Title: Conversion - Chapter 12
Series: Fullmetal Alchemist (Animeverse)
Pairings: Roy/Ed, Alter!Roy/Ed
Words: 4,303 (57,738 total)
Warnings: Slash, swearing, non-explicit sex
Rating: R? Maybe? If you really, really squint?
Status: In Progress
Spoilers: Yes, up till the end of the series.
Summary: Five years after his arrival on an alternate world, a chance meeting with someone from his past gives Edward Elric the hope that maybe, just maybe, he might have found his ticket home.
Notes: One week on the nose! As of right now, I have chapter 13 half finished, which makes Conversion a chapter and a half from completion! *throws confetti* Unless an epilogue sneaks in, but I'm not planning on one. I also have two more Conversion side stories waiting to go up, I just can't post them yet because they'll spoil the ending. We're in the home stretch, folks. ;)
An interesting note, this chapter, most notably the final scene, was originally intended to be the end for Conversion. Of course, things changed a bit over the course of writing, but this chapter still holds a special place in my heart.
I also have a new Roy/Ed in the works, the prologue should be up within the next few days, so keep an eye out.Chapters 1-2 Chapters 3-4 Chapters 5-6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11::Chapter 12::
::Comfort::February 2nd, 1927
The fire is back. The drive, the purpose. Not that it was ever really gone, just...dampened briefly by more domestic concerns.
Edward knows that we’re close, some intuition telling him that we stand on the cusp of success. His focus is remarkable; I often have to force him to eat and more than once I’ve found him passed out on the floor of the workroom from sheer exhaustion. I worry for his health, but it seems almost cruel to ask him to stop, to rest.
Even as I write, he sits at the desk across the room, shifting through notes and pausing every so often to scribble something before moving on. Every few minutes, his eyes close and his head dips, only to snap up a moment later. He’ll shake his head, slap his cheeks to wake himself before plunging back into his notes. The process repeats itself every few minutes until Edward inevitably loses the battle against exhaustion.
The past week has taught me something of his limits; it won’t be long before he falls asleep now. I’ll carry him to bed when he does. The least I can do is make sure he sleeps in a warm bed.
The more focused he becomes, the stronger the unease in my gut.
It won’t be long now.* * *
Edward glowered at the wall and suppressed the urge the kick the nurse bustling around him. He despised hospitals, and even though they had only kept him overnight, he wasn’t particularly pleased to be back. He didn’t see why he couldn’t remove the stitches himself; it was hardly complicated. “I hate you,” he snapped suddenly, not for the first time. The nurse stopped, giving him a bewildered look, but he wasn’t talking to her.
The subject of his ire just nodded absently, scribbling something down on the clipboard resting on his knees. The words had become something of a mantra over the past week and a half, and Roy had ceased to pay attention to them. Ed grumbled to himself and returned to glaring at the wall. He wasn’t really angry; his injury had just left him feeling perpetually irritable. He had taken it out on the general mostly, which wasn’t really fair, if he wanted to be honest. Of course, he never would have gotten hurt in the first place if Roy hadn’t been a marked man, so maybe it wasn’t so unfair after all.
The nurse left and the doctor came in a moment later. He was a short, cheery man who always looked like he had forgotten to shave. “Good evening, Edward!” he chirped, smiling brightly and bouncing a bit on the balls of his feet. Ed mumbled a reply and tilted his head obediently so the doctor could poke and prod him. “Hm, yes, these look ready to come out. It’s healing quite nicely, and the scar shouldn’t be terribly noticeable at all.”
He had been lucky. The wound had turned out to be mostly superficial, despite that it had bled like crazy. The knife had come perilously close to the major artery in his neck; a slight shift and he would have been dead before help could arrive. The notion that he had come so very close to kicking the proverbial bucket after surviving all he had still made him feel slightly ill. Particularly since the crackpot hadn’t even been after him
Said crackpot had been promptly tried and executed; the government tended to frown on the murder of its officials. Ed couldn’t say he’d been terribly unhappy to hear the news. They never did figure out how he’d gotten into such heavily secured areas, and with his luck, the bastard would have busted out of prison and come back for him. He seemed the type to hold a grudge.
The doctor plucked the clipboard out of Roy’s hands, looked it over, nodded, and tucked it under his arm as he pulled up a stool beside Edward. It wasn’t the first time he had had stitches removed, and the process was quick and mostly painless.
Ed had to resist the urge to scratch the now-stitchless wound; it itched like crazy. Roy thanked the doctor and they made their way out of the squat building. He glanced at the general out the corner of his eye, feeling suddenly guilty about being such a jerk. It wasn’t really Roy’s fault he’d gotten hurt, though it was obvious the general felt terrible about it. He’d been nothing but conscientious to Ed since the attack. “I’m sorry.”
Roy stopped and raised an eyebrow. “What for?”
“For being such a brat,” Ed told him, making a face. “It’s not your fault, you know. I was just...cranky.”
That earned him a grin. “I didn’t take it personally. I’m used to brattiness from you.”
Edward punched him in the shoulder, but not too hard. “I want my lunch,” he grumbled.
“We had lunch hours ago.”
“You promised me lunch the day we were attacked, remember?” Ed reminded him. “Though I suppose it’d be dinner by now. A fair price for my pain and suffering I’d say. Al would barely let me out of bed for a week!” His brother had taken to mothering him horribly and by the end of the week, Edward had been ready chew through the bedpost in frustration. He loved his brother dearly, but if he wanted to be honest, grabbing a bite would earn him another hour or two before he found himself back in Al’s clutches.
“Sounds fair,” Roy agreed. He paused, turning a slow circle and making a thoughtful sound. “There’s a diner not far from here. Nothing fancy, but you can’t beat the food, and they give you enough to feed a small army.” He grinned down at Ed. “We’ll probably have to get you two.”
Edward ignored the jibe, immensely cheered by the prospect of food. “Sounds good to me. Let me call Al first so he doesn’t panic when we don’t come back.”
Ed turned around and darted back up the stairs and through the doors into the waiting room, Roy trailing behind to prevent Ed from straying further than he should. The receptionist looked up when he came in and grinned. “Back already?”
“Can I use your phone?” Ed asked, leaning on the counter and donning a pleading look. “I need to call my brother real quick.”
“I’m not really supposed to let people use it, but I won’t tell if you don’t, “ she said with a wink, setting the phone on the counter for him. “Just be fast.”
“Thanks!” He picked up the receiver and dialed, tapping his foot impatiently while he waited for someone to pick up.
After six rings, there was a click and, “Mustang residence.”
“Al!” he said, “I just wanted to call and let you know that the general and I are grabbing something to eat, so we’ll be a bit late.” There was a moment of silence, and Ed could practically hear his brother thinking. “Please, Al? I’ve been cooped up in the house for over a week!”
A sigh. “Okay, brother, just don’t over exert yourself.”
Ed rolled his eyes. “I’m not an invalid, Al. I’ll see you when I get back.” They said their goodbyes, and he passed the phone back over to the receptionist with a thank you.
“So, do we have the go-ahead from your mother?” Roy asked with a grin when Ed came back out.
“Oh, shut the hell up and start walking, Mustang,” he grumbled.
Roy started down the street and Ed fell into step beside him. It was a nice night, winter having begun to grudgingly give way to spring. There was still enough bite on the breeze to warrant a jacket, but the weather had been surprisingly pleasant overall. They walked in comfortable silence down the mostly deserted street, and Ed was pleased to find that the knot of anxious nerves that had taken up residence in his belly seemed to be gone for the time being. The crazy was dealt with, his wound was mostly healed, and he was being fed. A good day all things considered, despite his earlier mood.
The diner turned out to be a small establishment, mostly empty save an old man nursing a cup of coffee near the window. The bells above the door jingled when Roy pushed it open, holding the door for Edward. A head poked out of the kitchen a moment later. The waitress beamed a smile at them and called, “Go ahead and sit wherever you like, I’ll be with you in a minute,” before disappearing back behind the double doors.
They found a comfortable booth in the corner and the waitress appeared again a moment later, two menus in hand. “Well, hello there, General,” she said as she handed them each a menu. “I haven’t seen you around for a few weeks.”
Watching Roy Mustang turn on the charm was a bit like watching a train wreck. It was a terrible sight, one that made you more than a little sick, but for some reason you just couldn’t look away. “Been busy,” he said, leaning towards her slightly and giving the woman a slow smile and a flirtatious wink. “I’ve missed you terribly, Milly.”
Milly just rolled her eyes and said, “Missed Bert’s cooking, more like.” Ed snorted a laugh, his estimation of the woman going up several points. Either Roy was losing his touch, or she was too smart to fall for his oh-so-charming routine. Ed was fairly certain it was the latter; he didn’t bother to hide his grin when Roy looked at him.
“Well, that too,” he admitted, returning Ed’s grin. “That man holds a special place in my heart. Nobody makes a steak like Bert.”
She shook her head with a laugh. “Keep your paws of my husband, General.” She jabbed a finger at him, mock-threatening. “You might be a military man, but I could take you down any day.”
“I believe it,” he told her merrily, “you’ve succeeded in warning me off. I shall just have to pine from afar and drown my sorrows in food.”
“You’ll be having the usual then?” Milly asked, pulling a notepad and a pen out of her apron.
“I suppose so.” He passed the menu over to her with a dramatic sigh. “I’m so boring. What about you, Ed?”
“Uh,” he said intelligently. He hadn’t even bothered to look yet, he had been too busy being amused by Roy and Milly. “I’ll have whatever he’s having, I guess,” he said with a shrug, handing the menu over. The waitress nodded and scribbled down their order and vanished, returning a moment later with two cups of coffee. Ed accepted his with a smile and a thanks, curling his fingers around the warm mug.
Once Milly made sure they had everything they needed, she swept off to tend to the old man by the window. Ed watched her for a moment, and looked back to Roy to find the other man watching him. The stare made him slightly uncomfortable, and he squirmed a bit. “Come here a lot I take it?” he asked lamely.
“A couple of times a week, usually,” Roy said, stirring some sugar into his coffee. “Anyone they thought might be a target had to break routines wherever possible. Kind of pointless really, considering both of the men were found dead at home, but you know how it is. Precautions and all that.”
Edward nodded and they lapsed into silence. Roy was busy doctoring his coffee, and Ed took the opportunity to study the older man. There were differences there, he realized. Small things, things he hadn’t noticed before now because he had avoided looking too closely. The general’s jaw was a touch more square than that of his counterpart, and he was missing the tiny nick in his eyebrow that the other Roy had gotten as a child. The real resemblance was in the eyes, in the way he would smile when he wasn’t being an arrogant bastard, in the sound of his voice.
Roy started talking, his eyes still on his coffee, and Ed closed his eyes and listened, not to the words, but to the sound. The way he formed his words, the pitch and tone, the cadence of his words. Things that were achingly familiar, and he wondered for a moment if maybe he could fall in love with this man.
“Ed?” He started and opened his eyes to find Roy regarding him with a quirked eyebrow.
His face was hot, and he knew he was probably blushing to the tip of his ears. What was getting into him? Thinking things like that. “Sorry,” he said, “I kinda zoned out there for a minute. What were you saying?”
A skeptical look came and went, and Roy shook his head slightly. “I was saying the steak here is fantastic. You’ll love it.”
“Oh, is that what I ordered?” Ed asked, trying to keep his voice light and suppress the horrible certainty that Roy could read his mind
. He managed to refrain from crawling under the table and dying of sheer embarrassment. Barely.
Roy made a sound Edward took for an affirmative and took a drink of his coffee. “You seem distracted,” he said after a moment, “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” he said, suddenly very interested in his own coffee. He was saved further discussion by the arrival of their food, and Edward was immensely grateful to this Bert and his wonderful sense of timing. Edward stared as the oversized plate was set in front of him. He had thought Roy was exaggerating about the portions, but what he saw was a paradise of potatoes, mashed and piled dangerously high, and the largest single slab of meat he’d ever seen on a plate.
There was a heaven, and he was there.
“You just going to stare, or are you going to eat?” Roy asked, amused.
“Eat,” came the immediate reply, and Ed dug in with force.
A short while later he scraped the last of the potatoes off his plate and into his mouth, settling back into his seat with a happy sigh. The general, he noticed, was barely more than half finished and looked to be slowing down considerably. Could probably use a bit of help, really. Ed reached out with his fork, swiping a nice bite of potatoes off of the other man’s plate.
This earned him an incredulous look from Roy. “How can you still eat?
” he asked.
Ed just offered him a grin and stole some more potatoes.
Eventually, Roy had to concede defeat and get the remainder of his meal wrapped up to take home. “You aren’t human,” Roy insisted as they left, stepping out into the cold night air. Ed shrugged on his coat and fell in step beside the other man. “No one so small should be able to eat so much. It just isn’t possible.”
“I’m not small,” Ed snorted, “I’m compact. And you should be used to seeing the impossible from me by now old man,” he grinned.
Roy snorted and shook his head. “I stand corrected.”
They walked in silence a while, and Ed caught himself yawning more than once. He pulled out his watch to find that it was later than he had thought, nearly midnight. Al and Winry would probably be sleeping by now.
“Can I ask you something, Ed?”
“Sure,” Edward replied with a sidelong glance at the other man.
“Does it bother you to be around me?” Roy asked after a moment, looking down at him.
Edward faltered for a moment. There was a loaded question if he had ever heard one. “A little bit,” he admitted. Something inside him shrieked in embarrassment at the topic, but he was tired of getting so worked up over things and ignored it. “Some days more than others, but it isn’t as bad as it was at first. I suppose I’m getting used to things.” Which was true. Some days he missed Roy so badly it was a nearly physical ache. He could admit that now, that somewhere along the way he had fallen in love with the man. Maybe it was getting easier now that he wasn’t so busy wallowing in denial.
Roy nodded slowly, expression unreadable. “I’m sorry that I can’t be who you want me to be.”
Ed stared at him in surprise for a moment, but Roy wasn’t looking at him. He hadn’t expected that, and he looked down at his shoes, his thoughts from earlier coming back to him. Could he love the general? He glanced sidelong at Roy, taking in the lines of his face thoughtfully. The idea made him nervous, like he was afraid of getting caught doing something he shouldn’t. Would it be wrong to try? Edward felt hollow, lonely. Was it wrong of him to want to salvage something of what he had lost, even if it would never really be the same?
He was so lost in his thoughts, he didn’t notice they were home until they turned up the walk. A jingle of keys and the door swung open, the house dark and silent. He followed Roy into the kitchen, squinting against the brightness when the general flicked the light on. Ed watched him, quiet, pensive, as he stored the leftovers away and dumped a forgotten plate into the sink.
Edward hopped up onto the counter and waited. He knew he needed to talk to Roy, and he wanted to be on eye level when he did. Nothing worse than trying to hold a serious conversation with someone who had at least half a foot on you. He wasn’t entirely sure what he wanted to say, but he knew he couldn’t leave things as they were.
“Good night, Ed,” Roy said and started to walk past him when Edward reached out and grabbed his sleeve.
“I don’t expect you to be him,” Edward said quietly. Roy turned to face him, and Ed struggled to hold his gaze instead of staring at his shoes. “I don’t expect you to be him,” he repeated, resisting the urge to fidget as he plunged on, trying to find the right words. “I’m sorry that you thought that’s what I wanted, because I don’t. You’re you, and that exactly who you should
be. It’s just...I look at you and sometimes I see him and that’s...hard.” He trailed off and sighed. He wasn’t making any sense.
Roy’s expression softened and he stepped closer. Ed realized he was still clinging to the man’s sleeve and released it, twining his fingers in his lap. “I can’t imagine how hard it must be on you,” he said gently, resting his hands on either side of Edward and leaning forward slightly. “And I truly am sorry that I’m making it harder on you than it needs to be. If there’s anything I can do for you, you just have to ask.”
“You’ve done more for me than I ever deserved,” Ed said quietly. Ever since he was a kid, the general had looked out for him and Al. Helped them, did his best to protect them. And how did Ed repay that kindness? By being a snot-nosed brat, that was how. By never appreciating just exactly what the man was risking for them.
Roy smiled, a slow, genuine smile that was more eyes than mouth. “You deserved it. You always did.” Something inside of him broke a little at those words, and Edward reached out slowly, gripping the fabric of Roy’s shirt. Roy cocked his head slightly, questioning, and Edward tugged him forward and kissed him.
It was quick and awkward, a chaste brush of lips before Ed pulled back, face flaming. He wasn’t exactly sure what had possessed him to do that, but the look of stunned surprise on Roy’s face made his stomach knot in anxiety. He was still clutching Roy’s shirt, he realized, but couldn’t seem to make himself let go.
He bowed his head, frantically trying to find something to say, a reason or excuse to offer that would break the silence. A moment passed and there was a hand beneath his chin, gently forcing him to look up. He did, and suddenly Roy was kissing him
and all thought ground to a screeching halt.
The kiss was slow and soft and infinitely better than his own awkward attempt. All of his bones went liquid, and Edward’s other hand found his way to Roy’s shirt as he leaned into the contact, clinging to the man for support against the flood of emotions that filled him. Fear, guilt and desire compounded by aching loneliness; a sudden, desperate need not to be alone.
Roy broke away and Ed opened eyes he hadn’t realized he had closed, still leaning into the other man and heart pounding wildly. They regarded one another for a long moment, and Ed knew he had to say something, he just didn’t know what. I want you. I want him. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to hurt. I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to make a mistake. I don’t know what I want.
He leaned his head against Roy’s shoulder, taking a little comfort in the feel of arms sliding around his shoulders. “I don’t know what I want,” he repeated aloud, those words perhaps the most honest he could speak. Ed felt Roy nod as gentle hands stroked his hair and toyed with his braid, a familiar click as the weight of the clip vanished. Fingers unwound the braid, threaded through his hair and Ed sighed, the feeling strangely relaxing.
Edward tightened his grip on Roy’s shirt and buried his face in the other man’s neck, taking comfort in the smell of him, the sound of his breathing. The hand stroking his hair stilled a few minutes later, and Roy pulled back slightly, resting his forehead against Ed’s. “Then how about we just wing it?”
Wing it. That made things sound so much simpler than they really were. “What do you
want?” he asked. Roy’s desires were just as important as his own, and part of him worried the man might just go along with whatever Ed wanted just to make him happy. He might not know what exactly he wanted, but he knew it wasn’t that. He didn’t want pity, and he didn’t think that’s what the general was offering, but it never hurt to ask.
“Me?” Roy drew back a fraction, expression thoughtful. “Honestly, I’m not sure. However.” His lips curled in a slight smile. “I wouldn’t have kissed you if I didn’t want to.”
Ed snorted. That could mean anything, really, but it did make him feel a little better. He could hardly demand a straight answer when he didn’t have one himself, anyway. “Fair enough.” He took a deep breath, tucking a wild strand of hair behind his ear and said, “Now what?”
Roy dipped his head and kissed him again, and that was all the answer he needed. Tangling his fingers in Edward’s hair, Roy abandoned his lips in favor of his neck, careful to avoid the angry red line that marked his injury. Ed made a small, desperate sound in his throat as slow lazy kisses traced his jaw. He started slightly when hands slid beneath his rear, throwing his arms around Roy’s shoulders for balance and locking his legs around his waist when the other man lifted him off the counter. Roy maneuvered them out of the kitchen, nipping gently at the flesh just below his ear and eliciting a throaty moan. Lips and tongue and teeth were driving him mad, and it was all Ed could do to keep breathing.
Another sharp nip tore a ragged gasp from his throat, and suddenly the cold wall was against his back and Roy was kissing him again, hard and hungry. Ed hummed his pleasure as Roy braced him against the wall, deft hands climbing up his shirt. Fingers ghosted over his side and Ed snorted a laugh, squirming away from the ticklish touch. Roy chuckled and the fingers retreated. “Do you want me to stop?”
“You can stop tickling...me...” The last word a breathless gasp as Roy shifted, a telltale hardness pressing against him. Ed had the distinct impression the bastard was teasing him, and growled, jerking him down by the collar for another kiss. That was all the prompting Roy needed. One kiss, another, and then they were moving again, through a doorway that Roy kicked closed behind them.
Later found him in the circle of Roy’s arms, head tucked under his chin, listening to the steady rhythm of his breathing and the beating of his heart. Edward curled closer, the arms around him tightening momentarily at the movement. He stared at the hand draped in front of his face with heavy eyes, feeling strangely unwilling to sleep.
It was a strange thing, really. The whole thing felt very right and very wrong all at once, and Ed couldn’t quite decide which it was. The feeling was muted though, distant, and for the first time since he had left, he didn’t feel like he was being torn in two. Maybe this was exactly what he needed. He shifted, threading his fingers through Roy’s, smiling slightly when the general squeezed his hand. Roy kissed the top of his head. “Sleep,” the older man told him.
Ed made a sound of agreement, finally allowing himself to drift. It would never quite be the same, never quite what he had lost, but maybe...
Maybe it was good enough.