Pairing: RoyxEd, Alter!RoyxEd
Rating: NC-17 (PG-13 for this chapter)
Disclaimer: I don't own FMA or it's characters and all that jazz.
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.
Author's Note: Thanks hikaru_9 for being the most awesome beta ever and reading this even though there's all this stuff to do before tomorrow.
Other Author's Note: Sorry for taking so long on this chapter. The EdxEd ate me... This will probably be the last one until after Yaoi Con, but... at least there is fluff?
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August brought with it the last few weeks of warm breezes and green grass. It was probably the last day that Ed could comfortably find himself this way. He sat at the edge of the water way bare legs dangling in the cool liquid. Only the spill of the falls broke the surface on the other side of the basin. It was beautiful, and quiet, enough so that he only gave a cursory glance around before tugging off his shirt as well.
“See, I told you it was nice here,” Roy chided gently.
“I never said it wasn’t,” Ed retorted, pushing his palms against the dirt to slide into the water.
“Not at all. You just complained the whole way here.”
“Hey,” Ed squawked, “You’re the one who said swimming. You had me thinking like… lots of people or something, you jerk.”
Roy grinned and shrugged, sinking into the water with a contented smile.
“So why go to all the trouble to bring me here, anyway?” Ed asked after a while. He didn’t really expect an answer, and let himself drift, drinking in the soothing flow of water on his skin.
“You said once, that this world was confining. I wanted to show you that it didn’t have to be,” Roy murmured, moving closer to pull Ed into a soppy hug.
“That was back… god, I don’t even know when that was,” Ed admitted.
“You’ve been planning this for six months?” Ed asked incredulously.
“Better than roses, I assume?”
“I…,” Ed groped for words.
“There’s a place we can go hiking, too.” Roy gestured to a path heading to the top of the falls. “The view is amazing.”
“Roy… thank you. Hiking is much better than roses.”
He very nearly could have fallen asleep there. Roy released him with a soft peck on the cheek, and he leaned against the ridge of the pool, elbows holding him up. Perhaps his body didn’t lend itself to actual swimming, but there was something incredibly relaxing about the water itself.
Eventually, and very reluctantly, Ed pulled himself from the water. It seemed neither of them had brought a towel, and so he resigned himself to sprawling out in the sun, letting the warm air wash over him. Despite the warmth, it made him shiver as it crawled across his skin. He squirmed to find a more comfortable position, and relaxed back into the grass once more.
He barely noticed the touch at first, thought he was imagining pressure on his automail. It wouldn’t have been the first time, and it was a little harder to tell, after all. He opened one eye, though to find Roy beside him, propped on one arm. The fingers of his free hand trailed over metal, gazing with almost innocent sort of awe.
“You just wanted me half naked so you could see my automail,” Ed muttered, shutting his eye again. It wasn’t as if Roy was actually hurting anything, after all.
“It’s interesting to look at,” Roy replied, pouting slightly, though Ed couldn’t really see.
“You’re so weird,” Ed whined, but there was no venom in it. He lay rather serenely as Roy’s palms slid over his arm, tracing pieces of metal. He kept pausing at joints and screws as if there was something entirely fascinating about them. Ed couldn’t decide if there was something sensual about being the focus of such rapt attention, or embarrassed that Roy was so closely eyeing his metal parts.
It was rather soothing, actually, the sound of skin sliding over metal, the slight pressure as Roy’s fingers feathered over his limbs. Even as hands tenderly fingered scar tissue, it was somewhat of a lulling touch.
There was something entirely unfair about how Roy could touch him that much and not… go anywhere with it. Ed was starting to suspect that Roy was holding a grudge or something over the mess he’d made months before.
There were lips on his cheek again, and soft breath ruffled his hair. Roy released his hold on Ed’s automail to wrap an arm around him, settling into the grass, barely touching.
“Is there… some problem?” Ed asked finally.
“Problem?” Roy asked.
“I mean…I know I fucked up…back…well, you know. Are you still mad, or something?”
“I’m not sure how I could still be mad. I wasn’t angry to begin with,” Roy responded.
“You could have fooled me. You always keep me at arm’s length. How is that not being mad?” Ed growled.
Roy raised an eyebrow at him, “Is that honestly what you think I’m doing?”
“You hardly ever even touch me! You’d think we were friends or… something,” Ed flailed, tugging himself to sit up.
“Edward…I’d like to think we are friends, more than anything else.”
Ed opened his mouth to speak, but Roy was talking again before he got the chance.
“Just listen to me. Ed, the last thing I want is to hurt you. I care about you.”
“How is having a normal relationship going to hurt me?” Ed spat.
“What do you see when you look at me?” Roy asked quietly.
“I… what the hell kind of question is that?”
“Just answer me.”
“I don’t know what you want me to say. I see you, being a pain in the ass and asking weird questions,” Ed railed at him, quickly running out of steam when he realized he wasn’t even sure why he was upset.
Roy looked thoughtful for a moment, frowning as he continued, “If I kissed you right now, would you be kissing me… or him?”
Ed’s stomach dropped. “That’s what this is about?”
“I just…know it’s been hard for you. I refuse to make it worse… for either of us,” Roy admitted.
Ed took a breath. It was hard to be honest, but… he owed that much. He had to believe that this was fixable. It had to be.
“Roy… I don’t know if there will ever be a time when I don’t… love him.” Ed’s heart sank as he watched the hurt flicker across Roy’s face.
“It doesn’t mean that I see you as some weird substitution, though. I don’t like you because you look like him or act like him sometimes. I like you because…you’re you,” he murmured.
Roy nodded, though he didn’t look entirely convinced. Ed felt a little sick. He guessed he sort of deserved it after everything.
They sat in awkward silence, neither knowing what to say that might gloss over the tension between them, unsure of how to dissolve it altogether.
In the end, it was Roy who gave, where Ed could not, where he didn’t know how. Roy stood, holding a hand out to Ed. The smile he offered with it was tense and a little bit forced, but Ed made himself return it. He let himself be dragged to his feet, and his clothes to be pushed into his arms.
“What…” he started to ask.
“Hurry up. I want to show you something,” Roy replied, a little less tense than before.
Ed pulled his clothes back on, watching from the corner of his eye as Roy tugged on his shoes, waiting patiently for Ed to follow suit. The moment they were dressed, Roy was walking towards the path he’d pointed out earlier.
The dirt path gave way a bit beneath his feet, as Ed made his way up the steep incline. It was a pleasant sort of strain that made his heart beat a little faster, and he wondered when the last time he’d felt that was. A year? Two? Almost three now, the day he’d come home and left again perhaps. In any case, it felt good, and all he could hear was the wind rustling in the trees, dirt beneath their feet, and the sound of their breathing.
Actually, he was surprised that Roy didn’t seem to be having any trouble at all with this place. He hadn’t meant to laugh, but the idea of Roy the mountain goat amused him beyond reason, and he just couldn’t help himself. Roy shot him a look like he just knew what Ed was thinking, but said nothing.
“You know, you’re pretty good at this for someone who sits behind a desk all day,” Ed commented, surprised at the strain for breath, evident in his voice. Perhaps it really had been that long since he’d done any proper training.
“Mistaken assumptions lead to the most ridiculous expectations, don’t you think?” Roy replied evenly.
“You assumed I sit behind my desk all day. It actually barely gets any use at all. The thing is mostly a glorified file cabinet… and coffee holder,” Roy explained.
“So what do you do all day?”
“I flirt with my co-workers of course,” Roy replied with a lop sided grin. Another day, Ed might have been irritated, or taken him seriously, but it was hard not to laugh at the expression on his face.
“Well yes. If you came by more often, you’d know that,” Roy chided.
“I do come by. You’re always sitting at your stupid desk,” Ed retorted.
“Of course. I can’t have you catching me.”
Ed shook his head, “Idiot.”
“Hey, it made you laugh, didn’t it?” Roy pointed out, coming to a stop at the crest of the hill.
“Maybe a little,” Ed allowed.
“This is it,” Roy announced when Ed stopped to stand beside him.
They stood at the top of the falls, the water nearly kissing their feet as it rushed towards certain doom, toppling noisily into the basin below. Even standing, Ed could feel the slight spray of the water as it hissed and spit before meeting its end.
It was peaceful and free, something untouched. The whole place reminded him a bit of Rizembul, and he couldn’t help but smile. It had been a thoughtful gesture on Roy’s part, but there was no way he could have known that.
“Told you the view was amazing up here.”
“It’s… why did you do this?” Ed asked.
“There has to be a reason? It was a beautiful day and I thought you’d like it,” Roy responded, smiling slightly.
“Besides, I have to admit, you’re right about one thing,” Roy sighed.
“Huh?” Ed asked.
“Hiking is definitely better than roses.”
“Yeah. You know, my landlady still won’t let me live that down,” Ed grumbled good naturedly.
“It got you to come see me, didn’t it?” Roy shrugged.
“You… did that on purpose?”
“You didn’t honestly think I thought you’d want flowers, did you?” Roy was laughing, and it was hard to be mad, and Ed wanted to be mad. It was such a Roy sort of thing to manipulate the situation, though he had to admit this had been harmless at worst, and wonderful at best. It occurred to him then that the fact that this Roy had done exactly the sort of thing the other would have didn’t even faze him anymore. He grinned broadly at that.
“What?” Roy asked cautiously.
“I was just thinking, is all…”
“About?” Roy prodded.
“It’s just that that’s exactly the kind of thing he would have done…” Roy’s expression slipped a little.
“No! I didn’t mean it like that. It’s not a bad thing, even. It wasn’t upsetting or anything. It’s just nice to finally be able to realize something like that and not be upset,” Ed smiled a little, hoping he could make Roy understand what he meant to say.
“Oh,” Roy looked rather pleasantly relieved.
It was an easy sort of quiet that stretched between them, interrupted only by the din of the falls. Ed sighed contentedly, only marginally surprised when Roy moved closer, tugging Ed’s back against his chest.
There were hands on his arms, guiding him to turn around. Roy pressed his lips to Ed’s cheek, but didn’t pull away. Another, forward along Ed’s face, and Roy sighed softly against his cheek. Roy’s lips skimmed his jaw, the corner of his mouth, and then he was offering a real kiss.
It was lazy and sweet, not at all demanding. Roy’s lips were soft over Ed’s, and fingers settled at the base of his neck, below the ponytail. Ed wondered idly if they could just forget about everything before and count this as their first kiss. After all, it was a good deal less of a disaster.
Ed forced himself to just enjoy it, not to ask for anything more. There was a warmth and contentment to it that made him wish it wouldn’t end. Roy pulled away, though, with a last peck to his lips, and an easy smile.
“We should probably go,” Roy murmured, reluctantly releasing his hold on Edward.
“Yeah,” Ed replied.
Hiking was definitely better than roses.
The falls in question are Wadsworth Falls, which, today is a state park. At the time, it was privately owned, but the owner wanted it to be available to people in general, so it wouldn't be out of the ordinary for people to be there.