Rating: This chapter rated PG 13 for language and mature content-short chapters due to LJ.
Pairing: Roy/Ed, Havoc/Hawkeye, past Hughes/Roy, one-sided Hawkeye/Mustang
Spoilers and Warnings: Post-Manga verse, Yaoi romance/angst/humor
Plot: Roy and Ed have been together for 15 years now—Roy prepares to fulfill his 520-cenz promise to make Amestris a democracy, but just before Roy’s 50th birthday and his wedding to Edward a tell-all biography about Mustang is published that sets the country on its ear---because the ‘truth’ about the Promised Day is about to come out, with Roy miscast as the evil genius behind it all…
Summary: Roy Mustang has always been the Master Manipulator--but this time two futures are at stake, for two of the most significant people in his life:his husband, Edward Elric, and his right hand woman, Riza Hawkeye...everything is riding on the outcome....
A/N: A/N:. Feedback greatly appreciated---“Half Lives”, “Whole Lives” and other fics hosted at fanfiction.net at http://www.fanfiction.net/u/1651220/BinaryTales and also at my new host at AO3 http://archiveofourown.org/users/Binaryalchemist Thanks for reading!!!
OUR LIVES, CHAPTER 36: “THE CHOICE AND THE CHOSEN”
By The Binary Alchemist 2014
There were softer pillows in the cabin. Roy wouldn’t have swapped even if he could have mustered up enough energy to crawl over and snag one off the bed. His present pillow might be hard but it was warm, wonderfully ripped, and made satisfied noises whenever he turned his head to kiss or nuzzle it.
“Huh. If you asked me when I was twelve what I thought of you,” his pillow chuckled, “I coulda summed you up in one sentence: ‘I hate the bastard.” A hand swept down and smoothed the heavy black fringe from Roy’s sweaty forehead. “I wanna edit that.”
“Yeah. Change that to….’I ate the bastard’. With champagne. “Roy heard a gurgle under his ear and Ed burped impressively.
“Such a gentleman,” Roy chided gently. “I don’t know whether to be flattered or disgusted.” He gave Ed’s belly a playful nip and the two lapsed back into a warm and comfortable silence, sprawled contentedly on the massive bearskin rug that the Curtis’s had given them for a wedding present, Izumi arranging for it to be delivered to the secluded cabin they would share for a week. It was not until after Roy had snapped up a blaze in the fireplace, stripped Ed and hauled him down onto the rug before the fire for an inspired hour long mutual blow job that he realized with a cringe that Izumi and Sig had undoubtedly christened the rug in much the same manner. He had the tact not to mention this to his new husband. If the thought—or, worse, the mental image—of that sort of coital activity going on ever entered his mind, Ed would have levitated five feet off the pelt and rocketed, naked, out the door, yelping in horror. Which, Roy decided, would be a damn shame, since the warm fur was a marvelous thing to roll around on with one’s husband.
Right now, a very trying and emotionally exhausting day was ending in the best way possible. He was content, well fed, well loved—and the drama of the day was finally over….
There were some things Roy Mustang would not gamble on.
Pressing his cheek against Ed’s abdomen, he closed his eyes. “You didn’t ask me what happened with Hawkeye.”
A hand curled around his bare shoulder. “Don’t care.” A log crackled and crumbled in two on the hearth. The hand idly rubbed Roy’s neck. “Doesn’t matter. You made a choice. You’re here. You’d still be in there if this wasn’t done with her. End of story.”
Edward sat up, shifting, until Roy’s head was in his lap. “I said it doesn’t matter. If it did,” he passed the half-empty champagne bottle to his husband, “I wouldn’t be still wearing this ring. But….if you need to talk about it---“
“—yeah.” Roy sighed heavily. “Yeah, I do…..”
He had reached for her hand. “It’s now or never, Hawkeye,” he repeated. He was absolutely serious, and there was absolutely no trace of warmth in his expression.
Take her to bed? He might as well have been offering to take her to a court martial, for all the enthusiasm he was displaying. His expression was grim, his body tense. He was pale as a phantom and the hand he offered her was cold when it touched her fingers.
She flinched. It was instinctual, like drawing back from some wild creature that might turn and bite without warning. “I….I don’t…please…”
The hand withdrew. The dark eyes searched hers. “This is ‘no’?” He frowned. “After all these years?”
Her face burned. “You don’t want this. You…don’t…want…” She couldn’t finish.
“Did I ever say I did?”
She became angry. “All those women—there were so many—“
“Damn right there were.” He lifted his chin and something strange and painful flickered in his eyes. “And when I was sitting in the dark at home with a bottle and my regrets, not one of them crossed my mind. Ever.” He held her gaze for what seemed like an eternity. “It was always Hughes. My love of my country---and Hughes.” One hand scrubbed at his face wearily, and she remembered that he’d had a bullet dug out of him only hours ago—and yet he had determined that this discussion was more important than rest—more important than healing or being cared for by his…
She almost said the word aloud. Another word pushed past it on the way to her lips. “Homosexual.”
“I believe that’s the first time I have ever heard you say it out loud.” The corner of his mouth twitched. “And partially correct. Ever heard of the Way of the White Dragon? No?” His smile deepened. “No…no reason to expect you would, even though it was your father who allowed me to read it. Guess he read me as well as any other book in his library. Ancient text on the nature of sexual alchemy—and the sexual nature of alchemists. ‘An alchemic master, knowing he contains both male and female polarities within himself, may choose to embrace both natures equally. The way of enlightenment seeks the balance within oneself of all opposites in mind and soul and body.’ And,” he added, “the correct term—at least in my particular case—would be ‘pansexual’.” His hand lifted in an emphatic gesture. “And you’ve known this as long as you’ve known me. It has never been discussed because it was never relevant to our professional relationship.”
Hawkeye shook her head. Of course she knew he had had male lovers, at least two, but… “The women!” She could feel a cold fury in the pit of her stomach. “All those women you---you were---“
“Sleep with them? Indeed.” Was that a touch of smug pride on his face? “I don’t expect you to be an authority on the subject, but I assure you, not every man who sleeps with men breaks out in hives at the thought of sleeping with a woman. Pansexuality, I said. I enjoyed it. I made damn certain that they enjoyed it too. I am not a monster. For the most part it was for business, yes. Information, influence. But it was not without pleasure. Theirs and mine, and as in all other areas I choose to excel in, I assure you, I am a gentleman to my core, and they enjoyed themselves a great deal, however brief the association.”
Her jaw dropped open. He lifted his hand to silence her. “Which begs the question: why not you?”
She stared at him, unable to pull her words together—whether from anger or shame, she was damned if she knew.
“You, Colonel Riza Hawkeye, have a most unique and precious place in my life. Utterly irreplaceable.
“And it is not—and never has been—in my bed. I regret you ever thought otherwise, and it is no reflection on you as a woman. You are my ally, my right hand and I depend upon you. A person who is that important to me….your gender is irrelevant.
“You are an extraordinary person. The fact that you are a woman has no bearing on this whatsoever.” He studied her for a moment and added, “If you’re wise, you’ll take that as the high praise it’s meant to be--”
“---and get on with your life. You’ve wasted enough time mooning over me like some lovesick schoolgirl.” He began to examine his fingernails, as if searching for any imagined flaw, his expression cool and oddly nonchalant.” Pity Havoc requested that transfer to Stoltovgrad. “He paused for effect, noting with some inner satisfaction that she recoiled from his words as if she’d been slapped. “He didn’t tell you?” He shrugged. “Professor Lobachevsky came to Central for the wedding but he is heading right on out east tonight to the Xerxes ruins with an alchemic archaeology team. He’s intrigued by what Sheng Yao told him about the baskets of old scrolls on healing alchemy Sheng’s been working to translate in whatever spare time Ling allows his son. He requested a military escort as far as Briggs to make sure Peta arrives back in Stoltovgrad—which isn’t going to happen. She’s staying in Central to teach at my personal request. Havoc,” he smirked, “has the unenviable duty of explaining to the Professor why his daughter refused to come back home---oh, and to deliver a shipment of---“
He kept chattering on and on, as if anything else coming out of his mouth held any meaning for Riza Hawkeye beyond the words ‘requested a transfer to Stoltovgrad’. Somewhere under her uniform jacket, her heart began to beat perilously fast.
“---and of course General Armstrong said he was lazy and incompetent, but if Havoc was the best man I could manage to scrape up at last minute she’d have to make do with a dimwit for now. Granted, Havoc might not be sharpest bayonet in the armory, but---“
The hand that cracked against the left side of Roy Mustang’s face struck the President with impressive force, the full fury of Riza Hawkeye’s anger behind it.
“---I’m sure he will do his best to try to perform up to her exacting standards. He’s not exactly a kid anymore—“
She struck his face again.
“---and now that Maes and Nina are practically grown, they tell me they’re getting tired of him hanging around Rose Hill when they are both capable of protecting themselves with al---“
“---chemy. Really, I’m going to be hard pressed to keep him busy until he’s finally old enough to retire. He’s hardly colonel material---“
“Of course,” he added thoughtfully, “accompanied by one of my senior officers—someone with …I don’t know…a better work ethic and some maturity and command experience…he might just make something out of himself.” His voice dropped down into a persuasive purr. “What do you think, Colonel Hawkeye?”
“I exaggerated. Havoc would only be gone for about two weeks. Back in time for my testimony in the war crimes inquiry. Asked me for leave to sort things out in his head. “
“And you let her knock the crap out of you?”
“Repeatedly.” He rubbed his jaw ruefully. “Al came down to the coffee shop to get you, but only after he and Sheng Yao had worked on me first. The Colonel has a very respectable backhand. I am lucky she didn’t dislocate my jaw. Would have put a serious damper on your love life, Ed.”
“I did it for her.” Roy took a deep swallow from the champagne bottle, his eyes on the flames licking over a log that had just begun to smolder. “Same reason I let you punch me out in the alley for allegedly incinerating Maria Ross.”
“Because you’re a manipulative son of a bitch who will say and do anything he has to to get the job done?”
“She’s not perched in a tree outside with a scope rifle and a broken heart, is she? Should be halfway to Briggs by now on the last flight out this week. Both of them.” He nodded decisively. “You don’t tell a woman she’s wasted years of her life on a romantic obsession and expect to get off scot free. Getting a few bruises was worth it. Now she can get on with her life. They both can.”
“It’s a fracture,” Prince Sheng pronounced, running his fingers along Roy’s jawline. “Hairline, no worse. Amestrian diplomacy,” he sighed. “Very confusing to me.”
Roy winced as he was examined, his expression changing to one of relief as the soft, cooling light arced and shimmered from the young man’s fingertips. He gingerly touched his jaw and was relieved that the pain was almost completely gone. “Thank you, Highness.”
The dark eyed man shook his head. “The title is not needed away from my father’s august presence. Hopefully, thanks to your generous offer, one day soon you may address me as Doctor Yao. That, to me, carries more honor than any fortune brought by an accident of birth.” Sheng Yao bowed to Roy and to Alphonse. “Is there anything else I may assist you with? I have offered to escort Miss Lobachevsky and Miss Nina back to some place called Il Gattina for Amestrian coffee---and something called a ‘Kookie Kat’?”
Roy waved him away. “Go have fun with the girls. Tell my daughter I’m fine—and so is her Aunt Riza. Now, Al,” Roy turned to his brother in law, “I’m getting out of here. Tonight. I don’t give a damn what Knox says. This whole day has been a goddamned circus. I just want to get Ed down to the cabin and forget about the last hour.”
“And getting shot,” All added with a nod. “Knox is pretty dead set against letting you go.”
“I can agree with his point of view…to a small degree,” Sheng observed. “However, I have examined you. I believe my judgment to be accurate when I say you appear to need little more than rest and, perhaps, quiet relaxation in the company of your husband. Or, “he smiled warmly, “not so quiet. In fact, some moderate exercise could be beneficial.”
“The horizontal kind,” Al grinned.
“Guess the only way Knox is going to let me out is if he throws me out,” Roy grumbled. “Any ideas?”
The young prince and Alphonse exchanged glances. They murmured together, nodding. “We must consider the structural integrity of the ceiling beams—“
“We can compensate. And,” Al surveyed the hospital room, “I think we have enough steel to work with. “ He regarded Roy carefully. “You don’t have any issues with motion sickness, do you?”
“Sick,” Ed pronounced. “My brother is a very, very disturbed man.”
“Got us out of there, didn’t it? Actually it was Sheng’s idea—the whole Basket Fuck thing. After all, a boy raised in a harem of concubines can get a very diverse education.”
“No wonder you like the kid,” Ed laughed. “Got a lot in common, you two.”
“Indeed. Now if you don’t mind, it’s getting cold in here. I’ll---owww!” His hand curled around his left cheek and he grimaced. “Lying too long on the side of my face where I got flattened.”
Ed looked concerned. “Let’s get you a couple of aspirins. Where’s the first aid kit?”
“Outside with the guards. Never mind,” he waved off Ed’s concern. “Just…maybe, no more blowjobs for a couple of days, okay?”
“No….blowjobs???” The disappointment on Ed’s face was downright comical. Roy struggled to keep from laughing out loud.”
“Well, Sheng did mention that he’d done the best he could in one treatment. A little more healing alchemy and the pain---“
“Shut up and lie still!”
Relax, Ed ordered himself. This was different than his lifelong understanding of alchemy. He tried to visualize the transmutation circle he had held in his mind every other time in his life. Nothing. There was no formula he could mentally repeat, as when he tried to imagine himself to be a Philosopher’s Stone consisting of a single soul in Briggs. When it had happened earlier—when he’d had that strange breakthrough, he had been furious and frustrated over his inability to help Roy like the other alchemists around him….that wasn’t such a good idea. Trying to do anything with a head full of furious thoughts wouldn’t help anybody in the end, he was fairly certain.
He was beginning to sweat. He closed his eyes and tried to calm himself, focusing only on his own breathing and his concern over Roy’s pain….
It seemed as if the warmth from the fireplace was expanding somehow to include him…no, not like a fireplace….it felt like lying in a grassy meadow in early spring, the comfort of the sunshine soaking into him, making him feel like winter was finally over for good. He thought fleetingly of home, imagining that first sunny afternoon after the snow had finally melted away, his mother Tricia singing softly to herself while hanging the laundry out on the line, spotting Ed stretched out on the grass and putting the basket down, coming over to join him. He could hear her soft laughter as she stretched out beside her son, pulling him into a hug that smelt of her soft brown hair and the gingerbread she had been baking before she came out side.
Her arms enfolded him. Her love surrounded him. He felt like a parched desert and her love was the blessed sweet rain bringing him to life again…
No. Not just his mother…
All of them were there, smiling and reaching out to him between the doors of a Gateway that shimmered like pearl and ivory, and the Truth that stood to meet him was his own Self—Edward Elric—whole, healed and smiling. Pinako. Hughes. Nina Tucker. Auntie Sarah and Uncle Urey. And, standing to one side, looking on with such pride in his face, was his father, Hohenheim.
The father he had once despised so much was drawing a symbol on the shining surface of the Gate. A three dimensional spiral that triggered some distant memory….something Ed had seen somewhere in his lifetime of research but had dismissed as insignificant.
Truth nodded in approval, then gestured towards its leg—the leg Edward had left behind on the day he ransomed his brother from the Gateway. “About time you figured this out, Edward Elric. Now, listen closely:
“This is the Truth about the Self….all power that ever was, or ever will be is here now…you are an expression of that power that sustains all…through you wisdom takes form through thought and word…through Understanding of this perfect law, you are guided in each moment to the path of Liberation and Enlightenment…There is no limitation. You shall draw from this limitlessness all things needful that you may restore balance and equilibrium…”
On and on and on it went. One perfect statement of Truth after another. Not the knowledge to transmute matter—the knowledge to transmute Edward Elric into someone who just might—someday—heal a lifetime of hurts he had inflicted upon himself and learn to use that Truth to help heal others…**
“The Grand Arcanum…..” he breathed...
When he opened his eyes, Roy was sitting up and grinning at him.
Dazed, Ed blinked, as if not fully aware of his surroundings. Then he noticed the smug smirk on Mustang’s face, pleased with himself for manipulating yet another person he cared about into getting over an obsession—in Ed’s case, his firm belief that his work as an alchemist was long behind him.
“Why…you sorry son of a---“
“It worked, didn’t it?”
Ed’s fist swung out and connected with the right side of Roy’s face.
“Equivalent Exchange,” Ed crowed triumphantly. “I still got the hang of it.”
...TO BE CONTINUED….
**AN: adapted freely from “The Pattern On The Trestleboard” by Paul Foster Case