Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist
Rating: R with a chance of an occasional NC17 chapter here and there. No promises either way.
Reference: Manga (SPOILERS FOR THE END OF THE MANGA)
Pairings: Roy/Ed or Ed/Roy (whichever/both), Ed/Winry, mentions of past Roy/Riza and past Hughes/Roy
Summary: After several years of being out of the military, Ed shows up in Roy’s office unexpectedly with an offer to revive something that should have been left in the past.
Chapter Listing Here
Roy didn’t fall asleep for the rest of the day—a wonder given that he’d been averaging about two hours a night for the last week—but his mind did start wandering here and there when he remembered the dinner appointment with Ed. So many years had gone by without even so much as a phone call, and then to have him suddenly show up with an offer like that... To say that the situation was strange and unnerving was putting it mildly.
If Ed were unmarried, Roy probably wouldn’t have been as unsettled; in fact, he might have welcomed the chance to become reacquainted with a more mature Edward Elric—after all, Ed had become a very good-looking man—but such was not the case. Ed was married and happily so; or, at least, he seemed happy. Roy hadn’t detected any dissatisfaction in Ed’s voice over his marriage, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t anything wrong.
Hughes and Gracia had seemed like the happiest and most perfect couple Roy had ever come across until he delved deeper into his friend’s life. It hadn’t taken Roy long to find out that while Hughes had still been in love with his wife, and adored his daughter, his sex life with Gracia had left a lot to be desired and he’d wanted more creativity in the bedroom than Gracia had been willing to give.
To Roy, it seemed that in such a situation, the best thing to do would be to sit down and work something out; but as had often been pointed out to him, he wasn’t married, had never been married, nor did he generally have long lasting and healthy relationships, therefore any advice he could come up with couldn’t be taken seriously.
But despite what others might think of his personal dealings, Roy had never cheated on anyone. If he wasn’t getting what he wanted or needed, then he ended the relationship. For him, it was cut and dry. Perhaps it was different when married with children... If so, Roy wasn’t sure he ever wanted to marry.
Yet, even though he’d never cheated on anyone, he’d been the ‘other man’ on more than one occasion. Roy wondered if that made him some sort of hypocrite. Maybe. Maybe not. But he wasn’t the one who had to deal with the fallout when his lovers were found out. And he generally didn’t have to worry about getting too attached, because he knew such an arrangement could never be permanent, so there was little emotional risk on his end. It wasn’t foolproof, his relationship with Maes Hughes had taught him that, but it usually worked out just fine.
And, with all of that on his mind, Roy stopped in front of a small bar and grill located on Main and 47th, just as Ed had told him. The front of the establishment was clean and well kempt. Roy thought he might have passed it before, but the place had never really stuck out to him. Leave it to Ed to find some hole-in-the-wall place that probably had amazing food.
Opening the door, Roy was greeted with the delicious smells of roasted meats and beer. He glanced around the small waiting area and beyond. On one side there was the bar, a couple of pool tables, and some random tables and chairs for the players to lounge at if they wanted. The other side was filled with booths. The lighting was low and the place was a little smoky from the grill and from the men smoking at the bar. Checking his watch, Roy walked up to the young woman playing hostess.
“Good evening, sir,” she said with a bright smile. “Just one today?”
“No, actually, I’m meeting someone here, though...” Roy glanced around. “I don’t think he’s here yet.”
The girl cocked her head and said, “Are you Roy Mustang?”
“I am,” he said, putting his watch away.
She nodded knowingly. “Your other person is already here. I can take you to him if you’d like.”
Roy put up a hand. “Just tell me where he is and I’ll find him.” The place wasn’t very big and Roy didn’t think he’d have a hard time finding Ed.
“He’s in the back corner booth on this side,” she said, motioning to the furthest back corner, which was hidden by booths in front of it.
Roy thanked the hostess, and headed in the direction she indicated. As she had said, Ed was there, and looked like he’d been there for some time. There were several books strewn over the table along with a couple of notepads. There was also an empty beer mug pushed to the side, and another one closer to Ed that was half full.
To the casual observer, it would look like a mess, but Roy had seen Ed researching in the past, and knew this to be rather organized for Ed. In fact, it was almost instantly obvious to him that there was a sort of order to where things were set.
With a small smile, Roy stepped up to the booth and glanced over the research. Most of it looked to be books and notes on Alkahestry—something Roy knew of, but had no working knowledge in.
Finally, Roy cleared his throat, trying to get Ed’s attention. He waited, then shook his head when Ed didn’t react. Reaching out, Roy laid a hand on Ed’s shoulder. Ed looked up, blinked, then straightened and smiled.
“Oh hey, Mustang,” Ed said, then rolled his shoulders back in a slight stretch. “Is it that time already?”
Roy chuckled and sat down across the table. “Can you work this?” he asked, motioning to the research materials.
“Not really,” Ed said, closing the books. “I mean, I can do anything that involves only, say, using elixirs, but I really don’t have the ability to really use the art like Al or Mei.”
“But you still study it?”
Ed began stuffing the books and notepads into a bag. “I like learning. Even if I can’t use alkahestry, I still like learning about it, and it gives me one more thing to talk about with Al whenever we meet up. Besides, Al and Mei wrote one of these.” Ed patted the bookbag. “And Mei translated another one of them, so...” He shrugged with a small smile. “I’m checking out their work too.”
Roy nodded in understanding, then motioned to a passing waitress, and ordered a beer before looking back at Ed.
“How long have you been here?”
“A couple of hours,” Ed said, taking a drink from his half empty mug.
Roy watched him for a moment, then said, “When did you start drinking.”
Ed blinked in surprise, then rolled his eyes. “Fuck, Mustang, I’m not a kid anymore.”
“I didn’t say you were, but you didn’t drink the last time I saw you.”
“Yeah and that was, what? At my wedding?” Roy thought about it and nodded slowly. Ed shook his head. “That was a long time ago.”
“I suppose,” Roy conceded, then thanked the waitress when she brought his beer and a couple of menus. “I’m just not used to seeing you drink,” he added when the waitress left.
Ed shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess I was...” He paused. “Ninteen? No, wait... twenty? Hell, I don’t know.”
Roy took a drink, then said, “It really doesn’t matter. I was just making small talk. You don’t have to get so defensive about it.”
“I’m not,” Ed shot back, sounding defensive despite his denial. Instead of arguing about it, Roy opened his menu and looked it over, then looked up when Ed said, “Order whatever you want. My treat.”
“I can pay for myself.”
“But I want to pay for you,” Ed said with a grin.
Roy frowned. “The last I heard, you didn’t have a stable job and your wife was the breadwinner. I’m not sure I like you paying for my meal with her money.”
Ed opened his mouth, then scowled. “Fine, pay for your own fucking food.” Then looked down at his own menu and added a muttered, “Asshole.”
Roy wondered if Ed was more annoyed at having his lack of employment thrown in his face or the fact that Roy didn’t want Winry to be paying for his affair. Given that Ed didn’t seem all that disturbed by being unfaithful, it was probably the former.
Deciding on what he wanted, Roy set the menu aside. “We don’t have to have dinner. I can leave now and you can go back to... whatever it is that you do.”
Ed glanced up with a frown, then set his menu aside. “No, it’s fine. If you want to pay for yourself, then that’s just fine.” He pointed a finger at Roy. “And just so you know, I bring in money.”
“Doing what?” Roy asked, genuinely curious.
“I write books.”
“Yeah, I write. I write books on alchemy and I’ve written a couple of travel books about the different parts of Amestris. I’ve also written a couple of text books for the universities, and co-authored a couple of things with Alphonse.”
“I didn’t know this,” Roy said, genuinely surprised. “Does it pay well?”
“It pays okay,” Ed muttered. Which meant the answer was probably ‘no’ but Ed was too proud to say so. “I’ve been working on some basic alchemy books for kids, but they’re not done yet,” Ed added.
Roy must have looked more surprised than he thought because Ed looked annoyed and said, “Yeah, really. I have kids, so I think of these things.”
Putting up a hand, Roy said, “Okay, sorry. I think that’s great.”
“So Winry isn’t the only one who brings in money,” Ed pressed.
Roy nodded, getting his first look into one of the problems in the Elric household—money. It wasn’t surprising. Money was often a cause for contention in many marriages. Roy supposed it must be even more difficult because Ed was the type of person who liked taking care of others, not being the one taken care of. The fact that he couldn’t adequately provide for his family seemed to be quite the sore spot for him.
Changing the subject, Roy said, “I’m getting steak.”
“Let me guess,” Ed said. “Well done.”
Roy shook his head. “Just because my abilities lie in the area of fire, doesn’t mean I like everything burnt to a crisp.” Ed raised an eyebrow, and Roy said, “Medium well.”
“Fucking waste of a good steak.”
Ignoring Ed’s rude observation on his steak preferences, Roy asked, “And what about you?”
“Barbeque ribs,” Ed replied. “The ribs here are great.”
Roy glanced down at the menu, searching for the ribs. And cheap, he thought, noticing that it was the house special, but didn’t say anything. After placing their order, Roy sat back and folded his arms, not really sure what to say next.
“I see your mustache didn’t last long,” Ed said with a small smirk.
Roy rolled his eyes, knowing he was never going to live that down. “I was going for a different look.”
“It was different alright,” Ed said, taking a drink of his beer. “I heard it didn’t last a month.”
“Can we talk about something else?” Roy asked in annoyance. That had been years ago and people still brought it up.
“No,” Ed said with a grin, then added, “Why’d you shave it off?”
Roy tapped his fingers on the table in irritation. “Okay, look, it was a dare to grow it, and Riza said that she’d rather shoot herself than be seen with me in public anymore, so can we change the subject now?”
Ed laughed out loud, obviously amused at both the story and Roy’s discomfort.
“I don’t see you with any facial hair,” Roy muttered.
“Tried, but the kids didn’t like it.” Ed shrugged. “My little girl didn’t recognize me when I came home. Started crying, wouldn’t let me hold her, all that, so I shaved it off.”
“You really care for those kids a lot, don’t you,” Roy said.
“Yeah, of course.”
Roy wanted to ask why Ed would jeopardize what he had for some fling, but he kept quiet. If he’d learned one thing, it was that men and women who cheated on their spouses didn’t exactly like to talk about what they were doing. They knew it was wrong, but they didn’t want to change their actions. If they were going to talk about it at all, now wasn’t the time.
“That’s great,” Roy said instead.
“I guess,” Ed said, not elaborating on the subject. There was a long moment of silence where each of them took a drink. There was a slightly uncomfortable feel in the air as each of them grasped for something to say.
Luckily their food came and gave them something to focus their attentions on, but Roy knew that wouldn’t last long, and they’d be right back to the uncomfortable feeling again. And, really, Roy wasn’t too surprised that they were finding it difficult to come up with things to talk about. Even when they’d been lovers before, he and Ed didn’t actually talk. It had been all about sex. It had been about lust and desire, and when they did talk it was usually work related. Now, they didn’t have work, so after all the chitchat was done with there was nothing left that couldn’t be expressed without them being alone somewhere. It was unpleasant, but telling at the same time.
Ed finally spoke again, talking more about his kids. His son loved climbing trees and ‘helping’ Winry with automail. His daughter was a girly-girl and loved playing princess. And on and on he went. Roy smiled slightly, reminded painfully of Hughes. The man had been annoying as hell when it came to his daughter, but the love he’d had for that girl was more than Roy could ever imagine himself having for anyone. Listening to Ed, Roy supposed it must be a parent thing.
Finally, Ed laughed and shook his head. “Sorry, I’m probably boring you.”
Pretty much, Roy thought, then said, “There are worse things to talk about.” No point in being rude. Roy pushed his plate away and focuses on his beer. They’d had dinner and now was the time that really mattered. Ed could decide to chicken out at any time, or Roy could suddenly develop a conscience and decide to not be part of this insanity. They could just decide to have this be a friendly dinner between two old coworkers. Just something to catch up. They could just walk away.
Ed wiped his hands and pushed his own plate away. “So...” he started, not looking at Roy.
“So?” Roy asked. This was all Ed now. If they did this, it would be because Ed pushed for it. If they didn’t, then it would also be because of Ed. Ed took a deep drink of the beer, then lowered the mug slowly. He kept his eyes fixed on the mug as he rubbed his thumb along the handle.
“I’m staying at this inn a few blocks away...” Ed trailed off, glanced up at Roy, then down again.
“Uh huh,” Roy said.
Ed scowled. “You’re not going to make this easy for me, are you?”
“I’m a sadistic bastard,” Roy said with a slight smile.
“Apparently,” Ed grunted, then looked up at Roy. “That’s where I’m going. You can come with me, or not.” He put some money on the table and stood up. “Though, considering you’re here, I’m going to assume you’re coming.” Roy shrugged, put enough money on the table to pay for his meal and the service, and stood up as well.
“Lead the way,” Roy said, even as every fiber in his being screamed at him that this was going to be a huge mistake.