Rachel (inugrlrayn) wrote in fm_alchemist,

Where The Cold Seeps In

Title: Where The Cold Seeps In
Author: inugrlrayn
Word Count: 1,281
Rating: PG-13
Characters: Roy, Ed
Roy finds Ed in his coat fast asleep
 A very slightly darker take on this prompt than I meant to write
Warnings: none really

The rest of my fics are here.

They’d fallen, all of them, one by one, as the war crept in, filling every crevice, dragging them across the stones. Spring had bled into summer and autumn, and as Roy trudged back to camp through snow that threatened to devour them entirely, he realized he didn’t remember when it had come. They’d been gone for days and turned up nothing. The only solace Roy had to cling to was a few tents, huddled together in promise that there were still a few he hadn’t failed.

With any luck, Ed would have done as he’d asked for once. He’d lost so many already, and Ed was already fighting the strange fever that swept through the camp. Edward had railed at being left behind, had snarled almost violently, but something changed. Perhaps he thought of not coming home to the brother he’d fought so hard to restore. Possibly, he’d seen the desperation that crept into Roy’s features, or maybe he was simply too exhausted to argue anymore. Ed had given in with an angry scowl, slumped on his cot in the tent they shared, and a growled threat to come after Mustang if he didn’t come back on time.

For a moment, Roy was genuinely afraid that Ed hadn’t waited. It would’ve been so like him to follow the moment they’d left camp, with no regard to his own safety. Roy had spent much of the mission staring over his shoulder, expecting to catch a glimpse of gold amidst the tired browns and whites of winter.

Roy sighed as he opened the flap to their tent, relieved to see Ed’s things had barely moved. The sun was setting at his back, and the tent wasn’t much warmer than the frigid air outside, but it was the closest thing to home they had right now. He crept inside, quickly closing the entrance to contain what warmth they had.

Dread pooled in his stomach when he took in the barren expanse of Ed’s empty cot. Surely Ed hadn’t succumbed to the illness that had taken so many of their soldiers as of late. Ed was far too strong for that. As if in testament, just as Roy was about to go check with one of the medics, there was a raspy sigh at his back.

Roy turned to look at his own cot, currently occupied by a surly little alchemist. What parts of him were not shrouded in the blankets he was buried in or the thick golden hair that was splayed over his face and across the pillows still looked pale in the failing light. Roy snapped his fingers, pausing to light a lamp to get a better look.

Edward did not so much as stir, and aside from the occasional rasping breath he hardly made a sound. Roy knelt beside Ed, who upon closer inspection, was not only cocooned in blankets. The heavy blue fabric of a uniform jacket poked out from the blankets at an odd angle, and when Roy gently pushed the covers back a bit, he was surprised to find it was his own.

Well, it was cold, Roy supposed, ignoring Ed’s presence in his bed altogether. It was a lonely place out here, and if he lulled himself to sleep talking to Ed, wondering sometimes if it was circumstance or attraction that kept them near, he could hardly fault his companion for this. Still, for a hundred unsettling daydreams, he’d never ventured further than whispering in the dark across the empty chasm of their tent, and here Ed was wrapped up in his clothes, slumbering in his bed.

Swallowing, Roy reached out, brushing the hair from Ed’s eyes to feel his skin. The fevered pink of his cheeks only made Ed look more washed out, and Roy’s lips hooked downward when the brush of his fingers against clammy skin wrought no response. Roy’s knuckles swept over the side of Ed’s face, and Ed faintly leaned into the touch, but his eyes didn’t so much as flicker.

Perhaps he was dying, and there was agony in that Roy couldn’t put to words. He sat heavily beside the cot, shutting his eyes briefly as his hand smoothed over Ed’s hair, matted with sweat despite the cold. Ed moaned softly, but it likely meant nothing.

Roy wasn’t sure how long he sat like that, planted on the frozen ground, listening to the wind whistle sharply around their tent. He let Ed sleep, fingers threading through dingy blond hair. Each breath that passed Ed’s lips became a beacon, proof that Roy hadn’t failed him too.

“Thought I was gonna have to come after you.” The slurred, sleepy words jarred Roy from his thoughts, and back to a pair of glassy, gold eyes that stared up at him.

“I told you I’d be back. I’m pretty sure you told me you’d be better,” Roy muttered, but there was no real accusation in his voice.

“I am better. Shoulda seen me few days ago,” Ed replied, words running together or missing entirely in a way that made Roy’s stomach clench.

There was no point in panicking now, however. Roy only shook his head, hand stilling against Ed’s cheek. “So in the meantime you usurped my bed?”

Ed said nothing to that, so Roy prodded further, grasping for some levity, “And my jacket?”

“Shaddup. ‘S fuckin’ cold,” Ed half slurred, half growled, clutching the jacket around him like he was just daring Roy to try to reclaim it.

Roy did no such thing. He only snorted in amusement, deciding he could deal with sleeping in Ed’s bed to let the young man rest. Too weary to argue the point anyway, Roy tried to withdraw his hand to get some sleep.

It didn’t get far. Ed’s fingers shot out from the blankets, far more quickly than Roy expected he had the strength for. They grasped weakly at his wrist, holding him there, palm at the edge of the cot. Roy met his eye, and in the lamplight, something needing and desperate was laid bare. No words came but the plea was deafening to chase away the hopelessness, to grant the briefest respite from the misery that hung in this place.

Somehow, Roy couldn’t remember why it mattered anymore, what drove him. Genuine affection or circumstance all amounted to the same grasping touches. The world still gave way beneath them like sand, and nothing was good and true. Nothing but this, where Ed smiled weakly despite the fever when Roy gently nudged him over.

The cot was never really meant for two, and Roy was alarmed at the way they managed, even more so for the frailty that had ravaged Ed’s form. Sleepy, gold eyes regarded him with a passive sort of almost interest, as if now that Roy wasn’t leaving, they couldn’t be bothered with the world. Roy’s heart sank further when Ed let himself be repositioned, as if he were some child’s rag doll.

Roy was about to put out the light when he saw it. A smile hooked on Ed’s lips. It was a weak thing, a flicker of light in the storm, but it was enough. Roy cradled Ed against him, noting with satisfaction the way Ed was willing to at least burrow against his chest.

The world might as well be collapsing outside. The icy air howled outside their tent, and the war was far from over. In this space, shielded by the meager flap of their tent, however, everything was alright. Buried in blankets, Ed’s fingers clutching at his sides, there was warmth. Each breath that came, no matter how ragged, was a reminder that for now, he had not failed.

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