Author's Note: So there was totally supposed to be smut in this, but it didn't feel like it belonged. Hopefully this is just as good without it. ^_^
Roy listened absentmindedly to Al as he talked about his girlfriend and the job he was doing now and it struck Roy just how normal this whole conversation was. How much it seemed a few months in a real body had changed things.
As he listened, he looked out the window at Ed, standing in the rain, eyes closed, and two human hands outstretched to catch heaven’s tears. It made Roy smile to see the older Elric brother up and about. Years of automail had made it difficult to adjust to being whole once more.
A few moments later, Al excused himself, saying something about having an early day, leaving Roy by himself in the living room. There was something vaguely uncomfortable about being left alone in someone else’s house. That was why he went outside with Ed, he told himself.
Ed scarcely heard him approach, lost in the feel of wind and raindrops on still sensitive skin and the soft, wet blades of grass beneath his bare feet. There was a sad cast about his smile when he finally did notice Roy.
“Looks like you really did it,” Roy noted.
“Yeah… I guess so.”
“Shouldn’t you be happy? You did what you set out to do. You’re brother has his body back and you’re whole. It’s like you’ve undone everything that happened to you both.”
“At what price though? I mean, there has to have been some other way,” the corners of Ed’s mouth turned down in agitation.
“What does it matter? Things fell out the way they did. All you can do is make the best of it,” Roy pointed out.
“So many people died for that damn stone. It cost so much and for what? For one body? For an arm and a leg?” Ed’s eyes burned with self loathing.
“You didn’t kill those people, Ed. I’m sure you used it for a much more noble cause than it was intended for, anyway. Can’t you just let go?” he pleaded with the younger man, but Ed’s guilt was unmoved.
“Who am I to decide the use of thousands of lives?”
“Don’t you dare try to say this wasn’t worth it, Edward.”
“But,” Ed began, but Roy was already interrupting.
“No. Don’t belittle your sacrifice, your brother’s, or the lives of the people who gave themselves to this. At least you made it mean something.”
“It’s just, it makes me sick to think about,” Ed said, voice barely above a whisper.
“Ed, your brother is out there living the life he deserves because of you. You could be too if you weren’t so busy feeling sorry for yourself,” Roy rested a reassuring hand on Ed’s newly human shoulder, surprised at the way the younger man shivered at his touch.
“What’s left? I gave myself completely to this, and now I don’t know what to do with myself,” Ed admitted ruefully.
“That’s not something I can answer for you,” he wished then that he could give Ed something, anything to hang onto because he looked utterly hopeless, lost in a world he felt had no room for him. Lacking anything else to offer, Roy pulled him into a warm hug and it didn’t matter that they were soaked and that Ed was shaking with tears he refused to give into. For now, Roy would just be strong enough for the both of them.
“It’s not the end of the world,” he promised, running a hand through Ed’s soppy, golden hair.
Ed nodded, but did not pull away. Instead, he relaxed in Roy’s arms, sinking against the older man’s chest.
“You’re freezing. We should get you inside,” Roy chided as he stroked a hand down Ed’s clammy arm.
“It’s not that bad out here,” Ed protested, but he was already heading for the door.
“So why did you stay,” Roy called after Ed from the living room as the younger man headed for the hall closet to fish out a couple of towels.
“Stay?” Ed asked, peeking his head around the corner for a moment.
“Here in Central, in the military, in this life,” Roy clarified.
“What else would I do?” Ed asked from the kitchen, clanging about as he started a pot of water for tea.
“Don’t be silly. You’re a genius, Ed. You could do anything you wanted.”
“Yeah, but with how peaceful things are, it’s not like I’m doing anything violent. They let me do my research and leave me alone. Besides, I have friends that I get to work around, and my boss isn’t so bad,” Ed grinned from the doorway to the living room before moving towards Roy with the towels he finally remembered he had.
“Well, you’re not nearly so much trouble now that you’re not researching some forbidden practice,” Roy conceded, not wanting to lose the warm, happy, carefree expression on his subordinate’s face.
“You’re not nearly as much of a jerk as you were back when I was,” Ed shot back, but there was no venom in it as he handed Roy a towel.
“I’ve just decided to be the bigger person is all,” Roy goaded, but Ed didn’t seem to notice, a tremor coursing through his body as the older man’s hand touched his newly human one. A blush crept over his face and golden eyes widened like saucers.
“Are you okay?” Roy asked.
“I… I’m fine,” Ed stammered, “I think the tea is done.” The younger man practically ran for the kitchen, heart hammering in his chest as he sunk against the wall and down to the floor.
This wasn’t right. This wasn’t right at all. It was just Roy, and it wasn’t like he’d meant to do that. They were friends now and he would, not could not mess that up. So what if just the brush of Roy’s fingers on his skin made him want to fuck the man senseless? The rain felt like that too and he wasn’t acting ridiculously, mooning over it.
No, Ed decided. He would just keep his damn mouth shut. He’d pull his act together and hope Roy would dismiss what had to seem like very strange behavior on his part. They’d have a nice, companionable evening and Roy would leave and he would stay and everything would go back to normal. This feeling was a fluke. It had to be because Roy was off limits.
With a deep breath, he got to his feet. He almost forgot about the tea, heading for the living room empty handed, but realized his mistake before reaching the doorway.
“Is everything okay?” Roy asked.
“Yeah, fine. The tea was almost ready so I figured I’d just wait until it was done instead of making two trips.” It was half true anyway. The tea hadn’t been ready when he went in there and it was now.
Tea really should have been a relaxing activity. There was nothing sexy or seductive about it. At first, it was relaxing. Ed smiled to himself, breathing in the soothing chamomile, eyes shut as steam washed over his face. Then he opened his eyes and found he couldn’t take them off the way Roy’s lips pursed as he blew on his, trying to cool it just a little faster.
Alright, so his brain had completely bypassed ridiculous and headed into the realm of obscenely unfair. What had happened to everything just going back to normal?
“You know, it sort of goes without saying, because you’re always a little weird, but you’re acting awfully strange today. Is everything okay?” Ed could handle pretending everything was fine while Roy was talking, but then the older man put a hand on his shoulder, trying to be friendly, or companionable, or something. Ed’s breath caught and wondered vaguely if it was possible to die of want, because right now he wanted things he had absolutely no right to. Out of desperation to regain at least some control, he tried to shrug himself out from under Roy’s touch as subtly as possible. It wasn’t subtle enough to keep the older man from noticing though.
“I’m sorry,” he said, pulling his hand away. “Sometimes it’s just hard to believe you’re here… and whole.”
“I’m not the one who spent years in a tin can,” Ed grumbled.
“No, but how many times did you nearly kill yourself trying to get Al his body back? I’m just glad you made it is all.”
Ed looked away, searching for a response that wouldn’t bring down the mood, wouldn’t reiterate the guilt he felt. Nothing he could think of was true, and that wasn’t fair either. He felt caught in a landslide. There was no going back to where he’d been. Life was going on and he had yet to find a place it in. There was nothing he could recognize anymore. Al had a girlfriend and a job and his existence no longer revolved around his big brother. Ed had no all consuming mission to keep himself preoccupied. Even Roy was no longer the same. The eyes that found his now had no authority, no mask of self assured superiority. There was no pride in the way Roy had moved and was sitting on his heels in front of Ed, trying to figure out what was going on in his head.
Ed held his breath, afraid to really look at Roy. Whether it was a fluke or not, it was hard not to look into those eyes and want to hang on forever, not to want to just touch him and lose everything else. Failing that, he bit his lip, trying to focus on the pain in his mouth and not the one in his heart.
“What is going on in there?” Roy raised an eyebrow, reaching out and cupping Ed’s cheek in his hand, guiding the younger man’s face, and eyes toward him.
“I can’t think,” Ed whispered, a shaky hand reaching for Roy’s wrist. He was so close, Ed could feel soft breath on his face. He shut his eyes, willing away his own desires, but it was no use. Without his eyes to distract him, he basked in the way the warmth of Roy’s skin felt against his now human hand, the way his lips lingered so close Ed could feel it, the way his heart ached to say something, do something to ease it.
Roy didn’t move or pull away, and Ed couldn’t stand the empty feeling that promised to keep him company before the night was over. Keeping a friendship was not worth this pain, and afraid to open his eyes and find rejection, he kept them shut, leaning forward and allowing his lips to chastely brush against Roy’s. It was fleeting and gentle, but Ed was breathless anyway when he finally found the courage to open his eyes.
Roy did not look angry, only surprised. Perhaps surprised was too tame a word for it. The man looked utterly astonished.
“I… sorry,” Ed whispered, bracing himself for the tongue lashing that was sure to come. There was none forthcoming. Instead, Roy’s lips were smothering his, a gentle hand on his cheek, the other cupped around the back of Ed’s neck.
Ed might have gasped in surprise, but Roy was kissing him and petty things like worry and the fact that they might actually have to talk about this and make some sense out of the situation just seemed to drift away. They were replaced by the all important truth that Roy was kissing him and it felt wonderful, almost as wonderful as the fact that he seemed to have discovered the sensitivity of Ed’s new limbs and was taking full advantage. Ed trembled deliciously as Roy’s fingers drifted down his arm before settling on the hand Ed was using to support himself.
Roy couldn’t help but wonder why they hadn’t done this before. Then he realized that Ed was a different person from the teenager who’d grown up around him and made his job far more difficult than it needed to be. Somewhere along the line, he’d grown up and it seemed recently he’d become the most beautiful creature in existence. It was that smile that had done Roy in, the one where Ed seemed to have chased off all his demons for a minute and was just living.
Oh, this was a disaster in the making, but it had the potential to be the most fantastic disaster Roy had ever worked into his life and he couldn’t resist the urge to try. Maybe Ed was mature enough for this to work. Maybe he could lay aside his pride and keep from goading Ed’s temper long enough for them to really be happy, but those were deeper issues for another time when he wasn’t distracted by the way Ed’s still damp hair tickled his cheek, and even more so by the fact that Ed’s arms had wormed their way around him, urging him off his knees and back onto the couch.
Ed sighed softly, sinking into the gentle caress of Roy’s fingers. He licked his lips as Roy’s mouth drifted away from his to worry over the hollow of his neck. Ed gasped at the sensation and felt as if he might drown in want. It was so much and not enough and what on earth were they waiting for?
Some part of him was screaming that he was setting himself up for failure, that that was how you wrecked a good thing. If this meant something, and he wanted it to mean something, wouldn’t there be other times?
Ed found himself laughing as it rained harder outside and the lights went out, as if everything was urging him to ruin this one great thing, this one thing he wanted, needed to hang onto. He considered for a moment, throwing caution to the wind, consequences be damned, but Roy wasn’t kissing him anymore anyway, nose buried in blonde locks and his hands were cradled affectionately around Ed. He didn’t have to have that right now, he decided. There would be other times. For now it was enough to feel cared for. With a wordless smile, Ed shut his eyes, drifting to sleep in the warmth of another’s arms, Roy’s heartbeat lulling him to a contented sleep.