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07 August 2010 @ 04:04 am
Fic: HALF LIVES, Chapter 10: "Crucibles and Chemistry"  

Fic: Half Lives, Chapter 10: Crucibles and Chemistry

Author: binaryalchemist 

Rating: PG 13 to Soft R this chapter

Pairing: Roy/Ed, references to past Roy/Hughes and the ending of Ed and Winry’s marriage.

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: In Resembool Winry sacrifices to the past in the fires of Pinako’s forge—but already there are signs that even little children learn from their parents—the good and the bad. Roy shocks Maria Ross with hickies and requests for…makeup? Dr Knox kicks Ed out of the hospital—and back at the Palace a certain book from Madame Chistmas gives Ed the final insight as to why his marriage went so terribly astray…

Chapter 9: http://community.livejournal.com/fm_alchemist/6962477.html#cutid2

Chapter 8: http://community.livejournal.com/fm_alchemist/6957897.html

Chapter 7: http://community.livejournal.com/fma_yaoi/1956444.html#cutid1

Chapter 6: http://community.livejournal.com/fma_yaoi/1955468.html#cutid1

Chapter 5: http://community.livejournal.com/fma_yaoi/1954820.html

Chapter 4: http://community.livejournal.com/fma_yaoi/1954759.html#cutid1

Chapter 3: http://community.livejournal.com/fma_yaoi/1953583.html#cutid1

Chapter 2: http://community.livejournal.com/fma_yaoi/1953116.html#cutid1

Chapter 1: http://community.livejournal.com/fma_yaoi/1952285.html#cutid1


**HALF LIVES has gotten over FOUR THOUSAND Hits on Fanfiction. Net since 7/11—THANK YOU!!!! Feedback is Greatly Appreciated!**As always, for rueme  for her amazing artwork


HALF LIVES Chapter 10: Crucibles and Chemistry

By The Binary Alchemist, 2010


            She was packing up her personal belongings for shipment to Rush Valley when she accidentally dumped over her jewelry box. Not a lot in there—a few items that belonged to Granny and her mother that she was keeping for Nina. Jewelry wasn’t practical in a workshop. Most of the time her wedding ring hung on a leather thong around her neck to keep it out of the way.

            The screw. The one from Ed’s arm. The one that I forgot to connect and almost got him killed when his arm broke down in battle. She was always so damned careful about such things, kept such an accurate inventory of parts for each and every automail limb she worked on. She asked her self now and then over the years if she’d left it out by accident or ‘accidentally-on-purpose’, since Ed never wrote or called or showed up at all unless he needed repairs or a refit.  And she’d kept it all those years in her jewelry box—because it was one place Ed would never think to look.

            The automail arm was replaced by the flesh he had reclaimed thanks to Al’s final sacrifice. The connectors bolted to his skeleton—the bones had grown around them. They would remain with him until he died.  The new arm had formed itself around the nerve connection wires—they could never be removed either. He didn’t need this screw. And I guess he doesn’t need me either.  His four spare legs were crated and on route to Central. No doubt he’d have no trouble getting a new mechanic to take care of him—since he was so bad at taking care of his automail on his own. She’d taken into consideration that he’d eventually fill out some. He had grown so fast after Al’s return that she had been refitting him every month it had seemed. Ed was not getting taller but in time he’d fill out and those legs she had crafted would be set aside and replaced for good. Just like me.

            She tucked Nina in for her nap and gave Maes a cookie. “Stay here with Den,” she told him and he offered her one of those toothy, mischievous grins that made him look uncannily like his father, right down to that stubborn twig of hair that poked up above his forehead.  Maes was already filling out, though. He’d have his grandfather and uncle’s build and he tottered after her on stout little legs, tugging fiercely at her coveralls whenever he wanted attention.

            Down in the workshop there were a half a dozen orders to be filled. Granny had been finishing up the right arm and shoulder of a youngster from Wisteria Valley—a boy about 12 years old.  Per Rockbell policy, all the parts were carefully inventoried, labeled, catalogued and sorted prior to final assembly and fitting. The screw on the inventory was the same size as the one she’d kept in her jewelry box. Better this way, Winry thought, switching the screws and attaching a new inventory tag. It will help someone else’s son have a good life.  The screw intended for the new arm was dropped back into the parts bin, the tiny leftover tag tossed into the forge fire.

            Unlocking the safe, she removed a smallish ingot of pure gold. It was used to draw the fine wires which would connect human nerves to machinery without being rejected by most bodies. It weight only a few scant grams. Gold was hard to come by.

            She took a small graphite crucible down from the foundry shelf and dropped the ingot in. From her pocket she removed several pairs of earrings she’d had since Ed gave them to her as a thank-you when he got his first pay as a dog of the military. After all, he couldn’t have done it without her help. She’d had all new holes pierced in her ears by Granny so she would wear all of Ed’s earrings at once as well as the pair her mother had given her when she was five. One by one, she dropped them into the crucible. She removed her wedding ring from her pocket. She snipped through the leather thong and with shaking fingers laid it gently on top of the ingot and the earrings. Then, taking up heat-resistant tongs, she placed the crucible into the heart of the forge, tears slipping down her cheeks.

            Granny would weigh the ingot before drawing surgical gold wire. She would note that it was a few grams heavier than her records. She would also notice that Winry wore only her mother Sarah’s earrings now. She wouldn’t inquire after the ring. Pinako was no fool—and she would agree it was right and fitting for the gold to be purified by fire and then used to serve the needs of other wounded souls.

            Upstairs, Den snoozed peacefully on top of Maes favorite toy—a stuffed kitten Uncle Al had given him. “Kitty!” Maes frowned. “Move, Den!” Den opened one rheumy eye and regarded this human pup with disinterest. She was old and tired and the sun felt good on her back and the toy was soft under her chin. “MOVE, Den! I want KITTY!” She closed her eye again and began to snore softly.

            Maes toddled over to where Mama had left a pair of her welding gloves on the chair. Snatching one with both hands, he stomped back to Den and did just what Mama did when Da wouldn’t move from his big chair in his study where all the books and do-not-touchy things were kept. Where Da usually slept before leaving and not coming back for a long time.

            “Den? What the—“ Pinako had come in the front door, arms full of groceries when Den barreled past her, knocking the old woman down, rocketing down the stairs and taking off as if her life depended on it.


            “I’ve got to get to the office.”

            Roy bent down and Ed did not seem willing to let him up. He was getting hard again, damn it, and so was Ed—but duty before pleasure. Amber eyes regarded him keenly. “Last night….”

            Roy smiled. “Last night.”

            Ed’s face reddened. “That…that was…”

            Roy’s hand smoothed Ed’s bare chest. “Yes. It…was.” Roy leaned in closer. “Now, do me a favor. I have an assignment for you.”

            Ed looked intrigued. “What’s that?”

            “The book.”

            Oh. That book. “Er….what about that…book?”

            Roy pulled a pencil out of the nightstand. “Make notes.”

            “Ahh…notes??” Ed gulped nervously.

            “In the margins—or in your journal.” Roy sounded far more nonchalant than he felt. “Make note of anything…you…you know…find….interesting. Anything meriting…”

            “—further research?” A tentative smile. “Yeah. I can do that.”

            “I—I mean…you know…anything that you’d like to discuss or whatever.” By the powers, Roy Mustang was stammering. “Or—you know—anything you don’t feel—“

            “—I got it.” Ed finished. The heart under Roy’s palm began to hammer again. “Get your own copy. Make some notes for me, okay?”

            “Will do. Now go back to sleep.”

            Ed peeked cynically under the sheet. “With this? You gotta be kidding!”

            Roy brushed his mouth gently over Ed’s and then leaned in close to whisper in his ear. “They’ll be in to check your vitals—and the only thing they want to see in your mouth is a thermometer.”

            “You’re no goddamned fun, Mustang.” Ed groused as he pulled the blanket up to his chin. “Fuck you!”

            “Page 37!” Roy countered with sadistic glee. “Now go to sleep!”

            The underwear was a total loss. Roy stared at the stained, stiff cotton and stuffed it into the dirty laundry hamper. The fact that it was a few sizes larger than Ed’s might raise eyebrows but what the hell, he would be damned if he was going to march back to his office in a pair of shorts that had been soaked in…never mind.

            His trousers. Thank the powers that he sported the long formal dress coat these days. The splotch was undeniable and impossible to hide.  That was the one advantage of having a personal valet to handle his clothing and personal effects. Claude would tend to it with scarcely a lift of his eyebrow.  If the damming evidence of his precoital pleasure couldn’t be removed the trousers would be unobtrusively replaced.

            Collar—so. Cufflinks. Shoes still neatly shined. Hair smoothed back under a smart military cap. Gloves. Yes. “Excellent, Your Excellency” he nodded to his reflection—then he froze in horror.

            His…neck. Shit.

            He looked like a 16 year old girl after a bottle of Stray Dog on a moonlit night during the Harvest Home festival. Short of makeup, nothing was likely to conceal Ed’s handiwork. Unless---


            Outside the door, Maria Ross and Denny Brosh snapped to attention. Ross had…cotton in her ears. She plucked it out of her ears, slipped the wads into her pocket and saluted. “Yessir?”

            “How the hell do you expect to protect me when you can’t hear a damned thing?” Roy demanded sharply.

            Brosh turned a remarkable shade of crimson. “Sir…I…em….well….”

            “There was a GREAT deal of noise out in the hall, Sir. I checked the room to make sure neither you nor Edward were in danger, Sir.  And—“ her face was scalding as well now, “—it appeared you were not in need of assistance. Sir!

            The Fuhrer and his subordinate stared at one another. Mustang nodded. “You wouldn’t happen to have any make up I could borrow, would you?”

            Maria Ross barely had time to salute before dashing down the hall and locking herself in the sanctuary of the ladies’s room, overwhelmed at the horrific mental image of His Excellency in frosted pink lip gloss, Evening In Arugo Blue shadow and false eyelashes. She perched on the toilet lid and hugged herself, tightly, rocking back and forth, back and forth, trying to drive the thoughts out of her mind of Mustang—mustache regrown—prancing around the Capital in one of his beloved miniskirts. “Riza…please…for the love of GOD…get back here and shoot him before he asks to borrow my panty hose!”


            Getouttathatbed, goddamnit!”

            Ed put down his orange juice and stared at his doctor. He’d devoured his breakfast tray, begged another one and was contemplating a raid on the vending machines before Dr. Knox burst through the door, cigarette dangling from his sour frown. “What?”

            “ I SAID, GETOUTTATHAT BED!”


            Knox bent down, reached under the bed and held up a steel bed rail, It had been bent—and torn off the bed frame. “They could hear you at the nurse’s station,” he thundered. “They could hear you in the smoking courtyard. Hell, they could hear you in fucking PEDIATRICS. Kids thought somebody was clubbing kittens and started crying. All that grunting and panting and moaning—“

            Ooops. “Er…ah…about that…” Ed looked everywhere but into his doctor’s furious eyes.

            “—the screaming, the cussing…the sound of bed rails being broken…and believe me—the way you were screaming the Fuhrer’s name it was pretty obvious you were either being tortured, interrogated or reamed up the ass. And frankly,” he took a deep puff and spewed the smoke into Ed’s face, “I don’t give a good goddamn WHAT he was doing…but if you’re well enough to twist yourself into a pretzel and squirm around with Roy Mustang like a couple of greased weasels in heat, you’re taking up bed space. Now, get up, get dressed and get the hell out of my hospital!”

            Once he had locked himself in his office, Dr. Owen Knox dropped down onto his battered leather sofa and laughed so hard he nearly swallowed his filter tip. “You’re not the only one who’s getting better, boy,” he chuckled, wiping his eyes and nose. “Kick Roy’s ass good and get him out of that goddamned Mausoleum he’s been holed up in since Maes died.”


            “Master Edward. It’s good to have you back again.”

            Edward nodded to the butler who welcomed him in, taking his overcoat and suitcase. “Uh…Sebastian, right?”

            The tall, thin man nodded. “At your service. His Excellency has your usual quarters ready, and I’ve been informed that a shipment from Resembool will be delivered later this evening—several small crates and boxes. Where would you like us to deliver them?”

            Ed looked sober. “Send the suitcases up to my room. Stick the crated stuff…I don’t know…any place it won’t be in the way.”

            Sebastian nodded. “Very good, sir. I’ll have Claude see to your laundry, if you’d be so kind as to leave it in the hamper in the dressing area. I’ve been informed by Dr. Knox that you are still under his supervision and are to rest as much as possible. His Excellency gave word that the second floor apartments and his own quarters are to be at your disposal. If you need anything, ring for me. Ramsay will be glad to provide whatever you might like to eat and the kitchen here never closes. Miss Sheska will be on call for correspondence and to obtain any materials or books you might require—oh, and she has asked me to give this to you. A telegram from Master Alphonse.”


            He’d have taken the stairs—no sweat—but Sebastian had guided him to the elevator. “You are under orders to rest and recuperate from your recent injury, sir,” the butler scolded gently. Dr. Knox has instructed that you rest this afternoon until tea time. Lieutenant Colonel Falman will be here for a briefing and a chess lesson, after which His Excellency will be ringing in to advise us of his arrival. He will likely be turning in early since tomorrow morning he will be meeting with Brigadier General Armstrong and Tsar Dimitri for the signing of the non-aggression pact at ten a.m. on the steps of the Parliament. However,” he emphasized with a smile, “ he did state he would take a private supper with you in his quarters if you are willing—and asked me to remind you to bring your notes that you discussed this morning. He also suggested that you read page 57 from the first paragraph to the end of the chapter. He stated that he is quite curious about your opinion of the material…”

            Before slipping into a warm bath, he pulled Al’s telegram from his pocket. Will be arriving tomorrow around noon, prevailing winds notwithstanding. See you soon—and keep your eyes on the Eastern skies.  Love, Al.

            “What the fuck….?” Eastern skies? Ed shrugged and laid it aside. He was still angry—or rather, he was still coming to terms with his anger. He wanted to beat the snot out of his little brother—and he wanted to hug him fiercely and shake him and tell him that the next time he runs off—he’d be goddamned if Al went alone. “Our souls got ‘mixed up’ right, Al? So you can’t just dump me. We’re gonna talk…and we’re gonna see the world together—at least for a while. And after that…”

            Well…after that…he didn’t know. But he wasn’t going to drive himself crazy brooding over it. Not now. Hard enough not to brood about other things. Last thing he did as he walked out of the hospital was to stop by the flower shop where a plump, pleasant-faced woman with red eyes was sitting at a booth with information about the Marcoh Children’s Clinic in Ishbal. When he picked up a brochure she smiled warmly at him and told him how it had been established to provide free medical care for children in the resettlement camps and villages. “Sounds like something he’d do.” He pulled out his wallet and emptied it in the donation box. Then he dug into his pocket and handed her a simple gold band. “Sir! I—I can’t take that! It’s your—“

            “It was. It’s not anymore. And I think she wouldn’t mind if I gave it to you. Marcoh was her friend, too. “ He smiled. Yes. Winry would like that. She’d like that a lot. “Tell Dr. Marcoh that Ed said ‘hey’—and maybe Al and I will see him soon.”


            Before he could get mad at his brother or beat himself up over his failings as a father and a husband, he remembered Roy’s suggestion. Looking guilty, he locked the door to his suite and pulled out the book Chris Mustang had given him. He flipped to page 57—a chapter entitled “Chemistry”.

            It talked about the science of physical attraction—the bubbling soup of chemicals that caused physical attraction. Intriguing…but there was more. Something about the Westermarck Effect—how children raised in close proximity from birth to age six frequently experienced reverse sexual imprinting, i.e., were not sexually attracted to one another, and that this trait most likely evolved in the human animal to prevent inbreeding.

            He read that passage again. And again. And again.

            First he felt sick.

            Then he felt relieved.

            It explained a lot. Maybe it explained everything. Not every person experienced this effect….but maybe he did. She hadn’t failed. He hadn’t failed. It was instinct. She’d been isolated from young men because of her dedication—her obsession—her, hell, use the word fetish-- for automail. He becomes a double amputee. She helps build his arm and leg—literally he depended upon her to be able to stand and move and live a normal life.  She feels possessive of her—for the want of a better word—creation. He goes away. He stays away, without contact. She sees him sporadically—during which time she goes through puberty with no outlet to express it. She sees him again—only now he’s maturing too. Sees him nearly naked. Touches his body. Becomes aware of his scent, his skin…she reacts and thinks it is love.

            And he doesn’t react, other than to be very embarrassed when people start trying to pair them up. Even Alphonse—shit…and Al was falling for her all the time, but he was nothing more than a soul encased in armor.

            Ed poured over the pages, over and over.  Then he read further…

            “So there are chemicals that attract us to one another and chemicals that work in the reverse…but there is more to it than hormones and pheromones and brain chemicals and adrenaline. Chemistry may make your cock hard—but it takes something deeper to make you stay after the first frantic coupling.

            “Men do not join out of social pressure. Men do not join because it is the ‘right’ thing or the acceptable thing—the expected thing. Men come together out of desire—but they stay together because of another chemistry that is hard to define or explain. They stay together because they click on some deep level that satisfies them both in ways that are more than simply sexual. Let me put it this way—if you wake up on the worst day of your life—broke, sick, flat on your back in a hospital and the whole world howling for your head—if he’s still there and never even considers leaving…there’s chemistry between you. It may become profound friendship. It may, in time, deepen into a love that lasts a lifetime. Whatever—take your time. If the chemistry is true and the bond is real—you have a lifetime to discover it, day by day, together.”


            The fire had burned low. The cushions scattered before the hearth were big enough to rest on, to lean on while they shared their excellent corned beef sandwiches and coffee. They sat side by side, leaning a little into one another. They laughed. They shared comfortable silence. They played chess—then Edward leaned over and tipped Roy’s king over with his own. “Checkmate. Game over,” he whispered, laying the board aside and pressing Roy slowly back onto the cushions.

            Roy surrendered to the bliss of strong hands, a curious and agile tongue and finally the wonderful weight of Edward’s body rising above him, belly to belly, mouth to mouth. He laughed when Ed whispered that Knox had accused them of “squirming around like a pair of greased weasels in heat”—which they were, and which felt better than heaven. They slid and kissed and clung and when Roy arched and shuddered against him Ed kept his eyes open, watching his face, savoring the pleasure and the power of making Roy fall to pieces…and then becoming whole again.


            Ed brushed the short black strands back from Roy’s sweaty forehead. “Yes,” he answered softly. “That…was.





Charischarisstoma on August 7th, 2010 09:49 am (UTC)
That was beautiful. I thought that Roy was suggesting a particular sexual position or technique but it was better. He was suggesting an end of guilt for Ed and a future for them.

The worm is in the apple with Maes. How does one train a child to understand what he saw was wrong and hurtful when he's seen a parent do it to his other parent?
The Binary Alchemistbinaryalchemist on August 7th, 2010 12:02 pm (UTC)
I spent hours thinking about that scene with the book--how to convey something that seemed really obvious to me and a lot of other readers. The greatest gift Roy can give him other than love--is to give him back to HIMSELF. Ed has NEVER been whole--not since he was in the cradle. This was one last bit of guilt to take from his shoulders.Roy shows his love by protecting people---this time, his way of protecting is to prevent further injury.

As for Maes--one of the things we saw in the Coalition to Assist Abused Persons was seeing tiny children slap their mothers--because they saw their abusive parent do it. And if you read the side story in the Manga about Ed and Al as toddlers, Ed used to bash Al in the head and slap him around out of jealousy and anger that Trisha might love Al more than Ed. It was Hohenheim that gently corrected his son--and when he drew back his hand Al whimpered and Trisha cried warning--but THIS time Ed ruffled his brother's hair and then marched away. We shall see how this unfolds....I will say that nothing will happen to endanger Nina, though--although this would be the usual path this takes, when siblings act out it is usually on each other or the family pet BEFORE they strike the parent....but we shall see...he's a very good boy...he just needs a guiding hand.
snow_asheliasnow_ashelia on August 8th, 2010 12:03 pm (UTC)
Sebastian and Claude... have you been watching Kuroshitsuji II lately? XD
The Binary Alchemistbinaryalchemist on August 8th, 2010 01:13 pm (UTC)
::grins:: Who? Me??
Well, Roy needed a decent butler and valet in the palace, right? With those red eyes, he probably thought Sebby was part Ishballan....and after putting up with Alois' perverted cruelty, washing Roy's dirty socks and underwear would seem like a vacation!
amethyst_konekoamethyst_koneko on August 10th, 2010 03:13 am (UTC)
*winces* ouch. poor Den. :( Seems my fear of the kids being unintended victims of a random outburst from Winry were misplaced. They still are victims, Maes is anyway, just not like I thought they'd be. :( I completely forgot that kids are little sponges and take in everything around them. Monkey see monkey do so of course Maes would hit the dog. The cycle of violence begins anew. ;_;

I see what you did there! A butler named Sebastian! ^_^ Seems like everybody and their brother is all about Black Butler recently; everybody except me that is. :/ If not for the shota factor involved I'd probably watch it but, yeah, just can't get past that. It's what put me off Loveless forever and a day ago.

Dr Knox rocks!! He has such a wonderful bedside manner! XDDDD "squirming around like a pair of greased weasels in heat" ROFLMAO!!

It was very sweet what Ed and Winry did with their rings. They put those little reminders of their mistake to good use by turning them into something that would benefit others. I'd expect nothing less of Ed but for some reason it kinda surprised me that Winry did it. I guess since I see her as being kinda clingy and possessive of Ed that she'd hang on to the ring for a while at least. But whatever. It's over and done with now, thank goodness! :)

Westermarck Effect! \o/ Proof positive that EdWin is in fact a crime against nature! :D

EdRoy. frottage. *dies of a massive nosebleed* ^_^ Ed so rarely tops that I had to do a double take! :) Me likey teh smex! :D
The Binary Alchemistbinaryalchemist on August 10th, 2010 12:04 pm (UTC)
Yep--most people were worried that Winry would hit the kids--nope. This is exactly what I saw happen in the shelters. Kids ARE sponges. Maes meant no malice at all--this is what he's seen to work as a way of getting what people want. Thankfully he has time to unlearn it.

I love ol' Knox--should have had a bigger role in the Manga.
And yes, you'd think that Winry would hang on to that ring--but after having the cuffs slapped on her by Hawkeye she understands that Ed actually MEANS it this time. Giving up that damned screw was what really was hard for her. And Westermarck is the main reason I was so grossed out at the thought of EW. Don't go to such lengths to call them 'family' and raise them like brother and sister and then marry them. That's just...not normal to me. Frot rocks! And it's a sign that Ed is getting his fighting spirit back--demanding some equal time in the driver's seat. He hasn't passed his ...er...driver's license test...not yet...but he's still got the 'training manual'. And for Roy it's about trust--the only one who's ever topped him was Maes...he's not yet ready for that...not yet...