Word Count: 15,279
Warnings: Angst and some mildly adult material
Summary: Ed's denial over his feelings towards Roy inadvertently cause an accident that would have killed his lover. Ed bargains with the Gate, trading Roy's memories of ever knowing him in exchange for keeping him alive. Opting not to tell Roy about their history in favor of not trapping him in a relationship with someone he doesn't remember, Ed must live with the consequences and risk the possibility that what they had was purely circumstantial.
Author's Note: Thanks so much to sink_or_swim for the beta, and to rueme for the gorgeous art that can be found
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters in this story.
The rest of my fics are here.
There hadn’t been many perfect days in Edward Elric’s life. He wasn’t entirely certain if this qualified yet, but if it didn’t, it came very close. He was willing to take what he could get in any case.
Sunlight filtered softly through the curtains, spilling across the bedding to gently nudge Ed from sleep. His eyes flickered open, immediately met by a mess of black hair that, despite being mostly tucked beneath his chin, still managed to creep up the pillow to tickle his nose and get in his face. He smoothed it down with a longsuffering sigh and a smile he’d never let Roy see.
There was the faintest change in Roy’s breathing as Ed listened to him drift towards wakefulness. Ed smiled a little more broadly, his fingers straying from Roy’s hair to splay across his back, skimming the expanse of it. Roy’s arm, draped lazily over Ed’s side tightened briefly in response, a soft, happy sound bleeding off his lips.
“Missed you,” Roy whispered, the words still slurred with sleep. Ed felt Roy shift enough to open one dark, bleary eye at him. His usually controlled expression was muted by slumber and tenderness, and Ed couldn’t figure for the life of him what right anyone had to look so stupidly pretty as Roy did right then.
Moments like these always seemed to twist something in Ed’s chest, and this was no exception. It was a terribly new sensation he was still scrambling to define, even as his arms cradled Roy a little more tightly against his chest. He closed his eyes, nuzzling against Roy’s hair as he murmured affectionately, “Idiot… missed you too… I guess.”
There’s a name for this, his mind suggested, but Ed ignored it, pretending he didn’t hear. He had all the time in the world for that. Right this second, Ed couldn’t care less about putting the way his heart felt like bursting into words, not when he was so warm and comfortable and blessedly blank.
Roy’s lips covered his and Ed sighed as he melted into the kiss. He knew this part by heart, his mouth having memorized every inch of Roy’s countless times in the last year. It felt like a lifetime. All the memories of years when he’d been blind to all but his brother, and the way he’d never quite settled in Resembool weren’t enough to dissuade his body from the idea that they’d been doing this forever.
Ed’s lips parted on a gasp as Roy’s tongue swept across them. A hand swept deftly over his naked hip, fingers curling around it as Roy dragged him closer. Ed’s body seemed to move of its own accord, legs tangling further with Roy’s before he was even really aware of what he was doing.
Ed let himself be rolled onto his back, Roy following close behind. Knees pressed against the insides of his thighs as Roy’s mouth strayed, peppering his jaw with damp lips and brief presses of teeth against his skin.
The rhythm was a familiar one, teeth worrying Ed’s pulse and nimble fingers skimming his naked chest and belly. Ed tipped his head back and whined. He’d missed this, missed this so much and Roy was torturing him, and all that cared to go on in his head now was senseless babble.
Roy was whispering something against the hollow of Ed’s throat, but the words were lost in a low groan as Ed arched off the bedding into Roy’s hands. A palm smoothed over the dip of Ed’s hips and he impatiently strained closer in an attempt to garner something more.
“You’re always in such a hurry.” Roy’s voice was a soft, wicked breath along the shell of Ed’s ear that made him suck on his bottom lip, stifling a whimpering sound.
“Do you have any idea how long it’s been?” Ed complained, desperate and all but scrabbling at Roy’s arms and hands, anything to make the man just touch him already.
“I do have some idea,” Roy replied, raising an eyebrow like he was waiting for Ed to realize the silliness of that particular question.
Ed was well aware and long past caring. He wriggled hopefully, arms viselike around Roy’s shoulders. He leaned up to grace Roy’s mouth with a kiss that was practically romantic, in that he wasn’t biting or sucking or being… terribly rough. His words were broken, punctuated by lips on lips as Ed tried very hard not to be too impatient. “Then what are you whining about? Just touch me already.”
There was a strange look on Roy’s face, but it was lost in the way that for once he did exactly what Ed asked him to.
They might have fallen right back asleep like that if not for the insistent way Ed’s stomach growled when it realized it might not be getting fed soon. Roy chuckled at the interruption, fingers tightening around Ed’s shoulders. Ed did his very best to both scowl irritably and hide the way his cheeks flushed as he all but disappeared beneath the covers.
“You should call that diner down the street and get them to deliver breakfast,” Ed muttered against Roy’s chest as he snuggled closer. He didn’t relish having to leave the warmth of Roy’s arms and the covers. Belatedly realizing delivery wouldn’t entirely solve that, he added, “To our bedroom.”
Roy sighed and shook his head. There was a faint smile on his lips though, a soft, true thing only Ed ever really got to see. “You do realize that the diner is only three blocks away, correct?”
“So? Geez Roy, what’s the point of banging some big shot general who can’t even order breakfast in bed,” Ed teased, a wicked smile stretching across his lips.
“Oh, is that what this is about? Here I thought you wanted me for my library,” Roy drawled blandly. For just a moment, something looked a bit off in his expression. It was so faint; Ed wouldn’t have even caught it if they hadn’t been doing this for nearly a year. Even now, it was gone so quickly, Ed couldn’t really be certain he’d seen anything.
Ed snorted, “I finished with your library months ago.”
“Brat,” Roy muttered affectionately. He picked up the phone, offering the receiver to Ed. “You’re a state alchemist. You try to convince them to bring us breakfast in bed.”
“Former,” Ed pointed out, preening as he deftly sidestepped the demand. Deftly for him anyway. “I’m a civilian consultant now, remember? I was your idea, after all.”
“It worked out well,” Roy replied, not even seeming to notice the way the phone in his hand was beeping.
Ed rolled his eyes, squirming out of Roy’s arms. He leaned in, nipping playfully at Roy’s jaw. “Of course you’d think so. You can have me and still take credit for all the stuff I do around there.”
“And you still get to terrorize my office,” Roy reminded him, looking a bit put out, even more so when Ed sat up out of reach. “Where are you going?”
“To get breakfast since someone couldn’t be bothered to make breakfast come to us,” Ed replied, slipping out from under the covers. He couldn’t help grinning at the way Roy’s eyes still immediately followed, tracing over bare, sunlit skin and the loose hair that rippled down across his shoulders.
“It’s a nice day. Surely walking isn’t that much of an imposition,” Roy murmured, still distractedly watching the sway of Ed’s hips like he hadn’t very recently had his hands all over them.
Ed shrugged, shimmying into the pants he’d dropped on the floor sometime the night before. “Fine, we can walk.”
“You know, if you like, I could clear out a couple of drawers in the dresser for you,” Roy said offhandedly as he watched Ed gather up his discarded clothing.
“It’s fine. I’ll just change when I get home,” Ed said, the reply somewhat muffled as he tugged his shirt over his head. Roy wasn’t facing him, digging through the dresser for clean clothes. Ed swore the set of Roy’s shoulders was just a bit stiff… but he might’ve been imagining that too.
“Alright,” Roy replied, which was strange in itself, because Roy so rarely let things drop of their own accord.
“What’s it matter? Not like I wore these long enough to get dirty anyway,” Ed murmured, his eyebrows waggling suggestively. Judging by the way Roy grinned at him, it was more comical than suggestive, but it broke the odd tension between them, so that was okay too.
“It doesn’t matter. I just thought I’d offer. As messy as you are everywhere else, I’m a little surprised is all. When you’re not actually here, there’s nothing to say you ever were,” Roy murmured like it meant something, but Ed hadn’t the faintest idea what that something was.
“My clothes end up all over your house all the time,” Ed teased, his confusion leaving him off kilter.
“Only when they’re not on you,” Roy purred, and Ed only had vaguely enough coherence to grumble about how Roy was so much more adept at that.
“And here I thought you’d appreciate me not making a mess of your house,” Ed teased, Roy’s smile only leaving him more unsettled.
“Let’s go see about breakfast.” Roy changed the subject abruptly, leaving Ed to wonder if he was genuinely that bad at understanding relationships, or if Roy was just being weird. Both were known to happen from time to time.
While Ed wasn’t ready to concede to it being better than breakfast in bed, it was a rather nice day. The walk to the diner was short, and something about the way the sunlight softened Roy’s features made Ed smile. He couldn’t quite bring himself to mind if Roy’s fingers threaded through his halfway there. Ed only lifted his head a little higher, daring anyone to comment on the crimson flush staining his cheeks.
They were most of the way through breakfast when Ed finally noticed the way things had shifted entirely. They never would have done this in the beginning, or, at least not unless Roy baited him with sex or academics. It had happened so subtly, Ed only noticed he wasn’t talking theory at all when he realized Roy was laughing instead of arguing. He finished telling Roy about the trip he’d just returned from, both baffled and pleased by the understanding that this was what he’d missed the most.
It was over entirely too quickly. Ed would have just as soon stayed there in that moment, but their plates were empty and the bill paid, so no excuse really remained. Roy swiped a stray bit of syrup from Ed’s cheek with his thumb, and Ed didn’t really care anymore if people were watching. There’s a name for this some part of his mind reminded him, but Ed ignored it.
Roy’s arm slipped around Ed’s shoulders like it was the most natural thing in the world as they walked back to the house. “I never thought I’d see the day you’d let Al leave you behind. I’m glad your trip went well.”
I’m glad you came back. Deaf as he normally was to the words Roy didn’t specifically say, that particular sentiment was impossible to miss. Ed leaned a little closer to Roy and smiled despite the pain in his chest. It did hurt to let his little brother go off without him, but it would be alright. “It’s just school. Not like he’s gone forever.”
“Are you going to be alright by yourself in that apartment?” Roy asked, glancing down expectantly.
Ed’s brows furrowed in confusion, not sure if Roy was teasing him or getting at something else entirely. “I’d like to think you’d noticed, but I am an adult. I think I’ll survive coming home to an empty house.”
“I know that. I just…” For as confident and poised as Ed was used to Roy being, even the slight hesitation in his voice was jarring. By Roy standards, he was practically fumbling, and if Ed hadn’t known better, he’d have thought Roy was proposing or something ridiculous like that. He could pick out the way Roy’s jaw worked for a moment before he finished, “I was just saying you don’t have to. I mean… it isn’t as if I don’t have room.”
“Are you… asking me to move into your house?” Ed asked very slowly.
“It could be our house.” Roy looked more vulnerable than Ed could ever remember seeing him, his voice so soft that if Ed hadn’t been pressed against him, he might’ve missed it. The effort it took Roy to meet his gaze and simply wait for an answer was palpable, but his words were steady, “My life is better with you in it, Ed.”
Ed’s eyes widened impossibly. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, as if an answer might magically present itself. Roy practically was proposing as far as Ed was concerned, but all that came out was, “I’m… a pain in the ass to live with.”
“We’d manage somehow,” Roy replied softly. “People tend to find ways to put up with a lot from those they love.”
“Love…” Ed froze. There’s a name for this, and he finally understood what had been happening all along.
For all Ed had ignored it, there was no escaping the truth now, not when Roy was looking at him like he might die if Ed didn’t say something. He was… in love with Roy Mustang. Ed tried to open his mouth to say as much, to make it perfectly clear that he finally got it, but his throat felt full of glue. He was so busy trying to make something intelligible come out that he didn’t realize the spot his feet had chosen to freeze was in the middle of the road until the blaring of a car horn startled him back to reality.
It all happened so fast. Each segmented detail vied for attention in his already muddled head, the firm press of hands shoving him out of the way, the screech of tires that had come inches from toppling him right there. Ed landed on his hands and knees, palms scraping roughly against the concrete curb.
Ed turned around to sit on the edge of the road, laughing breathlessly at his own absentmindedness. He lifted his head, meaning to apologize just as soon as he could breathe again. Ed’s stomach lurched sickeningly as it all came together in his head, that the hands pushing him out of path of the car had been Roy’s, that that was why exactly his lover was sprawled on the road at an angle that looked entirely wrong.
“Roy!” Ed shouted, scrambling back out into the street. He knelt beside Roy, nearly giving into the urge to clutch his lover against him despite the blood pooling on the street.
Ed searched frantically for the source of the bleeding, trying not to move Roy too much. His hands were sticky with blood, and only the pained, gut wrenching whimper that struggled past Roy’s lips kept Ed from losing it entirely. He thought to shout for help, but some part of him already knew there was no point.
If he could just stop the bleeding… Ed spied the gash in Roy’s temple where his head hit the pavement, and struggled to stop it. He pulled his shirt off, shoving it against the wound, though he knew it wasn’t nearly enough. Each breath Roy took was shallow and wet, and Ed squeezed his eyes shut, biting his lip against the agonized sob that tore its way from his throat.
“Damn it, stay with me,” Ed demanded, pressing harder against Roy’s head. His shirt was soaked through, but he didn’t let go, couldn’t give up now.
Roy’s eyelashes fluttered, even that small movement lethargic. Ed’s stomach flopped as he watched the slow shift of his lover’s eyes, struggling to look in his direction. They were unfocused even as they settled in the direction of Ed’s face, and Ed tugged Roy into his arms, consequences be damned.
Roy’s lips moved, but no sound came. Ed buried his face against Roy’s throat, the faint patter of Roy’s pulse only faintly brushing against his cheek. “Please, please stay with me.”
There was no answer, and any tension in Roy’s body vanished until he was limp in Ed’s arms. Ed howled in pain and frustration, but he couldn’t let it end this way. His brother would never forgive him, Roy would never forgive him, but there was nothing for it now. Ed gently released Roy from his arms, like he could still feel the rough concrete beneath them, and frantically began to draw.
Perhaps the most sickening part was how this had never stopped being familiar. The lines came of their own accord, his fingers brushed over them with practiced ease. Terrifying as it was, he knew this place, empty spaces and a gate full of shadows, gaping at him, teeming with fingers that sought to drag them both in. He shouted though there was no need, his pleas frantic, as if each second that passed pulled Roy further from him.
Roy’s life completely dependent on him, a few memories seemed like such a paltry sacrifice. Somewhere along the way, Ed had pulled his lover’s broken body back into his arms. How could he sit here and argue the terms when even Roy’s heartbeat was terribly, eerily still? Hardly bothering to consider the consequences, Ed couldn’t agree quickly enough.
Despite the blood still pooled in the street, Ed relaxed as the nothingness around them faded back to a street in Central, a block and a half from Roy’s house. Ed’s fingers moved almost frantically over Roy’s body, but mangled bones were mended, his skin as unmarred as if he’d just decided that the road was a particularly comfortable place to pass out for a while.
The first breath Roy took was a shivery, gasping, wet thing that startled Ed so badly he nearly let go of his companion entirely. Painfully relieved, Ed smiled, a little bit at first, and then so hard his cheeks hurt. He closed his eyes and nuzzled against Roy’s throat, solely to feel his pulse again.
It was a few long moments before Ed had the awareness to think of getting the both of them out of the street. Roy stirred long enough to make a soft, plaintive noise that sounded more petulant than agonized, obviously not pleased about being dragged across the street to the sidewalk. Feeling a bit guilty for that, Ed was as gentle as he could manage, Roy’s back clutched tightly against his chest.
The driver Roy had rescued Ed from seemed to have panicked and fled sometime between the collision and their return from the Gate. It was just as well, Ed supposed, not to have to deal with them too. They did need help, though. Even if he wasn’t dying, Roy wasn’t conscious either, and it wasn’t like Ed could just drag him all the way to the hospital. Able to focus on the situation itself again, Ed left Roy long enough to clean up the mess he couldn’t explain, and knock on the nearest door to be absolutely certain someone was coming to help. He moved quickly, resting Roy’s head in his lap when he returned and sat down to wait.
Elation faded, though not so abruptly as panic or fear. The smile slipped from his lips as he stroked a hand over Roy’s hair, leaving something empty and bitter in its wake. Yes, he’d saved Roy’s life. He’d do it again in a heartbeat, whatever the cost. It didn’t excuse the fact that Roy’s life had only been in danger in the first place because he fucked up.
Roy’s eyes flickered briefly, almost but not quite fixing on Ed as he turned his head. Ed pasted on a smile he didn’t feel. Roy only looked confused by the way Ed’s fingers brushed across his cheek, and Ed very staunchly ignored the sense of loss that threatened to overwhelm him. It was only memories. They’d have their life back in no time. Refusing to let Roy see the pain he was in, Ed did his best not to let his smile slip as he tenderly whispered, “Welcome back.”
Roy’s brows furrowed, lips parting on something, but no words came. Almost immediately, he fell back into slumber, the lack of recognition still rattling hauntingly at the back of Ed’s mind. Roy didn’t remember him, didn’t love him, didn’t even know him anymore, and he had no one to blame but himself. Ed clutched Roy against his chest as he watched the ambulance pull up and pretended he didn’t feel like crying.
He wasn’t really aware of what he told them, his lips formed words that seemed to satisfy them, but he didn’t remember speaking at all. The Gate had an uncanny ability to take what hurt the most, and even before Roy was awake long enough to speak, Ed knew this was no different. Even as he threaded his fingers through the pale, motionless ones resting at the edge of the hospital bed, Ed couldn’t help recognizing that this… was for his benefit alone. To Roy, he was only a stranger.
Ed called Riza from the hospital, his voice shaken and hollow with something more than just nerves. He didn’t say much and she didn’t ask, promising she’d be there soon. He hung up the phone, staring blankly at it for a moment before trudging back to a room he didn’t feel welcome in. From the doorway, he could just pick out the rise and fall of Roy’s chest.
“What are you doing out here? You ought to be in there with him.” The soft cadence of Riza’s voice started Ed, her very presence the starkest barometer of just how long he’d been standing there.
“He doesn’t know me anymore,” Ed blurted, his expression helpless as he tried to make her understand the depth of what that meant.
“He didn’t recognize you? Give it some time. Maybe he’ll remember when he wakes up,” Riza replied, obviously expecting Ed to go in.
“No,” Ed hung his head, somehow more ashamed for his audience. Riza protected Roy. She didn’t mess up like this, “No, he won’t.”
“Perhaps you ought to let the doctor be the judge of that,” Riza gently chastised him. There was no disgust, no judgment on her face, and that was the part that did him in, crushing his lungs until he couldn’t breathe for the way no one was blaming him for his own stupidity.
In halting, quiet words, he told her everything, determined to make her see it too. He was sorry. He was so, so sorry, and maybe if he’d just told Roy he loved him in the first place, it wouldn’t have happened. The person he’d wronged the most… and Roy couldn’t forgive him, couldn’t even really be angry at him because he’d wake up and he wouldn’t know.
“Just go in there. Maybe he doesn’t recognize you now, but he will remember this, won’t he? He’d want you to be there.”Riza’s face seemed torn completely between the desire to protect Roy from anyone who might cause him harm, and sympathy for Ed despite everything else. The sympathy was far worse, and Ed’s stomach lurched angrily.
He obediently trudged back into the hospital room anyway, slipping into the seat beside Roy’s bed. From the corner of his eye, he could see Riza standing, arms crossed by the door. Apparently, she meant to keep him here. He might as well make the most of it. He’d just have to give Roy no choice but to remember him. He’d made a life that often revolved around trying to overcome issues the Gate presented him. Maybe this was no different. Faintly more hopeful, he reached out, gently brushing Roy’s hair from his face.
Roy sighed, so suddenly that Ed nearly yanked his hand away. Roy wasn’t pulling away though, and even in his sleep, he leaned ever so slightly into the warmth and comfort of Ed’s fingers. Ed cracked a smile, smoothing his hand over Roy’s hair like nothing at all had changed.
Dark lashes fluttered against Roy’s pale cheeks, his eyes bleary and unfocused when they finally opened. It was a long moment before his gaze settled on Ed, long enough for Ed’s fingers to discretely make their way back to his lap. He fixed Roy with a hopeful smile. “Nice of you to join us.”
And just like that, the moment was shattered. There was nothing remotely like recognition in Roy’s eyes. He jerked away, obviously surprised to find a stranger sitting at his bedside, and eyed Ed suspiciously. A frown creased his lips and brow. “Who are you?”
Ed’s mind reeled, wheeling back to the same truth that had set him to hovering out in the hall in the first place. Roy didn’t know him at all anymore, and it was his fuck up responsible for that. Roy needed, deserved so much better.
Ed opened his mouth, but whatever it was he was meant to say never came. What was he going to solve? He could tell Roy the truth, and Riza would back him up, and then what? Roy would try to pick up the pieces, but it would be nothing like love. How long would the charade last before Ed trusted Roy’s motives to be affection and not duty? How long until he stopped feeling like a selfish screw-up who had trapped Roy in a relationship with a stranger? If only by a fraction, the thought of hurting Roy made him more ill than letting him go. He licked his lips and blinked furiously, trying to keep his composure as he forced himself to speak, “I’m Edward Elric. I… I’m part of your team.”