If anyone would be willing to be a beta for my (future--hopefully!) HagaRen stories, I would be eternally grateful. I'm a total perfectionist, and honest input is sorely needed...
RoyEd-centric, PG-13 for language. VERY slight hints of shounen-ai.
*fidgets* Here we go...hope it's not too atrocious. >.<
HagaRen is not mine, but Roy is my
This is set a few years after the anime, and the search for the Philosopher's Stone is (as of yet) fruitless.
"You look like a picture, Fullmetal," were the first words out of his mouth as the aforesaid entered his office, looking much too old for his seventeen years of age. Ed dropped a suspiciously thin folder on Roy Mustang's desk, hoping his silence would be response enough. Roy's expression, although still serene, masked slightly narrowed (and concerned) eyes as he nonchalantly picked up the file with a gloved hand and fanned it slowly. "I see that, by the size of the file, it was...less than what you hoped for." At his observation, Edward's jaw became a little more tense. Damn the man for knowing him so well. Edward finally let out a shallow breath against the silence, a testament to how much closer the two had become over the years. He hoped he didn't look as small and worn-out as he felt.
"Colonel, I'm tired," was all the younger man would admit, his usually alert, golden eyes bleary and averted. It was obvious that he was intonating something much more heartfelt. Edward Elric, if possible, was more plainly read than a book--and it was completely obvious that this office was the last place he'd rather be. Not to be put off so easily by Ed's defense mechanisms, Roy made an attempt at establishing intimacy--rather, reminding him that their rappor had gone beyond that of a commander and an officer under his charge.
"Ed--" Roy started, attempting to meet his gaze. At the sound of his nickname, Ed's frame tensed as his eyes snapped to the folder in Roy's--no, Colonel Mustang's--hands.
'Not now,' he thought sharply at the unspoken invitation. His eyes softened at the fluid black ink of Roy's eyes--more of a response than spoken words--and ignored the throbbing pain in his throat, the feeling that his heart was going to beat out of his chest. It wasn't the time nor place; and what right did Roy have to intrude anyhow? Ed clenched his fists and hardened his heart, willing his emotions at bay.
"Colonel," he replied tersely, in blatant refusal. "The report you requested is now in your possession. If I may take my leave." Before Roy could interject, Ed bowed slightly, his gaze fixated on the floor of the office as he turned to go.
The boy actually had the nerve to openly disobey his commanding officer--nevermind that his intentions were more in friendly concern than anything remotely official. Roy didn't know whether he should be angry or even more worried than before. He knew Ed wasn't really the type to vocalize his internal thoughts, even if those same thoughts were eating away at him painfully...like now. His neutral gaze became a frown, the only open sign of his displeasure.
Letting Ed leave, letting him walk out like some kind of broken spirit... his worry for the Fullmetal Alchemist surprising even himself, he decided to take action in the best way he knew how.
"No," he said slowly, after Ed had taken a few steps. He rose from his desk languidly, his eyes boring into Ed's back. "No, you may not. I requested a report, Fullmetal, not a file."
Ed flinched as he set his jaw and spoke through clenched teeth, too desperate to get away to start an argument. "I'm sure my report would unfortunately be nothing but a summary of what I've already given you, Colonel." He stressed Roy's distinguishing rank again, voice overly saccharine and laced with venom. "Since I am confident in your ability to read..."
"Oh, but my eyes are horribly tired from reading reports all day," Roy interrupted cattily as he made his way around the desk with the said file on hand. He feigned a woeful expression and sighed rather dramatically. "So, if you wouldn't mind, Edward..."
"I do, in fact, mind," he retorted, his famous temper now barely restrained. 'Heartless bastard,' Ed thought vehemently, ignoring the hotness behind his eyes. He didn't have the energy nor the heart to pick up on their banter--he thought that Roy knew him better than that. Something twinged, pained at the thought, and he viciously shoved that feeling to the back of his psyche. 'Not now, not now, not now...'
"What if it's an order?" Roy said, his tone dangerously soft as he quietly approached the prone form in front of him. Relying on his ability to push all of Ed's wrong buttons at exactly the same time was a little dirty, true...
His black eyes softened at Ed's trembling body, and for a moment felt horribly guilty. 'Maybe it's not my place...' His shoulders fell, but he tightened his expression a moment later, resolute. 'But if it's not my place, then who's place is it?'
He'd rather be in this place than let anybody else, for damn certain. He barely had time to collect from the sudden revelation when Ed whirled around less than a second later, eyes blazing golden, ferocious, and looking ready to kill. Roy's breath caught in his throat at the sight.
'Beautiful...' He shoved that mental exclamation far, far away to brood on later. Now was definitely not the right time to vocalize that particular thought.
"What if I told you to shove it up your--"
Roy, less than an arm's width away, his very expression enigmatic. Ed's mouth dropped at the sudden nearness, words lost in a wave of shocked surprise. What the hell did he--and then he wanted to scream. 'Fuck, I played right into his hands again.'
Roy came too dangerously close to understanding what made him tick. And what Edward Elric hated, more than anything, was when someone understood him fully--in other words, knew him better than he knew himself. He probably knew then--Ed should have realized that there was no way he could've kept something that hurt him so badly unobvious.
Because every time he came home with empty arms to Al--when he heard the all-too-familiar clang and the echo that inevitably followed it... God, no matter how many times Al had reiterated that he didn't hate his older brother, or didn't blame him for anything...
'Don't worry, Al!' he'd say cheekily, pasting an arrogant smile on his face to hide his overwhelming anger at yet another failure. 'Next time, I'll figure it out for sure!'
And now that he thought about it...was he assuring Al or himself? Too many cracks in a shoddy wall, no matter how well-mended, would inevitably cause the wall to give...he had known that all along. But they wore on him, hurt more with each blow, all while he desperately continued to mend them in order to go on. The last thing he wanted anyone to see when they looked upon him was a child, and anyhow, what right had he to complain when Al... but he stayed the thought, having already memorized it by heart.
It was an unimportant case, really...standard abuse of power by an unchecked alchemist who thought he had single-handedly created the Philosopher's Stone. It was stupid to think that--that it would be their deux ex machina, that after all of these years, it would be that simple. He quickly hid his dashed hopes with a well-learned smirk at the moment of the alchemist's arrest, however, and had chided himself viciously on the train ride back to Headquarters. 'Stupid child.'
And his wall, like always, broke a little more...he hadn't the heart to fix it this time though. He was tired, as he'd said earlier. He'd had enough.
"Ed," Roy said again, and this time, Ed did nothing--physically or emotionally--to pull away.
"Not now," Ed said softly, sounding his earlier thought aloud. He leaned his forehead onto Roy's chest, hiding his pained face from view with golden bangs. It was still too soon, too fast, no matter how much he wanted to crumble completely. But at least it was a start, and Ed took slight comfort in the realization that with this step, that maybe... someday, he wouldn't need his walls anymore.
"Not yet, at least." The sentence trailed to a whisper, then fell into silence.
Roy dropped the file to the ground suddenly and raised his hands to rest on Ed's arms in an awkward, loose embrace, squeezing slightly to express what he could not say in words; his uniform dampened with hot, broken-hearted tears a few moments later and he fully enveloped the younger man into his arms.
fin. (?) *
* I'm not sure whether I should add more to it or not... one of my best friends (and fellow HagaRen worshipper) is absolutely set on me following it up with some tasty RoyEd smut, teehee. In any case, thank you for reading and if you wouldn't mind, please tell me what you think. :)