, brushing kisses along the hollows of Ed’s hips. For every day he had not been able to sustain himself on memory alone, for every nightmare that had stripped him of sleep, for what had come to be an accidental sort of betrayal, he made his penance, tongue flicking reverently against Ed’s skin.
“Roy, Roy please,” Ed mumbled at the ceiling, his fingers idly twisting in the blankets. Roy nearly sobbed in recognition. For all his mistaken memories, he’d never been able to shake or replace the feeling of being so utterly and wholly wanted.
Helpless to do anything else, Roy obeyed. He drew the flat of his tongue along the length of Ed’s cock to a stuttering moan and rocking hips. Again and Ed cursed, his voice full of urgency.
He was hopelessly out of practice, but Ed didn’t seem to mind. There was only another curse as Roy experimentally pulled the head of Ed’s cock between his lips. He flicked his tongue against it, wishing he could remember the things Ed liked, but too many years had dulled that too, and he settled for learning again.
Slowly, Roy worked his way down Ed’s cock until it hit the back of his throat. Ed groaned, and Roy could feel the way he trembled with the struggled not to thrust forward. Ed’s feet settled against Roy’s hips, and he could feel the way flesh and metal toes curled in pleasure.
He would have liked to pretend that he was a better man and this was enough. Every nerve ending burned viciously and he wanted, so much he could hardly breathe. Roy might have tried to reign himself in anyway, but Ed was pulling at the blankets, cursing under his breath and demanding more than Roy could possibly offer.
There was a plaintive, almost sobbing sound when Roy lifted his head, shifting so that he might reach the bedside table. He rifled quickly through the drawer, wrapping his fingers around a small bottle. Ed was not the reason it was there, and the realization was brutal. Roy winced where it could not be seen before returning his attention to Ed.
If Roy had forgotten what it was to be like this, Ed had not. He relaxed utterly, golden eyes slipping shut as he pulled in another breath. He was blessedly still when Roy’s mouth closed over his length once more, as if this was all he’d been waiting for.
Memory didn’t matter when instinct took over. One slicked finger teased at Ed’s entrance before slipping easily inside. He tensed for only a moment, a low whine filtering past his lips, but it died away as Roy pulled back.
In and out and in again, and after a few times, Ed’s body was moving with him. Roy watched from behind his bangs as Ed shuddered under Roy’s mouth and hands, limbs already taut and threatening to snap. His eyes were screwed shut, mouth open and panting as he lay out under Roy’s attentions.
Carefully, Roy added a second finger, relieved when Ed didn’t tense or flinch. His own body thrummed with need, but he ignored it. This was for Ed, and all that mattered was that it was perfect after all he’d sacrificed.
Roy gently crooked his fingers, searching in hope of offering a distraction. Any doubt he might have had that he’d brushed against the sensitive bundle of nerves inside was whisked away as Ed’s spine arched unnaturally, the blankets bunching in his hands. His mouth parted further in a silent cry before he sucked his bottom lip between his teeth.
“Fuck, fuck, Roy,” Ed gasped out as a third finger stretched him more. Roy’s mouth bobbed along Ed’s cock in reward. His name never sounded quite as exquisite as it did tumbling off Ed’s lips, even if it was nestled in violent curses.
Ed tossed his head, saying something but the words were reduced to incoherent babble. Ed let his legs fall further apart for a moment before his heels hooked around Roy’s hips, wordlessly tugging him closer. If Roy could have said no before, now he was powerless, caught up in all that Ed was.
His mouth and fingers were gone, and Roy sat up, shifting enough to shimmy out of his own underwear. Long past the frayed ends of his patience, he wasted little time slicking his own cock. Struggling to steady his breath, he settled over Ed, almost afraid to look him in the eye.
Whatever he feared, whatever judgment he expected, Ed had other ideas. Flesh and metal fingers cupped his jaws and he was pulled gently forward. Ed’s lips found his in a kiss more gentle than he’d thought Ed capable. His shoulders sagged in something like relief, one hand moving to wrap around his length, guiding it into Ed.
Slow, it was all painstakingly slow, though his body screamed at him to move and forget everything else. Ed breathed hard through his nose, his fingers sliding down Roy’s back, clutching at his skin. He clung to Roy as if to ward off the sting.
“I’m sorry,” Roy whispered against Ed’s lips, unsure what it was he was apologizing for. The pain, the loss, perhaps just everything, but he stayed still for Ed’s sake, waiting for a sign Ed had even heard.
“No, no, don’t,” Ed murmured, his arms circling more fully around Roy. He stayed like that, motionless and wrapped around Roy, until his body finally relaxed. With a slight nod, he pressed back against Roy, drawing him the rest of the way in.
For all that his hips wanted to shove forward, uncaring and needy, Roy refused. It was slow, as gentle as he could manage under the circumstances, and Ed sighed, nuzzling at his throat. Only the soft, pleased sounds that made their way to Roy’s ear let him know that Ed was even aware anymore.
It’d been far too long, and even if his body wasn’t out of practice, he was utterly overwhelmed. Ed was no better off, panting and already shivering beneath the weight of Roy’s body and the steady thrust of his hips. Desperate to make this good if not entirely perfect, Roy wormed a hand between them, wrapping his still slick fingers around Ed’s cock.
Ed’s eyes flew open, a choked cry catching in this throat. Roy watched in wonder, almost forgetting his own desperation as he fell into rhythm, matching his hand to the rocking of his hips. Ed gasped, desperately shoving into Roy’s hand and back against his cock.
It didn’t last nearly long enough. Ed babbled out a frantic warning, but even if Roy had not been lost himself, it was already too late. He came against his belly and Roy’s, shuddering violently and wailing Roy’s name.
Ed’s body seemed to pull inward, tightening hopelessly around Roy. It shredded the last of Roy’s resolve, catapulting him into blank oblivion. Release shuddered down his spine, leaving him shivering in its wake.
Ed stared blankly at the ceiling, as if he weren’t even aware of Roy’s presence. Roy might have thought it a bad thing, but a faint smile quirked on Ed’s lips, and that couldn’t be bad, could it? Roy himself was preoccupied with remembering how to breathe without gasping, before finally giving up and slumping into Ed’s waiting arms.
EventuallyRiza would be home, and the reality of their situation would be inescapable. For now, Roy was content to relax against Ed. For now he could pretend that all he’d ever done was wait for Ed to come home.
If she could just understand, Riza was sure she could justify this. What lay between Roy an Ed was an enigma to her. If she could just figure out the bond they shared, perhaps the rare moments where they allowed themselves to be warm and close and truly together wouldn’t hurt so much.
She watched them when she could get away with it, as unobtrusive as she could manage. Mostly, they fought and goaded each other, both helpless but to react in kind. Ed bickered over every imagined slight, and Roy seemed almost… almost happy to string him along. Every once in a while, amidst the grumbling and sulking, she’d catch a fleeting smile, as if all Ed had given up for this was worth it for one more argument about the proper doneness of bacon.
Perhaps it was Ed. She did not love him, but she could see the allure. He was pretty in his own way, brilliant gold that caught her eye in the morning light more often than not. He was still almost unfailingly polite to her, and she couldn’t for the life of her sort out if he was just immensely grateful for the concession she’d made, or if she’d never stopped being Lieutenant Hawkeye to him.
The latter was a funny thought. Ed had seen her in her pajamas, sometimes less, fairly frequently since he’d come to stay. They all shared breakfast, dinner when they could, and Ed was always nice to her, but there was none of the easy companionship he so obviously shared with Roy.
They were rarely close when she was around, and so they were hard to decipher. Sometimes though, when Ed was tired enough not to worry, he stretched out along the length of the couch where Roy was sitting, book in hand. Ed shuffled until his head was comfortably situated in Roy’s lap, practically purring when Roy shifted his book to one hand, deft fingers combing through Ed’s loose hair. Roy hummed, tuneless and soft, and only Riza noticed the content smile that twitched on Ed’s lips.
She didn’t understand any better, but watching the two of them struck something. Despite their constant lashing out at each other, they honestly seemed content. It was strange, unfathomable to her to actually enjoy that, but the more she saw, the more she was certain she’d done the right thing.
It was Ed who finally breached the distance that lingered insidiously between them. They sat at the kitchen table, coffee in hand and Roy in the shower on a leisurely Sunday morning. Almost without warning, Ed leaned over, offering up an explanation for all she’d struggled to comprehend. “He’s a bastard.”
“Excuse me?” Riza asked, not sure she’d heard Ed, even less sure she knew what he was talking about. It didn’t matter because Ed was elaborating as best he could.
“I owe a lot to him, more than he knows, I think. He’s…” Ed shook his head, grinning at Riza. “No, mostly he’s just a bastard.”
It explained nothing and everything, and Riza couldn’t help but smile at the paradox. Ed seemed more relaxed after that. Even Riza was hard pressed not to find the humor in Roy and Ed’s constant arguments. Maybe it was just another form of expression.
Life was easier after that. Ed talked to her and she found herself talking back. They weren’t in love, but they were something like friends. Every once in a while, she caught herself staring, wondering what it would be like if there was more after all.
They’d spent what was starting to feel like forever sharing a bed with only Roy between them. Riza grew used to the sprawling way Ed latched onto Roy, arm draped over his side and groping for the bedding. His fingers usually found Riza instead. She grew more and more used to the lazy drag of a palm that wasn’t Roy’s down her side, and the way it tended to follow Roy’s arm to lace through the fingers pressed to her stomach was less and less strange as the nights went by.
She wondered sometimes, if they were happy like this. There were moments where she longed for things to make sense, guiltily wishing for the days before Ed had come back. Sometimes Ed was strangely quiet, his smile too wide and his eyes too bright. Roy withdrew on days like that, as if afraid to reach out to either of them.
It was worth it, she decided, for the mornings that found them perfectly at peace. A warm hand slowly swiped down her spine, drawing a soft, pleased hum from Riza’s lips. Her eyes flicked open to find Roy gone, no longer a human barrier between her and Ed. The curtains were drawn, and Ed still slept in the muted light.
The quiet drew her nearer to him, until Ed’s arm coiled fully around her. In sleep, his face was calm, free of whatever ailed him in the harsh light of wakefulness. Maybe it was this that held Roy to him, because she didn’t so much as realize she was moving until her fingers were tracing the gentle curve of his jaw.
Riza froze when Ed sucked in a breath, but he did not wake. He only leaned into her touch, fingers curling slightly against her back. There was a soft sigh as he settled a bit closer, jostling the blankets from his shoulder.
She shouldn’t, though she couldn’t put why into words. Ed never intentionally reached out to her when he was awake, but his sleeping body sought the warmth of hers, wriggling so close she could feel his breath on her cheek. She frowned at the way her fingers trailed along his throat, sweeping across his shoulder to a soft, wanting sound.
It was something they’d never have, the comfort of being urged into wakefulness with soft kisses and lazy caresses. None of them dared, out of some nameless, fathomless unease. Even alone, it felt illicit to be witness to Ed hung between sleep and awake.
“Love you,” Ed murmured, words not meant for her. Riza’s stomach clenched, insisting that for all she had agreed to him staying, she had robbed them both of something. Her fingers froze at the junction of Ed’s throat and shoulder, no longer able to pretend it was nothing.
Frowning at her own behavior, Riza’s hand found its way to Ed’s hair instead. That was safe, harmless and easy. It was soft and silky, slipping between her fingers, and she was so caught up in it, she didn’t see when Ed’s eyes opened, bleary slips of gold regarding her and trying to comprehend.
“Riza?” She started at hearing her name on his lips, even more at the shadow of a smile he offered her. He never called her that, regardless of their situation, but now… he made no move to release her or pull from her grasp.
Ed’s smile faded, a frown wrinkling his brow. He chewed on his lip before leaning his head forward, cautiously whispering, “Could I… kiss you?”
Even as she blinked in confusion, trying to work out what Ed was playing at, her head seemed to nod of its own accord. Ed hesitated, the way he never did with Roy, looking more nervous than she’d ever seen him. Eventually though, he leaned in, lips brushing over hers.
It was soft, chaste and fleeting and nothing at all like kissing Roy. She let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding, but just when she thought it was safe to breathe, Ed’s mouth plucked at hers again, with more urgency than before.
When Ed pulled away again, his cheeks were flushed with something. He glanced away, softly mumbling, “I just… I wanted to know why…”
It dawned on her then, and Riza smiled, fondly pulling Ed just a little bit closer. She’d spent so much time focused on watching Ed and Roy that she hadn’t looked at what was on the surface. For all she was trying to understand… he was too.
Knowing did nothing to assuage the guilt, but Ed seemed happy for the moment. If she leaned in, her lips murmuring over his, it was only idle curiosity. If his fingers found their way to bury in her hair and clutch at her shoulders, it was only a mimic of what he truly wanted. It wasn’t perfect, but maybe… maybe they could make it okay.