Rating: PG 13
Summary: I did a meme a little bit ago, asking people to pick icons for me to write fic about. Someone picked the icon I made for If I Should Die. I will freely admit to being totally thrilled to have an excuse to revisit that fic. I miss it. This is a little side story that takes place during the earlier chapters. Since the entire fic was done from Roy's PoV, I figured it was about time to do something from Ed's because a lot of what he was going through never fully got touched on.
Disclaimer: I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist or any of its characters.
If I Should Die
The rest of my fics are here.
It was the low, keening sound that jostled him from sleep, an anguished reply to another nightmare that twisted the guilt in Ed’s belly. Roy went quiet and rigid beside him, too still to be sleeping any longer. Somehow, the unearthly calm was worse than all his unconscious struggling.
Ed’s eyes blinked open, warily shifting to regard the bed’s other occupant. Roy’s back was to him, pale and unmarred in the moonlight. If not for the ugly bandages that crawled across his skin, Ed could have fooled himself into believing that he was whole.
No, not whole, maybe never whole. He had failed and failed again until it was too late, the damage already done. Every vicious clap of his hands, every life he’d taken in his fury meant nothing, offered no equivalent retribution for this. No retaliation could make his heart stop clenching as he watched Roy’s shoulders tense, afraid even of the gentle quiet that surrounded them.
Your fault. His mind whispered insidiously, gleefully saddling him with every wound, inside and out. He could just make out the wrappings around the ruined side of Roy’s face, shrouding the place where his eye ought to be, and that was his burden too. Every definition he had of the man beside him was obliterated by his own failure to protect.
He wanted to howl with the agony of it all, but he could not afford himself the respite. Not when Roy finally looked at him, his expression pathetically relieved, as if he’d thought sometime in the night Ed’s weight on the bed had been replaced by a monster. He didn’t even seem to care that Ed was the monster. There was blood on his hands that refused to be washed away, and he had only broken pieces to show for it.
His arms eased across the chasm of blankets and bedding. He swore it was not for his own comfort, that the warmth of Roy’s body, trembling and alive in his arms didn’t chase away the memories of bodies buried in the rubble and blood stained gloves shoved in his pocket. He did not deserve that comfort, but he could not stomach the way that Roy curled in a bit on himself, like the weight of the darkness was too much to bear.
Ed’s fingers sought a hold in the blankets careful not to touch. It did no good. The way Roy reflexively shrank back just a bit, even from him, sat like rot in his belly a blatant reminder of the wrong he’d allowed.
He ached for something he recognized. Faint slivers of normalcy showed through now and again, a familiar expression, a shadow of something General Mustang might have said. Ed clung to them for all the hope he could leech from them, but there was nothing like that now, no strength or confidence in the face that watched him across the bed.
The defeat in that expression was too much. Frantic to wipe it away, his human fingers curled around Roy’s shoulder, the only comfort he could offer. Eventually, the muscles beneath his palm went slack. Every move pulled at still damaged flesh and the stuttered gasp as Roy unthinkably tried to move closer rang harshly in Ed’s ears, another wound he’d hide from the world. He closed the distance, if only so he wouldn’t have to hear that miserable sound again, not when he could do something to stop it.
Roy’s body sagged weakly against his. Ed wished he could be appalled by the way his fingers immediately found their way to card through dark, shaggy hair, but there was a soft sound from Roy’s lips that finally wasn’t pain, and he was helpless but to continue. Slowly, Roy’s breathing evened out, allowing Ed to lull him back towards slumber. His cheek had somehow found its way to Ed’s chest as if he could find safety so long as he could hear the steady pounding of Ed’s heart.
Roy trusted him, the most apt punishment of all. He craved it and he loathed it, and heaven knew he didn’t deserve it. The hands that smoothed over the back of Roy’s head had given no quarter, offered no mercy, and for what? It was hard to say what was the worst of it, the way he’d taken lives like they meant nothing, or that he wasn’t sorry at all. Each time he replayed the choice in his head, hoping that knowing what he knew now, he’d do something differently and redeem himself. Each time, his vision blurred, the choice made before his palms ever met.
Resignation was a cold, lonely thing, the words he could not speak lying stagnant and bitter on his tongue. He would stay, and relish the agony, a constant reminder of his own inadequacy. He would lay the world at Roy’s feet if he had to, but somehow, he would set this right.
Fine tendrils of hair drifted against his throat as Roy shifted at his side. His fingers curled protectively closer, already moving of their own accord. He smiled despite the pain, tracing Roy’s spine through the blankets. Determined to rest easy, not for his own sake, but so as not to disturb Roy, Ed resolutely ignored the present, clinging doggedly to the faintest strands of hope. They could set this right. The cost had been horrific, if justly deserved. Perhaps he only existed in shattered bits, useless fragments that refused to piece together, but for all his broken pieces, the fact remained that Roy was alive.