Series: Fullmetal Alchemist (Conversionverse)
Spoilers: For Conversion, yes.
Summary: Conversion side story. You win internet cookies if you can guess what this one is all about. ;)::Crash::
On Thursday, Roy swore.
It took Ed a few steps for the information to process. Once his brain caught up with his ears, Edward stopped mid-step and turned back to the half-open study door he had just passed. For a moment, Ed was sure he had misheard; Roy never
swore. In the three years he had known the man, he could probably count the number of times he had heard a profanity out of Roy’s mouth on one hand.
There way a bang, a crash, and Roy swore again
He certainly hadn’t ever heard him swear twice in as many minutes. Unsure whether he should be worried or amused, he retraced his steps back to the study and poked his head inside.
Roy was rubbing his shin --the source of the second swear most likely-- the telephone wedged between his shoulder and his ear, gesturing wildly with his free hand and speaking what sounded to Ed like gibberish sprinkled sparsely with English. He half-limped, half-hopped around, occasionally casting dark looks at the contraption on his desk spitting out a long, thin stream of paper.
A ticker, Ed was pretty sure he called it. “Roy?” he called quietly, gathering from his babble that something was obviously wrong, but unable to discern exactly what.
Roy looked up at his name, offering Ed a thin smile and holding up a hand to forestall any further words. “Listen-- yes, I know! I know
. You don’t have to tell me, David, I’ve been watching it drop all morning. I--” he glared at nothing as the other man cut him off. Finally, he snapped, “Shut up and listen! There’s nothing we can do. We can panic and speculate until we’re blue in the face, but it won’t change anything!” He sighed. “Yes, David, I understand that. All we can do for now is sit and wait and hope things sort out. I’ll call you tomorrow.” He set the receiver down and dropped into his chair, looking very, very tired.
Ed slipped the rest of the way into the room, circling behind Roy’s chair resting his hands on the other man’s shoulders. He could feel the knots of tension just below the surface and he began kneading at the muscles. Roy sighed and relaxed slightly, head dropping forward. After a few minutes, Ed’s hands stilled and he asked, “What happened?”
Roy leaned back and looked up at him. “How much do you know about the stock market?”
“Not much,” Ed admitted, toying absently with a bit of hair that had escaped Roy’s usually neat tail. “Just that there’s a lot of money involved, and that people seem to enjoy talking about it a lot for such a boring topic.” He had never particularly cared. The idea of risking money on the chance that you might get lucky and make more never made much sense to him. Of course, neither did horse races, but those seemed quite popular too.
“I have a lot of money invested in the market,” he frowned absently. “A lot.”
“It crashed.”* * *
On Friday, Roy was cautious.
He showed Ed the ticker tape, tried to explain what it meant. Edward had never had much of a head for finances, but whatever the letters and numbers represented, it appeared things were getting better. He asked Roy if maybe it wasn’t better to cut his losses and sell his stocks.
Roy shook his head. “Blind selling is what caused the crash yesterday. I’ve been selling them off slowly. A little here, a little there. Things are looking better, but I don’t want to be caught flat-footed if the market plummets again.”
“They said it was a fluke,” Ed said, waving a hand at the newspaper resting on the desk. “But you don’t think so, do you?”
“I think,” Roy said slowly, staring at the ticker on his desk thoughtfully, “that it might be a sign of things to come.” He reached out, taking Ed’s hand and rubbing a thumb over the knuckles absently. “I also think that it’s time I look at putting my money into safer investments. Security is more important than profit, especially now.”
Roy smiled at him. “Because I have a great deal more responsibility now than I used to.”
It took Ed a moment to realize what he meant. He was talking about Kara, about him, and about Al. It had taken Edward a while to get used to the idea of being provided for; the notion rubbed him the wrong way for some reason. Eventually, Roy won that argument with simple logic. They didn’t need the money, so there was no reason for Edward to work unless he genuinely wanted to. Which he didn’t. Ed was perfectly capable of keeping himself busy with pursuits that he actually found interesting, and with much grumbling, he eventually caved. “So what are you going to do?”
“I’m going to keep selling bit by bit, get rid of some of my riskier ventures and buy into safer stocks. I should be doing that regardless. Wait and see, I suppose.” Roy released Ed’s hand and leaned back in his chair. “The market is going back up, and chances are I’m worrying over nothing.”* * *
On Saturday, Roy was optimistic.
Ed was pleased to see the worry easing from Roy’s shoulders, from his eyes. The market had dipped a little that day, but it was nothing to be alarmed over, and Roy seemed increasingly confident that it was going to recover from Thursday’s crash with little ill effects. Edward wandered into the study to find Roy reading instead of working, stretched out on the sofa with a tiny frown of concentration, eyes moving behind his glasses as he read. He secretly liked how Roy looked in his glasses and found it a bit disappointing that the man only wore them for reading.
With a yawn, he shuffled across the room, climbing up onto the couch and crawling over Roy’s legs to settle against his lover’s chest with a happy sigh. “Well, hello there,” Roy said, looking down at him with an amused smile.
Ed made a sound that was meant to be a greeting but sounded more like a yawn. After a moment of lazy debate, he stretched up slightly and kissed Roy’s chin before flopping back down bonelessly and snuggling closer. He was sleepy and content, and he had every intention of napping on his lover while he read.
There was movement. The sound of a book being set on a table; a soft click as glasses followed. Roy shifted, sliding down and pressing a lingering kiss to Edward’s neck, then another.
Roy obviously had different ideas.
Sleepiness dissipating quickly, Ed moved until he was straddling the man beneath him. He leaned over Roy, who was smiling up at him. “You’re happier today,” he observed.
“Mm,” Roy agreed, pulling Ed down by his shirt for a kiss. Soft, slow and completely unhurried, skilled lips and hands in his hair. By the time they parted, Ed could barely breathe and all thoughts of a nap were distant memory. He licked his lips, letting out a ragged sigh when Roy’s hands slid under his shirt, fingers dancing over skin with light, teasing touches.
Edward leaned down for another kiss, but Roy dodged his lips, bracing his hands against Ed’s shoulders and grinning at the frustrated growl the action earned him. “I don’t think we really have enough room here for what I’ve got in mind.”
“Tease,” Ed grumbled. Sometimes he really believed that Roy took a perverse sort of pleasure in torturing him.
Roy laughed, pushing the younger man off of him. “I have every intention of following up, just not here.” He winked, and Ed grabbed his wrist and pulled him out of the room, smiling inwardly.
Roy was definitely, definitely feeling better.* * *
On Monday, Roy was quiet.
Edward poked his head into Roy’s study mid-morning with the intention of asking how things were going, but the words died unspoken.
Roy was sitting at his desk, chin resting on folded hands. His eyes were very, very far away.
The ticker was off.* * *
On Tuesday, Roy was determined.
The telephone rang off the hook all day long, Roy talking with more people than Ed was aware he even knew. The chaos reminded Ed a bit of Thursday, but instead of the undercurrent of panic, there was purpose. Roy sold, and to Edward’s surprise, bought. Money moved, business partners were reassured, and for the first time, Ed understood exactly why Roy was as wealthy as he was.
The man knew his business.
Edward didn’t say a word all day long, he simply observed. He brought Roy food that went largely ignored amidst the whirlwind activity. Time passed, and at the end of the day the ticker stopped and the dust finally settled. Roy sat, and the phone stopped ringing.
“So,” Ed said at length, once he was sure Roy was finally done. “Are we okay?”
Roy offered him a tired smile. “We’re fine. Losses were unavoidable, but I managed to mitigate the damage,” he was silent for a moment. “We’ll be fine, but I think it’s going to be a long time before the market recovers.”
Ed rose from the chair he’d occupied most of the day and went over to Roy, sitting on the floor beside him and resting his head on his lover’s thigh. Roy said nothing, merely laid a hand on his head, stroking blond strands slowly. “We’ll be fine,” he repeated after a long silence, “but I think my first instinct was right.”
“Your first instinct?”
“This was only a sign of things to come.” ***********************
Series: Fullmetal Alchemist (Conversionverse)
Spoilers: For Conversion, yes.
Summary: Conversion side story. Kara has something on her mind.::Fatherhood::
The study door creaked open, a dark head poking around the corner. Ed smiled slightly but didn’t look up from his book, turning the page and waiting for the girl by the door to make up her mind. The door opened wider, followed by the sound of soft footsteps on carpet. Edward shifted, lifting the arm holding the book.
Kara took the silent invitation, climbing up onto his lap and squirming slightly until she got comfortable, resting against his chest. Ed lowered the book so she could read it. Kara liked reading with him; she was a smart kid and could already read better than most of the children in her class. She didn’t always understand the subject matter, and stumbled over the more complex words, but she didn’t seem to mind. Ed was fond of the routine, it was quiet and comfortable, and he loved how she seemed to love learning.
Today though, something was different. She fidgeted slightly, drew breath to speak but didn’t. Finally, Ed snapped the book shut, setting it on the small table. “Did you have something you want to say?” he asked.
Kara frowned slightly. “Sarah’s papa picked her up from school today.”
Ed raised his eyebrows in silent question, waiting for the girl to elaborate. Sarah was obviously one of her classmates, though he wasn’t sure what the significance of the statement was.
“And...” Kara bit her lip thoughtfully, trying to figure out how to phrase her thoughts. “I was wondering why I don’t have a papa.”
Ed’s heart stopped.
He wasn’t surprised by the question, Roy had mentioned once that she was bound to get curious about her parents sooner or later, but Ed had always assumed Roy would be the one who dealt with it. He certainly hadn’t expected her to come to him
about it. “Well,” he began, hoping his mental flailing wasn’t showing on his face. Honesty was the best policy, right?
Roy couldn’t get mad at him for telling her the truth, right?
With the dread certainty of a man who knew he was going to scar a child for life, he said, “Your parents died when you were little. Do you remember?”
She shook her head slowly. “No,” she looked up at him, and Ed was relieved to see that she seemed thoughtful, not traumatized. “Uncle Roy showed me a picture, though. My papa was his brother, right?”
“That’s right,” Ed replied, putting a hand on her head and absently stroking her hair. He felt a little lost. It seemed like he should be reassuring her somehow, but he wasn’t sure what to say.
Kara seemed to deflate a little. “But he died. So I don’t have a papa anymore.”
“Not in the literal sense, no, but,” Ed paused, trying to figure out how to explain to her that the technicality of blood relation wasn’t what mattered. That real family was defined by those that loved you. “I lost my parents when I was little, too.”
Green eyes grew wide. “Really?”
Ed nodded solemnly. “My father...he left when I was very young. My mother got sick and died when I was a little older than you are.”
“Did you live with your uncle, too?”
“No,” Ed shook his head. “Al and I didn’t have any relatives to take us in. Instead, we lived with a really good friend of the family for a while. Eventually, we met our teacher, and we went to live with her.”
Kara seemed utterly fascinated. “Teacher? Like Miss Dawson?”
“Not quite. Our teacher and her husband became something like surrogate parents to us. So, even though we missed our mother very much, we weren’t sad.” Which wasn’t entirely true, but mostly they were just determined. And stupid. Very, very stupid. “Do you know why?”
“Because we still had people who loved us. That’s what real family is, kiddo.” He smiled at her. “Even though your parents are gone, you still have people here who love you.”
“Family is the people who love you,” Kara said, then lapsed into thoughtful silence, resting her head on Edward’s shoulder and digesting what he had told her. She curled one hand into his shirt after a few minutes and asked shyly, “Would it be okay...if I called you papa?”
Utterly stunned, Ed could do nothing for a few seconds but stare at her. She actually felt close enough to him to consider him a parent? What about Roy? If anyone deserved that title, it was her uncle, not him. His jaw worked soundlessly for a moment, before he managed squeeze out, “But what about Roy?”
“Can’t he be my papa too?”
Now assured that he hadn’t somehow stolen Kara’s affections from Roy, he smiled a bit stupidly. “He would love that,” Ed said sincerely, resting his head against hers. “But it would get a bit confusing if you called both of us ‘papa’ don’t you think?”
“Oh.” Kara was silent a moment, considering. “I could call him daddy, and you papa. Would that work?”
Edward hugged her a little too tight, touched beyond words. “That would be perfect, kitten. Absolutely perfect.”