Title: Vision Double (meant in French, but the words mean the same in English.)
Total wordcount: 11,097
It happened that Alphonse spent several days without saying anything about his brother or the past. Those were also days he barely spoke at all, gaze aimed at things no one else saw and opposing enigmatic smiles to all inquires. When Al was in that mood, not even Roy could get him to talk. In those cases, it was Hawkeye who was delegated to speak to him. The adults had long ago decided the only way for the boy to get better was to express everything he had on his mind. In six months, they had noticed improvement, even if the boy was still far from functioning normally. At least he had stopped calling ‘Niisan’ and staring in mid air when he realized he had tried to address his deceased brother.
Alphonse’s difficulties to get over his brother’s absence might have been considered strange had it been anybody else. In Al’s case however, it was understandable. Edward and Alphonse had been closer than even people who shared a bed ought to be. Roy didn’t deny he had occasionally felt a tinge of jealousy, knowing he could never engrave his name in Edward’s heart the way Alphonse had. The man wasn’t quite honest enough with himself to admit he was still jealous, in a way. Even now, Edward’s first concern was Alphonse’s well-being. He forced himself to stay away from Al just to avoid bringing more harm to his younger brother. Of course Roy was glad Edward had entrusted his secret to him. But at the same time, Edward viciously kept this pain away from Alphonse, but not from him. It wasn’t difficult to tell who Edward loved most.
Hawkeye was called to the rescue this time too. Her weapons for this occasion were her nearly limitless patience – Roy had helped her develop this ability further in the last few years – and her persisting cool voice. There was no escape from the watchful woman.
Despite being a soldier, Hawkeye was quite capable of more feminine activities, such as cooking. She appeared with fresh cookies in hand, informing Alphonse she invited herself for tea. Merely half an hour later, the woman had coaxed the blond into trying the cookies, efficiently trapping his attention with the plate of sweets. Roy always kept careful watch on the level of sweets available in the house and it was because Al still couldn’t resist sugar. It was also a well known fact among females that sugar was highly efficient against depression.
When half of the cookies had disappeared, Hawkeye swiftly removed the plate from the table and placed it out of Alphonse’s view, clearing the way for the important matters.
“I was told you’re not doing well lately. Has something been bothering you?”
Al smiled weakly. He’d been expecting it. “You guys never stop worrying about me, do you? I’m sorry for the trouble. It’s nothing, really.”
“We understand it’s hard. We would have liked to do something. Unfortunately, your brother’s talent was his alone. Nobody else could have done what he did and we could not expect the turn of events.” Hawkeye took a few sips of tea, a vague smile forming on her lips. “ Edward…he was just that kind of a person.”
Unlike Roy, Riza never failed to draw Al’s melancholy out. It was useless to struggle against her, so he might as well kick back and get it over with. “He kept his plans from everybody. When he realized the original idea wouldn’t work, he chose this. He could have asked help or advice. He didn’t.” His full teacup was nested in his hand, slowly losing its warmth. It would be cold soon, but he didn’t care. “ He didn’t tell me anything. I had no idea what he was doing. I couldn’t stop him.” Alphonse put away the cup and sat back, staring at his hands. Human hands. He could have done without them. “I think I’m angry at him for it. Giving up his life to give me a body wasn’t right. I would have preferred to remain a soul affixed to armor. We had great fun together. We could have been happy anyway.”
“Are you sure of that?” questioned Riza.
“Maybe I’m telling myself lies,” shrugged the blond. “But I can’t help it. I miss him. He’s been there all of my life. And then, after sixteen years, nothing. I have trouble grasping the idea he’s gone forever. Sometimes I feel like he’s still here, watching me.”
“We all lose people we love,” sighed the woman. She had lived through her fair share of loses and personally taken enough lives on the battlefield to accept it. It didn’t make explaining it to a child – a teenager in fact, but such an innocent one - any easier. “It’s part of life. You’ll die one day as well, and others will grieve for you.”
“Yeah…but life seems so long…and he didn’t have a shot at it, you know? He was seventeen. He never reached his thirties, not even his twenties. I look at Roy and I wonder what he would have been like at that age. I wish I could have found out.”
“We all do.” Riza reached over the table to touch his hand, briefly. Alphonse didn’t seem to have anything else to add so she offered something else to speak of. “How are the blackouts?”
“They’ve been lessening lately,” reported Al.
“I’m not sure,” mused Alphonse, shaking his head slowly. “I know I’ve been complaining a lot about them and generally freaking out but…as much as I dislike the blackouts, I feel that if they went away, I would lose something very important, something I didn’t know was there but would hurt very much to lose.” Al smiled self-mockingly. “It doesn’t make sense, does it? I’ve been afraid of them since the start, but now that they’re less frequent, I’m twice as scared that they’ll go away forever. I think I prefer to keep having these moments where I feel I’m about to fall out of my body and just die. They’re not so bad after all.”
“That’s your guilt speaking, Alphonse,” firmly explained Hawkeye. “ You’re afraid to gain a normal life and live on without any scars or punishment for what happened. You can’t blame yourself. Your brother made his decision. It wasn’t a sensible one and we all regret it, but you need to respect his choice. Nothing will change what happened, no matter how much you brood over it or wish for him to come back.”
Alphonse didn’t feel like the woman was right. Not this time. It was different. “But I do want Niisan’s work to be perfect. It upsets me that something dares to go wrong. I don’t know why I feel the blackouts shouldn’t go away. I don’t know what I’m afraid of losing. I just don’t want to lose it, whatever it is. I don’t care about going on with my life. I won’t forget about everything.” He tilted his head at Hawkeye with thoughtful grey eyes. “Don’t tell me what my brother would say. I can hear it in my head quite clearly.”
“You’re really going to do it.” Roy felt sick. And powerless. Fucking powerless. He couldn’t do anything. He wished it was just a damn nightmare. It was a nightmare, just one he couldn’t wake up from. A six months long nightmare that had slowly sucked the life out of him until he was barely more than a ghost himself.
“Well, duh. You had doubts?”
“No, not really. You just can’t leave an unfinished job alone, can you?”
“It’s about Al.” Edward looked up at the man who was watching him crawl over the basement’s floor and draw his array inch by inch. “Hey, you could lend me a hand, bastard. You’re not an invalid, you can draw too. Pick up some chalk and get down here.” They worked in silence. The little time they spent together was often spent in long stretches of silence between recurring conversations and occasional sex. “So, how’s Al?”
“Good. Few blackouts lately, so he’s been feeling a little better. He still spends an awful lot of time looking at pictures of you, but he’s stopped crying over them.”
Edward paused just a second before continuing to draw. “That’s good. He’ll get over it. Everybody already accepted it, right?”
“They all came to your funeral. They won’t forget.”
“It’s kinda funny, a funeral without a body, huh? And to think I almost was at my own funeral. Creepy, isn’t it? But that’s fine. I’ll be dead soon anyway.”
Roy marked a slight pause. “Are you sure?”
“Not entirely, but that’s probably better for both of us. I’m sick of this. I just want him to get on with his life and forget all that stuff. It’s okay.”
“You’re always saying that. That’s it’s okay.” Their hands met as they completed the array. Roy sat on the floor and gazed at Edward. “Who are you trying to convince? Me? Yourself? If you would just let him know…he wouldn’t want this. He would rather have an imperfect life and know you’re still alive than live perfectly but without you. The only reason he isn’t suicidal is that I successfully convinced him it would be a waste of your life. That he can’t throw away what you worked so hard to offer him. He doesn’t wish for it to be this way.”
Edward raised a hand to interrupt the man, sounding impatient and cranky. “Look, I’m old enough to decide what to do. He already thinks I’m dead, and he’s slowly getting over it. I’m not going to fuck him up now! He can’t know. It would only hurt him. He’d think about it every damn day for the rest of his life if he had a second chance to stop me and failed.” Edward wiped his forehead. “It’s not like I wanted it like this. It would have been nice to get things perfect and see him grow and everything. But there just wasn’t any other way. It’s no use bothering me about it. I’m already half dead.”
Roy captured Edward’s chin to look into his eyes. “You look perfectly alive to me.”
Ed allowed himself a moment of weakness, leaning into Roy with his eyes closed. “I’m so tired. You don’t know how fucking tired I am. It’s sickening to be like this. It feels…odd. Wrong. I’m not quite alive, not quite dead. I just want to let go. It’s hard to hide too.” Roy wanted to argue but Ed snapped at him before he had even said a single word. “ Don’t argue with me, it’s necessary. But I don’t like it any more than you. I wish I could tell him a few things before I go…but that would ruin everything.”
“You let me know.”
Edward kept his eyes close, reluctantly arguing back. “I did that because I was freaked out about what I’d done to myself. I had expected to die, not to be stuck like a ghost. Most of the time, I’m not aware I still exist. I’m broken. I’m sick of it. So sick of it. You can’t understand so just shut up already.”
“It’s on your condition we should research. Maybe there is a way to stabilize you. And once Al learns putting up with the blackouts means keeping you alive, he’ll prefer it that way.” How many times had he repeated such words? How many times had Edward scowled at him, sometimes right down mocking him for it? It had been months and Ed showed absolutely no sign of wanting to listen to him. It was stupid to try to change his mind, but Roy wasn’t going to give up. You couldn’t give up on something like this, hopeless case or not.
“You’re going to try to convince me until the very last minute, huh?” There was almost a smile in those words. As if Edward was glad for the concern, despite the irritation he always displayed.
“Yes. I have never been a man who likes to give up. I won’t let you go so easily.”
“Oh, shut up.” Edward needed to get back to work, but it was so nice to be held like this and it had been so long… His weak attempt to stand back was easily foiled by Roy’s arms. “Let go.”
“We want you to stay.”
The boy didn’t want to hear about it. He wasn’t going to change his mind, no matter what. He realized it hurt that the man just wouldn’t give it up. It wasn’t like this was how he would have liked things to happen. They just had turned out this way, and he was going to follow the path to its end. Edward finally looked up. “You’re going to take care of him, right? Even if I’m not there anymore?”
“Of course. I promise. I’ll keep an eye on him as long as I can.”
“Thanks.” Just another minute and he was going to get out of Roy’s arm. Just a last minute… When he finally found the strength to, he pulled away violently, standing and turning his back on the military man.
“When is it planned for?”
“I’m not sure. It’ll be over by the end of the month though.”
Roy sneaked up on the blond, encircling him firmly again and bestowing kisses along his jaw line. The older man pulled out his seductive tone, firmly pushing melancholy away. “Can I have the night? A last one?”
Edward had things to do. Things that were far more important than the General’s stupid libido. Which, in fact, he wouldn’t have to deal with ever again after a few more days. So soon. “I suppose…”
Roy rained hungry kisses upon every bit of exposed flesh. No, not just hungry - desperate kisses. A last taste. This was what it was supposed to be. Roy didn’t want to admit defeat yet he couldn’t help but take full advantage of this moment that might never return. The shirt progressively rolled up, exposing inch by inch of scarred skin. Roy had his share of marks, but nowhere as many as the boy had. Roy had killed, but from afar, while Edward had always taken his fights close and personal, gaining telltales scars that would never fade from his young skin. They weren’t what one would have called pretty or beautiful, but they were interesting in their own right. They attested to Edward’s strength and determination. Broken, Edward? Ridiculous. Depressed, desperate perhaps, but not broken.
The body in Roy’s arms was just as warm and pliable as he remembered, but something was amiss. Edward wasn’t fighting back. Not only that, he was barely reacting to Roy’s touch. There should have been moans, or at least low growls. Instead, all Roy dragged out were barely noticeable shivers and a sigh or two.
“You’re cold,” complained the older man. It was clear he wasn’t talking about body heat.
“Sorry. I’m not…I guess I don’t care anymore.”
“Excuse me? You don’t care?” Roy successfully buried the worry under an insulted tone.
“I think I understand a little how Al felt now. Although…it’s just that even if I can still do all these things, I don’t enjoy them anymore. I remember liking hot showers. Sex. Bickering. Food. I just…don’t feel them anymore. Not like I remember.”
That was all wrong. Too much angsting. Too much explaining. It wasn’t the behavior Roy wanted. He wanted the Edward that snapped at him, the Edward that disliked being treated as an inferior, the Edward who tried to find occasions to insult back the dark man. The proud Edward. Not…just not like this.
Edward began to pull away, but Roy didn’t let him escape. “Where do you think you’re going? Roy Mustang doesn’t say no to a challenge, no matter how big - or small, as the case might me.”
“Don’t make me bite you.”
Not quite like before, but close enough to pretend. “Mm, sounds kinky…”
“Pervert.” It was there. The touch of amusement and exasperation. The feelings were still there. Mustang was going to drag them out. You didn’t forget passion like this. You didn’t stop feeling it. Life was feeling. Edward was alive damnit, and Roy would be damned if he couldn’t prove it.
Alphonse took one look at the books on the table before violently knocking them down with his right arm. “I told you I didn’t want to see any of those!”
“Hawkeye wanted me to bring them over,” said Roy in a displeased tone. “She thinks you should study it again, since you’re good at it. You could be a National Alchemist if you wanted.”
“Alchemy…alchemy is my brother’s domain! He’s the genius! I’m not…I don’t want to…”
“Was, Alphonse,” corrected Roy, not daring to look at him. “Edward’s dead.”
Alphonse found himself shaking with rage. How dare they, all of them. Yes he looked like his brother, yes he dressed the same and had the same interest in alchemy. But he wasn’t his brother! He wasn’t going to be everything his brother had been, he wasn’t going to become the next Fullmetal Alchemist, he wasn’t going to take Edward’s place!
Al screamed it. “I’m not going to replace him!” He hadn’t noticed at what moment he’d jumped at Roy’s throat but right then, punching the man seemed like the right thing to do. He did, still shouting. “Is that why you’re keeping me here? Do you think you can use me as replacement?” His voice broke. “He’s dead but he’s not gone! I won’t let you forget about him! Bastard!”
Roy hadn’t expected the outburst. When he recovered from the surprise and the nasty shock of the steel-hard punch, he caught Al’s wrists. Just this time, his control slipped. “Don’t assume things. I know you’re not him,” he hissed. “ I know it very well. You look the same, but you’re not him. Even if you tried, you could never be him.”
They stared at each other until the anger dissolved into melancholy. No guilt, although they both wondered what had gotten into them. Even when Alphonse had been in a constant freaking out stage – back during the first month after his brother’s sacrifice - he had never lost it to the point of attacking Roy. The man had never served the boy such cold, spiteful words either. Perhaps they had needed to spit it out and confirm their positions. Alphonse didn’t want Roy – or anybody else – to see him as his brother’ replacement, just the next talented Elric alchemist. Roy certainly didn’t want that either.
“Maybe I should cut my hair shorter,” offered Al with difficulties, eyes downcasts. “I wanted to have my hair like his but…”
“People won’t stop mistaking you for him even if you cut your hair. They’re fools if they can’t see the difference between two blonds. You’re Alphonse, you’re not Edward.” Al was sure he heard a touch of disappointment in those words. He couldn’t hold it against Roy. He would have been thinking the same. “It’s mostly the coat.”
Al clutched the garment tightly. “I’m not getting rid of it!”
“I didn’t say you should. Just don’t be surprised if people keep mistaking you for Edward.”
“I just…I just…” Alphonse swayed on his feet.
Dizziness. The dizziness always came first. Then, the world started to swirl around him, slowly disintegrating into darkness. He wanted to reach out and find something to hold onto but there was nothing to close his fingers on. There was only the cold void that now surrounded him as he fell back into nothingness. Panic swept over his mind, like every time. It was cold…it was so cold. There was nothing here and if he didn’t get out, he would become nothing as well. He struggled, reaching for something, anything. He didn’t want to…oh no, no, not again. Why was it so cold? It seeped through his mind, lulling him into what felt a little like slumber, but Al knew it was worse, so much worse. It took away his thoughts, one by one, it took away his senses, his identity, his memories, his mind. It was like dying…it was death. It stripped him of everything that made him human and alive. It tore him apart piece by piece, until there was nothing, nothing at all and he was gone, his mute scream silenced.
When Alphonse opened his eyes again, he was staring at something blue. From so close, that’s all he saw. It was blue. For long moments he tried to make sense of this information. Blue? What was ‘blue’? It was…a color. Yes. A color. What object was this, that was blue? Why was he staring at it? Feelings returned to him all at once and it was almost painful to feel so much information fed to his brain at once. He was in a horizontal position and his head was resting against something warm. Something blue. Blue like the military’s uniform.
“Roy?” Al shifted, very slowly. He finally saw the man’s face, looming high above him. Things were starting to make sense now. He had blacked out and Roy had caught him before he hit the floor, laying him down on his lap until he woke up.
“Another one,” simply said Roy.
“You sound calm. Are you alright?”
“Yeah. I’m fine.” Alphonse sat up and rubbed his forehead absently. Somehow, a part of him was thinking ‘good, it’s still here.’ But what? What was still here? What didn’t he know about the blackouts?
Don’t think about it. It’s nothing.
It was the middle of the night, Alphonse had fallen asleep like a log an hour earlier, and there were footsteps in the kitchen. It wasn’t hard to guess who it was. Roy had grown used to hunting down Edward. The boy could have worked elsewhere, but he seemed to like Roy’s house and its familiarity. This might have been his house too, one day, and he was aware of it.
Edward was at the table, writing. This time, he did not seem to be researching, as there were no books beside him. “What are you wri-“ Roy almost gasped. This was just impossible. “Is that milk? Are you drinking milk?”
“Yeah, so what?” snapped Edward, not quite as aggressively as he would have liked. “ You don’t want to share?”
“You hate milk. With a passion,” stated Roy.
“That’s why I’m drinking it, moron. It keeps me awake.”
Roy knew Edward was not talking about sleep. He was talking about the state in which he spent almost all his time, unaware of the world and unaware of his own existence. He had told Roy it was ‘cold’ once. Al said the same about his blackouts. That’s how it was. The more time Edward spent ‘awake’, the more time Al had to spend ‘’there’, wherever it was. In order to allow Alphonse to fully exist, Edward had to disappear.
It worried Roy tremendously that Ed was starting to be unable to control himself and had to fight to stay awake longer. He had resorted to drinking milk – in important quantities too – to keep his focus.
“Look, I’m kind of busy and I don’t have much time, so just go back to bed. I’ll be gone in a few and I’ll leave those under the mattress. They’re letters. I dated from the before my ‘death’. They have fake instructions so people will think you just did what I asked and kept them away until enough time had passed for everybody to start recovering. I just…really want to say certain things. It can’t hurt to explain.”
“You’re doing it for yourself more than anything else, aren’t you?”
Edward turned around, upset. “Shut the hell up Mustang. I’m not feeling well, I don’t have much time, and I don’t want to waste energy on yo-“ The boy had jumped to his feet, but he wavered, eyes losing their focus as if he was about to pass out. He sat back down heavily and reached for his glass of milk, emptying it into his mouth. “Ew, gross.” He stuck his tongue out and made grimaces that normally would have been highly amusing. “Get lost, Mustang.”
Roy tried to sound calm and reasonable. “Calm down, you’ll wake up Alphonse.”
Edward looked up at the ceiling for a moment. There was only silence so he shrugged impatiently. "He sleeps harder than me anyway. I’m a log, but he’s a brick." Then he was to his papers, writing urgently.
Knowing he wasn’t welcome at all, Roy had no choice but head back to bed, quietly. He knew he wouldn’t sleep until he was certain Edward had left, staring at the ceiling’s pattern as if it could show him the right words to say, the ones that would make Edward change his mind, the ones that would fix everything just before the final act.
But such magic words didn’t exist, did they?
They were in Mustang’s office, because the man had plans that included dinner and a show for the night. His plans had not however counted on Hawkeye blocking the exit with a handful of papers he absolutely needed to finish right now. Patient as always, Alphonse didn’t mind sitting down and waiting. He’d done much waiting on his brother not so long ago, he was still used to it.
Al figured it was as good a time as any to say something he had been thinking about for a while. He half turned from his position at the window. “You don’t love me at all, do you?”
Roy looked toward him, slightly confused as to what Alphonse was getting to. “Why do you say that?”
“It’s my brother you liked. So why do you bother letting me stay at your house? You said you weren’t trying to replace him.”
“I always watched over you two, didn’t I? I’m not about to give up.”
“But it’s over. I don’t need protection. I could live with Winry instead. It’s not like I’m doing anything for you. I’m not needed here,” countered Alphonse.
It was true. But that didn’t mean Roy thought that was the best idea. He couldn’t quite explain so he used an excuse. “Your brother asked me to take care of you. I will.”
“You don’t have to pretend to care about me then. Going out to dinner and stuff…we don’t have to go,” Alphonse leaned in the window frame, breathing in the fresh air. He felt restless lately, without knowing why. Strange thoughts swirled in his mind these days and he felt permanently anxious, as if he was just waiting for something horrible to happen. What exactly, he didn’t know. But all his thoughts were focused on his brother, again, always. He hadn’t meant to say anything, but he finally blurted it out, “You’d switch me for him if you could, right?”
Al cut Roy off. “ I think that’s good because…I’d switch you for him too. I’d just…give anything to get him back. Anything.”
Mustang’s pen stopped moving while certain repressed thoughts surfaced in his mind. Memories of words repeated over and over for a hopeless cause.
He’d prefer to have an incomplete life than lose you.
Promise you won’t tell him!
We don’t want you to go. Stay.
You don’t understand anything. Leave me alone. You can’t control me anymore.
I won’t tell.
I won’t tell.
The pen returned to the waiting documents.
Stirring. Aware. Cold. So cold. Fear. Out, out, get out of here. Reaching for warmth. Warmth is good. Warmth is life. Warmth is… light. There’s light. Sunlight?
No. Stop. Stop. Can’t wake up now. He’s awake right now. Can’t disturb him. Can’t get in the way. Go back, go back .It’s not time.
Don’t want to. It’s cold.
Why? It’s warm here, it’s warm. Back there, it’s cold. Cold. And empty. So empty. Maddening. I don’t want to. I want warm.
Can’t. Alphonse’s awake. Can’t let him know. Can’t get out during the day. Don’t want to spill secrets right? Don’t want to let anyone know. Ever. Can’t tell them. Just Roy knows. Just Roy.
Roy is warm. Want Roy.
No. Alphonse’s there during the day. Alphonse’s can’t know! Not now. Not the time. Later, when he doesn’t know. Later.
Al can’t know…can’t let anyone know…
Go back, go back. It’s cold, but it’s the last time. The last time. No going back ever again. Just once more. Got to be strong.
No more cold…no more…ever…
Back. Back to nothing. Thoughts freezing, shattering, disappearing. A brief moment of consciousness, fading, fading….
Last time. No more cold. Ever.
But…no more Roy either, right?
Want Roy. Want-
“So this is it.”
“Yeah. After this one, he won’t get any more blackouts, he’ll feel perfectly at ease in his body and everything will be fine.” Roy didn’t ask for anything; he only gazed into the pair of gold eyes leveled at him until they broke and their owner fell into his arms for a last kiss. “I think I’m actually going to miss you, bastard,” grumbled Edward.
“That’s nice to know.”
Edward pulled himself away. He couldn’t go weak now. He just had to keep his mind off all the things he was going to miss. Roy, his brother, Roy... “Okay, stand back. Erase everything when it’s done, don’t tell him a thing. Ever.”
“I won’t,” promised Roy. His mind was spinning and he knew he was pale. He just…god, why wasn’t there anything to do? He had spent nearly seven months trying to find a solution, trying to find the right words, trying to find something. Seven months that had gone by like a dream, Roy hardly able to tell if he was hallucinating or not. Seven months of helplessness before the inevitable. He was taken back to the time where he had stood in front of Hughes’ grave and thought about human transmutation. He had known it wasn’t right and that there wasn’t anything to do, but he had thought about it nonetheless. It was the same. It was over; Edward had been lost months ago. It wasn’t fair. He was there, still there. Not quite himself anymore, but there. Roy had known though. He’d known it would happen no matter what. But he hadn’t been able not to think about it. He had still driven himself crazy over this lost cause.
What kind of man was told his lover was going to die, and accepted it? Not Roy’s kind.
No hope, no solution. It had been over seven months ago. Still…still.
Words, words, where were the words?
“I love you.” Words breathed with despair, words that hurt to say, and hurt more to hear.
Edward didn’t look back at the confession. “Yeah…I kind of noticed. Good bye, Roy.” He almost stopped to justify himself again. I have to go. I interfere with Alphonse’s life. As long as I’m here, what’s left of my soul will be struggling for more. I won’t allow it. I can’t steal any more of his time.
The man stood clearly out of the array, frozen to the core, and watched Edward kneel in the middle of the large chalk array, clapping and touching his hands to the ground with a grim expression. “Okay, there we go.”
There was light, that strange, eerie but beautiful light that always came with alchemical reactions. It wasn’t fair, but it was beautiful. The swirling air made Edward’s free hair fly around his face as he concentrated on his own death. Roy watched without a word. He had known from the start Edward would not give up, that he would go through with it. Still, in those seven months, he hadn’t been able to keep himself from trying to hold Edward back at every occasion.
Edward shuddered and gasped, eyes flying open. There was something pulling at him, pulling at his very soul. It was cold, a familiar, horrifying cold. He recognized this feeling. It was the same he had felt seven months ago. Only, back then, fear had kept him back at the last minute, preventing him from completing the reaction properly. He had been afraid at this pull on his soul toward the void. He was still afraid of course, but this time, he wouldn’t fight it.
Edward let go of everything, even as he locked gazes with Roy, taking with him this last image of a man he might just have liked to spend the rest of his life with, if it had been allowed.
Then, everything ended. The light disappeared and the blond collapsed on the floor. Roy was still frozen in place while the dust settled back on the ground. Over, so soon?
It was with dread that Roy made his way to the body, kneeling to shake it slightly. He called in a whisper, “Edward?” No reaction.
Roy picked up the boy and brought him upstairs, leaving him on the couch before going back down to erase all traces of the array and any hints of what had happened. The books Edward had worked with, along with his notes, had been stacked in a corner; Roy destroyed them with a snap. There would no evidence left and nobody would ever know. It was over.
The next half hour, Roy spent it sitting in a chair, hands crossed and curled in front of his mouth as he stared at the unmoving body that had once been his lover. A young flexible body, not quite done growing yet, but already full of hard muscles and holding more strength than a child that age should have possessed. Roy knew how it felt to hold that body against his, knew the hard edges and the soft curves by heart. There was also long blond hair that had more often than not been kept in a braid, a pale face and eyes that would never shine golden at him, be it in anger, happiness or otherwise.
“Roy?” The man looked up to find Alphonse looking utterly confused and lost, a hand pressed to his head and eyes fluttering, as if the unnatural light of the room was too bright for him and he couldn’t see. “I blacked out again. But it was…different.”
“How different?” Roy wasn’t sure he cared. A drink sounded good right then. Ten drinks sounded even better. In fact, he’d take as many as were needed to knock himself out cold.
“I…I don’t know. But I think I just lost something,” Al said, thick worry in his voice.
“You won’t have any more blackouts, I believe,” abruptly answered the man. “ You should be happy.”
“But…I don’t…” Al sat up and rubbed his chest, eyes widening in incomprehension and near-panic. “I feel empty. I don’t know. It’s weird. I don’t feel well. I don’t like it. It was weird before…but a better weird. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” Alphonse buried both his hands through the mass of long hair that should have belonged to his brother - forgetting that some hair would most likely get trapped in the automail hand – and closed his eyes, tightly. “What happened? I don’t like this. I’m so dizzy.” Although he hadn’t cried for many weeks now, he couldn’t repress his sob. “I want my brother…”
It was without warning that the man crossed the distance between his seat and the boy to take Alphonse into his arms fiercely. “I’m sorry I couldn’t stop him from leaving. I’m sorry.”
Al was shocked to feel wetness in his neck, enough to be momentarily distracted from his light hysteria. “Roy-?”
“I’m so sorry.”
We started this journey to restore Al. That was my goal and that’s what I worked on for five years. I wasn’t about to give up so close, not for anything. You can’t imagine how hard it is to fight against yourself. However small and broken it was, what passes for my soul was fighting what it saw as an invader. It didn’t understand I wanted to give him my body. That’s what the blackouts were you know? Me surfacing, me fighting him, trying to get rid of his soul. I couldn’t stand that. But I couldn’t stand the void either. It was driving me mad, slowly killing me. I don’t think I really would have died though. I would have lost myself, but a part of me would have remained to keep on fighting Al without me consciously there to beat it down. I had to get out of that situation. I couldn’t stay. But it was tempting. I might just regret not getting to spend more time with you, bastard. I kind of liked you, when you didn’t speak too much. You know, I almost wish I believed in an after death.
Even though he knew it was over, ever after he handed out the goodbye letters left by Edward to the concerned people, Roy never quite stopped hoping. It was an irrational hope that one day, the blond would turn to look at him, and the eyes in that familiar face would be their rightful color again, gold like they had been before, and not grey like they were now.
Hope you liked, hitokuse. You're the only one who reads this fic y'know. *snerks*
x-posted to fma_yaoi