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17 July 2010 @ 09:13 am
Fic: HALF LIVES, Chapter 4: "A Hand To Hold On To"  

Fic: Half Lives, Chapter 4: A Hand To Hold On To"


Rating:SMEX this time! R 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: Roy is unsatisfied with Ed’s quality of care…and uses some rather unsavory methods of intimidation with the nursing staff—and a bedpan—to make his point. Winry begins to realize that Pinako is not going to bail her out when the pressures of a full time job and two cranky children are more than she can handle by herself. And Ed and Roy finally discuss Roy’s love and loss of Maes Hughes…

Chapter 3: http://community.livejournal.com/fm_alchemist/6938835.html

Chapter 2: http://community.livejournal.com/fm_alchemist/6935266.html

Chapter 1: http://community.livejournal.com/fm_alchemist/6932554.html
A/N Again, for rueme  , with gratitude for her amazing art

ALSO---I think a lot of people will be gratified about what is...missing...from this chapter. Specifically, a certain gentleman's facial foliage...


HALF LIVES, Chapter 4: A Hand To Hold On To

By The Binary Alchemist, 2010


            Somebody called Code in the hospital.

            Thankfully, it wasn’t on Edward.

            However, around 7am as Roy was getting ready to head back to his office, there was a dilemma that Ed couldn’t manage without a little…assistance.

            “I gotta take a dump.”

            Roy was shaving at the sink. Patting his cheeks dry, he surveyed his moustache critically. Surely…surely the damned thing would fill out eventually. If Ed could grow taller—wasn’t that proof that nothing was truly impossible? “Ring for the nurse,” he answered and pulled a comb out of his pocket, sweeping his bangs back  so they would look neat under his cap.

            “I did. Twice. An hour ago. “ Ed squirmed uncomfortably against the sheets, looking embarrassed. “Fuck it—I’m just gonna get out of bed—“

            Roy snapped around smartly. “Get back in that bed. That’s a order.

            Ed shifted and there was a rather impressive rumble from under the thin cotton blanket. “I’m not kidding,” he warned.

            “Neither am I,” Roy informed him. “Knox was not joking about the risk of post-concussion risk—or about that hematoma. You want him to come in here and drill a hole in your skull, suck out the clot and leave a rubber tube hanging out of the side of your head? It could happen.” He disappeared inside the small bathroom and returned with a steel pan, which he warmed under running water in the sink, dried carefully and then handed over to the younger man. “I’ll give you some privacy.” He also gave him a roll of lavatory paper. “I’ll be outside. Let me know when you’re done.”

            Roy nodded, stepped outside, closing the door behind him. “Sir? How is Edward?” Hawkeye asked, handing him a cup of coffee. He was about to swallow a mouthful before answering when there was a loud, rude sound that echoed from the closed room behind him. Punchy with exhaustion, he snortled with laughter and the coffee dribbled out his nose, soaking his mustache. Hawkeye passed him a handkerchief without comment.

            “Well,” he chuckled weakly, “a good politician can convince a crowd that horse shit smells like roses.”

            There was a clang and a curse on the other side of the door. “GODDAMNIT!”

            Hawkeye froze. Then she saluted her superior officer. “Consider it good training for coping with Prince Claudio, Sir!”


            Ed looked terrified. “Where’s the damn nurse! I told you to get the nurse!”

            Roy shook his head. “Somebody went into cardiac arrest down the hall. So it’s either me…or Colonel Hawkeye. All things considered…” he trailed off, smirking inwardly at Edward’s horrified expression at the thought of the dignified Colonel Hawkeye having to confront what he was still concealing under the sheets.

            “After all the things I’ve seen on the battlefield, the contents of your bedpan are hardly likely to be that intimidating,” he quipped mildly, whisking the offensive item away and heading for the door.

            “Hey!” Ed shouted in panic. “The bathroom’s over there, idiot!”

            “Yes,” Roy nodded sagely. “And the nurse’s station is out there. As large as this facility is, I can’t believe not one single nurse or orderly could answer your bell. So I’m bringing them a little…reminder…that they need to be perhaps a bit more dedicated to their duties.”

            As he marched out, Hawkeye marched in. “That son of a bitch is crazy!” Ed shouted, then lowered his voice. His head was throbbing..

            Colonel Hawkeye nodded. “Considering he never left your side all night, I’d agree.”

            “No…no he didn’t,” Ed considered, easing back against the pillows.


            “Good morning.” In the smoking veranda several varieties of cigarettes hit the paved picnic area walkway in astonishment as His Excellency, Fuhrer President Roy Mustang marched up the path bearing a gleaming steel bed pan. An unpleasant aroma wafted up the breeze to precede him.

            They leaped to their feet in respect, dropping their smokes and knocking over their coffee and sweet rolls. The brimming bedpan clanged down onto the table in the midst of their breakfast. “I’ve checked the duty roster,” The Fuhrer told them pleasantly. “I know who is supposed to be out here enjoying the sunrise—it’s  a fine morning, isn’t it?—and who is skiving off on the clock. This is a military hospital. There would be some rather unpleasant consequences if I actually saw anyone skiving off. So I strongly suggest you return to your duties so my friend and colleague Edward Elric won’t have to go through the misery of waiting an hour when he’s unable to get up and relieve himself. And if you would neglect my personal friend and colleague I would be quite concerned about how any less renown patients are being treated.” He gave them a smile that was warm, genuine….and full of unspoken threats. “Have I made myself  clear?”


Two minutes later a half dozen nurses rushed into Ed’s room, falling all over themselves. Would he like his bed bath now? Some more orange juice? A back rub? Fluff his pillows?

            “Well…for starters you can wipe my ass,” Ed mumbled, flushing with embarrassment and pulling the covers over his head as Hawkeye hastily retreated back to the hall. She was nearly run over by a very nervous looking young man pushing the Hospitality Cart full of magazines, books, a big bucket of cracked ice and an assortment of fresh fruits. “Mr. Elric! Mr. Elric!” the volunteer  panted nervously outside the door.

            “Mr. Elric is having his bath now,” Hawkeye informed him. “I’m sure the rest of the patients down the hall would appreciate it if you stopped by…at least occasionally.” Pulling her sidearm, she flipped open the breach, inspecting the chamber nonchalantly before snapping it home. “Get going.”

            “Yes, Ma’am!”


            Roy sauntered up behind her. “You just love doing that.”

            “No Sir. I just assumed the other patients would appreciate some ice in their pitchers and one of those twelve year old dog-eared copies of The Amestrian Angler or Crochet Monthly.”

            “Hmmmm…you could be right.” He stroked the ends of his mustache thoughtfully. “Perhaps I should donate a subscription to TITillations in Mr. Havoc’s name…..”


            Nina was fussy all morning. She squawked and squalled and no amount of lullabies or rocking could soothe the child. There were over a dozen repair orders on her work bench. Maes had gotten into a bucket of ball bearing and gleefully dumped them down the hall, pinging them all over like the most wonderful assortment of shiny marbles he’d ever seen. Granny’s boot had hit one as she came down the hall with a basket of fresh laundry, and she went down like a rock, smacking her elbow hard against the doorjamb. “Looks like I’d better rest it for the day,” she sighed, a bag full of frozen peas pressed against the bruise. “You’ll have to finish that new ankle I was fabricating last night before I had to drop everything and stitch up Edward.”

            “All right,” she grunted as she crawled down the hall, scooping up the treacherous little spheres that were sure to invite more people to slip and crash. She accidentally knelt on one and yelped in pain. “When’s he coming to be fitted?”

            “Two o’clock.”

            TWO O’CLOCK???” Winry cast frantic eyes towards the clock. It was half-past eleven. “Granny—can you watch the kids while I---“

            Pinako puffed serenely on her pipe for several moments before answering. “You know…I’d better get old Doc Gibbs to take a look at this—just to be sure. I’ll have Jonas drive me into town.  Probably have a nice lunch while we’re in town. Want me to pick up anything for you?”

            Winry looked like she’d been saved. “YES! Get me a baby sitter! That would let me get this work done—“

            “No.” Pinako tapped her pipe for quiet emphasis. “You were the one that wanted to have children right away when you weren’t even twenty yet. You were the one who didn’t want to wait a couple of years like anyone with common sense. You were all in a big rush. Ed had sense enough to want to wait, but no….you threw caution to the wind. And since you didn’t give Ed any reason to stay, I guess you’ll have to handle this by yourself.”


            It was nearly seven o’clock when Roy arrived for the evening. He had brought a small overnight case for himself, a more comfortable pillow for Ed and a big covered bowl of freshly washed and hulled strawberries. Ed opened his eyes slowly. The pain was really damned bad. He was dizzy and tired and nauseous, but Dr. Knox was still concerned about a small blood clot in the last set of x-rays. “Shut up. Stay in bed. Stay out of trouble and I’ll let you know in the morning if I need to drill a hole in your head.”


            “Got you a better pillow. The ones in here turn flat as pancakes. This should feel cooler.”

            It was stuffed with goose down, fluffy and wonderfully soft. “Your taxpayer cenz at work, right?” he teased weakly.

            “No. This is from my own bed.” Roy swapped the pillows out, taking Ed’s old one and placing it on the fold out chair beside the bed. “I’ll use that one.”

            Ed was silent for a moment. “You’re staying?”

            Roy unbuttoned his dress uniform coat. “You have any objections to that?”

            Ed considered, then shook his head gingerly. “No…I mean…yeah. S’okay. You gonna be comfortable,” he jerked his thumb towards the fold out chair, “in that thing?”

            “I’m out of the nurse’s way when they check on you,” he answered. ‘Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to change into something a bit less confining…”

            Ed sighed and settled back again. The pillow felt like heaven under his aching head…so soft. And it smelled like…

            …like Roy’s shampoo, and also kinda like that sort of sandalwood and cinders smell he associated with Mustang. Roy didn’t wear cologne but must’ve showered with some kind of exotic soap. Maybe. It was kinda nice, he decided.


            Roy emerged in a pair of loose, casual trousers, a t-shirt and slip-on shoes. His dog tags were tucked neatly into the overnight bag. “How about you, Ed? Need a fresh gown or a change of sheets?”

            “I’m good. Thanks.”


            “Nope. Where’d you get the berries?”

            Roy smiled and popped the lid off the glass bowl. The smell made Ed’s mouth water and he helped himself to the tangy fruit. “Chef Ramsay. He’s over the kitchens at the palace. Disagreeable son of a bitch but when it’s two a.m. and your desk is covered with unsigned papers and you’d kill for a good corned beef on rye with a cold beer, he’s a genius. I find I can put up with a lot when the food’s this tasty. Help yourself. I told him they were your favorites.”


            Ed nibbled a few, then laid the bowl aside. “What’s the matter? Not like you to pick at your food. Normally by now you’d have eaten the pattern right off the china.”

            Ed grimaced slightly. “Nah….I mean, they’re good, but…I don’t know. My stomach doesn’t handle stuff so good anymore. Don’t know why.”

            Roy looked concerned. “You tell Knox?”

            Ed colored a little. “HE said it was…well…like I’m caving under….stress.” That last word was a reluctant admission that made Roy’s heart give a funny little jolt…


            “Roy! Don’t you want some more pot roast?? Gracia makes the most AMAXING pot roast—but then the little woman is AMAZING at everything she does!”

            “No….no thanks, Maes. My stomach is…it’s been a little sour lately.” Dr. Knox had told him the same damned thing. Stress. Part of it was Ishbal. Part of it was assuming higher rank at such a young age and having to fight to stay on top of the heap with dozens of other officers plotting to find a way to drag him down.

            And part of it—the biggest part, if he was being honest with himself—was being inflicted with Mae’s tales of marital bliss.

            “Oh, man—it’s the GREATEST!” the idiot cooed. “I don’t know what’s hotter—her chicken curry or her red hot lovin’—she is WICKED in the sheets, Roy! My own personal love goddess---“


            I remember your heat. The taste of you in my mouth, your chest molded against my back and the way each thrust made me grit my teeth into the pillow to keep from crying out and getting us caught. I remember making you crazy…that sensitive spot on your inner thigh you love to have kissed and licked…and god…when you turned those smoldering eyes on me and hook one long leg over my shoulder, inviting me inside…


            He had been so goddamned empty For so goddamned long. And he could see that same bleak desperation in Ed’s eyes…only thing was, Ed had never known that kind of obsessive desire. From childhood he had lived for one thing and one thing only—the restoration of his brother. Al was the center of his universe, night and day, waking and sleeping. He had managed to restore Al to his body….and after two years of recuperation, Al had left him.

            And that’s when Winry made her move.

            Roy supposed he couldn’t blame her, much as he’d like to. He’d have done the same damn thing if there was a man he’d known himself to be attracted to who truly needed Roy’s love and attention….


            “I can help with that,” Roy said very, very quietly. Can you sit up?”


            “Scoot over to the edge. I’ll work on your shoulders. It’ll help you sleep and ease some of the pain. Works like a charm. Maes…used to do this when I would get those tension headaches I used to get sometimes.”


            Careful of the metal that was had been permanently attached to his bones, Roy began working his thumbs slowly into the rigid muscles in Ed’s neck and shoulders. He stepped in closer. Closer than he had to. He could smell the antiseptic  they had painted on his wound and the slightly bitter scent of unwashed hair. And a warm muskiness that made him back off a fraction so their bodies did not touch even as his fingers firmly kneaded the tautness into pliancy.


            “You and Hughes.” It was like a shot in the dark.

            Roy had no reason to lie anymore. “Yes. Before he was married.”

            “He got over you.”

            Now it was Roy’s stomach that ached a little. “Mostly.”

            Ed glared at him. “What do you mean, mostly? You weren’t—“

            No. Most emphatically not. Once he’d made his choice….I did the honorable thing.”

            Ed bit down on another strawberry. “I kinda wondered why your picture was up there with all the family and yet I never saw you set one foot inside that house.”

            Roy gazed off into the distance, remembering green eyes glittering in the shadows of a tent in the field. The last time—that night before the wedding when they were both so incredibly drunk and he had let Maes ride him until he was aching inside and out, knowing that in a few hours—less than a day—he’d be riding Gracia the same goddamned way. How can you kiss her at the altar when I can still taste your come? Maes…god, you’re killing me….

            “I loved him. More than anything.” His words were simple. His sentences were short. Each one of them made Ed pay very close attention. “I let him go. I lost him. And when they taunted me—Pride and his bastards—told me they would gladly bring my lover back if I opened the Gateway….it hurt like hell to say no. No other choice.”

            Silence. Ed cleared his throat. “Does Colonel Hawkeye know?”

            “She does now.

            Silence. “Oh.” Silence. “That would explain a lot.”

            “I’m sure it does.”

            A long time after Roy thought Ed was asleep the younger man spoke again. “What about now. Anybody…?
            There was a quiet sigh. “If there is…or was…I…I think I would need to…want to know…if…”

            Silence. “If…what?”

            Roy didn’t answer, just buried his face in Ed’s old pillow.

            “If what, damn it?”

            The voice in the dark was one Ed hadn’t heard since Roy sank to the ground in misery after Envy killed himself. The voice of a man outwardly tired, inwardly defeated.

            “If he gave a damn about me. Because if I thought for one goddamned moment that he cared…there’s nothing on earth I wouldn’t do for him. Including, “ he added with a hint of irony, “accepting him for himself. Not casting him in the role of some romantic hero or idol. I’d take him, warts, bullshit, rotten temper…farts…and all.”


            “Then shave off that goddamned hairlip.  Looks fuckin’ ridiculous.”


            At five-thirty the nurse flipped on the light to check Ed’s vitals, bring him a bed pan, a tiny sip of cold juice and a pill  and to let him know Dr. Knox was on his way. She brought a basin of warm, soapy water to the bedside and began to unwind Ed’s bandage.

            Roy bolted upright and was on his feet in an instant. “You’re putting the catheter in?”

            “It’s a simple procedure. We do it in here. It won’t take very long and that way if there is any bleeding we can be certain it doesn’t cause further damage. You’ll have to leave, Sir,” she added respectfully.

            “The hell I will,” Roy answered evenly. “I can sit on the other side. Will he be conscious?”

            Ed paled slightly and swallowed hard. “We’ll give him a drip to relax him. It’s very simple, Mr. Elric. You won’t feel anything and it will ease those headaches. Dr. Knox really feels this is the best thing to do and says we should go ahead and get it done now.”

            “Oh…okay,” Ed stammered.

            “I’m not leaving.” Roy’s nodded to where his uniform coat hung on the peg by the door—and the stars on its shoulder boards. “This is a military facility. I am the Commander in Chief. If I say I’m staying…”

            “Y-yessir!” the nurse squeaked in terror, dashing off to inform Dr. Knox, who would undoubtedly ream her out six ways to Sunday and then attempt to tear Mustang a new orifice too.


            Roy moved everything out of the way, leaving the right side of the bed unobstructed. He rang up his office. “Colonel Hawkeye? Fullme—Edward is having surgery. I’ll be here if you need me. Send a courier if there’s paperwork to be signed. Otherwise, I’ll call you in a few hours.”


            The side of his head burned—but the allover achiness had actually eased. There had been a tiny clot that was easily removed and there was almost no drainage. He was still on a drip with antibiotics and fluids but his color was good and although he was whacked out of his mind with morphine, he assessed his own condition and decided there was nothing worth worrying about---that was, until Al found out. His head might be safe from his brother’s wrath—but his ears would be chewed to ribbons.

            He cracked one eye open at a soft snore beside him. Mustang. Still there…but, as he swiftly observed, not…intact.

            His upper lip was hairless once more.

            The mustache was gone. Roy was close by, his hand gripping Edward’s as it had throughout the whole awful procedure.

            He grinned in the dark. Then his empty stomach rumbled, followed by low, whistle from the back of his gown, partly muffled by the mattress.

            “…there’s nothing on earth I wouldn’t do for him… I’d take him, warts, bullshit, rotten temper…farts…and all.”

            He burrowed his face contentedly into the pillow that smelled of spice and smoke and sandalwood and drifted peacefully back to sleep.







(Deleted comment)
The Binary Alchemistbinaryalchemist on July 17th, 2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
Better than having Riza SHOOT the damned thing off, one hair at a time....:Grins:: Thanks for reading!
NinjAngelninjangel on July 17th, 2010 06:17 pm (UTC)
That whole exchange between Roy and Ed was just so cute. <3

I feel like I'm living for this story at this moment. I can't wait for an update~
The Binary Alchemist: USbinaryalchemist on July 17th, 2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
Awww....thank you so much. That means a hell of a lot and it makes me want to skive off the crap I need to do today and jump on to Chapter 5....
Regianna: fangirlregianna on July 18th, 2010 05:05 am (UTC)
woow, i look forward for next chapter.
Keep it going! is really good!!!
The Binary Alchemistbinaryalchemist on July 18th, 2010 05:16 am (UTC)
Thanks so much--I'm so honored by the positive response from this tale!
fractured_chaosfractured_chaos on August 2nd, 2010 05:43 pm (UTC)
**snickers** @ the Hell's Kitchen reference.

Good story, too. And thank GOD that vile little mustache has been removed.
The Binary Alchemistbinaryalchemist on August 2nd, 2010 11:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks! We're up to chapter 8 now--and I couldn't resist throwing Ramsay in the mix....the 'stangstache was an abomination--and shaving it off did indeed make him kissable to a certain gentleman with a VERY hard head!