Title: Conversion - Chapter 11
Series: Fullmetal Alchemist (Animeverse)
Pairings: Roy/Ed, Alter!Roy/Ed
Words: 4,611 (51,435 total)
Warnings: Slash, swearing?
Status: In Progress
Spoilers: Yes, up till the end of the series.
Notes: Well, that only took me...what? Eight months? XD My sincerest apologies for the delay. I actually wanted to finish before posting any further chapters, but I've never been too good at sticking to my guns like that. Chapter 12 is already finished and in the hands of my beta as we speak, and I'll be getting started on 13 shortly. Updates should be weekly from here on out, but I make no promises this time. I tend to jinx myself when I do. ;)
Enjoy!Chapters 1-2 Chapters 3-4 Chapters 5-6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10::Chapter 11::
::Break::January 29th, 1927
Alchemy is truly a wonder. It always irritates Edward when I refer to it as magic; I’ve already had several lectures on the science of alchemy, and though I can understand how in a world where such things are common it might be considered such, to me, it will always be magic. He tells me that I should be able to use it outside of our workings together, he has even offered more than once to teach me how. He calls it equivalent, that he do something for me in exchange for my help.
I’ll admit it is tempting, but every time, I’ve declined. Partly because I find the offer of such power a little frightening, partly because I have no idea what effect such use might have on you. Edward is certain that my ability to use alchemy is due entirely to whatever connection it is we share, and that the lack of such a connection is what has rendered him unable to use it himself.
He doesn’t understand my reluctance, and I find it hard to explain. I have no qualms doing whatever I can for him, but beyond that, I feel that such an ability was never meant to be mine. Alchemy is not of my world, and as such is probably best left alone.* * *
Roy set the journal down, stretched, and took another sip of his cooling coffee. The house was quiet still, none of his guests would likely be up for another hour or two and that gave Roy plenty of time to himself to relax.
And to think.
He tapped the plain cover of the journal absently. It was certainly a shock, to learn that this other Roy was in love with Edward. The imagery that had accompanied the revelation had been...bizarre, at the very least. He felt like a bit of a voyeur in a way, being privy to another person’s thoughts and feelings on that level. He knew that the man had meant for him to have the journal and everything it contained, but he just couldn’t quite shake the feeling that he was intruding on something private.
It didn’t stop him from reading, however. It was something of a guilty fascination, being offered this glimpse through the eyes of someone who was him, but at the same time, wasn’t. The longer entries sometimes went on for pages, rambling accounts of things both minor and major, and they were all interesting. It was very easy to get a sense for the man behind the words and Roy found himself regretting that he would never have the chance to know him in person.
As for Edward, well...it was odd. The other Roy was a touch on the romantic side, something that, while Roy didn’t think it was always intentional, often bled through in his writing. It was more than a little strange to read something like that and be confronted by Edward not long after. He found himself looking at Ed through different eyes, and honestly, it wasn’t hard to see what the man saw in the short blond once he really looked. He’d always had a great deal of respect for the younger alchemist, though he sometimes found it hard to reconcile the boy he had known with the man he was now.
Roy drained his coffee and refilled his cup, returning to his seat at the counter and opening the journal to the page he left off. It was a sad story all around, and he couldn’t help but wonder what Edward thought of everything. He wasn’t entirely sure that Ed even knew; there was nothing in the journal so far to indicate he did, but it might explain some of his strange behavior if that was the case.
He had barely started reading when a thud and a curse caught his attention. He looked up as Ed limped into the kitchen with a deep frown, rubbing his knee and muttering under his breath. Edward froze when he saw Roy, blinking at him for a moment and straightening slowly. “Didn’t know anyone else was up,” he said, reaching for the coffee only to find it empty.
“Take mine,” Roy said absently, shoving his cup in the other man’s direction. “I’ve had too much this morning anyway.”
Ed stared at the mug for a moment, before shaking his head slowly. “Nah. I’ll just make more.”
It took Roy a moment to place Ed’s reaction, and he checked a sigh. There had to be more to it than he realized. He almost wanted to come out and ask, but instead said, “What? No Alphonse? I thought you two were attached at the hip.”
Edward visibly relaxed at that, and offered a shrug and a half smile. “Sleeping. Just because I can’t sleep in anymore doesn’t mean he has to suffer too.” His gaze flicked to the open journal at Roy’s elbow and he nodded at it. “You’ve been reading that a lot lately.”
Roy glanced down, then back at Ed. “It’s interesting, “ he replied honestly. “At first I was a bit apprehensive; my pride didn’t like the notion that there was another me out there.” He smiled wryly. “But I realize that he and I aren’t really the same person at all. Besides, it’s nice to know what you were up to while you were there.”
Edward’s eyes widened a fraction; he scowled. “I wasn’t up to anything,” he muttered, turning and pouring himself a cup of coffee from the fresh pot.
“He was in love with you, you know,” Roy said suddenly, wincing inwardly when Ed stiffened. Some days Roy suspected his sense of tact was attached to his uniform, because he said some pretty stupid things when he wasn’t in it. He’d had every intention of broaching the subject delicately, not blurting it out like an idiot. He sighed.
Edward was still as death, back still to him. The silence stretched out for a long moment, before he asked in a strangely muted tone, “He said that?”
A heavy sigh and a slump of shoulders met Roy’s reply. “Sentimental idiot,” he muttered, turning to face the general. He jabbed a finger at the journal. “I hope you choke,” he snapped, but the words lacked venom. Edward seemed tired more than anything. He leaned back against the counter and ran a hand through his hair, raising his eyes to meet Roy’s own. “I know he...I know.” The words were slow, careful. “But it doesn’t matter, and I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t bring it up again.”
Roy studied the younger man for a long moment. He looked haggard and pained, far older at that moment than was right. Looking into those tired golden eyes, everything clicked into place. The odd behavior, the brooding he tried to hide, the innocent things that seemed to trouble him so much. “He wasn’t the only one in love, was he?” Roy asked gently.
Edward flinched, screwing his eyes shut for a moment. Roy realized he had tread on forbidden ground when they opened again, blazing. “What is everyone’s fucking obsession with my love life?” Ed snarled, slamming his mug down on the counter hard enough to shatter it. Roy winced inwardly as coffee and bits of mug went everywhere. “You know what? It doesn’t matter.
I’m here, he’s gone, I’m never going to see him again and that’s all there is to it. Leave it alone! Just drop it and let me forget!
He stormed out and Roy didn’t try to stop him. A moment later, there was a slamming door loud enough to rattle the house and he sighed. Ed might not be as touchy as he once was, but dealing with him was still like handling a wild animal; if you didn’t do it just right, you were liable to get bitten.
He wanted to help the other alchemist, but he wasn’t sure what he could do. Heartbreak was never an easy thing to mend, and being who he was, he might do more harm than good.
The coffee puddle was slowly making its way towards Roy, and after plucking the journal from harm’s way, he did his best to sop up the mess and gather the scattered fragments of cup. He couldn’t really blame Edward for being angry with him, he mused as he pulled a nub of chalk from his pocket and drew a quick array on the counter, scooping the broken mug and its fragments into the center. It was pretty thoughtless of him to throw it out like that when he had no idea what Ed’s feelings were on the matter.
Roy snorted softly and brief flash of alchemical energy had the mug whole again, save a tiny chip on the handle. He dumped the mug in the sink and finished cleaning up the rest of the coffee mess. Granted, he hadn’t expected Edward to feel the same way, but he should have considered the possibility before he trampled the poor kid’s feelings by bringing it up.
Too late for that. All he could do now was try and make amends. Maybe he’d take him out for dinner after as a peace offering. Free food was usually a surefire way to get on Ed’s good side. Or at least off his bad one.* * *
Edward stood under the warm spray and did his best to glare a hole through the tile of the shower wall. The wall seemed less than impressed. He was tempted to slap his hands on the tile and blast a hole through the side of the house. The fact that he was quite naked and would be probably wind up being gawked at by neighbors wondering what the commotion was all about wasn’t as big a deterrent as it should have been. Ed really, really felt like blowing something up. Nothing like loud noises and gratuitous property damage to make a man feel better.
Ed growled and slicked his hair back out of his eyes, grabbing the shampoo and poured a generous amount into his hand, rubbing it into his scalp hard enough to hurt. His automail snagged a bit of hair and Ed swore, trying to unwind his hair from where it had tangled in his wrist. He found himself sorely tempted to transmute his arm and hack off all of the offending stuff. What did it matter? It was too damn long anyway; longer than he ever meant to let it grow. Ed had just been too lazy to get it cut, and then Roy had said he’d liked it, so he’d kept it. But Roy was gone now, and it really was nothing but a huge pain in the ass and he really should just cut it off and be done with it.
Ed sighed and finished untangling the hair from his wrist joint. Who was he kidding, anyway? Himself, apparently. Edward couldn’t help the surge of bitterness. Everyone else seemed to know how he felt better than he did. Al was bad enough, but Roy? That was just insult to injury, and no little embarrassing. Ed honestly couldn’t understand what the man expected to accomplish by bringing it up in the first place.Why yes, I am in love with some other you on a different world. I think. That probably explains why it feels like someone is ripping out my heart through my nose every time I look at you. Thanks for asking.
Everyone was forcing him to confront his feelings for Roy, and while it may have been cowardly, Edward didn’t want to. He didn’t want to think about what might have been, didn’t want to identify the feelings that twisted inside him when he thought about the man. He didn’t want to admit how much it hurt when it struck home that he would never see Roy again. All he wanted to do was bury all these traitorous feelings and pretend they never existed.
Was it so wrong to want to forget just to spare himself a little hurt? Hadn’t he suffered enough without the people who were supposed to care about him making it worse? Ed sighed and grabbed the soap. That wasn’t fair, and he knew it. Al and Hawkeye were worried about him, and if he wanted to be charitable, Roy probably was too. If only he could make them understand that talking about it was the last thing he wanted to do.
Ed finished his shower and dressed, slipping out the door and back to the room he shared with his brother. Alphonse was awake now, already sitting amidst a mountain of books and paper, the array Ed had drawn for him the day before in his hands and a frown of concentration on his face.
He looked up when Ed entered, the frown vanishing into a sunny smile. “Good morning, brother!”
That smile alone put Edward in a better mood. He wondered if he would ever get used to it again. “Morning, Al,” he said, flopping down on the bed and dragging his brush through his hair.
Al set the array down and got to his feet, stepping carefully over his notes and settling on the bed behind Edward, holding out his hand for the brush. Ed hesitated for a moment, then passed it over. Alphonse shifted slightly and then he felt the brush run through his hair. “So, what did he do?”
“The general,” Al clarified, setting aside the brush and separating the hair into strands. “It was you thundering around and slamming doors that woke me up. Since Winry never gets up this early, I figured the general must have done something to upset you.”
“Sorry I woke you up,” he said, passing over the clip when Alphonse tapped his shoulder. “It wasn’t a big deal, bastard was just pushing my buttons is all.”
Alphonse made a noncommittal sound, and Ed could tell he wasn’t buying it. His brother released his hair and leaned against his back, resting his head on Edward’s shoulder. “It’s okay to get upset, you know,” he said. “Nobody expects you to adjust right away. It would be hard enough on you without this strange problem on top of it. And I know being around the general all the time isn’t easy for you.” He sighed. “You don’t have to pretend you’re okay when you aren’t. Not with me.”
“I know, Al,” Ed said, shifting around slightly and giving his brother a sideways hug. “Maybe...I’m not okay right now, but I will be. I just need to work things out on my own, you know? Sort through this mess in my head on my own terms. I know everyone means well, and I know you’re just worried about me,” he leaned his head against his brother’s, “but I promise I’ll be fine.”
“You know I’m here for you if you need me, right?” Alphonse asked in a small voice, raising his eyes to meet Ed’s.
“I know,” he assured him. “And I promise if I ever need to talk things out, you’ll be the first person I come to.”
Edward looked up at the sound of footsteps in the hall, a blonde head poking in a moment later. Winry grinned at them. “I need to head out into town and pick up some parts, who’s going with me?”
“More?” Ed asked. “Didn’t you do that yesterday?” He had a sneaking suspicion that she was taking advantage of the fact that his automail was going on the general’s tab to get a few free ‘extras’.
Winry rolled her eyes. “I couldn’t get everything all at once, you should know better. Not to mention I need a couple of custom parts. So you might as well make yourself useful and come carry things for me.”
“I can’t, I’m stuck with a certain bastard general,” he reminded her sourly.
She looked momentarily irritated, then shrugged, throwing the door open all the way. “Alphonse it is then. Go take a shower, would you? We’ve got a lot we need,” she said, waving a scrap of paper Edward presumed had the measurements she had taken the day before.
The idea of Al going out without him didn’t sit very well with Ed, not to mention he didn’t relish being cooped up alone with Roy all day. “Can’t you go by yourself?”
Blue eyes narrowed slightly, hands found way to hips, and Ed swore the temperature dropped a few degrees. “Are you suggesting I go alone?” she demanded. “I could be robbed you know! Or worse!”
Any man foolish enough to mess with Winry Rockbell would be getting more than he bargained for, Ed was sure, but he kept that to himself. Instead he sighed and relented. It was a losing battle anyway; he’d just hole himself up in the room and work on finding a solution to his problem. If he was lucky, he might not have to deal with Roy at all. “Fine, take him.”
“Hey! Don’t I get a say?” Alphonse asked, getting to his feet.
“No,” came the sharp reply. “Now go wash up, I want to get an early start.”
“Yes ma’am,” Al replied meekly, shooting Edward an exasperated look before gathering up some clothes from his suitcase and slipping out of the room.
“See you later, Ed,” Winry said, following Al out and leaving Edward to himself. He stared at the door for a few minutes, sighed, and settled down amidst his brother’s notes and got to work.* * *
Edward’s stomach snarled at him for the third time in as many minutes and he sighed, set down his notepad, and rubbed his belly mournfully. He really should have had Al or Winry bring him something to snack on before they left. Ah, hindsight. Now he was stuck either starving to death, or risking running into Roy by going downstairs and feeding himself. Neither fate was particularly appealing, but when his stomach rumbled a fourth time he sighed and gave in. Roy was probably holed up in his study anyway. It should be safe enough to sneak down for a bite.
Such was not the case. Roy was still settled at the counter, surrounded by paperwork this time, the stupid, incriminating journal sitting off innocently to one side. His first instinct was to turn on his heel and go back upstairs, but Roy knew he was there, and that would be something akin to running. Edward Elric did not run.
Instead, Ed slid into the kitchen as quietly as possible, praying Roy wouldn’t look up. If Roy looked at him, then Roy would probably talk to him and that’s what he really wanted to avoid right now. Their earlier conversation only compounded the awkwardness he already felt around the other man, and he hated feeling awkward.
A bit of foraging turned up the leftovers of Al’s pasta thing from the night before. It would take a little longer to reheat, but he was starving and Roy didn’t show any sign of bothering him, even if the man’s presence was making his shoulder blades itch. Even if Roy wasn’t paying him any mind, Edward was acutely aware of the general, and it was making him uncomfortable. It was strange how his relationship with the Roy on the other side of the gate affected his feelings towards the general. Ed knew, logically, that they were not the same man, but he often found himself forgetting the fact on an emotional level. Even something as innocuous as a smile or a brief touch was more than enough to flatten logic beneath a warm thrill.
It drove Edward mad. He didn’t want to think about the general that way; it only complicated matters. Worse, he knew it likely had very little to do with him, but was due in large part to his painful resemblance to the Roy Ed found himself missing so much. He was no shrink, but even Ed could see that he was trying to replace one with the other on some level, and that couldn’t be a good thing.
Granted, his situation was hardly a normal one. Ed frowned thoughtfully at his food. When it came down to it, was it really such a bad thing? He snorted and forced the thought from his mind. Of course it was, what the hell was wrong with him? He hoped they managed to find a solution to things soon; he really needed to go home and get some distance from everything. Being around Roy was mucking with his head and making it hard to move on.
“I’m sorry.” The apology was sudden and unexpected, the words making Ed’s muscles lock up.
He turned stiffly to find Roy looking at him, expression unreadable. “It was none of my business, and I apologize for brining it up.
Ed relaxed slightly. Apologies were okay. Apologies meant they could pretend like the whole thing had never happened. “I’ll forgive you if you just drop it and never bring it up again, fair enough?”
A smile. “Fair enough,” Roy agreed.
Edward looked away quickly. It was easy to forget who he was looking at when Roy smiled. Too easy, and something in the back of his head whispered that maybe that wasn’t so terrible. That maybe Roy was exactly what he needed.
Ed was starting to hate that voice, because it was more tempting than he cared to admit.
A rustle of paper and Ed looked over to see Roy gathering everything into a pile. “Want to get some lunch?” he asked, straightening the stack. “I could use some fresh air.”
A peace offering, probably. With a silent apology to Al he dumped the freshly reheated leftovers in the trash. Who was he to say no to a free lunch? “Sure, why not?”
A flash of movement caught out of the corner of his eye as he stepped out of the kitchen was the only warning Ed got. Caught in an iron grip before he do more than shout a warning, his arm was twisted brutally behind his back, the other pinned to his side as something cold and hard pressed against his neck. Ed squirmed slightly, kicking at his captor, who wrenched his arm painfully. “I wouldn’t, if I were you. If you struggle, my hand might slip.”
The words were smooth, easy. Confident. Ed swore inwardly and stilled; he had no way of knowing if the knife was poisoned, but he wasn’t about to test it. “And you, General. I suggest you take a seat and do exactly as I say unless you want me to kill your friend here.”
Roy scowled, lifting his hands slowly and returning to the stool he had occupied most of the morning. Civilian clothes, no gloves. A small, irate part of his mind wondered why the fuck
Roy didn’t keep his gloves on his person with an assassin on the loose. If he survived this, he was going to rip the bastard a new one. At the moment, though, that wasn’t looking terribly likely. Ed wasn’t sure if the assassin knew who he was, but either by accident or design he had rendered Edward’s alchemy useless by twisting his arm behind his back.
“Remember me, General?” the man asked, tone deceptively light.
A black eye narrowed slightly. “Bradley’s pet hit-man.”
Pride. Something twisted in his gut and Ed felt ill. He’d never gotten the whole story, but Bradley was supposed to be dead, wasn’t he? The man chuckled, blade digging just a bit too deep as he shifted. His captor didn’t notice, or didn’t care. “Quite right, quite right. Unfortunately, I find myself at loose ends, thanks to you. My previous employer died under,” a pause, “mysterious
circumstances, and the new government felt they had no need of my services.”
Edward shifted slightly, trying to get some distance between his neck and the knife. His captor tightened his hold, Ed’s arm screaming in protest. “Be still, boy, or I might just kill you anyway. Hostages aren’t really my style.” Edward did as he was told, biting back a growl. If the man would let up with the damn knife for even a second, he could probably get free. The bastard was cocky, too confident. He’d make a mistake, Ed was sure of it. He just hoped it came before the man slit his throat.
Roy spoke. “You murdered those men because you’re angry that the new government had no need of a hired gun?” He did not sound impressed.
A shrug that caused the knife to slip a bit. Still too close for Ed’s peace of mind, but if Roy kept him talking and he kept still enough, he might have a chance. “Death is my business, General. My agreement with the Fuhrer was a lucrative one, and I was not pleased to lose it. Unfortunately, when you killed him, that caused problems for me.” The friendly tone was suddenly gone, his words cold and flat. “I do not like problems.”
“So you’ll kill me then?”
“Mm,” the man agreed, a smile in his voice. “Not terribly profitable I’m afraid, but quite satisfying regardless. Sometimes a man needs to do something purely for enjoyment, don’t you agree? Ah, but that’s enough-” The knife slipped further, and Ed took his chance before the bastard had the chance to adjust his grip.
He ducked and twisted --too slow, stinging pain and warm blood as the blade dug into the flesh just under his jaw-- but Ed ignored it and brought his automail fist hard into the assassin’s head. The man crumpled, and there was blood on his hand and he wondered for a dazed moment if he had killed him.
There was a flurry of motion and the sound of tearing fabric and suddenly Roy was there, pressing something against his throat and Edward blinked, the world coming back into sharp focus as he realized that he was quite likely bleeding to death. A disjointed part of his mind found that rather funny, though he wasn’t entirely sure why.
“I need you to keep pressure on the wound Ed,” Roy told him, grabbing his hand and pressing it firmly over the wad of cloth at his throat. Not willing to risk further damage by speaking, Edward simply caught the general’s eye and did as he was told.
Seemingly satisfied that Ed wasn’t going to bleed to death, at least not immediately, Roy’s hand fell away and he grabbed the unconscious assassin roughly and dragged him into the study. A moment later he could hear the muted sound of Roy’s voice through the wall, and Ed tried to focus on that and not on the blood soaking through the fabric and dripping down his neck and arm.
His sense of time was oddly skewed, and suddenly Roy was back and Ed couldn’t tell if it had been minutes or hours. The general dropped to his knees beside him, pressing his hand over Ed’s to keep the compress in place. “You’ll be fine,” Roy assured him, “They’ll be here any minute. You’ll be fine.”
Edward, being no great expert on neck wounds, would have liked to believe him, but the strange haziness that was overtaking him seemed to indicate otherwise. He was going to die, and his only consolation was that Roy was never going to get the bloodstains out of his carpet. Edward took a deep, slow breath and managed to croak out, “If I die, I’m going to haunt