Fic: Half Lives, Chapter 5: Brothers and Damn Near Mothers
Rating:PG 13 to NC 17 for yaoi sex and references to domestic violence.
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…
CHAPTER SUMMARY: Alphonse is summoned to Emperor Ling’s private chambers for a serious discussion about Ed’s future—too bad he got stuck with paying for the take out food and the beer. Meanwhile in Amestris, Ed gets some tough love from Madame Chistmas—and discovers that a part of him isn’t QUITE as dead as he’d been lead to believe…
A/N Again, for rueme , with gratitude for her amazing art
And yes—I’m posting a lot—might even get this arc finished before ConFluence in Pittsburgh this week!
HALF LIVES, Chapter 5: Brothers and Damn Near Mothers
By The Binary Alchemist 2010
Cold and numb. Still breathing. That was hard to imagine, considering a part of his heart had just been cut out. Cut out and stomped on by a very small pair of shoes.
I am only contacting you so you will NOT worry. Your brother has not forbidden me to contact you. I think he’s more afraid of your reaction than anything else. I need you to read this message completely—and call me at the number below before you set off for Resembool.
The bottom line: Ed is recovering from a head injury. He had minor corrective surgery this morning to remove a small blood clot at the site of the injury. Medical terms: hairline fracture, small subdural hematoma. He is under the care of my personal physician, resting comfortably and either I or Colonel Hawkeye is at his bedside at all times.
Ed has not openly admitted who injured him. Considering how neatly the wound was dressed and stitched I don’t believe I need to spell it out to you. As far as I know no charges will be pressed. He had made it clear that he does not want his wife contacted, although I will find a discreet way to notify Pinako that he is receiving proper care. I doubt he allowed her to examine him for concussion—instead I’m guessing he left Resembool and headed straight to Central.
Alphonse…I now have a clearer understanding of your very real concerns about these two. For now, Ed is going to remain in Central recuperating…but decisions have to be made and I think it is vital for a third party to step in—someone who can be trusted to listen to both sides of the story. And since I’m being candid, I will explain why that intermediary cannot be me.
I care for your brother. More than I suspected. I have said nothing. I have no idea if he feels anything for me or can consider me as anything other than a friend or colleague. I haven’t felt like this since I lost Maes…so I think you have some idea what I’m trying to convey here. But this is strictly up to Edward. I will say nothing, do nothing, and keep this strictly between the two of us unless he gives me any indication that it is mutual. Oh, and of course, Hawkeye has figured it out. Eerie, that. Regardless how he may feel about me, I am solidly on his side and will go to all lengths to make sure he and his children are safe. That is why I am urging you to please find some person who knows both Ed and Winry who can step in and give them a safe venue to talk honestly about this. Your brother—and his children—need this from you.
When he was summoned to the Throne Room, his face was still wet with tears. As was custom, he bowed respectfully before Emperor Ling but the expression on his old friend’s face made it clear that protocol meant nothing between them—they were friends. Protocol kept the ministers from nagging Ling, that was all.
The Emperor rose, his majestic scarlet silk robes half swallowing his youthful frame. “It is my desire to speak in private with Alphonse Elric. We will retire to the privy chamber. Lan Fan, you will guard the door after inspecting the room. Alphonse Elric, come with me.”
Once the door was shut, Ling shrugged out of his opulent gown, sprawling on the floor cushions in loose silk trousers and a lavishly embroidered tunic. “I’m famished!” he exclaimed. “I’ve sent out for Amestrian from that little place on Tsientsien Square. They say they’ll have it delivered in about twenty minutes.” He turned out his pockets with a sigh. “Any chance you can cover the tip?”
His Celestial Grace Emperor Ling Yao licked the last of the spicy mustard off his thumb and drained his beer with gusto. “If I had made Winry a princess this never would have happened. How is Ed recovering? Hard to imagine anything denting that thick head of his.”
Al choked on his sandwich. “How the hell did you find out about Ed getting hurt?” he demanded angrily. The message from Mustang arrived by private courier in a sealed envelope, hand carried from the Amestrian Embassy.
Ling belched unapologetically and reached in for another powdered sugar donut. “I’m the Emperor,” he answered cheerfully, as if this explained everything.
“You’re not omniscient,” Al shot back.
“Nope!” the Emperor readily agreed. “But I’ve got damned good informants in every country, in every capitol.”
“You’re spying on Roy!” This was unbelievable. Roy and Ling had worked so hard to establish trade routes and friendly relations between their two countries. “How could you do that??”
Ling brushed the powdered sugar off his sleeve and then shoved a handful of fried chipped potatoes into his mouth. “Same way he does it to me. Everybody spies on everybody else. It’s pretty open, really. I even sent his agents greeting cards and moon cakes on New Year’s Day. And my spies run the Fuhrer’s favorite restaurant—they say he’s a chintzy tipper, though. They’re threatening to put dog meat into his next order of Piaoxiang Beef if he isn’t more generous in the future….”
Alphonse gritted his teeth. “What about Brother?? What do you know? Roy didn’t say all that much.”
“Welllllll—“ Ling splutted a puddle of oyster sauce in the middle of his plate to dunk his potatoes in. “Somebody in Resembool gave him a concussion and cracked his head—and somebody stitched him up before he took off. He’s in the military hospital and had some surgery. Annnnnd,” he waved a chipped potato for emphasis, “our friend with the very ugly mustache is sleeping in his room every night at the hospital. Presumably not in the same bed. They do refer to him behind his back as the Widow Hughes, though. Ed’s rather attractive, I must admit, and if my tastes ran that way I might consider---“
Al slammed his fists so hard on the table that Lan Fan peeked in to be sure everything was all right. “It’s all my fault—don’t you get it?” Al blurted out. “I was the one that left him. If I had stayed in Resembool….”
“But that wasn’t your destiny, was it?” Ling looked very serious for once. “It was right and fitting that you chose your own path in pursuit of wisdom to help others. It helped you grow. Unfortunately your brother’s destiny has not turned out quite as he might have hoped. Edward and Winry are both of yang nature—too much alike. I could see that from the beginning. As siblings they could resolve this but they possess too similar natures. Like the poles of a magnet, eventually they repel each other. You are of yin nature, Alphonse—a perfect balance for either of them. Had Winry been less headstrong she would have recognized this and chosen you as her compliment. But yang souls can be obsessive—Edward obsessed himself with your restoration, healing and shielding you from the world when you returned to it. And Winry developed a romantic obsession with him that blinded her to the very qualities that made them unsuited. And I am not surprised that she conceived so quickly—no doubt this was deliberate—aided by some sympathetic village midwife or herbalist, no doubt. A woman in my country is taught to mind the rhythms of her body—the moisture between her thighs, the courses of her moons, what teas can enhance or make barren. Even in such a backwards nation as Amestris there are midwives who could tell her this. Yang can be controlling—even manipulative—when thwarted. I myself am of yin nature—my own calmness would have complimented her—“
Al groaned and buried his face in his hands. This was worse and worse and Ling was not helping matters with his prattling about moon cycles and yin and yang. “If you can’t help me, then—“
“Oh but I can.” Another donut vanished, this one covered with colorful sprinkles.
“I can indeed—and I’m quite surprised at Edward for not seeking out this person.”
Al’s head jerked up. “Who, for god’s sake??”
“Roy-Boy told me you were stuck in bed with a busted melon.”
She was short. She was stout. Her hair was stubbornly black and her green eyes swept the room in an instant, quickly noting her adopted son’s dressing gown folded neatly on the fold out chair and his slippers tucked neatly underneath and the fluffy pillow bearing the embroidered presidential crest on its hem. “’Bout damned time we formally met.” She offered a plump bejeweled hand. “Chris Mustang. How the hell are you, Ed?”
“So did it shock you to find out about Roy and Maes?” She didn’t light her cigarette but toyed with the holder as she sipped a cup of coffee and Ed bit ravenously into the fresh bakery sweet rolls she had brought him. “Love is love, y’know. Sex don’t matter. Male or female? Don’t matter. You care for someone? You care. Understand?”
“Yeah, I guess.” Ed put down his fork, feeling queasy again.
“You love your wife?” The green eyes locked onto his. “Honest now, son. There’s caring—and then there’s giving every last scrap of your heart to someone else. Letting them in, letting ‘em fill up your spirit and live in you when they’re gone.” He didn’t answer. “Yeah. That’s what I thought. Kinda like being expected to feed fifty at your table and all you got is a lousy can o’ beans and a box of soda crackers. It’s food—but it ain’t gonna fill anybody up for long.”
Ed was quiet for several minutes, head bowed, face flushed. “Did Roy—“
“Lissen,” she cut in briskly. “He didn’t have to tell me jack shit. Son, I ran the biggest and best whorehouse in Central for nearly forty years. I see ‘em come in every goddamned night. They pay for the booze and the girls—but once they get up to those rooms there ain’t a whole lot of fuckin’ going on. Nope. They buy the girls time because they need to talk. Because their hearts are busted up—sometimes their heads too. They feel like some jackrabbit in a leg iron in the woods. Do they lie their and die, chew off their legs and crawl away bleeding…or will somebody help ‘em out and get it through the hunter’s fuckin’ brain that this stupid and wrong.”
She reached over and thumped Ed soundly on his automail knee. “You’re a tough little bastard. You know what you need to do for you.”
Ed’s eyes were desperate. “My kids—“
“Yeah, I know. You two are gonna have to talk this out. Do what’s right. But what I’m sayin’ is better a broken home than a home were people get broken. Kids ain’t dumb. They see it—they learn it. And you don’t want your kids beatin’ up on people—or letting themselves get beat up. Am I right, son?”
“So---you sit tight. Get back on your feet some. Get word to that granny of hers that you’re still alive, you love your kids and you’ll talk in a few weeks. Meet the girl somewhere in neutral territory—kinda like ambassadors meetin’ to stop a war. If you want out, you tell her. Don’t waffle. If you want back in, you both have to get help. You tell her what you think the kids need. You listen to her side. And you bring along some people who listen to both of you—keep you from getting’ your head busted or from either of you playin’ any bullshit games—like you shuttin’ her out or her getting all teary or pissy. You talk, goddamn it. You listen to each other. And you decide what’s best for your kids. Okay?”
“Yes, ma’am…” He nodded as earnestly as his aching head would allow. “Thank you, Ma’am.”
She beamed. “You’re welcome. And thanks for what you’ve done for my Roy-Boy.”
Ed looked puzzled. “Huh? What did I do for Mustang?”
“He’s smiling now. First time I’ve seen him smile like that since Maes died. Doing him good looking after you. Means a lot. And you got him to shave that goddamned mustache, so you must be a damned good kisser.”
Ed’s jaw hung open. His face turned an astonishing shade of scarlet. He remembered the comforting strength of warm hands kneading his aching shoulders, the scent of sandalwood and cinders—and those same hands never letting go as he tried not to panic when they strapped him to the bed, put his head in a vise, dosed him with morphine and drilled a hole in his skull two days ago.
I’ll be here if you need me….
And he’d be here again tonight…hopefully.
His mouth went suddenly dry. “C-can I…”
“Can I ask…y’know…if…let’s suppose two guys….I—I mean,” he stammered awkwardly, “well…is it gross when two guys….doesn’t it hurt?? “
Madame Christmas hooted with laughter. She reached over and affectionately patted his thigh. “Boy, do you have some pleasant surprises in store, Ed-Boy…” She was still chuckling as she waved goodbye.
I’ll be here if you need me….
He looked down at his groin in surprise. “Well…and she said you were as good as dead….”
….TO BE CONTINUED……