Fic: Half Lives, Chapter 11: Brothers Reunited
Rating: PG 13 for some suggestive sexual banter
Pairing: Roy/Ed, references to past Roy/Hughes and the ending of Ed and Winry’s marriage. Special guest appearances by Olivier Milla Armstrong, Alex Louis Armstrong, the Tsar of Drachma and Ling Yao--and the Return Of Alphonse Elric!
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: The palace is in an uproar as the historic Peace Accord between Drachma and Amestris is signed…but it seems Roy has more ambitious plans than just a peace treaty—plans that could change the lives of the Elric Brothers forever. Ed makes a startling admission in a letter to Winry and Alphonse’s triumphant return to Amestris will make the history books—if Ed doesn’t beat the crap out of him first.
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HALF LIVES Chapter 11: Reunion
By The Binary Alchemist, 2010
The hot desert winds had changed during the night. There was something cool and sweet on the pre-dawn breeze that tickled his nose as he leaned against the support ropes. The spyglass was hard to look through unless you removed your goggles, but that meant your eyes would tear and sting until you got them back on again, but the pilot didn’t hesitate.. That sweet breath of snow and green mountains was the scent of home.
He shouted over the roar of the wind current to his crew of five, rousing them from their sleep. “We’re crossing over Ishbal,” he yelled, punching the air in boyish triumph as he pointed out the frosty peaks in the distance, coming closer every minute. “The desert is almost behind us. “
His first mate bowed respectfully. “We are making excellent time. With the wind at our backs we should reach your Central City by noon or slightly ahead of schedule.”
The pilot snapped the spyglass shut and grinned hugely. “Make sure you have the semaphore flags and signaling mirrors handy, Dr. Chen. I’d hate for us to get shot down before we reach the Amestrian Parliament.” He took a sip from his water bottle and reached for another of the delicious steamed pork buns that had been provided by the Imperial kitchen prior to departure. “President Mustang has been up in a few espionage balloons, or so he’s said. When he sees this beauty—“ he patted the basket rail affectionately, “—he’s going to be so excited. And, “ he added with a flourish of his pencil and scribble pad, “ he’ll have to add a new word to the dictionary.”
The rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee woke Ed even before hearing the soft, respectful rap on the door. He glanced at the clock beside the bed. It was 4:45am. He groaned and considered burrowing deeper under the covers, nestling closer to that warm, naked flesh he’d spent the best part of the night kissing and licking and sucking on and rubbing against, then thought the better of it as his stomach growled. Not just coffee—he could smell bacon and hot cinnamon rolls and orange juice. Smelled a damn sight better than he smelled right now. He needed a shower. Badly He reeked of dried sweat, musk and Mustang, and since they had been going at it most of the night, they had done just the most perfunctory of tidying up. However, Sebastian was slipping into the room now, pushing a small cart loaded with plates, polished crystal, a pitcher of fresh orange juice and, best of all, a huge carafe of what Havoc always jokingly called ‘starter fluid’.
Sebastian bowed and greeted him with a smile. “Master Edward. Good morning. I’ve brought your breakfast. Will you kindly wake His Excellency or shall I?”
“I’ll do it.” Ed gave Roy’s bare shoulder a shove. “Hey! Your Assholiness! Sebastian’s got breakfast. Get up or go hungry—it smells really damn good.”
Roy grunted in protest. “Sebastian?” One dark eye cracked open with great reluctance. “I didn’t order breakfast in here.”
The butler bowed and his smile deepened. “Indeed, sir. However, as you have a heavily scheduled itinerary today it seemed logical to conclude that it might save precious time bringing your breakfast to you and Master Elric so that you might have time for…a longer shower.” He pulled open the drapes. “I have your morning reports and the Central Times as well. Claude has your formal dress uniform laid out in the dressing room as well as a suit for Master Edward if he feels well enough to attend. Dr. Knox sent word that if he does not tax himself and comes back to rest in the afternoon he has no objection to Master Edward attending the ceremony or the reception.”
Edward stared. Roy looked smug. “And that is why old Grumman hired him,” The Fuhrer observed. “He’s so efficient he makes Hawkeye look like a slacker.
“Thank you, Sir.” The tall servant knelt by the heart, added a few fresh logs to the fire and moved the chess board off the low coffee table by the hearth. Two silver-domed dishes were set out, along with a covered basket of hot cinnamon buns, butter and jam, sugar, cream, cups and juice goblets. Then he rose, bowed and excused himself, leaving Ed and Roy alone at last.
“Easy, Ed! There’s more in the kitchen. You don’t have to eat the pattern of the china!” After two weeks of bland hospital fare, Edward attacked his breakfast as if he were going into battle, fork flying and gulping down nearly all the orange juice by himself. His stomach had bothered him for months—no, over a year now, churning with acid and killing his appetite. Two nights of brain-melting sex and he’d recovered the appetite of the fifteen year old he had once been, back when he was eating to feed his own body and that of his brother inside the Gateway.
Roy smirked at him and leisurely sipped his coffee. Sebastian had been briefed long ago by Hawkeye that Roy was a masterful procrastinator and that the only way to keep him on schedule was to outwit the Fuhrer and give him a daily routine that offered very little wiggle room. He had undoubtedly assumed that Ed and Roy would get sexually distracted in the shower and so planned ahead so that the Fuhrer could eat both his sausage AND his lover and not be late for the treaty signing at 10:00am. “If you feel up to it, I think you might enjoy the reception,” he commented in a tone of voice that was calculated to sound as casual as possible. “There’s a delegation of scientists and researchers coming with the Tsar to discuss plans for a Science and Alchemy summit I plan to host here in the spring. I was hoping that both you and Alphonse might…”
Ed dropped his knife and nearly choked on his mouthful of coffee. “Scientists?? And alchemists??” he spluttered. “Together? In the same room? They’ll murder each other! Especially here, where we let some maniac run the country and threaten the world’s peace for damn near forever. The same fuckin’ bastard that blinded you and killed all the people in Xerxes, in case you haven’t forgotten, “ he added sharply. “Last time I tried to have a talk with a physicist the son of a bitch had built some sort of uranium bomb and wanted us to hand it over to that asshole, Bradley. Fucker tried to use alchemy to escape and got sucked through the Gateway. Hope they shoved him in the same corner of hell as Envy. They’ve got a lot in common,” he groused, throwing down his napkin.”
“I remember,” Roy nodded. “Good thing you and Al were clear-headed enough to destroy his research. But Ed,” he leaned in closer, “our world is changing. We’ve learned so much from opening ties to Xing and Alphonse bringing back all that information on alkahestric healing techniques. Drachman scientists are making amazing strides in electronics and physics. Creta excels in mathematic studies. And Aerugo, as you well know, was the birthplace of radio and the phonograph. Instead of running around spying on each other’s research, why not bring our best minds together here at the center—here in Amestris—and learn from one another? ‘Alchemist, Be Thou For The People’. That’s the creed we were taught, yes?”
Ed looked skeptical. “Why the hell should we trust them?”
“Why the hell should they trust us?” Roy countered softly. “After what we’ve done? A nation built on a lie, Edward. Father and his scientists and the homunculi—those bastards that created Bradley, the Undead Army—an entire nation created for the sole purpose of slaughtering its own citizens as sacrifice so a monster could become a god? Nobody knows that better than you.” He reached out and took Edward’s hands in his own. “You sacrificed everything---everything—to stop that madness. You and Alphonse and Hohenheim paid with your lives, one way or another. So did countless others. Grumman helped the nation stabilize and pulled us back onto our feet. I’m determined to move forward. We can’t undo the damage—but we can change the future. I’m not here—“ he gestured dismissively at the elegant room around him, “ for this. I could walk out of this palace and move into the barracks and live like a common soldier and that would be perfectly fine. I wish I could, sometimes. The Palace is national property and they want me here so I stay. But I swear to you Edward—just like I swore to Maes—I intend to do everything I can for my country. The Elric family saved this nation. Old Grumman gave the people reassurance that the old regime was put down and cleared away. My work, now, is to build bridges to the outside world—not to burn them.” Roy’s dark eyes were full of hope and determination—and old fashioned stubbornness. “Besides,” he added softly, “you still owe me 520 cenz.”
Edward smiled, leaned back and grinned at his lover. “Damn right—and I’ll pay it back the day you figure out how to get alchemists and scientists to cooperate without killing each other…”
The reception wasn’t until 11:00—Ed had no interest in attending the signing of the peace treaty. He’d have plenty of time to catch up with the Briggs team afterwards. It was too chilly to linger outdoors but the Palace staff had made the main ballroom beautiful with masses of fresh greenery from the conservatory. Roy appreciated the finer things in life but was not one for grand displays of wealth or style. He opted for simple elegance and the hall was decorated with the colors of both Amestris and Drachma. The reception would last from eleven to one and there would be a formal ball hosted by the Fuhrer that night. “So…who’s gonna be your escort,” Ed had teased his lover. “Every President has to have his First Lady.”
“Grumman was a widower. I’m a bachelor. The first time the protocol team pointed out that I must not go unescorted to a dinner or ball, I told them I’d bring Aunt Chris. And I meant it.”
Ed whistled. “You didn’t dare.”
Roy looked smug. “Read the clippings from the press archives. She charmed everyone. And she’ll be here tonight.”
Ed looked thoughtful. “Bet you wouldn’t dare attend one of those events with a…?”
“—with a man?” Roy finished. “I wouldn’t hesitate. But only if the gentleman in question was comfortable and would enjoy being there with me.”
Ed glanced away, coloring. “Yeah…well…some guys don’t dance.”
“Dancing is hardly the point. I prefer good food, good conversation and intelligent company. If I want to dance, I’ll do my duties to the wives of my guests and everybody will be satisfied. Ed, they’ve been talking about me behind my back since the day I enlisted. That’s why Maes kept badgering me to get married, that it would ease my way to the top though the social ladder. I never played the game—and I’m still here. So if a man chooses to be my companion and lover and decides he wants to stand with me in the public eye, that’s fine. And,” he added softly, “if he prefers that our relationship remain private, that is not a problem. Ever. Either way, it wouldn’t change my feelings for the man in question.”
Ed nodded. “Thanks for…understanding.”
Around 9:00 am, Claude inspected his handiwork. Roy looked elegant in his formal dress uniform, complete with medals and ceremonial sword. The valet whisked imaginary lint from the Fuhrer’s coat, gave his shoes another swipe with the polishing rag and adjusted the angle of Roy’s cap. “Very good, sir,” he ventured, although his manner betrayed a perfectionism that hinted that he would never be completely satisfied that his master would be turned out as well as he would like.
Now he turned his attention to Edward. “Master Edward, don’t you agree that your clothing looks better now that I have tailored it for a better fit? The new brown coat hangs properly, and that olive green waistcoat and trousers compliment your coloring. And that high collar neatly conceals…certain things that are not for public view.” He was referring to the livid love bites Roy had planted on the side of his neck as revenge for the hickies Roy had been forced to conceal with cosmetics.
“Yeah, it’s okay, thanks,” Ed muttered, shrugging out of the coat and tossing it on the bed. Claude retrieved it immediately and placed it back on a hanger before bowing and excusing himself, leaving Ed and Roy alone at last. “What a jerk,” he grunted.
“Can be,” Roy allowed. “But you look damned good. Well,” he corrected, “you’d look better naked and covered in sweat with my cock in your mouth…but one can’t have everything”
Ed tossed him a wicked grin, “Oh yeah? I was thinking about the same thing. Why don’t I get you all hard so you can’t go out in public until we mess up some bed sheets?”
Roy laughed, kissed him warmly and then headed for the stairs. Ed retreated to his study, laughing quietly to himself. Why don’t I get you all hard so you can’t go out in public until we mess up some bed sheets?
It occurred to him that he had never joked like that to his estranged wife. Ever.
It also occurred to him that there was a letter that needed writing.
Thank you for helping Havoc and Breda and Hawkeye get my stuff packed up. The crates arrived last night. I was released from the hospital yesterday morning and I am staying with friends at the Palace. I only mention this because you might see me in the papers with some Drachman scientists. Mustang has some weird idea about trying to get alchemists and physicists together as partners. Lots of talk about sharing knowledge. I’ll believe that when I see it and have a 520 cenz bet running that it will all go straight to hell.
I had a talk after breakfast with Colonel Hawkeye. For the record—I DID NOT SEND HER DOWN THERE TO PUT YOU IN HANDCUFFS AND NEITHER DID ROY MUSTANG. I gave her hell for it—her and Havoc and Breda, too. They kinda shocked me. They started reading all the rules and regs and shit that the read you about what constitutes assault with a deadly weapon. They told me that as officers of the peace the only thing that kept the State from issuing the warrant and arresting you was that I lied over and over to everybody about how I got my skull cracked. I even lied to my own brother. I feel like shit about it but I don’t want to get him upset. He’s supposed to arrive here this morning but didn’t say which train he’s coming on –something weird about the sky. Anyway, I’ve told everybody that knows NOT to say shit to him about how I got hurt. Don’t get me wrong—I’m doing this for him. If you decide to tell him it’s up to you.
There’s a couple of pages stapled to this you need to read. It’s about some research I did on something called the Westermarck Effect as well as a few notes of my own. Winry, you need to read this—and you need to read it now. It can make things easier in the future for all of us.
He sighed heavily and took another swallow of coffee. This was the part he didn’t want to write. Winry, sooner or later you’re going to find out, so I’m going to go ahead and tell you the truth. There is someone else. That person isn’t the reason I have asked for divorce. But for the first time in my life I’m feeling what I was supposed to feel about you—what you wanted me to feel. I won’t say I’m in love with this person. It’s too soon and he and I both agree that diving headlong into things right now when I’m vulnerable is wrong—and he has felt this way for a long time and didn’t say anything because even though he could see something was making me unhappy he didn’t want to bust us up or interfere. Right now we are taking it day by day, no expectations.
To get right to the point of it, I have grounds for divorce on the basis of assault. And now you have grounds on the basis of adultery. I will not lie about that. I am not going to throw this in your face but I’m not going to lie and knowing you you’d dig it out anyway. I intend to set up a bank account in your name in Rush Valley and deposit cash into it for whatever the kids may need. That includes hiring help. I mean it, Winry. Get a nanny—hire some woman to move in and take care of our kids. You’ll be under enough stress getting the new studio off the ground. Don’t get all proud about how you can do it all yourself or that you don’t need my damn money. DO IT. I was a lousy husband. I am a lousy father—but this at least I CAN get right.
I will be staying here in Central. Roy let me take over the quarters I normally stay at again and he’s agreed that the rooms adjoining mine can be made into a nursery and playroom for the kids when they visit until I decide on a permanent home. If you need to reach me, contact Sheska since she’s Roy’s secretary and can find me anywhere, anytime.
I haven’t told Mrs. Hughes that we split up. I guess I’ll leave that to you.
Within the first five minutes at the reception table, Edward Elric learned his first word in Drachman: Tovarich. Comrade. Associate. Colleague.
After the first hour with Maxim, Andrei and Pyotir, they taught him a new word that they all agreed was more than appropriate. He couldn’t spell it but he could pronounce it: “drrook”. It meant “friend”
It had been a long, long time since he’d been in such congenial company. All three were young—Pyotir was not yet thirty—and had been curious all their lives about alchemy. Each one held a doctorate from the State University at Stoltovgrad in one scientific field or another. Their Amestrian was excellent, they were avid researchers and world travelers—and in many ways nearly as optimistic about the future as Alphonse. The three of them dragged Edward out of his reticence with eager questions and before he was aware of it Edward was utterly engrossed in conversation.
From the head table, Tsar Dimitri elbowed Fuhrer Mustang in the ribs. “This idea you have, Tovarich. I thought it was madness. But now I see those boys together, talking away with such enthusiasm and I am thinking to myself that perhaps this Roy Mustang is not as big a fool as I was led to believe.”
Olivier Milla Armstrong smiled into her tea. “He’s a bigger fool than that, Dimitri. And while I personally detest you, Your Excellency, only slightly less than I do my younger brother, I trust you to take care of my country. If you can bring us to the table as allies, open trade to Xing and persuade Claudio of Aerugo to sit down to negotiate a cease fire, I just might forgive you for being such a puny specimen when compared to the Armstrong line. Not,” she added quickly, “that I would ever consent to breed with you---“
On schedule, the city bells began clanging the chimes of noon. They were nearly drowned out by a wave of shouts and cheers from outside the Palace.
Roy glanced at his watch. “Right on time. Just as expected.” He rose to his feet, tapped the Radio Central microphone and called for quiet. “Ladies and gentlemen, I have a special surprise for you. If you will turn your attention to the windows to your immediate left, you will notice we have a guest arriving from the east—the first Amestrian Aeronaut.” Roy pronounced that last word carefully. “Through the mutual cooperation between the alchemists of Amestris and the alkahestrists and engineers of Xing, we are proud to announce the arrival of the Xerxes, the first lighter-than-air craft to cross the Great Desert.”
It was bedlam.
All the doors were thrown open, but that wasn’t enough. People were climbing out of the windows and shouting and cheering. Before Edward could rise, Alex Louis Armstrong had whisked him off his feet, carrying him over his head as he stormed through the crowds. “Let me through!” he bellowed cheerfully. “Ah, Edward Elric! To think that we should live in these golden times—“
“PUT ME DOWN!” Ed shouted, struggling to get out of the giant’s grip. “What the hell are you doing??”
Moments later he was standing in front of the crowd control ropes with Roy, Dimitri and Olivier Armstrong. All three of them were smiling broadly.
Edward stared up…and up…and up at the Xerxes. It was, as he whispered under his breath, “fuckin’ humongous” . The silk outer envelope was easily three times the size of any hot air balloon he’d ever seen before with a huge gondola of woven wicker with multiple burners. And at the rear, there was a propeller of some sort made of lacquered bamboo. Hanging over the sides were the flags of Amestris, Drachma…and Xing. There was also a tiny pennant of deep red bearing the Flamel Cross that made Ed’s mouth hang open in dumbstruck surprise. “No…couldn’t be,” he whispered.
A tall figure swung over the side of the basket, clad in quilted silk, furs, a tight leather cap and brass fitted goggles. A second figure joined him-taller and clad in scarlet and gold, followed by a slender figure in black, an automail hand glinting from under its sleeve. They marched up to the visiting dignitaries and the taller one bowed. “Friends, perhaps I am too late for the signing of the peace treaty—but perhaps you would not mind if I stay for supper?”
Roy Mustang bowed. “Tsar Dimitri, it is my honor to present Emperor Ling Yao of Xing, his royal bodyguard Lan Fan….and Aeronaut Alphonse Elric.”
“BROTHER!!!” Alphonse tore off his flight helmet and grabbed Edward in a fierce embrace. “BROTHER!!! I’m so glad to see you!! It’s been so long—“
“I….can’t…BREATHE!!!” Ed was still winded after being man-handled by Alex Armstrong. He was still very shaky. But he wrapped his arms around Alphonse and returned the hug. “I’m going to beat the crap out of you later,” he hissed in Al’s ear, “but I’m glad as hell you’re home. I’ve missed you.”
…..TO BE CONTINUED……