ZaKai Stonewall (zakai_) wrote,
ZaKai Stonewall
zakai_

The More I Learn to Care for You - Chapter 7

Title: The More I learn to Care for You - Roy's POV
Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist
Main Characters: Roy Mustang, Ed Elric
Rating: R
Warnings: Language, sex
Summary: One person’s reality is not necessarily another’s. Can Roy figure Ed out before their differences overwhelm their fragile relationship? [RoyEd]

A/N: This story is being co-written with kikiko_haru I am writing Roy’s POV and she’s writing Ed’s. All of Ed’s dialogue in what I post belongs to her, but everything else is mine.

kikiko_haru is writing a companion story to this (with the same name only with ‘Ed’s POV’ in the title) where all of Roy’s dialogue belongs to me, and the rest is hers.




The More I Learn to Care For You—Roy’s POV

Chapter Seven

Wounded



He hadn’t noticed the medics. Not when they opened the car, not when they tried to talk to him. He couldn’t see them through his tears, couldn’t hear them through his pleading for Ed to wake up. His body was so cold, so numb, that he didn’t feel the hands touch him and when they started to gently pull him away and out of the car, Roy weakly fought them.

It was no use.

They won, in the end, and all he could do was watch in dismay from where they’d sat him as they worked to extract Ed from the wreckage with some sort of saw. His body trembled and every breath seemed to come with less air than he needed.

Someone was speaking to him, but he didn’t listen. He couldn’t. All he could do was hope with everything that he had that his stupidity hadn’t cost him the ultimate price. Someone stood in front of him and started speaking, but Roy absently pushed himself up with one leg and looked past the person; unable to take his eyes off of Ed.

The person moved out of his line of sight and a moment later a blanket was placed gently over his shoulders. Someone was speaking to him again, something about him needed to sit and about shock, but it was faint.

Ed.

He had to be with Ed.

He had to make sure that Ed would be alright...

Tears welled up in his eyes and he whispered, “This is all my fault...”

“Sir,” the voice said again and he felt someone try to lead him away. “Come with me. You need to be treated.”

Roy shook his head and when he blinked, the tears that had gathered in his eyes escaped and trickled down his chilly cheeks. “I can’t,” he gasped, not able to get enough air to speak. “I have to make sure...”

“We’re taking care of him. Please, come with me. You’ve sustained some major injuries as well and you’re in shock. We need to treat you.” There was a pause, then a shouted, “Johnny, grab David and get a stretcher over here.” It meant something, Roy was sure, but it meant nothing to him.

Suddenly, the saw stopped and there were shouts for morphine because Ed was awake. Roy tried to stand, tried to go to him, but was pushed back into place; the same voice telling him that they were bringing a stretcher for him and that his subordinate would be okay.

Roy shook his head vaguely as he watched the other medics with Ed. The teen was starting to shout now, and Roy tried to get up again but he cried out as a sharp pain flared in his knee and spread through his leg. More tears came, though not from the pain. No, the pain was nothing. It was for Ed, and because he couldn’t get to him. He’d done this, and now he couldn’t even try to help...

“Just a small prick, now,” he heard before a small pain bit at his uninjured arm. Roy looked over in time to see a needle being pulled out, then he felt hands grab him and move him to lie on something.

“Ed...” Roy whispered before something was placed over his nose and mouth, supplying him with more air. He closed his eyes and felt warm liquid run down his face from his eyes as he begged silently for Ed to be okay.

;-;-;-;-;-;-;


Roy opened his eyes and stared up through the darkness at the ceiling. The first thing he noticed was that he was warm—hot, in fact, as if someone had put a whole bundle of blankets on him.

The next thing he noticed was something strapped over his nose and mouth. Some sort of oxygen mask? He tried to lift a hand, planning to take it off, but his left arm wouldn’t move, and his right seemed heavy...

He blinked as he realized that he did indeed have several blankets on him. That explained it... but... He looked around again. Where was Ed? Was he alright? Fear pricked at his heart, and panic started to set in. He had to know. He had to find out.

Slowly, Roy started moving his right arm up in an effort to get out of bed, when the door opened and the room was flooded with light from the hall. A woman, a nurse by the look of her uniform, walked in and messed with a few of the wires and tubes before looking down at him. She jumped slightly in surprise when she realized he was awake.

Pressing a hand to her chest, the nurse took a deep breath to calm herself before saying, “You scared the livin’ daylights outta me, you know that?” Roy shrugged a little to show that he hadn’t meant to. She shook her head, reached over, and took the oxygen mask off. “How ya feelin’, honey?” she asked with a slight country accent.

“Dunno,” he answered weakly, letting the accent of his youth show through a little. “Why don’t you feel me an’ find out?” To this she merely laughed and asked him what part of the East he’d grown up in.

The woman, Sariah Terihorn, was pleasant enough as she relieved him of a few of the blankets and checked his vitals. She’d also gotten him water for which he couldn’t have been more grateful for.

He quickly learned that he’d come away from the accident with a broken arm, a dislocated knee, and some cuts and bruises. He’d broken his arm near the elbow joint, and shattered the bone in his wrist. Apparently, he’d need surgery on it, but it wasn’t anything that would keep him in the hospital any longer than his other injuries.

Unfortunately, each time he asked about Ed, the nurse quickly changed the subject, telling him ‘not to worry his purdy little head about it’. Finally, Roy reached over with his good hand and held her arm. He gazed steadily into her eyes and whispered, “Please... I have to know... Please understand...”

He swallowed, not sure how to make her see that he couldn’t go on without at least knowing. Not taking her eyes from his, she reached over and put her hand over the one he’d used to grab her with.

“Alright,” she said finally. “I don’t know much, but I know they got that boy into surgery as soon as he got here. That was yesterday. I know he’s been in a couple times, but... I’m sorry, I just don’t know more.”

He felt tired and exhausted, but he used what strength he had to squeeze her arm. “Find out for me, please... I can’t live not knowing.” That last part just slipped out. He hadn’t meant to say it, he didn’t want her to know how desperate he was, but it was true. He needed to know. All he could think of was that Ed was dead, or alive but in a state that he’d never fully recover...

For a moment she simply looked at him, then her expression softened. “I see,” she said quietly and gave him a small smile. “I understand. I’ll do what I can for you.”

Roy slowly let go of her arm, and she placed it on the bed. With her assurances, Roy closed his eyes and let himself drift back to sleep.

;-;-;-;-;-;-;


Roy’s first few days after the accident were spent mostly sleeping or being examined by doctors. He’d gone into surgery for his wrist and though they were sure it would heal up alright, the doctors said that he’d probably have problems with it for the rest of his life.

For now his left arm was in a cast, and his left knee had a brace around it. He would have to use a crutch while it healed, but only time would tell if it would heal properly or if he’d need some sort of corrective surgery for that as well.

The small cuts on his forehead were healing up nicely, but they were still a little tender. He’d been lucky that he hadn’t sustained any major injuries to his head. Although his injuries were bad, it was the affects of going into shock that had kept him in the hospital for so long.

He’d had visitors, of course. His crew had come, both to offer condolences and to try cheering him up. He’d had a half-hearted scolding from Hawkeye, but he could tell she was more worried than angry.

And then, of course, there was Ed.

Nurse Terihorn was kind enough to bring him information about Ed as she could get it, but it hadn’t satisfied him so when he’d gotten the brace on his knee and the crutch, Roy had gotten out of bed and wandered down to the intensive care unit Ed was being held in for the moment.

He’d looked so frail and helpless there that Roy couldn’t help getting tears in his eyes. Guilt had plagued him since he’d woken in the hospital about the things he’d said to Ed. He just wanted him to be okay. Even if they didn’t stay together, he at least wanted Ed to live.

Roy hadn’t been able to stay long because he’d been kicked out when someone noticed he was there—both because there were no visitors in this area of the hospital and also because Roy wasn’t supposed to be out of bed.

It hadn’t stopped him from visiting more than once, and each time he’d been sent away, but at least he’d been able to see him. Despite the fact that Ed looked pale and weak, despite the fact that it hurt to see him like that, it was better to see, better to know. The last time he’d come, however, Ed had been gone. They’d explained that he was out of the critical phase and that they’d moved him to a different ward.

He’d meant to ask Nurse Terihorn where they’d moved Ed when she came in for her shift, but she’d called in sick that night, and the next day, Roy had been released from the hospital.

With his crutch and painkillers in hand, Roy was led away by Riza Hawkeye and taken home. In a way, it was nice to be back in his own space, but mostly it wasn’t. There were too many bad memories that clawed at him when he walked in the door. Scenes from that horrible morning crashed against him and he couldn’t stop the tears from running silently down his cheeks.

It had hurt to remember Ed’s voice and his tears, and it stung his heart when he saw the empty glass on the counter. It hurt because Ed had drunk it, even though he hated it, and Roy hadn’t even noticed. He’d drunk it to please the one he cared about, as if it would calm the rage and silence the hateful words.

He felt like a complete failure. He’d really wanted what he and Ed had to last. He’d never felt for anyone else, the way he felt for Ed and he’d tried, really tried to keep himself from treating Ed the way he’d treated his previous lovers.

For months Roy had worked to keep quiet when he was angry or walk away from the situation before he said something he’d regret. He’d done it too, and managed to make this relationship into the longest he’d ever had.

A relationship that was at an end.

That first night back home he’d dreamt of Ed. He’d dreamt of the good times like when they were first dating, or their first time together. He’d dreamt of the holidays and he’d dreamt of their New Year’s Eve date. They were good dreams, but when he woke he’d realized that that was all they were.

Dreams.

Ed was no longer here, injured because of his stupidity. He was alone, and maybe that was for the best. People like him probably didn’t deserve to be with someone, especially someone like Ed.

;-;-;-;-;-;-;


“Well, it’s good to see that you’re still around.”

Roy frowned but didn’t say anything. General Hakuro sounded anything but pleased, and Roy thought that perhaps the man would have been content to have Roy die in the accident.

The general shuffled some papers on his desk before looking up at Roy again. “I’ve received all the documents from the hospital concerning your condition. The doctors recommend that you be on work release for six to ten weeks.”

Roy nodded. He’d been told that too, though they’d made a point to say that ten would be better than six, and if he could get twelve off it would be best.

Hakuro cleared his throat before saying, “I’ll give you six weeks off, starting from the first day you missed last week, so I expect you back here in five weeks.” Roy had to keep himself from scowling. “Also, that will be time off without pay.”

“What?” Roy exclaimed. “I have sick leave that I haven’t used!”

A small smile played on his commanding officer’s face, and he said smoothly, “Your medical leave will be frozen until after this is over. You need to understand that you can’t take the military’s property and be so reckless with it.”

Roy pressed his lips together and said more calmly than he felt, “I was sick. I told you that on the phone.”

Hakuro gave an exaggerated shrug before saying, “You had a job to do, colonel. That isn’t a very valid excuse.” Roy breathed in deeply, ready to speak again, when the general continued. “When you return, your check will be garnished to replace the vehicle you so carelessly destroyed.”

This time Roy didn’t even bother to argue. It was obvious Hakuro was using this situation to prolong his suffering. The man didn’t like him, so he supposed this was to be expected. He’d suffer for a while, but it wasn’t as bad as it could be. He had enough savings to cover his expenses for the next few weeks at least...

“Is there anything else, sir?” Roy asked tightly. His body felt ridged and he could feel little prickles of sweat on his skin.

“Yes.” More shuffling of papers. “Your military driver’s license is being revoked. You’ll need to recertify with the vehicles stated on the license. Please leave that on my desk before you go,” he said in a business-like manner.

Instead of waiting, Roy dug his wallet out of the brown slacks he was wearing and fished the military license out of his wallet.

“I also have a letter here from Central’s Driver’s License Division. They have requested that your civilian license be revoked as well. You should be receiving a letter in the mail from them soon.” Roy pulled his other license out and flipped it onto the desk next to the military one.

Roy raised an eyebrow and gave the general a questioning look, wondering if that was all. “Also,” Hakuro continued, and Roy sighed. Of course, there would be more... “Upon your return from leave, a non-judicial punishment hearing will be conducted to determine whether further penalty is needed. You have the right to appeal in writing if you wish. Appeals will need to be made within five days of today.”

Roy felt his heart drop a little. Hakuro was going for the kill on this one... Not that any further reprimand from the military would be too horrible to bear. He wouldn’t be put to death or kicked out of the military, it would all just be frustratingly inconvenient. No, his worst punishment about the whole situation had nothing to do with the military. It had to do with Ed.

“I’ll remember that, sir,” Roy said, though he had no plans on submitting an appeal. It wouldn’t go through. He had too many enemies in the ranks.

He sat there silently waiting for more. After a few minutes of cleaning up the paperwork on his desk, Hakuro said casually, “You may leave now.”

Painfully, Roy got up and started slowly toward the door. He was tired and in pain. What he really needed to do was go home, take some pain killers, and sleep, but he wouldn’t quite yet. He still had one more thing to do before he went home.

;-;-;-;-;-;-;


When Roy reached the nurses’ station, he leaned heavily against the counter. He’d stopped at the flower shop on his way, buying a single red rose in a vase, and carried the vase in between his body and his cast. Now he set it on the counter to alleviate some pressure while he waited. His knee ached and he was almost out of breath from the exertion. His armpit throbbed from the crutch and he thought that those pain killers sounded very nice at the moment.

The nurse on duty was on the phone giving Roy a chance to look around while he waited. He hadn’t known initially where they’d taken Ed, and had needed to inquire about it. When he found out they’d sent him here and Roy almost felt amused.

Almost.

If it were a different situation, perhaps he would, but right now...

An older man with graying hair walked around the corner. A white doctor’s jacket hung off of his ample body. Clearing his throat, Roy said, “Excuse me.”

Looking up, the doctor said, “Yes?”

“I’m looking for a ‘Doctor Maple’...” Roy left the rest open for the man to respond.

“Ah, yes. That would be me,” the jolly looking man said lightly and walked over to Roy. “What can I do for you?”

“My name is Colonel Roy Mustang and I’m looking for Edward Elric’s room.”

The man frowned unhappily, and Roy could almost see the man processing the information. “Mustang?” Roy nodded, and Doctor Maple’s frown deepened. “Aren’t you the one who was driving in that accident?”

Again, Roy nodded, feeling unhappy about this man already knowing about him. The older man took a deep breath before pointing to a door and saying, “He’s in there, but it’s a communal room. All the rooms in this ward are.”

“May I ask why he was put in the children’s ward?” Roy asked curiously.

“He’s seventeen,” Doctor Maple said simply.

“And a half,” Roy said automatically.

“Yes, but he’s still under age, so he is in this ward.”

“Edward Elric is a State Alchemist, and a major in the military. He should have his own room,” Roy argued irritably.

“Colonel Mustang,” Doctor Maple said as if talking to a child. “I do agree that, as a military officer, Edward should have his own room, and we do often put teenagers older than fourteen in their own rooms; however, with the hospital in West Central closed for repairs and remodeling, this has left the other hospitals in Central to work in extra patients. We’re short on individual rooms, so anyone under eighteen must come to the children’s ward. No exceptions. It’s unfair, but that’s life.”

Roy pressed his lips together, trying to think of a loophole to get Ed his own room. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one. Finally, he nodded and said, “Alright, I’d like to see him, maybe talk with him...”

“He still hasn’t regained consciousness,” the doctor said.

“Is he...” Roy couldn’t finish, too worried about what could be.

“I believe he’ll be fine,” Doctor Maple said assuredly. “He has a high grade fever and a concussion, as well as a nearly fatal wound to his torso, but he has spirit, that one. Anyone who can live through that type of trauma must be very strong.”

“I still want to see him,” Roy pressed. It wasn’t enough to know Ed would be fine. He needed to see him for himself.

The older man studied him for a moment before pointing to a door. “He’s in there. Right now it’s quiet time so many of the children are in there as well. Please be mindful of them.”

Roy nodded, then said, “One last thing, doctor. I’m Fullmetal’s commanding officer. I’m going to need copies of all documents the hospital has on him. I will also require regular updates on his status.”

Doctor Maple frowned. “I’ll do what I can, but I’m a busy man. Periodic updates are more...”

Roy cut him off. “Regular updates, doctor,” Roy pressed. When the man said nothing else, Roy grabbed the vase, turned, and started for the door indicated. Opening it, he took a step in and stopped as he took in the long room before him.

Twenty beds lined each wall, some with curtains to partition them off; others open so that the occupants, what few occupants there were, could interact with others in the room. Each wall had several large windows that added to the brightness of the room, giving it a more ‘cheery’ feel, if that were possible.

The few children in the room were staring at him in a way that made him feel a little uncomfortable, but he shrugged it off and started down the wide ‘hallway’ between the ends of the beds.

Ed wasn’t in any of the non-partitioned beds, which meant he must be in one of the beds near the back of the room. Just his luck, he thought a little miserably. As he continued, he noticed that each bed, metal frame things painted white, had a bedside table near them, and thankfully, a chair by that.

Roy tried to ignore the gawking of the children, but he couldn’t help himself looking at each one as he passed them. Most simply watched him, but there was one, a little dark-haired girl with her arm in a sling who smiled shyly up at him and waved her good hand at him. He didn’t really feel like responding, but he couldn’t help giving her a small smile and nodded his head in return. Her plump cheeks darkened with a blush and she buried her head bashfully in a black teddy bear.

His small smile widened a little at her cute gesture and he let himself be amused by it until he got to Ed’s bed. Moving around the partition, Roy’s smile faded and he swallowed a lump in his throat. Ed was lying on his side, and he didn’t look all that well to him... Roy moved over and set the vase down on the small table before pulling the chair away and sitting by Ed’s bed.

Ed’s face, so peaceful looking in his sleep, was slightly pale where it wasn’t flushed due to the fever. Ed’s golden-blond hair was splayed out over the pillow and Roy couldn’t help reaching up and gently moving a few strands away from Ed’s face. His hand paused there, then moved to softly caress Ed’s face.

The skin was hot to the touch and Roy’s mouth turned down in a slight frown. Hadn’t they said that he was out of danger now? If so, then why did he have such a high fever? He made a mental note to ask about that before moving his hand down to where Ed’s hand was.

Carefully, Roy picked it up and kissed it softly, avoiding the IV that was piercing Ed’s hand. “I’m sorry,” he whispered against Ed’s hot skin. “I’m...” His voice broke slightly and he had to blink away the sudden tears. “I’m so sorry...” he breathed.

He kissed each of Ed’s fingertips, then rested his cheek on the hand. This wasn’t right. Ed being here like this just wasn’t right. Lifting his head, Roy stared at Ed again, thinking of the first time he’d ever laid eyes on Ed. It had been a cold, rainy night and Ed had been knocked out then as well.

Roy had been amazed at the young boy in the bed—someone who could perform human transmutation and actually live though it. Of course he hadn’t known what a little shit the kid was given that he’d looked so damn innocent, but...

But.

But now...

Roy shook his head and patted Ed’s hand. “You’ll be fine,” he said weakly. “That’s what the doctors say.” He paused, getting control of his emotions before continuing. “You will be fine. I’m not going to have my last memories of you be like this, do you hear me?”

No answer, but then he hadn’t expected one either.

Leaning over, Roy gently traced his finger along the smooth edges of Ed’s face. “I had a meeting with Hakuro today.” He paused. He didn’t want to tell Ed what was going on, even if he was asleep. “It seems that I’m going to need to take more driving classes. That’s probably a good thing, right?”

Roy closed his eyes for a moment. He was so exhausted. All this moving around had really worn him out, and he still needed to walk home. Maybe he’d call a cab.

“I noticed,” Roy said, opening his eyes. “I noticed you drank the milk.” Tears pricked at his eyes, but they were small and he was able to blink them quickly away. “Thank you...” he whispered. “You really are too good to me... too good for me. You care far too much about me...”

Roy sat watching over Ed for a long time before standing wearily. He wondered vaguely if he’d have the energy to get home. Bending over, Roy softly pressed his lips against Ed’s before pressing his cheek against Ed’s. “I know it’s late, but there’s the kiss you wanted... I should have given it to you before.” With the promise of coming back tomorrow, Roy straightened and hobbled tiredly from the room.

;-;-;-;-;-;-;

The two weeks following Roy being released from the hospital went quickly. The days were filled with visiting Ed, doctor appointments, pain, and drugged-up sleep. It wasn’t much, in fact it, was more than what he wanted. If he wasn’t with Ed then he didn’t want to be awake at all which led to him drinking alcohol with his medication.

His doctor had been livid when he’d found out.

Of course, the doctor wouldn’t have yelled at him if Hawkeye hadn’t found out first and ratted him out. The woman had taken it upon herself to take care of him when she’d found him passed out on his living room floor—a bottle of pain medication and alcohol lying next to him.

He didn’t see why she’d been so upset. He’d meant to sleep there...really.

So now he had to deal with Riza coming to his place every day to check on him. She’d started bringing him meals when she noticed him losing weight and even stayed sometimes to make sure he ate. She also relieved him of his alcohol, which he supposed was a good thing. After all, if he hadn’t had gotten drunk that night, then this whole thing with Ed might not have happened...

Yeah, he was better without the alcohol.

He’d gotten a scathing lecture about taking care of himself and how he wasn’t helping anyone by wallowing in his self pity. It hadn’t been what he wanted to hear, but it had been what he needed to hear.

She’d also started giving him rides to the hospital to visit Ed. Hawkeye had been upset when she’d learned that he wasn’t able to use his paid sick leave. He hadn’t meant to tell her, but the woman had pried it out of him. So, she was determined to use the military car to drive him wherever he needed to go.

He visited Ed every day. No matter how shitty he felt, he was there. At first, Roy had only been able to handle short visits, much to the hospital staff’s relief. When he was there, Roy badgered them incessantly about Ed’s treatment.

Doctor Maple had finally told him that calling more than once a day to get information was a little too much. Once a day should suffice and if there were any major changes in Ed’s condition, Roy would be the first to know.

It didn’t stop him from worrying.

Ed was always on his mind. He was always there. When he went into the kitchen, Ed was there sitting on his counter and eating his food. When he went into the living room, Ed was on his couch reading some book. When he went into the bathroom, Ed was in there taking a shower or brushing his hair. When he went into the bedroom, Ed was on his bed and giving him that inviting look...

He agonized over Ed. He wanted Ed...wanted to hold him and kiss him and beg his forgiveness. And he did. In his dreams he did hold him, and at the hospital he told him how sorry he was, but it wasn’t nearly adequate enough.

He also knew that he was no good for Ed, and he agonized over that too. He didn’t want to let Ed go. He couldn’t handle thinking of Ed with someone else; yet, it was selfish of him to try to hold onto him.

Ed deserved someone better than him. Plain and simple.

This mistake had opened his eyes and made him realize many things about himself. See himself in a whole different light, and perhaps changes would come... But the cost for this was almost too much to bear. He was already feeling the impact from this and he was sure that he wasn’t done paying yet.

;-;-;-;-;-;-;


Roy limped into the children’s ward to see one of the nurses kneeling down and talking with a couple little children—a small boy and girl. The boy simply glanced at him, but the girl’s eyes widened and she moved to hide behind the nurse’s legs before shyly waving at him.

The nurse looked up and when she saw him, she shook her head before telling the children to go into one of the other rooms. The little girl tried to hide behind her teddy bear as she walked but didn’t take her eyes off of him until she was out of the hall.

Standing, the nurse said, “I think you have a fan.”

Roy shrugged, “I just happen to have that affect on women.”

To this the nurse rolled her eyes and smirked before saying, “I have some news...”

She was cut off when Doctor Maple walked quickly out into the hallway and said, “Nurse Hunter, I need your assistance for a moment.”

Instead of finishing what she’d been about to say, she simply hurried after him. Roy frowned irritably before heading towards the communal room Ed was in. He hadn’t even gotten a chance to ask any questions. Well, that could wait until after he visited Ed, he supposed.

Opening the door, Roy headed toward Ed’s bed and sat down. He let his eyes run over Ed’s face for a few moments before resting his elbow on his knee and putting his face in his hand.

He was so tired... Recently, he’d started taking less of the medication to prepare himself for the inevitable return to work. The drugs made him tired, so he needed to learn how to deal with the pain without them.

“Hey...you look like shit,” a scratchy and rough voice said.

To this, Roy’s head shot up in surprise.

Ed was awake!

His heart jumped in his chest with both happiness and panic. If Ed was awake that meant he was that much further in his recovery. This was definitely good, but they could have told him! They could have warned him!

Perhaps that’s what the nurse had been about to say. But what now? Roy had planned on simply staying away once Ed woke. Maybe it was cowardly of him, but he didn’t know if he could face Ed like this.

He swallowed and looked away for a moment, not able to meet Ed’s eyes, before forcing himself to look back. “Yeah... I guess I do,” he said quietly. He could only force himself to look at Ed so long before he let his gaze shift away. He felt so much shame and he was afraid. What would Ed say to him? Roy knew he deserved no sympathy or kindness from him...

Finally he forced himself to look back. He should at least say something... “How long have you been awake?” he asked, then cringed inside. Wouldn’t inquiring about Ed’s welfare be a much better question? Probably, but he wasn’t sure how to phrase it.

Ed cleared his throat. “Um...like an hour? I don’t know, my pocket watch ain’t here.” That was followed by a small laugh. “I got in trouble... I guess you’re not supposed to get outta bed when you’re messed up, go figure.”

At that, Roy felt a feeling of fondness. Only Ed would get himself into trouble so soon. Roy nodded slowly, looked down at Ed’s blanket, and said automatically, “I should have warned the nurses that you were a handful...” Roy shut his mouth to prevent himself from saying more. That wasn’t the type of thing you said to someone in Ed’s situation, but the bantering was so ingrained in him that he hadn’t been able to help it.

“I was told what happened... I don’t remember it...” There was a pause, and Roy wondered just how much Ed didn’t remember. Wouldn’t it be great if he couldn’t remember the fight too? Of course it would, but Roy was sure he wasn’t that lucky. But if Ed did remember the fight, why then was he not yelling at him? “It sounded awful,” Ed continued, then paused again before asking, “Are you alright?”

Roy glanced up at Ed and felt guilt run through him even more strongly than before. Ed was asking him if he was alright... “Yeah...” he lied softly. “Of course, I’m fine.” He paused thinking that it would be really bastardly of him not to ask how Ed was doing. He cast his mind around for something that would work, then finally settled on, “And you?” He shook his head. It just sounded so lame and inadequate. “I mean, obviously you’re not alright,” he said quickly. “But...” Roy trailed off, unable to finish, and looked down.

“I’ve had worse,” Ed replied. “What’d they do with my arm?” he asked. “Seems stupid to take it off.”

Roy rubbed his face then ran his fingers through his hair. “It was damaged in the accident. You’ll have to get the Rockbell girl to fix it for you.”

“Well, fuck,” he heard Ed say. “She’s gonna kill me—did you tell them yet?” Does Al know?” Ed demanded, then paused before saying in a less severe tone, “Hey, come closer, I wanna hold your hand... please.”

Roy glanced up at Ed for a moment, trying to decide what to do. He did want to hold Ed’s hand; he wanted to hold it very much, but would it be right to do so? But, Ed wanted it, and Roy couldn’t refuse, so he scooted the chair closer and took Ed’s hand in his.

“I tried...” Roy began, then cut himself off. Yes, he had called Rizembool, but both the girl and Alphonse had been away doing some automail repairs and they’d been snowed in somewhere... The old woman had promised to do her best to get the word to them, and said she would come herself to fix Ed’s automail, but right now no one was getting out of Rizembool due to the heavy snow.

Roy continued, making the information less personal. “Calls were made to the Rockbell residence, but it seems that your brother and Miss Rockbell were away from the house. The old woman said she’d try to get a message to them,” he said a little more formally than he’d intended.

Ed weakly curled his fingers around Roy’s palm and gave it a soft squeeze. “You and Al are close, eh?” Ed asked in a softly serious tone. “You talk a lot? Don’t you?”

Roy flinched involuntarily and looked down at the hand holding his. No, it didn’t seem he’d been lucky after all... But what could he say to that? How could he defend himself?

He couldn’t.

“No...” he whispered faintly.

He heard Ed let his breath out loudly, then, “But he told you, didn’t he? How much he hates me. What did he tell you?” The last was said in a pleading tone saturated with pain. “Please,” Ed said, beseeching him. “Just tell me what he said.”

Roy squeezed Ed’s hand before letting go and standing up. He had to tell Ed the truth, it was only right, but he couldn’t do it sitting here next to him. It would have just seemed too much a lie. Slowly, he limped to the window next to Ed’s bed and pressed his forehead against the glass. He owed Ed the truth, but it was so damn hard...

“I hurt you too... Roy,” Ed said and Roy could hear him shifting in the bed. “I...I’m sorry. I don’t remember everything from that day, but I didn’t mean to hurt you. I—I just didn’t know. I’ve never been in a relationship before. I didn’t know that you...” Ed chuckled softly. “…can’t read my mind. This is all cause of that stupid dare...”

Ed apologizing... Roy didn’t want to hear that. He didn’t want Ed to be kind to him; he didn’t want Ed to apologize. He was the one who was in the wrong, not Ed.

“Ed...” Roy said, then paused. He had to do this. And maybe, if he was lucky, it would make Ed hate him, and it would be that much easier on him when he was let go... “I lied to you when I said that about your brother.” He couldn’t keep the gravity from his voice as he spoke. “I should have walked away. I should have let you leave, but I didn’t. This isn’t your fault. None of it is.”

“W-what? But why? What happened? You...” The bed creaked and he heard a groan from Ed. “Why?”

So hard...

Roy rubbed his eyes in an effort to make the stinging tears go away. He wouldn’t cry. “Ed, listen...” I’m so sorry... “I’m not a good person. I...” I’m a real bastard, you were right all along. “I have a bad habit of saying things I shouldn’t when I’m mad. I thought I could control that with you.” But I was too weak. “I’ve just tried to walk away when I was angry...” I really did try... “But...” Roy shook his head. He couldn’t say anymore. If he did, then it might become glaringly obvious that he was about to lose his composure.

“So... was any of what you said true?” Ed asked. “You still want to be with me, right?”

Roy squeezed his eyes shut. Don’t do this to me, Ed. Please... This is killing me enough as it is...

He could hear more movement on the bed, then, “I...I...really like you.” Ed’s voice was so hesitant, so unsure that Roy felt as though Ed had stabbed him in the chest rather than confessed his feelings. He almost couldn’t breathe it was so painful. I really like you too... Roy thought. You are everything to me... and that’s why I’m going to let you go.

Roy shook his head as if that would somehow take the hurt away, then said as clearly as he could, “It might be better if you found someone else to be with; someone who will treat you the way you deserve.”

There.

He’d said it.

And now he just wanted to be alone so that he didn’t have to pretend that this wasn’t killing him.

“No...” Ed whispered. “No! I won’t accept that!” Ed said loudly, almost shouting. Roy could hear him move off the bed, then the sound of him falling onto the floor with a grunt of pain.

Roy quickly turned his head and instantly felt concern when he saw Ed crumpled on the floor. He couldn’t move fast, but he came to Ed as quickly as he could manage. Putting his weight on his good leg, Roy bent down and offered his hand. It was the best he could do.

“Didn’t you just tell me you were to stay in bed?” Roy asked, frustrated that Ed would put his health in jeopardy like this.

Instead of answering or taking his hand, Ed pulled his legs under him and held onto his side for a moment before saying, “You’re lying.”

Roy gritted his teeth in an effort to stay where he was. The pain was so intense he was starting to see little stars in his vision. “Are you going to take my hand or not?” he asked.

“I don’t believe you!” Ed shouted. “Why are you even here if you don’t care?” he asked and looked up. Roy’s eyes met Ed’s wet ones and all he wanted to do in that moment is hold Ed and tell him whatever he wanted just to get those tears to stop.

But he couldn’t, because this is what would be best for Ed.

“Fuck, why can’t I stop crying today?” Ed said in frustration and turned away to wipe furiously at his eyes.

Roy felt his face crumple at Ed’s words, and he wished he was anywhere but here at the moment. He didn’t like hurting Ed. He hated it. But if he didn’t let Ed go, then he could hurt him again and again... and again... Better just to have him hurt now, for this one time, rather then over and over later. He swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat. Yes, it was better; better for Ed... but not for him.

Growling, Ed lifted his arm up and put his face into his elbow. Suddenly he jerked his head and pulled the IV needle out by his teeth and spit it on the floor. Rolling over onto his hand and knees, Ed shuffled over to the end of the bed and pulled himself to his feet.

Guess Ed didn’t need his help... Roy didn’t think he should be surprised at Ed’s reaction, in fact, it was probably for the best, but it still hurt. Even if they weren’t going to be together, he still wanted to help Ed if he could because he still cared...

“Roy...or should I now call you Mustang?” Ed said, driving that ache even deeper.

Pressing his lips together, Roy straightened, unable to keep the hurt from both the physical and emotional pains off his face. “I suppose you should, Fullmetal,” he said quietly, trying to ignore the hurt. Better for them to just go back to a working relationship...

Yes, of course it was...

As hard as he tried, he couldn’t seem to convince himself.

“You’re such a fucking bastard,” Ed exclaimed. “Was I only your fuck pet? Eh?”

No...

“You said you only wanted to fuck me in the beginning, right?”

In the beginning...

“What? You find something younger, more pleasant? A woman?”

No.

“A boy?”

Hardly.

“Come on, tell me!”

Roy continued to stare at the floor, listening passively to Ed rant at him. He deserved it, and he wasn’t about to say anything in his own defense. Besides, they’d already had this conversation—and that brought a whole new level of agony to him. Maybe he would tell Ed. Maybe he would respond to the accusations and the anger. Maybe. But not now. Not today. Slowly, Roy began moving toward the door. He just couldn’t take any more of this right now. He had to get away.

Roy stopped halfway to the door. Ed’s words echoed through his mind. He could hear anger and accusation in Ed’s voice, but he could also feel the pain. Roy pressed his lips together and took a deep breath. “That’s right,” he whispered. “That’s all you were to me.”

Tears pricked at his eyes, and he loathed himself even more for saying that to Ed. “Now, get back to bed and let your body heal so that you can find someone who really...” His voice broke. “...loves... you.”

At that moment, Roy realized it. He realized it in a conscious way. He loved Ed. He loved him, and he’d been so afraid of losing him that he’d ended up pushing him away. And... as a result, this is what happened. It was wrong of him to care about something so much that he would lose his wits. It was wrong that he would lose his composure over such a weak and childish emotion.

Yes, he loved Ed, and it was making him break down in ways he could have never imagined. He’d let this emotion play with him from the shadows; taunting him without ever making itself clear and leaving him a total wreck. He hadn’t recognized it for what it was until too late. Even that time before hadn’t prepared him for this.

Nothing had prepared him for this.

Was it too much to say that he never wanted to love again?

Roy didn’t think so.

This wasn’t like him. Being so emotional wasn’t him. No, his way was to hide any feelings he couldn’t handle. Bury them deep so that he could remain in control. But somewhere along the way, Ed had shone light into that dark place and there was no where left for him to put those feelings...

He needed to pull himself together, just like Hawkeye had said. Now that that light was going out in his life, he needed to put all those negative emotions back where they belonged. That’s what he needed to do, and he would.

But not right now.

Right now he was going to go home and morn his loss.

Tomorrow, maybe the next day, he would find a way to move on...

Swallowing hard and blinking back tears, Roy made his way to the door, opened it, and let himself out of the room.Swallowing hard and blinking back tears, Roy made his way to the door, opened it, and let himself out of the room.

--

Ed's POV HERE
Tags: stories, the more i learn to care for you
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