Title: Conversion - Chapter 10
Series: Fullmetal Alchemist (Animeverse)
Pairings: Roy/Ed, Alter!Roy/Ed
Words: 4,276 (46,825 total)
Warnings: Slash, swearing?
Rating: PG-13 (possibly R in later chapters)
Status: In Progress
Spoilers: Yes, up till the end of the series.
Notes: There we go, this chapter came out in a much more timely fashion than the last, even if it is a bit on the short side. Much love to fae_elric
for being my beta and catching my stupid mistakes. XD
Also! I received more lovely fanarts from hikaru_9
. You can take a look at it here: http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/46130537/
go give it the love it so deserves. ^^Chapters 1-2 Chapters 3-4 Chapters 5-6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 ::Chapter 10::
::Resignation::January 21st, 1927
I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Thinking too much and too hard about things I cannot change, about loss, about regret. Evan noticed my odd mood and asked me about it. So I told him. Not everything of course, but just that Edward might be leaving us soon. He gave me a truly spectacular sour look, and simply said that I’m an old fool for mourning something I haven’t even lost yet. That it was better to make the most of the time we have than to spend it moping about.
I thought about his words for a while, and realized that he was right. Perhaps I’ll take Ed and Kara sledding this afternoon. I haven’t been sledding since I was a boy myself, and now that I think about it, perhaps I’m really past due.
For now, I’ll treasure every moment I have with him. There will be time enough for regrets later.* * *
Something cold, wet, and rather rumbly found its way into Edward’s ear. He batted it away with an irritated grumble only to have it return again a moment later. Ed twitched and rolled over to face the source of the cold, wet and rumbly ear invasion, cracking his eyes open and meeting a pleased green stare.
Ed the man and Ed the cat faced off for a fuzzy moment before he pushed her away with a yawn and reached out, arm searching blindly for his brother only to meet empty space. Ed frowned and sat up, rubbing his eyes and looking around the empty room with a frown. Where was Al?
It took a few seconds before panic set into his sleep fogged mind. For a terrible moment, he thought perhaps it had all been a dream, but the sight of Al’s suitcase resting in the corner assured him that it wasn’t. Then where? Ed tried to stand, legs tangling in the sheets. He cursed, kicking at the blankets ineffectually for a moment before he reached down and untangled himself. Alphonse appeared in the doorway just as Ed stumbled to his feet, and he stared at his little brother dumbly for a moment. “You were gone,” he said finally, the words coming out whinier than intended.
Alphonse blinked and then smiled warmly, and Ed felt something in his chest break. How long had it been, since he had seen that smile? In the soft morning light his little brother looked like an angel, and it made Ed want to start crying all over again. Instead, he sank back down onto the bed and held out his arms. Alphonse closed the distance and settled into his embrace with a happy sound. “Sorry,” Al said against his chest, and Ed could hear the smile in his voice. “I had to go to the bathroom.”
Ed laughed a little at that. “Well, I suppose I’ll just have to live with it. I can’t exactly go around having panic attacks every time you have to deal with bodily functions.” Something in the back of his head was utterly tickled by the simple fact that Al had bodily functions at all.
That was met with a giggle and Al pulled back, grinning from ear to ear. “I think there are a lot of things we’ll have to get used to,” he said.
Reaching out, Ed pulled on a stray lock of Alphonse’s sleep-mussed hair. “I think I can deal with that.”
They sat there for a while, grinning stupidly at each other. Finally, Ed shook his head and stood, holding out his hand for Al. “C’mon. I’ll make you breakfast.”
Alphonse took his hand with a dubious look. “Since when can you cook?”
“I could cook!” Alphonse quirked an eyebrow in a very Roy-ish fashion, and Ed decided he needed to have a talk with the general about corrupting his little brother. Ed crossed his arms and shot Al a defiant stare. “What? I could!”
“I wouldn’t call that cooking, brother,” Al said, dragging Ed out into the hall. “More like...surviving,” he finished delicately.
“You said you liked my cooking!”
“I didn’t want to hurt your feelings!”
Ed rolled his eyes and stomped down the stairs. “My entire life is a lie!” he cried dramatically, and Al laughed. “Maybe I’ll make you Liam’s chocolate pie. You’ll be sorry you insulted my culinary skills then!”
“Who’s Liam?” Alphonse asked.
“He’s-” Ed stopped suddenly at the bottom of the stairs, turning to Al and motioning for quiet. At Al’s questioning look, he pointed to the sofa where Roy lay curled up and fast asleep. He still wore his clothes from the night before, an open book lying forgotten on the floor. He must have fallen asleep reading, Ed realized, and damn, it was cold down there. The bastard must be freezing. He dodged around Al and went upstairs, retrieving the thick blanket from their bed and carefully covering the sleeping general.
He didn’t so much as twitch, and Ed picked up the book off the floor. It was Roy’s journal, one of the pages crumpled from its tumble to the floor. Ed smoothed the page as best he could and set the journal on the table, ignoring the feeling of loss that threatened when he saw the neat, familiar script.
He checked the blanket again, adjusting it so it wouldn’t slip, then straightened and motioned for Alphonse to follow him. He led his little brother to the kitchen and sat him on one of the stools while he put coffee on. He hesitated, then looked at Al. “D’you drink coffee?” he asked, keeping his voice low so as not to disturb Roy.
Al made a face and shook his head. “Ick, no. The general usually keeps some tea around for when I visit.” Tea, right. Ed felt a surge of jealousy and immediately quashed it. So what if Roy knew that his brother drank tea and he didn’t? It had been a long time, and there were some things about Al he would just have learn. Five years of habits; of likes and dislikes. He should be happy he had the chance to learn these things, not angry that he hadn’t been around to know them in the first place.
He put the water on to boil, and after a bit of deliberating, settled on pancakes for breakfast. He talked with Al in a low voice while he cooked, pausing briefly to make his brother’s tea and pour himself a cup of coffee. When he judged the growing pile suitable for the four of them, he sent Al upstairs to get Winry, poured another cup of coffee, and went to wake up Roy.
“Hey, you lazy bastard, up!” Edward said, jabbing Roy in the arm. A dark eye slid open and stared at him balefully. “Up!” Ed repeated, and Roy obediently sat upright, hiding a yawn behind his hand.
“What time is it?” he asked.
“Seven? Eight? Something like that,” Ed told him, thrusting the coffee into his hands.
Roy stared at it blankly for a moment. “I feel like crap,” he announced.
Ed rolled his eyes. “That’s what you get for sleeping on the couch, moron. C’mon, I made pancakes.” Without waiting for a reply, he swept off back into the kitchen and began setting out plates. Roy followed a moment later and slumped into one of the chairs with another large yawn.
“Thanks for the blanket,” he said after a moment. “And the coffee.”
“Couldn’t let you freeze to death,” Ed said with a shrug, setting his rather daunting stack of pancakes down in the middle of the table. He surveyed his work for a moment, and satisfied, was about to grab the syrup from the counter when he noticed Roy giving him the strangest look. Ed cocked his head with a questioning frown, wondering why the general seemed intent on boring through his skull. “...What?”
Roy blinked and shook his head. “Nothing, sorry. Was just thinking.”
Ed shot him a doubtful look, but was sidetracked when Al returned with Winry in tow. “What took so long?”
Alphonse shrugged, slipping into the chair to the left of Roy. “She had to get dressed first.”
“Dressed for breakfast?”
Winry snorted and took one of the chairs. “I’m not going to go wandering around the house in my pajamas like the rest of you,” she said, looking pointedly between Ed and Al.
Ed chalked it up to being one of those female things he just didn’t get. “Tea or coffee?”
“Tea, please,” she said, eyeing the dangerously tall stack of pancakes. “You made all this? Since when can you cook?”
Al laughed and Ed growled, slamming the mug of tea down in front of her. “Just eat the damn pancakes,” he muttered, flopping down into the last chair.
The rest of breakfast passed rather peaceably, though they all had to deal with a smug Edward once it was discovered that the pancakes were indeed good and not something just this side of poison. Once finished, cleaning duties were bestowed on Roy and Winry dragged Ed out into the living room with the intention of getting a thorough look at his arm, Alphonse trailing after.
She deposited him unceremoniously on the sofa and gave his shirt a sharp tug. “Off.” Ed knew from long years of experience that resistance was futile and did as asked. Winry made a soft sound of distress as his pajama top was tossed aside. “You didn’t have this many scars last time, Ed.”
He sighed. “I got dropped in the middle of a war, Winry. I’m lucky a few new scars are all I have to show for it. Besides, they aren’t that bad.”
“I suppose not,” she said, feeling around the edge where automail met flesh. “It just took me by surprise I guess. You’re lucky you didn’t grow much, Ed. It’s tight as it is, if you had gotten much bigger, you wouldn’t have an arm at all.” It was probably the first and only time in his life Edward was thankful for his small stature. Short, he could handle. Living without an arm would have been miserable. “I’m going to have to change the fitting entirely as it is,” she continued, “but I don’t think there’s any permanent damage. I bet it hurts like hell sometimes, though.”
Edward nodded. “The cold is the worst, it aches like-” he paused as his mind caught up with her words. “Wait a minute. Change the fitting? Please tell me that was a joke.” Attaching the automail hurt like hell, but it was fleeting and manageable. Installing the fittings on the other hand was slow, hot agony. If he never had to go through that again, it would be too soon.
Winry shook her head. “Sorry Ed, but I can’t leave this as it is. It needs
to be enlarged.”
“Kill me,” Ed moaned, while Winry started rolling up his pant leg to get a look at the automail underneath. “It would be kinder.” Alphonse gave him a sympathetic sideways hug and Ed sighed. “What’s the damage down there? That need to be replaced too?”
“Actually, no,” Winry said after a moment, and Ed let out a breath he didn’t even know he was holding. “The leg is a bit short, but the fitting is in good condition.” She released his leg and sat back on her heels. “It’ll take me a week, week and a half to get everything ready. We’ll need to take you back to Rizembool to change the fitting, though. I’ll need Granny’s help with that.”
“I can’t,” Ed told her, “I get zapped every time I get too far away from the bastard general, remember? And he’s got a murder investigation on his hands, so I doubt he’ll have the time to come along. D’you think Auntie Pinako would come here?”
Winry bit her lip, considering. “She hates the city, but for you, yeah, she’d probably come out. What’s the deal with that whole thing anyway? What did you two do to get yourselves stuck like that?”
Edward snorted. “Your guess is as good as mine. Obviously, it must be some side effect of the method I used to get home, but best as I can tell, no one has even heard of something like this before, and the couple of things I tried didn’t have any effect. So, it could be a while before I figure out a way to fix it.” He hated to say it, but it was true. At the rate things were going, he’d be stuck with Roy forever.
She blinked and shook her head. “I’ll leave the alchemy to the alchemists. I’m going to go shower and then head out into town to pick up a few parts I’m going to need,” Winry gave him a pat on the shoulder after Ed pulled his shirt back on. “Don’t worry, if anyone can find a way out of this mess, it’ll be you and Al.” He considered her words as she left. Really, Winry had a point. If he could figure out how to travel from one world to another, this should be cake. Especially with Al to help him out.
The doorbell rang, startling him from his thoughts, and he got up and answered it to find a large box of books with Hawkeye’s voice standing on the porch. He relived the poor woman of her burden, earning a grateful smile, and led her inside, kicking the door shut behind him. After they had dumped the box on the table, Ed asked, “What’s all this?”
“Research material,” she said. “Hello there Alphonse, good to see you again. The books on the left here are the ones you forgot on your last visit.”
“Thank you, Major!” he chirped, retrieving his books from the pile. It barely made a dent in the mountain that had overtaken the table.
“Where did you get all these?” Ed asked, stunned by the sheer volume of books, which were as best as he could tell, all relevant. He picked up one of the books and began flipping through it absently.
“I did a little research myself over the weekend,” she said, settling on the couch beside Alphonse. “These were the ones I felt had the best chance of containing some sort of useful information.”
“This is...” Ed shook his head, setting down the book he had been flipping through. That woman was something else. He was starting to appreciate why Roy valued her so highly. “Shit. Thanks. This must’ve taken ages. I know you’re already busy with that investigation of yours.”
Hawkeye favored him with a smile. “You’re welcome.”
“Speaking of,” Roy said, emerging from the kitchen with two mugs in hand, one of which he handed to Hawkeye before settling down in an empty chair. “How’s that going?”
She thanked him for the drink and sighed. “Not well. We have little evidence and no leads. It feels like everyone is chasing their tails. I hate to say it, but it would almost be better if we had another murder on our hands. At least then we’d have fresh evidence. It’s like we’re dealing with a ghost here. Becklin I can understand, but Parker was paranoid; he had security. A lot of it, but somehow no one saw or heard anything.” Hawkeye seemed to droop a little. She looked very, very tired, and Ed felt guilty that she had taken so much time to help him with everything else going on.
“Explains why I’m getting so many reports on nothing,” Roy muttered.
“Hey brother,” Al said suddenly, turning Ed’s attention from conversation between the two officers. “You said that it might just be a side effect, right? Can you draw the array you used for me?”
“Sure,” Edward said, going to Roy’s study to get a pen and the pad of paper with his notes. Flopping down on Al’s other side, he quickly copied down the array and passed it over to his brother. Ed had a natural knack for alchemy, sure, but Alphonse was the one with a head for theory. If the problem was with the array itself, Al would be the one to find it.
“This is genius!” Al said after a moment, tracing the lines with a finger. “I’ve never seen anything like this, brother. All the books say transporting physical matter from one place to another is impossible, but with this, well,” he beamed, “obviously it worked. How did you think of it?”
Ed glowed under the praise, shrugging slightly with an embarrassed grin. “It’s amazing what you can do when you need too, I guess. Took me months to perfect it though. D’you think the problem is with the array?”
The smile faded, replaced by a thoughtful frown as Alphonse looked back at the array. “Honestly, I’m not sure. This is one of the most complicated arrays I’ve ever seen, it’ll take some time for me to figure out if there are any flaws. It certainly is a possibility though. Untested arrays are usually rife with problems that can cause unexpected results. But,” he brightened, “ if the problem was in the array itself, it should be simple enough to undo!”
“True,” Ed agreed, fishing a book from the pile at random and taking a look at the title. Unconventional Alchemy by Jaide Norring. He flipped it open. “That’s most likely where the problem is.” If that was the case, it would be a pain to find, but easy to counter.
Al considered this. “Well, you did say that the general’s double helped you. Maybe he tampered with the array?”
Ed looked up from the book and snorted. Al had no idea how unlikely that was. “No way. Even if he did have the know-how --which he didn’t-- he wouldn’t have.”
“I don’t know,” Alphonse continued, tapping the pen against the top of the pad thoughtfully. “I think we should still consider it a possibility. I don’t mean to say anything bad about him, it was awfully nice of him to help you out, but we can’t know for sure.”
“Listen-” Edward started, then paused. He didn’t want to explain why he knew
Roy would never do anything like that in front of everyone. He slammed the book closed suddenly. “Hey Al, lets take this stuff upstairs and work there for a while.”
Al shot him a curious look, but agreed. “All right,” he picked a couple of books out of the box and followed Edward upstairs. Ed closed the door behind and sank down on the bed, and Alphonse gave him a pointed look and asked, “What was that about?”
“...What was what about?”
Alphonse rolled his eyes and sat down beside his brother. “It bothers you that I think the other general could have had something to do with it.” It wasn’t a question.
Ed sighed. “No, not really. It’s a logical possibility, but Al...he just wouldn’t. Roy would never, ever, not in a million years have done anything to sabotage me. By accident maybe, but not on purpose.”
Al leaned against his brother, considering his words. “You knew him a lot better than you let on, didn’t you?”
“Well, yeah,” Ed said, shrugging self-consciously. “I lived with him for months, I kinda had no choice but to get to know the guy. It’s just...I couldn’t tell you everything I wanted to with Winry right there. Some stuff happened, and it’s kinda been bothering me, and Hawkeye made me promise to talk to you about it, but it’s not really that big of a deal. I mean, I did
promise, and I need to give you the watch anyway, but--”
“Brother, you’re babbling.”
Ed made a face. “Sorry. It’s just kinda awkward I guess. Here,” he got to his feet and went over to the dresser and pulled open the first drawer where Al’s pocket watch lay nestled on an unused shirt. He took the watch out and closed the drawer, returning to Al’s side. Ed stared at the watch resting in his hand for a moment, tracing a finger of the delicate gold inlay with a faint smile. Sentimental bastard. He thrust to watch toward Al, who took it with a confused look.
“What’s this for?”
Alphonse did as he was told, letting out a little gasp when he saw his name. “This is for me?” he asked, closing the watch and turning it over with careful hands and a bright smile. “It’s beautiful brother, thank you.”
“Don’t thank me,” Edward said, smiling at Al’s obvious delight. “Roy had that made for you.”
“Then why didn’t he give it to me himself?” Al asked with a curious tilt of his head.
“Not that Roy. The other one.”
“Oh.” Alphonse blinked. “Oh! But...why? I mean, it’s beautiful, but it must have been expensive, and he doesn’t even know me.”
Taking the watch back, Edward held it up, watching the light reflect on the polished surface. “It was a promise. When he gave this to me, it was a promise that someday, I’d be able to give it you.” He raised his eyes to Al’s. “That meant a lot to me. Most of the time I was there, I was alone. Alone in my search for a way home, for a way back to you. Then outta nowhere this guy drops in my lap, and suddenly I’m not alone anymore. He wanted to help me for the sake of helping me, and after all that time alone...it was nice to have a friend again, I suppose. Anyway,” Ed handed the watch back to Al. “He was a complete sap like that. Full of stupid, sentimental gestures like that watch. So, uh...take care of it, okay?”
“I will, brother,” he promised, tucking it away carefully in his pocket. “Is that what you promised the major you’d tell me?”
Ed cringed. On some level, he had kind of hoped to get away without having to talk to Al about this particular problem. Not that it was really a problem. It was just kind of bugging him. A little. “While I was there, I guess Roy and I got kind of close. I mean, we were spending all that time shut up in the workroom together, so I suppose it was kind of inevitable. Anyway, right before we activated the array to send me home, he, well...” Ed ducked his head, embarrassed. This story was much easier to tell when drunk. “He kissed me. Then he told me he loved me.”
He couldn’t quite bring himself to meet Alphonse’s eyes and shifted uncomfortably as he continued. “It all happened so fast I didn’t really have time to think about it, and the next thing I knew, I was back home again. Once things settled down a bit, I actually had the time to think about it, and it sorta...bothers me for some reason. It isn’t a big deal though, and I was drunk when I told Hawkeye anyway, so don’t worry about it,” he finished in a rush, wishing he had never made the promise to talk to Al about it. Edward loved his brother, but this whole thing wasn’t really something he was comfortable talking about with anyone. It was awkward. Just thinking about it left a very discomforting feeling in his stomach.
There was a moment of silence, and when Ed dared look up, he found Alphonse looking at him with a small, strange smile that made him kind of nervous. “...I always thought you might be gay,” he said after a moment.
“What!? Gay!?” Ed shrieked, leaping to his feet and jabbing a finger at his brother. “Did I say anything about being gay? No! Why does that bastard kissing me
make me the one who’s gay? Besides, I was eleven the last time you saw me! I don’t think I even had
a sexual preference yet, how could you suspect anything?” he snarled at the air. “He said he was in love with me, I never said I was in love with him!”
Al’s smile grew wider over the course of Edward’s rather loud rant, and finally he laughed a little and shook his head. “You didn’t have to say it, brother.”
That deflated Ed immediately and he just stared at Alphonse for a moment. “What?”
“You didn’t have to say you were in love with him, brother,” Al’s smile softened. “It’s pretty obvious when you talk about him.”
The words caused such a sudden, fierce ache in Edward’s chest that he could barely breathe around it. He swallowed a few times before he could speak. “Listen, Al,” he said, feeling very tired and very old. “Maybe...maybe I was. I don’t know, I didn’t really have the time to figure it out. I should never have brought it up. My life is here now, and whatever happened or could have happened there...just doesn’t matter. I’m never going to see him again. My life is with you, here. So just...forget I ever said anything. Just forget it.” With that he turned and walked from the room, ignoring Al calling him back.
Really, that’s what it all came down to. Al was here, his life was here. He was never going to see Roy again, and whatever feelings there may or may not have been just didn’t matter now. That was just the way it was. It was the way it had to be.
If only his heart would agree with his head.