Word Count: 3,839
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.
It wasn't shaping up to be a great morning. Still ticked off, Ed stalked back to his brother's room, forgetting entirely about how he wasn't going to wake Al up. It hardly mattered anyway, given that Al was not only awake, but out of bed, leaning against the window frame.
"It's awful out there," Al murmured, staring out at the wreckage that was Central.
"Yeah." For a moment, the guilt was overwhelming. Voice caught in his throat, it didn't matter what he'd given up. He should've fixed this, at least.
"We should be out there, doing something about it." The suggestion drew Ed right back, and there was Al, only a month whole again and out of bed, and talking about cleaning up a disaster he had no business even being out in.
"I should. You should go back to bed. What are you even doing?" Ed squawked, not at all liking the defiant look on his brother's blessedly expressive face.
"I've been up all morning, Brother. It's fine," Al replied mildly, like he didn't even notice the beginnings of an outburst on Ed's part. He probably didn't really anymore. The smile on his lips was marred by a worried dip of his brows as he asked, "Where did you go, anyway? You weren't here when I woke up."
"I.. out for a walk," Ed grumbled, hoping Al would miss how very little of that was true. It was as much to save himself as because he was worried that he added, "Just because you're up and about doesn't mean you should be out there."
"Never stopped you, did it? Relax. I'm getting better, Ed," Al chided, offering Ed a longsuffering smile. For the first time since they'd limped their way into the hospital, Ed really and truly looked. He'd been so distracted by those first few days, by ribs he could count and gaunt shoulders that shook in his arms, everything else had slipped by.
It wasn't like that anymore, not really. His hair had regained some of its sheen, and he looked rather a lot less like the slightest wind would tip him over. His hospital pants no longer hung so dangerously low on frail, boney hips. If he were honest, Al looked no worse than Ed had great deal of the time, and it had never stopped him from jumping right back into the fray. Somehow, that realization did nothing to ease his fears. It wasn't him. It was his only baby brother who's life he'd ruined, who he'd only just gotten back and...
And maybe he was being selfish. Al probably could help, and if there was a time someone could use some help, it would be the wreckage outside, the mess Ed had failed to prevent. Hell, Al was probably well enough to transmute, and another alchemist, especially one so brilliant, could do a world of good. Ed would go with him of course. He could... well he'd work that out, and his mouth said the right words, turned up in a too bright smile, and he pretended he didn't hurt.
Roy was startled from sleep by what he eventually worked out to be a knock on the door. Too rattled by his ability to even heat up a can of soup without incident, he'd ended up on the couch. He could pretend at being too tired, could tell himself he wasn't too rattled to try to navigate the rest of his own home. It wasn't as if there was much of a difference ultimately. Roy rolled over and pretended he wanted to sleep on the couch, pressing his face into the couch cushions as if it would somehow drown out the noise.
They kept up, and eventually Roy gave in if only to stop the infernal noise. He'd worked out the way to the door at least, how many steps this way and that, and he had the bruised shins to show for having sorted out also how not to run into things on the way. It was slow going, and he dragged his fingers along walls and doorways until they curled around a doorknob in some very small victory. It was victory enough that he was a bit less unhappy as he opened the door.
"Colonel Mustang?" He was confronted by a female voice, one he didn't recognize. His fingers itched for his gloves, and he realized with a very sick feeling that he didn't even know where they were. It put Roy on edge, and it didn't even matter that she was probably harmless because he had nothing to go off of. She could be pointing a gun in his face and he wouldn't even know it.
"Something like that," he replied cautiously listening for any cues at all. Roy came up blank, and it didn't even occur to him that it was perhaps a little bit ridiculous to be talking to this stranger on his porch with the door only cracked enough that he could've looked out if he could only see.
"Pleasure to meet you. I'm Christine. Lieutenant Hawkeye sent me... if I might come in?" Roy listened hard and fought the urge to find some way to call headquarters, just to check the story. Her voice was warm, lulling, and there was a time not so long ago that he'd have been more likely to flirt with a girl who sounded like than to shy away like this.
"What for?" Roy demanded, still not entirely trusting her, or his other senses' ability to compensate for his lack of sight.
"I apologize. I thought you knew. The Lieutenant expressed some concern that you might have trouble adapting to the circumstances. I help with that sort of thing," the disembodied voice offered.
"I'm adapting just fine," Roy grated out, lying through his teeth, because he could do this, and really he only wanted to be left alone. Still, he let her in, if only to give lip service to Riza's attempt to help him.
"Be that as it may," Christine replied mildly, apparently unperturbed by Roy's standoffishness.
It was easy to fall back on casual indifference, a skill he'd practically made an art form. The words rang hollow and his heart was hammering in his ears, but his voice was even enough. "I appreciate her concern, but I'm really not in any need of assistance."
"There's no shame in accepting help, you know," Christine said, he voice a bit distant. It was momentarily terrifying because Roy hadn't heard her walk away, didn't even know she'd left the room until she spoke.
"It has nothing to do with shame," Roy bit out, the lie sitting like rot in his belly. It was only the metallic clatter of pots being gathered from where he'd left them on the floor that gave way her location. Roy frowned vaguely in the direction of the kitchen, but made no room to follow. He'd have stopped her, come up with some explanation of how he could really clean up all that himself and he'd just been tired, but it caught on his tongue and then it was too late.
"It is, of course, up to you, Colonel," she said, and only when he realized she was in the same room as him again did he pull together that he hadn't even moved from the foyer. He'd frozen in his own house, and he wasn't a coward, he wasn't, but this was too much. It certainly didn't feel like he had a choice.
"I think I'll manage," he finally replied, clipped and careful because no matter how much he wanted to break something or burn the world to ashes in this moment, he didn't really want to add blowing up at a complete stranger to his list of recent failures.
"Very well. I'll keep in touch in case you change your mind." Christine let him walk her to the door, and he managed a smile he didn't feel. Roy listened carefully to the sound of her steps, only satisfied when her shoes clacked against the concrete porch.
Ed didn't know why he'd ever thought he could pull one over on Al. An entire day had passed before Al even came back to his disappearance, and Ed scrambled for an explanation that didn't involve drunkenly sneaking to go hide with the Colonel. By some miracle, he avoided how he ended up in Mustang's room in the first place. The rest he managed in half truths, likely less because he was good at it, and more because Al went easy on him.
"You should be nicer, Brother," Al chided gently, thumbing through a book Havoc had brought the last time he'd stopped in to visit.
"I should be nicer? I was trying to be nice! He's the one who was being an ass," Ed argued, scowling petulantly at Al.
"I'm sure he's having a hard time and... and he's been good to us," Al replied calmly, like he didn't even see Ed's expression.
They dropped the matter after that. Al read and Ed sulked until sulking gave way to boredom. Eventually, he got up, practically slinking from the room, and if Al was smiling a little behind his book, Ed thankfully did not see it.
Roy's room wasn't very far, and even drunk he'd managed to find it largely without incident. That was why finding it empty was so confusing. At first he thought maybe Roy was out, maybe he'd taken something Ed said to heart and was on a walk or something. Only nothing else was in the room either, and with nothing to suggest what he should make of it, Ed could only come up with terrible things.
He stopped a nurse finally, who was willing to tell him Mustang had checked out if nothing else. He wasn't sure if that was good or bad, really. Mustang had looked terrible, but... but at least he was going home.
Ed knew Mustang's house, very vaguely. There'd been some holiday party once, the kind where Mustang's team had dragged him along and the Colonel had teased him and despite all his protestations that they were a bunch of jerks, he'd been happy. It was a pretty house in a pretty neighborhood, and distantly Ed remembered snowfall and streetlights and he swallowed against the lump in his throat as he wondered involuntarily how far the debris stretched. If Mustang was home, it was still standing, but maybe the yard was covered in dust, maybe the sidewalks were splintered parodies and if the Colonel never knew, Ed would and it would be awful in its own odd way.
Lost in thought, Ed hardly realized he was leaving the hospital. His feet knew the way if his mind would not make the decision to go there. He told himself he was surveying the damage, trying to work out the logistics in daylight of fixing Central without alchemy. If he ended up on a faintly familiar street on the other end of town, it was only because research let him there.
It wasn't so pretty s it had once been. Debris had traveled so far, dust and bits of buildings settled in once manicured lawns. He paused where the sidewalk turned off to the walkway up to Mustang's porch. The grass was overgrown, the shades drawn, and if he hadn't known better, he'd have thought no one was home.
It wasn't that he'd meant to come here, of course. Mustang could screw off if he was going to be a jerk about everything. That said, if he was already there, Ed supposed it didn't hurt to go see how his soon to be former commander was holding up.
Forgetting momentarily that Mustang couldn't actually see to properly appreciate his put upon scowl, Ed climbed the steps to the porch, banging on the door. He fidgeted on the step, waiting for Mustang to answer the door already. Long moments passed, but no one came.
Ed almost missed his automail when he rapped on the door again. His knuckles hurt with the force of his knocking, just in case Roy hadn't heard the first time. Again, he got no response.
It wasn't until the third time that he genuinely started to worry. It wasn't like the hospital where there was always someone around, just in case. Mustang could have slipped or hurt himself with something or... or...
And then it didn't matter that it wasn't his house, or that the Colonel was probably going to kill him for it. He tried the door, cursing the fact that he'd always used alchemy to pick locks before. It turned out not to matter, for the knob turned easily, and the door pushed open like any other, except for the part that it let into the foyer of Colonel Mustang's house.
Roy pretended that the fact that it only took him a few moments to find the phone meant he was getting better at this. That the little telephone table was in an alcove in the hall near the door, that he'd practically tripped over the chair a dozen times already were inconsequential in the pursuit of whatever small victories he could cling to. Nearly tipping the receiver from its cradle, his fingers found the rotary dial, the pads of them feeling out the dips where the numbers were. There was a little metal piece at the bottom of the circle, a marker to aid in how far one dialed for each number, and it made for a convenient starting place as he counted the holes for each number. It was startlingly less awkward than he'd anticipated.
The phone rang, proof he'd managed to call someone. By the time someone picked up, their greeting promising he'd also managed to dial the right someone, Roy had allowed himself to be just a little bit pleased. He bit his tongue long enough for Hawkeye to identify herself.
"That was completely unnecessary," he cut in as soon as she was done.
"Colonel? What are you..." The way she trailed off, the momentary confusion in her voice, for just a moment Roy was terrified. Maybe she hadn't sent someone at all, and he'd just been a monumental fool, letting an enemy right in the front door. It was a very brief fear as Hawkeye seemed to figure out what he was talking about. "Surely you didn't chase her off."
"I don't need her help," Roy insisted, very carefully avoiding giving any insight into exactly how difficult this was proving to be.
"Please at least consider it." Hawkeye's voice carried over the phone, and years of listening to her told Roy really she was saying for him to please stop being an idiot. The conversation wasn't going nearly in the direction he'd meant it to, and Roy found himself very quickly trying to end it. He said something noncommittal, didn't even care that she'd see right through it. It took a few tries, but eventually the phone ended up properly in the cradle, and Roy sat in the little phone table chair, head tipped back against the wall.
No, he could do this. There were plenty of worse things going on, and he could surely manage his own care and keeping. A hand rubbing over his face in frustration reminded Roy that he was bit scruffy. Maybe he couldn't do much about that just yet, but he could at least get cleaned up.
There was a downstairs shower, though it rarely saw much use. Roy was grateful for it anyway, if only because it meant not having to venture upstairs just yet. He knew the room well enough to identify a towel and get the water on, shedding his clothes unceremoniously on the floor. After a moment's hesitation, he picked them up, setting them on the counter instead because he would not be accused of being unable to look after things, and there was a very real possibility he wouldn't be able to find them later.
Roy managed to get into the tub without incident, palms splayed across the wall to guide his step. The porcelain was slick beneath his feet, and he'd never really thought about that before. Warm water pelted his back and shoulders, a soothing reminder that sleeping on the couch had been a phenomenally terrible idea, and Roy found himself humming gratefully as he leaned into it.
There were alcoves set in the shower wall, and at some point he'd had the foresight to put things on them, shampoo and soap at the very least. His memory failed as to exactly which ones, and as he dragged his fingers over the ridges of each one, he scowled at the hot water coming down on his burned hand. It wasn't that serious... probably, but it hurt enough that he pulled it away, using the other instead.
Roy's shoulders sagged a bit in relief when his fingers finally curled around a shampoo bottle, and then the bar of soap. The rest would be easier. He discovered quickly that curling his fingers around the puddle of shampoo he poured into his palm would tell him when he had enough, and he knew his own body well enough that a lack of sight didn't hamper much.
Cleaner and a bit more relaxed, Roy eventually shut off the water. He forgot for a moment where he'd put the towel, but it took less groping about than he feared to find it. Not until he was dried off and stepping out of the tub did he realize all his clothes were still upstairs, and that was rather an inconvenient thing.
Less as a result of his blindness, and more a product of years as a soldier, Roy's hearing was keen, well trained to pick out something out of place. It had been what had made someone moving through his house without his knowledge, just because he was too nerve wracked to listen all the more horrifying, had made him desperate to get that woman back out the door. It would not happen again, and Roy went still as he heard something over the whir of the bathroom fan above.
There were footsteps, and Roy listened, trying to sort out where they were coming from. The fan drowned out anything so specific as direction, and Roy scowled, shutting it off as he wrapped the towel around his waist. It wasn't a particularly dignified way to confront an intruder, and he sorely wished he knew where his gloves were, but there was someone in his home, and he wasn't going to hide and wait for them to leave.
Cool air outside the bathroom licked his skin when he opened the door. He shivered and said nothing, padding barefoot down the hall. There were still footsteps, from the living room maybe, and Roy followed them, edgy and tense.
"Mustang?" The voice calling out was familiar. For a moment he missed how worried it sounded, more affronted by the fact that Ed was in his house, and Roy certainly hadn't invited him. Despite the irritation, he relaxed a bit, no longer fearing some faceless enemy.
"What the hell are you doing in my house?" Roy demanded, finally finding his way to the living room.
"Mustang! I thought... You didn't answer the door and... oh." Roy didn't have to see to know Ed was probably flailing at him, and under other circumstances it would have been hilarious.
"And you decided it was okay to invite yourself in?" Roy grumbled, frowning in the direction Ed's voice was coming from.
"You didn't answer the door. You could've been hurt or something," Ed replied, his tone defensive.
"I was taking a shower," Roy growled, as if that were not already obvious. He shook his head, not really sure what to do with Ed now that he was here. "What did you want, anyway? Is this Hawkeye's idea of a joke or something?"
"Did they do something to your head too? In what universe would Hawkeye even be playing jokes on you?" Ed snapped, and Roy could hear the tension, even if he didn't see it. He didn't really care.
"What, because I can't see?" Roy asked, pulling the towel a little tighter around his waist.
Ed snorted, probably shaking his head. "No. Because you're being an ass to everyone."
Roy... had nothing to say to that. He wanted to, wanted to but every excuse he could come up with only reminded him of the day before, and that he'd been pretty awful to Ed too. He considered just kicking Ed out, but... even after the day before, Ed had come back. His methods were ridiculous maybe, but the fact that he'd come to help when he had the least reason to out of anyone, the most important other distractions in his life at the moment, was not lost on Roy.
"Look... about yesterday," Roy hedged, not terribly keen on apologizing to someone who had just invited themselves into his house. He shook his head, eventually deciding his was the bigger grievance in the moment. "I shouldn't have said that."
There was a strange sound, a startled sort of snort, and he wanted to be offended if Ed didn't think he was gentleman enough to apologize when he'd genuinely done something that merited it. He expected an argument, a snide comment, something, but Ed's reply was surprisingly charitable under the circumstances, a verbal shrug if not outright acceptance. "I think everyone was having a shitty day."
Roy nodded faintly, more than happy to drop the whole subject. He wasn't exactly keen on company, but he heard himself offering Ed a drink before he'd quite worked out whether or not he was going to send the young man away. Ed didn't answer, apparently actually looking at him finally. "What'd you do to your hand."
For a moment, Roy didn't say anything at all. He scowled, remembering the night before, and tried to shrug it off. "There was a small incident with a can of soup."
It sounded ridiculous, saying it out loud, but Ed thankfully didn't press for details. He did, however, grab Roy's wrist, probably inspecting the burn. His voice was soft as he turned Roy's hand over, more sympathetic than alarmed. "Looks like it hurts."
"It's fine," Roy replied, glad it didn't seem bad enough to worry Ed, not that that was a great barometer. There were still human fingers cradling his wrist and the back of his hand. It was strangely comforting, grounding in the proof it offered that he was speaking to someone real, standing next to him even if he couldn't see.
It was a few moments before he realized how strange they must look. He reluctantly relinquished Ed's hold on him, trying to convince himself it wasn't such a sacrifice as it felt like. Searching out another distraction, he offered Ed a weary smile, a lie to say that things were alright. "How about that drink?"