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12 July 2010 @ 10:38 pm
Fic: "HALF-LIVES" Chapter 2: "Blood and Fire  

Fic: Half Lives, Chapter 2: Blood and Fire

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: Years have passed since the Father’s Fall (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…

SUMMARY : Ed arrives six weeks early for his assignment—and three sheets to the wind. At least that’s what Roy thought until he saw the Xrays Dr. Knox had taken after Ed collapsed in the Presidential Reception Room.

A/N Again, for [info]rueme  , with gratitude for her amazing art

 

Half Lives, Chapter 2: Blood and Fire

By The Binary Alchemist, 2010

 

 

            By 4:45 the fragrance of fresh brewed coffee had drifted up the stairs, crept under the bedroom door and thick black lashes fluttered against a cheek that was paler and a little thinner than it had been five years ago when he fumbled blindly for his morning cup, spilling it on his pants and scalding his leg. That was before his bargain with Dr. Marcoh. That was before their years in Ishbal with Miles and Scar. That was before Grumman decided to finally retire to chase younger women. Before the telegram from Olivier that she had concluded he probably wouldn’t screw up Amestris too badly but he would never run the country with her efficiency and strength—oh, and that she had concluded that the pitiful attempt at a mustache was merely the unsavory stains left from kissing every ass up the chain of command to finally land behind the Fuhrer’s desk for good.  “I’ve heard you referred to as ‘Shitlips’. Appropriate, that. “

            That mustache—what there was of it—twitched. He sneezed. Palace or not, it was fucking cold in here. January in Central was wet and miserable. His old wounds ached—something Colonel Hawkeye would undoubtedly anticipate, fetching him a bottle of aspirin along with his morning reports.

            Instead, she fetched him a former State Alchemist, who was dripping wet, shivering and grey faced…and promptly threw up on his neatly polished boots before keeling over, face down into the plush carpet of the Reception Room.

            “Very amusing, Edward,” the Fuhrer growled. “Show up six weeks ahead of your assignment and three sheets to the wind. Colonel Hawkeye?”

            “Sir?”

            “Get him out of here. Put him to bed in the guest wing and sober him up, then send him back to Resem---what the hell??”

            Hawkeye nodded. “Blood, sir. And sutures.”

            Roy knelt quickly and laid his hand over Ed’s brow. He was icy cold, grey faced and his breathing was shallow. “Shit,” he breathed softly, “Edward…what happened to you?”

            Somewhere between shit and Edward a phone appeared at his elbow. “Knox!” His Excellency Fuhrer President Mustang bellowed into the receiver. “Get your ass up here now!

 

            The security detail was anxious. The hospital staff was nervous. His Excellency was prowling up and down the hall of the triage wing with a furious scowl twisting his handsome features. “Cup of coffee, sir?” Major Breda offered. “I could get you some crackers from the vending—the cafeteria’s not open yet.” He dug in his pocket for spare change. I’ve got—lessee—maybe 520 cens. Or if you want to wait I’ll get you a sweet roll  or something.”

            Five hundred and twenty cens.  Roy felt sick.

            “Don’t you die on me, Edward,” he whispered, glaring at the swinging doors where Edward had been rushed through over an hour ago. “You haven’t paid me back yet….”

           

            “Seen it a million times.” Knox jammed a cigarette into the corner of his mouth before flipping on the light box.

            “Tell me what I’m looking for.” Roy leaned in close blinking.

            “Your glasses, Sir?” Hawkeye prompted.

            An impatient hand snatched them from her. “All right, now tell me what the hell I’m looking for.”

            This. Blunt force trauma” A nicotine-stained finger tapped an area circled with a white grease pencil on the radiograph image. The sutures stood out in bright contract to the grey and black shadows of the skull. “Scalp laceration. Linear fracture—what you call a hairline fracture. He’s damned lucky. There’s no displacement of bone fragments. Some concern about subdural hematoma—that’s that area there. Might have to put a temporary drain in just in case. I’m admitting him.”

            “All right.”

            “Somebody beat the hell out of him. Somebody cleaned his wound and stitched him up. Good job of it.” His eyes narrowed. “Know anything about that?”

            Roy evaded the question. “Is he conscious?” Something in the tone of Roy’s voice made Knox look glance over at him sharply.

            “Yeah. He’s awake.” He straightened his glasses and sniffed. “Did you call the family?”

            “I came straight here,” Roy answered.  “I haven’t had time.”

            “Good. Don’t.” Knox tapped the circled xray for emphasis. “He’s really worried about that. They get that way after concussion, see. Keep saying the same thing over and over and over. Passes, o’course. But he got real agitated when I asked him if I should call his wife.”

            Roy began to sweat. If there had been coffee in his stomach it would have lurched unpleasantly. “I won’t call her. What about Alphonse?”

            “Later, when we know more. No sense dragging him all the way across the desert if Ed’ back on his feet in a week. Gimme about twenty minutes. Want to check his vitals again. Few more tests. Get some coffee and come back. Get some breakfast.” Roy shook his head. “Fine. Get me some goddamn breakfast, then. Draggin’ my ass outta bed on my day off….”

            His Excellency nodded meekly, but as he turned to go, Knox pinned up a second film. “By the way, Mustang,” he rumbled. “It’s happened before. Might wanna ask him about that sometime.”

           

            Mustang, Hawkeye and Breda avoided each others eyes for several uncomfortable minutes. “Your orders, Sir?” Hawkeye ventured quietly.

            “Send Denny Brosh to the cafeteria when it opens. Hotcakes, scrambled eggs, double order of sausage, tomato juice with worchestershire sauce and a large coffee for Dr. Knox. “Make sure the eggs aren’t too runny.”

            “Yes Sir!”

            “Breda!”

            “Sir?”

            “Get Ed’s stuff up to his usual room. Get his stuff unpacked, then get him what he’ll need for a week’s stay here. He’ll never forgive me if he’s stuck in a hospital gown with his ass hanging out. Get some books from the library—anything on Grand Arcanum. That should keep him occupied. Oh,” he added with a faint smile,” have the chef send over a basket of strawberries. He’d rather have that than flowers.”

            “Yessir!”

            He glanced at his bodyguards. “Ross? Guard this door with your life. If Knox needs me, get your ass to the cafeteria. Hawkeye, come with me…” He held up one hand in caution. “”After I go to the head.”

            “Yes Sir!”

           

            The restroom was empty. He turned on the faucets to mask the sound.

He locked himself in the stall at the far end, sat down fully clothed and buried his face in his hands. “Maes,” he whispered to his personal saint—the only saint he would ever acknowledge. “what the fuck do I do now?”

 

            ….TO BE CONTINUED….

 

           

 

 
 
 
ca11iopeca11iope on July 13th, 2010 02:49 am (UTC)
That was almost murder. Who's protecting the kids? Might it be time to pull them out of there, particularly if one or both of them takes after daddy?
The Binary Alchemistbinaryalchemist on July 13th, 2010 03:00 am (UTC)
After some medical research, *that*, roughly, is what happens if you hit someone in the head with a wrench. Pure and simple. And that's not even with serious force--that would cause an 'eggshell' fracture with displacement of bone fragments and great risk of brain damage. A person who swings or lashes out in irritation or frustration doesn't think what could be done. I knew a woman who was smashed in the head with a hot cast iron skillet for not melting the cheese in the middle of a grilled cheese sandwich for her husband. Another had her scalp split by a flying steel toe'd boot because her husband triped over a rake she left in the back yard. People who lash out and don't think or manage their temper don't realize they've done harm...until it's done.
(Deleted comment)
The Binary Alchemist: USbinaryalchemist on July 14th, 2010 02:29 am (UTC)
I agree--MangaWinry has projected EVERYTHING she wants and hopes and thinks she needs onto one person--can you imagine what that must feel like? To quote a line from "Labrynth" "I'm exhausted living up to your expectations" she created an image of life with Ed, cooerced him into agreeing with guilt and tears---gets what she thinks she wants...but the REAL Ed is just as annoying as he always was...and now, instead of fighting back, he retreats...and the pressure is building. She's not a villian--but a human who needs to grow up and get real before her kids see something they don't need to see...if they haven't already ::foreshadowing here::
leorising1959: herekittykitty::tng bouncyleorising1959 on July 13th, 2010 04:29 pm (UTC)
I sense that you'll have success with this story, but in general I don't think Arakawa-sensei meant for the whole wrench-thing to be taken too literally. It's just a manga-rific metaphor for how feisty Winry is, and how she is passionate and a prodigy in her own right, who insists on being taken seriously.

I'm enjoying the story, but I still lurve manga!Winry to little bitty bits. ♥
The Binary Alchemistbinaryalchemist on July 14th, 2010 02:38 am (UTC)
So much of what is in the manga IS serious--the horrors of ethnic cleansing, genocide, the futility of fighting death, the damage a child can suffer when abandoned. war, coup d'etat, political corruption and human greed. If Ed were to hit Winry with a wrench--even in jest---over and over and over...what would the readers think of him? It would be appalling. To a great many readers--my mailbox is getting flooded by them--this is disturbing. We can't just say that it's no less violent because she's cute and young and perky and feisty. I worked for years as a peer counselor for survivors of domestic abuse. Winry is no villian--but she has serious maturity issues. If Arakawa expects the readers to face the horrors and tragedies and ugly truths that are part of the core of this story---then they aren't going to ignore this any more than then would ignore Riza's codepency issues.
Greed/Ed otp fangirlgreedy_lover on July 18th, 2010 05:43 pm (UTC)
Um how is throwing a wrench to bash someone's brains out showing that they are a prodigy and want to be taken serious? I think when she wanted to work for that guy in Rush Valley, THAT showed all those things, not her bashing Ed's brains out and screaming at him.
The Binary Alchemist: bluebirdbinaryalchemist on July 18th, 2010 05:48 pm (UTC)
Re Mr Garfiel--I question how serious she was wth that apprenticeship. She make the committment to him, his studio and their clients...and then walked out and kept calling him and telling him she'd be back later...and never returned. At least in the original Series Winry went back to Rush Valley and got serious, as is shown in the final montage and her promise to Al as he leaves for Dublith.
Greed/Ed otp fangirlgreedy_lover on July 18th, 2010 06:01 pm (UTC)
Exactly. To me, if I was a client and I asked where she was and go told she never came back, I'd tell people and say I'd never go to her again as she is now known as not trustworthy. WHich would be bad for business. She should have thought of HER dreams of being the best automail person instead of just following Ed. AGain the co dependcny issue mnaga!Riza has >< The creator pretty much with trying to force them, destroyed it completely instead and made unstable relatonships
ღ annie: FMA [Winry arms]azure15 on July 13th, 2010 05:00 pm (UTC)
I still think this is such an interesting take on how an anime relationship built around 'lol girl hitting boy!' would play out if taken seriously. I know anime as a rule tends to be a bit like that, girls can get away with murder if they're cute enough, but switch the roles and it's a different story.

Ed really does, unintentionally of course, seem to bring out the worse in Winry. Way back when the first anime was still going, I thought she was going to end up with Al, just because his calmer nature would be just the thing to balance her fiery attitude.

This is still going good. I hope we get insight on how Winry feels about the whole thing, I don't care for the pairing one bit, but she does care deeply for both brothers, despite how she acts.
The Binary Alchemist: USbinaryalchemist on July 14th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC)
We will definitely see Winry's side--I see her as being just as wounded in her own way as the brothers and her behavior is a symptom of her own pain--and her frustration from projecting so much onto Ed, expecting him to live up to an image that may have little to do with the real person deep inside. She DOES need a calmer presence--she and Ed can bring out the worst in each other...and there has to be an intervention becaus there are two precious lives that must be considered above all else....
NinjAngelninjangel on July 13th, 2010 09:38 pm (UTC)
...well, your medical research produced believably scary results, so that definitely added something concrete to this. It's the subdural hematoma that's the problem, and that's the part that made me squirm a bit (it seems I remembered something from my Neuro class after all...).

It's a bit unnerving to me, actually, how believable about this. I see fics rather often about abusive couples, where one runs off to a third party. But I never read them because I never feel like they're actually true--just fic writer's imagination or whatever--because I never saw evidence for it in canon. But this one is different, IMO. And that's why it's unnerving.
The Binary Alchemist: USbinaryalchemist on July 14th, 2010 02:45 am (UTC)
It's unnerving because nobody's the bad guy here--we have two damaged people who care but bring out the worst in each other...Ed has begun to internalize and Winry's venting is getting more prounounced--PRECISELY because Ed is not fighting back. As for the med research,
I had blunt trauma following a car wreck when I was 20 with a hairline fracture and a very mild subdural hematoma and concussion...took me a while to feel quite alright again...but I was damned lucky (got hit on the driver's side, just behind the door, at 30 miles an hour)....
amethyst_konekoamethyst_koneko on July 14th, 2010 03:57 am (UTC)
In spite of all the tragedy going on here, you managed to bring a wry smile to my face, in more places than one too - Breda having 520 cens, Roy being huffy about his glasses, Roy asking for devine intervention from his personal saint Maes. That last one was particularly touching. <3 I really want Roy to get in there and talk to Ed. I just feel like Roy can do something, has to do something, to help Ed out here; esp once he learns for how long and how much this abuse has been going on. It's nothing short of a miracle the bitch didn't kill him and that he survived the trek to Central. Ed can't even lie and say someone else beat him up like this. There's no hiding the truth now. A mugger or a random thug certainly wouldn't have taken the time to fix Ed's wounds. Showing up bloody but already stitched up is very telling. The surgical sutures in his head are a dead giveaway that someone who knows medicine is responsible and since Ed married into a family of doctors, the list of suspects is rather short. I just hope the kids don't become substitute targets of their mother's rage. :(
The Binary Alchemistbinaryalchemist on July 14th, 2010 04:11 am (UTC)
What I see is less a risk to the kids--but two people on the verge---one of explosion, one of implosion. It's a strange pattern I've seen. One partner just stops fighting back. The other partner NEEDS that fighting response. The yelling. The screaming. Ed has had enough--and he doesn't want his kids upset. He has now internalized it--just like in CoS--and since she's not getting the response she needs she yells louder, nags more...and Ed tunes her out, closes the door or jumps on a train. The frustration builds. Winry craves that fighting response. Ed is not responding. It builds until she loses her temper and that conk on the head has some real anger behind it. And as you'll see in Chapter Three--Roy has been waiting for a chance to help...because someone is very, very worried about both Ed and Winry....
Rafflesiacatinthelimehat on July 14th, 2010 08:22 am (UTC)
Reverse-spousal abuse really isn't funny and I never found the wrench gag funny, either. I remember watching FMA when I was a wee lass and wondering what would happen if Ed ever got seriously injured from Winry beating him.

It probably has something to do with personal experiences, but whatever.
The Binary Alchemistbinaryalchemist on July 14th, 2010 08:34 am (UTC)
A lot of people tend to dismiss the idea of men being on the receiving end of violent behavior as being abusive. I got over that when I worked as a peer counselor for the Coalition to Assist Abused Persons and to my shock met men whose cute little wives had lost their cute little tempers and when the man refused to fight back--usually out of the 'don't hit a woman' or 'dont want to upset my kids'belief--the wife would just get madder and madder and you'd go from insults to passive aggression and manipulation to shouting to picking arguments to slapping and the next thing you know a big strong dude is in the ER either slashed up with a kitchen knife or with a split scalp and concussion from a cast iron skillet upside the head. And the guy just TAKES it--out of love of his kids, or love of her, or fear that if he says shit about it nobody will believe him. And the wife going--"I didn't MEAN to do it--he just makes me so damn mad..."
It's very hard to find anything cute or adorable about her smashing his head. As Ed says in CoS: "Why is it every time we meet I end up in pain?" Why indeed...