Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist
Word Count: 22,500 (3,800 this part)
Warnings: major spoilers for '03/CoS; language; a bit of violence (unimpressive next to canon); adults behaving irresponsibly (including alcohol use); naughty stuff to come
Summary: It is a telling and terrible reflection on Roy's life that the kidnapping is not the worst thing that's happened this week.
Author's Note: Meant to get more of this posted, but… I didn't. :'D SORRY! I'll try to tie it up next weekend if I can!
The next gunshot and the brightness of the bullet colliding with the road ahead burst nearly simultaneously.
Roy puts his shoulder against Ed’s as gently as he can while they’re both moving—he has to push laterally alone, without enough force to destabilize Ed entirely; with just enough to send him stumbling out of the way—
Ed’s hair whips as he turns, teeth bared: “The fuck, Roy?”
The fourth bullet hisses past overhead, too high for a headshot by a matter of inches; the fifth misses much too close to Roy’s left shoulder—
He reaches up to fasten his fingers in Ed’s sleeve, guiding them towards the gutter—towards the shadow of the dead, yawning husks of the disused buildings; they must have made it nearly out of range by n—
Roy almost pulls Ed down with him, but Ed’s fought gravity so many times, in so many ways, that he somehow keeps his footing even as Roy drops to his knees.
Roy’s hand has pressed down against it before he realizes that he’s released Ed’s sleeve—it can’t be as bad as it feels; it can’t be tantamount to the firecracker flash of indescribable pain and the spurt of blood onto the pavement.
But it’s deeper than he dares to hope against.
“Roy!” Ed says. Funny—one would almost think he’d forgotten the name, between last night and now. Which isn’t to say that Roy didn’t, at several points, try avidly to make him forget that syllable and everything else he knew besides.
Both hands, the soft one and the steel, are batting at his shoulders and his chest; in turn they grab handfuls of his uniform and winch him back up to his feet.
“Come on—” Through clenched teeth as Roy does his damnedest to support his own weight: “It’s—it’s not—you—”
“It grazed me,” Roy says, swallowing down his body’s urge to gasp for breath, to shake, to lie down right here and clutch his side until it’s over— “I’m—fine—”
“Good,” Ed says, towing him again—he turns them rightward at the first cross street, drags them another impossibly long and laborious half a block, then turns left— “You’d better be.”
Roy almost manages a smile.
A right turn; a left turn; another right—
Ed lets go of him and darts up across the sidewalk to kick in the door of the next warehouse, and then returns to grasp his arm again and pull him inside.
He frees Roy’s sleeve long enough to step over to an old workbench, using the automail forearm to sweep away all of the detritus piled atop it; metal clangs, and pieces clatter to the floor—
“All right,” Ed says, storming back over and grabbing him again, the better to lug him over to the bench and plop him down. “Sit. Stay. Good boy.” Ed strides back to the door, shuts it, and claps and smacks both hands against the lock to repair it; en route back to the workbench, he gives a dangling cord a sharp tug to illuminate a single bare bulb suspended from the ceiling. It flickers, but then the tungsten hums, and the light holds. “How bad is i—”
Knowing precisely what is barreling towards him at an absolutely inevitable speed, Roy lets his hand be pried away from the soaking mess of wool.
“You fucking liar,” Ed says. “It didn’t graze you; this is a fucking—”
“It didn’t go through me,” Roy says, pressing his palm against it again. So far that hasn’t done much to stem the rhythmic gushing in time with his pulse, but occasionally one has to be optimistic purely to spite the caprices of one’s fate. “Or not quite. What terminology would you prefer?”
“Holy fuck,” Ed says, so faintly that it may be directed at the larger universe, rather than at Roy in particular. “You better fucking hope that kills you, because otherwise, I’m gonna do it.” Roy opens his mouth to ask the obligatory question about the size of this particular death, but Ed preempts him with a metal hand spread on his chest, and a rather meaningful application of force. “Down.”
Ed reaches towards the wound—and then withdraws both hands like he’s been burned, before any of his fingers have made contact with Roy’s skin, and that… stings more than it should.
Except that on closer inspection, to the best of Roy’s muggy-headed ability, it doesn’t look quite like a refusal to touch so much as… fear?
Ed’s hands are shaking—both of them.
“There’s—fucking shrapnel,” he says. “I—I mean, enough that—is it—is it safe to stitch it if—?”
Roy hears his heart in his ears. It sounds like a drumbeat timed to a countdown.
It doesn’t just sound like one. It is.
“The infection rate,” he says, “increases significantly in a situation wh—”
“Fuckers,” Ed snarls, and he holds the back of his left hand over his eyes for a second, head lowered, shoulders taut— “Of course those fuckers would—and of course I can’t fucking remember a single fucking thing from Marcoh’s—”
“Even if you did,” Roy says, “I couldn’t let you use i—”
“What the fuck good is it?” Ed asks, voice faint. “When the chips are down, what good does it even do?”
Roy has spent most of his life looking for an answer to that question. Alchemy has killed and wracked and ruined more than it’s saved.
Before he can invent something worth saying, Ed looks up again, and his eyes have hardened, and his jaw is set.
“Bet we can slow down the bleeding a lot if we get enough pressure on it,” he says. “Sit tight.”
“I was planning on a jig,” Roy says.
“Let me rephrase that,” Ed says. “Sit tight, and shut up.”
“Sir, yes, sir,” Roy says. He shifts, winces, grits his teeth, shifts further, and settles on his back. He is still bleeding freely—perhaps more freely than he’s done anything else in all his life.
He may be just a smidgeon lightheaded at this point.
“Fuck’s fucking sake,” Ed says. He’s… unbuttoning his waistcoat. Is Roy unconscious and dreaming already? That’s nice. “Can’t take you anywhere.” Ed flings the waistcoat down onto the nearest available surface—a low filing cabinet, by the looks of it—and then claps and applies his hand to it, and the fabric reconfigures itself into several long strips. “Especially not fucking hostage situations, apparently.”
“My apologies,” Roy says. “I am only a slightly better hostage than a houseguest, and only a slightly better houseguest than a date, and o—ah.”
Most likely it should come as no surprise that having makeshift woolen bandages applied, not exactly gently, to the site of a fairly considerable flesh wound is a strikingly painful process, but it startles him all the same. The last time Ed manhandled him was much more pleasant all around.
“Do you ever shut up?” Ed asks.
“Not that I know of,” Roy says. “Sometimes, when I’m alone, I whisper.”
The look Ed gives him might shame a man who had retained some modicum of dignity. Fortunately, Roy is immune.
Ed ties off the bandages, although Roy suspects that the impressive quantity of blood would probably adhere them to each other either way.
“Don’t fucking move,” Ed says. “I’m gonna figure out where we are and then find a phone and call Lieutenant Hawkeye.”
“Thank you,” Roy says.
“‘Don’t fucking move’ includes your mouth,” Ed says, crossing to a shuttered window and peering out.
“That’s cheating,” Roy says.
“Tough shit,” Ed says.
Ed wipes his hands on his shirt. He stares down at the bloody handprints for a long second, like he’s vaguely confused about their presence, and then he sets his jaw, gives Roy a preemptively reprimanding look that Riza would be proud of, and heads off through a doorway leading heaven knows where.
Roy lies as still as he can, holding his operable hand to the wound. Is it a good thing that the bullet tracked lower than his ribcage, missing the bone? Some part of him thinks…
Some part of him thinks he should stop thinking about the various and sundry sources of pain. Another part of him notes, jarringly cheerfully, that he’ll probably bleed to death a bit slower if he can calm his breathing down and minimize the rate of his heart. He’s not sure how long he has; he supposes it doesn’t matter. Stretching the time he’s got is the most practical option either way.
Laying his own hand near his ribs makes it nigh-on impossible not to reflect on the fact that it’s not the most appealing hand that’s been there—that debatable honor belongs to the young man who just prowled out of here swearing under his breath.
Remarkable, isn’t it, that being shot somehow registers as the least excruciating part of this. Remarkable that Ed is capable of wringing Roy’s heart out so slowly that the juices of it run hotter than the blood seeping up his side; remarkable that there is enough love left in him to feel something—anything—when what little he has to offer winds up on the ground.
And it seemed—
At first it seemed—
Like it was going to be something beautiful.
Ed was. Ed always is; he breathes it out like a contagion, and everything around him takes on a shade of it, but the sickness is so rooted that the symptoms never fade. Was it wrong to need so badly to bask in it for a while?
Even if Roy didn’t know the answer, his equivalent exchange for it rather succinctly proves the point.
And yet—and yet.
He regrets what was said, afterwards; he regrets how it started. He regrets that he was too damn muddled from drinking to try to quell the fire in him, kindled and caught and stoked to a conflagration by the brightness of Ed’s eyes. He regrets that he pretended not to know that alcohol is flammable, and that his better judgment is a wooden wall.
He regrets the evening he watched the smoke rise and reached out through it regardless. He regrets the morning. And he regrets that reckless desperation brought them here.
He does not regret the night.
He does not regret learning the lines of Ed’s torso, the pressure of Ed’s hands, the taste of Ed’s mouth and fingertips and sweat—
He does not regret the stint in heaven—he regrets the brevity, and the aftermath, and the fact that as of yet he has failed to salvage anything from the wreckage of himself.
For once, it’s not his own pride that’s at stake here; it is Ed. Ed has done, and been through, and suffered enough. Roy’s intentions were almost as noble as they were immensely selfish; he did, genuinely, want to give Ed the best of him, whatever that amounts to, and try to salve some measure of the pain. Everything hurts just a fraction less when someone else wants to bear it with you.
In the very beginning, years ago, that was all he ever wanted. In the very beginning, backlit by a sunset streaked blood-red and violet, they touched hands and touched souls, and it ignited something in Roy, yes, but the flames were gentle—small and tentative and warm.
His only intention was to foster something soft there, between them—both of them, Lord knew, had spent more than their share of time navigating through knives.
And that changed, of course. The world warped it; the universe can’t resist the opportunity to dig its claws into something cautious and start to tear—but parts of it survived. Parts of it stayed in him, stayed sweet, stayed perilously fragile, and when their mouths met last night, the core of Roy Mustang’s being offered four words in a voice that moved like molten iron:
Be good to him.
As if Roy’s heart would give him any other choice; as if it wouldn’t stretch itself out on a bed of coals to make Ed’s passage kinder—
He had had just enough intellect left after the mind-scalding obliterative effect of Ed’s mouth against his to flag down a cab, bundle them both into it, and route it towards his house. Ed’s left hand brushed Roy’s thigh, and even with two damning layers of blue wool in between, the implication alone ignited every last milliliter of Roy’s susceptible blood, and—
And when Ed’s fingers curled into the fabric, and Ed’s fist rested there, tantalizingly too-warm, for the remainder of the ride—
Slowly, lightly, he’d laid his hand over Ed’s. And Ed didn’t shift, or shiver, or recoil; and Roy thought that maybe, maybe, it could be like this, last like this, grow like this—that maybe it could become something gentle and simple and warm.
The cab ground to a halt in front of the building that was nominally his home—a smaller townhouse he’d bought after Ed’s initial return had untied the noose with which the North had held him. Ed said something disparaging about the lawn; Roy tipped the cabbie high enough to encourage discretion; they tumbled out of the car.
Through an enormous and impressive exhibition of will, Roy managed to keep his hands off of Ed until he’d unlocked the front door, ushered a certain angelic hellion through it, and locked it securely behind them.
And it was remarkable, too, that despite multiple decades of digging for the reasons and the roots beneath the actions of others, Roy could only begin to guess at the kinds of consequences that had taught someone like Ed to wait until the door was bolted before he pounced.
But pounce he did.
Neither of them had ever made good lapdogs for the military machine; Roy had played the part, but he’d had too much wolf’s blood in him ever to be tamed. Ed, however, had never been a dog. Ed had always been a panther. The yellow eyes should have given it away a long damn time ago, and yet—
Somehow he’d fooled them all, and Roy had never reveled in deception quite as avidly as when it was pushing him up against his front door to kiss him significantly harder than it had in the bar.
A part of Roy wished that he was a better man—a stronger one, a smarter one, of the caliber to fight a temptation like this. He knew he should have waited. He knew he should have done it the right way, slowly, doling out the milestones, leaning on traditions, with both of them awake and aware and making conscious, considered choices. He knew he should have waited until they were sober, and he was sure that Ed knew that he was knee-deep in leech-infested quicksand, and that Roy was going to try to make it worth his while, but he’d never managed miracles before.
It seemed to matter a great deal less when there was currently a miracle nipping at his lip and dragging him towards the staircase.
“Watch your step,” Roy mumbled into the half-inch of temporary space between their mouths.
Ed drew back to glare at him, and they staggered to a stop in the middle of the foyer, and the intensity of his eyes made Roy’s heart leap and then dip and then crumple—
And then Ed laughed so hard he had to double over, and the hand curled in the braiding of Roy’s uniform was the only point of leverage that kept him off the floor.
“Don’t take orders from your dumb ass,” Ed managed once he’d mostly caught his breath.
“Or from any other part of me, I’ve noticed,” Roy said.
Ed howled with laughter again, and it was absolutely unreal that he could be so devastatingly beautiful in every single mood.
And that he could be so close.
Roy’s hands moved—with his heart’s enthusiastic permission, naturally; and his head was spinning too fast to formulate a protest. He reached out to cup one hand under each side of Ed’s jaw, stroking the pads of his thumbs up the angle of it, with the intention of drawing him in for another kiss.
But Ed was moving backwards, now that he had found his feet again—he caught Roy’s hands under his and held them, leading them both back towards the stairs, and just before they hit the bottom step, he turned his head and kissed the palm of Roy’s right hand so goddamn lingeringly—
That wasn’t a one-night stand sort of gesture, was it? That was the caress of a lover. That was genuine.
They made it up the stairs somehow—Roy didn’t remember falling; evidently arousal was a powerful aid to one’s balance, at least if one was desperate enough. When they topped the landing, Ed paused, looking around himself in comically emphatic bewilderment.
“Right this way,” Roy said, lowering his voice just enough to make it resonate a little deeper, and the shiver that rattled through Ed at the sound of it was a greater reward than he’d dared to hope for.
He grasped Ed’s hands—one cold and steady and solid; the other reassuringly warm and shaking just a bit—and drew him down the hall, over the threshold, into the bedroom—
Was this actually happening, or had he drunk too much and toppled straight into an immensely pleasant dream?
Ed hooked both arms around his neck so that he couldn’t help but follow when Ed dropped onto the bed, dragged him in close again, and kissed him like it was the only thing in the miserable world that he’d ever wanted to do.
To be fair, the world seemed much less miserable all around when their mouths met, and Ed’s breath stuttered against Roy’s lips, and he could trace both hands slowly, slowly, slowly down Ed’s chest, memorizing the contours of the bones beneath his skin—
Ed threw his head back, gold flooding over the white sheets, and Roy couldn’t resist the invitation to drag his tongue up over the ridges of Ed’s throat, to kiss along the tender skin beneath his jaw. Ed kept baring the open spaces, the vulnerable spots—the soft places where human beings were so assailable that you could set them to trembling with the mere intimation of a kiss.
Roy fumbled for the reins to his psyche, which was making a break for the horizon, and hauled back.
He settled his hands on Ed’s hips—one of the most sublimely cruel parts of a consistently merciless anatomy—and forced his yearning body to be still.
He waited until Ed caught his breath, or tried to, and swallowed, and looked up.
“Are you sure?” Roy asked. “We don’t ha—”
“Christ,” Ed said. “Of course we don’t. You think I’d be here if I didn’t want to?”
“Edward,” Roy said, and Ed’s hips hitched in his hands—instinctive, unmistakable; God, that was a rush. “You do know, don’t you, that you could have anyone that you made eye contact with.”
Ed frowned, just slightly, with a consternated turn to his mouth, and Roy couldn’t contain the heat anymore; it sublimated free of him, and he leaned down to mouth at the join of Ed’s collarbones; the fingers of his right hand rose to the buttons of Ed’s shirt.
“You think that?” Ed asked—breath catching, back arching; Roy hadn’t lost his touch. “You think I could—have a-anybody—”
“Anyone with at least one eye and a fraction of sense,” Roy said. He meant it. And he intended to prove it by undoing Ed’s shirt so slowly that one shiver rolled into another, and he could drink the heat off of Ed’s skin. “I suppose that’s a bit generous as far as my intellect is concerned.”
“Shut the fuck up,” Ed said—breathed, gasped, and perhaps heaven did exist; perhaps it stored snatches of absolution in the coils of shadow rippling through Ed’s hair. There was more than a fragment of sanctity in the first gleam of sweat on his forehead; there was more than a morsel to worship in the bat of his eyelashes against his cheek as he writhed, and whimpered, and bit down on his bottom lip. “L-like I’d be in your fuckin’ bed at the drop of a hat if I didn’t think the f-fucking world of you—”
Roy had to stop—had to stop everything. He had to stop moving, had to stop breathing, because he needed to hear his own heartbeat to be sure that he was still alive.
For a split-second, Ed looked surprised that he’d said it—and then the stubbornness set in, and he scowled, as if reacting with disbelief was some sort of uncatalogued crime that merited jail time and a substantial fine.
“You already knew that,” he said. “And—fuck’s sake, it’s not—it’s not like the stupid fucking eyepatch is enough to stop you from getting laid six ways from Sunday if you want it, and—”
Roy was fairly certain—admittedly, it was the fuzzy, inebriated sort of certainty, but it counted—that this was a conversation better held in other circumstances. Over the breakfast table tomorrow, perhaps, if neither of them was too hungover to bear the light. Or in this bed, but in a different configuration, likewise in the morning, if Ed didn’t want to move.
Judiciously, Roy felt, he initiated the hiatus by tugging the tails of Ed’s shirt free of his trousers and sliding both hands slowly up underneath it, spreading his fingertips over every last centimeter of skin. He realized, a bit belatedly, that he needed one hand to apply to the buttons if he was going to get this thing properly out of the way; he kept the other stationed there, massaging at Ed’s hipbone, and earned an indescribably lovely little groan.
“And?” he prompted, entirely for the sake of being smug.
“And fucking what?” Ed said, bucking his hips against Roy’s grip in an extremely unambiguous way. He was also, if Roy was not mistaken, grinding his teeth—which was the wrong thing to be grinding, but it was too early to complain. “You want a signed, sealed fuckin’ invitation, or is ‘fuck me already’ good enough?”
Roy’s whole body was ablaze with it.
“That’ll do,” he said.
A disproportionately large commotion from deeper in the warehouse heralds Ed’s return—and Roy would love to say so, in so many words, and reap the reaction, but he suspects that drawing a breath deep enough to shout with might muster a new surge of blood through the wound on his side. A modest pool has formed on the workbench beneath him; he can hear it dripping to the floor—slowly, for now, but presumably that will change. Fluid dynamics. Volume. Surface tension. Ed will know the formulas.