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The Wayward Muse
Life, writing, and general stupidity
Fanfiction: Conversion - Chapters 5-6 (FMA) 
10.29.06
Piandao eyebrow
Chapters 5-6. Chapter 1-2 can be found here, and chapters 3-4 can be found here.

Title: Conversion
Series: Fullmetal Alchemist (Animeverse)
Pairings: Roy/Ed, Alter!Roy/Ed
Words: 10,828 (Chapters 5-6)
Warnings: Slash
Rating: PG-13 (possibly R in later chapters)
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.

Note: This story diverges from from the anime at the end of the series, the events of the movie never happened as far as this fic is concerned, though I might swipe certain elements here and there as they pertain to this story.

::Chapter 5::

::Homecoming::


He felt sick. Sort of. One moment his breakfast seemed about to make a return appearance, the next he felt like laughing like an idiot and bouncing off the walls. Roy sighed inwardly. He wished he could decide on one or the other, all this emotional flip-flopping was giving him a headache. He smiled wryly. Maybe heartache was closer to the mark.

The situation really was deceptively normal, Roy realized. There he was, on his usual perch on the desk, watching Edward carefully trace an alchemy array on the floor just like he had a hundred times before. It wasn’t like the other times, though. This wasn’t a test, or an experiment. This was it. This was the time they were going to try and send Edward home.

They had discovered that while they couldn’t communicate with the colonel directly, they could transmit images and impressions. According to Edward, that was all they needed. He had drilled Roy into memorizing the array he would need to show the colonel until he could draw it perfectly with his eyes closed. While he was a bit doubtful that the man on the other side would realize that he had to activate the array he would be shown, Ed seemed confident that the colonel would understand what to do. Roy supposed they would find out soon enough.

Part of him, the part that wasn’t a selfish bastard, was truly happy for Ed. He was getting exactly what he wanted, after all. If things went well, Edward would be home before he went to sleep tonight. He belonged there, with his brother on his own world. Roy knew that, but he had a hard time remembering it, because in all honesty he wasn’t near as selfless as he would like to be.

Roy didn’t want Ed to go. More than he had ever wanted anything in his life, he wanted the alchemist to stay with him. Had almost asked him to more than once, but he always stopped himself. It was too much to ask, to make him choose between Roy and the home he had been trying to return to for so long. Too much to ask, and he was afraid of the answer.

Edward sneezed suddenly, rubbing his nose with the back of his hand and muttering a curse. Blowing an errant strand of hair from his face, the blond leaned over and went back to work. Roy smiled. Never in his life had he ever met someone so dedicated and focused as Ed could be when working. Then again, he had never met anyone quite like Edward Elric at all. He was passionate and vibrant in a way that made everyone else seem grayer in comparison. Roy sighed, letting his eyes roam over the figure hunched on the floor. The wisps of hair that had escaped his braid, the frown of concentration on his face, the way he would pause, lips moving silently as he worked something out in his head. Roy commit every detail to memory, his eyes, his face, the chalk smudge on his chin, and wished for the thousandth time that day that he wouldn’t go.

It was a futile, stupid, selfish wish. Edward would go, should go. Roy just wished that thought didn’t hurt so much. He wished the tight knot of misery in his gut would go away, that he could share in Ed’s joy and mean it, and stop screaming in the back of his mind that he didn’t want him to leave.

“What’s wrong?”

Roy blinked, Edward’s voice startling from his mire of self-pity. “What?”

“You keep sighing over there,” Ed said, looking up. Roy felt a pleasant tingle as gold eyes met his. “And you look like you just lost your best friend. So what’s wrong?”

“Maybe I am losing my best friend,” Roy said without thinking. Edward stared at him, surprise painted on his features and Roy mentally kicked himself. Too late to take it back now, so he gave the blond a half-smile and shrugged. “I was just thinking about how much I’d miss you, that’s all.”

Edward’s eyes were unreadable as he digested that, twirling a piece of chalk absently in his fingers. Then he sighed, running a hand through his hair, freeing even more of it in the process. “I’m going to miss you too,” he said, ducking his head in embarrassment and going back to work on his array.

Roy smiled, warmed by the admission. It was strange, how things had changed in the past five months since he met Edward. At first, it was just curiosity that drove him. A strange young man with an even stranger tale, but for some reason, something about it had rung true to Roy. Before he even realized he’d done it, he offered Ed a place to stay, and next thing he knew he was cooped up in this room with him for hours on end, experimenting. That first painful contact had dispelled any lingering doubts he’d had, and they’d been working like men possessed since. He never meant for things to come to this, though.

He never meant to fall in love.

Roy had tried to pretend that he wasn’t in love with Edward. Tried to pretend that the young man was just a good friend, and that was all. He had never been very good at lying to himself. In fact, unless he missed his guess, it was blindingly obvious to anyone who spent more than a moment with the two of them. Evan knew at the very least, he was sure of that. It was clear as day that the old man didn’t approve, but he held his tongue. Maybe it was because Ed had grown on Evan as much as he had on the rest of them, though he did a remarkable job hiding the fact that he was rather fond of the alchemist.

It was hard not to act on his feelings, and he wasn’t always entirely successful in keeping it to himself. Ed seemed happily oblivious however, and it was probably for the best.

“Done,” Edward said, sitting back and looking over the array with a critical eye. After a moment he nodded to himself and looked up at Roy. “Are you ready?”

Ignoring the way his gut clenched at those words, Roy slowly slid off the desk and came to stand beside Ed. “Have you said your goodbyes?”

Edward flinched, looking up guiltily. “No,” he admitted. “It’s just, we don’t even know this is going to work, right?”

Roy understood his reluctance, even if he didn’t agree with it. “And what if it does? You’ll vanish without a word and leave me to explain why?” Roy shook his head. “They’re your friends Edward, they deserve better than that.”

Ed just sighed and tucked some stray hair behind his ear. Nearly half of it was hanging out of the braid now, and Roy turned him around and removed the clip, running his fingers through the gold strands to tame them a bit before he re-braided it. Edward leaned into the touch a little, and Roy couldn’t help but wonder what might have been if things were different, if they were given more time. He finished braiding the hair and replaced the clip, resting his hands on the shorter man’s shoulders. “If you didn’t need my help to do this, would you have left without saying goodbye to me too?” he asked softly.

“No!” Edward said fiercely, turning to face him and shaking his head.  “No. You’re...different.” He flushed and looked down at his feet. “Goodbyes are bad enough, it’s just...what do I tell them when they ask me where? How do I tell them I can’t come back?”

“Say whatever you feel is right,” Roy said, giving the short blond a gentle push towards the door. “Take as long as you need. I’ll be waiting when you’re ready.”

Edward hesitated, looking back at the other man. Roy just nodded for him to go and Ed sighed, pulling open the door and vanishing through it.   He watched the blond go, heart heavy. Leaving was going to be harder on the alchemist than he had realized, and he couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

Returning to his perch on the desk, Roy picked up the journal he had left there, running his fingers over the leather cover. The large book was nearly filled with his thoughts and feelings, his accounting of his life since he had met Edward on that train. Turning to a blank page, he pulled out his pen and began to write the last entry the book would see.

*        *        *

The whole situation was so unbelievably unfair that it made Ed want to scream. He kicked angrily at nothing, stomping down the stairs in a burst of childishness that made him feel a little better. Ed needed to go, he wanted to go. Al was waiting for him, he could feel it in his bones and he didn’t want to keep his little brother waiting. Only, sometimes he would catch Roy looking at him with heartbroken eyes and his resolve wavered.

Edward wasn’t exactly sure what Roy was to him. More than a friend, but beyond that he was afraid to think about it too much. Afraid of what he would discover if he let himself. Edward Elric was standing on the edge of a precipice, and only his stubborn refusal to acknowledge it kept him from falling.

It wasn’t fair that for five years he had never gotten close to anyone, and as soon as he started to care, it was being taken from him. Edward stopped short, realization dawning. A short, bitter laugh escaped him, and he shook his head. Of course. Equivalent exchange. To gain old friends he had to lose the new. To gain Alphonse, he had to lose Roy. It really wasn’t a choice, but he wished it hurt a little less.
 
With a heavy heart, he made his way down to the kitchen. Liam was usually there for most of the day, and that was the most likely place for him to find the short cook. Ed pushed open the door just as Liam wobbled out from the pantry, a load of food in his arms piled higher than his head. He quickly relieved the man of half of his burden, returning the grateful smile he received. Dumping the load of vegetables down on the table, he looked over at Liam as the other man did the same. “Lucky I came in when I did, that was an accident waiting to happen.”

Liam bobbed his head amiably, not bothering to deny it. “What brings you down this time of day, Ed? You usually aren’t wandering around this early.”

“I...wanted to tell you something.”

Liam raised bushy eyebrows at the seriousness in his young friend’s voice. Sweeping the vegetables to one side, he motioned for Ed to sit and took a chair himself. “Of course. What’s on your mind?”

Edward took a deep breath. “I’m, uh...well, I’m going home,” he said in a rush. 

Liam nodded slowly. “I take it you mean not just a visit?”

Edward laughed a little, feeling slightly ill. “Where I come from...travel between there and here isn’t easy. I probably won’t be coming back. I’m not sure when I’m leaving, but it...could be as soon as today.”

“I see.” Liam sighed heavily, reaching out to take his flesh hand. “I don’t suppose there’s any way to talk you out of this? Things won’t be the same with you gone, you know.” Something seemed to occur to him. “This is why Roy had been in such a bad way the past few days, isn’t it?”

Trying unsuccessfully to ignore the flood of guilt, Edward nodded. “Probably,” he said, feeling absolutely wretched. “I don’t want to hurt anyone, but...I need to go. I’ve been trying to get home for nearly five years and now I have the chance. My brother is waiting for me.”

“This has to do with what you and Roy keep working on up in that room of yours, doesn’t it?” Edward tensed at that, and Liam patted his hand in a fatherly manner. “Don’t panic Ed. I don’t pretend to understand it, but I always knew there was something a bit different about you. I won’t pry; I can see you’re uncomfortable talking about it.”

Edward sighed and relaxed. “I’m sorry Liam, I just...it’s a long story.”

“It’s alright Edward,” Liam assured him with a smile, getting up and coming around the table and gathering the alchemist into a hug. Ed returned it, wishing fervently he could squash the sadness that kept threatening to choke him. “I’ll miss you,” he pulled back and winked. “I’ll miss not being the shortest man in the house anymore, too.”

“Watch it,” Ed warned, punching the other man gently. Liam chuckled and returned to his seat.  “Do you know where Emily and Evan are? I still need to tell them.”

Liam stroked his moustache absently, considering. “Evan should be in his room, keeping off that ankle after he tried to break it yesterday. Emily took Kara out back to play for a while, they should still be outside.”

Edward nodded and got up, backing slowly towards the door. “Goodbye, Liam.”

“Goodbye, Edward.”

He turned and left, heart in his shoes. He knew that Roy was right, and that these people deserved the courtesy of a farewell, but it didn’t stop Ed from wanting to punch the man for making him do it. As if having to face Roy and leave wasn’t hard enough. Making his way out into the snow-covered garden, he heard a shriek of laughter and followed it around the side of the house.

Emily and Kara were in the midst of a snowball fight, the older woman losing miserably. Neither of them noticed him, and Ed couldn’t help but smile as he watched. Leaving Kara would be almost as difficult as leaving Roy, in some ways. Ed was terribly fond of her, and he knew she wouldn’t understand why he had to go.

Kara was the first to notice him. “Ed!” She called, launching a snowball at him. Edward pretended to try and dodge a moment too late, taking the projectile with a dramatic cry and falling to the ground. The snow slipped inside his collar as he lay there, and Ed suddenly wished he’d thought to bring a coat with him. Kara was on him in a moment, and Edward closed his eyes and lay still, playing dead.

“Ed?” She asked, poking his nose with a snow-caked mitten.

“Hush,” he told her, not opening his eyes. “I’m dead.”

“Are not!” She announced from her perch on his chest. “You couldn’t talk if you were dead.”

He cracked one golden eye to look at her. “That so?” She nodded, and he grinned, carefully rolling over and dumping her to the ground and showering her with snow. She screamed with delight until he took mercy on her. Edward took her hands and hauled her out of the mound of snow she was buried in, brushing her off. Kara hung on his arm, cheeks red and eyes bright. She really looked more like Roy’s daughter than his niece, he mused, swinging his arm with Kara still attached.

Emily was brushing the snow from her skirt with a smile as they approached. “Hello Edward!” She greeted, “We were just about to go inside for some hot cocoa, care to join us?”

“Sure,” Ed said, “I had something I wanted to talk to you about anyway.”

She shot him a curious look, but before he could say anything he felt a tug on his sleeve. Once Kara had his attention, she held out her arms in a silent demand to be picked up. Ed laughed and shook his head. That girl really took advantage of him, he realized as he complied, swinging Kara up onto his shoulders. What was it Roy had said? She had him wrapped around her little finger. “Meet you inside!” He called to Emily and dashed off, Kara squeaking in surprise and clinging to his hair. For once, Ed found he didn’t really mind.

A few minutes later found them inside and comfortably warm, each with a cup of cocoa in hand. Emily had confiscated his soaking shirt over Edward’s protests, giving him a blanket instead and telling him that she couldn’t allow him to catch his death wandering around in wet clothes.

Kara was cuddled up against his side on the couch, and Emily sat in the chair opposite. After they were settled, she asked, “There was something you wanted to talk to me about?”

“Uh, yeah.” Swallowing the lump in his throat, he set his cup down on the table. “I came to say goodbye. I’ll be leaving soon. Going home.”

She put a hand to her mouth in surprise. “Oh Edward! You can’t!”

“But,” Kara said, tugging on his blanket and looking at Ed in confusion. “You are home.”

He ignored the sharp stab of pain at the innocent words and sighed, putting a hand on her head. “Not here, Kara. My real home. Where I come from.”

“No,” Emily said, and Edward looked up to discover she was on the verge of tears. “Kara was right. You are home. You’re as much a part of this family as anyone. You can’t just leave.”

Looking down at his hands, he wondered if there was any way to make her understand. “I can’t stay, Emily. My brother is waiting for me, and I’m all he has. I can’t just abandon him.”

“Then find him and bring him here!” she said fiercely, dabbing at her eyes. “Any family of yours is more than welcome, you know that. As long as he was here, you wouldn’t have to go.”

Edward’s heart twisted, and he wouldn’t admit how tempting that sounded. “I’m afraid it doesn’t work that way Emily. Once I go home I can’t come back.”

Kara suddenly started crying, crawling into his lap and clinging to the blanket around his shoulders. He stroked her hair, feeling like a complete jerk. “You can’t go!” she said, the words a choked sob. “You can’t!”

Ed sighed. “I have to, kiddo. I’m sorry.”

“No!” She yelled, sliding off his lap. “Uncle Roy won’t let you go! You’ll see!” She dashed out of the room, and Edward half-stood, unsure what to do.

“Let her go,” Emily said sadly, getting to her feet. “She’ll be okay,” she held out her arms and Edward hugged her. Emily sighed and kissed his hair. “When do you leave, dear?”

“I’m not sure yet,” he said honestly, pulling away reluctantly. “Soon.”

She nodded, regarding him seriously, hands planted on her hips. “This isn’t any easier for you than it is for us, is it?”

The words struck home, and Ed nodded miserably. “You’ve all been...wonderful. Part of me doesn’t want to go.”

“We all do what we must, though I wish you would reconsider,” she said quietly. “You’ll be missed.”

Edward didn’t reply, reaching out and hugging her again. Emily was a sweet woman, and she reminded him of his own mother sometimes. He realized what Emily had said had some truth to it. These people, despite his best efforts, had truly become a surrogate family to him. Leaving them was going to be hard.

Emily pulled back this time, sniffling and dabbing at her eyes again. “Off with you,” she said, voice unsteady. “Much more of this and I’ll start crying, and I don’t think either of us want that.”

He nodded, swooping in a planting a kiss on her cheek and then he was gone. His hands were shaking, he realized as he returned to his room to change. The worst was over, Ed assured himself. Evan was the only one left, and in spite of the fact that they were on more or less amiable terms now, he would be the easiest to say goodbye to. At least he didn’t have to worry about any emotional outbursts.

Once he had changed into a fresh set of clothes, Edward found himself standing outside Evan’s bedroom door. He knocked softly.

“Come in,” came the gruff voice from the other side.

Feeling more nervous than he really should, Edward pushed open the door, a little taken aback by the sight that greeted him. Evan hadn’t dressed yet, lounging in an armchair wearing a robe. His injured foot was propped up and he was hunched over a notebook, the set of pencils he’d gotten for Christmas on the table beside him. He looked up as Ed entered, raising his eyebrows at his visitor and setting his work aside. “Edward. To what do I owe this pleasure?”

Dodging the question, Ed pointed to his foot. “How’s it feeling?”

“Much better now, thank you. I should be up and about again tomorrow,” Evan crossed his arms, pinning Edward with a level stare that made him want to squirm. “You didn’t come to see me for that.”

“Well, no,” he admitted. “I...um. I wanted to say goodbye.”

“You’re leaving,” Evan said, eyes narrowing.

“I’m going home,” he said, wishing the old man would stop looking at him like that.

Evan sighed. “It explains a few things,” he muttered, picking up his notebook and thumbing through it. “Now I know why Roy has been acting so strangely lately.” He looked up suddenly. “I hope you understand what you’re doing to him. He won’t try to stop you, but losing you will break his heart, have no doubt of that.”

Edward stared at the other man, jaw working soundlessly and completely floored by the man’s bluntness. Parting wasn’t going to be easy on either of them, but surely Evan was exaggerating? “I...have to go,” he managed after a moment. “I don’t want to hurt him, but I have to go.”

Pulling a piece of paper from the notebook, Evan nodded. “I know Edward. Life is full of difficult choices. I just wanted you to know the consequences of yours. I certainly won’t hold it against you, and neither will Roy. He isn’t that kind of man. Here,” he said, holding out the paper.

Feeling worse than he could remember feeling in a long time, Edward took it, turning it over to see what Evan had given him. It was a drawing, he realized, staring at it in speechless amazement. He had never seen any of Evan’s drawings before, but the man was remarkably talented. It was a picture of Edward, Roy and Kara. They were all on a couch, Ed stretched out and fast asleep, head pillowed on Roy’s leg, Kara tucked up under his arm and also asleep.  Roy was awake, a forgotten book in one hand, the other resting on Ed’s hair. He was watching the two of them sleep, a smile on his face.

“A memento to remember us by,” Evan explained. “I drew that shortly after Christmas.”

Edward nodded slowly. He remembered that night. “I can’t take this,” he said, looking up at the other man.

Evan snorted. “Don’t be stupid boy. It’s a gift.” He held out his hand suddenly, and after a moment, Edward gave his own. “It has been good to know you, Edward.”

“Yeah,” he said slowly. “Same.”

Evan turned back to his notebook then, a clear dismissal. No more words were said as he left. As if he hadn’t felt guilty enough about leaving before, he felt lower than dirt now. Losing you will break his heart. Ed cringed as the words came back to him. Surely Evan couldn’t have meant that the way it sounded. Right?

He wandered back to the work room, wallowing in guilt and uncertainty. He hadn’t lied when he said part of him wanted very badly to stay. He was afraid, more than anything, that he wouldn’t be able to look Roy in the eyes when the time came and tell him was ready to go. Ed wasn’t sure if he would ever be ready. He was afraid that if Roy asked him to stay, he wouldn’t be able to say no. Ed thought of Alphonse, and it gave him a little strength. He could do this. He could.

Edward couldn’t help but smile at the sight that met him when he pushed the door open. Roy was stretched out on the desk, back against the wall and fast asleep. Apparently he had gotten tired of waiting and dozed off. Skirting the array, he reached out and slapped the man’s foot. “Hey you lazy bastard, wake up.”

Roy grumbled, cracking one dark eye, then the other when he recognized his assailant. “Took you long enough,” he yawned.

“Yes, well, it wasn’t my idea to go out and make everyone feel like shit,” Ed said, the words coming out harsher than he had intended.

The older man’s expression softened and he scooted forward, taking Edward’s hands. “I know that had to have been hard on you. It was better though, to tell them yourself.” He took the paper in one of Ed’s hands and looked at it curiously, smiling at what he saw. “I remember that night. Evan had you out shovelling the drive if I remember, and you came back inside and promptly passed out. Did he give this to you?”

“Yeah,” Ed said. “Something to remember him by, he said.”

Roy nodded, carefully folding the picture and tucking it safely away inside of his journal. Ed gave him a confused look as the man handed the journal to him. “Take that with you,” he said.

Edward looked down at the journal he had given Roy in confusion. “Why?”

“I always meant for you to take it with you,” he explained. “I want you to give it to your colonel. I wanted to be able to share something of myself with him, and I thought this was the best way. Even if we aren’t the same person, we are connected in some way. It seemed appropriate.” He shrugged and smiled.

Edward nodded, looking down at the book in his hands. He could understand that. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to look up into Roy’s eyes. “Are you ready?”

“Almost,” Roy said, hopping off the desk. Edward’s heart skipped a beat when Roy reached out and took his face in his hands, gently brushing his thumbs against the blond’s cheeks. Ed tried to ask him what he was doing, but the words stuck in his throat and all he managed was a small, strangled sound. Roy smiled slightly, tipping Edward’s face up as he leaned down and kissed him.

The kiss was soft, Roy’s lips moving gently against his own and something inside of Edward went liquid at the contact. He fisted his hands in Roy’s shirt and leaned into him, feeling weak and dizzy and a little out of his mind. One hand broke away from his face and trailed down his side, wrapping around his waist and pulling him closer and Edward let it. He hadn’t realized how badly he wanted this.

With one last, lingering kiss Roy broke away, tracing his fingers along Edward’s jaw. Ed leaned into the touch, heart pounding, emotions surging wildly. Roy said nothing, wrapping his arms around the shorter man and pulling him close, resting his head on soft blond hair with a sigh. Edward let him, resting against his chest and trying to get a grip on his emotions. He had never felt like this, and the intensity of it was frightening.

Roy stroked his hair. “I love you,” he whispered, voice rough with emotion. “I...I had to tell you that before you go.”

Edward closed his eyes, fighting the sting of tears and suddenly angry. Damn him. Damn that bastard for doing this to him. To both of them. What right did he have to say that to him now, right before he was supposed to leave? It wasn’t right, it wasn’t fair. Ed couldn’t stay, no matter how much he wanted to at that moment. “I wish you hadn’t done that,” he said, anger draining out of him as suddenly as it had come.

Roy pushed him away slightly so that he could look Edward in the eyes. “I’m not going to apologize for telling you how I feel,” he said gently. “It’s hard enough for me to let you go, I wouldn’t have forgiven myself if I missed my last chance to tell you that I love you.”

Home seemed very, very far away as he stared up at Roy. Edward felt so weak and breathless at that moment, the utter sincerity of Roy’s words made him want to hit the man or maybe kiss him again. He could feel his resolve crumbling beneath the weight of his own feelings. “I...I could-”

“Don’t,” Roy interrupted. “Don’t say it, or I might not be able to say no. You don’t belong here. We both know that.”

He was right, and Edward knew it. It didn’t make it hurt any less as he carefully tucked the journal away in his shirt, the pain of stepping out of Roy’s arms was almost physical as he retrieved Al’s pocket watch from a drawer in the desk. His hand trembled as he put the watch in his pocket, stepping carefully into the center of the circle. “I’m ready,” he whispered.

Roy took his position on the outside of the circle, sinking to his knees. He smiled at Edward, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “Don’t look at me like that,” he said. “Al needs you, right? Think of him.”

Ed nodded, not trusting his voice. He watched as Roy closed his eyes and took a deep breath, probably going over what they had already rehearsed. They could connect to the colonel on the other side, but not directly. Impressions and images were the best they could manage, but images were all they needed. Roy was supposed to show his counterpart an array, and if all went well, the colonel would activate that array from the other side. That would establish the connection that would carry him from this world to the other.

Edward found himself holding his breath as dark eyes met his, and Roy whispered, “Goodbye,” as he reached down and touched his hands to the array.

*        *        *

General Roy Mustang was having a very bad day. Another key government official was found dead in his home the night before, murdered. The second that month. The group taking responsibility for the recent rash of assassinations claimed that certain high-ranking officers in the military were next. Including General Mustang himself. There was talk of increased security, and some even went so far as to suggest those in danger be assigned bodyguards. He had to admit it wasn’t a bad idea, but the notion of being stuck with a contingent of bodyguards until they caught these bastards was giving him a headache.

He pinched the bridge of his nose with a irritated growl. Not another one of his blasted headaches. The cursed things had started a few months ago, coming swiftly and without warning, for no reason he could determine. Sometimes they only lasted minutes, sometimes hours, and then they were gone as suddenly as they came. Painkillers had no effect, and they drove him mad.

“General? Are you all right?”

He sighed and opened his eyes, waving Hawkeye into his office. “I’m fine Major, just a headache.” Her brow creased in concern, and he decided to stave off any more questions. “I don’t suppose you have good news for me?”

She snapped to attention. “I’m afraid not, sir. After thorough investigation of-”

The rest of her report was lost on him as the pain suddenly intensified a hundredfold. He squeezed his eyes shut, putting his hands to his head. A dull sense of shock surged through him as an image of Edward Elric imprinted itself behind his eyes. Older and dressed strangely, but it was definitely him. It was gone as suddenly as it came, replaced with the image of a complicated array and a sense of urgency.

He opened his eyes slowly, the image of the array overlapping his actual sight. Hawkeye was saying something, but he ignored her. It couldn’t be, could it? Could Fullmetal possibly be contacting him somehow? Shoving a stack of papers off his desk, he quickly traced the array onto the wood before he lost the image. There was no way to know for sure, but it was worth the risk. Without a moments hesitation, he activated the array.

There was a strange jolt and a flash, and General Mustang was no longer in his office. He was staring into an endless sea of pale light. It was peaceful, in a strange sort of way. Calming. Behind he felt something looming, something large and ancient and he found himself turning as though drawn by an invisible hand.

“I wouldn’t look, if I were you. Whatever it is back there, it isn’t something you or I should see.”

Suddenly there was a man standing beside him, and Roy stared. The man, whoever he was, bore startling resemblance the general himself. They could have been twins. Vaguely, he was aware that this should disturb him, but in this place it was not so much alarming as curious. “Why shouldn’t I look?”

The other man shrugged. “I have no idea. Edward told me I might wind up here, and warned me that no matter what, I shouldn’t look,” he smiled slightly. “I’m inclined to take him at his word.”

Edward. Suddenly Roy remembered how he had gotten there, and what he had seen. “Edward!” He reached out and took the other man by the shoulders. “Do you mean Edward Elric?”

The man nodded, taking a step back out of the general’s hold. “He’s trying to get home, colonel, and he needs your help to do so,” the man smiled slightly, but it was overshadowed by sadness. “He had a lot of confidence that you would figure out what to do. I guess it was well-founded. Will you help him?” he asked, extending a hand to the other man.

“Of course,” Mustang said, reaching out and taking the other man’s hand without hesitation.

The other man drew him close. “Take care of him,” he whispered, and the world began to fade around them.

Roy started, leaning heavily against the edge of his desk, blinking rapidly. He felt slightly ill and incredibly tired. What had happened? His head was pounding terribly, and he vaguely remembered talking to someone, but who? He frowned. It was all so fuzzy.

“General!”

His head snapped up at Hawkeye’s voice, jaw dropping at what he saw. There, lying on his desk and dressed in strange clothing was Edward Elric, who was staring back at him dazedly. “Hullo Colonel,” he said distantly, sounding as dazed as he looked.

Roy, still completely unsure what had just happened, felt himself smile through the shock. “Hello Fullmetal. Long time no see.”


::Chapter 6::

::Old Friends::


Edward Elric felt like he had been hit by a truck. A large one. One that perhaps was carrying ten tons of bricks that it had dumped on him after running him down. Everything ached, and his vision was doing strange things, fuzzing in and out as he blinked up at the man who was staring back down in obvious shock. Colonel Mustang.

It worked, he realized distantly, shifting slightly and regretting the movement when his muscles screamed in protest. Ed was laying on something hard, and after a moment, he realized it was Roy’s desk. The thought struck him as funny, but he couldn’t seem to muster the energy to laugh.

His stomach suddenly heaved, and Edward rolled over, ignoring the protests of his body and threw up over the side of the desk. A wastebasket suddenly appeared under him, and Ed didn’t question it as he proceeded to empty his breakfast, and possibly dinner from the night before. He could hear voices over his head and felt someone pull his hair back as his stomach heaved again and Edward was fairly sure he threw up everything he had eaten in the last week before it felt like he was finished.

“Ugh,” Edward groaned, spitting into the wastebasket and wiping his mouth in disgust. That had been truly foul. “If I had known that would happen, I wouldn’t have eaten breakfast,” he grumbled, sitting upright as the hand that had been holding his hair --Roy’s he realized-- let go. It turned out Hawkeye had been the one holding the wastebasket, and he managed a weak smile for her, still feeling dazed. “Thanks.”

She smiled at him, seemingly taking his sudden appearance much better than he expected. “You’re welcome Edward,” she said, looking over at Roy. “I’ll go see about that uniform,” she said and vanished from his office with a salute.

Uniform? Ed watched her go, wondering what she needed a uniform for. “How do you feel?” Roy asked, and Ed jumped at the sound of his voice.

Edward looked up then, feeling anxious as he slid off the desk and flopped gracelessly into one of the chairs. Damn, but his muscles felt like rubber. “Like shit,” he said with a weak smile, looking up at the familiar face. It was strange, to see him again after everything that had happened and he suddenly wished Hawkeye would come back. He didn’t think he was ready to face this man. Not yet.

Carefully stepping around the gift Edward had left on the floor, Roy sat on the edge of his desk, giving Ed a careful once-over. He was covering it well, but Ed could read the shock in his visible eye. Wait a minute. Ed blinked a few times, making sure that his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him. An eye patch? When the hell had he gotten that? “What happened to your eye?” he asked, frowning. For some reason he couldn’t place, the eye patch bothered him immensely.

Roy blinked, obviously not expecting the question. “An old injury,” he said after a moment. “I lost it years ago.”

Edward felt suddenly dizzy, and all he could do was nod, swaying slightly in his chair. God damn, he was not ready to face this Roy yet. Traveling from one world to another had left him feeling weak and out of sorts as it was, and Edward found himself having a hard time getting a grip on his confused feelings. He was sorely tempted to curl into a ball and scream, maybe cry, but he suspected he’d have a hard time explaining that to the man afterwards.

Roy slid down the desk, putting himself at eye-level with Edward. “Where the hell have you been, Fullmetal?” he asked softly.

Fullmetal. He hadn’t heard that name in five years, and it didn’t sit well with him now. He hadn’t been the Fullmetal Alchemist in a long time. Ed sighed. “That’s a long story Colonel, one I don’t think I’m up for telling just yet,” he blinked, peering blearily at Roy for a moment. Not a colonel anymore, it seemed. “General,” he corrected. Not bad. That was just one step short of Fuhrer. He had obviously been busy in Edward’s absence.

For a moment he thought Roy was going to push the issue, but he frowned and seemed to think better of it. That was going to be a strange story to tell, though he had every intention of leaving out the...personal bits. Mustang didn’t need to know those. His brother on the other hand, well, he wasn’t sure how much he would tell Al either.

Al. Ed surged to his feet, a sudden burst of restless energy filling him at the thought of his brother. “Al! Did it work? Is Al okay!?” He asked quickly, scowling when Roy pushed him back down into the chair.

“Alphonse is fine,” Roy assured him, and Edward sagged with relief. He listened as Roy told him briefly about what had happened after he disappeared, about how Al had seemed to lose everything from the moment they had tried to transmute their mother. His memory, and even his age. Part of him was sad that Al wouldn’t remember anything they had gone through, but on the other hand, it was probably better that way. His brother would be spared the hardships they had to endure all those years.

Ed nodded slowly, yawning. Yeah. It was for the best. His eyelids suddenly felt heavy, and he let them slide closed. Al was safe, healthy and whole again. That was what mattered.

“Fullmetal.”

The name was followed by a touch on his shoulder and Ed started awake, head snapping up. He blinked at Roy sleepily. Roy? What was he doing there? Had he been dreaming? “It didn’t work?” he asked, voice thick with sleep. “But, the colonel...he...” he trailed off with a frown, confused.

“Fullmetal? Are you alright?” Ed blinked. Roy never called him that. He stared at the face hovering near his own, and he suddenly realized it wasn’t the Roy he was used to seeing. Not his Roy. He wasn’t in Boston, he in Central. “I thought I was still...” Ed shook his head slowly, feeling foolish. “Sorry, I don’t think I was quite awake. Er, how long was I out?”

“Not long,” Roy assured him, dropping something blue into his lap. Ed stared at it in confusion for a minute before he realized he was looking at a uniform. “Get changed and I’ll have Hawkeye take you down to the infirmary. I want them to have a look at you, make sure you’re okay.”

Ed rolled his eyes. Figures. He pops up after five years and yaks on the general’s carpet, and this is what he got. “I’m fine,” he said. “Just tired and a little sick to my stomach.”

“Humor me.”

Edward glared at him, then at the uniform in his lap. “Why do I need to wear a stupid uniform anyway?” he asked, feeling decidedly cranky.

“I assume the last thing you want right now is to stand out,” Roy said with a smirk.

Ed made a face, but sighed and stood. The man had a point, his clothing was hardly the norm for this place. Hawkeye politely turned her back so he could change. He started to unbutton the shirt he was wearing, then stopped, pulling the journal from where it had been tucked away inside his shirt and giving Roy a dirty look. “Are you just going to stand there and watch?”

Roy smirked, “Well-” he was interrupted when Ed launched the book he was holding at the general’s head. Roy caught it easily.

“Don’t you dare finish that sentence, you bastard!” Edward threatened as Roy turned around with a chuckle. It was strange how easy it was to fall back into familiar patterns, Ed thought, discarding his old clothes on favor of the uniform Hawkeye had brought. It was a little too loose in the shoulders and a little too long in the legs, he noted sourly. “Let’s get this over with so I can sleep,” Ed said, punctuating the words with a loud yawn.

Roy turned, smirking at the sight that met him. “A uniform suits you, Fullmetal.”

Ed rolled his eyes. “Screw you, Roy,” he snapped, “I’m only wearing it until I can get some real clothes.”

Roy raised an eyebrow, and Ed realized he had called the man by his first name. Damn. That was going to be a hard habit to get back out of. He could tell Roy was curious, but didn’t say anything, instead plucking an empty coffee cup from his desk and tossing it to Ed. He barely caught it, reflexes not near what they should be and looked at Roy in askance. He hoped things wouldn’t take too long. Ed really wanted to sleep.

“Transmute that for me.”

“Why would you want me to-” he stopped suddenly, looking from Roy, to Hawkeye and back again, realization dawning. They were suspicious. The thought pissed him off. After all the shit he went through to get back here, they had the gall to ask him to prove himself? “You don’t think I’m me, do you?”

Roy sighed. “Let’s just say you picked a bad time to appear out of nowhere. Just do this for me, and we can let the matter drop.”

Edward dropped to the floor with a snarl, slamming the cup down in front of him none-too-gently. He rolled up his sleeves and held up his arms, back and front, showing that he had no arrays drawn on his flesh or automail. “Nothing up my sleeves,” he muttered sarcastically. He brought his hands together, stopping just short of touching the palms together, staring at his hands. He hadn’t been able to do this for five years. He smiled slightly. If the bastard wanted him to prove he really was Edward Elric, then he would do it with a little style. He clapped his hands together and touched the cup. There was a flash of alchemic energy, and in place of the cup was something else.

Ed picked it up, turning it over in his hands with a grin. It was a small likeness of General Roy Mustang, cross eyed, the words ‘Colonel Bastard’ etched into the base. Nothing fancy, and he could have probably done better if he wasn’t so blasted tired, but it wasn’t bad for his first try. He tossed the figure to Mustang. “Good enough bastard?”

If he didn’t know better, he would have sworn Roy was trying not to laugh when he realized what he was holding. “I’m not a colonel anymore, Fullmetal,” Roy reminded him dryly, setting the little statue on his desk.

Ed grinned. “Yeah, but General Bastard just doesn’t roll off the tongue as well.”

“Well, I think even if the method wasn’t proof enough, the choice of subject matter would have convinced me,” Roy said, shaking his head, a small grin stealing onto his lips. He looked over at Hawkeye, who was watching the exchange with amusement. “Take him down to the infirmary, Major,” he said, then turned to Ed. “Get checked out and then you can sleep as long as you want. I have to clean up this mess, then I’ll join you.”

Sleep. God, that sounded so good right then. Ed could put up with a little poking and prodding with the promise of a nice, long sleep waiting for him. He hadn’t been so exhausted in ages, and he certainly didn’t recall being that tired when the gate had first dumped him on the other world. Hawkeye waved him over, and he complied, stopping for a moment to stare at her.

Her hair, her face, her eyes, the self-assured way she held herself. Things he feared he would never see again. How long would it take him to get used to the faces of his friends again? How long would it be before he wasn’t afraid they would vanish in a puff of smoke? Hawkeye noticed his scrutiny and cocked her head slightly, questioning. “I just...it’s good to see you again,” he told her, feeling suddenly embarrassed.

She favored him with a faint smile and a nod. “It’s good to see you again, too,” she said. “We missed you.”

Ed returned her smile. “Yeah,” he turned to look at Roy, who was watching the exchange with an unreadable expression. “I even missed you, you bastard. A little. Don’t let it go to your head.”

Roy smiled then, and Ed suppressed the painful twinge at seeing such a familiar expression on the face of the wrong man. “Of course not.”

Ed shifted uncomfortably and turned back to the door. He took half a step and paused. “Are they out there?” he asked, suddenly not wanting to see anyone else. He was so tired, and so overwhelmed that he wasn’t sure he wouldn’t start crying if he had to deal with many more reunions before he could sleep. The last thing he wanted to do was embarrass himself.

“I’ve got them all out looking into things for me,” came Roy’s voice from behind him. “You probably won’t see any of them until later.”

Relieved and feeling a little guilty about it, Ed nodded and pushed the door open, Hawkeye starting to follow, then pausing and turning back. “Sir, I don’t think it’s such a good idea to leave you on your own.”

A heavy sigh. “I’ll be fine for a few minutes, Major. I just need to straighten up a little in case someone wanders in to my office. I’ll join the two of you in the infirmary shortly.”

She frowned. “Sir, I really-”

“That’s an order, Major,” Roy said shortly, his voice taking on that ‘shut up and do as you’re told’ tone Edward had heard and ignored so many times before.

“Yes sir!” Hawkeye saluted, the frown vanishing. She turned and left the office, Ed trailing after her. Hawkeye could be hard to read if you didn’t know her, but Ed could tell she was most definitely not pleased.

“What was that about?” Edward asked, closing the door behind him.

She sighed, shoulders drooping a bit as they moved out into the hall. “There have been several assassinations recently, and we’ve been unable to catch the culprits. General Mustang among several others have been listed as future targets.”

Ed considered this as Hawkeye led him down the hall. Maybe leaving the bastard alone wasn’t such a hot idea. Mustang could take care of himself, sure, but maybe it was best not to tempt fate. He opened his mouth to say so, but before he could get the words out, a wave of agony ripped through him.

Edward distantly heard himself scream as he crumpled to the floor, the pain flaring unbearably and then fading almost as soon as it started. Echoes rippled through his body and he could feel Hawkeye kneeling beside him, hear her voice, but he couldn’t seem to make out the words. Suddenly Roy was there, rolling him on his back, and the pain slowly began to fade.

“Fuck!” Ed gasped weakly, struggling to sit up. Roy pushed him back down and Edward didn’t fight him, feeling weak as a newborn kitten.

“What happened?” Roy asked urgently, hands deftly checking for any sign of injury.

“I don’t know,” Edward said as the pain faded to almost nothing. He still felt weak and shaky, but within seconds the pain was gone entirely. “We were just walking, and then all of a sudden pain hits me out of nowhere.”

“How bad did it hurt?” Roy asked, helping him sit up.

Ed scowled. “How bad do you think, asshole?” It had easily been on par with the pain of attaching an automail limb, but that had been easier to bear because he had been expecting it. This had hit swiftly and without warning.

Pushing himself to his feet with shaky arms, Edward wobbled dangerously, his legs giving out on him again. The only thing that stopped him from a sudden and painful reunion with the floor was Roy’s quick reflexes. Before he realized what was happening Roy had scooped him up and startled, Ed threw his hands around Roy’s shoulders to steady himself. He stared at Roy in stunned surprise for a moment, and began squirming when he realized the general had no intention of putting him down. “I can walk you know!”

“I think you just proved otherwise, Fullmetal,” Roy said evenly and began walking in the same direction he and Hawkeye had been headed. Ed was suddenly very, very glad for the empty halls. It was probably a minor miracle no one else had heard him scream and come to investigate.

“Put me down!” He snarled, kicking his legs in a futile attempt to get the man to release him. “Or I’ll...I’ll...”

“You’ll what?” Roy said, looking down at him with a smirk. “Bite my kneecaps?”

Edward roared. “You bast-” he was silenced by a white gloved hand pressing firmly over his mouth. He bit that hand, watching in satisfaction when Roy winced and gave him a dirty look. The hand did not move however.

“I swear I’ll gag you if I have to,” Roy threatened. “Now stop being a brat!”

Ed stopped squirming and settled on a malevolent glare. He could have walked on his own. Maybe. Probably not, but he wasn’t about to admit as much to that bastard.

The infirmary wasn’t far, and before long, he had another set of hands poking and prodding and asking uncomfortable questions. Edward put up with it with a minimum of grumbling, reminding himself that he had been promised a nap after. He was twice as tired now as before, if that was even possible, and he was having difficulty keeping his eyes open.

Once the doctor announced he was finished and that Ed wasn’t in any immediate danger of death, he stopped fighting his weariness and let his eyes slide closed.



*        *        *

Roy leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes, listening to the murmur of voices behind the door. He couldn’t hear the words, but he could easily distinguish the deep baritone of the doctor’s voice from Edward’s. They didn’t have long to wait. The door clicked open and Dr. Jansen slid into the waiting room, carefully closing it behind him.

“He’s fine,” he said as Roy and Hawkeye stood. “So exhausted he could barely stand, and very weak, but nothing that a bit of food and rest won’t put right. He fell asleep in my office. I can move him to one of the beds or someone can take him home.”

“What about that sudden pain he experienced?”

The doctor shrugged. “There’s nothing physically wrong with him. Alchemists have a distressing habit of doing things to their bodies that physicians can’t do much about. As long as it doesn’t happen again, I wouldn’t worry about it too much.”

Roy frowned, not entirely satisfied with that, but nodded. “Might as well let him sleep for now. I’ll leave Major Hawkeye here to keep an eye on him. I’ll come back for him later.” He nodded to them both, and left the infirmary, turning down the hall back towards his office.

He hadn’t made it far when he heard Hawkeye shout, “General!” The urgency in her voice sending a thrill of alarm down his spine. Roy turned and ran back to the infirmary.

“It happened again, sir.” Hawkeye said, concern clearly written on her features. She led him to the office where the doctor was with a now wide-awake Edward who was lying on the floor and gasping in pain. He knelt beside the doctor, taking Edward’s hand while he waited for the attack to pass.

It did, almost as quickly as last time, and once Ed got his voice back he let out a string of curses. Dr. Jansen ignored these, looking over to Roy. “This is what happened before?”

Roy nodded, concerned. “I was in my office at the time, and Hawkeye was bringing him down here. It happened in the hall, and I came to see what happened when I heard him scream.”

The doctor digested this. “You were involved in this alchemy working that went on shortly before this started, yes?” Roy nodded, and the doctor frowned. “And both times he had an attack, either he was leaving or you were, correct?”

“Yes,” Roy said, not sure where this was going. “Are you saying I might have something to do with this?”

“It’s an easy enough theory to test,” The doctor said, getting to his feet as Roy helped Edward into the doctor's chair. The blond sank into the leather with a pained sigh. Dr. Jansen grabbed the chair and wheeled it out into the waiting room. “Major,” he called, and Hawkeye hurried over. The doctor turned to Ed. “I want you to tell the major the moment you begin to experience any pain or discomfort, okay?” Ed yawned and nodded wearily.

He walked over to the door, motioning for Mustang to follow. He propped the door open and leaned against it. “I want you to walk slowly backwards down the hall, and be ready to come back the instant I tell you to.” Roy complied, hoping fervently that the doctor’s theory was wrong.

It was not to be, however. It didn’t take them long to verify that Edward’s sudden bouts of pain were directly related to his proximity to the other alchemist. Whenever Roy crossed that invisible line, it was like flipping a switch and Edward was suddenly doubled over in pain. The blond was sleeping again, not even what he had just been put through enough to keep him awake.

Dr. Jansen had retreated to his office after being thanked and ordered not to mention this to anyone. Roy was now conversing with Hawkeye in low tones, trying to decide what to do. “I suppose I’ll have to take him back to my office. I have work to do, and he can sleep on the couch there. I’m not sure what to do after that, though. I can’t exactly take him home with me.”

Hawkeye looked suddenly pleased, and the expression made Roy a little nervous. “Actually sir, you’ll have to do just that. You have more than enough room for a guest, and I happen to know you have several weeks of back vacation time. This would be a good time to take it.”

Roy shook his head. “I can’t, Riza. They would never approve it now, not with this mess we’re trying to deal with.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that. If you agreed to a bodyguard, they might see things differently,” She smiled at him, then looked meaningfully at the small blond curled up on the waiting room couch. “Particularly if that bodyguard was the Fullmetal Alchemist.”

He stared at her for a long moment, a small smile curling his lips. Sometimes that woman was just plain devious. They would have to come up with a story to explain Edward’s long absence, something other than the truth he suspected, but that wouldn’t be too difficult. A perfect excuse for Edward to be around him at all times, and it would also get Parliament off his back about the bodyguard nonsense. “I could kiss you,” he told her.

“Buy me a drink, and we’ll call it even,” she said with a smile.

“You got it,” he turned his attention back to Edward, who had started snoring softly. Deciding trying to wake the alchemist was a lost cause, he crouched down and slid one arm beneath his knees and the other around his back and lifted. Edward was dead weight as he shifted the blond in his arms. He looked down to find golden eyes staring up at him sleepily and waited for the protest that never came. Instead, the eyes just slid shut again and Edward leaned his head against Roy’s chest with a sigh, asleep again within seconds.

Roy shook his head in amazement. He must not have actually been awake. There was no way Edward would have put up with being carried if he had been halfway lucid. He carried the alchemist back to his office, laying him on the black couch. Edward shifted slightly, curling up a little, but did not wake. Roy retrieved his long coat from the rack and draped it over the sleeping form.

“Tell the others I don’t want to be disturbed if they make it back before I leave,” he straightened, stretching. “I don’t think Fullmetal is up to seeing everyone again just yet.” Roy picked up the garbage can, wrinkling his nose as he tried not to smell it and passed it over to Hawkeye. “Get rid of this, and see if you can find someone to take care of that,” he said, pointing to the discolored spot near his desk where Edward had left his little gift.

Transferring her burden to one hand, she saluted and left. Roy turned back to his office and set about cleaning up the mess he had made with a sigh. There were papers everywhere, including one unfortunate that had been a little too close when Edward had thrown up. He made a face. Hopefully that wasn’t an important document.

After he had cleaned the array off of his desk he sat down with the haphazard stack of papers and began sorting them into some semblance of order. He spent a few minutes shuffling documents before he sighed and set them aside, his eyes roaming back to the young man sleeping on his couch. Edward had curled up even more while he cleaned, nearly hidden beneath Roy’s coat now, just a lump beneath the black material with the tips of his shoes poking out one end and the top of his blond head sticking out the other. As he watched Ed sighed and rolled over, the coat falling away from his face as he turned towards Roy.

He looked different. Roy frowned, considering. No, not different really, just more mature. Older. His face has lost some of that childish roundness and Roy suspected he might even be a little taller. Not much, a few inches maybe, but it was hard to tell with Edward curled up on his couch. His hair was much longer, the braid falling just past the middle of his back.

It was utterly surreal, as if part of him still couldn’t believe what his senses were telling him. Though officially considered dead, Roy had never really believed that. Fullmetal was just too tough to let a little thing like death get in his way. He smiled slightly, imagining a contest of wills between Death and Edward Elric would end in Ed emerging the victor.

Roy sighed, looking back and forth between his paperwork and Edward. Oh, what the hell. If he was going to take his vacation, he might as well get started now. He wasn’t going to get anything done now anyway, not with the so many questions nagging at him. Standing up, he pulled open the door to his office, relieved to see that Hawkeye was still there. “Sir?”

“Get the car,” he told her, “I’m not going to get anything done, and I might as well let Fullmetal sleep in a bed.”

A short while later found them in the car headed towards his home. Getting Edward that far had been a task in itself. The blond alchemist had wobbled dangerously, eyelids drooping and seemingly unable to hold his head up for more than a few seconds at a time. Roy was half afraid Edward would fall asleep standing up, but they had managed to make it to the car before Edward had promptly flopped over in the back seat and fallen back asleep.

He didn’t live far from headquarters, and it didn’t take long for them to pull up in front of his house. It was nice, if a little smaller than one might expect for someone of his rank. He leaned over the seat as the car rumbled to a stop and poked the sleeping blond. “We’re here, wake up.” After a bit of prodding, he managed to get Edward awake and out of the car. He thanked Riza and then led Edward inside.

Roy left Ed on the couch in the living room and went to get some clean blankets for the guest room. He quickly changed them out and went to retrieve Edward only to find the alchemist happily snoozing on his couch. Roy shook his head with a smile. Tired didn’t quite begin to describe it. For the third time that day, he found himself carrying the smaller man, but this time Edward didn’t stir at all.

He managed to carry him upstairs with a bit of creative maneuvering and deposited him on the bed in the guest room. After a moments hesitation, he pulled off Edward’s shoes and tugged the blankets up around him, watching as he sighed and curled deeper into them. Roy stared, still not quite believing that Edward was back. That he was really there, and not just a figment of his imagination. He watched him sleep for several minutes, memorizing the lines of his face, trying to convince himself that the young alchemist wasn’t going to vanish the moment he turned his back. He reached out, hand ghosting over the blond hair, and he smiled.

“Welcome home.”


Whew! That took longer to post than I thought. XD
Comments 
10.29.06 (UTC)
Seriously? It could be R in later chapters?

...

Did you hear that sound? That was my gutter-mind whirring into action.
10.29.06 (UTC)
It could be for violence you know, not sex. Maybe things get really terrible and there'll be torture and explosions and body parts flying everywhere and...

Oh, who am I kidding? XD

Yeah, there'll be at least one sex scene, which for plot purposes I probably won't be able to get away with the ol' fade to black trick. I'm actually dreading that chapter, because as much as I like reading a bit of smut here and there, I have a horrible aversion to writing it. Probably because I'm convinced that whenever I try, it comes out sounding terribly silly. XD

I seriously doubt it'll be graphic enough to pop the rating up to NC-17, though I suppose that's always a possibility. o.o;
10.29.06 (UTC)
I'm debating whether or not I should tell the others... the only polite thing to do would be to share information, but I rather like being annoying and being able to say, "I know something you don't know! I know something you don't know!" XDD (I'm totally kidding.)

I'm sure that whatever you end up writing will be great. It always is! ^_^

(The sad part about my first comment up there about my gutter-mind is that I'm only sixteen... ^_^;;)
10.29.06 (UTC)
*patpat* Don't worry, you aren't the only pervy teenager out there. In fact, the only difference between you and me is about five years. XD

I'm actually thinking about trying to scrounge up a beta-reader for Conversion. I tend to make some of the most retarded mistakes, and it drives me up the wall when I find them only AFTER I post the story for the world to see. Not to mention an outside perspective always helps, and having someone to tell me if my sex scene sucks before I post it would be nice. >.>;

I thought about asking my husband to do it, but changed my mind. I don't think he'd be able to stop laughing at me long enough to do any good.

And on a completely random note, is it just me, or does your icon look rather...dirty out of context? XD
10.29.06 (UTC)
Oh, good. I don't feel so awkward, then. XD

If it's a beta you're looking for, I'd be happy to volunteer. I'm a beta for another writer on FFnet, but I haven't heard from her in months so I've been looking for more things to beta.

And yes, yes it does. I was looking at it the other day and just went, "...Oh my." XD
10.29.06 (UTC)
You're hired! Just remember, you volunteered. XD

Which begs the question, do you mind if I ramble about the plot, or would you rather I didn't spoil the whole thing for you? >.>; Also, do you have MSN?

Hehe, I keep looking at it and giggling like a little girl. That face just tickles me. XD
10.29.06 (UTC)
I think I'm a natural beta. I'm the type of person who copies and pastes a story onto Word, then goes through and corrects it as she reads. ^_^;

Ramble away. I don't have MSN, though... what would it take to get it?

One of my friends on Gaia has one that says, "Edward Elric likes to put things in his mouth.

Roy Mustang isn't going to complain."
10.29.06 (UTC)
(Whoops, thought I linked the wrong messenger, then realized I didn't. XD)

*dies laughing* That icon made my day. <3

You can download MSN here. I'm on it...oh, all the time. XD

Thanks for offering to beta, I appreciate it. ^^
10.29.06 (UTC)
Thanks for the link! ...Now how do I find you on there? O.o

Oh, not a problem. I'm always happy to help out. ^_^
10.29.06 (UTC)
Whoops! Forgot the obvious. XD

I'll email you my msn addy, I don't trust those spam bots. >.>;
11.06.06 (UTC)
Just read the whole thing and whooof -

I feel so bad for alter!Roy ^^; Clearly they're so meant to be together that the poor guy had no chance. And seeing as alter!Ed is (whoops) dead, he's . . . all alone. So I do feel bad for him.

Butbut! We have plot, and I *love* plot, and I really want to see where this is going ^^ Thanks for posting, honey, I'll look forward to future updates =)

And now - beeed . . .
11.06.06 (UTC)
So do I. ;_; Alter!Roy grew on me over the course of those chapters, and now I love him to death.

Of course, he's completely taken control of the fic and he's jerking it in a direction I never meant for it to go. Ah well, it's probably better this way. I've noticed when the characters start to take control, it usually means you're doing something right. ^^

Glad you liked it! :D

11.06.06 (UTC)
OMG i so read this on ffn, then it popped up on my flist in steelandsparks and i was all oh this looks farmilliar, and then i squeed with recognition! teehee if this is a NaNoWriMo project then we will get teh updates like whoa
*is unbearably excited*
<3<3
11.06.06 (UTC)
Hehe! <3

Updates like whoa just about covers it. Come December, they'll be popping up as fast as my beta can get them back to me. XD
11.06.06 (UTC)
I'm so glad you uploaded this story <3 Another reason for me to hit the refresh button on my Friends Page at least another 100 times a day XD

I really did feel so sad for alter!Roy... *gets tissue* but the gift he got for Al was so nice of him that it made me go "aww"

*falls alsleep*

Keep going at it! ^___^
11.06.06 (UTC)
:D

Glad you liked it! Alter!Roy really is a sweetheart, and he's definitely getting screwed. Poor bastard. *pets him*

Unfortunately, since the rest of Conversion is serving as my NaNo this year, you probably won't see the next update till December, so don't strain your clicking finger refreshing too much. ;)

Of course, at that point, you'll probably get more updates than you'd ever wanted. XD
11.06.06 (UTC)
Yes! AU for end of series/movie (where RoyxEd still lives)! And movie!Ed is "very pretty" ^_^

I feel sad for Alter!Roy and Ed... I guess there is still hope for Roy and Ed. Although with their past history, their "romance" probably won't go as smooth as the last one. Love the transmutating statue part. Oooh, assisination plot. Please write more?
11.06.06 (UTC)
Chapter 7 is about 75% finished as we speak, but like I've been telling others, you probably won't see it till December since I won't have time to edit because of NaNo. Unless I get ahead, in which case, I'm a dirty liar and you'll get it sooner. XD

Oh yes, there will be a few bumps in the road before the end. Poor Ed. It's going to suck to be him for a while.

I'm glad you liked it, and thanks for the comment. ^^
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11.06.06 (UTC)
*is loved*

Always happy to help people survive work, hehe. I'm glad you liked it! :D
11.06.06 (UTC)
I definitely read 1-6 straight through. Gosh, this is a great fic. I got really attatched to Alter!Roy.. really really. I want him back. ;o; Waahh. I think I might have sniffed at the end of Chapter 5. I just keep imagining him back in his big old mansion alone and missing Edward. So evil!

I have to say that sleepy Ed is damn cute. Especially when he's sleeping all over Roy.

Can't wait for the next chapters!
11.06.06 (UTC)
I know! Believe me, I love Alter!Roy as much as the next person. He completely took over the story from chapter 2 on out. I feel so bad leaving him there all alone and lonely. ;_;

And yes, sleepy Ed is just about the cutest thing ever.

Glad you liked it! <3
11.07.06 (UTC)
OH, MAN, this rocks so hard. I feel especially bad for Other!Roy because he's getting totally shafted. It makes me sad to think of him being heartbroken and alone now. :( I really look forward to seeing more of this!
11.07.06 (UTC)
Thank you! A lot of people seem to identify with poor Alter!Roy. At least he gets the fan lovings even if he doesn't get the Ed lovings. :(

I'm glad you liked it! ^^
11.07.06 (UTC)
Wow... I just read this straight through, and LOVED it! ^__^ It is now 3 in the morning, and I have to get up in three hours to work. XD;; See what your fic did to me!? I am a sucker for Roy/Ed plot!fic. And you're doing an excellent job! I cannot wait for more! ♥
11.07.06 (UTC)
Whee! Glad you liked it, and sorry I ate into your sleepy time? ^^;

Thanks for the comment! <3
11.09.06 (UTC)
This is so good. Poor AlterRoy must be lonely. The whole Boston group were good, well-rounded characters.

I didn't figure out (until the story told me) that Ed's pain came on when he was separated from Roy. That's a clever plot twist. I can't wait to read Ed's reaction to the news. I am sure he will consider it all Roy's fault. The assassination angle (and Ed as bodyguard) should be interesting, too.

Had you posted the very beginning of this before? The first scene, with Ed on a train drawing an array on the window seemed very familiar. Not that Ed hasn't ridden on a train before...

You did a good job as writing Ed as older and more mature, but still Ed.

This is a lovely story, and I look forward to more.

11.09.06 (UTC)
Whee! ♥

I'm glad you liked the original characters. OC's don't usually go over well in fanfiction, even if they don't play a major role, so I'm always happy to hear that people like them. ^^

I did post it on fanfiction.net about a month or so before I got to it here, maybe that's where you've seen it?

Thank you for the comment, and I'm glad you're enjoying it so far. ^^
08.21.07 (UTC)
I'm really enjoying this so much! The connection between the two should be very interesting.
I'm off to the next chapter! Keep the great work coming!
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