[identity profile] tierfal.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] tierfallen
Title: Mistaken
Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist
Pairing: Roy/Ed
Rating: R
Word Count: 22,500 (2,600 this part)
Warnings: major spoilers for '03/CoS; language; a bit of violence (unimpressive next to canon); adults behaving irresponsibly (including alcohol use); naughty stuff to come
Summary: It is a telling and terrible reflection on Roy's life that the kidnapping is not the worst thing that's happened this week.
Author's Note: A Roy/Ed Gift Exchange fic for viorar-vel-til-loftarasa! This is set in a post-CoS AU where I hand-waved Ed and Al back from our world again, so that Ed could start getting into trouble in Amestris again.

[Part I]

Roy regrets everything.  Roy regrets the entirety of his existence.

Well—wait.  To be fair, there might have been a moment, once, when he was about eighteen… Maybe two.  Maybe two moments.

The rest of it he regrets.

“So,” Ed says, calmly, rattling the chain.  “Anything to say for yourself?”

They’re trussed up back-to-back, so Roy can’t see him, which is a terrible shame.  A crime, even.  A travesty.  He always assumed there would be a point at which Ed’s attractiveness would plateau, but every year carves out some new angle, and his jaw sharpens just a little, or his hair starts to fall into his eyes.  He was a startling child; he is a stunning adult.  Roy mourns the years Ed spent on the other side of oblivion, so much further than just out of sight; Roy rejoices that he returned, a year ago yesterday, every bit as suddenly and inexplicably as he had disappeared.

“For starters,” Roy says, “I’m sorry.”

The depth and duration of the silence makes him consider that perhaps he hasn’t said that to Ed more than… never.

He’ll have to mull over that one later, if they make it out of this alive—or if he does; he’s determined to make sure that Ed will, one way or another.  Ed has proven nearly indestructible several dozen times before.  That’s quite a comfort at moments like this.

Also a comfort is the bizarrely profound sense of weightlessness imposed by the dimness and the almost-silence.  If they’re going to be left for long stretches between bouts of more vigorous torment, this is a fine place for it: the sewer grate directly overhead isn’t dripping water, and almost nothing has passed across and blocked the distant orange streetlamp light; they must be underneath a very quiet street.  Admittedly, the dankness of the walls has spread a chill through Roy that makes his clavicles ache, so he can only imagine how much the automail ports are hurting Ed, but all the same—they’re alone, bound to a metal chair each, with a thick length of chain wrapped around their chests to tie them to each other, one wrist secured with twine to each side of their chair’s frame.  They were smart enough to take Roy’s gloves, but not enough to take Ed’s arm, which tells him something.  Before last night, he would be making all kinds of deliberately awful innuendos about this.

A lot has changed in the last thirty-odd hours.

He regrets all of it.

“This may be difficult to get used to,” he says, “but I believe you’re collateral damage this time.”

“Somehow my ego will recover,” Ed says.  “The fuck do they want, anyway?”

“Revenge, I suspect,” Roy says, keeping his voice low in case anyone is lingering.  “There is a fairly well-established cadre of Bradley sympathizers still out on the hunt for answers.  There are a number of rumors that I was near his estate at around the time that it began to burn, so you can understand why they might suspect foul play.  But the government can’t—or won’t—confirm anything in particular.  I imagine it’s very frustrating.”

“Yeah,” Ed says.  “Boo fucking hoo.  It’s been, like, five years.  Get the fuck over i—”

“Now, now,” Roy says.  “Not everyone is quite as resilient as you are.”

There is a very different depth to this silence—a suddenness, like dropping off a cliff.

Roy realizes what he said, and what Ed must have heard, and winces hard enough that his split lip sluggishly starts bleeding.

He deserves that.

“I’m sorry, too,” he says, much more softly, “for… what was said.”

Two, three, four seconds tick by—or they would, if Roy could hear his watch; he counts to the beat of his pulse instead, which is probably unreliable.  Ed has a way of effortlessly interfering with all of his vital signs.

“Not for what was done,” Ed says at long last, and Roy cringes harder.  He should have thought… should have known.  Can he blame it on the concussion?  “Figures.  You are a piece of fucking work, Mustang.”

“Thank you,” he says, automatically.  That’s the concussion.  “A masterpiece of portraiture, I like to think.”

This silence stings.

“I meant it,” he says.  “I’m sorry.  For all of it.”

“You’re sorry I didn’t roll over and let you fucking walk on me,” Ed says, “and then let you walk away.  You’re sorry I called you on your shit.  You’re sorry I like myself too much to buy what you’re selling at the low, low, one-time price of my self-respect and the last of my fucking dignity.”

Roy closes his eye and listens to his heart beating in his ears.  This is his own fault—start to finish; every moment in between.

He opens his eye and forces himself to smile.  He’ll get Ed out of this, and/or he’ll die trying.

He knew, didn’t he?  He sees more, now.  He sees details that he didn’t before; he sees to the black heart and the bitter soul of things even as they happen.  He sees silhouettes moving on another plane that doesn’t quite coincide with the one most people walk on.

He knew that the way Ed was watching him last night—half-lidded dark gold eyes, sharper by the second, lit hotter and hotter from the inside with every drink he downed—was not a come-on, not a come-hither, not a come-what-may.

It was a surrender.

It was the assessment of an animal who has had a season to grow new fur over old scars—who knows there will be jaws around its throat if it continues, but maybe this time, the blood will be so warm it won’t matter how long the wounds will take to heal.

Roy knew.

But he was just so hungry.

He was just so hungry, and just so cold; and he has always, always, been fool enough to play with fire.

And he thought—

He hoped

Against hope, against logic, against reason, against a truth he could see the shadows of—

He hoped that if he was gentle enough, perhaps—perhaps—they could both emerge from this unbloodied and unburnt.

He knew, of course, all along, that both of them are too jagged for this ever to have amounted to anything unbroken.

“No,” he says.  “I’m sorry I was weak enough to go into it even when I knew that it would hurt you.”

“You don’t have to let me down easy,” Ed says, and his voice is ice straight through.  Some people forget that frostbite feels like burning, too.  Roy isn’t one of them.  “I’m not some doe-eyed kid who thinks a pity fuck will solve my problems.  It was an experiment.  I got my data.  It’s done.”

Forcing Ed to listen to what is actually being said—even, or perhaps especially, when it’s for his own good—sits in a place of pride on the long list of things that Roy has never been able to accomplish.

He’s not sure what’s left to him but cutting his losses and carrying on.  It’s what Ed would want, at least in a theoretical way.

“If it was a pity fuck,” he says, because he does have a dwindling thread of courage left, “the pity was on your side and yours only.  Aside from which—I’m sorry for this situation.  This is my fault.”

“You’re damn right it is,” Ed says.

It is a remarkable testament to the elasticity of the human brain that Roy has thought of nearly nothing but Edward Elric for years on end, and has simultaneously somehow forgotten just how forthright he can be.

“Well,” he says, trying for a dry sort of levity.  “Don’t mince words.”

“Never do,” Ed says, serving it right back—and that’s so much of what’s so gut-wrenching about all of it.  They should work—shouldn’t they?  They make sense.  How in the hell did it come to this?  “If you can’t tear ’em off the bone with your teeth, they’re not worth saying.”

He’s probably right about that.

Just as he was probably right about the fight, although they’ll never know for sure.

It’s been too long since Roy had to hold his own anywhere other than a battlefield of wits—too long since he played anything but the long games, with the little knives and the small betrayals and the calculated risks.

The knives that appeared in the alley behind the bar several dark hours ago were bigger, and much more literal.  There were three guns.  The alley walls were just close enough to hinder Roy’s damaged depth perception, and his heartbeat was just loud enough to cloud his mind.

All he could think was I dragged him out here; and all he could do was shove Ed behind him.

Even so many years later, his hands move faster than anyone else’s, and once again it’s the reason he’s alive.  He had the time—stole the time—to snap his fingers once, and tongues of flame streamed up from nothing to encircle all of their opponents, and Ed said, “Don’t kill them!  Let me—”

The dull slap of Ed’s palms meeting heralded a burst of blue light, and the cobblestones writhed and arched and split into three, four, seven towers underneath their feet—

Roy reared back from the edge instinctively, because he couldn’t tell how high they were—because of his damn eye—and stumbled, and the wind caught his cavalry skirt—

Ed’s “Fuck!” ushered them back down to the broken ground, already re-forming as he clapped again—but then the bullets, and Roy turned, but too slow, and the plume of flame unfurling from his fingertips veered wide.

And Ed, still—still, after the ravages of some other world that pried the last few sparks and glimmers from his eyes—fought like a wildcat, cornered and snarling and incandescent in the light of his own genius as it fragmented the ground again, stones leaping, and then shattered the alley wall, and bricks tumbled on two of the attackers—

Roy caught another with a swift curve of flame too fragile to do more than singe him a bit and send him staggering backwards, clutching at his face.

Over the impact and the shout as Ed put his shoulder into one’s side and bowled him over, Roy heard a scrape of a footstep, and then—

An arm hooked around his chest and the unmistakable cold metal shape of a gun barrel underneath his chin, pressing back against his throat too hard for him to do anything but gasp in another half a breath.

Half a breath was not enough to carry It’s me they want; I’m too valuable to kill—just run.

Ed had sunk into a crouch that made it clear he’d never misplaced much, if any, of his finesse for this, and he had both hands poised and waiting, ready to tear down and reshape this whole alleyway if he had to—

But he stayed, still but for panting softly, with his eyes fixed to the gun forcing Roy’s mouth shut.

And when they reached for him, he let them take him—chest heaving; eyes gleaming; mouth in a thin, angry line.

It was the last thing Roy saw before the man behind him clocked him in the jaw with the butt of the gun, hard enough to split his lip, loosen a tooth, and send some thousand stars spinning across his vision.  There was a very rough, dark, stuffy hood after that—which was absolutely ludicrous, because they could have just flipped the eyepatch to the other side.  Attempting to tell them so earned him a vigorous and rather humorless cuff to the back of the head.

Roy would have liked to have said a great deal more—beginning with the observation that, in the good old days, kidnapping ruffians would have waited until their target finished his conversation before they rudely interrupted.

The part about the ruffians wasn’t true, though it would have been terribly witty.

The part about the conversation was.

They’d only just started.

It hadn’t been five minutes since the moment he reached for Ed’s left arm, hesitated two inches shy—gestured, raised his eyebrow, chanced a hesitant half-smile—

And Ed had pushed his drink away, stood from the table, and followed like a man going to the gallows.

Roy should have known in that instant that he was drawing them away from something like safety; that the world could not be kind to either of them no matter how many times they tried to pay their dues.  Roy should have remembered, the moment that he stepped out the back door of the bar, that he is a magnet for misery, and he was pulling Ed into the worst of it right alongside him.

“What happened,” he’d said when the door to the bar swung shut, and the darkness hemmed them in.  “Last night.”

“Nothing ‘happened’,’ Ed said, and the starlight couldn’t resist his eyes, or his teeth.  “We did something.”  He folded his arms, curled his fingers into his sleeves, and fixed his gaze on the wall.  “And what we did was a mistake.”

And Roy had felt—


He’d been prepared for reluctance, for reticence, for uncertainty—even for refusal, if Ed felt that he’d been so profoundly disrespected that there was no way to atone for it.

But not for this.

Not for an outright rejection of everything Roy was—because that was what he’d been about to put on offer, and Ed had to know it; he had to understand that much.

Didn’t he?

Surely he realized—surely he sensed, guessed, believed

Surely he knew Roy had been about to say I know it was abrupt, and more than a little clumsy—I wish we hadn’t rushed it like that; in my right mind, I never would have dared—but even so, it was good, wasn’t it?  We were good together.  And that’s all I want.  I want the opportunity to make good things happen to you.  I want to give you good things, good feelings, good moments.  Do you think perhaps we could try from the beginning?  I won’t ask much.  I won’t ever ask for much.  I just want to be allowed to love you.  I have all this practice, you see.

But then there had been the miscreants, and then there had been a very long stumbling walk towards somewhere, and a bit with a ladder, and several more attempts to maul the few remaining bastions of magnificent attractiveness on his face, and then these chairs and this chain, and…

And here they are.

It’s really remarkable that Roy managed to foul it up so thoroughly—not just the kidnapping; that’s a blip in the radar next to what’s happened with Ed.

No—what he’s done to, with, about Ed.  What he’s done to himself.  What he’s done to the space between them.

Ed’s right.  Some things happen, but this isn’t one of them.  This was built on thoughts and choices.

He wants to say so—there’s still sometimes a little flash of triumph in Ed’s eyes when Roy, specifically, cedes an argument.  Even if Roy can’t see it, the possibility of its existence would be… nice.  There are precious few nice things in the world; if he can foster just one more—

But then there are echoes of approaching footsteps, which are filled by boots, which are accompanied by torchlight, which is followed by a face.

[Part II]

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