Title: Best I Ever Had - Chapter 3
Series: Fullmetal Alchemist
Words: 4,341 (10,629 total)
Warnings: Lame title, swearing, implied sex with a minor.
Status: In progress.
Spoilers: We'll be safe and say yes, for the full series.
Summary: After a decade apart, war with Creta brings Roy and Edward together again, and they discover that nothing between them has been resolved. Sequel to Can't Be
, but you don't need to read it to be able to follow the plot here.
Previous chapters: Chapter 1
- Chapter 2::Chapter 3::
Roy’s head hit the hard wood of his desk with a very satisfying thunk.
If he couldn’t manage more than a minute in Edward’s presence without turning tail, he was going to have some serious problems. He couldn’t use Miles as a go-between forever, and Roy had his share of experience handling awkward situations. It should be easy by now. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that while he expected anger, he had hoped otherwise. Hoped that somewhere in the intervening years, Ed had understood why what Roy had done was necessary.
Judging by his cold reception, such was not the case.
Roy sighed and sat upright, peeling off the requisition form that stuck to his forehead and slapping it back down on the pile. Snatching up his pen, he twirled it in his fingers. Roy had work to do, he didn’t have the time to indulge in self-pity. Forms to sign, orders to approve, pointless exercises to organize, so on and so forth. He had already put pen to paper before his thoughts caught up with him.
Frowning, Roy shook his head slowly. That wasn’t right. He was disappointed that Edward hadn’t seemed even remotely pleased to see him, but that was all. Roy had hoped the two of them could put the past where it belonged, and if they couldn’t be friends, he hoped they could at least be civil. Which Ed had admittedly been, but Roy suspected that was because he hadn’t actually said
anything. When Edward was angry, civil was usually beyond him.
At least, that was how it used to be. If he wanted to be honest with himself, Roy had to admit he didn’t know Ed anymore. For all he knew, the younger man had finally managed to put the reigns on that temper of his. Or perhaps he hadn’t changed at all. Roy couldn’t know, because he hadn’t been there.
Sadness filled him at the thought, and Roy closed his eyes and let his head drop into his hands. No, he hadn’t been there. He hadn’t been there because he had broken off his relationship with Ed for the boy’s own good, and after that, Edward hadn’t wanted him around. There was nothing Roy could do but respect his wishes. A clean break was probably best for both of them in the end.
It was becoming glaringly obvious that he wasn’t going to get any work done. He could sit here thinking in circles, or --he glanced at the clock-- he could get ready for his date early. Smiling at the thought, he scooped the papers on his desk into a semblance of order and stood.
Maybe he’d even arrive before Zira did for once.* * *Ed covered a yawn, following the smell of coffee into the kitchen. The stuff tasted like shit, but it helped wake him up and he was going to need the extra kick in the pants if he didn’t want to fall asleep standing up today. He hadn’t gotten much in the way of sleep, and Ed grinned as he poured himself a cup. Not that he was complaining. Not one bit.
He wandered out into the living room, where Roy was already awake and in uniform, coffee and newspaper in hand. Ed flopped down on the sofa beside him, peering at the paper curiously. Something about the new traffic laws. Boring. He glanced up to find Roy looking at him, and the older man smiled a bit mischievously. He set down his own cup and paper, and Ed protested when he plucked his mug from his hand and set it aside as well.
He reached out to snatch it back, only to have Roy pull him into his lap. Ed squeaked in surprise and stared at Roy for a moment before he snorted and tried to struggle to his feet. Unfortunately, he had no leverage, and Roy kept him easily. Eventually Edward gave up the fight, pinning Roy with a petulant glare and folding his arms in a huff, waiting to be released.
Roy, for his part, seemed to have no inclination to do so. He reached over Edward, retrieving both his paper and his coffee. Giving in, Ed shifted around so that he was more comfortable, resting his head against the colonel’s shoulder. The blue fabric of the jacket was rough against his face, and he wondered idly if the uniform was new; some of his others were starting to get a bit worn. Ed was content for the moment to remain in the circle of Roy’s arms, the comfortable silence broken only by the rustling of the paper.
A few minutes passed, and Ed let his eyes drift closed. He was warm and comfortable and Roy smelled very nice. Maybe he’d take the opportunity to catch a few more minutes.
Some time later a touch on his hair startled Ed from his doze. He blinked sleepily up at Roy. “Wha-?”
“Much as I’d love to let you sleep here all day, you might want to think about getting out of here before Al tears the city apart looking for you.” Roy smiled a bit. “Again.”
After that episode, Ed was fairly certain Al knew exactly where he was disappearing to, but his brother hadn’t said anything, and he didn’t bother sharing the suspicion with Roy. Instead, he simply heaved an exaggerated sigh and said, “Yeah, I suppose so.” He made to stand, but was stopped by Roy’s hand on his cheek.
Ed glanced up at him, questioning, but the expression on Roy’s face was completely unreadable. Fingers traced down his cheek and along his jaw, and Ed couldn’t help but lean into the touch. Cradling his face in gentle hands, Roy leaned down and kissed him.
Soft and slow, skilled lips that turned his bones liquid. Ed made a small sound in his throat, clutching tightly at Roy’s jacket. Unhurried and almost lazy, these kisses were Edward’s secret favorite. They inflicted a giddy paralysis on him, left him feeling weak in an amazing sort of way, and he could barely manage to remember to breathe after they ended. Not that he would ever say so; Roy was smug enough as it was without Ed inflating that ego even further.
Roy pulled back, planting a kiss on Edward’s jaw as he did. Their eyes met, Roy smiling at him just a little, and Ed thought distantly that he must be in love, because he couldn’t imagine it was possible to feel more strongly for someone than he felt for Roy at that moment.
Ed pressed his hands against his eyes, wishing he could shut out the world. So the dreams had come back; he should have expected it. It had taken him years to escape them the first time, and the mere sight of Roy had been all it took to bring them back. The worst part of the dreams was that most of the time they weren’t dreams at all, but memories. Painfully clear recollections of the time he had spent with Roy. Sometimes they were innocent, sometimes not. Memories of an intense debate over a long-finished meal, of a heated night spent in bed. Worst of all were the ones that were neither, the dreams of quiet moments spent together, of smiles and kisses and gentle touches.
Those were the ones that reminded him why he was so in love and why he was such an idiot for it.
Propping himself up on his elbows, Edward glanced across the room at Alphonse, who was sleeping sprawled across the narrow bed; thin blanket dangling from his foot and pooling on the floor. Ed watched him sleep for a moment before rummaging though the clothes he’d dropped on the floor for his watch. Flipping it open, Ed frowned at the hands. He’d slept less than three hours.
Well, he wasn’t going back to sleep, not after a dream like that. He got to his feet and dressed, the heat causing cloth to stick to skin in uncomfortable ways. Ed considered waking Alphonse but decided against it, fishing out the notebook his brother always kept and leaving a note. Ed was going to see if he could track down the captain; a little work would go a long way towards distracting him.
Ed slipped quietly outside, squinting against the sun. The only problem, he thought, walking out from the cluster of buildings, was that he had no idea where Captain Bennett might be. Turning a slow circle, Ed spied what appeared to be a technician sitting outside of one of the buildings, a screwdriver hanging out of his mouth and the remains of what might have been a hand radio in his lap. Couldn’t hurt to ask.
The man didn’t look up as he approached, absorbed in his task. “I don’t suppose you’d know where I could find Captain Bennett, would you?” he asked.
“The captain? Should be in the mess right about now.” The man glanced up and gave him an odd look before splitting into a wide grin. “Hey! You’re one of the new alchemists, aren’t you?”
“Yeah,” Ed replied, a little surprised before he realized he shouldn’t be. An unfamiliar face probably wasn’t very common this far out.
“Well, welcome to hell,” the soldier said amiably. “We’re happy to have you, let me tell ya. Hey, you don’t suppose you could, y’know,” he pointed to the busted radio, “I can’t get the damn thing to work.”
“Sure,” Edward said, crouching down and assessing the damage. If felt good to have something useful to do. It’d been a long while since he’d been much use to anyone. A clap and a surge of alchemical energy, and the radio was as good as new. The soldier looked thoroughly impressed when he passed the repaired radio back.
Flipping the radio on, he grinned at the crackle of static. “Hey, this is Pecan Three, does anyone read? Over.”
“This is Banana Cream,” a deep voice responded. “I read you Pecan Three. Over.”
“Thank god! Was just checking to see if the radio was working, sorry to bother you. Out.” The tech switched off the radio and beamed at Ed. “Thanks buddy! The thing was driving me bonkers. Say, what’s your name?”
“Ed,” he replied, returning the smile without even thinking about it. “And you’re welcome.”
“Sergeant Martin Cade. You can call me Marty though, we don’t stand much on formality `round here these days. So,” he said, getting to his feet and wiping the dirt from his pants. “D’you know where the mess is?” Edward admitted that he didn’t, and Marty pointed south. “Just follow the path here on out to the square, and take a left. The mess is at the end of the row, biggest building in the area, can’t miss it.”
“Thanks,” Ed said, offering a wave before walking off.
The temperature was starting to dip a little, and between the drop and the intermittent breeze, it was going a long way towards making him feel a little more human. Maybe after he found the captain he’d see about finding a shower. The more he thought about it, the more it appealed to him. Yes, definitely a shower. As long a one as he could get away with.
The mess was precisely where Marty had said, a short but wide building that was probably large enough to hold every man under Mustang’s command with room to spare. The dull roar of a hundred different conversations hit him as soon as he opened the door. The long tables were teeming with soldiers, and Ed glanced around in dismay. Obviously, he’d stumbled in during meal time; scanning the crowd for the bald head of Captain Bennett, he hoped that didn’t mean Mustang was in this circus somewhere. No matter how well things had gone earlier, the last thing he wanted to do was stumble across the man by accident.
No one paid him any mind, and he was about to ask for help when he spotted the captain at a table in the back near the kitchens. Mustang was nowhere to be seen, and he heaved a sigh of relief before wading through the crowded room towards the table. Bennett spotted him just as he reached the table. “Hey there, Ed! Thought you and your brother would be out for the rest of the day, the heat usually does that to new folks.” He jabbed the man beside him with an elbow. “Shove over, Thompson.”
The man did as he was told, and Ed sat between Thompson and the captain, acutely aware of the curious stares he was receiving from the rest of the table. Bennett draped an arm easily over his shoulder and said, “Ladies and gents, this is Edward Elric, one of our new alchemists. I expect everyone to make sure both he and his brother feel welcome.” He leaned over Ed, pointing to Thompson. “Ed, this is First Lieutenant Michael Thomson. This,” he said, pointing to the next person, “is Warrant Officer Roman Avery. Private Valyn Alder, Second Lieutenant Zane Turabar, Sergeants Lily Brooks and Blake Doger, Captain Vander Ashwater, and Corporal Emmie Sparks.”
“Emiline,” the last corrected with a sigh. Bennett ignored her.
Surprised by the variety of ages and --more unusual-- ranks all sitting together, Edward nodded politely at the table, privately thinking it would be a miracle if he remembered anyone’s name.
“Doger,” Bennett continued, leaning over so he could see the man at the end of the table. “Would you mind getting Ed a plate? Poor kid is probably starving after a week of nothing but train food.”
Sergeant Doger shrugged and stood. “Sure,” he said.
“Get me some coffee while you’re at it,” someone added.
“Yeah, me too!”
“Do I look like a waiter?” Doger snapped. “Get your own damned coffee.” He stomped off towards the short line at the counter.
“He’ll bring the coffee, watch,” the young man across from him said, grinning at Ed. He was the youngest of the lot, the private. Alder, Ed’s mind provided after a moment. “He’s just pissy because he has dish duty for a week. The general caught him sleeping on the job the other day,” he confided, and Ed twitched slightly at the mention of Mustang.
“You gossip like an old woman, Private. Put a cork in it,” the captain said mildly, before looking at Ed. “So, what brings you? Just here for some food or did you need something?”
“Actually, I was going to see if you had any work for me, but halfway here I decided a shower sounded like a better idea.”
“That explains the smell!” Someone quipped, earning a few laughs. Ed made a face at the good-natured ribbing, sticking his tongue out at the culprit before returning his attention to the captain.
Bennett seemed vastly amused. “Once you’re finished eating, we’ll see about finding you a wash and a uniform.”
Edward blinked. “Uniform?”
“The enemy knows that we use civilian alchemists,” the captain explained. “The uniform ensures that you look just like everyone else. Keeps you from becoming a target.” It made sense, Ed supposed, though he didn’t really like it. Still, there was no point in taking unnecessary risks.
Doger returned before he could reply, however, a large bowl of stew in one hand which he set in front of Ed, and a tray with mugs of coffee enough for the table in the other. Grumbling, he deposited the tray in the middle of the table and stalked off. Private Alder winked at Ed as though to say, told you so
, and Ed returned the wink with a smile before digging in to his food with gusto.* * *
“You are early today, General.” The voice was rough and unusually deep for a woman, the words thickly accented.
“Not early enough, it seems,” he replied, sitting beside her. Zira didn’t look at him, gaze fixed on something in the trees, but she did smile. She was probably the darkest human being Roy had ever seen, skin so black it was nearly blue, the white of her smile startling in contrast.
“No,” she agreed at length, finally looking at him. She stood and stretched, hand coming to rest easily on the hilt of her sword. In the year since they had started meeting, Roy had come to understand that the gesture was an unconscious one, not meant to be threatening. He had thought her insistence on carrying such an old-fashioned weapon amusing, until he’d seen her use it. The sword was a part of her, an extension of her own limbs that she could use with deadly precision.
She seemed unusually restless, pacing circles around the boulder where Roy sat, and finally he asked, “What’s wrong?”
Zira paused in her restless prowl, glancing at Roy and smiling a little. “Is it so obvious?”
She jumped up onto the boulder, perching easily with arms folded over knees. “I have heard many whispers these last few months, and they trouble me. I am having difficulty maintaining morale, I have received word that my king is displeased with me, they are pressing me to attack and I fear I will not be able to put it off much longer.” Zira sighed heavily. “There is rumor that my king thinks to replace me.”
They both knew what kind of disaster could result if that happened. The proud commander and Roy had started as tentative allies, and as time passed the relationship had evolved into friendship. Zira’s belief in the rightness of the war had faltered and died years ago, and now her loyalty to her king and her people were at odds with her personal sense of honor. She didn’t want the war any more than Roy did. They had come to a truce of sorts nearly a year past, and ever since the two factions had left each other largely alone, save the times when Zira staged minor skirmishes to keep her superiors off her back.
If they replaced her, the attacks would start in earnest again, and Roy didn’t think they had the resources to mount a proper defense. Not without having to resort to the use of his alchemy. Roy would use it without hesitation to protect his people if forced, and Zira understood that. Neither of them wanted Roy to be backed into a corner where he had no other choice. “What do you plan to do?” he asked, subdued.
“Do?” she snorted. “What can
I do? I either do as they want, or I continue as I have been, but that will only stall the inevitable. It will buy us a few months at best.” Zira made a sound of wordless frustration, and Roy put a comforting hand on her back. “They’ve been keeping me under surveillance; they fear me a traitor.”
Surveillance? Roy stiffened, glancing around the clearing. “Were you followed?”
Zira shot him an affronted stare. “You think me so foolish? I may be old, boy, but I assure you my mind has not gone just yet.”
“Sorry,” Roy said, properly chastised. “I just worry about you.”
The words appeared to mollify her, and her expression softened. “I am not the one you should worry for, General. There is...something happening. Something important, but as I am no longer in favor I do not know what it might be.” Zira smiled, the expression sharp. “I will find out, though. Meet me again, one week from today and I will tell you what I can.”
She stood, and Roy shook his head. “I wish you’d just defect.”
“Never, General. My loyalty is to my people, no matter what misgivings I may have. I am touched by your concern, but that will never change. Surely you can understand?”
He did understand, but she was treading a very thin, very dangerous line. Zira merely wanted to mitigate the loss of life as best she could. Unfortunately, her superiors would not see it that way. “I do, but I don’t have to like it.”
“No,” she agreed. “You don’t. You do respect it though, and that is why I like you.” Zira looked up at the canopy, and then sighed. “I would stay longer, but I dare not.” She took a few steps backwards, “Remember, one week!”
“One week. Be careful, Commander.”
Then she was gone, vanished back through the trees. Roy sat for a few minutes more, digesting what she had told him. It was bad news all around, and the worst part was there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about any of it but sit, wait, and hope for the best. It was a damned frustrating position to be in. Worse, even if Zira somehow managed to keep on as she had been, it didn’t make a damned bit of difference on the whole. It wouldn’t end the war—one woman could not convince a country to back down.
Nothing would change.* * *
“That should do it,” Miles said, adding the final bundle of neatly folded clothing to the top of the pile. He had given Ed four uniforms, two for himself and two for his brother, as well as several sets of the more comfortable off-duty attire.
“Thanks, Captain,” Ed replied, struggling to get a grip on the large stack. He finally managed to brace it under his chin, and Miles had to resist the urge to give him a pat on the head. Edward was just so short
for a full-grown man that Miles had to keep reminding himself that Roy had warned him against any sort of commentary on the kid’s height. He remembered the stories about the Fullmetal alchemist, and Miles was honest enough to admit that Ed could probably beat the crap out of him with both hands tied behind his back.
Of course, he had an ulterior motive for being good. Miles didn’t want to give Ed any more reason to want to leave than he already had. Even so, he was
tempted to crack a joke or two.
“Do you really think we’ll need so much?” Ed asked, sounding a bit skeptical. “We’re only going to be here for three weeks.”
“Well, call me optimistic,” Miles said, smiling down at the younger man, “but I’m hoping you’ll change your mind.”
Edward gave him a look that said clearly, don’t hold your breath
, but what he said was, “I’d better be getting back. Al’s probably up by now.”
“Of course, you boys have a nice evening. The mess is always open if your brother is hungry, and I’ll be there first thing tomorrow morning to put you two to work.”
“Sure, thanks again!”
Miles watched him walk off and sighed inwardly. The more time he spent with the boy, the more he realized it was going to take something drastic to change his mind. He had hoped that giving him time to adjust would do the trick, but he was beginning to see that wasn’t the case. Damned if he was going to let such a valuable resource slip through their fingers. If he was going to convince Edward to stay, first he needed to talk to Roy.
Grabbing the radio at his belt, Miles pressed the button and said, “Key Lime, this is Chocolate Cream, come in. Over.”
Static crackled and Parker’s tinny voice replied, “I read you Chocolate Cream. Over.”
“Can you let me know when Pumpkin gets in? Over.”
“Came in about twenty minutes ago. Over.”
Miles raised an eyebrow at that. That was unusual. His meetings with the commander usually ran much longer. “Roger. Out.”
Changing course for the general’s office, Miles mulled over how to broach the subject. Ideally, Roy would be the one to resolve whatever bad blood the two were dealing with, but after his display earlier, Miles didn’t think he would do anything without a bit of pushing. He had never in the five years he had served under the man seen him so flustered, not even the time the general had become the --entirely accidental-- victim of one of Miles’ more inspired pranks involving two monkeys, an old jeep engine, and several hundred paper clips.
Miles rapped on the door once before pushing it open, finding Roy not behind his desk, but staring out the window instead. The general turned and leaned against the sill, giving his subordinate a wry look. “One of these days, I’m going to have to explain the point of knocking.”
Ignoring the jibe, Miles grabbed a chair and swung it around, straddling the back and giving Roy a pointed stare. “We need to talk.”
Roy frowned. “Sure,” he said, taking a seat behind the desk.
“I spent a bit of time with Ed today, and I’m starting to get the impression that whatever is going on with you two is more serious than I was led to believe.” Miles jabbed a finger at the younger man, “Don’t think I didn’t notice you turn tail and run like a scared rabbit this afternoon.”
Roy winced. “That’s a little harsh.” He paused. “Was it that obvious?”
“To me,” Miles said dryly, then sighed. “You need to talk to him. Things between the two of you need to be resolved before we lose them.”
“It isn’t so simple,” Roy said, resting his chin on folded hands. “It’s...complicated.”
“Oh, bull,” Miles snorted. “You’re being a chickenshit.”
“I am not!”
. And that isn’t like you at all.”
Roy sighed and shook his head. “I appreciate your concern, but you just don’t understand the situation, Miles.”
“Fine then,” Miles leaned forward intently. “Tell me. Make me understand.”
Roy was silent for so long that Miles was beginning to think he wouldn’t answer at all. Finally Roy sighed heavily, leaning back in his chair and staring upwards for a moment before looking Miles in the eye.
“Edward and I used to be lovers.”