Word Count: 2,466
Rating: Probably R or NC-17 (PG-13ish for this part)
Characters: eventual Roy/Ed
Summary: Alternate timeline ignoring the last few chapters of the manga, most glaringly the part where Roy's eyesight was restored.
Disclaimer: I don't own FMA, blah blah blah XD
Author's Note: This might not be the final version. I'm half asleep, but I was anxious to get this posted, so I may do a few edits before crossposting <3
The rest of my fics are here.
Morning came despite Ed's best efforts to shove his face into the chair cushions. Sunlight prickled on the other side of his eyelids, doing nothing for the way Ed's head pounded in retribution for the night before. Maybe if he hurried, he could get cleaned up before Al noticed the shape he was in, though his stomach turned at the very thought of unwinding himself enough to slip from the chair.
Ed lethargically pried his eyes open, awake but not really seeing. He hunched against the ill feeling that coiled uneasily in his belly, pulling himself upright bit by bit. Scrubbing a hand over his face, Ed's gaze shifted, settling eventually on the lone hospital bed.
Oh. Oh hell, Ed cursed inwardly, only vaguely remembering when he was still drunk enough to think fleeing to Mustang's room was a good solution to anything. Ed cringed as the chair cushions squeaked under his weight, but Mustang didn't so much as stir, breathing still even in sleep.
Ed pulled himself to his feet, nauseous and a bit wobbly. He shuffled a bit groggily to the bathroom, startled by how terrible he looked. Dusty and tired looking, his hair had almost entirely escaped its tie, knotted and scraggly around his shoulders from sleep. At least Mustang couldn't see the shape he was in. Ed hastily turned on the water, hoping to escape before the room's rightful occupant woke up.
Adamantly ignoring the fact that his commanding officer was on the other side of the door, Ed shed his clothes, stepping into the shower. It was an immediate sort of release, warm water beating against muscles he'd forgotten could ache. He didn't allow time for much beyond the imperative, soap and shampoo and a hope that his overly perceptive brother wouldn't sort out what he'd been up to.
The dread of being caught out by Mustang largely overwhelmed the pleasure of warm water soothing his shoulders and back, still stiff from the few hours he'd dozed off in a chair by Roy's bed. He hardly spared the time it took to yank the tangles from his hair with his fingers before he turned off the water, snatching a clean towel from the little bathroom shelf. Not for the first time, he longed for the alchemy that would've let him transmute the dust from his clothes, but there was nothing for it.
He couldn't remember ever actually managing to pull one over on Mustang, but there was no response at all when he finally ventured as far as opening the door. It wasn't nearly so satisfying as it might've been had the circumstances been different. Even the soft, mismatched padding of his feet across the tile didn't turn Mustang's head, and Ed was halfway out the door before he realized Roy was awake at all.
Mustang was awake. He'd done something that was admittedly monumentally stupid, a handful of things, in fact, culminating in hiding out in Mustang's hospital room. Mustang was awake though, and Ed's mind kept circling back to that because Mustang was awake, and even if he didn't want to hear it just then, he was five feet away and wasn't being yelled at.
Well, that was great. He must have fucked up something awful if Mustang was so disgusted with him not to even call him out on his screw up. Ed couldn't tell if he felt sick on account of too much alcohol or that he'd messed up so monumentally, but he backed towards the door, intent on fleeing before Mustang changed his mind. Only, he chanced one very brief look at Mustang's face while he was still near enough to see, and what he met was nothing at all like repugnance.
Mustang only looked lost, like he'd forgotten Ed's presence altogether. Sightless eyes faced the ceiling, and Ed remembered only too well listless and broken and staring out granny's window at a house with blood in the basement. He shuddered to think what might've happened if Roy hadn't guilted him out of his stupor, and didn't he owe something for that? Against his better judgment, Ed stopped just shy of the doorway.
"It's not the end of the world, you know," Ed murmured tentatively, because what was he meant to say? Everything between them was thrown off kilter, and he didn't begin to know what to do with it.
Mustang didn't move, didn't look at him, didn't say anything. Only the heavy sigh that bled past his lips suggested he'd even heard Ed at all. Too stubborn to accept that, he tried again, edging a little closer.
"What do you want, Fullmetal?" Mustang grumbled before Ed had a chance to say anything else. His voice was rough and bitter and didn't at all equate with the picture of the man Ed had cobbled together over the years.
"I just..." Ed paused, glad Roy couldn't see him frowning because he wasn't good at this. It wasn't like he hadn't had time eventually to sort out that if Roy's lack of sight was permanent, he wasn't going to go back to the military. He had no idea what he was meant to say, but he heard himself blurting, "You're... I mean it's not like you're not good at stuff. You could do something else."
It was apparently the wrong thing to say. Roy pushed himself to sit up, eyes facing very generally in his direction but focused unsettlingly on nothing. Mustang only answered to snarl at him, "And just what would you have me do."
"Whatever you want. Just because something sucks doesn't mean your life is over," Ed pointed out, already beginning to regret saying anything at all. Mustang was glaring at him, sort of. Well, it was meant for him even if it wasn't at him, and it wasn't the condescending, put upon frown he got when he did something that landed his commanding officer with a pile of paperwork. It was desperate and tragic, and understanding exactly what that felt like made it no easier to deal with.
"That's easy for you to say. You chose to make that sacrifice. You got what you came for. I wasn't done yet," Mustang spat, and perhaps the most unsettling part was the way he didn't even try to hide how undone he was. Ed had seen Mustang stressed out, furious and out of control even, but he'd nearly always reigned it in. Now, there was no attempt at all.
"Oh quit being an ass. Don't act like you're the only one who lost something important," Ed snapped back, as angry as he was disconcerted.
"Just leave already. I'm sure your brother is wondering where you disappeared to all night," Roy all but snarled. It was childish and low and Ed scowled so hard he half expected Roy to notice it despite the impossibility.
"You know? Fucking forget it. You just sit here and sulk forever and see if I care," Ed shouted, stalking toward the door.
"Get. Out." Whatever else Roy might've said was lost as Ed stomped down the hall out of earshot.
It had been a terrible thing to say, Roy realized in the eerie silence that followed Ed's exit. What Ed had given up was awful, an intrinsic part of him, and Roy could only shake his head at his own temper. It would of course be the one person who didn't pretend nothing was wrong or treat him as irredeemably broken that he'd chase off.
Ed would, of course, be back, if only to have the last word. Roy wasn't honestly sure he was up to a repeat performance, not when nothing had changed. He'd been stripped of so much more than his sight, and he hadn't the words to express the sense of impotence that replaced it. The charm that came so naturally was gone when he had no visual cues to act on, when he didn't know quite where to smile at the nurse who came to check on him. His own team was different, tiptoeing around his inevitable dismissal, around the fact that they'd have to keep on without him. Even his alchemy, augmented as it was by his new abilities, was useless when he couldn't see to give it life.
So long as he was here, he could play at the idea that he'd get better. Hospitals were where people came to die or to heal, and no matter how much he felt like he was falling apart at the seams, he wasn't dying. If he only stayed, he could pretend he was one of the latter. Only he wasn't, was he? The philosopher's stone had failed and all he ever saw were faces trapped in the moments he'd last seen them and nightmares of the gate that had stripped him of his life as he knew it. Ed, for all his damage, seemed made for adversity, and Roy could not begin to explain why he couldn't just pick himself up and start over.
Maybe he wouldn't have to. For all the resignation it signified, perhaps going home would save him another uncomfortable confrontation. When the nurse finally stopped in with breakfast, he asked for release papers before he could talk himself out of it.
"Are you sure you'll be alright?" Hawkeye asked, and Roy smiled ruefully, sickly amused that it had taken her all the way to his front door to question his judgment.
"It's now or later. Might as well get it over with," Roy replied, fishing his keys from his pocket and feeling for the lock as nonchalantly as he could fake. It took a few frustrating tries for his fingers to find the contraption, more to fit the key into the lock but he managed eventually.
"Sir..." Hawkeye began as Roy pushed the door open, but he cut her off.
"I don't imagine I'll be your commanding officer much longer," Ro murmured softly, stepping inside with a faked confidence he did not feel.
"You are now," Hawkeye pointed out, her voice a bit more distant at his back, and he was disconcerted to find he couldn't quite work out if she'd even come inside or if she still stood on his front step.
"So I am, and you have a job to do, whether or not I'm there. I expect you'll do it." Roy schooled his expression into something even, more confident than the rest of him, as he reached for the door to close it.
"Yes sir." Hawkeye's tone was clipped and professional and he could practically hear the salute she gave him, even if he could not see it. It gave him drive enough at least to hide his nerves until the door was safely shut.
He was home and he wasn't. Every room would have to be learned, experienced anew, and he might as well have been somewhere else entirely for how unfamiliar it was. Barely out of the foyer, he had already tripped over some unidentified piece of furniture, and he didn't dare venture up the stairs.
Roy made the rounds, the living room, its walls adorned with pictures he could no longer enjoy. The study was down the hall t the other end, lined with bookcases, their shelves full of diversions that meant nothing to him. Even the kitchen was daunting as he carefully stepped through it, counting each footfall, fingers trailing over each cabinet in turn.
No, he could do this. He wasn't helpless, and he would make this work. He intended to prove he could at least take care of the necessities, if only for the benefit of his own ego. The pads of his fingers traced the edges of the sink and he tried to picture the cabinet where he kept pots and pans. A can of soup seemed a simple enough place to start, and he counted the cabinet doors until he came to the one on the floor level, two doors to the right of the sink.
There was a deafening clatter of metal as he knocked the entire stack over, but eventually Roy retrieved one that felt about the right size. Too edgy to deal with the mess, he shoved it to the side in hopes he wouldn't trip and moved on, feeling out the cabinet in the corner. It was only after he reached in, fingers confronted by a multitude of cans, that he realized he had no idea what was what. Something with a pull tab seemed promising, or at least simpler than hunting for the can opener and trying to get it lined up.
Roy scowled as something wet spilled across his knuckles, but the majority of the can sounded as if it had ended up in the pot. It was something of a success at least, and painstakingly, Roy sought out the stovetop. He gingerly set the pot on a burner, turned what he hoped was the right knob, and waited.
He was pleased enough to notice that he heard the pot bubbling, even if it meant he had overheated whatever was in it. That was progress, wasn't it? It was hope, at least, that his other senses might adjust given enough time. Pleased with his own progress, he reached out a bit too eagerly, misjudging the handle's location. His palm swiped against the side of the pot instead, and Roy scarcely heard the startled, pained sound he made as he jerked away, knocking the pot from the burner.
It clattered to the floor, but Roy was already staggering back, desperately searching out the sink. Oh how the great flame alchemist had fallen, nursing a burned hand and tripping over a pile of pans as he struggled to get the cold water going. It was perhaps more humiliating than his inability to manage meal even, and he angrily clenched his jaw as he held his hand under the cool water it had taken him entirely too long to turn on.
The pain ebbed eventually, or his hand was numb from the cold. Either way, he fumbled the knob off, frozen t the sink as he tried to work out how he was going to clean things up. He couldn't go back to the other side of the kitchen without risking being burned again, and he was too disgusted with himself to bother with it at the moment anyway.
Still gingerly holding his hand, Roy turned around, for all that it didn't mean. Nothingness was the same no matter which direction he faced, and even his own home was foreign, only the counter at his back offering any point of reference. Too worn down for anything else, Roy sank to the floor among the empty pots, wondering what had possessed him to come home in the first place.