Title: Conversion Chapter 7
Series: Fullmetal Alchemist (Animeverse)
Pairings: Roy/Ed, Alter!Roy/Ed
Words: 5,288 (37,135 total)
Warnings: Slash, swearing.
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: I just can't not
update when I have a finished chapter sitting around. XD Enjoy!
Previous chapters: Chapters 1-2 Chapters 3-4 Chapters 5-6
Edward sighed and rolled over, pulling the blankets over his head to block out the light. He was warm and content and after a moment he stretched out from his curl, spreading out his arms and legs and arching slightly, stretching tired muscles. He settled back down and sighed again, drowsing happily and not entirely sure he wanted to be awake yet.
How long he lay like that, hovering on the edge of sleep, he wasn’t sure. After a while however, consciousness began to win out, not to mention that it was getting a bit hard to breathe with the thick blanket pulled over his head, no matter how pleasant the warm darkness was. He pushed the blanket down around his waist and took a deep breath of fresh air, cracking his eyes and immediately regretting it as bright sunlight assaulted him. Snapping the lids shut, he waited a few moments and tried again, slowly this time, first one eye then the other, letting the golden orbs adjust. Stupid sun, he grumbled inwardly.
After a long moment of staring at the white ceiling over his head, Ed sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed, grumbling as his shirt twisted and bunched uncomfortably. That gave him pause. Shirt? He looked down, startled to find himself fully dressed, minus shoes, in the uniform of the Amestris military.
What on earth?
Ed started suddenly, the events of the previous day coming back in a hazy rush. Not on earth at all, he realized with a bit of dazed humor. It had worked. They had done it. He was home.
Home. He was surprised to find the thought brought feelings of both happiness and sadness, the emotions running parallel course in his heart. Ed growled, fiercely pushing it all back down, unwilling and unable to deal with any of it now and concentrated on figuring out exactly where he was. Most of the previous day was a blur, a hazy stream of events with brief bouts of clarity. This was not one of them. Ed had no idea where he was, or how he had gotten there.
Getting to his feet with a huge yawn, Edward shuffled over to the window and peered out. He was in someone’s house, he realized as he stared out at a small, fenced-in back yard and the backside of another house beyond. Ed turned a slow circle, looking at the room. The bed was large, with white sheets and deep blue coverlet. The rest of the room was fairly bare: a nightstand, a dresser, a closet, and a small painting on the far wall that didn’t seem to be of anything in particular. Aside from the rumpled blankets, the room had an air of disuse about it. That, and the lack of personal items assured Ed that he hadn’t put anyone out of their bed for the night.
Still, that begged the question of whose house he had slept in. Ed moved toward the door, sorting slowly through his jumbled memories. He paused as a thought occurred to him. The fact that he kept getting zapped by some mysterious cosmic force every time Roy was too far away meant that this was probably the general’s house. Which also meant that said general was probably near by. The thought made him feel vaguely ill.
Ed rested his hand on the doorknob, debating whether or not to go out and find a bathroom, or to crawl back into bed for the next hundred years, by which time all his problems would have died. Both options had their merits, but his bladder was screaming quite loudly, and it was promptly joined by his stomach, demanding in its loud and rumbling fashion to be fed. Two against one, his better judgment fled back under the bed, defeated, and Ed sighed and pulled open the door.
The hallway was silent and empty, and Ed was relieved discover the first door he opened was a bathroom. After his bladder was quite happily empty, he wandered down the stairs, hoping to find something to attend to his stomach. Ed froze on the bottom step as a dark eye turned on him from the couch.
“About time you decided to drag your lazy ass out of bed,” Roy said with a smirk, setting aside the book he’d been reading. “Do you realize you slept for nearly a full twenty-four hours?”
Ed blinked, digesting this. No wonder it had felt like his bladder was going to explode. His stomach, deciding it had had enough of this dawdling, protested loudly. Ed, as always a slave to its needs, put on a pathetic face and said, “Feed me?”
Roy snorted, but got to his feet and Ed took that as an affirmative. He trailed after the general, settling onto one of the stools around the island that served as a table while Roy poked his head into the pantry, digging around. After a bit of searching, he turned to Ed. “Eggs and toast okay with you? Afraid I don’t have much, I don’t usually eat at home.”
Edward’s stomach practically purred at the mention of food, and he nodded. Roy turned around, and after a moment, Ed realized the purring wasn’t his stomach, but rather the happy rumble of the black-striped yellow cat perched on the stool beside him. Ed stared at the cat for a moment, surprised. He had never really though of the general as the kind of man who would have a pet, really. A dog, maybe, but a cat didn’t really seem his style.
The cat, noticing his attention, hopped up onto the counter and rubbed against his chin, demanding love. Ed smiled slightly and complied, scritching the friendly creature under the chin. The cat purred louder, leaning into the touch. Ed pulled his hand away and the cat batted at it. He grinned. Attention whore. Maybe the cat really was suited to the general.
"Ed!” Roy barked suddenly, startling both man and cat. “Get off the counter!” He commanded, pointing a knife at the cat. Ed blinked in surprise as Roy leaned over and shoved the feline onto the floor, where the cat promptly settled on its haunches and gave Roy an irritated look.
Edward looked from Roy to the cat, and back again. “You named your cat after me?” he asked incredulously. He wasn’t sure if he should be flattered or freaked out.
Roy rolled his eyes, turning back to the stove. “It seemed appropriate, considering you were the one who wanted me to take the cat in the first place. Besides, the two of you have very similar personalities,” he added dryly. “She’s just as bitchy as you are.”
Ed ignored the bitchy comment in favor of something else. “She?
You named your female
cat after me?”
“I didn’t know she was a she when I got her,” Roy said defensively, cracking an egg into the pan. “I didn’t know that until the stupid thing went out and got herself knocked up, actually.”
Ed stared at the back of Roy’s head and wondered just at what point the man had lost his mind. “You can’t tell the difference between a male and a female? Your love life must be screwy as all hell, Roy.”
Roy half-turned, giving him a strange look, and Ed realized he’d called the man by his first name again. “I can tell the difference, I just never bothered to check.”
Leave it to Roy Mustang not to bother to find out the gender of his pet before naming it. Ed blinked suddenly, something occurring to him. “Wait, what did you mean when you said I wanted you to take her? “
“You don’t remember?” Roy asked, scooping the now-scrambled eggs onto a plate with toast and setting it in front of Ed. “That was one of your stipulations if you won the battle assessment.”
Ed gaped, looking down at the cat who was now ignoring both of them, giving her face a good wash. That was the kitten Al had smuggled around all those years ago? “But how? We left her-”
“Fuery saw you and picked her up after you left. You know what a bleeding heart he is. He brought her into the office the next day, and once I realized it was the same cat I was supposed to take, I figured I ought to hold up my end of things,” Roy said, settling down across from Edward, resting his chin on his hand.
Ed considered this as he inhaled his breakfast. “But that isn’t equivalent exchange,” he argued around mouthful of toast. “You already did something for us. It wouldn’t have been right to make you take the cat too.”
The general just shrugged. “I’ve had her for what? Six years now? Seven? It’s kind of a moot point.”
“I suppose,” Ed said, shoveling the last of his eggs into his mouth. “I still can’t believe you named her after me, though.”
Roy didn’t bother to dignify that with a response, instead vanishing from the room, returning a moment later with a bag that he dropped on the counter beside Ed. “Hawkeye brought these by for you this morning.”
Curious, Ed pulled open the bag, rifling through the contents. There were the clothes he had changed out of, neatly folded. A brief bout of panic filled him, but a quick check assured him that Al’s watch was still in the pocket where he had left it. There were several articles of clothing that weren’t his, a pair of black boots, a hairbrush and a toothbrush, and at the bottom, Roy’s journal. He winced, drawing the journal out of the bag and feeling like a jerk. It didn’t matter how out of it he was, that was no excuse to leave it behind. Ed was lucky Hawkeye had the foresight to retrieve his things for him.
Setting the journal on the counter, Ed pulled out the clothes. There was quite a bit there. Several shirts in various colors, two pairs of pants and a long black coat. Even underwear and socks. On the bottom of the pile was a deep red sweater. Ed pulled it out, running fingers over the soft material. He looked over at Roy, who had retaken the seat across from him. “What’s all this?” he asked.
“Hawkeye took the liberty of picking you up some clothes since you didn’t seem to have anything with you. She said she had to guess sizes, so if something doesn’t fit she’ll take it back.”
Ed blinked, starting down at the pile of clothing, surprised and pleased at her thoughtfulness. He’d have to thank her when he saw her again.
“All right, Fullmetal,” Roy said, suddenly all business and Ed looked up. “You got your sleep, and now I want my answers.”
Ed sighed. He really, really didn’t want to talk about it, but he supposed there was no way around it. No way the general was going to let him off the hook. “Can I take a shower first?” he asked, more to stall for time than anything. “It’s a long story, and I want to clean up first. I feel gross.”
“Fine,” Roy said, eyes narrowing in irritation. “Make it quick though.”
Relieved at the delay, however temporary, Ed nodded and leaped to his feet, gathering up the clothes before Roy could change his mind. He was about to run off when he paused uncertainly. The bathroom he had used earlier hadn’t had a shower. Roy seemed to realize his problem, because he sighed, pointing. “Down the hall, second door on the left.”
As it turned out, Hawkeye’s powers of observation were impressive indeed. Everything fit perfectly. Well, almost. The pants were a little too long, but he could deal with that. Ed wiped the steam from the mirror and cocked his head, surprised by the reflection that looked back at him. It was strange to be back in red and black again, colors he hadn’t worn in a very long time. If he squinted and looked just so, Ed almost imagined he could see himself at fifteen years old staring back out. The Fullmetal Alchemist. He sighed, turning away. Not anymore, he wasn’t.
Collecting the dirty uniform from where he had left it on the floor, Ed looked around, at a loss for what to do with it. Finally he just shrugged and folded it, leaving it on the bathroom counter. He’d ask the general about it later. Snatching up his hair clip from where he left it, he collected everything and wandered back out. Roy was still in the kitchen, looking up when Ed entered.
Feeling decidedly nervous, Ed stuffed the unused clothing back into the bag and pulled out the hairbrush, silently thanking Hawkeye once again for being so thoughtful. He almost passed the brush over to Roy, but caught himself before he asked the man to braid his hair. He sighed, dragging the brush through wet strands. How long would it take before he would stop doing that? Before he would stop forgetting that this Roy and the one he had left were not the same man?
“Your hair’s longer,” Roy said, plucking his hair clip from where Ed had set it on the counter.
Ed shrugged. “I never really bothered to cut it,” he said, pulling his hair over his shoulder to braid it. Not much he could do about it being crooked now, he supposed. Even if it was a hassle, he no longer had any desire to cut it.
Once he was finished, he held out his hand for the clip, which Roy passed over. “What is that, anyway?”
“Clip for my hair,” Ed said shortly, feeling uncomfortable as he affixed it around the tip of his braid and let it fall over his shoulder. “It was...uh, a gift. Anyway,” he said hurriedly, hoping to derail that line of questioning, “do you have any coffee? This is going to be a long story.”
Roy nodded and rose, quickly set the coffee brewing, and reclaimed his seat. “All right, Fullmetal. Enough stalling. Talk.”
Edward Elric took a deep breath, and did.* * * * * * * *
The story took longer to tell than Edward thought, mostly because Roy kept stopping him and asking questions about inane things like airplanes. All said, he seemed to be taking the story more or less in stride, though Ed supposed he really shouldn’t be surprised. Roy seemed to have developed an immunity to being surprised by anything that happened to Ed. Even he had to admit that he seemed to be a magnet for cosmic strangeness.
Of course, he hadn’t gotten to the part about Roy yet. The other Roy, that was. He suspected even General “Nothing you do surprises me anymore, Fullmetal” Mustang would probably be a bit thrown off by that. Ed didn’t care who you were, finding out you had some sort of alternate dimension doppelganger was a strange experience.
Well, here goes nothing, Ed thought, taking a deep breath. “After I left New York, I er...met someone. On the train to Boston. He was the one who helped me get home.” Roy said nothing, merely raised an eyebrow, waiting for further explanation. Ed sighed. “His name was Roy Mustang.”
A second brow raised to join the first, making a good effort at crawling off the man’s face altogether. “My name?”
Ed shook his head, wondering exactly how to explain it. “Not just your name. He was you. Sort of. That world’s version of you at any rate. He was...a lot like you, I guess, but different at he same time. Even so, it took me months to get used to it.”
Edward held out his cup for a refill and Roy silently complied. He felt nervous and slightly guilty, like he had done something he shouldn’t have. It was stupid, he decided. He had nothing to be guilty about. Similarities aside, they were not the same man. He took a long drink before continuing. “I’m getting ahead of myself though. I met him on the train, and I wound up telling him most of my story, though I’m not really sure why. I don’t think he believed me at first, but he was curious. He offered to let me stay with him, and since I hoped that maybe he could help me, I did.”
There was a faint clinking as he tapped his automail against the mug, considering. “I wound up living with him for five months. I told you alchemy didn’t work on that world, right? Well, for him, it did. I think the connection between the two of you was the reason for that.”All those years of chasing scientific research, and alchemy turned out to be the solution in the end anyway. “Eventually, we managed to make contact.” Ed smiled slightly, remembering Roy’s face. “I think finding himself in your head staring at Hawkeye was what did it. Made him really believe me, I mean.”
“Wait a minute,” Roy said, holding up a hand. “In my head?
“Er, yeah.” Ed shot him an apologetic smile and shrugged. “We were trying to contact you, trying to find some way to use that connection to send me back, but it took us months to figure out how to do more than just hitchhike. He couldn’t read your mind or anything,” Ed hastened to assure him, then paused. “At least, I don’t think he could. He never said anything if he did. Anyway, in the end we figured out how to show you the array we needed, and here I am.”
There, that could have been worse. He hadn’t even babbled. Much. Roy was silent for a long moment, absorbing what he had been told. At length, he sighed, shaking his head. “I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting that.” He paused for a moment, then said, “That’s why you keep calling me Roy, isn’t it?”
Ed blanched. “Um. Yeah. He got so pissy when I called him Mustang that he kinda threatened me with death if I didn’t start calling him Roy,” he sighed. “Sorry. I’ll have to get un-used to it.”
He was slightly startled when Mustang chuckled. “You don’t have apologize, after all, it is my name. I’m just not used to hearing it from you, Fullmetal.”
“Ed,” he said suddenly, looking up from his cup. The fact that the general kept calling him Fullmetal bothered the hell out of him for some reason. “I’m not the Fullmetal Alchemist anymore. I’m just Edward Elric. So just call me Ed, okay?”
Roy blinked, seeming a bit taken aback, them smiled slightly. “Of course, Ed. I suppose that makes sense, considering the Fullmetal Alchemist had a lovely little funeral years ago.”
Edward gaped. A funeral!? “You buried
me?” he screeched, offended. For crying out loud, didn’t anyone have a little faith in him? If there was no body, then obviously he wasn’t dead.
Apparently the military did not agree. Roy’s smile stretched into a smirk and he nodded amiably. “About six months after you disappeared you were declared dead. It was all quite nice, actually. I think you would have liked it. I can show you your grave if you want.”
Ed stared at him. That was just beyond morbid, even if he was a little curious. After all, how many people got to see their own grave? “Well, I’m not dead!” he groused, crossing his arms petulantly.
“Thank you for clearing that up,” came the dry reply.
Grumbling, Ed finished off his coffee. “So, did you know this was going to happen?” Roy asked, gesturing between the two of them.
“What? Oh! You mean did I know I was going to get zapped every time you took two steps in the wrong direction?” Ed asked irritably. “No. Though, everything I was doing with Roy was experimentation, so I guess it could just be an unforeseen side effect.” A thought occurred to him and he cringed. “This better well not be fucking permanent.”
Edward let his head fall to the counter with a loud thump. “How the hell am I supposed to go home to Al now?” he mourned. He really hadn’t expected to be trapped with the general. On top of the man making him feel generally awkward after everything that had...happened, it meant Ed couldn’t go home until he figured out how to un-stick them. Worse, he had never heard of a situation like theirs before, which meant he had no idea where to start.
The whole situation sucked.
Blowing out an annoyed breath, Ed lifted his head, eyes landing on the journal lying innocently on the counter. Oh, right. He hadn’t told Roy about that yet. Picking up the leather-bound book, he turned it over in his hands with a sigh, fingers tracing over the spine. Part of him didn’t want to give up the last piece of the man who had written it, but he could hardly go against his wishes. He thrust the book out at Roy, who blinked and looked at him in surprise. “Take it,” Ed commanded, waving it in his face. “It was his journal. He wanted me to give it to you.”
The general looked intrigued as he took the book from Edward. “Why?”
Ed shrugged, not particularly wanting to talk about it. “He said he wanted to share something of himself with you.”
Roy nodded slowly, opening the book. A folded piece of paper slipped out, and Roy was already opening it before Ed realized what it was. He reached out to take it, but Roy snatched it away from him. “That’s mine!” Ed snapped, feeling himself blush and scowling. “I forgot to take it out.”
For the second time that day, the general’s eyebrows threatened to crawl off of his face, and Edward suddenly wished the ground would open up and swallow him whole. “That’s him?”
“Yeah,” Ed said sourly, reaching out to take the picture only to have it pulled out of his reach again. “Would you just give me the damn thing!?” he snarled.
Edward knew his reaction was more than a little incriminating, but he didn’t care. It felt like his face was on fire, he wanted his picture back, and he wanted to slap that fucking smirk off of Mustang’s face. “How...domestic,” he said after a moment, his visible eye dancing with amusement at Ed’s reaction.
“I was tired, okay!?” he bellowed, finally succeeding in snatching back the picture. Ed quickly folded it and stuffed it in the bag that contained the rest of his possessions.
He was trying to think up a valid excuse to go somewhere, anywhere else, when Roy said, “I’ve seen him before.”
Ed forgot his embarrassment. “What?”
Roy sighed, closing his eye and leaning back, brows furrowed in a slight frown. “I saw him when I activated the array but I’d forgotten about it until now. It was all rather like a dream, it didn’t feel quite real.” He opened his eye, pinning Edward with a look that made him want to squirm. “He asked me to take care of you.”
“He would,” Ed grumbled, rolling his eyes. Stupid sentimental sap, giving the general even more fodder to tease him with. Though, it made him feel a little warm inside that the man had tried to make sure he was looked after, even if Ed hardly needed it. He looked at Roy, who was giving him the strangest look, and decided it was time to move away from dangerous topics. “I want to call Al!” he announced loudly. Ed was more than a little pissed that he wouldn’t be able to surprise his brother. He had looked forward to showing up on his doorstep. The look on his face would have been priceless.
Mustang took the sudden change of topic in stride. “I was wondering when you were going to ask,” he said, getting to his feet. “Come on.”
Ed followed Roy out into the den, where a telephone perched on the desk. The general waved at it. “Go ahead. I’ll be out front if you need me.”
“Wait!” Ed said, an idea dawning on him. He grinned. Maybe he’d still get to surprise his brother after all. “I want you to do a favor for me.”* * * * * * * *
Alphonse was bored.
He sighed, resting his chin on his hand and peering out the window. He absently watched the snow swirling around for a few minutes before turning his attention back to Winry. She sat on the floor amidst a minefield of automail parts, a screwdriver hanging out of her mouth and her brow creased in concentration, working on the replacement arm for Aver Hendrick, who, while out drinking with his buddies had actually managed to lose
the first one.
Mr. Hendrick was still a little scared of Winry after the lecture she had given him, punctuated by flying tools. Al winced in sympathy. Being on the wrong end of Winry’s rage was bad enough, but when you weren’t used to it, it could be downright terrifying. The girl was like a force of nature when it came to her automail, something frightening and powerful that could not be reasoned with. All you could do was run for cover and hope you survived.
Winry was putting the final touches on the arm, but he knew it would still be several hours before she was finished. She was nothing if not a perfectionist.
Unfortunately, this left Alphonse at a bit of a loss. There were no books in the house he hadn’t already read, and he had accidentally forgotten the new ones he’d picked up in Central on his last visit. Maybe Auntie Pinako would be up for a game of chess. He was about to heave himself out of his chair and find her to ask when the phone rang, startling him.
Winry didn’t even twitch. “Grab that, would you Al?” she asked around the screwdriver, not looking up.
Al complied, picking up the receiver and pressing it to his ear. “Rockbell residence,” he said politely.
“Alphonse?” came the voice on the other side.
It took him a moment to place the voice. “General Mustang?” he asked in surprise. Why would the General be calling him? “Oh! If this is about those books I left, Major Hawkeye already put them away for me.”
“Actually, no. I called to ask a favor. One moment.” The sound from the other side suddenly became muffled, as though he had put a hand over the phone. He could still hear his voice though. “Would you stop? Oh, for the love of-- Do you want me to hang up?” A pause. “I didn’t think so, so stop climbing all over me!” There were some more strange noises, and suddenly the general was back. “Sorry about that, Alphonse. My cat is being a pest.”
Why would his cat care if he hung up the phone or not? Al wondered, but all he said was, “That’s okay General. What can I do for you?”
“I was wondering if you would and Winry would be willing to make an emergency trip to Central? I’ll pay for the tickets of course.”
Emergency? “Did something happen?” Al asked, alarmed.
“Everything is fine, Al,” the general assured him. “I can’t discuss it over the phone, but it is rather important. I’d also like Miss Rockbell to bring her tools, if that wouldn’t be too much trouble.”
Her tools? But that would mean the general would need automail. Al’s eyes widened. Could he have gotten hurt somehow? He almost asked, but stopped himself when he realized the general had already said he couldn’t discuss it. “Of course! We’ll be there as soon as possible!”
“Thank you, Alphonse. I’ll see you when you get here.” The phone disconnected with a click, and Al set it back down slowly.
“What was that all about?” Winry asked. When Al didn’t immediately reply, she looked up with a frown. “Al?”
“Something happened to General Mustang,” he said at length. It was really the only explanation. “He wouldn’t tell me much, but...I think he needs automail.”* * * * * * * *
Roy settled down on his sofa with a weary sigh. Edward was already asleep again, not quite recovered yet, and Roy finally had the time to think about what the other alchemist had told him.
Another world. Another him. It was nearly impossible to wrap his head around, but he knew that Ed wouldn’t lie. Besides, he had seen the other Roy himself, hadn’t he? If that wasn’t proof, what was? It was all a bit disconcerting, really. That he was connected on some level to a stranger who wasn’t quite a stranger at all, living in a world far removed from the one he knew.
He looked down at the simple leather-bound book in his hands. Inside were the writings of a man Roy wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to know. It was more than a little cowardly, really. Despite the fact that Ed avoided the subject, it was clear the short alchemist thought highly of this other Roy. The fact that he had helped Edward instead of writing him off as mad said something about his character.
Perhaps it was fear. Fear that the man who wrote the journal he held was no different than he, a copy, proof that Roy Mustang wasn’t unique, that who he was had nothing to do with his own choices. Though, Edward had said they weren’t quite the same, hadn’t he? Roy made a face, annoyed with himself. All this agonizing over a stupid little book was pathetic.
Flipping it open to the first page, Roy recognized the familiar scrawl as Ed’s. He had seen enough reports pass over his desk in that nearly illegible handwriting to know it when he saw it. It was a note, a thank you for everything the man had done for him. Roy read it again, surprised. The journal had been a gift from Edward to the other Roy. That was unexpected.
He turned the page, this one filled with neat, precise script. He stared at the page for a moment, not reading the words written there. The handwriting was nothing like his, he realized, that small revelation a relief. Perhaps his worries were unfounded, Roy thought as he settled into a more comfortable position and began to read.December 26th, 1926
Colonel Roy Mustang.
It is strange to write those words. I can’t quite picture myself a military man, so seeing a rank in front of my own name is a little...odd, to say the least.
I have no way of knowing if this journal will ever reach you, but I want to write it regardless. Perhaps I need to. Even if we never do succeed in getting Edward home, I feel this won’t be a wasted effort, though I like to think it will rest in your hands one day. I’m afraid I really don’t know what to think of you. Part of me is curious, part of me disturbed. It isn’t every day a man learns he is not the only version of himself in the universe, after all.
I suppose all I really want is for you to understand me.
I also suspect getting a coherent story out of Ed after all is said and done will be nearly impossible, so I thought I’d save you the trouble.
It was a cold afternoon on October 9th, 1926 when I first met him on the train from New York to Boston...