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Read the First Part

Part II

Ed stared at the wall where there used to be a gate, one arm still outstretched as if to grasp Alfons, the other hand gripped the silver watch tightly. He swallowed and turned to face the General.

“Welcome home,” he was told gruffly, and Ed gave him a watery smile before he passed out.

Roy caught the young man as he fell forwards. The watch hit the ground with a clank and rolled away in the darkness of the room. He’d find it later. He grunted as he hefted the young alchemist up into his arms and carried him to one of the two black leather couches. Ed didn’t stir even when he was placed upon it, showing how absolutely exhausted he was. Roy looked at the array Ed had had him draw on the wall and walked towards it. With the cloth he’d set aside exactly for this purpose he wiped away all traces of an alchemic reaction. He found the watch and placed it on his desk before turning to the sleeping alchemist. He supposed it was time to tell Alphonse that he’d gotten his brother back. He dialed and asked for Alphonse Elric.

“Sir?” Al’s voice was sleepy.

“You might want to come down to the office, something…interesting has happened.”

Al seemed to perk up. “I’ll be right over!” there was a resounding click as Al hung up.

Al made it over to Central Command and record time and nearly flung the door open. Roy met him in the outer office saying, “You have to be quiet.” Al’s brow furrowed but he complied as they entered the inner office. At first Al could see no reason why he should have to be quiet, but then he saw a small figure on one of the couches, asleep. Al walked around to get a better look and nearly lost his breath when he saw who it was. He knelt by his older brother, and pressed his forehead into the couch next to his brother’s sleeping head. “You got him back,” Al whispered.

“No, I only helped. He got himself back. You’ll have to ask him all about it. It’s a very interesting concept.”

Al looked up. “I don’t care. I’ve got him back, that’s all that matters.”

“He’ll be staying with you right? I think you’ll find you’ll need an apartment instead of a hotel.”

“I can worry about that later. Right now Brother being here is the most important thing. What are you going to tell the military?”

“Right now, the truth can only upset things. I’ll tell them that he had been severely injured in the fight in the underground city. In order to protect you and rose he led the culprits away. However he was severely injured and was unable to get back to the underground city. He was taken in by some travelers and by the time he was coherent he was all the way in the…east. You know people in the east right?” Al nodded. “So he was in the east recuperating. Physically and mentally he was exhausted so he laid low until he was feeling better. On his trip back to Central he got really ill and had to stop for a month. He arrived tonight in fairly good condition, exhausted, but well.”

“Will the truth ever get out?”

“I hope not, Alphonse. I wouldn’t want to see what another world would do to us…what we would do to them.”

“Besides that, will they really believe the story about wandering travelers?”

“They’ll have no other choice. There’s no other plausible explanation for where he’s been. But I doubt the brass will even ask. I’ve simply been telling them that he’s on a leave of absence due to severe exhaustion.”

“So…you might not even have to lie.”

“Probably not. And as long as Edward agrees to…extend his contract for at least a year I doubt they’ll inquire too much into what he was up to.”

Al wrinkled his nose. “But you think it’ll keep them off our backs?”

“I’m positive, I do have influence now.”

Al laughed, and for the moment everything was good.

Edward woke up with a gasp and a start. He blinked and looked around himself blearily. He wasn’t in Mustang’s office anymore, but in a soft bed. His hands scratched at the clean, white sheets, felt them give beneath his hands and he sighed blissfully. He was home, home to stay. The only thing that made him cringe was Alfons’s look as he left, something torn between despair and happiness. Ed pressed his hands to face…and realized he only had one. His one hand rose to touch the naked shoulder but instead found metal. His hand caressed it gently and he wondered when it had been put on.
“While you were sleeping, we figured we should just start the process while you were sleeping. Well, we dosed you too, so, it wasn’t like you were in normal sleep all the time.”

He’d know that voice anywhere and he looked up at his little brother. “Al,” he said warmly.

“Brother,” Al mimicked and grinned. His hands slid against his brother’s shoulders as they hugged. “It was such a surprise to see you in the General’s office!”

“I’m sure it was, I wasn’t planning to go back there, but…”

Al sat on the bed next to Ed and looked down. “I talked with the General and he laid out some options…I don’t like them and neither will you, but he thinks it’ll be the best way to get the military off your back without asking too many questions.”

“Rejoin the military?”

“How’d you know?”

“It’s the obvious choice…I thought a lot about it on the other side of the gate. And there I decided that I’d rejoin the military for a little while at least.”
Al seemed to sag. “I rather liked the idea of you not liking the military.”

“It isn’t as if I like it, or agree with how it handles…things, but I also know that it does do some good.”


Ed tilted his head back. “There are some good people who are working to make it a better place. I can promise you Alphonse, that I won’t regret it.”

Al scooted down the bed and placed his head in his brother’s lap. “I’m glad that you’re home.” Ed ran his hand through Al’s soft hair. “I’m glad to be home.”

The next week Edward spent recuperating and Roy spent it fending off requests from the military to talk to the eighteen year old. However, when he dropped by later that week to check in, he found both boys sparring in their hotel room. Ed looked up from under sweaty bangs, and gave a half wave before ducking behind a couch so Alphonse couldn’t land a punch on him. He waited until the boys stopped sparring before attempting to start a conversation. Al sat down patiently and wiped away the sweat beaded on his forehead with a towel. “Did something happen sir?”

“Not particularly, but the Generals are all vying to have a word with the Fullmetal Alchemist. Does he deign to speak with them?” Roy asked.

“No, he doesn’t deign to speak with them.”

Roy sighed, he supposed it’d been too much to hope that Edward had improved his attitude towards the military. Ed continued, “What he deigns to do is to get back into the swing of things and not be stuck doing boring…stuff.”

“Pray tell, what’s this boring stuff?”

Ed shrugged and sat on the arm of the couch. “Paperwork, that kind of thing. Give me a lab or a mission in the city, I’m not keen on leaving Central at the moment. Al’s here.”

Roy had figured that into his plans already. “If you work in the lab you may end up having to work for somebody else.”

Ed raised his eyebrows, “I worked with plenty of people in Munich. Under them in fact. I got along fine.”

Roy wasn’t surprised. Ed could work well with other people as long as they could keep up with his bounding energy, though he seemed much quieter in the recent weeks.

“Well. I’ll see what I can do then. Where do your interests currently lie in lab work?”

Ed flicked a tongue against his teeth as he thought and when he spoke it was speculative. “You know very well I can work in almost any field and be perfectly fine. However, I enjoy creating arrays. But that’s not something really useful to the military. If you put me in organics, I might just kill you. I’m not helping make chimeras. But anywhere is fine, really. I could use work. Any.”

Roy’s eyes traced across Edward’s face gently, “Could you identify…things…done with alchemy?”

“Define…things…I say yes and I could be stuck looking at dead bodies.”

Roy’s eyes shifted away and he tried not to let emotion show but Edward must have caught something because his eyes narrowed and he glared. “No. I’m not working with dead bodies. Sorry.”

Roy sighed and rolled his shoulders. “Well, maybe translating old alchemic tombs would be the best place for you then. It’s lab work, boring lab work, but…” he didn’t finish because Edward had stood up and was looking positively cheerful.

“I could do that, I could totally get that. I’d love to do that, can I do that?”

Al was saying, “That’d be good! You might even find some alchemic ideas we haven’t yet looked into, right Brother?” Even Al sounded excited about this prospect.

Their excitement made Roy smile, “I’ll arrange it then. Most of the alchemists we have can’t really understand them, so if you can it’d be good.”

Ed gave him a charming grin. “I’m sure I’m better than ninety percent of them.” His grin didn’t waver in the least.

“I’m sure,” Roy spoke dryly, “that you are Fullmetal.”

The next few months Edward was the awe of the military. No one had inquired into his story, and the military had conveniently categorized it as “classified” and sealed the file. Edward was sure Mustang had something to do with that. Speaking of the devil… “Did you need something?” Ed asked without looking up from translating some old book.

“Actually I was rather wondering if you’d translated the Weilue yet…?”

It looked like Ed’s eyes might actually cross at the thought. “I’m working on it. I know you people are desperate to know what it says, but from what I’ve translated it looks like a travelogue, nothing alchemical in origin.”

“You’re not translating just alchemy texts anymore though, are you?”

“No…I haven’t, not for the past few months.” He shrugged. “It’s good work. Not hard, demanding, but worth it. You never know what you’re going to find.”

Roy laughed and turned to leave. “Do tell me when you finish translating the Weilue, would you?”

“Of course.”

Ed watched Roy leave and he closed the book he was working on and pulled the Weilue closer. It was annoying, written in Xingian – ancient Xingian no less! – and took forever to translate just one sentence. He knew basic Xingian, and thanks to this book he’d probably be fluent in it by the time he was done. He pulled out a large sheet of draft paper and set it on the desk before going to his bookshelf and retrieving a Xingian dictionary. He dropped it on the table with a loud smack. He pulled a grammar book to him as well and got down to translating it.

Al found his brother asleep on a book. Al peered over his shoulder to see what he was translating. He squinted but couldn’t make out it was. “Guess I should learn Xingian,” he thought to himself before patting his brother’s shoulder. Ed jerked up right with a piece of paper attached to his cheek. His eyes were blood-shot and he had large bags. Al cringed sympathetically. “Did you ever figure out that word you were working on yesterday?”

Ed stared at him. “Water-sheep. Water fucking sheep.”

“Water sheep?” Al asked slightly confused.

“Sheep don’t live in the water…”

“I think I’m well aware of that, Al. But they weren’t!” he pointed to the book and Al could only assume he was talking about the ancient Xingian’s.

“So…did they think sheep lived in water or something?”

“Yes…no. Well, it’s not actually sheep. The thing they describe is cotton, but they don’t know where it came from. They’d only heard it grows in water. All the silk they make comes from worms, so they assumed that cotton came from sheep. You know, white and fluffy?”

“Ahhhh,” Al said slowly understanding, “So they called it water-sheep because they assumed the sheep lived in water and their coat was harvested…or something.”

Ed nodded. “They have a lot of strange things like that in there. It’s what takes the most effort; deducing what they actually mean.”

“I’m sure Brother, but why are you rushing to finish this?”

“Mustang wanted to read it for some odd reason, so I’m doing it for him.”

“Did he ask you to rush it?”

Edward flushed and Al grinned. “Ohh. You’re trying to impress him!” Al laughed. “I don’t think you’ll get very far looking like that; all grungy!”

“Where is he going that he needs to get cleaned up?” the voice echoed across the room and Edward physically flinched and buried his face back in the book.

Mustang was leaning against the doorjamb, his normal pristine clothes in a bit of a disarray, his blue jacket hung open with the first few buttons of his dress shirt undone. Roy smiled at them. “I know you dislike me interrupting your work, but I wanted to see how you were doing.”

“It’s almost done.”

“What is?” Roy sounded genuinely confused.

“The Weilue, I’ve only got a few more passages to go.” He grunted and shifted his weight, standing and closing the book. “But I’ll finish tomorrow. I’m exhausted.”

Mustang looked the young man up and down and began to worry. “Are you working too much? You can cut back your hours you know.”

Ed gave him a disparaging look. “I got into the swing of things and I didn’t want to stop. After I finish I’ll take a few days off and get some good sleep before I move onto my next project.” Ed shrugged into his jacket and stuffed his feet into the shoes he’d taken off hours before. Al handed him his keys when Ed patted his pockets looking for them.

“You should take better care of yourself.”

Ed resisted the urge to stick his tongue out at the General. “You look like you could use some sleep as well. Hawkeye working you hard?”

Roy grimaced. “Not terribly. I’ve had quite a bit of paperwork come in lately. Something about someone using alchemy to disturb the piece. Teenagers apparently, who are bored, and looking for something to do. They’re sending out someone tomorrow to talk to them.”

“You think it’s going to work? Get them to stop harassing their poor neighbors?”

“Did it get you to stop?”

“Hey!” Edward protested. “I was doing work for the military!”

“Yes, well. That makes it worse.”

Ed gave him the finger in irritation and Roy finished buttoning his great coat over his now refastened shirt and jacket. “In any case,” Roy told him, “we’re hoping that this alchemist we’re sending will convince them to use their alchemy for good, not harm.”

“Hah!” Edward snorted. “Fat chance of ever getting them to comply. Really Mustang, sending an old alchemist in? They’re more likely to continue acting up.”

“Oh, so you have a solution?”

“Yeah, send Havoc or somebody. They’ll think he’s cool, he’s fond of guns, he smokes and the added bonus is that he still looks young.”

“Well, I’ll take your opinion under consideration.”


“Yes. I mean, I do value your opinion. And you are closer to their age so you’d probably understand them better.”

“Unlikely. I feel so much older than my age.”

Roy looked down at him as they walked along the street, Al tagging along behind. “Hmm, I can see that.”

Ed scuffed his feet. “It’s not all fun and games you know. I’m considered a genius and that can be a burden. For me. I’m asked to do things because they think it’ll be easy. Fix this, fix that! Do what you can with your hands first, then alchemy. Just like teacher taught us.”

Roy pressed a hand to Ed’s shoulder. “She taught you well.” Roy stopped and said, “Goodnight then. This is where we part.”
“Goodnight,” Edward whispered after him.

Roy found Edward on his doorstep a few nights later looking rather embarrassed. Roy ushered him into his living room.

“I, uh, well, you see, you said to, uhm,” he waved the large binder he was holding in the air as he spoke, “You said as soon as possible.” He shoved the binder at Roy, and Roy who was unprepared for it didn’t catch it in time and the papers spilled out across the floor. Ed flushed to his ears and stooped down to pick them up. Roy caught his hand after Ed gave himself a paper cut in his rush to pick up the fallen papers. Ed meet Roy’s eyes over the hand Roy held in his. Ed swallowed. Roy pulled the finger to his mouth and kissed it slowly. “You’re always in such a rush, you need to be careful or you’ll get hurt,” he murmured. He pulled Edward closer by his arm and Ed came willingly. They were both on their knees as Roy brushed Ed’s bangs off his face as he leaned closer. Ed was watching him, not moving closer, but not pulling away either. Roy lowered his head and kissed Ed. Ed seemed to shake for a moment before he responded. His arms moved to circle Roy’s neck and his mouth opened underneath Roy’s questing tongue. Roy pressed forward, catching Edward up in his arms. Ed came willingly and after a bit they subsided into more chaste kisses which slowly turned to Ed just leaning on him, his breathing uneven. Roy looked down to see Edward had his eyes closed. Sound asleep, Roy though, exhausted. He looked at the translation that was (mostly) back in its binder and frowned. Edward had barely started that a week and a half ago. Had he spent the last week translating that for him? Just because he’d asked? He looked down at the man in his arms and felt his heart stutter. He didn’t know of any person who would work themselves to exhaustion just because someone had asked them to translate something. In any case, Edward was exhausted now, and it was partly my fault, Roy thought as he lifted the young man in his arms. He walked up the stairs to his bedroom and lay Edward in the bed after thoughtfully taking off his coat, socks, jacket and leather pants, leaving him in a thin shirt and boxers. He then retreated downstairs to have himself a drink and perhaps –hopefully - forget about the beautiful blond in his bed upstairs.

When Edward woke up in the unfamiliar bed, he almost panicked. But he quickly realized where he was…and why. He flushed to the roots of his hair and sat up in the bed, propping himself up. He could see the shadow of himself cast upon the wall, shifting with every movement he made. As his eyes got used to the darkness he let his eyes lead themselves back to the doorway and nearly panicked again. The man was almost as dark as the shadows that danced and tripped across the walls, and he felt…dangerous. Even in the living room Edward had felt something dark rising in the man, and he had no doubt that it was probably lust. Even in the few months they’d gotten reacquainted there was still much left unsaid, left unknown. Clarity was obscured by time. He felt his toes curling in the sheets and he shivered. Cold air from the open window rippled across his skin, giving him goose bumps. He didn’t curl up into himself, but looked up at Mustang and caught his eyes directly, unafraid. He could feel those dark eyes boring into him. The man didn’t step into the room, just watched him from afar and Edward wondered what he was waiting for.

Roy stared into the room and felt the heat building in the pit of his stomach. He couldn’t take his eyes off of the young man who was currently occupying his bed. The young man shifted and their eyes caught and held, but he was shaking, just a bit. Roy wondered for a brief moment if it was out of fear, a thought that delighted him a bit too much perhaps, before he realized the window was still open from earlier that day. Cold then, but not paying attention to it. He had to admire Edward, Edward who was probably wondering what he was intending to do. Roy realized he was slowly losing his intentions. He’d meant to let Edward sleep the night through. In fact he’d only come up here to check on Edward, but he’d looked so lovely against the pale sheets that he hadn’t been able to help himself. He’d stood in the doorway and watched as Edward truly came into awareness. This time he didn’t hesitate as he strode into the room and towards the bed.

Ed swallowed once as Roy strode towards him, eyes heavy and full of…something Edward didn’t want to name. His breath caught on his words as Roy leaned over him, grasping his chin, pulling his head up for a bruising kiss. Edward pressed back into the kiss and Roy slowly sank onto the bed next to him, shrugging his own shirt off and undoing his pant button and zipper. Edward pulled his own shirt off and let Roy take him into his arms.

Ed closed his eyes in the darkness as the tides dragged him under, holding him close, keeping the world at bay, and his heart pounded with the rhythm of his world.

May 2016

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