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11 July 2010 @ 12:44 pm
Fic: "Half-Lives" Chapter 1: "Don't Wait Up"  

Fic: Half Lives, Chapter 1: “Don’t Wait Up”

Author: binaryalchemist 

Rating: PG13 to NC17 for yaoi sex and references to domestic violence and spouse abuse.

Pairing: Roy/Ed, references to past Roy/Hughes. There is a het relationship refered to—but it has gone badly. Very badly.

Genre: Hurt/Comfort, Yaoi romance.

WARNING: This is yaoi. If you aren’t comfortable, don’t read. Wank will be ignored.

Spoilers: This occurs years after Chapter 108.  Things in Resembool have not gone well and Ed has the scars to prove it, seeking healing and refuge in his work at Central Command…but Roy Mustang has never been one to calmly stand by and see his friends hurt…

A/N: this is a grateful gift to rueme  for her astonishing Ed/Roy wedding portrait from my novella “The Beggar’s Banquet”—if this is Equivalent Exchange, then I got the best part of the bargain. This was originally to be a one-shot—but a deeper love story wants to be told….

 

Half Lives, Chapter 1: “Don’t Wait Up”

By the Binary Alchemist, 2010

(A Gift Fic for Rueme for her amazing artwork)

 

            It wasn’t the first time he woke her out of a sound sleep. “And if it goes on like this,” Pinako grumbled under her breath as she fumbled under the bed for her slippers. “one of these days it’s going to be the last.”

           

            “Wha—what’s with the razor?” Ed looked alarmed as the old woman began stropping the thin blade against a leather strap.

            “Gotta shave some of it off before I stitch it up. Go wash the blood out. I need to be able to see what I’m doing.”

            Ed cast uneasy eyes towards the stairs. “I’ll….use the pump outside.”

            Dark eyes narrowed. “Freezing out there.”

            Gold eyes held her own. “Colder up there.

            “Suit yourself.” She tapped a fingerfull of tobacco into her pipe and drew in a mouthful of smoke. She nodded to the valise on the floor. “Did you even say goodbye to Maes and Nina?”

            “I….stopped by their room. And I’ll write  them when I get to Central.”

            His hand was on the doorknob before her tone made him pause. “It’s none of my business, Ed—“

            He turned, smiling faintly. “But you’re gonna tell me what you think of me anyway, right, Granny?”  Somehow, this was going to hurt worse than the blow to his head that left him dizzy and nauseated, the blood still oozing into his bright hair.

            A wreath of smoke encircled her impassive face, but there was regret and sympathy in her eyes. “I tried to tell her, Ed. All those years—I told her to go out and find a good man who’ll stick around.  Someone whose life isn’t so…involved. Or dangerous. I raised you like a son. Maybe if she’d gone out and met some other young men…”

            “Yeah.” Ed answered softly. “But there’s two kids up there now. No matter what, I will take responsibility. I ain’t doin’ to them what that bastard did to me and Al.”

            Just before he stuck his head under the pump her voice carried out to him in the frosty darkness. “Edward…the only thing worse than losing a parent is having to lie in bed and listen to your parents tear each other to pieces.”

            “Or in stitches,” he added to the night sky, before plunging his head under the icy water, choking back a cry of pain as the jagged wound began to bleed again.

 

            On the train he asked for a couple of cloth napkins and  a glass of ice from the dining car. “Sorry sir—it’s after midnight. The dining car is—oh, my!” The  porter noticed the livid, freshly stitched wound  and the bare patch of bruised scalp. “Are you all right, sir?”

            “Accident back in Resembool,” the traveler answered wearily. “Could you just see if they’ve got anything…anything at all. I’ll be seeing my doctor once I get to Central.”

            Ten minutes later a different porter returned with an improvised compress—cracked ice neatly tied up in a parcel of several napkins. He also brought a small glass of brandy and two aspirins….and a look of sympathetic recognition.  “Good to see you again, Mr. Elric. Heading back to Central Command again, sir?”

            Ed nodded, then winced, reaching gratefully for the compress. “The Fuhrer telegrammed last night. Can’t wait until morning.” The aspirins were gulped down and he grimaced slightly as the alcohol burned its way down to the pit of his nervous stomach. He didn’t know what was worse sometimes—the words or the blows.  Bruises and black eyes and whacks to the head healed faster than the growing sickness in his guts when angry words and accusations and nagging and the endless guilt ripped up his insides as surely and as accurately as one of Uncle Rockbell’s surgical scalpels.

            Damn.

            He would do the right thing. She wanted him. She got him.

            She wanted the white picket fence. The kids. The whole goddamned starry-eye’d fantasy of story books and cheap romance magazines.

            Amestrians do the right thing. They marry. They have kids. They settle down, wear ties, become pillars of the community. Become stodgy and respectable.

            On the outside.

            Behind closed doors, though….it didn’t always work. You couldn’t suggest otherwise but it was hard to hide the affairs, the drunkenness, the fighting…no…one didn’t just walk away in little villages like Resembool. Men stayed in the pubs. Women slapped their bread dough in the kitchen, wishing it was someone’s face. They sliced sausage and smiled, imagining they were whacking off an offending penis that either sought refuge between friendlier thighs…or in Ed’s case, slunk away in terror and defeat from the touch that had caused him so much pain. Pain to the body. Pain to the heart. Pain that the bargain hadn’t been enough. Half my life. That was the bargain. But you were never satisfied, were you? Just like when you tore my watch apart to pry out my secret. Just like when you stripped me naked in the streets of Rush Valley to show me off to those strangers. Buy me this. Take me there. I want children. When are you coming back? Damn it, Ed. Are you coming to bed or are you just  going to sit the study and read all night?

            He tugged out his old alchemic journal. “Yes,” he answered aloud to the voice that was undoubtedly being raised in fury kilometers away. He glanced at his watch. The Fuhrer was an early riser and the coffee at the Palace was always good. “Yes, I am. Don’t wait up.”

 

…..TO BE CONTINUED…..

           

 

 
 
 
ca11iopeca11iope on July 11th, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC)
Ah Jeez. Can't comment. Too damn close to home. Please keep it up, it begs for some sort of resolution either way. And thanks, rueme, for requesting this. The end of the anime was bugging a LOT of us.
The Binary Alchemist: USbinaryalchemist on July 11th, 2010 05:23 pm (UTC)
Close to home to me, too--only I was the child listening in the dark. If you look behind all the super-deformed cuteness...there's violence. And it's not funny. And a promise of half your life isn't gonna make it magically stop. Neither is the birth of children. This was a story I HAD to tell--and when rueme did the stunning, joyful picture of Ed and Roy's wedding for me and I eagerly agreed to write a gift fic in return...this tale demanded to be let out at last....and thank you so much for reading. I'm expecting a lot of angry feedback on this board and had to work up my courage to even post it here...
rsndgrassrsndgrass on July 11th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
i can't wait to see how the rest of the story goes... just this one chapter has me wanting more.. especially to know the whole story behind ed's wound. ^_^ it's really good...
The Binary Alchemist: USbinaryalchemist on July 11th, 2010 05:25 pm (UTC)
Rueme's amazing artwork was so joyful--but there was something darker that needed to be told. I'd have written more but I've got a concert at a con in two weeks--but even if it takes a dozen short chapters it WILL be finished. Thank you so much for your kind words!!
ღ annieazure15 on July 11th, 2010 05:29 pm (UTC)
I'll so be following this.

There was always something a little bit sinister about the things Winry did to Ed. Like you said in another comment, take away the cartoon aspect, and it's actually kinda dodgy.
The Binary Alchemistbinaryalchemist on July 11th, 2010 05:53 pm (UTC)
Somehow violence and maniuplative behavior is okay--as long as a cute, giggly, squeeing girl in a miniskirt is doing it. Ed's line in CoS really got to me--"Why is it every time I see you I end up in pain?" And the scene in the Manga when they meet in her bedroom and he essentially tells her to quit nagging him...that gave me a bit of a chill. Anybody who's either been in an abusive marriage or been witness to one as a child or family member will tell you---it doesn't begin like this, or you'd never get in it. But once the shiny newness wears off...and you start living together and facing the pressure of everyday life...that's when things start to come to the surface.Ed has allowed his Sensei to beat him up (I love Izumi but have a problem with that), is emotionally neglected by his father, traumatized by losing his mom, and in many ways been made to feel dependent on Winry for his mobility....something was bound to snap sometime...
(no subject) - azure15 on July 11th, 2010 06:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - binaryalchemist on July 11th, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
xevisceraxxeviscerax on July 11th, 2010 05:43 pm (UTC)
This was the one thing I always hated most about their dynamic, and why I could never really get behind this 'ship. I really don't know why anyone would find it funny to get repeatedly thrashed upside the head with hard metal objects. Like he hasn't taken enough knocks to the head.

I'm looking forward to reading a more realistic approach to this issue.
The Binary Alchemist: USbinaryalchemist on July 11th, 2010 06:03 pm (UTC)
I was a peer counsellor for survivors of domestic violence--and have probably more familiarity with the dynamics of a potentially explosive relationship than I'd like to have. Sooner or later the stars will come out of Winry's eyes--he's the same old Ed that pissed her off and drove her crazy before her hormones got in the way. I was so horrified and upset--seriously upset--at the ending and was trying to figure out why it got to me so badly...and then I thought of all those men and women I listened to for hours at the Safe Houses--people who literally were running for their lives or people who loved even when their partners manipulated, controlled or injured them. Now I know why the dynamic disturbs me--it's not just the quasi-incestuousness....it's the immaturity, the control, and the violence.
(no subject) - xeviscerax on July 11th, 2010 06:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - binaryalchemist on July 11th, 2010 11:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
NinjAngelninjangel on July 11th, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC)
So, I didn't realize why I wasn't all over these two before--usually, if there's an official 'ship in a series that doesn't have too many BL overtones, I'm all over it.

I think...you may have answered my question--especially through your previous comments. O_o My parents tease each other relentlessly in a semi-RoyEd fashion (and they have the tempers of each to match, lawl), but don't do to each other the stuff that Winry has done to Ed--whether or not it's played for laughs.

I'm definitely going to be following this. And good on you for posting it. You definitely weren't the only one bothered by the ending. :/
The Binary Alchemist: USbinaryalchemist on July 11th, 2010 11:24 pm (UTC)
I really appreciate that--and when I reacted so strongly I thought about my own years volunteering at a Safe House--the stories from both men and women--that it's not just the fist in the face or the bullet in the head. Ed will not fight back because he fears to upset his children...he stonewalls, he books a train, he hides in his study, and when it gets too much or she wrenches him...he bears the pain in silence. Pinako is no fool. In CoS she made it plain that she didn't want Winry to run after Ed....and it's a good thing she is there as a safety buffer.
(no subject) - ninjangel on July 12th, 2010 03:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
The Binary Alchemist: USbinaryalchemist on July 11th, 2010 11:13 pm (UTC)
Izumi's behavior isn't right--but she's acting out of fear and guilt--they committed the same sin of human transmutation. It's wrong--but there is a root cause of this. Winry's behavior is cutely manipulative and her violent temper and outbursts are made comical...but take away the sugar coating and it's not healthy. And for someone who has had as much trauma and loss as Ed has--I see him internalizing and avoiding....and there's a terrible price when we do this...
(no subject) - shekinaah on July 11th, 2010 11:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - binaryalchemist on July 11th, 2010 11:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
remaintobreathe: Tearsremaintobreathe on July 11th, 2010 07:50 pm (UTC)
Wow, that made me sort of sad, poor Ed D:

It s touches on all of my issues with the Ed/Winry relationship. It'd be all take, take, take on Winry's part. It's only by pure luck that Ed has yet to /bash/ her head in and stick her in that hole he and Granny dug in the back yard. >_>
The Binary Alchemistbinaryalchemist on July 11th, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC)
I think it strikes a chord with a lot of people who really looked past the surface. You can get away with a lot if you're young and cute and can cry and such....but in real life it's passive manipulation. And that wrench swinging shit has never struck me as remotely funny. Ed would never, ever lift his hand to her in anger...but I see him walling up, numbing out, and refusing to face it--think of Hohenheim telling Ed he burned down the house like a child who wets the bed hides the sheets. Ed's body is beginning to show the signs of strain...hopefully Roy will see this....
Valkyrieshekinaah on July 11th, 2010 11:31 pm (UTC)
I love this, as all people above have commented, it has always disturbed me Ed and Winry's relationship, i don't think that Winry is a horrible person, but there's something on Ed's behaviour that just raises the worse out of her, and that should have been her clue that a relationship with him would not have been healthy, and Edwards mistake was to let himself being in a relationship only because she waited, and i personally think that it wasn´t done out of love but more like out of stubborness.
The Binary Alchemistbinaryalchemist on July 11th, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC)
Bingo. You're right on all counts. I think Winry would have been better suited to a temperment closer to Alphonse--gentle, patient, calm, family oriented. Ed is volatile, restelss, impatient, stubborn and nurses grudges. Winry has many of those same qualities, with the addition of violence, manipulation and lack of respect for Ed's personal and privacy boundaries (ie, the watch, and stripping him in the streets of Rush Valley) and she is accustomed to getting what she wants. Period. Whether it be new tools or a train ticket...or a husband. I don't see a happy ever after and if they had maybe talked to Pinako she would have told them so. She sure didn't want Winry pursuing Ed in CoS...
(no subject) - shekinaah on July 12th, 2010 02:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
The Binary Alchemistbinaryalchemist on July 12th, 2010 01:22 am (UTC)
I'm so very glad you liked it--and I too was trying to find out why something about that relationship dynamic made me so uneasy--especially at the end. Sometimes people aren't right together as lovers or spouses--been there, know about it first hand--but in other ways are fine. But once the novelty wears off the real friction of a relationship begins to tear away the rose colored glasses...and if a pair is mismated it can bring out the worst--in this case, Winry's so-often-cited tendency to hit Edward. Violence is violence. Put in a cute body with big blue eyes and miniskirts and such...it's still someone hitting someone in a fit of temper. If Ed hit Winry the same way, we'd call him a bastard and want him thrown under the jail. But because she's 'cute' it's all okay...or at least that's what the ending is trying to tell us.
amethyst_konekoamethyst_koneko on July 12th, 2010 04:43 am (UTC)
THIS! (I say that a lot don't I? *^_^*) Again you leave me without the words to express how much I love this fic! :) This is the hideous ugly Truth Arakawa was determined to hide from us with fake smiles and a practically lobotomized alchemyless Ed! (No I haven't forgiven Cow for this and I never will! grrr!) Winry is without a doubt the most violent creature person I've ever come across. The girl has serious serious issues and why in the name of all that is holy Ed stuck around long enough to make two kids with her is beyond me. Run Ed! Run! Run as far away as you can and pray that those poor children of yours don't suffer the same fate as yourself! Anyone know a good divorce/child custody lawyer? ^_^
The Binary Alchemist: USbinaryalchemist on July 13th, 2010 12:26 am (UTC)
Honey--you know better than most how upset I was over the ending...but I couldn't quite figure out WHY....how did it get under my skin so badly? Why was I so upset...? And then I realised that it was the damned VIOLENCE. Not just the tantrums and the demands and the tears and the lack of respect of Ed's personal boundaries--it was the BEATING THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF HIM. Yes, Izumi did it too--and that was WRONG--but Izumi's reacting to her own pain and horror of what she did to her child--and that the boys that were as dear as her own flesh had done the same thing. Winry gets frustrated or annoyed and hits people. Remember that scene when she's mad at Al in the hotel and just keeps slamming away at him, over and over and over? That gave me chills. She needs therapy--and she does not need to be in a relationship with someone that triggers her irritations. I realized I had to get this story out and Rueme's beautiful art gave me the chance to do so....
(no subject) - amethyst_koneko on July 13th, 2010 01:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
vicemage: No Matter Whatvicemage on July 13th, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC)
Y'know, I never really thought EdWin worked. And I was never fully sold on it, just accepted it because it was canon in the end. But... I think you hit on a big part of why I don't like it, that I'd never been able to figure out. They just shouldn't be together, and you've put your finger right on some of the reasons for that. Thanks for writing this.
snow_asheliasnow_ashelia on July 13th, 2010 10:48 pm (UTC)
*agrees to all said above*
This fic is kinda realistic, I wonder why no one else has written about this matter before.. can't wait to see how Roy will react ^^ Mooore please! :D
The Binary Alchemistbinaryalchemist on July 14th, 2010 02:02 am (UTC)
I'm not sure either--but it was something that was heavy on my mind from the beginning--that if Ed hit Winry he'd be a bastard but she can beat the crap out of him because she's a girl and just being 'feisty' and cute. I've worked as a peer counselor for the abused---and we can take these things for granted...but one day, what if someone hits just a little too hard....
Chapter2 is up--chapter 3 is in the works--and thanks for reading!!