The building was collapsing around him. He could feel the echoes of destruction through his boots, and suddenly it didn’t matter who’d attacked Central, only that the fifth floor had tumbled in and he was trapped.
There was a circle for this, he knew it, but it appeared that his brain had gone on a suicide run because it refused to cough up the lines that would save his life. He looked around frantically, searching for another way out, but there was nothing. He briefly considered opening the window and climbing down, but he’d never been a terribly good climber and four stories was a long way to fall.
The debris blocking him in exploded in a flash and there were golden eyes staring at him from the dusty haze. Ed held out and automail hand and when he didn’t grab it immediately, yanked on his wrist, pulling him swiftly through burning hallways.
Ed was barreling down the cluttered walkways, nearly dragging Roy behind, and he couldn’t wrap his mind around how the younger man managed to move so damn quickly, but this place was falling to pieces all around them, closer and closer, destruction finding them more quickly than even Ed could run.
“Run,” Ed ordered, stopping to do something There had been screaming from somewhere far away, but Roy couldn’t see much with all the dust in the air.
“What about you?” Roy had stopped beside him, worried more for Ed than himself at the moment.
“Just go you idiot! I’ll be right behind you,” and then Ed was shoving him down the stairs. He slipped and tumbled, turning around to find the way blocked by one of Ed’s walls. He was supporting what was left of the ceiling, leaving Roy enough time to get out if he hurried.
Realizing there was nothing more he could do, Roy did indeed hurry, reaching the exit just as the last of the ceiling in that part of the building came crashing down. His heart thudded angrily in his chest from the exertion, and his muscles and lungs burned from smoke and dust and exertion, but it didn’t matter. He couldn’t see Ed anywhere, and that was cause for alarm.
It was another ten minutes before he caught sight of Ed, head hanging out the second floor window in another part of the building. Why was he still in there? He was yelling something to the rescue crew down below, but Roy was too far away to hear. He could only watch as Ed tossed a pigtailed girl from the window to the net waiting below. It was then that Roy remembered the fieldtrip and wasn’t it just like Ed to run off and try to be a hero?
Ed was about to follow, knowing he had no time to get downstairs, but the walls were crumbling and he was shooing the rescuers out of the way lest they be crushed by falling rubble. Ed disappeared as the last standing part of Central headquarters came down, deafening and final. He thought he could make out a slip of red among the falling debris, but it was hard to be sure, and before the dust had settled, he was running over to where Ed might have fallen.
They already had him on a stretcher when Roy reached the place he’d landed. His automail arm was gone, ripped from it’s socket in the fall so violently that blood was leaking from the port. All in all, Ed looked rather lifeless, and as he ran after the stretcher, he nearly slipped in a crimson puddle. Something in the fall had ripped a hole in his side and Roy realized he was watching Ed’s life drip away in so many scarlet drops.
“He’s stable sir, but we’re not letting anyone in to see him,” the nurse explained as he headed for Ed’s hospital room.
“Do you have any idea who I am?” he growled. It was his fault, asking Ed to remain a State Alchemist after he’d gotten his brother back, his fault Ed was here and not far away in Rizembool. This was not a situation where he was willing to stand idly by and wait for the other shoe to drop.
The room was dim and quiet save for the steady beeping of a monitor attached to Ed. He looked more machine than human like this, human wrist strung with tubes of saline and what Roy assumed to be a pain medication. His mouth was covered by a mask to keep him breathing. The arm was still gone, but there was no longer any blood seeping from it, and it looked like the gash at his side. Ed’s normally sunkissed skin was pale and ashen, marred with dried blood and dust that clung in clumps to his ruffled hair. His eyes were closed, but one golden orb cracked open to gaze at him when he stepped closer.
“Hey,” Roy murmured, unsure of what to say. One side of Ed’s mouth quirked upward momentarily, hard to see in the dim light beneath the mask. It was gone almost immediately as the fuzziness cleared from his head, replacing his tired ease with pain. He tried to say something, but no words came and the corners of his eyes wrinkled in pain.
Roy hesitantly reached for the mask, leaning close to Ed’s face, trying to catch what he was saying. Ed said nothing, licking his parched lips miserably, and staring at Roy with eyes full of nightmares.
“Water?” Roy asked, and Ed nodded, almost imperceptibly. Roy made his way to the sink, thoughtfully watching clear liquid pour into a plastic cup. When he returned, he slid a hand under Ed’s head, frowning at the hiss of pain that bubbled from the younger man’s lips.
Ed was too thirsty to care and drank greedily as Roy held the cup to his lips, shutting his eyes as the water eased the pain in his throat. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a start, and he was already feeling too sick to risk drinking more.
“Thanks,” he whispered, allowing his head to sink back against Roy’s palm, warm and soft.
Roy watched Ed for a while, silent with concern. It occurred to him that he’d been utterly terrified as events had unfolded, and it wasn’t the sort of terror where he thought he’d lost his best soldier. It struck deeper, harder, like if he lost Ed, he’d be entirely alone, and while it was an agonizing feeling, the implications weren’t unwelcome to him.
“Leave it to you to try and be the hero,” he chastised fondly, easing the young man’s head back and taking a seat in the chair beside the bed. Ed glared at him as best he could, but in his pain, it wasn’t terribly effective.
“You should be thanking me, you jerk,” he muttered, grimacing at the effort it took to speak.
“I should, and thank you. You know, you could have avoided all this,” he motioned to Ed’s current predicament with his hand, “You should have been outside training. Why did you come inside at all?”
“You think I was just going to let you die? The only reason I even came back to the god damned military was because you asked me to,” Ed’s eyes were on fire and agony etched his features, but he didn’t allow it to silence him.
“I see,” Roy offered a grateful smile before allowing the room to settle into silence.
He thought Ed had fallen back asleep and thought about returning the mask to make sure he didn’t suffocate in his sleep, but Ed was flexing his fingers very pointedly at Roy, moving his hand nearer the older man as much as he could before the pain was too much. Roy grasped it in his own, working his thumb in circles over Ed’s knuckles and the younger man sighed softly, relaxing into the mattress. He didn’t offer any explanation, and Roy didn’t ask, content to offer some manner of comfort.
Ed awoke one more time in the night, mumbling something about feeling like he’d been rolling in the dirt before trying to go back to sleep. Roy released his hand, smiling slightly at the disappointed noise from the bed in response. He looked through a cabinet in the hospital room, finding a washcloth that would do nicely. After running it under warm water from the tap, he was back at Ed’s side, tenderly wiping the blood and grime from his face. Ed hissed at the contact once, but leaned into Roy’s touches, smiling slightly as Roy worked the mess from his skin.
When he’d cleaned as much as he could without hurting the younger man, Roy pulled a comb from his pocket, which he always kept because, hey, he always needed to look his best. He grasped a lock of Ed’s hair, pulling it gently from the rest of the tangled mop. With painstaking effort, he worked the snarls and caked dirt and blood, leaving soft, golden strands behind. Ed murmured his approval before settling into a fitful slumber once more.
As the days wore on, Ed woke a few times, rarely particularly coherent. Still, Roy stayed, occupying himself with reading and smirking to himself at the obvious discomfort of the nurse he’d argued with. He must have been spending too much time around Ed, to find enjoyment in this particular activity, and in another time he would have been more interested in flirting with the young lady than making her squirm. It amused him all the same and passed the time waiting for Ed to get better.
“You’re still here?” Ed was staring at him, eyes glowing amber in the dark. He must have been feeling better because he’d rolled on his side.
“I’m still here. I figured it was as good a place as any to pretend I was working, what with Central being… under renovation.”
Ed snorted good naturedly at that.
“You know, that must have been quite a fall to pull your arm out of its port like that,” Roy said, hoping Ed might volunteer just how badly he was still hurt.
“It’ll take a lot more than that to get rid of me,” he tried to shrug, wincing in pain.
“Help me sit up, would you?” he asked grumpily.
“So why did you stay?” Roy asked quietly. He had a suspicion as to the answer, but it was always better not to act until one was sure of the facts.
“I’ve stayed despite the fact that my brother’s back to normal for six years now and now you want to know why?” Ed looked at him incredulously.
“Humor me,” Roy responded dryly.
“I stayed because you asked me to,” Ed replied with a smile that said he was leaving things out.
“And Al’s all grown up now. He’s got a wife. He’s got a kid. It was a little lonely out there. At least here life’s never dull,” and he seemed to suddenly be very amused by his state of being.
“I see,” Roy answered thoughtfully.
“God, Roy. For someone who knows everything, you’re an incredible idiot,” Ed ranted, face turning a bright scarlet as he realized he’d said it out loud.
“How do you figure?” Roy was smirking at him now, and Ed pursed his lips irritably, saying nothing.
“I’m still your commanding officer, Ed. I suggest you answer me.”
“Oh, that’s low, Mustang, even for you,” Ed glared daggers at the man.
“I stayed because I like being around you, okay?” Ed blurted, so quickly Roy could barely make it out. The blush had spread down his neck, disappearing under the hospital gown.
Roy toyed with the idea for a moment and Ed looked absolutely mortified at the silence.
“Look, I know it’s a one-sided thing. That’s why I never said anything and I get it if that bothers you,” Ed started to explain, but Roy cut him off before he was finished.
“What sort of person, do you suppose, spends a week in a hospital room with someone else who’s rarely awake for more than five minutes at a time?”
“I…umm,” Ed looked away, and then back at Roy, waiting for an answer.
Roy closed the difference between them, lips pressing chastely to Ed’s for a brief moment. He smirked as he pulled away, because there was that tomato red flush across his cheeks, only he didn’t looks upset or worried this time. He laughed a little, sounding for all the world as if he’d just discarded a very heavy burden, resting his forehead against Roy’s.
“What’s so funny?” Roy had to ask, but Ed did not seem particularly interested in answering, at least not so much as he was interested in getting to know in intricacies of Roy’s mouth.
Finally, Ed pulled away once more, gasping for breath and fighting the pain that surged through him from excessive movement. He let his head fall back against the pillow, a soft smile gracing his lips, “Best disaster ever.”