ZaKai Stonewall (zakai_) wrote,
ZaKai Stonewall
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The More I Learn to Care for You - Chapter 10

Title: The More I learn to Care for You - Roy's POV
Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist
Pairings: RoyEd
Rating: R – NC17
Warnings: Language, Probably eventual limes and lemons,
Summary: One person’s reality is not necessarily another’s. Can Roy and Ed figure each other out before their differences overwhelm their fragile relationship?

A/N 1: 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 Ed, 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.

Previous Roy POV Chapters HERE




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

Chapter Ten

Trial and Punishment



“Will you be alright?”

Roy glanced away from the large and heavy door to look at Lieutenant Hawkeye. Her brown eyes were grave and her lips were pulled down into a worried frown. He tried to give her a reassuring smile.

“Of course,” he said in a falsely light tone. “I’m sure they’ll just slap me on the wrist and I’ll be on my way.” Her frown deepened and his weak smile faded. Roy could hear the dark despair in his own voice and he was sure she could hear it too.

There had been many times that he’d gotten off more easily than he should have. Luck had been on his side. But now, luck had abandoned him; or perhaps, he’d driven it off... Some people believed that when you did a good deed, it would come back to you in some form; and when you did a bad deed, that too would come around. It was a theory he’d never subscribed to, never liking the idea that he wasn’t in charge of his own destiny.

Yet, right now, before the room he was about to be tried in, he believed. How could he not believe? For so many years it seemed that he’d gotten off free and clear after dating or rather using, then unkindly discarding various people... and then there was Ed...

He’d never loved or really cared for the women, and few men, he’d dated; hadn’t really cared for Ed at first either. His initial objectives for dating Ed had been so... well... malicious... Not that he’d looked at it that way at the time. But then he’d gotten to know Ed; and, surprisingly enough, he’d come to like him... and then to love him... He had tried, really he had. He’d tried to be good to Ed in the ways he knew how...

Roy swallowed hard and squeezed his hands against the emotions raging inside of him.

He’d tried, but he’d messed up anyway. Not only had he hurt Ed emotionally, but he’d nearly killed him with his recklessness! Ed professed that he still wanted him, but Roy could hardly believe it to be true. Yet, he wanted it to be true...

“Sir?” a soldier said, breaking Roy out of his thoughts. “They’re ready for you...”

The soldier, a young sergeant with dirty-blond hair and tanned skin, looked at him with pity. It was as if the young man knew exactly what was going to happen in that room and felt bad for him.

Don’t pity me, Roy thought, then said solemnly, “Thank you,” before shifting his crutch and moving toward the large doors. The soldier followed and quickly maneuvered around Roy so that he could open the door for him.

The young man paused, then said quietly, “Good luck, sir...” Roy nodded slightly and the soldier opened the massive door.

Roy peered into the room beyond. It was dark and foreboding; yet, he forced himself to move forward and a moment later the door shut loudly, leaving him in total darkness. The blackness was oppressive and the air was cool against his exposed skin. He shivered slightly. The lack of lighting and heat was all a ruse to agitate and unsettle the person being tried. He knew this, but it was still unnerving.

Suddenly a light shone down on a chair in front of him and a disembodied voice spoke from the darkness beyond.

“Sit.”

Moving forward, Roy slowly sat down on the chair; letting the crutch rest on the floor. He looked in front of him, into the darkness, and squinted a little at the bright light above him. His first instinct was to put a hand up to shade his eyes, but he felt as if he’d be doing exactly what they wanted him to, so he kept his hands firmly in his lap and waited.

Memories of him telling Ed just how stubborn he was, and of the way Ed’s face took on that obstinate set when he didn’t want to do something, assaulted him and he desperately tried to clear his mind. This was not the time for memories of what had been, or of what he longed for.

When a dim light shone on those in front of him, Roy was almost glad. He couldn’t let himself be distracted. He glanced at the seven men sitting in a row in front of him. Their faces were serious and hard; their bodies stiff and ridged; their hands resting on the table in front of them.

Roy recognized them all, but the only two that really mattered were General Hakuro and Fuhrer Bradley; though in truth, even Hakuro didn’t matter all that much. The fuhrer was the one who would make the last decision; the other generals were mostly there as extra ears and to give their opinions... except Hakuro.

General Hakuro was there as a witness against him. He had all the ‘evidence’ and was the one making the accusations. Hakuro was the one who had insisted on Roy being tried, and he was the one who would be pushing for the harshest judgment possible.

The fuhrer cleared his throat and said simply, “General Hakuro. Present the case.” It was obvious by the fuhrer’s tone that he wanted to get this over with as soon as possible. If Roy had been just one rank lower, the fuhrer wouldn’t have had to attend at all.

In truth, this whole trial was unnecessary. Hakuro could have given him sufficient punishment without this fiasco—he had the authority and the power—but there were some punishments that could only be doled out on someone of his rank by the fuhrer himself. Whether or not Fuhrer Bradley would be as harsh as Hakuro hoped... Roy didn’t know.

“On the day...” Hakuro began.

Yes... on that day...

A chill crept up his spine before branching out and tingling through his arms and neck. On that day he’d made the worst mistake of his life. He could hear his accusations—both those he’d given voice to and those he hadn’t—echoing loudly in his mind.

He’d been so sick that morning, but even that was no good excuse. It had been his own fault he’d drank so much the night before. What would have happened if he hadn’t gotten drunk that night? What would have happened if he hadn’t called Ed? What would have happened if Ed hadn’t come over, trying to help? What would have happened if he hadn’t answered his phone when Hakuro called? They were only the very tip of an iceberg of questions that Roy had asked himself many times over the weeks since then.

Questions were good, they were designed to make people think; but the questions Roy tortured himself with weren’t ones that would ever be helpful. The past couldn’t be changed. He couldn’t go back and tell himself that he was being ridiculously stupid. Of course Ed didn’t have alternative motives! Ed wasn’t that way. He was simple and straight forward. He said what he meant and meant what he said.

Ed didn’t play games with words, he didn’t look for ways to manipulate others to achieve his goals, and he didn’t imagine that people could mean anything other than what they directly said.

Perhaps youth and inexperience in relationships worked in Ed’s favor. He was guileless and open. He was exactly who he portrayed himself to be. That was a good example of why he was not good for Ed. He would only drag Ed down with his jaded attitude and closed feelings.

“We questioned several witnesses to the accident...” Hakuro continued.

The accident...

It never should have happened...

A lump formed in Roy’s throat and he had to swallow several times to get it to go away. He’d been in shock, so the memories were fuzzy, but he remembered enough. There was the pain and the numbing fear... Roy wondered if it had been that moment which had made him realize just how much Ed meant to him.

He and Ed could have fought for weeks, but it would have been okay because Roy was used to that, he was familiar with fighting and he was sure that eventually he would have been able to either get Ed to do what he wanted, or break his and Ed’s relationship off and come away feeling like he’d come out on top.

Sure... That’s what he would have done... because that’s what he’d always done...

But the accident... The blood... The torn flesh and broken limbs... The realization that Ed could be gone in a moment without Roy’s consent... He couldn’t fight that and he hadn’t been able to fight the devastating dread that had welled up within him as he tried to keep Ed alive. He’d known in that moment that he wanted Ed; wanted him more than he’d ever wanted anyone else...

“...irresponsible use of government property...” Hakuro’s voice droned on.

Roy repressed a sigh.

He wanted Ed, needed Ed... Yet he pushed him away... For Ed’s own good? Yes, it was because of that, but there were other factors as well; fear being the most obvious. How could he allow himself to love? His brief experience in his youth had brought enough pain to make him swear off love; enough to deny himself from getting too close to anyone, and from letting anyone get too close to him.

A thought clawed its way into Roy’s mind and for a moment he sat stunned at the force in which it presented itself. That day... that morning... when he’d lost control... no, not lost it, he’d given it up... He’d said those things to Ed to push him away. He’d done that because he’d been afraid... But he’d never stopped.

He’d never stopped pushing Ed away, never stopped being afraid, even after the accident... Despite the fact that he didn’t want to hurt Ed anymore, Roy was doing just that... Ed acted like he still wanted him... no, not acted... Ed did and said what was on his mind. He wouldn’t pretend... But... but... why? Why would Ed still want him after what had happened? And did it really matter?

So Ed wanted him... And he wanted Ed...

“...talked with Major Elric at the hospital...”

Roy’s attention was immediately back to the matter at hand. He remembered Ed mentioning something about Hakuro coming to talk to him, but he’d completely forgotten about it until now.

“The major mentioned an argument between himself and Colonel Mustang, and seemed to indicate that the colonel’s actions were impaired by overheated emotions and his inability to control himself in a professional manner.”

Roy searched Hakuro’s face as he spoke. The man was obviously embellishing on what bits of truth he knew. Ed had probably told him little of any value—or, at least, Roy believed that Ed wouldn’t have said very much—but Hakuro’s words were a little too close to the truth to know for sure. Roy didn’t believe Hakuro would have pushed too hard for details. The man liked Ed enough not to press him in his weakened state, but he wasn’t above stretching Ed’s words and shaping them into something different than their original form.

Hakuro’s case against Roy was really a fairly simple one. Roy Mustang was not ready for the responsibility he held. His behavior was unfitting of an officer of his rank, and because he had so little control over himself, another officer—a valuable and skilled State Alchemist—had nearly died.

An example needed to be made, Hakuro explained. If Colonel Mustang, a well known and respected State Alchemist, wasn’t punished to the greatest extent possible, other soldiers might see that as a license to be less than professional in their behavior.

It was a damn good speech; Roy had to give him that. If this wasn’t his own trial, Roy would have probably thought making an example out of the person was a great idea. It made complete sense. If someone as well known and generally respected as the Flame Alchemist—a man who had an impeccable service record—could receive such a harsh punishment, it would definitely make others think twice about their own actions. Unfortunately, it wasn’t someone else’s trial, and Roy didn’t agree with this. Hakuro was out for blood and he was pushing this case farther than it needed to go.

After he was finished, Hakuro sat down and Roy glanced at Fuhrer Bradley. The man’s lips were pressed together and he seemed to be thinking about what Hakuro had said. Roy hoped he wouldn’t think too hard about it...

Finally, the fuhrer said, “Colonel Mustang, do you have anything to say in your defense?”

Roy grabbed his crutch and stood, letting his body take on an ‘at attention’ stance as best as he could. “Fuhrer Bradley, sir,” he began respectfully. “It is true that there was a conflict between the Fullmetal Alchemist and myself.” He picked his words carefully. He should have asked Ed what he’d told Hakuro so that he’d be able to give a less incriminating statement; but as it was, Roy could only dance around Hakuro’s words and hope that Ed hadn’t said too much.

“However, I am of the opinion that it was my ill health and inadequate driving experience which resulted in the accident.” Better to admit his driving sucked, than that he couldn’t control himself—something usually seen as an attribute that could seep into other areas of performance.

Roy waited in silence. If he only knew what Ed had said to Hakuro... but he didn’t, and he couldn’t chance saying anything else that could possibly conflict with what Ed might have said.

“Why did you operate the vehicle when you knew that your health was in such a state as to endanger not only your life, but the life of your subordinate as well?” the fuhrer asked flatly.

“The general ordered me to go to South Central, sir,” Roy answered simply.

“You have a vehicle and several drivers available to you.”

“Yes, sir,” Roy affirmed, “but none of them were available.”

The fuhrer’s eyes moved slightly to the side to look at General Hakuro, then back to Roy. “Did you inform the general of your condition?”

“Yes, sir.”

“But you still drove, knowing you weren’t fit to drive?” The fuhrer didn’t sound pleased.

“I obey my orders,” Roy said evenly. Yes, he did obey his orders, no matter how irrational... Thousands of Ishbalans... two fine doctors... they all could testify to that. It was something that Roy regretted with all his heart. The bitter resentment from that, and the desire to never have to obey another irrational order again, was a major motivation in his desire to climb the ranks and eventually become fuhrer.

The fuhrer seemed pleased, and Roy knew he’d scored a point. Fuhrer Bradley looked at General Hakuro and asked, “Is it true that you ordered him to South Central when you knew he was unfit to make the trip?”

“No,” Hakuro lied easily. “Colonel Mustang did not sufficiently relate his physical condition to me.”

Pressing his lips in suppressed anger, Roy waited quietly as the fuhrer studied them both. Finally, the fuhrer said simply, “Is there anything else you have to say, Colonel Mustang?” Roy glanced at Hakuro and noted that the man looked a little worried. Obviously Hakuro made a misstep, but Roy had no idea if that would be enough to save him or not.

“No, sir,” he finally said.

“Very well,” Fuhrer Bradley said. “Colonel Mustang, you will wait outside while I make my decision.”

Roy nodded curtly, turned, and left the room as quickly as he could. The hall was filled with bright, natural light that flooded in through the large open windows, and he involuntarily blinked and squinted. Lieutenant Hawkeye stood from where she’d been sitting on one of the benches. She said nothing; her body language and facial features speaking for her.

“I’ll be called back in when a decision is made,” Roy said simply. She nodded, and motioned him toward the couch before murmuring something about being right back. He sat, letting his crutch lean on the couch, and let out a heavy sigh. The fuhrer would talk to the other generals, think on all that he’d heard, then call Roy back in to pronounce his judgment. It wouldn’t take long, but Roy already felt like it had been an eternity.

I wonder how Ed is... Roy thought, closing his eyes and seeing his ex-lover in his mind. They should be in Rizembool by now. In fact, Ed should be having his corrective surgery any time... Roy wondered if Ed really would call him. He missed the sound of his voice already...

What am I doing? he thought tiredly. He was supposed to be getting over Ed, but it wasn’t working. Ed filled his mind constantly. Everything around him reminded him of Ed. Perhaps this all encompassing feeling was what ‘love’ was all about. It was no wonder love was called a disease or a sickness... Or perhaps love would be better classified as an addiction... Ed was his drug and now that he didn’t have it, the withdrawals were setting in...

“Sir?” Roy glanced up to see Lieutenant Hawkeye holding a cup out to him. “Do you feel like having some coffee?” she asked.

‘I don’t know if you feel like it, but I got coffee and a muffin.’ Ed’s voice from that morning rang loudly in his ears.

Reaching up, Roy took the cup and murmured his thanks. He took a sip and let his mind float around that one memory—of Ed bringing him breakfast. It really had been a kind gesture. The coffee had tasted like shit, but Ed had thought about him...

Roy sighed and took another sip of the mediocre coffee Hawkeye had brought him. Ed’s kindness should have tipped him off. He should have known... So many ‘should have’s, and ‘could have’s, and ‘would have’s... The past was the past. He couldn’t change it, but what would he do for the now and for the future?

The longer he didn’t have Ed, the more he wanted him back... Should he give up on the idea that he would be bad for Ed? He still believed it, but it was so hard to act on it. Should he try to be with Ed again? Should he actively pursue him like before?

He took another sip and idly glanced around.

No... No, he wouldn’t, Roy decided. He wouldn’t push Ed away anymore, but he wouldn’t actively pursue him either. He’d just... just... just what?

Another sip.

Ed said he’d call, said he’d write... Well, perhaps he should try just being Ed’s friend for now as Ed had mentioned. Roy nodded his head slightly at the thought and took another sip. He would just let things happen as they would... Roy smiled a little to himself and took another sip. It sounded like a good plan. He wasn’t giving in completely, just waiting and watching.

“Sir?” Roy glanced over to where the young private was saluting him. “They’re ready for you, sir...” Roy nodded and handed the cup to Hawkeye, who took it with an encouraging smile. Taking a deep breath, Roy followed the private back to the room, entered, and re-took his seat.

He glanced at the men before him. Each had a serious and grave expression except General Hakuro; who was apparently so pleased that he couldn’t keep the corners of his lips from twitching up into a smile every few seconds. Taking a deep breath, Roy tried to put Hakuro out of his mind. What was done, was done. The decision had already been made and no amount of fretting over it would change that.

“Colonel Mustang,” the fuhrer began seriously. “After hearing the evidence against you and your own testimony, I have come to the conclusion that your actions on the day in question were inappropriate for an officer of your rank. Not only did you jeopardize your own life, but that of your subordinate and of civilians.”

Roy waited almost impatiently for the fuhrer to get to the point. It was obvious he was going to be punished and he’d rather just be told what it was without all this other crap.

“As a result of your actions and misbehaviors, I have decided the following disciplinary actions will be set into motion. First, half your pay will be retained by the state for the next six months to help pay for a replacement vehicle.”

Roy nodded. He’d expected as much.

“Second, an official reprimand will be added to your file.” This was not a surprise either. “Third, your driving privileges will be forfeited for the next six months. At the end of that time, you will be required to take a driving course and pass with a percentage of ninety or above.” That was no big loss. Roy hated driving anyway and driving course would be good for him.

“Forth, you will be required to attend an anger management course designed for our enlisted soldiers.” At that, Roy frowned. Anger management? “At the end of one month you will be evaluated. You will be required to attend the courses until the coordinators decide you are ready to stop.”

That was something Roy was definitely not looking forward to. The last thing he needed was for someone else to tell him how he should act or not act.

“Fifth,” Fuhrer Bradley said, and Roy had to repress a sigh. The first three had been the slap on the wrist. The fourth had been a little more than what he’d expected, but not extremely bad. What more was there?

“With the exclusion of going to work, the anger management meetings, and to buy groceries, you will be restricted to your place of residence for the period of one month. Guards will be posted outside your home to ensure your cooperation.”

Roy slowly breathed in a deep breath, then let it out. That was definitely a bit extreme, but it made an excellent example of him. No wonder Hakuro had seemed so pleased. As a higher ranking officer, he had the privilege of such an arrangement for punishment. An enlisted man would have been held in confinement instead. He should be grateful for small blessings. And, anyway, it was only for one month...

Overall, while Roy felt that while some parts of his punishment were a bit inconvenient, they weren’t anything that he couldn’t live with. At least, that was what he thought until the fuhrer spoke again. At the man’s next words, Roy’s heart dropped into his stomach and he thought he’d be sick.

“And finally, you will be demoted to the rank of ‘lieutenant colonel’, forfeiting all the rights and privileges associated with the rights of a full colonel.”



A/N: Because of differences in times and schedules, Kikiko and I will probably be posting at different times/days from now on. Please be sure to keep an eye out for her Ed’s POV!! ^__^
Tags: stories, the more i learn to care for you
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