Pairing: RoyxEd, Alter!RoyxEd
Rating: NC-17 eventually
Disclaimer: I don't own FMA or it's characters and all that jazz.
Author's note: I know I ought to finish No Regrets. It's almost done. This has been bugging me to be written though, for a few days.
Summary: Post movie. Ed has resigned himself to being stuck on our side of the Gate. Roy tries to find a way to bring him and Al home and the ensuing accident results in both a moral and emotional dilemma.
“I can’t stay. Someone has to go back and destroy the gate on the other side.”
“I know, Ed. I know.”
Soft lips pressed against his in a kiss he’d been missing for two years, but it only hurt worse, reminding him of what he was leaving behind. Roy’s mouth dragged over his own, hands desperately pulling him closer.
“I won’t be coming home this time,” he choked on his words.
“Please take care of this side of the gate, Roy.”
Ed turned to leave then, before it became too much.
“I’m sorry,” he called behind him, glancing back just once more.
Roy grabbed his hand, “I love you.”
“You too,” he forced it out, unable to say more. His eyes burned with tears he refused to shed, as Roy released his hand, finally let him go.
Ed rolled over in a bed too big, too empty, and scrubbed his eyes. It was still fairly dark, the first glimmers of morning casting gray light into the bedroom. It’d been two years since he’d lost home for good, lost Roy, and he thought he’d gotten past this.
America was supposed to be a ‘land of opportunity’, but he’d been here a month, and all he had to show for it was flashbacks of something he could not hope to regain. At least it wasn’t always the end that he remembered.
Arms wrapped around him in ways that could never be termed innocent, as Roy’s mouth devoured his jaw, his throat, lips and tongue searing skin with each kiss. Hips rocked against his own, and he’d never felt so alive as he did in this moment, someone else’s body invading his own. He closed his eyes and let himself feel, and for a moment, there was nothing beyond him, beyond Roy. Everything was perfect.
Ed shook his head, because that, of course, was no better. He had too much to accomplish to burden himself with something as trivial as memories. His only choice was to move forward, accept the cards he’d been dealt, and appreciate that at least he had his brother back.
Ed shivered as his feet hit the cold, wood floor, and wished not for the first time, that someone would fix the heater, because if he really wanted to freeze, he was sure that sitting outside would do nicely. There was nothing for it, though, and he groped for a set of clothes from the dresser, tugging them on to ward off some of the chill.
Not for the first time, he mentally thanked Winry’s prowess at automail. It seemed, not working under Roy was a lifesaver on his arm and leg, and it had held up well these last two years. He grabbed a brush off the dresser, absently tugging his hair, still the tiniest bit damp from his shower the day before, into a high ponytail.
Ed poked his head out into the hall, squinting at the clock ticking away in the living room, let out a panicked gasp, and ran back to his desk, sitting down just long enough to tug on his shoes, before he was back out the door and banging on Al’s.
“Al! Get up. We’re gonna be late!” he yelled, pounding the side of his hand against the wood. He stopped for just a moment, and was getting ready to knock again when the door opened.
“Honestly, brother,” Al shook his head, already dressed and ready to go.
“I don’t want to miss this,” Ed fumed, stalking back down the hall and into the kitchen to rummage for something quick for breakfast.
Al watched in amusement, a warm smile touching his lips. It was good, after all, to see Ed happy for once, truly excited about something for the first time in a long time. So what if it meant getting dragged out at this ungodly hour to tramp through snow?
“You do realize that the eclipse is four hours away, right?” Al asked, taking the toast Ed thrust at him.
“We said we’d help, though, and we have to have time to get set up and all.”
“Ed, there’s nothing to set up. All they’re asking you to do is stand there and judge whether it’s a total eclipse or not.”
Ed, however, would not be swayed, and half an hour later, they were dashing down the wide sidewalks of Main street, past the first carriages and cars of the day, cramped brick buildings and striped awnings, towards the observatory.
Total eclipse was not estimated to arrive until nine, but there they were, sliding across the smooth tile floor of the observatory at six a.m., to the amusement of the other scientists.
“There are clouds, everywhere,” Ed announced mournfully.
“I’m sure they’ll clear up,” Al responded brightly, and Ed nodded absently, finally acknowledging their company.
“Man, there are scientists from all over the place,” he murmured under his breath. Al laughed, because leave it to Ed to find the weirdest things to be in awe over.
“Perhaps you’d like to watch from here? I hear it’s a good deal warmer when you’re not standing knee deep in snow.” Ed looked up, the littlest bit to regard the man speaking to him.
“Are you sure you don’t need me out there, Professor Slocum?” Ed asked, unable to hide the excitement and hope in his voice.
“I’m sure we’ve got plenty of people out there. Just relax and enjoy the show.” Then he was gone, and Al noticed Ed had forgotten to be irritated he still had to look up the tiniest bit to speak with him.
Seven o’ clock, and clouds still marred the sky, heavy and dismal, and Al watched as Ed made conversation with one scientist or another, amazed at the way he seemed to have somewhat outgrown his social ineptitude. Perhaps, though, it was just that he was in his element here, in a room full of people just as geeky as he was.
Seven-thirty and reporters had begun to gather, wanting a place, sheltered from the snow to watch the show. The observatory was already crowded, but room was made for some of them, and Al found himself glad that Middletown, Connecticut was a small town. It wasn’t small like Rizembul had been, but it was far less bustling than, say, New York, with the possible exception of today.
Eight a.m. and Ed was grumbling about the stubborn cloud cover ruining the whole darn thing, a sentiment that seemed to be echoed by everyone in the room.
“It was totally clear last night, you know?” Ed fidgeted, worn out on socializing, and might have gone to stand off in a corner somewhere if the room hadn’t been rather… round. He decided observatories just had a grudge against people who wanted to blend in with the scenery, and stood back a ways away from the other scientists, hovering by Al, who seemed blissfully calm about the whole thing.
“How can you not be freaking out?”
“It’s not like spazzing about the clouds is going to scare them off, brother,” Al chided with a smile.
It was as if the entire population of the observatory breathed an audible sigh of relief when eight-fifteen rolled around, dragging with it a streak of cerulean, etched through the cloud cover. It wasn’t enough, not nearly enough, but it offered hope that perhaps the day was not lost.
“So, do you think the clouds will disperse in time?” Ed froze at the question, tried to pretend he hadn’t heard, because there was no reason at all that he should be hearing that voice.
There was silence for a moment, and Ed thought the man behind him had moved on to torment some other poor scientist, but there were words again. “I’m sure it’s not so loud in here, that you didn’t hear me.”
With a heavy sigh, Ed turned, bracing himself as he tilted his head to regard the speaker. A face far too young gazed back, like someone had taken the man he’d known and shaved off ten years. Ebony tresses framed a face that couldn’t have been more than four or five years older than Ed, but the eyes were the same, charcoal, bright and brilliant, even here in the dim morning light of the observatory. A smile quirked along eerily familiar lips, but nothing like an expression his Roy would have worn. It was friendly and innocent, untouched by time, and truth, unaltered by pain and ambition.
Ed stared, wide eyed and open mouth, entirely unprepared for the man he faced, no familiar uniform, and instead clad in black slacks and a white button down, only the blue necktie reminiscent of the man he’d known. Another time he might have laughed at the thought of Roy as a reporter, notebook in his hand, pencil tucked behind his ear. He realized when the man smiled more widely that he was gaping and shut his mouth, teeth clicking audibly.
“You know, I’d expect an expression like that to be saved for up there,” Not-his-Roy commented, pointing at the glass roof of the observatory.
“I… Sorry,” Ed murmured.
“Is something wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Sorry, Roy… I just…” Ed trailed off.
“How did you know my name?” It was only then that Ed realized what he’d said.
“Umm, just a lucky guess,” Ed muttered, trying to excuse the slip of his tongue.
Roy might have said something, but then one of the timers was yelling.
“I better get over there,” Ed said sheepishly, waving his head vaguely in the direction of the other scientists.
“By all means, don’t let me stop you.” Roy nodded cordially.
“Enjoy the show.” Ed forced a smile, desperate for air, desperate to get away from a specter he’d thought was gone.
“Hey,” Roy called after him, and he gathered a deep breath before he turned once more.
“I didn’t get your name.”
“Ed. Edward Elric,” he responded, shifting his weight from one foot to another, hoping his discomfort was not terribly obvious.
“It was nice to meet you, Ed. See you around.”
Ed didn’t look to see if Roy was still watching, even to see if he was still there, insisting on focusing only on the sky. He did not even notice as Al came to stand beside him.
“I told you it’d be fine,” Al chided gently, nudging Ed’s side.
“Yeah,” Ed replied absently, shaking his head like he meant to dislodge something.
“Are you okay?”
“Fine, Al. It’s almost time,” Ed answered, his earlier enthusiasm tempered with melancholy. Up above the clouds had dissipated, fading to a thin sheen like frosted glass across the heavens.
“I saw him. Are you alright?” Al asked again, looking at Ed, his faced etched in concern.
“I told you I’m fine, Al. It just startled me. I’m fine,” Ed insisted.
Al dropped it then, and Ed returned his gaze to up above, scowling at the skies as if he might singlehandedly frighten off the last misty cloud cover. All that was left after that was to wait.
The room was hushed despite the crowd as darkness approached, grim and unnatural as it crept over them. A black orb seeped across the sky, encroaching on the sun a little more with each passing second. Only a few last wisps of cloud, hardly visible remained, staunchly refusing to give up their grasp on the scene playing out.
Only a crescent of light remained, fighting for purchase in the abyss of black that greeted the onlookers. The cloud had vanished at last, forgetting its reasons for sticking around, and the sky was perfectly clear as darkness bathed the land, drowning them in artificial midnight.
Cameras flashed, and Al thought to comment on the spectacle, but one look at Ed silenced him. Ed had forgotten all about Roy in that instant, staring in awe at the sun, massacred by shadow. Cameras flashed, and murmuring words were exchanged throughout the observatory, but in the two minutes that the eclipse offered its unnatural pallor to the world below, nothing else registered to Ed.
Even after it was over, it was an hour before Ed had stopped happily babbling about the spectacle to the other scientists to consider going home. It’d been an early morning after all, and bed was beginning to sound rather enticing. His chest tightened briefly, wondering if there was a polite way to leave without this other Roy catching him, but his fears seemed to be of no consequence, as the reporter had already left.
It ought to have been a relief really, to not have to face his ghosts again, but somehow it only made his heart sink lower.
The scene in this chapter was based on the total solar eclipse of January 24, 1925. Scientists came to observe from all over the place to Van Vleck Observatory at Wesleyan College of Middleton, Connecticut. At the bottom is a picture screen capped from a video taken of the eclipse.