Word Count: 1,101
Rating: PG for this chapter (NC-17 overall)
Characters: Eventual Roy/Ed
Summary: Months before Ed's contract with the military is meant to be up, war breaks out and he is instead sent to the front lines. Loosely based around this oneshot.
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The rest of my fics are here.
The most infuriating part was how preventable it had all been. There'd been an accord on the table, all but signed. Amestris and Drachma had breathed a collective sigh of relief, just a moment too soon. It didn't even matter that no one knew who was to blame, or if the attack was remotely related, but their hopes of peace had drowned in blood, and in the aftermath, war was inevitable.
None of that soothed Roy's conscience when orders inevitably came down. Al was whole and human and still practically bedridden. Ed had scarcely left his side, and with scant months to go before his contract was up, it sat like rot in Roy's belly to have to do this.
He was at a loss for words when Ed breezed in, all freedom and victory and unfettered smiles. Nothing Roy might've said would have softened the blow, so he pushed the folder across his desk towards Ed. Even before reading it, Ed must have had some inkling as to what it was, for the smile fled his lips entirely.
"This is... This is a year," Ed pointed out, and for a moment, Roy was stunned by how much he'd grown up. Roy was certain there was a storm, just beneath the surface, but only the many years between them gave away the extent of his distress.
Roy had tried though, heavens how he'd tried, to keep Ed out of this. Leave or early dismissal, anything to keep him off the front line, but it had ended here in spectacular failure. His expression largely masked behind steepled fingers, Roy watched Ed with somber eyes. "I know. I'm sorry."
There was silence between them, and it stretched out for miles, a chasm Roy couldn't begin to breach. Ed's face was numb and cold, and Roy wished he'd just yell and get it over with, anything to interrupt the eerie quiet. No yelling ever came, and an eternity passed before Ed even appeared to register what Roy had said.
"You dumbass," Ed finally replied, the insult trailed by pained, halfhearted laughter.
"Excuse me?" Roy asked, not remotely sure what he'd done to deserve that.
Ed shook his head, tossing the folder back to the desk, "Oh come off it, Mustang. All the dick moves you've pulled since I met you, and this is the one you decide to apologize for? The one that isn't even your fucking fault?"
"I did try," Roy murmured in a voice he scarcely recognized as his own. He wasn't sure why he'd said it, why of all the times he'd subtly helped Ed out, this was the one he wanted the young man to know about.
"Course you did," Ed returned. Roy felt some of the tension slip from his shoulders as Ed's voice dropped to a softer register, "You usually do when it matters."
He wasn't sure what to say to that. The safest haven the brothers had had in Central, his basement floor still had chalk stains from a circle he'd worried might end them all. That he'd gotten them out of his house and to a hospital without being arrested was nothing short of a miracle, but the exhausted, thrilled, grateful smile Ed had given him, arms wrapped around his wisp of a brother, had made it worthwhile.
"I'll see you at the train station, Fullmetal," Roy finally said, waving Ed off to spend what time he still could with his brother.
"I figured bein' a general would get you out of the front lines bullshit," Ed muttered, like he was personally affronted by the idea. Roy raised an eyebrow, not entirely sure whether to be touched or confused.
"Just because I don't feel the need to go around showboating like some people we know doesn't mean anyone has forgotten how I got here," Roy replied, swallowing against a tide of sand storms and smoldering cities. He masked the way his breath caught, letting it out in a put upon sigh. "Besides, someone has to keep you out of trouble."
"I don't showboat," Ed blustered. "You're just jealous."
"Oh yes," Roy murmured, clinging to this normalcy for as long as he could. "I'm horribly jealous of your peculiar talent for needlessly blowing up city blocks."
"Hey, I do other stuff too!" Ed's arms were flailing comically, and for all the maturity he displayed now and again, mostly he hadn't grown up at all.
Roy nodded, his expression almost comically serious as he shot back. "Well I guess you did also blow up a dam."
"Do you work hard at being an ass or does it just come naturally?" Ed grumbled, but there was no real venom in it, and he nearly interrupted himself to add, "You forgot about General Morrison's car."
"Oh no. I most certainly did not. I was hearing about that for a month, thank you very much," Roy muttered, scowling a bit in memory of the dressing down he'd received for that little incident.
"Morrison's an ass, anyway," Ed offered, like that explained everything.
"Being an ass did not merit turning his car into a projectile, Fullmetal," Roy replied, but despite the headache that had ensued, it was hard to be truly angry.
"It's not like it was on purpose. Besides, what're you bitching about? The look on his face? You can't tell me that wasn't hilarious." Ed was looking at him just a bit strangely, and it took a moment for Roy to realize he was laughing. He bit the inside of his lip, trying to stifle it, and wondering when being Ed's superior had bled its way into being Ed's partner in crime.
Eventually, Roy got around to a second attempt at dismissing Ed. "Don't you have someone else to pester? I do have work to do."
"Window cleaning or naptime?" Ed teased, heading for the door.
Roy glowered a bit, though he found he didn't truly mean it. "Out, Fullmetal."
"Yeah, yeah I'm going. See you at the train station." Ed's voice carried from the outer office.
"Don't be late," Roy called after him, but his only answer was an empty office. Even as Roy stared at his paperwork, something dark and foreboding crept in, settling in the pit of his stomach. In the silence, he swore he could hear the mismatched thumping of Ed's footsteps as he ran back to the hospital.
Roy told himself he would protect Ed from whatever of this he could. Even as he made the promise, however, he felt the onset of a heavy failure, like the first grains of sand through a sieve.