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Broken Things

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“What the hell are you doing in my fort, Mustang?” The voice was filled with a harshness that caused the General and his team to tense, the anger in it clear. The General, for his part, plastered his most charming smile on his face and turned to the woman storming down the hallway towards him, her Ishvalan assistant trailing behind her without a word but just as hard as his commander.

“General Armstrong! The pleasure, as always, is mine.” Roy started to speak, grinning at the Ice Queen of Briggs as she stopped in front of him with a scowl.

“Cut the crap. Why are you here?”

“The Fuhrer has requested that my men and I oversee trade discussions with Drachma.” Roy said simply, keeping his appearance as professional as possible, but he knew that the woman in front of him was intelligent. She would be able to read between the lines and see that something wasn't right. He didn't mind that of course, but he didn't know this command centre and he didn't know how secure it was for him to fully discuss his concerns with the General in front of him. The woman scowled and glared behind Roy at his team who all stood to attention, saluting on cue. Olivier frowned further but nodded her acceptance of the posturing, allowing his team to relax again.

“Why would he want that?” She snapped, her attention on Roy again. The man just grinned at her, letting his cocky air lead this particular charge.

“Well I am known to be rather charming. Perhaps he wishes for me to work my magic with the diplomats.”

Olivier snorted at that, very clearly disgusted at the very idea. “I shall tell the men to prepare for a war within the week then.” She muttered, turning to Miles behind her. “Major. See to it that Mustang and his team have accommodations set up. While I don't want them here they may as well make themselves useful instead of just cluttering up my hallways.” The Major nodded to her, saluting before he headed back the way that they came.

“My Captain will go with the Major and help where she can.” Roy said, nodding to Riza who returned the gesture before following Miles without a word. It wasn't that he didn't trust Miles, it was more as a show of good nature.

“I see Major Elric is not with you.” It wasn't a question, not really, but Roy flinched at it all the same. He didn't want to talk about Edward. He wasn't thrilled by needing to leave his lover at home for this mission, but he was still on medical leave and this was a direct order from the Fuhrer. He could hardly ignore it just because his relationship with Fullmetal had changed. Roy hoped that the other General didn't see his flinch, but he wasn't naïve enough to believe that. When she frowned at him, raising one perfect eyebrow, Roy just forced himself to give her a professional smile.

“No, he's not. Fullmetal is currently on medical leave so will not be joining us for this mission.” Roy said, meeting the all too intelligent gaze of the woman next to him as she gestured for him to follow her.

“That's unfortunate. He's about the only one of your lot that isn't completely useless.”

Roy didn't reply, instead following the General to her office. Along the way she had sent his men away with some of her own to start working around the fort so by the time they reached her office it was just the two of them. She shut the door behind him and he had no other warning to the coming onslaught than that. He hadn't even sat down before she spoke.

“Why are you really here, Mustang?”

“As I said, the Fu...”

“No bullshit! My office is one of the most secure places in this damn country, Mustang. Why are you here? You and your entire pathetic team don't need to be here. So which one of us is Hakuro punishing and how soon until I can get rid of you?”

Roy sighed, leaning back in his chair as the other General dropped into a seat across from him. Roy glanced at the door, frowning as his thoughts wandered back to Edward. He wasn't sure that Hakuro was punishing either of them in fact. He was pretty sure that this was about Fullmetal and that left an awful taste in his mouth. After a moment he turned to look back at the Armstrong heir, her expression closed off and cold, but expectant.

“Truthfully, General Armstrong, I don't believe that this has anything to do with either of us. My gut tells me that Hakuro just wanted me and my men out of the way. I can't be sure, but I think this may have less to do with either of us and everything to do with Fullmetal.”

Olivier stared at Roy in silence for a moment, clearly waiting for him to say more, so he continued. If anything, just to avoid her anger. “Major Elric was ambushed on a mission a couple of months ago, his younger brother was shot and ended up in a coma, Fullmetal vanished. He was kidnapped and sold by a human trafficking ring. We only found him a few weeks ago. I saw to it that he was put on medical leave to recover. You know what a stubborn brat he can be.” Roy said, almost too fondly. He was worried about Edward, and he missed him, damnit. When did he turn into some lovesick girl? He needed to get a grip. He had to get used to being away from Edward, while they were seeing each other, nobody could know about it until Edward was out of the military, or at least out of Mustang's command. They hadn't had time to discuss anything other than that, and they had both agreed to not let on that they were together.

“I can't be sure why Hakuro would want Fullmetal alone, but while trying to deal with his captors and the whole ordeal I have come across nothing but resistance.” Roy finished with a scowl of his own that watched the one Olivier wore.

“Are you trying to tell me that you and your men have come across yet another conspiracy within the higher ranking officers of this military, Mustang?” Olivier all but growled the question at him, and lesser men would have cowered away from the anger in her voice, but Roy wasn't lesser men, and he knew that somewhere – granted deep down and buried beneath a healthy dose of disdain – he knew that the woman held some respect for him. Besides, he was used to dealing with the tempers of others, Edward had been in his command for years now and he had always been a volatile teen.

Roy sighed, running a hand through his hair as he glanced out of the window to the snow covered mountains beyond. “I really hope not. This country won't be able to withstand me leading another coup.” It was a joke. Mostly. Roy really didn't know how much more the country could cope with, they needed to trust their military, but how could they if that same military turned on itself every few years.

“When is Elric due to come back to active duty?”

“There hasn't been a date set yet, physical injuries aside, I will not allow him back until he is more mentally stable. He is suffering from PTSD just now and there is too much that is triggering him. I will not risk his safety.” Mustang told her, frowning as she stood and moved to the window, her back to him, but her frown visible in the reflection of the window.

“So I'm stuck with you until Hakuro does whatever it is he is planning with Edward?” She snapped, then sighed, and Mustang couldn't stop the flinch he gave at her words. Hadn't Edward been through enough? All Roy wanted to do was keep the man safe, but for whatever reason Hakuro wasn't going to let that happen. He wished he could have brought Edward with them. “You care about him.”

Olivier words pulled Roy from this wandering thoughts and he frowned at her back in confusion, arching an eyebrow as she turned to face him again. “Of course I do. I thought by now, General, that you would know that I care about each of my men.”

“Does your mind wander so easily at the thought of all your men, Mustang?” Olivier quipped, laughing cruelly, scoffing at his frown. “Don't play dumb. Although it does suit you, fool that you are. Mustang I don't care what you do with your men, but if you want to keep your infatuation with this boy secret I would strongly suggest working on your poker face.”

“He's not a boy. He's 20.” Roy defended, not sure why he needed to clarify that particular fact. He then sighed. “Regardless of what I may or may not feel about Edward, he is still in my command and I will not endanger him for the sake of just having on active duty.”

“So you'll leave him behind?”

“With all due respect, General, but if you think Alphonse would let anything happen to his brother then you don't know the first thing about those two. I also could hardly bring him with me if he's not on active duty, he has no need to be here in the north.” Roy snapped. He couldn't help but feel like he was judging him, and it pissed him off. Should he have brought Edward with them? How could he have? With so little notice how the hell was he meant to find some excuse for Edward to come up here with them?

“None of you have any need to be in the north. This is my domain, Mustang, and I don't like the military sticking its nose in here!” General Armstrong snapped at him, slamming her hand down on the desk with a snarl. A sharp knock at the door stopped any argument before it could escalate. A moment later, Miles entered, Riza a step behind him.

“Sirs,” Miles greeted them both with a salute, but didn't turn his attention away from his commander, “I have seen to it that the team from Central have accommodations and tasks set up. I have also confirmed with Central Command that this is a direct order from the Fuhrer.”

Olivier just nodded her reluctant acceptance, turning her glare to Roy who just smiled at the Ice Queen. He didn't like it any more than she did, but while she was defensive and resentful of having Central forces in her command, Roy didn't want him and his team to be here for an entirely different reason. He wanted to be close to Ed, an uncomfortable feeling settling in his stomach; he couldn't help but feel like something bad was about to go down, and it put him on edge to be so unprepared for it.

“Sir?” Riza got his attention then, and he turned to her. “I also checked in with Madame Christmas, who informed me that everything is well for the moment.” His Captain offered him a small smile, no doubt seeing right through him to his innermost thoughts. It was amazing how she could do that. He nodded his understanding, able to breathe a little easier knowing that. Yes, he wasn't there to defend Edward, but Fullmetal wasn't alone. He had his aunt and her girls watching him, as well as Riza's friend Rebecca. Not only that, but Edward wasn't defenceless. He was strong and fierce on his own, but with Al and Winry living with him and just as strongly protective of him as he was of them, Roy knew he shouldn't worry too much. Edward would be fine, right? Edward had to be fine.

“Thank you, Captain.”

Riza nodded, glancing quickly at the other two in the room, but continued on regardless. “I have also been told that there is a meeting tomorrow that we've to attend with some representatives from Drachma. There is an outpost not far from here that we've been instructed to meet at.”

Roy nodded, although he wasn't happy about it. He didn't want to go out and have some pointless meeting with their enemies in the freezing landscape. He didn't like being cold, and while he would have Hawkeye by his side, he knew that he could hardly take his whole team with him and that made him feel uneasy. He would need to leave the team here at Fort Briggs as a show of good faith in this meeting, but that didn't mean that he had to feel that same good faith. Tensions had always been high when it came to Drachma, and while they had eased over recent years, things were far from golden with the neighbouring country.

“Inform Falman, he will accompany us to this meeting. Havoc, Fuery and Breda will remain here, I'm sure the General will have some work they can help with to earn their keep.” Roy said, turning his most charming smile to the Ice Queen at the opposite side of the desk. The woman was watching their interaction closely with her arms crossed, only raising a delicate eyebrow at Roy's charm; totally unimpressed.

“Major Miles will find some job for them to help with.” She said after a moment, Miles standing silently at her side as if he expected that the job would fall to him. “I don't like this Mustang. There is tension with Drachma as it is, and I don't want you going in there and messing all of this up. This country is still recovering from one war with itself, we cannot start one with Drachma.”

“I understand, General.” Roy said slowly, running a hand through his hair. “I don't like it any more than you do, but I've told you what I know and until I know more then I just need to follow my orders.”

“Like the good dog that you are.” Olivier muttered loudly, scoffing at him and then turning her back to them. “Major Miles, show Mustang and his Captain to where they will be sleeping. I tire of looking at his smug face.”

Roy let himself laugh at that as he stood from where he was sat. He let Miles lead him and Hawkeye out of Armstrong's office without a goodbye. He doubted Olivier would appreciate it regardless. As he followed Miles – Riza quiet at his side – his thoughts went back to his blonde lover. He wanted to know that Edward was okay, he hadn't spoken to him for a few days now while they were making their way north and with everything that was going on it had him on edge. He needed to hear Edward's voice, to touch the younger man and see for himself that he was unharmed.

As they walked to the dormitories of Fort Briggs none of them spoke, but he could feel Hawkeye watching his every move, no doubt reading his thoughts. That woman was far too preceptive for her own good at times. He glanced at her, and met her eyes with a small smile. He didn't want her to worry, but he knew that she would. He hadn't kept her around just because she was good at her job. Since losing Maes, Riza was his closest friend – they had known each other for years after all – and she had promised to follow him into hell if he asked her. After everything with Father and the Homunculi he felt like she had perhaps already fulfilled that particular promise. She had almost died, but years later she remained just as steadfast as the day she promised him that.

It was only natural that she would worry about him, and that she'd be able to easily know what was going through his mind. Maes had been the same, he had known exactly what Roy was thinking and now he couldn't help but wonder how his friend would have reacted to his relationship with Edward. Maes had taken those boys under his wing, treating them like sons. Would he disapprove of Roy's feelings? Did Roy disapprove of his feelings? He knew that he couldn't help them, and he had nothing against same sex relationships, but was this going against everything he was meant to be?

Lost in his thoughts, Roy didn't notice that they had stopped until he almost walked into the Major, who was holding keys out to him and Hawkeye. Roy took them with a nod of thanks, listening as Miles explained that he had made sure to give them rooms side by side – knowing that it was important for them to be close. The rest of the team were down the hall a little, but were all still close enough that there shouldn't be any issues. They waited for Miles to leave before Hawkeye turned her attention to Roy and frowned at him.

“Sir, there is nothing you can do from here. We need to focus on the meeting tomorrow. I have a bad feeling about it.” Riza told him, watching as he turned to his room and began unlocking the door.

“You have a bad feeling about any meeting I have, Captain. It's what I pay you for.” Roy said with a small laugh, leading them into his room. He trusted that they would have gotten rooms free of any bugs. If anything, only Olivier would have bugged the room and Roy didn't have anything to hide from her, not now that she knew the risks to Ed.

“Sir.” Riza said in that tone that Roy hated. The tone that told him that she was being serious, and that she did not think that he was funny in the slightest. Roy sighed, running a hand through his hair.

“Okay, Captain. We'll be careful, but I can hardly take the whole team with us. I don't believe that we are the ones at risk.” Roy said, sitting down on the worn but comfortable couch, gesturing for Riza to join him. “This is all to isolate Edward, but I'm not sure for what. I can't think of a reason that Hakuro would want Ed for.”

“But there are plenty reasons to go after you, sir. Hakuro has always been competing with you. He doesn't feel safe while you are still aiming for his job, especially after what happened with Bradley.” Riza explained, sitting next to him. “I know that you are worried about Edward, we all are Sir, but there is nothing we can do from here. You have people watching him, he's got Alphonse and he's hardly defenceless. He's still the same person who joined our team at 12. He's still more than capable of defending himself and no doubt bringing a building down to do it.”

Roy laughed at that, a small fond smile on his face as he shook his head. She was right of course. He was miles away from Edward now, there was nothing he could do to help protect him any more than the precautions he had already set up before he had left with the team; but perhaps he should have warned Edward about his fears? He hadn't told Ed that he thought he would be in danger without the team close by – mostly because he fully expected Edward would go chasing the danger – and now he couldn't help but worry that he had made a mistake. What if something happened and could have been avoided if only Edward had been warned? Roy sighed, running a hand over his face, pushing the thoughts away. He needed to go through their plans for the meeting tomorrow. Riza was right. Edward could look after himself.

Chapter Text

It had been a week since he had seen Roy or even heard from him. He should have reached Briggs a few days ago, but Edward hadn't heard from him and he was trying to not miss him too much but it was hard. He wasn't sure where they stood really, but he knew that Roy wanted to be with him. Edward had decided to get transferred to someone else's command because of that alone. He would see about moving to intelligence, he could help investigations easily enough and that would let him be with Roy without the need to sneak around. He'd filled in the paperwork for it and it was now just sitting on the General's desk until he came back from his mission in the north.

“Edward!”

He paused, looking back down the corridor when his name was called. He hadn't been back inside Central since Roy had chased him off, forcing him onto medical leave, so he didn't doubt that there would be people that would wonder where he'd been. When he saw that it was Ethan that had called him, Edward could feel his heart start to pound in his chest, memories of his forcefulness rushing back to suffocate him. He didn't want to have to speak to Ethan, he wanted to just walk away now, but he couldn't seem to make his legs get that message and so instead he just stood there.

“Edward, can we talk?” Ethan asked when he was closer, frowning a little. “I was completely out of line last week and I am so sorry. I don't know why I acted like that and there is nothing I can say that will make it better. I had no right.”

Edward watched the other man carefully, but he seemed to be telling the truth. His handsome face was twisted in guilt and he just looked so damn sad. He didn't want to believe Ethan but maybe he wasn't as bad as he had been at the bar? Edward just sighed and shook his head.

“Can I take you to dinner tonight? I promise I'll be on my best behaviour.” Ethan was asking and Edward startled, looking away with a blush. They had agreed to go for dinner last week, but that was before he had kicked off when Ed had told him to stop, before the fear almost crippled him. It was before Roy, and Edward didn't want to risk what he could have with Mustang for something as simple as dinner with a captain that was – admittedly – attractive but who wasn't good at understanding when to stop.

“Ethan, look.” Ed started, letting out his breath and trying to slow his racing heartbeat. “I appreciate the offer but I'm not sure what to make of you now. I'm also kind of seeing someone but its all really new. I don't want to ruin what I could have with him.”

“Its just dinner, Edward. It doesn't need to be a date. Just let me try to make up for my actions.”

Sighing and running a hand through his hair, Edward just nodded. If it would get him to go away then he would agree. He needed to talk to Al about all of this, but as long as it wasn't a date then Mustang would understand surely? Ethan did seem nice enough, but he did have a hell of a lot to make up for; besides, who was Ed to turn down an offer of food. “Fine. Dinner tonight. Not a date.” Ed told him, smiling at the way Ethan's face changed from worried and distressed to the handsome one he had been kissing just a week ago. His smile was a thing of legends and hell if Edward wasn't so deep with his feelings for Mustang he would do almost anything to keep seeing a smile like that.

Edward gave Ethan his address, agreeing on a time for the captain to come and pick Ed up at and then they parted ways, but he couldn't quite shake the guilt that lingered in his chest. He reminded himself that it didn't mean anything, that it was just dinner with someone that could be a friend, hell he had to eat, didn't he? Why couldn't he do that with someone who was trying to make up for his past mistakes? Before he knew it, Edward was standing outside his apartment door, having been so lost in his troubled thoughts that he couldn't remember the walk home. Sighing for the hundredth time that day, Ed let himself into his home, smiling when he instantly caught the scent of coffee.

“Al? Winry?” Edward called, moving into the kitchen where he spotted the girl tinkering with something. “Hey, is Al in?” The blonde shook her head, her eyes never leaving her hands as Edward moved to pour himself coffee. On the way past her, he swiped her empty mug and topped her up with fresh coffee. Milk and sugar went into hers – the milk begrudgingly, nasty shit that it was – while Edward took his black. He moved back to the table and dropped to sit across from her, sliding the mug towards her as he took a sip of his own.

“He's out. Library I think.” Winry mumbled, her focus never leaving her task, except to accept the coffee with a nod of thanks in Ed's general direction. She worked in silence, but grew more and more aware of Edward just watching her. Halfway down her mug she looked up at him finally, scowling at the frown that he wore. “Edward, what's wrong?”

“Hm? Oh, nothing.” Edward shrugged, looking away. “Sorry I was lost in my own little world there.”

“Uh huh.” Winry didn't believe him, not for a second. “I thought we agreed that you were going to stop hiding stuff from us Ed?” She put the tools she'd been using down and crossed her arms, raising an eyebrow at him. “Tell me the truth, what's wrong? Is it Roy? I know that you still haven't heard from him. I'm sure he's fine Edward.”

“Its not Mustang, although it does bother me that I haven't heard from him. If I did this he'd kick off about insubordination and shit. Bastard that he is.”

“If its not about him, then what's bothering you? I can feel you staring at me.”

Edward rubbed his hand over his face, scowling a little as he told Winry what had happened with his run in with Ethan. He'd told her and Al about how he'd acted last week – when he and Roy had sat down to talk to them about what was happening with them and why it needed to be kept quiet for the time being. Al had wanted to hunt Ethan down and no doubt bury him somewhere that he would never be found. Winry had had a similar reaction but he had managed to talk them both down from their murderous rampage.

“Damn right he has a lot to make up for!” Winry snapped when Ed was finished telling her what had happened. “Honestly Ed, I wouldn't give him the chance to make up for his actions, what he did was not okay! You don't just kick off at someone because they change their mind about something like that! He's a jackass and you should have hit him.”

“Who should Brother have hit?” Al asked from the doorway, smiling at them both as he carried grocery bags. Edward was by his brother's side in a heartbeat, the bags looked heavy and Al was still recovering.

“Idiot. You should be resting. Give me them.” Ed snapped, playfully nudging Al with his hip as he took the bags from him and began to put the shopping away as Winry retold Ed's story. He didn't need to turn around to tell that his brother wasn't impressed, but he didn't fly off the handle like Winry had. Granted, that was just how Al was, wasn't it? Very little managed to rile Alphonse up, even more so now that he was nineteen. He had matured a lot in the last four years since getting his body back, they all had really. Winry and Ed just hid it better, they still acted like immature brats.

“Brother, I'm not sure that you should go out with him.” Al said after a moment, and Edward nodded. He totally agreed, but he couldn't just not go. He couldn't hide away at the first sign of trouble. He had to defend himself. “But I know you, I know you want to take control of all the bad things that happen and stop it from being so bad. Just promise me that if he steps a single toe out of line then you'll get outta there.”

“And I'll brain the bastard with a wrench myself.” Winry muttered angrily, turning her attention back to her project and the brothers laughed at her.

“I promise.”

Al smiled at that, and Edward knew he'd do anything his brother asked. He couldn't resist the chance to see that smile, and when Al moved to hug him, Edward happily let him. “I love you, Brother.” Al said as he pulled away and Edward ruffled his hair playfully in reply. He didn't need to tell Al that he loved him. Al knew that, and the perfect little brat would always use it to get his own way.

-

Ethan arrived right on time and he looked amazing. His long brown hair was tied up in a ponytail and he wore a black fitted shirt that was eager to show off his muscles. He looked good enough that Edward found that for a moment he just wanted to stand and admire him, even as he could feel the guilt eat away at the back of his mind; even as he could feel the ice from Al and Winry's glares behind him. If the death looks from Edward's family bothered Ethan, he didn't show it. Edward didn't invite him in; it wasn't a date, and he really didn't want to sit through Alphonse giving Ethan the third degree and not-so-subtle hints. The drive to the restaurant wasn't too bad, and while Edward felt a little jumpy and restless, Ethan seemed completely fine, spending the time talking to Edward about a mission he'd been on recently near Ishval.

The restaurant was nice, and not too pricey. Ethan had made it clear to Ed that he was going to buy the meal, as a way to attempt to make up for the way he behaved the week before; it made him feel a little uncomfortable because that was stepping too close to a date but he didn't argue it. It was free food after all. Ordering a beer, Edward then turned his attention to his not-date as Ethan ordered his drink, waiting for the waiter to leave before he spoke. “How often do you need to take people out to dinner to make up for things then?”

“Not often.” Ethan said, having the decency to look ashamed. “I don't know what came over me that night Edward, but I know that I had no right to act that way. I can't tell you enough how sorry I am that I behaved so shamefully. I'm glad that General Mustang showed up when he did.”

Edward frowned at that, narrowing his eyes at the man across from him. He opened his mouth to speak but stopped when the waiter returned with their drinks. Edward waited until they gave their food order and the waiter had once again disappeared before he scowled at Ethan. “Are you trying to tell me that you would have tried to force something if Mustang hadn't show up?” Edward was surprised by how calm his voice sounded, because he didn't feel so steady inside. Anxiety and nausea mixed to settle low his stomach, his heart beating a little too fast in his chest.

Ethan was shaking his head the moment that Edward had finished speaking, and again – to his credit – he did seem to be earnest in his surprise. He seemed horrified at the hidden accusation and that helped to settle the emotions storming in Edward's gut. “No!” He answered sharply, and a little too loudly. He quietened himself, a slight blush on his cheeks. “No, god no. Edward please don't ever think that I would force myself on anyone. I know that it happens within the ranks, but that doesn't make it okay. No, never that. I'm glad the general stepped in because I've heard of the damage you can do in a fight, and I have no doubt that I would have required medical attention if I'd pushed it any further.

Edward laughed. Ethan had a point. There was a high chance that he would have put him in the hospital if he'd tried to force anything, but Edward also knew how badly he reacted to things now, so he wasn't sure how well he would have handled that situation. Their food came shortly after that, and the conversation drifted from Ethan's apologies to more general topics. During desert, Ethan made the mistake of mentioning alchemy and how he'd come across an array that he was convinced was dangerous while on a drug raid with his squad. Edward jumped on it, asking him to describe the array and drawing it on a napkin. Once he'd drawn it out and studied it for a moment he just laughed and shook his head.

“No. This shit isn't dangerous.” Edward said, leaning closer to Ethan to go over the design. “See this bit here? It looks threatening, but its completely harmless. The whole thing was just going to cause a bang and create a load of smoke and dust, but its more as a warning than anything. Its design looks dangerous at a glance so it was most likely being used to prevent novice or non-alchemists from getting in the way. This symbol here was what was going to create the bang, and it would have been really fucking loud, like an explosion but once all the smoke and dust settled again you'd have seen that everything was still completely fine. Oh and this bit here...”

Edward stopped, feeling eyes on him and when he looked up he noticed that Ethan was just watching him with a fond smile. He was also suddenly aware of how close they had gotten during his explanation and he felt the heat rush to his cheeks when he caught Ethan's gaze drop to his lips. Edward shuffled away a little, clearing his throat. “So yeah, the array is totally harmless. Should we get going?”

“You're something else, Elric.” Ethan said, smiling at the blonde which only made Edward blush harder. He paid for the meal and then stood, moving to the door as Edward followed him. They didn't speak until they were in Ethan's car, and as they got closer to the apartment he shared with his brother, Edward couldn't hold his curiosity any longer.

“What did you mean back there? About me being something else?”

Ethan laughed as he pulled the car into Edward's street, smiling as he reached out to press his hand against Ed's knee. “You're gorgeous, and brilliantly intelligent. Just watching you explain that array was amazing, the fire in your eyes when you talk about alchemy is kind of hot, Elric.”

Edward swallowed past the lump that had formed in his throat, staring at Ethan's hand on his leg and forcing down the taste of bile as his panic spiked. He could barely hear the words over the thoughts rushing through his troubled brain. “I...” He stopped, shaking his head and moving his leg away from Ethan's hand. “This isn't a date, remember? Besides, I just know my shit when it comes to alchemy.”

“Of course, tonight wasn't a date.” Ethan said softly, and instantly Edward didn't like where things were heading. Ethan didn't sound embarrassed or ashamed of over stepping the mark, if anything he sounded smug. Edward didn't look at him as the car slowed down to a stop outside of Edward's building. His had was on the door handle before he fully registered it, but Ethan's hand was back on his knee, slowly slipping up his thigh. “How about we make it a date next week?”

Edward snapped at that, spinning in his seat and grabbing Ethan's wrist, throwing the offending limb back at him. “No. I told you that I'm seeing someone and that...”

“I don't care.” The words were simple and harsh and cut straight through Edward. He didn't care, did he? Was this whole night about trying to get into his pants? Edward opened his mouth to argue but Ethan hushed him with a finger against his lips. Ed wanted to bite the damn thing off in that moment. “You said its new, it must be since you were all for mounting me last week. Call it off, I want you. Hell don't call it off, I don't care. But you're mine, Edward.”

“Go to hell, Ethan.” Edward snapped, his voice a little too loud and his heart hammering against his ribs. He needed to get out of this. He needed his brother. His hand was on the handle again, pulling it and pushing the door open but Ethan's next words froze his blood in his veins.

“Fine. I suppose I could settle for the girl.”

A glance over his shoulder at the brunette showed Ethan grinning manically, his attention moving up the building to make it obvious that he meant Winry. Edward took a deep breath and tried to reign in his increasing panic and rage. “Winry would put you in the hospital faster than I would if you tried a damn thing with her.” Which wasn't a lie, Edward had been on the receiving end of a few hits from the girl, he had no doubt that she would be more than happy to keep to her word of braining Ethan with her wrench.

Ethan hummed in quiet agreement, but his smirk terrified Edward more than he ever wanted to admit. “Your brother then? He's certainly cute enough. Seems like an innocent little thing, wonder how long that image will last.”

“You stay the hell away from my brother!” Edward shouted, his rage overpowering his fear – but only just. “I swear if you so much as fucking breathe near him, I'll kill you.”

“Same time next week then? An actual date.” Ethan said, moving closer to Edward but the blonde could feel his fear ringing in his ears, and he instinctively backed away, his hand on the handle of the still open door. “Don't worry, I meant what I said, I wouldn't ever force someone into sex, Edward.” A hand reached out, tucking blonde hair behind Ed's ear and the alchemist couldn't stop the flinch that he gave. “I'm curious to find out what's gotten you so timid and scared though. You're not like the stories of you. Well, I'll pick you up same time next week. If you try to cancel, well... let's just say, I know where you live, and I know where your brother has his classes. I had fun tonight, send my regards to Mustang. I know he didn't want me near you for some reason. It'll be fun to piss him off. It also goes without saying that you need to act like this is something you want, you know, really sell it.”

Chapter Text

The following week was a nightmare. Edward didn't want to stay in the house because Al and Winry had known that he was lying about something the moment he'd gotten in from his not-date with Ethan. He had been on edge and tense and Al's senses were heightened for that kind of thing when it came to his brother so he instantly knew something was wrong. Edward had denied that it was Ethan, trying to play it off as worry about Roy, but he knew that neither really believed him. So he had tried to avoid spending too much time with them until he knew what he was going to do about Ethan and his threats. It was hard to avoid them both and still keep an eye on them though. Edward was scared that Ethan would go after one of them regardless, so he was torn between avoiding them and not ever letting them out of his sight.

It didn't help that he was also worried about Roy. He still hadn't heard from the team, and he knew for a fact that they should have gotten to Briggs without any issue, so when a week came and past with no word from anyone Ed was growing more and more irritable. He found himself in Central Command again, pacing Roy's office and trying to think of a reason that Roy wouldn't have called by now. After almost an hour he dropped into Roy's chair, resting his head in his hands as he took a deep breath in through his nose. He was panicking and all he could focus on was any number of awful things that might have happened to the man that he'd grown to love over the years. Had he even made it to Briggs? Was the team ambushed by someone and hurt? Or had General Armstrong just locked them all up the moment they tried to enter her fort? He had his hand on the phone before he even fully registered what he was doing.

Edward stared at his hand with a frown. What was he doing? Who the hell was he even going to call? Groaning at himself, Edward pushed himself up from the chair, turning his back to the desk and glaring out the window at the parade grounds beyond. There had to be a reason that Roy hadn't called, there just had to be. He had told Ed that he loved him. He wouldn't just say that and then disappear, right? No, Roy wasn't like that. Something must have happened? Maybe he just didn't have time to call?

He was so lost in his troubled thoughts that he didn't hear the quiet footsteps of someone coming into the office through the door he'd left open. It wasn't until the sound of Mustang's inner office door closing that Edward was pulled from his thoughts. His heart stuttered as he turned around and met Ethan's gaze. The brunette looked angry, but Edward wasn't sure why; he didn't care why, not really, but something wasn't right and it flicked a switch in him. Fight or flight was a wonderful thing really, and Ed had a good sense for when something was about to get dangerous – he just wasn't sure why his brain thought that right now was that time.

“Missing your CO that bad?” Ethan spoke, but Edward forced himself not to flinch at the tone. His words weren't cruel, but the disgust in his voice was so obvious that it felt like a smack in the face. “What did I tell you Elric? You're mine.”

Ethan moved closer, but Edward took another step back, making sure to keep Roy's desk between them as he glared at the other man. Who the hell did he think he was? Anger bubbled up inside him, burning at the back of his throat, but he bit his tongue. Ethan had threatened Al and Winry. Edward knew that he had to be careful with what he said if he wanted to keep them safe, but fuck, it was hard to keep quiet when all he wanted to do was wipe that smug smirk of this bastard's face.

“What the hell are you going on about?” Edward asked, surprised at how steady his voice came out sounding.

“You and Mustang!” Ethan snapped, slamming his hands down on Roy's desk loud enough that Edward jumped. “I know that you have feelings for him! It's sick, Edward. You're sick! He's your commanding officer. You're half his age. When did this all start, huh? Has he been using you since you signed up?”

Edward was shaking his head from the first angry accusation, his pulse hammering in his throat. It was rumours, there was no way anyone could know the truth, right? Ethan was just trying to get under his skin. He had to be. “What the hell? Do you honestly think that? Mustang wouldn't ever stoop so low, he wouldn't use a child like that. If you seriously think that of him then you're the sick one! I was twelve when I joined, the last thing I wanted was fucking Roy Mustang.”

“You want him now though, don't you?” Ethan snarled, moving around the desk and backing Edward into a corner. “You want him to fuck you, don't you? You're nothing but a slut, Edward. Do you seriously think that someone like General Mustang would actually want you? Look at you! He can have anyone he wants, why would he settle for a messed up cripple like you?” Ethan was screaming now, and a distant part of Edward's brain found it entertaining how his once handsome face transformed into something horrific as his eyes grew cold with hatred, his brow dropped into a scowl. He looked at Edward as if he was something disgusting on his boot that he couldn't get rid of.

“Why are you here, Ethan?” Edward asked after a moment. He didn't want to admit how much the other man's words hurt him. He didn't want to let them into his head, because he knew that the moment he did they would dig into his doubts, take root inside his mind and twist and distort everything until it was poisonous and black. He couldn't let Ethan get to him, he knew that, but ignoring his cruel words was harder than Edward would have liked to admit.

“I was told you were here, just sitting around in his office like some sad lost dog.” Ethan stepped closer, and Edward continued to back away until his back hit the wall, making him glance over his shoulder to see that he had – in fact – been backed into the corner of the room, with no easy escape. The slam of a fist into the plaster next to his head made Edward jump with fright and he snapped his head back to watch as Ethan leaned over him, one arm pressed against the wall by Edward's head. The palm of the other hand was pressed to Edward's shoulder.

“Are you following me now?” Edward snapped, forcing his panic down, clinging to his bravado as if it was his only lifeline, as if it would keep him from drowning.

“You're mine! Mustang is gone! His team is gone. They left you Edward, and why wouldn't they? He is never coming back to you. I heard he's missing, lost in a blizzard. You're nothing but a lost puppy without your master.” Ethan all but growled the words. Before Edward could react his flesh wrist was pinned to the wall and his head forced to the side as Ethan's mouth was on his neck. The sting of teeth biting into his flesh was lost beneath the nausea that threatened to choke him. Edward heard a small, scared whimper and he knew – somehow – that the noise was his own. His lungs felt heavy in his chest, useless and limp, as his fingers tingled with his fear and his mouth ran dry. Edward felt frozen, unable to move and he felt the sting of tears as Ethan pushed his body against his, biting his neck hard enough to bruise.

Whiskey. He could smell whiskey. He could always smell whiskey. His 'master' loved the stuff. The hand on his wrist tightened – as did the fist around his heart and Edward felt the wetness on his cheeks from his tears. Tears he didn't remember shedding. His body was shaking; trembling as he heard his name whispered in his ear. His head spun, light and fuzzy and he knew that he had to control his breathing. He needed to stop and focus on it. Slow, deep breathes. He knew that, but he couldn't make himself do it. He felt like he was dying and he clung to anything to try and ground himself in the panic.

Teeth on his neck; nails digging into his wrist; soft, taunting laughter and his name, whispered like a prayer. He shoved at the other man, forcing distance between them and felt his knees wobble as he got space between their bodies. Hal was dead. This wasn't him, this was Ethan. Hal was gone. So why did that laugh coming from Ethan's lips sound so much like Hal's? Why could he only smell the oak scent of whiskey? Edward couldn't bring himself to look up at his attacker, even as his brain slowly filled in the blanks of his panic. Ethan. He was with Ethan. His neck stung and he could hear cruel laughter over the ringing in his ears. His chest was tight, radiating heat around his body in blind panic. His skin felt like it was on fire and he needed to be alone. He needed Ethan to leave. He needed space to sort his head out, to regain control of himself.

“Get over him, Edward. Mustang is gone.” With those parting words, Ethan turned on his heel and left, slamming the door shut behind him. Edward didn't wait for the sound of the outer office door shutting before he dove for the phone on Mustang's desk. He needed to know. He needed to hear Roy's voice. Edward was surprised by how calm his voice sounded as he got the operator to put him through to Briggs, bouncing on the balls of his feet with nervous energy. Ethan was lying, he had to be. Roy was fine. Of course Roy was fine. Ethan was just trying to get under his skin. Roy would answer and everything would be fine.

“General Armstrong, what is it?” The female voice on the other end of the line answered and Edward paused for a moment. Of course Olivier Armstrong would answer. Why would Roy answer the phone in Briggs? He knew that, and still he couldn't stop a part of him curling up in despair. “Well?”

“Sorry, sir. It's Edward Elric here.” Edward stuttered, pausing for a second to try to calm himself. “I had something to tell Mustang, is the bastard there?” He waited for an answer, but the silence was long enough of one that he didn't really need to hear the general's words to confirm his fears.

“He is not.” Armstrong's voice had softened slightly, and that alone broke his heart. “Mustang and some of his team haven't returned from a mission they went out on last week. I have people searching for them as we speak.”

Edward was shaking his head, tears dropping onto the desk beneath his hand as he struggled to make sense of the words. Missing. Mustang was missing. That didn't make any sense. This was the Flame Alchemist they were talking about. It was General Roy Mustang. He couldn't just be missing. Edward didn't even feel the phone slip from his hand. He didn't feel the floor crash beneath him as he dropped to his knees, sobbing into his hands. He couldn't hear Olivier on the line, trying to get his attention.

The only thing Edward knew was the crushing agony in his chest at the thought of Roy being gone, and it was enough that he could barely breathe through the sobs that tore out of his throat.
-

It had been hours and Edward still wasn't home and it was worrying Al. His brother had been strange since his dinner with Ethan, but he wouldn't talk to him or Winry about it, just changing the subject whenever they had asked about it or Ethan and that was enough to make Alphonse worry. Edward had told them he was going into Central Command today, to see about finding out what happened with Roy, but that had been hours ago and there hadn't been anything from his brother. Al paced the living room again, and he could feel the weight of Winry's gaze on him.

“I need to go and look for him, Winry.”

The girl nodded and was on her feet the moment he finished talking. “I'll come with you.” She said, moving to take his hand in her own. Her skin was soft and warm next to his and it helped to take the jagged edges from his worry. She offered him a small smile and squeezed his hand. “I'm sure he'll be okay, though. You know how Ed gets. He's probably found a book and has curled up somewhere with it and completely lost track of time.”

“Or he's gotten himself into trouble and is sitting in a jail cell until he cools off.” Al muttered, giving Winry a small smile as she laughed at his words.

“At least he's safe locked up. Come on, I'm sure someone at Central will have seen him.”

It didn't take them long to walk to Central and Alphonse wasted no time in making his way to the woman sitting at the reception desk, waiting patiently for her to notice him. Thankfully it didn't take too long before she looked up and smiled a greeting at him. He tried to return it, but he knew that it fell short. He was too worried about Ed to really manage a smile, but he was raised better and would never forget his manners. Winry squeezed his hand as he spoke.

“Hi there, I'm looking for my brother, Edward Elric, the Fullmetal Alchemist. He was coming in today but I've not heard from him. Have you seen him?”

The woman nodded and looked down at her desk for a moment, her eyes scanning a log in sheet. After a moment that felt too long to Al, she nodded again. “Yeah, he's signed in a few hours ago and never signed out. He should still be here. Perhaps he's in the canteen or in General Mustang's office? Would you like me to call up to the office?”

“No, thank you. I know where it is. I'll just go have a look for him. He's probably lost in some research.”

Alphonse smiled, nodding his thanks to the woman as he and Winry moved further into the building, making their way up the stairs and around the bland, long corridors of Central Command until they made it to the General's office. The door was shut but Alphonse didn't wait before letting himself in and calling out to his brother. The outer office was completely empty, the desks bare and tidy, all paperwork filed away while the team was gone. Winry was distracted looking at a photo on the wall from when they were younger, a group shot of the whole team while Al was still trapped in the armour. He left her to look at it while he moved to Roy's inner office, opening the door – almost afraid of what he'd find.

What he did find made him pause in the doorway for a long moment. On the floor, curled up with his back against the General's desk was his brother. Edward was resting his head on his knees, hugging them close to his chest and rocking back and forth a little in an attempt to comfort himself. He was crying silently, but staring out of the large windows of the office with a distant look in his eyes. It was as if he wasn't there at all, as if his body was there but his mind was miles away. He didn't react to the sound of the door opening, or to Alphonse moving to his side. Even when Al sat next to him, Edward didn't so much as twitch. It was only when Al reached out to press a hand to Ed's arm that his brother moved.

At the touch, Edward jerked away, fear flashing across his features as he tried to put distance between them. It was only for a few seconds and then his brilliant mind caught up with him and he realised that it was Al that had touched him. The panic faded, and the deeper darkness returned. Alphonse noticed the phone then, hanging down the side of the desk; forgotten. He noticed the nail marks and bruises forming along his brother's flesh wrist. He noticed the bruising on Edward's neck that Al knew hadn't been put there willingly. Edward wouldn't let anyone claim him in such a sexual manner, not unless it was Roy – he supposed. But Roy was in the North.

The anger was sudden, and Alphonse wanted nothing more that to find who had hurt his brother like this and beat them into next week. Edward had suffered enough in his life, and nobody deserved to be assaulted like that! He was aware of Winry moving into the room, hesitating at his back for a minute, waiting to see what happened. He could sense the angry energy from her as she also took in the state of her childhood friend. “Brother?” Al spoke, and the instant that he did it was like he broke whatever spell they were all under.

“He's missing.” Edward whispered, his voice hoarse and pained as fresh sobs tore through his body. “Al, he's missing. Roy's gone.” The younger Elric pulled his big brother to him then, as Edward fell to pieces in front of them all over again. He didn't know what to say to comfort Edward, he didn't know how to make it better and he wanted to know who had attacked his brother, but he knew that Edward wouldn't even notice his injuries in that moment, he would be too concerned with this lover, with the man that only last week had sat in their home and told Alphonse and Winry of his intentions with Ed – much to the younger alchemist's embarrassment.

Winry moved silently around the brothers, dropping to her knees behind Edward and wrapped her arms around him completely until Edward was almost smothered between them. He didn't seem to care; he didn't even seem to notice. His fingers – flesh and metal – just curled into Alphonse's shirt, tugging on the material as he wept. He cried for so long that Alphonse was sure that he was going to make himself sick. He cried for so long that eventually there was no sound from him, just the trembling of his shoulders and the occasional gasp of air to try and regulate his breathing. All Al could do was hold him, rubbing comforting circles across his shoulder blades and wait for the storm to pass.

It broke his heart to see Edward so hurt though, and Alphonse wished for any way that would make this easier for his brother. He knew that they needed to find Mustang, and the youngest Elric found himself silently praying to a deity neither of them believed in – asking for one wish; asking that Mustang be safe and alive. He didn't know how Edward would cope in his vulnerable state if the man he loved was gone forever. Al stayed with his brother until Edward had drifted off into a dreamless sleep, curled up against him. He watched in silence as Winry managed to get through to Briggs and he listened intently to her side of the conversation with someone he could only assume was General Armstrong.

Chapter Text

Silence and blackness. It was all he'd known for what felt like years now. His hands where tied tightly behind his back, so tightly that his fingers had lost feeling in them a while ago now. He was sitting with his back to a wall, but he didn't know where his prison was. All he knew was that it was cold, and dark, and silent. So silent that the ringing in his ears had become deafening to his senses. He'd lost track of time. The first day he'd been with Riza, he knew that. They had both been tied up, sitting opposite from each other. It had been a comfort, to have his friend so close. With her by his side, Roy knew that he could survive anything, and it was good to see her, to talk to her and know that neither of them were hurt; other than a few bruises or cuts.

Riza had this calm confidence in herself and in him that helped Roy ignore his dread and doubts and truly believe that they would make it out of this alive and well. The mission had went terribly, clearly, but he was Roy Mustang and while his situation looked dire at that moment, he had Riza at his side and with Hawkeye at his side, guarding and supporting him, Roy could do anything.

After the first day though, they came in and took Riza from him. She fought them, of course she did. Roy fought to help her, but his hands were bound. They had expected a fight, and so they had brought backup, and because of that Roy hadn't stood a chance. He managed to stumble to his feet when he heard Riza's pained grunt, demanding that they unhand her. His protests were met with thick Drachman and the butt of a gun cracking against the back of his skull. His vision had blurred as the room swam as he stumbled, dropping heavily to his knees. He couldn't catch himself on his hands, which were bound behind him still, so the ground slammed painfully into his knees. Cursing quietly, Roy tried to talk his stunned brain into action, but the blow had been hard and the world was spinning away from him.

Someone tugged at his tied hands, yanking him to his feet and pulling his arms harshly behind him. The agony slammed through his shoulders and he hissed at the pain, struggling to focus on the moment around him. He heard Riza calling out to him. He looked up just in time to see the flash of the blade in the light as it was driven into his Captain's side. Everything froze in that moment, his breathing and heart, even their struggling. Everything just stopped. It only lasted a moment, because then the knife was removed and Riza's blood splashed across the wall by the door, soaking into her uniform and staining the dark blue material. Her soft gasp renewed Roy's fight, and he snarled at the men that held him. “Captain! Let go of her. You bastards, I'll burn you all for this. Riza, don't you dare die!”

Another blow to the back of his head darkened the world around him, but he didn't drop again. Strong hands around his arms kept him from the floor, but Roy felt his grip on reality slip from his clutches. He heard Riza's voice, heard her pain and panic but he couldn't make out the words. His vision swam, and then went completely as the darkness had pulled him under. When he'd woken again, everything was still dark. His head was throbbing, and he felt like his stomach would turn on him if given half the chance. There was no noise around him either, and the cold of the North was seeping in through the brick walls leaving him aching and shivering. Blinking a few times hadn't helped the blackness, and he knew then that his ears and eyes were both covered with something. He struggled, brushing his head against his shoulder to try and dislodge the offending objects but nothing shifted and his world had remained silent and black and cold.

The fear that bubbled up was suffocating, he was helpless, bound and without his senses. Memories threatened to overwhelm him. Memories of Father, of the human transmutation he'd been forced to do at his bidding and of the resulting price he'd had to pay. He'd lost his eyesight, and had been useless without it, crippled and defenceless. He had only survived by Riza's unwavering support, but he didn't have that now. He didn't even know if she was alive; the last he had seen was her bleeding and being dragged from him.

Roy fought against the dark thoughts and the fear that gripped him, trying to find something to ground him. He thought of Hughes, of his best friend would always manage to calm him in a situation like this. Hughes had talked Roy out of some of his darkest moments and had supported him throughout everything, but Hughes was gone. Roy had let him die and thinking about him when he was struggling to keep his shit together wasn't helping. He couldn't think about Riza or his team, not without worry himself sick about their welfare, so naturally his mind went to its favourite distraction. Ed.

Roy needed to get out of this. He needed to calm himself so he can find a way to get out of wherever the hell he was and get back to his man. He needed to get back to Edward, to make sure that the other alchemist would get the help that he needed to heal from his trauma. He needed to get home to Edward to see where this relationship could go, because it had so much potential. Roy knew that it could be the best thing that he'd ever let himself have and he didn't want to have to die in this cold, black cell without feeling Edward's heart beat against his own again. He'd finally told the young man how he'd felt for him, had let the feelings out in one moment of weakness that he was sure was going to be a mistake right up until it wasn't. He couldn't have everything that could have been end like this!

Roy wasn't sure how long he'd sat there in the dark quiet, but after a while he became painfully aware of another urgent problem that he was having. It had been awhile since he'd been able to empty his bladder and now the need was building painfully in his pelvis. He tired calling out to someone, but whatever was covering his ears drowned out even his own words. He was pretty sure that he'd shouted out, but not being able to hear his own words was unnerving. He waited, and called out again but nothing happened.

Without his sight or his hearing, Roy struggled to judge time and its passage. He'd tried to count, both to keep track and to try and take his mind of his growing need to urinate, but he couldn't focus too long on it. His head ached and whenever he moved it he felt his stomach twist into a knot. He stilled for a moment, fighting the urge to vomit, waiting until the nausea passed before he struggled to try and free his hands. If he could even get them in front of him then he wouldn't have a problem relieving himself without the embarrassment of physically wetting himself. He was a grown man, and the thought of sitting here that vulnerable made his skin crawl.

After a hopeless moment, Roy stopped struggling. He wasn't going to be able to free his hands, or move them in front of him and all he was going to achieve was tiring himself out when he needed to be alert to get out of this. He was sure that he'd been left alone to die in this cold prison, so when hands roughly grabbed his arms, his heart about stopped in fright. He tried to talk, to ask them to let him see or hear. Anything to make him feel in control again. If they replied, he didn't hear it. He was pulled to his feet and the sudden movement disorientated him; he was pretty sure that he had a concussion, but it could just be the limited senses that he had. Hands were holding him up, moving to the buttons of his uniform shirt. Uncertainty gave him pause, and he was only vaguely aware of the breath trapped inside his chest. What was going on?

His shirt was fully unbuttoned and slipped down his shoulders, the chill in the room seeping into his bared skin and making him shiver. He protested when hands were at his trousers, jerking back in an attempt to stop them from whatever they were doing, but it didn't help. Rough, calloused fingers dug into his hips as his trousers were pushed down, along with his boxers and throughout the whole thing, Roy couldn't see or hear a thing. His heart was racing and he kept trying to talk to his captors, but they didn't give him any indication that they had heard him; or even understood him. The clothes were fully removed him, his shirt cut to get it off his bound hands without the risk of untying him.

As suddenly as he was pulled to his feet, he was forced back down to his knees, the cold, stone floor beneath him was rough and cut into his skin as he struggled to stand again. There were no longer hands on him, but he couldn't tell if he was alone or not. He called out to the strangers again, but was still met with nothing but silent darkness and a troubled shudder ran through him. Completely naked, the cold in the room soon left him shivering.

A choked sob slipped past his lips when he was no longer able to control his bladder, the shame of being reduced to this made him feel sick to his stomach. Roy managed to back himself into the corner of the room, away from the evidence of his accident, and pulled his knees up to his chest. He wanted to wrap his arms around them, but they were still tied painfully behind his back and it wasn't long until everything in his body was screaming complaints at him from the shivering. He went back to trying to count, hoping that it would keep his mind away from the darker corners of his mind, away from the shame that was crushing his ribs; away from thoughts of Riza and if she was okay, away from the fear that he would never see Edward smile again.

-

It could have been hours or weeks when he was next pulled from his solitude, but all Roy knew was that he'd been left to wet himself in the bitter cold room without any kind of food or drink for long enough that he was starting to suffer the affects of such. His breathing and heartbeat were too fast. He was fatigued and his stomach ached with the need for sustenance. He had started to believe that he'd been left there to die, so when the mask was roughly removed from his head and light and sound flooded back to him, Roy covered away from it. It was too bright, the light bounced off the white walls of his prison and burned into his eyes, leaving stars dancing in his vision. Too loud voices shouted words he didn't recognise and before his confused and tired mind could even attempt to catch up a plate was thrust in his face.

There was a roll of bread on the plate, and Roy simultaneously wanted to eat it as fast as he could and turn from it; the thought of eating anything leaving a greasy sick feeling in his stomach. He didn't get a choice though, because his numb arms were never untied and instead the roll was force fed to him with just enough care that he didn't gag and throw it back up the moment he'd swallowed it. He wasn't given any time to recover before a glass of water was being forced down his throat also, but his thirst had him almost begging them for more of the blissful fluid when they'd taken the empty glass from him.

The men had ignored him the entire time, not once looking at him or reacting to anything he said, and both his anxiety and his anger snapped when he was ignored for the fifth time while trying to get information about Riza out of them. He wanted to burn these bastards so much that his whole body shook with the urge, but even the snap of his fingers behind his back didn't give him the slightest bit of satisfaction. All he got in return was a cruel laugh and then the mask was forced back over his head, blocking out the light and the sound once more; but the dancing stars from the light lingered as he was pulled, stumbling, from the room.

Roy didn't know where he was being taken, but the hands on both his arms kept his stumbling feet from tripping him. Even the effort of trying to walk along side his captors was exhausting to his deprived body and the cold from his room lingered in the hallways he was being half carried through. He wanted nothing more than to collapse into his nice, warm bed and sleep for a week, but he knew in his gut that he'd never see it again. Riza could be dead, his team was nowhere near him. He didn't even know if he was still in Amestris or not. Had they taken them into Drachma? Was he going to waste away and die here or were they going to interrogate him for military secrets? He'd been here for days, or was it weeks? Yet they hadn't paid him the blindest bit of attention. They had a high ranking officer of their enemies' forces and they seemed happy to leave him to quietly die in a cell somewhere. It didn't make any sense.

Their little party stopped, and Roy slumped against the men holding him on his feet. He just wanted to sleep. Suddenly his hands were cut free from their bonds, and the stinging agony that shot through his arms as they were yanked up and over his head had him biting into his lip hard enough that he tasted blood just to stop the scream from being voiced. His hands were locked into some kind of metal cuff hanging from the ceiling, which was just slightly too far out of reach so it left him standing on his toes to stop the metal cutting into his skin.

Roy wanted to ask them what they were doing, but he knew that they would ignore him. Even if they didn't, he had been deprived on his senses again so any answer would be lost to him. He was so focused on the burning that roared through his arms that when the first shock of freezing cold water was thrown over him it took his breath from him. Gasping and coughing, Roy struggled to steady his racing heart and then there were hands on him again, scrubbing over his skin with rough cloths until his skin felt raw, interrupted at times with bucketfuls of icy water. Roy felt himself whimper, rather than heard it, when the hands were rubbing over his ass and cupping his testicles; a pained groan slipped from his lips when they were squeezed and Roy clenched his jaw, grinding his teeth together as he was washed and groped.

As suddenly as the assault had started, it had stopped again. He wasn't released from his position, and Roy was tense for a long while – waiting for another assault that never came. After a while it became clear that they had showered him and just left him to hang from the ceiling where he was. Never once did Roy think he'd miss his other cell, but standing there on his toes, dripping wet in Drachman cold, Roy almost found himself hoping for a quick death. The thought only chased away by Hughes' voice in his head, encouraging him to reach his goal. He had to survive this. Not just for himself, or the team, or for Edward; no, Roy had to make it out of this so he could change this country and stop this kind of thing from happening.

Chapter Text

Winry had managed to get through to Havoc in Briggs, who had filled her in on what had happened. Mustang and Riza had been separated from the rest of the team when they had been called into a meeting with Briggs' soldiers. They had never returned and a blizzard had stopped the team from investigating right away. Havoc had told Winry that they had tried to search for them both the moment that they could, but they hadn't been able to find any sign of them; the blizzard had covered any tracks that had been made and the outpost where the meeting had taken place was empty with no clues as to where the General and his Captain were.

 

Alphonse listened to his girlfriend's side of the conversation, his arms still wrapped around a trembling, but silent Edward and his heart sank from the look that Winry gave him. It wasn't that they'd doubted Edward, but they wanted to get more information than he'd been able to get and from the look of it though, the information that they got wasn't good. Al turned his attention back to his brother then, they needed to get him home. Not only was he trying to deal with the news of Roy, but someone had sexually attacked him at work, and Alphonse knew that his brother wasn't stable enough to deal with that alone right now.

 

Once Winry had thanked Havoc and put the phone down, Al moved, pulling away from Ed slowly. His heart split in two at his brother's sad whine when he moved, but he took Ed's flesh hand in his own and after a moment he and Winry managed to pull Ed up and onto his feet. He hated seeing his brother like this, so when Ed glanced around the empty office and made a broken noise before shutting his eyes tightly, Al wanted nothing more than to hold him and never let go.

 

“Come on, Brother. We'll go home and I'll make you some tea and we'll think of a plan to fix this.” Al said, offering Ed an encouraging smile that he didn't see. The older brother stared at the ground for the entire walk, and Al could have celebrated the fact that HQ was particularly empty. It meant that nobody noticed Ed being pulled out, or the bruising on his body. Nobody saw the distracted, distant look on his face and that meant that nobody could ask what was wrong.

 

They had almost reached the reception area when Al stopped. Winry had fallen behind a little, and he didn't want to lose her in the corridors; especially since she wasn't as used to them as he and his brother were. When he stopped, Edward did too, but Ed didn't turn around when Al did. That was a small mercy, but Alphonse couldn't pay it attention, because there was a man holding Winry's wrist, looming over her with a cold smile. A man greying with age, with a large scar running down over his eye. A man that Alphonse had thought he'd never see again, one that was meant to be locked up. The same man that had shot him, and sold his brother.

 

Fear and anger fought for dominance and Al had to actively focus on his hold on Edward, but he knew that he'd tensed up. He couldn't not. He needed to get them all out of there, but he wanted to beat the man in front of him so bad that he'd never walk again. Alphonse didn't like to get violent. That was much more his brother's way of dealing with a problem, but when it came to his family and those that he cared about, there was nothing that Al wouldn't do.

 

“Aren't you a pretty little thing?” Al heard the scarred man saying, and it was then that he let go of Edward, turning to fully face the man and Winry. He felt Edward turn too, and heard the sharp intake of breath.

 

“Hey, let go of her!” Alphonse snapped, storming over and shoving the man hard. The slaver stumbled back a few steps and Al moved in front of Winry, tugging her a few steps back.

 

“Al, you don't need to defend me. I can handle this!” Winry snapped, no doubt annoyed at being treated like a damsel in distress. That hadn't been Al's idea. He knew that she was more than capable of defending herself, but he wasn't able to just stand there and not help.

 

“Winry, take brother outside.”

 

It was then that Ed spoke up, for the first time since they had found him. “No way in hell, Al!” His brother pressed an automail hand into Al's and pulled him back slightly. “What the hell are you thinking!?”

 

“Ed?” Winry asked, her angry protests turning to confusion. “Al? What's going on? Who is...”

 

“Ah, the Elric brothers.” The slaver interrupted Winry, speaking as though she had never said a thing. “How good it is to see you both again. Although that had not been my intention.”

 

Al shuddered at the cruel smirk he got, holding onto his brother's hand so tightly that the steel dug into his own flesh. Winry was at his other side, her hand pressed lightly on his shoulder and it was both of them that helped to keep him grounded. He was shaking his head, glaring at the man in front of him and he wanted nothing more than to get his brother and girlfriend out of here. He wanted to race home and lock them all safely in the apartment. He felt Ed's hand tighten around his own for a brief second, and then it was gone.

 

Before Al could stop him, Edward had darted forward, slamming the slaver into the wall hard enough that Al heard his head crack against the plaster. Winry gasped and tried to rush to them, no doubt to stop Edward but Al took her hand, stopping her. This was good. It was better than Edward freezing up. Ed needed to do this, and Al would step in if his brother needed it, but right now he was fine watching his brother make the bastard bleed.

 

“You're meant to be rotting in a cell!” Edward snarled, slamming steel into the wall by the slaver's head hard enough that he split the plaster. “How the hell did you escape?”

“I didn't.” The slaver said with a laugh, and Edward frowned. “I didn't have to escape, Edward. They let me out.”

 

Edward recoiled – almost like he'd been struck – and shook his head. He didn't speak, he couldn't speak, but then he didn't have to. The slave master continued, grinning like a maniac. “Turns out they had no evidence to any crime I apparently committed. So when your commanding officer attacked me for no reason – twice, in fact – while I was defenceless, they had no choice but to release me.” The slaver took two steps forward, and Edward backed up, shaking his head still until his back hit the opposite wall of the corridor. Al jerked forward a step then, but froze, trying to let the information sink in. He heard Winry at his side; heard her ask what was going on. He wanted to tell her, he needed to let her know who this man was, but he couldn't bring himself to say the words.

 

“You got me a pretty little sum, Edward.” The slaver dropped his voice into a deep hush, his hand reaching out and stroking a finger down Ed's jaw, stopping at the bruise on his neck. “I wonder how much I'd get for you now that you're broken and tainted? I see Hal turned you into a little slut. Do you love belonging to someone now? Is that why you let yourself be marked like this?”

 

Edward flinched away, shutting his eyes tightly but Al had caught the shine of tears in them before he had. It was all he needed to get him moving again and he rushed the other man, pushing him away from his brother and punching him hard across the face. The slaver hadn't been expecting the attack, and his shock made him stumble. Al took that moment to kick his legs out from under him and watched as the slaver went down like a sack of bricks. His hands were clenched so tightly that his knuckles ached.

 

“Al! What the hell are you doing?” Winry shouted at him, but she was close; he could hear her not far behind him, no doubt having ran to Ed the moment that he was safe. Al risked a glance over his shoulder to confirm that suspicion and saw that Ed had slid down the wall and curled up, his face in his knees and was mumbling something too but he was too far away for Al to be able to make out what he was saying. Winry was kneeling next to him, frowning as she glanced between the brothers. When her gaze met his own, Al turned back to the slaver, who was laughing on the ground. He didn't like this side of himself, and he hated Winry seeing it, but he needed to defend his brother right now and that was all that mattered.

 

“I think your boyfriend is still a little angry at me for shooting him.” The slaver said with another laugh, and Al wanted to make him bleed in that moment.

 

“You SOLD my brother! Everything that has happened is because of you!” Al screamed, his body trembling with the need to break something. The slaver just laughed and Al took a step forward. He was stopped by a hand on his elbow and turned to glare at the girl next to him. Winry didn't flinch, only offering him a sad pleading look.

 

“Al, we can't do anything here. I don't know why he's not locked up, but we can't change that.” She told him softly, glancing down at the man who had sat up but stayed on the ground. The slaver was watching Edward with a smirk that made Al want to bash his skull in with.

 

“Its not right! Its not fucking right!” He snapped, his friend flinching at his side. He didn't curse often and she wasn't used to such harsh language coming from the younger brother, but Al caught her glance back towards Edward. His brother was still curled up against the wall, mumbling to himself, his shoulders shaking slightly with what Al knew would be silent sobs.

 

“I know, Al. I know, but we can't change that. Your brother needs you right now. We need to get him home, Alphonse. He's just muttering ingredients over and over to himself. He didn't once acknowledge me.” She told him quietly, and Al felt sick listening to her words.

 

“Ingredients for what?” He asked, but he knew already. He'd heard Edward whispering the components to human transmutation to himself a lot more lately. Whenever something wound Ed up, that's what his brother would turn to doing and it concerned Al; he didn't think that Edward was going to attempt another transmutation, but it concerned him either way.

 

Winry didn't reply to him. She didn't need to, not really. All she did was pull him away from the slaver and force him closer to Ed, and he moved to his distraught brother without any more prompting. He heard Winry hiss something at the slaver, and then saw the man leave with a laugh out of the corner of his eye, but his attention was on Ed in that moment. Winry was back at his side before long, a sad frown on her pretty face as she watched Edward.

 

“Come on, Brother. We need to get you home.” Al said gently, trying to pull Ed out of his trance-like state. It took some prompting, but eventually Edward looked up at Al. His eyes shone with tears and Al's heart broken all over again at the pain in them. He'd never seen Ed so broken and scared, and he had watched his brother face down a god. Alphonse wasn't sure how Edward was going to be able to recover from this.

 

“Its not safe.” Ed mumbled, and Al shook his head to clear it of his worry.

 

“What? Of course it is. Come on, Ed. We can't stay here.”

 

Al pulled his brother to his feet, but Edward was still shaking his head, tears threatening to fall but never managing to. Al glanced at Winry, trying to figure out if she had any idea why Edward was so convinced that their apartment was no longer safe, but she looked just as lost as he felt. Edward rubbed a flesh hand over his eyes, scrubbing away tears and then turned a dry, pleading look onto Alphonse. Whatever was wrong, Al knew that Ed was certain that it was a risk, and after all these years, he knew better than to question his brother's judgement on that.

 

“Okay.” Al said, frowning and glancing back at Winry again. “Where will we go then?”

 

“I have an idea.” Ed muttered, sighing and moving towards the exit on slightly shaky legs. Water thirty-five litres, Carbon twenty kilograms, Ammonia four litres... He repeated the mantra over and over again in his head, finding comfort in the facts; in the knowledge he'd learnt so long ago now. It was a fair walk to Chris' bar, but the chill in the air didn't bother Edward, and if Al or Winry were affected by it, then neither said a thing as they tried to engage him in conversation. Edward didn't reply for the most part, he was too busy trying to control his breathing, slow his heart. He was preoccupied with trying to not vomit up the bile that burned at the back of his throat.

 

Edward reached a hand up to his neck, his flesh fingers brushing across the skin there. Ethan had bruised him, claimed him. Hal had done the same. He could still here the whispered words, said like a prayer as he silently begged for it to end. He could still smell the alcohol, and feel the hands pulling his hips upwards and closer. Water thirty-five litres, Carbon twenty kilograms, Ammonia four litres, Lime one point five kilograms, Phosphorous eight hundred grams, Salt two hundred and fifty grams, Saltpeter one hundred grams, Sulfur eighty grams, Fluorine seven point five grams, Iron five grams, Silicon three grams and fifteen traces of other elements. Humans were cheap to make, easy in theory. Impossible in reality. Humans were really something else; it didn't make sense how they could be so cruel to each other.

 

“Edward?” Al's voice broke through into the storm of Ed's mind and he looked up from the ground to meet his brother's eyes. “Ed, this is a bar.”

 

“I think it might actually be a brothel, Ed.” Winry added, frowning and moving closer, shivering a little. Al pulled her into his side, wrapping an arm around her and she nuzzled into his chest with a quiet, happy noise. It was adorable really, but Edward looked away. It made him miss Roy more, and he couldn't think about that right now, not while he was barely holding himself together.

 

“It is.” Ed said simply, pushing his way into the bar, Al and Winry right behind him.

 

“Edward, what the hell makes you think a whorehouse is safer than your apartment?” Winry hissed at him, grabbing his elbow as they stepped inside. “Come on, this is insane. Lets go home. You can drink there and we can keep you safe.”

 

Edward turned to fully face his friend then, taking her hands into his own and pleading with her through nothing but a look and the tone of his voice. “Win, trust me. The apartment isn't safe, not now. This is the safest place in Central.”

 

Winry was shaking her head, a question on her lips when a pretty brunette came up and slung her arm around Edward's shoulders. “Ed, isn't it? How are you honey. Last we saw you, Roy was basically carrying you outta here.” She laughed, carefree and happy and it was like an icy dagger through Ed's heart. He tried to force a smile and introduced his brother and friend to the woman.

 

“Is the Madame in? I need to talk to her?” Ed asked and the girl nodded before disappearing through a door that led to the back of the building. Edward turned to meet the expectant looks of Al and Winry. “Madame Christmas is Roy's aunt. Chris Mustang. She raised him when his parents were killed. I have no doubt that he would have asked her to keep an eye on us all while he was away. She needs to know about... I need to tell her what's happened. She can keep you both safe.”

 

“What the hell does that mean, Edward? Keep us safe? What about you?” Winry snapped, glancing between the brothers and no doubt catching the look that they shared.

 

“I'm going after him, Win. I can't just sit around here on my ass and wait for news. Al's too weak to be hiking around Briggs, and I need you here with him. I heard you while we were walking over here; you said it was just Hawkeye and Roy that were missing. That means the rest of the team are there to back me up. I need to do this.” Edward said, offering a small smile. “So I'm gonna need you to fit me with different automail.”

“Edward...” Winry started, but was interrupted by Madame Christmas in that moment.

 

“What brings you by, my boy?” She said, the cigarette balancing between painted lips.

 

“Can we talk in private?” Ed asked. The older woman nodded, and after getting her girls to supply Al and Winry with drink and conversation, she led Edward through the back door into a narrow corridor. They headed up a flight of stairs and into a small living room. She poured herself and Ed a drink and then sat across from him, close to the fire that burned happily in the grate.

 

There was a long stretch of silence, and Edward didn't know how to start. He chewed on his lip, staring at the liquid in his glass as he tried to figure out a way to tell this woman that her adopted son was missing, possibly dead. How could he say those words when he so desperately wanted to forget them, praying that they were lies? How could he tell her that, and then ask her to watch over Winry and Al for him? The silence wasn't awkward, and Chris didn't seem to mind sitting in silence watching the fire, waiting for him to talk in his own time; but he couldn't find the words now that he was here.

 

“Roy often sits in this room, moping just like you are.” Chris said after a moment, and the words sounded so harsh, even in the gentle tone that Edward just blinked back at her. “If you are here to tell me that he's missing, I already know. I have informants everywhere. Don't worry on it, Roy-Boy always gets himself out of his own messes; he'll be fine.”

 

Edward nodded, blinking back the tears and looked back down at his glass. How the hell was he meant to reply to that? At the very least it took the pressure off telling her that Roy was possibly dead. He didn't know why he didn't think that she would already know, of course she would. She basically ran a spy network within her brothel, and it had been a week since the last mention of Roy. Edward swallowed back the lump in his throat, putting the glass down on the coffee table, next to a newspaper.

 

“I need you to look after my brother and friend.” He blurted out, meeting her eyes. “I'm going after him. I'm going to find him, but they need to stay here and its not safe for them alone. I know its a lot to ask, but please, I can't leave them in our apartment.”

 

“Of course. Roy would never forgive me if anything happened to you lot. Does this have something to do with the bites on your neck, though?” Chris asked, raising an eyebrow and Edward looked away, tugging his collar a little higher up. “Cause honey, I know that they weren't put there by my boy. What's going on Edward?”

 

He couldn't meet her eye, he couldn't tell her that he was being attacked by a man that Roy had tried to keep him from. Hi gaze flickered to the newspaper, just as a smash was heard from downstairs. Chris sighed, excusing herself and left the room to see what was going on in the bar. With a frown, Edward watched her go and then swiped the newspaper from the table, the headline catching his eye. The picture he new instantly, the redheaded girl smiling happily at the camera, her laugher crinkling in the corners of her eyes, but the words didn't make any sense to him.

 

Young woman believed to have committed suicide after slave trauma.

Winry had managed to get through to Havoc in Briggs, who had filled her in on what had happened. Mustang and Riza had been separated from the rest of the team when they had been called into a meeting with Briggs' soldiers. They had never returned and a blizzard had stopped the team from investigating right away. Havoc had told Winry that they had tried to search for them both the moment that they could, but they hadn't been able to find any sign of them; the blizzard had covered any tracks that had been made and the outpost where the meeting had taken place was empty with no clues as to where the General and his Captain were.

 

Alphonse listened to his girlfriend's side of the conversation, his arms still wrapped around a trembling, but silent Edward and his heart sank from the look that Winry gave him. It wasn't that they'd doubted Edward, but they wanted to get more information than he'd been able to get and from the look of it though, the information that they got wasn't good. Al turned his attention back to his brother then, they needed to get him home. Not only was he trying to deal with the news of Roy, but someone had sexually attacked him at work, and Alphonse knew that his brother wasn't stable enough to deal with that alone right now.

 

Once Winry had thanked Havoc and put the phone down, Al moved, pulling away from Ed slowly. His heart split in two at his brother's sad whine when he moved, but he took Ed's flesh hand in his own and after a moment he and Winry managed to pull Ed up and onto his feet. He hated seeing his brother like this, so when Ed glanced around the empty office and made a broken noise before shutting his eyes tightly, Al wanted nothing more than to hold him and never let go.

 

“Come on, Brother. We'll go home and I'll make you some tea and we'll think of a plan to fix this.” Al said, offering Ed an encouraging smile that he didn't see. The older brother stared at the ground for the entire walk, and Al could have celebrated the fact that HQ was particularly empty. It meant that nobody noticed Ed being pulled out, or the bruising on his body. Nobody saw the distracted, distant look on his face and that meant that nobody could ask what was wrong.

 

They had almost reached the reception area when Al stopped. Winry had fallen behind a little, and he didn't want to lose her in the corridors; especially since she wasn't as used to them as he and his brother were. When he stopped, Edward did too, but Ed didn't turn around when Al did. That was a small mercy, but Alphonse couldn't pay it attention, because there was a man holding Winry's wrist, looming over her with a cold smile. A man greying with age, with a large scar running down over his eye. A man that Alphonse had thought he'd never see again, one that was meant to be locked up. The same man that had shot him, and sold his brother.

 

Fear and anger fought for dominance and Al had to actively focus on his hold on Edward, but he knew that he'd tensed up. He couldn't not. He needed to get them all out of there, but he wanted to beat the man in front of him so bad that he'd never walk again. Alphonse didn't like to get violent. That was much more his brother's way of dealing with a problem, but when it came to his family and those that he cared about, there was nothing that Al wouldn't do.

 

“Aren't you a pretty little thing?” Al heard the scarred man saying, and it was then that he let go of Edward, turning to fully face the man and Winry. He felt Edward turn too, and heard the sharp intake of breath.

 

“Hey, let go of her!” Alphonse snapped, storming over and shoving the man hard. The slaver stumbled back a few steps and Al moved in front of Winry, tugging her a few steps back.

 

“Al, you don't need to defend me. I can handle this!” Winry snapped, no doubt annoyed at being treated like a damsel in distress. That hadn't been Al's idea. He knew that she was more than capable of defending herself, but he wasn't able to just stand there and not help.

 

“Winry, take brother outside.”

 

It was then that Ed spoke up, for the first time since they had found him. “No way in hell, Al!” His brother pressed an automail hand into Al's and pulled him back slightly. “What the hell are you thinking!?”

 

“Ed?” Winry asked, her angry protests turning to confusion. “Al? What's going on? Who is...”

 

“Ah, the Elric brothers.” The slaver interrupted Winry, speaking as though she had never said a thing. “How good it is to see you both again. Although that had not been my intention.”

 

Al shuddered at the cruel smirk he got, holding onto his brother's hand so tightly that the steel dug into his own flesh. Winry was at his other side, her hand pressed lightly on his shoulder and it was both of them that helped to keep him grounded. He was shaking his head, glaring at the man in front of him and he wanted nothing more than to get his brother and girlfriend out of here. He wanted to race home and lock them all safely in the apartment. He felt Ed's hand tighten around his own for a brief second, and then it was gone.

 

Before Al could stop him, Edward had darted forward, slamming the slaver into the wall hard enough that Al heard his head crack against the plaster. Winry gasped and tried to rush to them, no doubt to stop Edward but Al took her hand, stopping her. This was good. It was better than Edward freezing up. Ed needed to do this, and Al would step in if his brother needed it, but right now he was fine watching his brother make the bastard bleed.

 

“You're meant to be rotting in a cell!” Edward snarled, slamming steel into the wall by the slaver's head hard enough that he split the plaster. “How the hell did you escape?”

“I didn't.” The slaver said with a laugh, and Edward frowned. “I didn't have to escape, Edward. They let me out.”

 

Edward recoiled – almost like he'd been struck – and shook his head. He didn't speak, he couldn't speak, but then he didn't have to. The slave master continued, grinning like a maniac. “Turns out they had no evidence to any crime I apparently committed. So when your commanding officer attacked me for no reason – twice, in fact – while I was defenceless, they had no choice but to release me.” The slaver took two steps forward, and Edward backed up, shaking his head still until his back hit the opposite wall of the corridor. Al jerked forward a step then, but froze, trying to let the information sink in. He heard Winry at his side; heard her ask what was going on. He wanted to tell her, he needed to let her know who this man was, but he couldn't bring himself to say the words.

 

“You got me a pretty little sum, Edward.” The slaver dropped his voice into a deep hush, his hand reaching out and stroking a finger down Ed's jaw, stopping at the bruise on his neck. “I wonder how much I'd get for you now that you're broken and tainted? I see Hal turned you into a little slut. Do you love belonging to someone now? Is that why you let yourself be marked like this?”

 

Edward flinched away, shutting his eyes tightly but Al had caught the shine of tears in them before he had. It was all he needed to get him moving again and he rushed the other man, pushing him away from his brother and punching him hard across the face. The slaver hadn't been expecting the attack, and his shock made him stumble. Al took that moment to kick his legs out from under him and watched as the slaver went down like a sack of bricks. His hands were clenched so tightly that his knuckles ached.

 

“Al! What the hell are you doing?” Winry shouted at him, but she was close; he could hear her not far behind him, no doubt having ran to Ed the moment that he was safe. Al risked a glance over his shoulder to confirm that suspicion and saw that Ed had slid down the wall and curled up, his face in his knees and was mumbling something too but he was too far away for Al to be able to make out what he was saying. Winry was kneeling next to him, frowning as she glanced between the brothers. When her gaze met his own, Al turned back to the slaver, who was laughing on the ground. He didn't like this side of himself, and he hated Winry seeing it, but he needed to defend his brother right now and that was all that mattered.

 

“I think your boyfriend is still a little angry at me for shooting him.” The slaver said with another laugh, and Al wanted to make him bleed in that moment.

 

“You SOLD my brother! Everything that has happened is because of you!” Al screamed, his body trembling with the need to break something. The slaver just laughed and Al took a step forward. He was stopped by a hand on his elbow and turned to glare at the girl next to him. Winry didn't flinch, only offering him a sad pleading look.

 

“Al, we can't do anything here. I don't know why he's not locked up, but we can't change that.” She told him softly, glancing down at the man who had sat up but stayed on the ground. The slaver was watching Edward with a smirk that made Al want to bash his skull in with.

 

“Its not right! Its not fucking right!” He snapped, his friend flinching at his side. He didn't curse often and she wasn't used to such harsh language coming from the younger brother, but Al caught her glance back towards Edward. His brother was still curled up against the wall, mumbling to himself, his shoulders shaking slightly with what Al knew would be silent sobs.

 

“I know, Al. I know, but we can't change that. Your brother needs you right now. We need to get him home, Alphonse. He's just muttering ingredients over and over to himself. He didn't once acknowledge me.” She told him quietly, and Al felt sick listening to her words.

 

“Ingredients for what?” He asked, but he knew already. He'd heard Edward whispering the components to human transmutation to himself a lot more lately. Whenever something wound Ed up, that's what his brother would turn to doing and it concerned Al; he didn't think that Edward was going to attempt another transmutation, but it concerned him either way.

 

Winry didn't reply to him. She didn't need to, not really. All she did was pull him away from the slaver and force him closer to Ed, and he moved to his distraught brother without any more prompting. He heard Winry hiss something at the slaver, and then saw the man leave with a laugh out of the corner of his eye, but his attention was on Ed in that moment. Winry was back at his side before long, a sad frown on her pretty face as she watched Edward.

 

“Come on, Brother. We need to get you home.” Al said gently, trying to pull Ed out of his trance-like state. It took some prompting, but eventually Edward looked up at Al. His eyes shone with tears and Al's heart broken all over again at the pain in them. He'd never seen Ed so broken and scared, and he had watched his brother face down a god. Alphonse wasn't sure how Edward was going to be able to recover from this.

 

“Its not safe.” Ed mumbled, and Al shook his head to clear it of his worry.

 

“What? Of course it is. Come on, Ed. We can't stay here.”

 

Al pulled his brother to his feet, but Edward was still shaking his head, tears threatening to fall but never managing to. Al glanced at Winry, trying to figure out if she had any idea why Edward was so convinced that their apartment was no longer safe, but she looked just as lost as he felt. Edward rubbed a flesh hand over his eyes, scrubbing away tears and then turned a dry, pleading look onto Alphonse. Whatever was wrong, Al knew that Ed was certain that it was a risk, and after all these years, he knew better than to question his brother's judgement on that.

 

“Okay.” Al said, frowning and glancing back at Winry again. “Where will we go then?”

 

“I have an idea.” Ed muttered, sighing and moving towards the exit on slightly shaky legs. Water thirty-five litres, Carbon twenty kilograms, Ammonia four litres... He repeated the mantra over and over again in his head, finding comfort in the facts; in the knowledge he'd learnt so long ago now. It was a fair walk to Chris' bar, but the chill in the air didn't bother Edward, and if Al or Winry were affected by it, then neither said a thing as they tried to engage him in conversation. Edward didn't reply for the most part, he was too busy trying to control his breathing, slow his heart. He was preoccupied with trying to not vomit up the bile that burned at the back of his throat.

 

Edward reached a hand up to his neck, his flesh fingers brushing across the skin there. Ethan had bruised him, claimed him. Hal had done the same. He could still here the whispered words, said like a prayer as he silently begged for it to end. He could still smell the alcohol, and feel the hands pulling his hips upwards and closer. Water thirty-five litres, Carbon twenty kilograms, Ammonia four litres, Lime one point five kilograms, Phosphorous eight hundred grams, Salt two hundred and fifty grams, Saltpeter one hundred grams, Sulfur eighty grams, Fluorine seven point five grams, Iron five grams, Silicon three grams and fifteen traces of other elements. Humans were cheap to make, easy in theory. Impossible in reality. Humans were really something else; it didn't make sense how they could be so cruel to each other.

 

“Edward?” Al's voice broke through into the storm of Ed's mind and he looked up from the ground to meet his brother's eyes. “Ed, this is a bar.”

 

“I think it might actually be a brothel, Ed.” Winry added, frowning and moving closer, shivering a little. Al pulled her into his side, wrapping an arm around her and she nuzzled into his chest with a quiet, happy noise. It was adorable really, but Edward looked away. It made him miss Roy more, and he couldn't think about that right now, not while he was barely holding himself together.

 

“It is.” Ed said simply, pushing his way into the bar, Al and Winry right behind him.

 

“Edward, what the hell makes you think a whorehouse is safer than your apartment?” Winry hissed at him, grabbing his elbow as they stepped inside. “Come on, this is insane. Lets go home. You can drink there and we can keep you safe.”

 

Edward turned to fully face his friend then, taking her hands into his own and pleading with her through nothing but a look and the tone of his voice. “Win, trust me. The apartment isn't safe, not now. This is the safest place in Central.”

 

Winry was shaking her head, a question on her lips when a pretty brunette came up and slung her arm around Edward's shoulders. “Ed, isn't it? How are you honey. Last we saw you, Roy was basically carrying you outta here.” She laughed, carefree and happy and it was like an icy dagger through Ed's heart. He tried to force a smile and introduced his brother and friend to the woman.

 

“Is the Madame in? I need to talk to her?” Ed asked and the girl nodded before disappearing through a door that led to the back of the building. Edward turned to meet the expectant looks of Al and Winry. “Madame Christmas is Roy's aunt. Chris Mustang. She raised him when his parents were killed. I have no doubt that he would have asked her to keep an eye on us all while he was away. She needs to know about... I need to tell her what's happened. She can keep you both safe.”

 

“What the hell does that mean, Edward? Keep us safe? What about you?” Winry snapped, glancing between the brothers and no doubt catching the look that they shared.

 

“I'm going after him, Win. I can't just sit around here on my ass and wait for news. Al's too weak to be hiking around Briggs, and I need you here with him. I heard you while we were walking over here; you said it was just Hawkeye and Roy that were missing. That means the rest of the team are there to back me up. I need to do this.” Edward said, offering a small smile. “So I'm gonna need you to fit me with different automail.”

“Edward...” Winry started, but was interrupted by Madame Christmas in that moment.

 

“What brings you by, my boy?” She said, the cigarette balancing between painted lips.

 

“Can we talk in private?” Ed asked. The older woman nodded, and after getting her girls to supply Al and Winry with drink and conversation, she led Edward through the back door into a narrow corridor. They headed up a flight of stairs and into a small living room. She poured herself and Ed a drink and then sat across from him, close to the fire that burned happily in the grate.

 

There was a long stretch of silence, and Edward didn't know how to start. He chewed on his lip, staring at the liquid in his glass as he tried to figure out a way to tell this woman that her adopted son was missing, possibly dead. How could he say those words when he so desperately wanted to forget them, praying that they were lies? How could he tell her that, and then ask her to watch over Winry and Al for him? The silence wasn't awkward, and Chris didn't seem to mind sitting in silence watching the fire, waiting for him to talk in his own time; but he couldn't find the words now that he was here.

 

“Roy often sits in this room, moping just like you are.” Chris said after a moment, and the words sounded so harsh, even in the gentle tone that Edward just blinked back at her. “If you are here to tell me that he's missing, I already know. I have informants everywhere. Don't worry on it, Roy-Boy always gets himself out of his own messes; he'll be fine.”

 

Edward nodded, blinking back the tears and looked back down at his glass. How the hell was he meant to reply to that? At the very least it took the pressure off telling her that Roy was possibly dead. He didn't know why he didn't think that she would already know, of course she would. She basically ran a spy network within her brothel, and it had been a week since the last mention of Roy. Edward swallowed back the lump in his throat, putting the glass down on the coffee table, next to a newspaper.

 

“I need you to look after my brother and friend.” He blurted out, meeting her eyes. “I'm going after him. I'm going to find him, but they need to stay here and its not safe for them alone. I know its a lot to ask, but please, I can't leave them in our apartment.”

 

“Of course. Roy would never forgive me if anything happened to you lot. Does this have something to do with the bites on your neck, though?” Chris asked, raising an eyebrow and Edward looked away, tugging his collar a little higher up. “Cause honey, I know that they weren't put there by my boy. What's going on Edward?”

 

He couldn't meet her eye, he couldn't tell her that he was being attacked by a man that Roy had tried to keep him from. Hi gaze flickered to the newspaper, just as a smash was heard from downstairs. Chris sighed, excusing herself and left the room to see what was going on in the bar. With a frown, Edward watched her go and then swiped the newspaper from the table, the headline catching his eye. The picture he new instantly, the redheaded girl smiling happily at the camera, her laugher crinkling in the corners of her eyes, but the words didn't make any sense to him.

 

Young woman believed to have committed suicide after slave trauma.

 

 

Chapter Text

Edward read the article and then reread it, bile rising to burn the back of his throat; his hands were shaking as he stared at the words. She'd killed herself. Her family had all thought that she was really happy, that she was coping with everything really well, but according to the article the girl had been seeing a therapist, and he had mentioned that she wasn't sleeping because of the nightmares, that she had spoken about wanting it to all end. She had shot herself the next day in her family home.

Edward dropped the newspaper back down onto the table, next to his glass of untouched alcohol; his vision blurred with tears as he pushed himself to his feet and all but ran from the room. He couldn't cope with this, he needed air. Sneaking out of the back door was easy enough, and nobody tried to stop him so he clearly managed it without being seen. Part of him – a small, quiet voice in his mind – told him to stop; to turn around and go back to the bar, to go to his brother and Winry. He knew that he couldn't be alone in that moment, but the thought of being there surrounded by people made his chest tighten in fear. He needed to be alone, and yet knew that he couldn't be. That it was stupid to be alone.

Edward ran from the bar, not paying attention to where his feet were taking him. He ran until his lungs were burning, and his legs ached, and then he pushed himself to run further. Cara's face flashed behind his eyes. Cara's face, smiling down at Simon. Cara tending to his injuries. Cara cooking their meals, and cleaning the house. Cara being led away from the house as Roy and his team saved them. Cara at the hospital. Cara, Cara, Cara. Edward had failed her, just like he'd failed Simon, and Nina and Hughes.

Of course she wasn't fucking okay! How could she have been? She had been kidnapped and sold into slavery. While Hal hadn't abused her like he had Edward or Simon, she had suffered because of him regardless. She had seen the mess he'd left Edward and Simon in, had heard their suffering and had been forced to live in a constant state of fear. Terrified that she would do or say something wrong and that it would be her in the basement with a whip cracking against her back; her lying on the floor, blood pooling from her neck.

Edward stopped, doubling over as he vomited into the grass, his body trembling from the excertion. He had killed Simon, he had failed in protecting Nina and now Cara was dead because he hadn't thought to check on her. He'd suffered with her, he should have known that she would be struggling as much as he was, but he hadn't once thought about her. He was selfish, he had always known it, deep down, but this was a whole new level, even for him.

Edward stood up straight on shaky legs and rubbed the back of his flesh hand against his mouth, as he continued to let his feet carry him further away from the Madame's bar. His mind was a storm of thoughts. Thoughts of those that he had failed, of those that had suffered because of him, and he needed it to stop. He was so lost in the storm that he didn't notice the tears on his cheeks, or the people that watched as he walked past, casting worried glances his way. Edward stopped on a bridge, the glittering lights in the river catching his attention and he moved closer, leaning over the wall to watch as the city danced in the current of the river.

He hated feeling like this, he hated the hollow ache that consumed him, that filled his chest where his lungs and heart should be; the ache that stopped his breathing and made him wish he'd never been born. Perhaps, Cara was at peace now? Did she feel the same way? Edward hadn't considered it before, not really. He had always struggled on for Al, but his brother had Winry now. Everyone would be better off without him.

He brushed tears away from his cheeks as he climbed over the wall, watching the water below him. This would stop the agony inside him, this would stop the storm that ravaged his mind. He could do this, and fail everyone one last time, and then they would all be free of him. He'd never hurt them again, they could all be happy without him bringing such sin and ruin into their lives. Edward choked on a sob and shut his eyes, automail fingers digging into the wall as he committed himself to this. The last thought that went through his mind was of Roy confessing his love to him; and then the icy water surrounded him, stole his breath and the weight of his automail dragged him under.

-

“There! On the bridge!” Winry shouted, pointing towards Edward as the car turned the corner and Al's heart stopped. They had found that Edward had ran off and Al had seen the headline of the newspaper and knew that Ed would have freaked out about it. He'd blame himself, that was just what his brother did, so he was happy when the Madame didn't need asked to get people out looking for Edward. Winry and himself had went with her in her car as some of the girls went out on foot to search for him.

Al threw himself out of the car before it had fully stopped, his heart racing at the sight of his brother on the bridge, hanging onto the wall. “Edward!” His voice was quiet, too quiet. His fear froze him in place, what the hell was his brother doing? What was Edward thinking? Behind him, the car came to a stop and Al could hear the doors opening and closing as the Madame and Winry joined him. Winry's hand gripping his wrist as her breath was gasped in.

“What's he doing?” She asked softly, the tears she was forcing back were straining at her voice. “Al, he wouldn't? Would he?”

Al shook his head; Edward wouldn't be like this. Edward wouldn't leave them, surely? Didn't he know how much he was loved? Winry's hand slipped into his hand and he squeezed it as the Madame called out to his brother, but Edward either ignored them or didn't hear their calls. Alphonse rubbed at his eyes, drying the tears away and glaring at the back of his brother's head. “Brother!” He shouted, but Ed didn't respond. “Edward, please come down!”

Al took a step forward, and the moment he did it was like the world moved in slow motion. He saw every fraction of the seconds drag by as Edward let go of the wall, falling forward. He heard Winry's scream, and his own cry. He froze, his brain not understanding the information that it was being given but then he felt Winry's hand leave his and all of a sudden he was rushing forward, racing towards the wall, stumbling slightly in his haste to get there. He was already halfway over the wall when he was pulled back roughly and he knew, distantly, that the scream was his.

“Al! Alphonse stop it!” Winry sobbed into his back as he struggled against her. “You can't! You're too weak!” A hand – The Madame's – was placed firmly on his shoulder and Al knew that Winry was right. He was still recovering from being shot, but this was his brother. It was Edward! He needed to save him. His automail would drag him under and Ed had never learnt to swim and if they left him then he was going to die! Al sobbed, all the fight leaving him then as he dropped to his knees with a frustrated shout. He heard Chris talking to him, trying to get his attention but Al couldn't make sense of the words, none of them made any sense and he just stared at where his brother had been, his vision blurring with tears.

Too late, Alphonse noticed that Winry had left his side, and he watched in horror as she vaulted the wall, diving in after his brother. He raised his hands, covering his face as he broke down, curling up into himself as he sobbed. He could feel his heart breaking, and he was surprised that any air made it into his lungs at all. He had no sense of how long he'd sat there crying for, but too soon he was pulled to his feet, Chris filling his watery vision as she spoke to him. Alphonse just shook his head, not understanding her words and she huffed as she repeated them.

“She's got him. Get down onto the shore. I'm going to go find someone to get a doctor. Go to your brother.”

Al blinked stupidly at her for a second, before he glanced in the direction of the river bank and there, beneath the light of the street lamps, two heads of wet blonde hair. He was moving before he knew what he was seeing, but his mind caught up as he reached Edward and Winry, and he dropped to his knees in the mud as he watched in horror as Winry performed chest compressions on his brother. Reaching out, Al took Edward's flesh hand in his own and blinded back the tears. His brother's skin was cold to touch and Al couldn't help but shiver.

The minutes dragged as Winry continued with CPR and Al was helpless but to sit and hold his brother's hand, his thumb brushing over cold knuckles as he quietly begged Edward to open his eyes; to wake up and be okay. He needed his brother and he was terrified that Edward wouldn't pull through this. His hands were shaking as they held onto Edward's flesh one, tears blurring his vision and a headache forming at the front of his head as he watched his brother's face for any sign of life.

If he hadn't been watching so closely he would have missed the second that Ed regained consciousness, but he was watching and so he noticed the flicker behind Edward's eyes and Al reached out to stop Winry just as Ed started coughing up water. Helping him onto his side to hack up the water that he had taken in, Al wrapped an arm around Winry who slumped against him, exhausted from reviving Ed and stroked comforting circles across Ed's back until he stopped coughing.

When Edward moved to sit up, Winry and Al both moved to support him, and Al forced himself to not hit his stupid brother. Edward looked dazed, and was shivering, but he was here and he was alive and the relief that flooded through Al threatened to choke him as he threw his arms around Ed and sobbed into his shoulder, still holding his brother up as Winry hugged into him too. The three of them sat there for a long time, holding each other as they all cried and Al knew that he would have bruises from Edward's automail grip on him, but he didn't care. He was alive and that was all that mattered.

“Alphonse?” Edward whispered eventually. “Winry?”

“Yeah. Its us Edward, we're here.” Winry replied, holding onto Edward tighter as she spoke through her tears. Al pulled back a little, just enough that he could meet his brother's eyes and his heart broke at the sorrow and guilt that he saw there.

“What the hell were you thinking!?” Al heard himself shout, and he regretted it the moment Ed flinched away, turning his gaze out towards the river.

“I don't know. I'm sorry, Al.” Edward mumbled, his voice cracking with sorrow as he gasped in a breath, shivering. “I just can't stand it. I needed it all to stop. I needed everything to just stop hurting.”

“You idiot!” Al said softly, tugging Edward in closer and hugging him tighter.

“I know. I'm sorry. I just... I don't know what to do. I can barely keep it together with Hal and Ethan, but now Roy is missing and Cara is gone and that's my fault and I just kept thinking about that, was she at peace now? Did it help her? I can't keep seeing him, I can't pretend that its okay.”

“Ethan? What's he got to do with this? I thought things were fine with you both now?” Winry asked, sitting back a little so she could meet Ed's eyes; Al did the same thing, but he kept Ed's trembling hand in his own. Edward was silhouetted by the headlights of the car that had pulled up behind him, and he jumped a little when Chris spoke, not having heard her approach.

“Is he the one that gave you those bruises?” She asked him, and Al felt bile rise in his throat. Of course he was. The way he'd found his brother, it wasn't just some random attack, of course it wasn't. Edward didn't reply, but he did look away guiltily and tug his collar up a little to hid the marks on his neck. He was trembling still and Al wanted to help, he wanted to kill Ethan for what he'd done but Winry's words gave him a reason to push that thought aside.

“Enough. Edward needs to get checked by a doctor. Everything else can wait.”

-

Roy's torment had continued with the bitter cold and silence. He hadn't been given the right to his senses back and the inability to see was the worst, bringing memories of the Promised Day flooding back to him. He'd lost his vision then, and it had been what felt like months without it when he'd finally gotten it back, but at least then he had his other senses. He was able to cope, would have been able to survive and taught himself how to adjust. It was amazing what the human body could adapt to. Edward was a great example of that.

He had been just a child when he'd lost two limbs, and Roy had been told of his stubborn lover and how Edward had pushed through his recovery until he was vomiting blood, and even that didn't stop or slow him down. Edward took everyone's expectations and tore them up, burning them to ash in front of them. Roy admired that, he wished he could be that strong, but he knew that he wasn't and he was going mad without his sight. He needed to see, he needed to be able to look after himself, his team, Edward.

Roy choked back a sob at the thought of Edward. They had barely begun, there was so much that waited for them, and now he didn't know if he'd ever see Ed again. He'd left for a mission, with no way of contacting him for days. Would Edward know that he was gone? How long had it been now? How long had he been kept in this prison, waiting for his next torture? Without sight, or hearing, Roy had no concept of time. He had been showered and left to stand in the cold as the water trickled down him four times now. Was that days? Or weeks? He had no idea. He had been force fed meals, but it was irregular, and there was no real pattern to it so Roy couldn't use that to track the days he was losing. They hadn't attacked him, hadn't tried to get information out of him.

Nobody had told him anything about Riza, which meant that he had no idea if his Captain and oldest friend was dead or not. Surely not? She couldn't be. Roy didn't think that he would be able to keep going if he lost Riza too. Whenever he was dragged out of his cell to be washed, the voices would shout at him in Drachman. He couldn't remember the last time he'd heard his native language in any voice other than his own and he was beginning to think that he might never hear it again.

He had only seen his cell, not even given the right to see the room where he was showered and he felt himself slowly losing memory of how people looked, he couldn't remember what shade of amber Edward's eyes were, or the particular colour of red from the flowers in his back garden. On a rare occasion they would remove the blindfold and the dulled light would blind him, leaving him whimpering and cowering away in an attempt to hide from the burning brightness.

It was at these times that he'd gotten glimpses of his naked body, of the bruises that littered his skin from the manhandling; of the way his ribs were too obvious now with weight loss. He could see the ashen colour of his already pale skin and he knew then that he was going to die. He was going to die in this cold, damp cell, starved and malnourished, stripped of his senses and his clothes and left to sit in his one filth and urine for days or weeks at a time. He was going to die never hearing Amestrian words again, he was going to die hearing the harsh barks of Drachman soldiers and he was never going to see Edward or his aunt or his team again.

These thoughts had haunted him, danced around his mind, mocking him with their cruelty and dodging out of the way whenever he tried to rid himself of them, laughing. Evenutally, Roy had stopped trying to fight the thoughts and the moment that he did, everything seemed to become more peaceful. He accepted that he would die here, had started to long for it really. When he was dead then he wouldn't have to suffer any more. Maybe there was an afterlife and Hughes was waiting for him, a stiff drink in his hand, eager to torment him forever more about his love for Edward.

That was nice, he liked that thought. He missed Hughes so much that it left him gasping during the nights. He'd never fully dealt with that death, and while each day he stumbled through eased the ache a little, it was still there in his gut, rotting away at his insides until he wasn't able to keep pushing it down again. He kept pushing himself forward, working towards changing this country into something that didn't kill its own citizens just for the sake of it. He was pushing to repay his sins, but he was tired now; so tired. It sounded nice to just lie down and go to meet Hughes. He could have a drink and catch up with his best friend. He would laugh about how he never did get himself a wife, but he did have a blissful week with Edward and that was better than he deserved. So much better.

God, he loved Edward so much that the thought of leaving him left a sharp agony in his chest and Roy sobbed, tears slipping down his cheeks at the thought of never seeing that perfect head of blonde hair again. He wanted to hug himself, to wrap his arms around his chest and squeeze until he got some kind of comfort but his hands were tied behind his back. They had lost sensation hours again, and were dead to him now, hanging limply and occasionally shooting sharp, needle-like pain up through his arm into his shoulder.

He wanted to go home and cry into Edward's neck.

He wanted to die.

He needed this all to end.

Chapter Text

The walls felt like they were suffocating him and he hated being here, trapped in this white room with that damn machine buzzing away in the background. If one more person came into this room and asked him the same stupid questions then he was going to break their faces. He didn't have time for this! The antiseptic scent clung to the walls and the bed and it burned in the back of his nose until it was all he could smell and it was all he could taste and he really did hate hospitals. When the door opened again, Edward turned to look at it with a growl. The doctor that entered was an older man, his white hair slicked back, Alphonse came in behind the doctor and offered Ed a smile that just made Edward frown more. Something was going on, he could see it in the worry of Al's eyes.

“Mister Elric.” The doctor greeted, and Ed glared at the man before turning to Al.

“Why the hell am I still in here, Al? Its been three days!”

Al moved around the doctor, coming closer to Ed and when he reached out to take Edward's hand, he didn't have the ability to pull away. It was still a strange sensation, one that still brought the sting of tears to his eyes. Edward didn't think he'd ever be able to fully appreciate the miracle that was his baby brother in the flesh.

“They are just being safe, Brother!” Al said, giving Edward's hand a squeeze and Ed just scowled at the doctor instead.

“You attempted to commit suicide, Mister Elric. I would be failing in my duty of care to you if I did not look deeper into this issue. Your mental health has to be assessed and monitored and only then will...”

“I had a minor lapse in judgement.” Ed argued, slicing his hand through the air to cut the doctor off. When Edward glared at the older man, he heard Al give a tired sigh, and the doctor just raised an eyebrow at him.

“A minor lapse in judgement that meant you threw yourself off a bridge, Mister Elric?” The doctor scoffed, picking up the chart at the bottom of Ed's bed and flicking through the pages even as Al tried to silently calm his brother down. The doctor's tone had lit the match to his temper, and Edward wanted to smack the arrogant son of a bitch.

“I'm not suicidal!” Edward shouted it, glaring at the doctor and shrugging off Al's comforting hand. “I fucked up, okay? I made a mistake, but I'm fine. I'm here and I'm not going to do it again. So just go do your damn job and get me the hell out of this dump. I have stuff that I need to do!”

“I am doing my job. My job is to ensure that you...”

“Shut up.” Edward snapped, interrupting the doctor again, turning to look at Al instead. “Get me out of here, Al. I don't have time to be locked up in some stupid hospital. I need to go North and you know it!” Sitting around here was just making him agitated and restless and he needed out. He needed to get some fresh air and he needed to find Roy. Alphonse held his gaze for a while before he sighed and nodded slightly. That made Edward grin wickedly. Nobody was able to stand up to both the Elric brothers and Edward knew that he would be discharged by the doctor within the next few hours.

He had been right, and when they had left together, Al told him that Winry had been pulling all nighters to make him winter automail for going up to Briggs with, but he was suspiciously quiet whenever Edward asked if they would be staying with the Madame while he was away. It made an uneasy weight settle in his gut, he hated it when Alphonse avoided the subject like that, and he knew that he'd have another battle on his hands before he was able to head out after Roy and the team. Ed knew his brother, and if Al was avoiding telling him where they would be staying, Edward knew that his brother was planning on coming North with him.

Edward waited until Al had let them both into the apartment before he turned to give his brother a very pointed stare, blocking his path and crossing his arms over his chest. “Al, what are you planning?”

To his credit, Al did look guilty at being caught out, and Edward knew that his brother would have done anything to avoid outright lying to him, but he still wasn't happy with the outcome. He was about to make that very obvious when he heard footsteps approaching him from the kitchen. When he turned to meet Winry's eyes, Al slipped past him and Edward snarled quietly to himself, turning on them both.

“No way!” He snapped, shaking his head, glaring between them. “You are not coming with me. Either of you! Its not safe, Alphonse. We've discussed this.”

“No!” Al snapped, his normally soft voice loud enough that it stunned Ed into silence. “Stop it Brother! You discussed it, you told us what we were to do. You told Madame Christmas that she was to look after us, but that's not up to you. If it wasn't for me today, you'd still be locked up in that hospital for trying to kill yourself so if you think for a second that I will let you travel North with some death wish without us there then I'll kick your ass myself!”

“Besides, you'll need to take me along in case something goes wrong with your automail.” Winry added, offering Ed a small smile, that was only a fraction smug. It still pissed him off, but he knew before he'd even stepped through the doors that he'd lost this fight. Sighing, Edward just nodded at them both, and was rewarded with victorious grins from them. “Perfect. Now that that is settled, go wash up for dinner. Its almost ready. Al phoned to tell me that you were getting out today so I made some of Granny's stew for you.”

That did make Edward smile, as he let Al drag him away to wash up for dinner. They drove him mad, this strange little family that he had gotten himself, but he loved them both so much that it hurt at times. He really needed to start letting them both in, and while he didn't want them going North with him, a part of him was happy about it. At least then he wouldn't need to leave them at risk, what with Ethan roaming around trying to make his life hell. This way at least Ed knew that they would be safe.

-

Edward wanted to get moving straight away. He wanted to get on the first train North and would have barely paused to pack a bag if he had gotten his own way. As it was though, he was forced to wait another day and he was restless and only just had control over his temper by the time they had gotten the train. Al had talked him down from running straight back out the door, forcing him to sit and eat dinner and then running him a bath with far too many bubbles and pouting until Ed gave in and did as he was asked.

While his baby brother was using his powers for evil, Winry had been finishing up on his new Briggs approved automail and the attachment of that had successfully drained the last of his energy and fight as the sharp flare of agony screamed along his body. He'd fallen into a restless sleep after that, and had slept until morning so by the time he'd woken up, Alphonse and Winry had finished the last of what they needed and where happy to leave almost from the minute that Edward rolled out of his bed. Alphonse had gotten train tickets while Ed had stood with Winry, twitchy with his need to be on the move, to be heading somewhere. The thought of being stuck on the train was making him feel ill, he needed to run, he felt the restless urge in his legs; the logical part of his brain shut those urges down though, he couldn't run to Briggs from Central. He just needed to sit it out, and he would be there soon enough. If anything, he needed to appreciate the relative warmth of Central before he was plunged into snow and ice and the bitter cold of the North.

A hand on his shoulder pulled him from his thoughts and Edward turned to look at his brother, an instant spike of panic in his gut. What if they couldn't get tickets? What if he had to stay here in this damned city for longer? The thoughts vanished when he saw the tickets in Al's hand, and Edward silently cursed himself for his anxiety. What had gotten into him? Edward took the offered tickets from his brother and was able to find them a relatively empty carriage without too much difficulty. After helping Alphonse put the bags in the overhead compartment above their seats, Edward slid into one of the seats, resting his head against the window as Al and Winry sat opposite him.

The anxiety spiked again, and Edward shut his eyes to force it down, muttering something about taking a nap when Al asked if he was okay. His brother wouldn't buy it, Edward knew that, but Al didn't push the matter and instead he just reached out and silently took Ed's hand in his own. Al's hand was soft and warm and human in Ed's left one, and the simple touch of skin to skin was enough to soothe the jagged edges of Ed's mental state. He kept his eyes closed, focusing on the rocking of the train carriage and of the gentle circles that Al was running over his knuckles with his thumb. Edward wasn't sure when he drifted off, but he knew that with his family around him, he was safe to do so, and then soon, he'd have Roy back and he would end anyone that tried to take him away again.

They took the train as far as they could take it, and then there had been a car waiting for them. As it turns out, Winry had called ahead while Edward slept off the exhaustion of his automail replacement and Havoc had agreed to pick them up from the station, so he didn't have to try and talk his way into getting a lift to Briggs and then being attacked at the door like the last time when he and Al had come this far North before the Promised Day. Ed helped to load their bags into the car and then sat in the front, letting Al and Winry sit together in the back.

“Tell me everything, Havoc. I need to know every little detail.” Ed said the moment the Lieutenant pulled the car away, an unlit cigarette behind his ear. He just nodded, as though he'd been expecting the demand. “Its just Hawkeye and Mustang that are missing? Do we think Drachma has them?”

“It wasn't a risky mission, it was supposed to be just some talks.” Havoc said with a nod, sighing as he continued, “Falman went with them, but he was hit in the back of the head and has no memory of what happened from there. He woke up alone in the outpost where the meetings were, but Hawkeye and the General weren't there. It was supposed to be a simple meeting. Pretty sure the Chief would have went alone he was that confident that nothing was going to happen, but you know him. He's paranoid to a fault, and Hawkeye wasn't about to let him out of her sight.

Not that it matters at all because we have heard nothing from either of them since, and any tracks that were left by trucks were gone by the time Falman woke up and called Briggs. Damn snow is a bitch to work in, I don't know how these guys do it. We're all miserable here, and General Armstrong has all of us working on repairs around the command building when we should be looking for Mustang.”

“General Armstrong is looking for them though, right?” Al asked from the back seat and Edward glanced back at his brother and Winry with a concerned frown. He knew that there was tension between the two generals, but surely not enough that Olivier Armstrong would just leave Roy to his fate? The thought pissed him off, and Edward curled his hands into fists in his lap as he turned to glare out the front window at the snowy landscape. Havoc just shrugged in reply to Al, not picking up on Edward's silent fury.

“Whatever she's doing doesn't matter now. We'll find him, we'll find both of them!” Ed snarled the words, anger over the while situation burning in his chest. “We have to, and I won't let anyone get in my way.” Edward's words were met with nods and a silent but steady resolve. If anyone doubted if they would find Riza and Roy, then nobody spoke those doubts out loud. It wouldn't have ended well for anybody that dared to question him in that moment.

-

The phone let out a shrill wail that interrupted the silence in General Armstrong's office and the Ice Queen shot a cold look at the offending object even as Major Miles answered it in his usual polite and business-like manner. She tuned him out, turning her attention back to the maps that were laid out in front of her. She had gotten word that Fullmetal was on his way, one of Roy's men was away at that very moment to collect the alchemist and she knew that he would be a brat the moment that he stormed into her fort.

Olivier knew that something was going on between Mustang and Fullmetal; she was surprised, honestly. She didn't think that either were that way inclined, let alone have those feelings toward each other. As it seemed though, they did and she scolded herself for being surprised by the matter. Of course someone like Mustang wouldn't be fussy about his romantic partners. She was surprised by his sloppiness though, getting involved with a subordinate was risky, and Mustang should know better.

“Sir?” Miles' voice pierced her concentration again and she looked up at him, raising an eyebrow in query as she looked at the phone in his hand still. “You should take this.”

Olivier sighed loudly but moved to take the phone regardless. “What is it?” She asked abruptly, tracing a finger over the map in front of her, not fully paying attention to the phone as she balanced it between her ear and her shoulder as she returned to looking for clues to where Mustang and his adjunct could have been taken.

“Hello? My name is Alex Crowley. I'm a doctor from Drachma.” A female voice spoke softly, almost hesitant and Olivier rolled her eyes to herself. “Are you in charge of this command?”

“Obviously. What does a doctor from Drachma want with Briggs?” Olivier snapped, turning more of her attention towards the call rather than the map in front of her.

“I shouldn't be calling at all, they'll kill me if they find out.” The woman's voice was quiet and fast; she was no doubt nervously checking her surroundings. “They brought a woman to me, but she needs a hospital. She has been stabbed, and is malnourished. I fear that her injury is infected and she'll die without the proper help. She is a solider, but they never gave me a name. A Captain in your military if I understand correctly.”

“A blonde woman? Was she with a man with dark hair? Where are they?” Olivier snapped, just as she heard a crash from the outer office. She hastily waved Miles away to check on it as she grabbed a pen and some paper. “Tell me where they are and I'll do what I can to ensure your safety.”

“We're at an old mining town. It's been abandoned for some time now I believe, but there is a large building, I want to say that it was once a prison. There was a man but I haven't seen him since they brought me the woman, I don't even know if he is alive still.” As the doctor spoke, Olivier scanned the map in front of her, looking for mining towns and prisons close to Mustang's last known location. She found one, the only prison close by was just outside of an old mine. The military no doubt used the prisoners to do the dangerous mining work. It was just as she found the location on the map that the door to her inner office was thrown open and in stormed a fiery blonde, with a look that would kill painted on his face. The General met his golden eyes without flinching, glaring him down as she thanked that doctor, finishing the brief conversation before hanging up.

“The next time you dare to barge into my office like that Fullmetal I will end you, do you understand that?” She bit the words out at him, and it didn't take a genius to see the scared anger in his expression. Behind him stood his brother, the similarity striking, and a blonde girl who she vaguely recalled was his mechanic. “As the highest ranking officer of Mustang's pathetic team still cluttering up my command, I expect you to follow orders and to keep those useless dogs on a leash. Am I understood?”

“I need to find Mustang and Hawkeye, so you can shove your orders right up...”

“Brother!”

Olivier slapped her hands down onto the desk, the sound of it loud enough to startle the brothers from their bickering before it started. “I have a location for where your commander will be. You will listen to me, and you will follow my orders and ensure that your team does so also or so help me, Fullmetal, I will leave Mustang there to rot. Am I understood?”

Edward flinched visibly at her words, but he didn't speak back like she had almost expected him to. He had grown up a little since she had last saw him that was clear, but she could see the urge to argue at war within himself. After a long moment, Edward nodded, his anger seeping away from him.

“You know where he is?” Edward asked, his words so softly spoken that he could barely hear them himself. When Armstrong nodded, Edward felt like the world was pulled out from under his feet and he dropped into a chair by the desk, his hands shaking. Olivier watched him closely as his brother and friend moved to his sides, taking his hands in their own. Her office was safe, but he couldn't act like this in front of just anyone, not if they wanted to keep their relationship a secret. Olivier also noticed fading bruises on the younger man's neck and found herself disgusted at the idea that they could both be so naïve to think that was professional. Why would Mustang think that it was okay to so clearly mark Edward as his own?

“You need to get a grip of yourself.” She barked, getting the attention of everyone in the room, thankful that Miles had shut the door behind him as he left. “Your feelings will get one or both of you killed. Don't be so open about them. Get it together, and go get your team. It seems that Hawkeye is in urgent need of a doctor.”

“And Roy? Is he okay?” Edward asked, instantly on his feet when Olivier moved to leave the room. She sighed softly. She didn't want to tell him that she had no idea if Mustang was even alive. She didn't want Edward to have to feel that pain. Not after she knew what it felt like. She had never let her feelings get so intertwined since Buccaneer, she couldn't go through that again, and she prayed silently that Edward wouldn't have to go through it with Mustang.

“Get your team ready, Fullmetal.”

Chapter Text

Edward had managed to get Alphonse and Winry to stay at Briggs while he took the team out on the mission to get Roy and Riza back from the location that General Armstrong gave him. He was fairly confident that it was her harsh words about how they would both just get in the way and slow everyone down that had made them stay behind; but Olivier was right, Winry couldn't fight so would just get in the way, and Alphonse was still too weak to be of much use to any of them in his current state. When they had begrudgingly agreed to be left behind, Edward had felt like a boulder had been lifted from his shoulders and he was able to sigh a breath of relief.

It hadn't taken him long to get the team together, and together with Mustang's team, Edward headed out towards the town that General Armstrong had told him about. She had taken a team of her own and they had went out to search a different section of the prison. They all had radios on them, tuned into the same station and each had an earpiece to help them communicate with other if need be. The comms were silent for the moment, Fuery was in charge, safe in a guard tower with two of Armstrong's men watching out for him as he made sure that they would be able to talk to the other team. Edward had Breda, Havoc and Falman with him, each moving silently through the prison hallways in search of any sign of life.

The prison was derelict, the only light was that of the sun bouncing off the snow covered landscape out of the windows. The bright white of which left the prison looking dirtier than it was as it shone against the grey bricks of the walls and the dirt and grime that covered almost every surface. Cobwebs clung to the corners of the walls and there was a chill that seeped into everything, leaving Ed shivering further into his coat. Edward led the team down corridor after corridor, checking each room without finding any signs of life.

Havoc finally stumbled upon something, just as Edward was about to give up all hope, but it didn't leave him feeling too optimistic about what lay ahead. The room that Havoc found was small and dark, only lit by the light from the hallway that came through the now open door. In the middle of the room there were chains having from the ceiling, and below that was a pool of water that was beginning to freeze over. Edward moved to the puddle, poking at it with an automail finger and cracking a thin layer of ice in two, watching as the separate sections floated away.

“What the hell is this place?” Breda asked, voicing the concern on everyone's find.

“Boss! What's that?”

Edward looked over in the direction that Havoc was pointing, pushing up onto his feet and moving to the corner of the room to pick up the shining metallic object. He knew what it was before he even turned it over in his hand. An Amestrian pocket watch. The mark of a state alchemist. It was old, scratched and worn in places, but he would know that damn watch anywhere. He had seen it so many times over the years. “Its Roy's watch.” He said, so quietly that he didn't think that the team had heard him.

Wrapping his fist around the watch, Edward took a deep breath – Roy was here, he had to be. He forced himself to breathe deeply before he slipped the watch into his pocket and turned to leave the room, Roy's men following him without question. The fact that they would follow him so easily didn't sit well with him. They were trained to do that, Edward had a higher rank and because of that alone the team would follow him, but it didn't make sense to him because he had nowhere near the amount of experience that they all had. Why should they follow him?

“Edward.” Armstrong's voice sounded tinny over the earpiece. He stopped and looked back at Roy's team, all of them wearing the same grim expression. “We have found Captain Hawkeye, no sign of Mustang yet.”

“I've found his watch. Is the Captain okay?” Edward replied, letting out a small breath. At least Riza was safely found.

“She's weak and injured, but she assures me that she will live. Patching her through to you just now.” Armstrong replied before there was some background noise.

“Edward?”

“Captain!” Ed exclaimed, letting himself smile. “Thank god you're alive. What the hell happened?”

“I'm not sure. One moment we were at the meeting, the next all hell broke loose. They got me and the General. They were all Drachman, but they refused to let us know what they wanted. They kept us together for the first day, but then took me away the second one and I haven't seen him since. They hit him with a gun twice, he'll have gotten a concussion but I have no idea if he is even alive. I'm sorry Edward. I wish I could be of more help.”

Edward felt his stomach drop as Riza spoke, nodding even though she wouldn't be able to see him as he continued down the hallway, checking each and every door. Empty prison cell after empty cell greeted them. “Don't worry, Captain. We'll get him.” Edward told her, hoping that he sounded more confident than he felt. He said his goodbyes and then returned his full attention to the mission. There was two doors left, but Edward was pulled aside when he went to open one; he met Havoc's grin with a raised eyebrow and a scowl.

Breda opened the door, him and Havoc darting in with guns drawn to subdue any threat, refusing to let Edward go first. They both froze, Havoc cursing under his breath and that one moment had Edward's heart stuttering. Was it Roy? Had they found him? He pushed past, hastily trying to get into the room to see what had shocked the two soldiers and he froze also when he saw it.

Roy was lying slumped on the floor, his skin was pale, too pale, and his hands where every inch of him was on show. Chains cemented into the wall ran down to his shackled wrists, both of which were bruised and bloody; hinting at how he'd had fought against them. The hint of ribs showed Edward that he hadn't eaten well since he was missing, and the bruising around his chest boiled the anger that Edward felt rising in his stomach. There was a blindfold over his face, blocking out his commander's vision and a heavy looking set of headphones. Whoever had done this had starved Roy of his senses.

“Go find clothes, blankets, something!” Edward demanded to his team, his anger getting the better of him for a moment. He waved a dismissive hand towards the door. “Something I can transmute into an outfit for him.”

Edward moved towards Roy slowly, cautious that the older man would probably freak out at any touch. Kneeling in front of Roy, Edward reached out, his hand stopping just short of him, his automail steady even as his flesh and bone hand shook with his emotions. Chewing on his lip, Edward nodded to himself and then took the headphones off first, pausing for a moment as Roy flinched, his breathing hinting at the fact that he was waking up. Edward took a moment to breathe and then carefully took off Roy's blindfold, the movement fully waking Roy and the man jerked away.

The fear that sparked through those dark eyes killed Edward inside and he instinctively reached out, flesh fingers paused in the air as he stopped himself from actually touching Roy. A blanket appeared over Ed's shoulder and was delicately draped over Roy's hips, covering his legs and giving him some privacy. The moment of fear and hatred only lasted seconds, but as Edward looked into those terrified eyes, years could have passed him by.

It was only once the fear faded, slowly being replaced with questioning hope, that Edward reached out, clapping and ridding Roy of his shackles. His human wrist was caught in cold fingers and Edward let out a slightly startled gasp as his eyes met Roy's again. He offered his lover a small comforting smile, forcing himself to not collapse into those arms. He couldn't give in to his urges, not with half of Roy's team standing behind him.

“Ed?” Roy's voice was quiet, rough and desperate and it broke something inside of Edward so spectacularly that the blonde could only nod in confirmation that he was real. He felt the tears sting his eyes and he wanted nothing more than to hug Roy, but he couldn't. All he could do was try to force his feelings down and offer Roy a smile.

“It's me. We're here...” Edward started, his voice shaking with the effort of keeping himself from sobbing, but his words trailed off when Mustang pulled him closer, roughly kissing him as his hands moved to cup his face. Edward tried to fight it, he tried to pull away; he really did, but Roy was like air to him and the moment the quiet whine left his lips, Edward knew that he was done for. He collapsed against Roy, kissing him with everything he had felt over the last few weeks, giving this man every last piece of himself.

A throat was cleared behind them and it was at that noise that Roy pulled away a little; enough to keep their mouths apart, but not too far. He rested his forehead against Ed's and let out a sigh that made Edward choke back his sob. Tears slipped down both his cheeks as Roy pulled his head away to look at the team behind Ed, but he pulled Edward closer, hugging him to his bare chest and the blonde didn't try to fight it any more. He wrapped his arms around Roy, tucked his face into his lover's neck and took a deep breath to calm himself down. He couldn't start crying here. He needed to keep it together.

“Well... That wasn't quite the response we were expecting to see.” Havoc mocking voice was met with an amused snort from Breda.

“Edward!” Fuery's voice came out over their comms, panic laced in every word. “We have trouble coming. I can't see who, but definitely military. You gotta get out of there!”

“Shit.” Edward muttered, pulling away from Roy and wiping at his eyes to rid them of any lingering tears. He clapped, activating his alchemy and pressed his hands to Roy's thighs, focusing on the blanket that covered them. The array was simple enough to him, he'd mended his clothes often enough growing up that making the material into a pair of trousers for Roy was simple enough. The thing that made it more complicated was the warmth of Roy's thighs that radiated up to meet his hands.

Once the transmutation was done Edward stood, helping Roy unsteadily to his feet, turning to look at the team instead of letting his eyes linger on Roy's chest and all of the scars that were so new to him but looked old to Roy. “Breda, Falman, come help him.” Ed ordered, moving as they came to take a side each of Roy, pulling his arms over their shoulders. “Havoc, take point. Keep them safe.”

“What you gonna be doing, Boss?” Havoc asked, gun still drawn. Edward smirked, digging his hands into his pockets and pulling out two white gloves. He tossed them to Roy, who caught them easily, smiling at the blonde when he recognised them as his own.

“You brought my gloves?” Roy asked, raising an eyebrow and Ed met his gaze with a fierce grin. Roy was about to call him out on his cocky attitude when his gaze dropped to Ed's neck and the fading bruises that marked his skin. Anger was hot in his gut and he wanted to march over to the blonde and demand answers, but he barely had the strength to stand. “What the hell happened to your neck, Fullmetal?”

Edward tugged on his collar, pulling the fabric up to cover the bruises as he turned his back to the team and headed towards the door. He muttered something, but it was too quiet for them to make out. He was stopped in the doorway by a new presence. One that Roy knew all too well. Ed looked up at the man in front of him and took an unsteady step back, but none of Roy's team raised their weapons. Why would they? This man was Amestrian, wearing the blue of their military, he seemed like a friend, and Roy silently cursed his team as he tugged on his gloves.

Edward looked up at the man in front of him, fear and confusion fighting for dominance in his mind; the ongoing battle slowing his thoughts down to a stop. “Ethan...” He heard himself mumbled, blinking stupidly as a hand was raised to his face. Edward's brain caught up with him before the fingers could actually touch him and he jerked away, but he didn't get far because his left wrist was caught in Ethan's hand. “What the hell...?”

“I didn't want for it to end like this, love.” Ethan said, laughter in his voice as he pulled Ed to him, forcefully kissing him. The younger blonde pulled away, shoving his hands against Ethan's chest to put more distance between them as his stomach tightened in disgust. “Don't fight me. You want this, Edward. You're beautiful, golden; like a star. A golden star!”

Edward froze in Ethan's hold, his body tensing as memories came flooding back at those words, at that pet name. Memories of Hal, of the torture in the basement. He could feel the sting of the whip against his back as it tore his flesh open. He could feel the warmth of the blood running down his body, sticky at the backs of his thighs. He could smell the whiskey on the breath by his ear as a weight settled on his chest. He could hear the moans as Hal entered him, painfully forcing his way inside of Ed. He could taste the salt in his tears as he shook his head, fighting and struggling; begging for it to stop.

Edward heard the snap of fingers, heard the pained scream as Hal – no, Ethan – let go of him. He felt his feet stumble away from the heat of flames, his shredded back hitting something so suddenly that he spun around and almost lost his balance, his eyes frantically searching for a way out, for a weapon, for some where to hide. An arm wrapped around his back, pulling him closer and a voice whispered to him. A gentle voice that kept telling him that he was okay, that he was safe. The voice belonged to a body, the one that he buried his face into. A body with the scent of home clinging to it.

“Its Roy, you're safe Ed.” The voice cooed to him, a hand curling gently around the back of his head, holding him close as the screams died down to pained whimpering. “I've got you, Edward. Nothing will hurt you. Come back to me, Fullmetal.”

Reality broke when Edward did, and the memories faded, leaving him clinging to Roy as he sobbed, shaking and terrified. The dank cell surrounded him again, Roy held him, stroking his hair and comforted him. Ethan whimpered on the ground behind him, as Falman and Breda pulled him to his feet. Havoc had his gun drawn, aimed at the man even as he turned to Ed and Roy.

“What should we do with him, General?”

“We'll take him in for questioning. See what he knows about this place.” Roy said, his left hand still brushing its fingers through Ed's hair soothingly. Edward had managed to mostly pull himself together – his sobs easing off into occasional hiccups - and took that moment to pull his face out of Roy's chest to look back at Ethan. The fear stabbed at him, somehow – and he had no idea how – Ethan had known Hal. He knew that if he called Ed by that pet name that he would fall apart. Edward curled his hand into a fist at Roy's back, and felt the older man's eyes on him, but neither of them spoke.

“Do what you want! I won't talk and the Fuhrer will order you to step down, dog!” Hal laughed, his eyes ever leaving Edward's. “Hide behind Mustang if you want whore, it'll be all the more fun to bring him down into the dirt with you! You are nothing, Elric. Nothing but a cock loving slut. What will Mustang give you that Hal didn't? Huh? Do you think he cares? Don't be so fucking stupid, Elric. All that he cares about is fucking you until you're bloody and broken, just like Hal did. Its what you want isn't it? Isn't it?!”

“Get him out of here!” Mustang shouted the order, and Edward flinched a little beside him. Roy's team wasted no time in dragging Ethan from the roof, who continued to laugh and scream abuse but Edward tried to ignore him as Roy encouraged him to meet his gaze. “Try not to let his words get to you, Ed.” Mustang spoke softly, and Edward let his commander hold him in the silence of the cell for a moment or two longer.

“Roy, I'm so sorry.” Ed mumbled the words into Roy's bare chest, and he regretted it the moment the words were out because he could feel Roy moving back a step.

“What for? Edward, you have nothing to apologise for. We've been over this. Nothing that monster done to you was your fault. You're brilliant, Ed. You are beautiful, and smart, and caring. You're such a huge pain in my ass that I wouldn't even know what to do without you. I love you, Edward Elric, so trust me when I say that you have nothing to be sorry for.”

Roy kissed him then, and it wasn't like their most recent kiss. It was more. More loving, more fierce. More passionate and more careful. It was everything and it was nothing. It was the oxygen in his lungs and the carbon in his hair. It was the pulsing blood in his veins and the electrical currents in his brain. It was life. It was just more.

When Roy moved away, his lips wet from Edward's kiss, he smiled down at the blonde, brushing a rough thumb over swollen lips. “I will do anything I can to make sure that you are never hurt again, Edward.”

“I love you too, Bastard.” Edward muttered, his blush so hot against his face that he knew that Roy would be able to see it regardless of how dimly lit the cell was. “And damn right I'm huge.”

The laughter that met his ears was enough. It was enough to soothe the broken edges of his mental state. It was enough to ease the panicked beating of his heart and the twisting in his stomach. It was enough to let him know that maybe everything could be okay. The kiss that met his lips was just a bonus as Roy pulled him close, his hug just strong enough that it left Edward a little breathless, but that was okay. Roy did have a habit of leaving Ed a little breathless after all.

Chapter Text

Edward disappeared from the crowd almost the moment that they all made it back to Briggs, slipping off without being noticed. Roy and Riza were both back safe, and while Riza had been taken straight to a hospital in North City, Roy had been very adamant that he was fine to just be seen by the medic in Briggs. Roy was having a catch up with his team, taking in their reports and sharing information with General Armstrong's team. Ed knew that he should stick around, and a huge part of him didn't want to let Roy out of his sight but he needed away. He needed space to think and to just be alone. Roy was safe, Hawkeye was safe. That was all that mattered for the moment.

Edward slipped into his dorm room, one that General Armstrong had given him to use while he was staying in Briggs. One that he would normally have shared with Al, but his baby brother was sharing with Winry now. A little part of him hurt at that, at how fast things had changed, but he knew that he was just being silly. Al was an adult and they had spent all of their childhood living in each other's shadows, but things had to change at some point, right? Why not now?

Ed flopped down next to the bed, sitting with his back to it and leaning his head back against the softness of the mattress as his thoughts raced through his mind. Al wasn't abandoning him, he was just moving on with his life, and if Edward was honest with himself then he was grateful that it was at least with Winry. They had all known each other for so long now, for their whole lives. Ed knew that Winry would look after Al. They were good for each other, and along with how damn happy Al was whenever he so much as looked at Winry it was enough for Ed.

It was maybe for the best too, now he got his own space, his own dorm room to fall apart in. Tucking his knees up against his chest, Edward hugged them close, dropping his head onto his arms as he struggled to not scream. Thoughts that he would be better dead flooded into his mind and he shook his head fiercely in some sad attempt to rid the toxic ideas from his brain. They stayed though. It made sense if he thought about it. Al was happy with Winry, they had each other and all Ed seemed to do was get in the way and cause problems. Al was so pure, so damn good, that he would always come running to help Ed out, to fix what he broke and clean up the mess that he caused. It wasn't right though. Al should stay with Winry and leave Ed to sort out his own shit. Al shouldn't have to spend his life picking up after the mistakes his brother made.

A knock on the door jolted him from his misery and he jumped to his feet, adrenaline pulsing through his veins as he stared at the offending object. Fight or flight was never a contest for him, it was always fight and he was so on edge lately that the most simple of things set his reactions off. His hands were in fists at his sides as he moved silently over to the door, jumping at the second knock. He didn't want to open it. If he was silent enough then maybe whoever it was would go away. A dull thud sounded through the door and Ed leaned up to look through the peep hole but he couldn't see anyone. Which meant that whoever it was had chosen to lean against the door.

“Ed? Its me, open up.” The familiar voice called out to him through the door. “I know that you're in there.”

Sighing, and taking a moment to let his anxiety settle, Edward opened the door. He barely had time to fully open the door before Roy had pushed his way into the room, shutting the door behind him and pulling Ed into his body. Roy leant against the door, tugging Ed close and kissing him hard. Roy kissed him like it was the last thing he would ever do. Roy kissed him until Edward couldn't feel his knees, until his head was spinning with the need to breathe. It was too sudden when Roy pulled away again, but he kept Edward close, a hand slipping into his hair at the base of his skull and tugging him into a tight embrace.

Edward relaxed in Roy's arms, winding his own mismatched ones behind his commander's back as he buried his nose into Roy's neck. His scent was mixed with the metallic scent of blood that clung to his skin, but it was still him beneath it all and Edward needed that more than he wanted to admit to anyone. Roy seemed to sense that need because he tightened his hold around Edward and the blonde did his best to curl closer to Roy, needing to feel his body against his own. Needing the reminder that he was here and he was safe.

“How are you holding up, love?” Roy asked quietly, moving away so he could no doubt look for any hint of a lie on Edward's face – who, for his part, was just happy he managed to not let out a pathetic whine at the loss of contact between them. Roy didn't move far, his eyes trailing over Ed's body, taking all of him in.

“I'm fine.” Edward answered, too fast and too forced. He was sure the pitch of his voice was too high and he knew that he sounded too urgent but he didn't want to think about himself. He didn't know if he could look Roy in the eyes and tell him about how he'd been.

“Your brother told me, Ed.” Roy murmured, “What the hell were you thinking throwing yourself in that damn river?”

Edward flinched, unable to meet Roy's eyes and stepped back, out of reach and shook his head. He turned around, moving closer to the bed. Of course Al would tell Roy. He knew that his brother would just be looking out for him, but Roy didn't need that extra stress right now. He'd have found out sooner or later. Chris would have told him, or he would have noticed the payment request from his salary. He would have found out so why did Al have to tell him now?

“Al's a brat.” Was all Ed replied with. It was all he could reply with.

“He's worried about you.” Roy said sharply, and Ed forced himself to not wince at the tone, but kept his back to Roy. “Did you think about him when you pulled that stunt? Did you even stop to consider how he'd feel when they pulled your body out of the water? Did you consider how he'd feel in the potential months it could have taken to find you if the river washed you away? Do you know what that would have been like for him, or for Winry?”

“Shut up!” Edward shouted, spinning on his heel to glare at Roy. “They have each other! They don't need me. I love my brother more than anything so don't you dare try to imply that I didn't think of him, that I didn't consider him! He'd be better off in the long run, they both would! All I do is cause more messes for them to clean up.”

“So that makes it okay?” Roy shouted back at him, and Edward looked away from him with a scowl. “Do you want your brother to remember you like that? He'd have been called in to ID your bloated and blackened body. Do you want that to be how he remembers you? That's if they ever found your body, Ed! What if they didn't? Do you have any idea what it was like for any of us in the months that you were missing? Do you know how hard it was to force ourselves out of bed, to live out our lives as though there was nothing wrong?”

Edward turned his back to Roy now, tears stinging in his eyes. He didn't want to hear this, he just wanted to be alone. He didn't want to hear Roy shout at him, telling him what a shitty person he was. He pressed both hands to his eyes, shaking his head a little.

“It was hell, Edward!” Roy snapped, storming over and snatching Ed's arm, spinning him so that they were facing each other again and Edward glanced up at his lover, saw a flash of agony that was like a punch to the face and then glanced away, unable to meet Roy's eyes if he wanted to have any control over the tears that threatened to fall. “I can't talk for Al, or for Winry. I can only imagine what they felt. Me? I couldn't breathe without you. The guilt, knowing that I'd spent you on that mission, that it was my fault that you were even there. Knowing the things that happen in human trafficking and knowing that you were suffering because of me. I found the nightmares waking me through the night and I would pray that they killed you outright in stead of needing to suffer like that.”

“Stop it.” Ed muttered, swallowing down the lump in his throat.

“I obsessed over you, Edward. Every flash of blonde hair that wasn't you felt like a sucker punch. Every phone call, wishing I'd hear your voice and dreading it at the same time – terrified you'd call just to say goodbye, that I'd be too late. I barely slept, I couldn't eat. Everything tasted like grit knowing that you were gone. I fought with everything I had to get you back. I betrayed my alchemy – again – and tortured the fucker that dared to take you until I found out where he'd sold you. I would have killed everyone in my way to get you home to us safely. So you could, what, toss yourself into a river when things got a bit hard?”

“Roy, please...” Edward barely heard his own words, tears pouring down his face with no control of his own. He covered his face with his hands, shaking his head as the sob tore its way out of his body, loud and undignified. Strong arms encircled him again and he collapsed into Roy, snaking his arms around Roy's back, his fists gripping the uniform jacket he was wearing. When his knees gave out, Roy held him up, guided him to the bed and sat down on the mattress, tugging Edward into his lap as the blonde wailed.

A hand was in his hair, twirling strands of the short length around his fingers, Roy's spare hand rubbing up and down Ed's flesh arm as he held him close to his chest. Roy was silent for a long time, letting Edward cry and murmuring nonsense to soothe him, kissing his temple or his cheek or the crown of his head as he continued to play with Ed's hair and gently stroke his arm. “I'm sorry.” Ed whined, gasping between his sobbing. “I'm so sorry. God, Roy, I'm such an idiot. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.”

“Hush.” Roy cooed, leaning down to kiss Edward's lips. “Its okay. I've got you. I'm right here, Edward and I love you. I can't stand the thought of losing you because I love you damn much Fullmetal.”

Roy shifted their positions, kicking off his shoes and then taking Ed's off before moving them both to lie down on the bed. The bed itself wasn't big, barely a double and not nearly enough room for two grown men to lie in, but that didn't seem to bother Roy in the slightest as he lay down, tugging Ed down with him. The blonde curled up against Roy, half lying on him, his head tucked into Roy's neck and a hand over his chest, feeling the beat of his heart as Roy encircled an arm around Edward, kissing his forehead and whispering gentle words to him as Edward slipped into a dreamless sleep.

-

Roy woke up slowly, confusion fogging his mind. What was the warm weight surrounding him? Another person? Why did he have someone tucked in at his side, curling around him protectively while he was in this cell? And he was on a bed – which wasn't as soft as his own, but it was better than being chained up and left on the cold, hard ground in his Drachman chamber. Slowly bits of his memory seeped back into his mind. Ed had found him, his team was there. They'd all gotten back safely to Briggs, Riza was being seen by doctors in North City, and Ed was with him again.

Opening his eyes, Roy looked down at the blonde head that rested next to his, slowly and carefully rolling onto his side so he could watch Edward sleep without disturbing him. Edward looked so peaceful while he slept and Roy reached out to lightly brush a lock of hair away from the younger man's face with a fond smile. While Ed suited his hair long, he was stunningly attractive with it chopped short like it was, and behind the pain he felt for Ed's reasoning for cutting it all off, Roy found himself darkly amused that Edward thought that without his long hair that he would be any less attractive. Dark lashes fanned out over strong cheekbones, the skin tanned despite summer becoming a distant memory. A strong jaw and a mouth that Roy knew from experience could do wonderful things – as well as piss him off so much he could hear his own blood pounding through his veins.

Roy's gaze wandered down from Ed's sleeping face, his eyes lingering on the fading bruises on Ed's neck and he frowned. They were pale, almost gone from memory, but it was obvious what they were and Roy felt sick at the thought. He and Ed hadn't fully committed to each other, not in so many words at least, but Roy knew this man sleeping next to him. He had watched Ed grow and know how fiercely loyal he was. He knew that Edward wouldn't cheat, and it was that firm belief in his lover that made Roy so sure that those marks on Ed's neck weren't there by any choice of his own.

“Watching me sleep is really distracting, Bastard.” Ed mumbled sleepily and Roy smiled as he met those golden eyes as they slowly blinked open.

“When you're so still and silent like that how can I not appreciate you?” Roy replied snarkily, earning himself a kick in the shin that lacked any intent to cause harm. It more Ed tapping his flesh foot against Roy's leg as he tutted, a healthy pink blush flaring up across his cheeks.

“Shut up.” Ed muttered, snuggling in closer and leaning in to kiss Roy. The kiss was chaste, and Roy smiled against Ed's lips, pulling him in to a tighter embrace. It was only when Ed was pressed fully against him that he could feel the blonde's morning arousal and instantly his own spiked at the feeling of Edward's hardness against his thigh. Ed's blush darkened as he must have sensed Roy's thoughts, giving Roy a slight pout that only made the older man want to bite that lower lip.

“Well good morning to you too.” Roy purred, smirking at the delightful way that Ed shivered against him just at his voice. Roy rolled them over, leaning over Ed as he encouraged the younger man to lie on his back, his lips moving to suck Ed's earlobe. The breathless moan the blonde let out was enough to fuel his own need and he felt his dick twitch with want. Mismatched hands worked their way up Roy's bare chest, fingers brushing over fresh and old wounds alike. The steel was cold to the touch and sent a shiver up Roy's spine that Ed just smirked at.

Roy kissed down along Ed's jaw, his tongue darting out to taste his lover's skin and Edward sighed in appreciation. It was only as Roy's mouth reached Ed's neck that he paused, frowning slightly at the fading bruises. He pulled away a little, just enough that he was able to brush his fingers along the marks and Edward tensed beneath him. “Who did this to you?” Roy asked, trying to keep the anger from his tone. He didn't believe for a second that Ed let himself be claimed like this so willingly – not by anyone that wasn't Roy anyway – and the thought that Ed was attacked again in this manner made his blood boil.

Edward pushed away, turning his face from Roy to try and hide the wince that flashed through him, but Roy caught it and cursed himself silently. Of course Ed would pick up on Roy's anger and think that it was directed to him. “I'm sorry. I...” Edward started, pausing to let out a huff of breath and the look of agony in his eyes as he stared down at his hands killed Roy slowly.

Taking both of Edward's hands into his own, Roy leaned into Ed's gaze, offering him a small and reassuring smile, before reaching up to brush a strand of hair away from the younger man's face. Edward turned his cheek into Roy's hand and smiled when Roy brushed a thumb across those gorgeous cheekbones. “Edward, I don't believe for a second that those bruises are something you willingly let happen, so don't apologise to me, okay?” Roy said, slipping his hand down to Ed's neck again. “It was Ethan, wasn't it?”

Edward just nodded slightly, refusing to meet Roy's eyes again.

Roy pulled him closer, kissing the bruises, licking Edward's skin and nipping gently with his teeth until Edward let out a breathless moan. The noise vibrated through Ed's throat to Roy's mouth and instantly he wanted to strip the blonde naked there and then. A sudden thought struck Roy in that moment and he tugged Ed closer, rolling them both over so that Edward was on top and kissed up his neck to his lips to whisper, “I love you, Edward.”

“Bastard.” Edward moaned the word, thrusting his boxer covered hips into Roy's – making it very obvious how much they wanted each other. Roy wasted no time in slipping his hand between them, dipping his fingers into the waistband of Edward's boxers and smirking at the shiver that he was rewarded with. When Edward didn't move to stop him, Roy pushed his hand in further, palming at Ed's erection, thumbing over the precum leaking out and smearing it down Edward's shaft.

Their mouths crashed together and Roy wrapped his hand around Ed, letting the blonde thrust into him, swallowing his moans as he picked up his pace. Roy wanted to treasure this man, he wanted to make their sex last for hours. He wanted to take Edward in every way that he could, he wanted to feel Ed inside of him. He needed to hear those delicious moans, sounds that were enough to make Roy rock hard just at the thought of. He needed to make Edward scream as they fucked, he needed the whispered words as they pushed each other into bliss.

Flipping them over again Roy kissed down Ed's body, his hand never failing in tormenting his lover. He paused long enough to slip Edward's boxer's off and then without any warning took all of his length into his mouth, smirking around Ed's dick as the other man gasped, metal hand digging into the covers as his flesh one clenched in Roy's hair. “Fuck! Roy, oh god.”

Roy slipped a hand into his own pants, slicking his fingers with his own leaking fluid as he swallowed Edward down, teasing him with expert skill. Once his hand was coated in his own precum he slid his finger to Ed's entrance, slowly working him open. Making eye contact with the blonde beneath him was almost his undoing and Edward jerked his hips up into Roy, forcing his cock further down his commander's throat. Roy took that moment to push a finger inside of Edward slowly, watching as the blonde writhed and bit down on his bottom lip, forcing himself to be as quiet as he could.

Roy thrust his finger into Edward slowly, curling the digit to reach that one spot, even as he continued to suck and pump his hand down Edward's length. The moment he hit that spot Edward shuddered, gasping and biting into his lip hard enough that he drew a bead of blood as he came hard. Warmth hit the back of Roy's throat as Edward lost control. He kept sucking at Edward, kept his finger inside him until the wave of bliss was well and truly over and even then he was reluctant to stop. Letting Edward's cock slip out of his mouth with a wet pop, Roy kept slowly fingering Edward's ass, smirking as the blonde squirmed, moaning softly even through his clenched jaw.

“You're so fucking beautiful, Edward.”

Ed managed to meet Roy's eyes, letting out a breathless laugh as he tugged his lover up the bed, forcing him to remove his finger as Edward smashed their lips together, pulling Roy close enough it was almost like he was trying to force their bodies to become one. “Didn't know that you knew how to swear, Mustang. Its pretty fucking hot when you do.”

It was Roy's turn to laugh then, a sound that was lost to Edward's kiss. He loved this brilliant man; loved him so much that it hurt sometimes, and Roy knew that would do everything in his power to make sure that Edward was never hurt again. He would do anything that Edward asked of him, without hesitation or question. It was in that moment that Roy was fully aware of how well and truly screwed he was.

Chapter Text

“If you look at me one more time with that guilty look in your eyes, then I will shoot you where you stand, Sir.” Hawkeye informed Roy sternly from where she lay in the hospital bed. She looked thinner than he last remembered, even though it had only been a few weeks and she was paler than he liked. Lying against the white sheets, she looked frail and he knew that it was because of him that she was like this. If she hadn't been there trying to protect him then she wouldn't have been injured. If he'd taken his whole team then none of this would have happened, but he hadn't taken his whole team and now his Captain lay in a hospital looking so fragile that it killed him.

“Riza, I'm so...”

“If you tell me that you're sorry I will also shoot you, Roy. You can't blame yourself for this. I will be fine.” She told him, reaching out to take his hand into her own and giving it a squeeze. “You're not the one that stabbed me, Roy. You couldn't stop what happened.”

“I may as well have been the one to do it. You were there because of me, Captain, and that makes this my fault.”

“I knew the risks when I chose to follow you, and I don't regret them for one moment. So stop feeling sorry for yourself, Sir. Havoc told me about about happened when they found you. Roy, what happened? What did they do to you?” Hawkeye asked, watching as her oldest friend ran his fingers through his raven hair, not failing to notice the bruises that littered his torn wrists.

“I'm fine, Captain. What's a little bit of torture to a soldier?” Roy replied dryly, sighing when he saw the worried look that she was giving him. “I've been through worse.”

Riza nodded, looking away from him and down at the hand that she still held. She had promised to protect him and she'd failed, but she couldn't let herself wallow in that failure; not after just telling Roy off for it. He was right, he had been through worse and the important thing was that he was still here with them all. “How is Edward? Jean mentioned that he had an episode when Ethan came in.”

Roy growled at that, pushing his chair back with a loud scrape as he stood, fisting his hands at his side. Riza remained silent, watching as her superior was filled with anger so fierce that she hadn't seen it since his hunt for Hughes' killer. Roy paced to the hospital window, looking out into the snow covered landscape beyond. It was a long moment before he replied to her, but she knew that would eventually so she just watched his back until he managed to win control back from his rage.

“Edward's neck is littered with bruises that Ethan gave him, so naturally Ed didn't respond well to his presence out there, but Ethan said something. He called Ed a golden star and it triggered something in Ed, I haven't tackled that particular issue yet with him so I don't know why that caused him to act how he did. Seeing him like that killed me, Captain.”

“He's safe now, Roy, but you know as well as I do that it will take time for him to recover from everything that has happened to him. He's been through a lot lately.” She said to the back of Roy's head, frowning when she heard him sigh.

“I know, but if anything he is getting worse. Alphonse had told me that Ed threw himself off a bridge while we were gone. I need to try and talk him into seeing someone about what happened to him. I don't want to risk him doing something like that again. They only reason that he's okay is that they saw him do it. Winry dove in after him and dragged him out.” Roy turned around then, crossing his arms over his torso and leaning back against the wall by the window.

“I have a bad feeling about all of this, Hawkeye. Ethan seemed to believe that the Fuhrer would protect him, and he knew of that bastard Hal by name.”

“You think the Fuhrer knows about this? That's he's behind it all?” Riza asked, sitting up straighter. “That's a serious alligation to make, Sir. I'd watch who you share that with for the moment, and where you say it. At least until we get proof. After everything with Bradley, I don't think your career would hold up if you remove another Fuhrer from power.”

Roy knew that she was right, but he needed to do something about it. If the Fuhrer was behind this, if he was allowing his men to be sold into slavery then he needed to do something about it. He couldn't sit back and let this slid, not when he saw its affects on Edward so clearly. Not after everything that Edward had been through. He nodded at her regardless.

“Then I suggest you get better soon and work towards getting me proof. I will make them pay for Edward's suffering.”

“Yes sir!”

Riza offered him a salute and a grin nod and Roy was almost able to pretend that everything was fine; that he was just discussing politics with her, but things weren't so simple. Things were a mess, and even just the movement of lifting her arm to salute him clearly hurt because Roy watched the flinch she gave, and the flash of pain behind those eyes. He frowned at her, and she just stared back at him stubbornly, refusing to lower her arm until he acknowledged her gesture regardless of her own discomfort. With a sigh, Roy nodded and Riza slowly dropped her arm.

A knock at the door interrupted them and they both turned to it when it was pushed open a little, allowing a head of golden hair to poke through. Edward grinned when he saw them both and fully stepped into the hospital room, shutting the door behind him. “I wondered where you were hiding, Bastard.” He muttered, moving closer and offering Riza a small smile. “How are you holding up, Captain?”

Roy watched them talk, not really paying attention to what they were saying. His eyes roamed over Edward's body, his gaze lingering at the yellow bruises around his neck, before his eyes flicked back to Riza, to where he knew her wound was stitched in her side. He was going to kill Ethan for this. Somehow, Roy would find out how he was involved in all of this and he would burn him for hurting the two most important people in his life like this. He would not stand for it.

A hand waved in front of his face, pulling him back to reality where Edward stood in front of him, frowning. Riza met his eyes over Ed's shoulders and Roy sighed inwardly at her smug look. If he didn't know better, he would say that she could read every thought that was going through his mind. She wouldn't approve of his murderous intent; nor would Ed. They were both better people that he could ever hope to be.

“I don't think I've ever seen you think so hard.” Edward said, smirking at Roy like the brat that he was. When Roy glared him, Ed just laughed, and Roy knew that all hope was lost. He'd do anything to hear that laugh for the rest of his days. “I'll be heading back to Central soon. I don't want Al missing any more of school and he's being stubborn and refusing to go without me.”

“An Elric being stubborn? That's unheard of.” Roy muttered sarcastically, only receiving a smack on the arm from his lover. “Guess Alphonse takes after his brother.”

“Shut up, bastard. Anyway, before I found you in here I had a few words with the Captain's doctor, and while she wasn't thrilled to be speaking to me, she did agree to transfer the Captain to someone in Central. She said that as long as you take it easy, Hawkeye, then the stitches should keep your injury safe. You'll be given pain meds and antibiotics to take for the infection but as long as you take them then she couldn't come up with a reason to keep you here.”

Roy watched as Riza smiled slightly, nodding at Ed's words and he couldn't help but share a knowing smile with her. They could both guess why the doctor wasn't thrilled to speak to Edward Elric. He was a tough person to cope with when it came to hospitals and apparently he was difficult even if he wasn't the patient. Roy couldn't say that he was surprised; he had been dealing with Edward's bad moods since he recruited a strong-willed child into the ranks of the army, and while Edward was more mature now in his adulthood, he had by no means gotten easier to handle.

“The doc did say that she would need a superior officer to sign some paperwork to allow her to discharge you though Captain.” Ed added, a cruel twinkle in his eyes as he grinned at Roy.

The older of the two men sighed, glaring at his lover before he looked over at Riza in the bed. “Hospitalised in a different city and you're still giving me stuff to sign, Captain? I'm starting to think that this is all just one awful dream.”

Edward's laugh as the blonde slipped out of the room was enough to take the bite out of Roy's words though, and he had to stop himself from following automatically. Now was not the time to drag his subordinate into an empty room to put that glorious mouth to less savoury tasks than talking. His team knew of his building relationships with Fullmetal, as did Olivier, but Roy couldn't risk the brass finding out, and that meant he had to still keep things on a short leash.

-

Edward would never ever – regardless of his travels or how long he decided to settle in one place. No, regardless of that, he would never forget how uncomfortable trains were to ride in for long journeys. Opposite him Al sat with his adorable blonde head pressed to the window, snoring softly as he slept. Winry lay in his lap and Al's fingers were loosely carded in her hair from where he was stroking it before he fell asleep too. It was possibly the most unbearably cute thing either of them had done, and for as long as Ed could remember they had been cute together – except of course when Winry was hitting him with her tools, or when Al was being a brat just because he knew that Ed would let him away with it. Al knew that Edward couldn't deny him a damn thing.

Edward wished he could sleep, but every time he tried the train rattled in a way that jerked something – be it his neck, or his shoulder; hell it had been his hip last time, and his ass was really starting to hurt. How had he spent most of his childhood doing this? How much time had he actually spent on these damned machines anyway? Sighing, Edward rubbed his face, turning to look out of the window at the passing landscape. He'd been grateful to see the last of the snow as they headed south of North city. Central would still be cold, but at least it wouldn't be covered in all that white bullshit like Briggs was.

Movement at his side jerked him back to reality as someone sat next to him and he spun around so hard that he just knew that his neck would be in agony later on. His pulse hammered in his throat, fight or flight well and truly kicking in, only to disappear in the next moment when his eyes met Roy's. The whole thing was a roller coaster, and Edward felt a little sick from the ride.

“Sorry, love.” Roy said softly, his hand reaching out to take Ed's. “I didn't mean to startle you.”

Edward smiled as Roy tugged him closer. The joys of him being a General was that he was able to get a private car, which meant that Roy and Ed didn't have to hide how much they needed to be close to each other. Tucking himself under Roy's arm, Edward pressed his body as close to Roy's as he possibly could. Pressing his ear to Roy's chest; just to hear the pounding of his heart was enough to calm any racing nerves. Roy was okay and that was all that mattered in that moment. All of the problems to come were pushed from his mind and he took a few quiet moments to relax in the arms of the man that he loved. With Roys arms around him he was able to face anything.

“I'm never letting you out of my sight again, bastard.” Edward mumbled into Roy's neck, scowling when he felt his commander's soft chuckle. Roy's fingers dragged through blonde hair, and it felt so good that Edward almost purred.

“I doubt it will be that easy. Don't get me wrong, if I had my way I'd be taking you straight back to mine and neither of us would be leaving the bed for at least a week.” Roy replied, his voice husky and quiet, but loud enough for just Edward to hear. The words themselves sending a jolt of pleasure through him and he had to chew on his lip to stop himself from letting out a needy moan at the images Roy's words gave him. The bastard knew exactly what he was doing too, because he just smirked at Edward before he continued as if he hadn't just caused a lust fuelled stroke in his young lover.

“I have a feeling that there is going to be a lot of issues to try and get fixed when we get back to central. I will need to get Hawkeye to see a doctor at once, but I also have no doubt that someone will try to get Ethan freed from my custody. Especially if my suspicions are correct.”

“Then sign me back up to work.” Ed demanded, pulling away enough to look Roy in the eyes. “I can help. I need to help, Roy. I know that I'm all kinds of fucked up right now, but locking me up at home isn't helping me. I don't run away from a problem, I need to face this head on. Besides, I need to make sure that that bastard rots for the part he played in what happened to you.”

Edward frowned even as he was still speaking, because before he'd even finished Roy was already shaking his head. “Edward, love, I'm not letting you near him. I saw what happened in that place. I saw how one comment from him sent you spiralling.”

“Its different!” Edward snapped, louder than he intended. He froze when Al stirred, but his baby brother didn't wake up so Edward continued, quieter this time. “He took me by surprise. I knew he was a bastard but I didn't know that he knew... I didn't know that he had ties to Hal...”

Ed trailed off, frowning and silently cursing the way his heart raced in fear just saying that name. His tongue felt heavy and thick in his mouth, too thick, and his words died even as he reached out to grab them. He didn't want to react like that, he wanted to stomp up to Ethan in his military issued boots and he wanted to punch the man so hard that his own fist would hurt afterwards. He wanted to make Ethan pay for everything that happened, but the thought that Ethan was a part of the torment he suffered, that he was involved in the slavery; of Simon and Cara and their pain; their suffering and their deaths. Ed knew that he needed to be the one to make Ethan pay for everything. He hadn't been able to save Simon. He couldn't be there to help Cara recover and he'd cost them both their lives because he was so wrapped up in himself.

Roy's hand slipped into Edward's and the guilt stabbed at him as he looked up into those darks eyes. Ethan had hurt Roy. He'd been a part of it all. He'd gotten Roy taken, had messed with his mind; Riza had been hurt because of it all. Someone had to pay and Edward needed to be the one to make them pay. He needed to stop this all. If he was the one to stop all the pain and to make those involved pay for their crimes then he himself could move on from his whole ordeal.

“Edward, love.” Roy's voice was soft, and Edward pushed the thoughts back to focus on the man beside him. “I just need you to get better, okay? I just need you to get back to normal. I can handle the fallout from this, I have a good team behind me. I just need you to be there for me to come home to. I need you in one piece.”

“You'll have me. Of course you'll have me. I love you, Roy Mustang, and nothing will keep me from your side.”

Edward meant it, and Roy knew that. There was no need to force the issue, or to push it further. But Edward also knew that there was no point in letting Roy know that he'd be back in the office the moment the rest of the team was. He'd been off long enough. Yes, he wasn't coping as best as he possibly could, but with Hawkeye injured and unable to keep an eye on Roy, Edward knew that he needed to be there. Whoever was behind this whole thing wanted one or both of them out of the picture, it only made sense to stay close to each other because of that.

Edward ignored the thoughts, leaning into Roy again when the older man smiled at him. The touch of their lips was so soft that it was barely a kiss, but Roy pulled Edward onto his lap, and the blonde went happily. They sat like that for a while, and when Alphonse finally woke up, he woke to see Roy sitting with a book propped open in one hand and a blonde head tucked into his neck, curled into his chest as Edward slept soundly.

Chapter Text

The last thing that Roy Mustang expected to see when he walked into the office on Monday morning was the shock of golden hair tied into a high ponytail as the uniformed owner leaned over Havoc's shoulder, pointing to something in a report. He stood in the doorway, his emotions at seeing Edward in work warring with themselves, but the blonde was too focused on what he was explaining to Havoc to even acknowledge that Roy had come in. It was Fuery that looked up and noticed the General first and when he greeted him with a meek hello, it got the attention of the rest of the room. Roy nodded a greeting to them all, but when Edward stood up straight and looked at him, Roy refused to look away from the challenging look in the younger Alchemist's eyes.

“Morning, Gentlemen.” Roy said, moving towards his inner office, “Fullmetal, a word when you are done.”

With that Roy let himself into his own private office, closing the door over a little before walking over to his desk. He pressed his hands down onto the solid wooden surface to ground himself as he glared at the grain lines. What the hell was Edward thinking? He hadn't approved of this. He hadn't allowed this to happen. He'd specifically told Edward to stay off, so what the hell was he doing here in that damn uniform? The sound of the door closing behind him sent the anger pooling into his stomach but he didn't turn to face Ed.

“Can we not do this, Roy? I don't want to start of this week with a screaming match with you.” Edward said from somewhere behind Roy.

“Go home, Edward.”

The sigh from the door caused another shot of anger to slash through him and Roy curled his hands into fists against the desk. Edward was acting like Roy was the one being a stubborn brat. He turned to the blonde then, glaring across the room at those golden eyes which glared back at him. Edward strode forward, challenging in his steps and it made Roy stand straighter by instinct. The defiant glare that he got made him want to smack the look right off of the blonde's face, all while kissing him to make it better and the shocking contrast of those urges left Roy feeling dizzy, so instead of saying anything else he watched as his lover folded his arms across his chest.

“You're being ridiculous, Mustang. You need me here. We have talked about this!”

“Yes, we talked about it! And we decided that you were staying off until you were better. You can't work if you aren't well Edward, and having you here unwell is going to cause more problems than it solves. Go home to your brother, I can't believe that he even let you come back.”

“Al isn't the boss of me! Fucking hell, I'm the older brother!” Edward snapped, unfolding his arms to use one to cut through the air. “Besides, we didn't decide shit. You decided that I was too broken to be here and I decided that you were full of shit. Without me or Hawkeye here you are unprotected, Mustang and while she's in the hospital you can damn well get used to me being here!”

Roy growled, how could one man get under his skin so much? He slapped his hand down onto the desk, ignoring the flinch that the noise drew from his younger lover as he stormed around the other side of it to stand next to his chair and look out at the bleak sky of another sad day in central. “I have a whole team of men out there, Edward! I think that we are pretty safe here, in central command. I don't need babysat.”

“That's stupid on so many levels that I don't even know where to start telling you how wrong you are.” Edward snarled in response, and Roy shot him a cold look over one shoulder.

“Oh? Do enlighten me to the danger that I might be in then, Fullmetal.”

Edward flinched at the cold tone that Roy used for his title, something sad whimpering and cowering away in his chest, but he pushed it aside. He'd wallow on that later, but for now he was pissed. “For one,” Edward started, raising a hand to count out his points on metal fingers. “If that's fucking safe then why shouldn't I be here? Second: it was military that took and hurt both of us. Three: It was central command that was overrun by soulless dolls because the leader was trying to kill everyone, or have you forgotten?”

“That was years ago, Fullmetal.”

“Doesn't mean that this fucking system cares about you, Mustang!” Ed shouted back, finally snapping. He couldn't keep his temper in check if Roy was going to be so awkward about it all. He stormed over to Mustang's desk, but the man ignored him and his outburst and it just annoyed him further. “You need someone watching your back and I'm fucking useless stuck in the apartment with my brother and friend tiptoeing around me like I'm something fragile and precious.

“Go home Fullmetal! That is an order. I don't need you here.”

“You're not my fucking boss, Mustang!” Edward shouted, punching the desk hard with a metal fist. “Stop being so stubborn about this. I'm staying so you'll just need to just need to get used to it.”

“Last time I checked, I am you're fucking boss!” Roy shouted back, spinning on his heel to glare at the blonde across the desk from him. He caught the wince the Ed couldn't stop and he hated himself for shouting at his lover like this. He hated the whole damn situation. He saw the hurt that flashed behind golden eyes and he watched as the fight left Edward as the younger man glanced away from Roy. Edward hated rank, he hated it being used against him; Roy knew this and he still did it. “Fullmetal...”

Roy's words trailed off into a stunned silence as he watched Ed pick up a document that lay on the desk, forcefully shoving it at Roy before he turned a cold glare at him. “Sign this then and you won't have to put up with me. I won't have to be the Flame Alchemist's lapdog and you can stop being such a bastard if I'm not here.”

“Edward...?”

“Oh, so now I have a name, do I Mustang? The fear of losing an asset scare you that much, Roy?” Edward snapped, turning away and moving to the door. Roy moved around his desk, calling his name out even as the blonde disappeared and slammed the door behind him. The force of it shook the walls and Roy glanced down at the document in his hands; a transfer request. The thought of losing Ed from the team was so awful that Roy felt himself gasp, but the thought of losing Ed in general was like a punch to the gut. The spark of alchemy caught his attention and Roy looked back up towards the door as the tell-tale blue faded from beneath the door.

“Edward?” Roy darted forward, instantly worried that Ed was in trouble but when he reached the door he found it to be sealed shut and he snarled quietly to himself. Oh yes, Edward was definitely in trouble.

-

Ed sealed the door shut, trapping Mustang in his office for a bit. He knew that Mustang would figure a way out sooner or later, even if it meant that he would burn his own office door down, but the spiteful brat in him was smug for a moment for trapping the bastard in there. He kicked his desk chair as he stormed past it, ignoring the worried glances from his friends. They tried to talk to him, tried asking what happened and if he was okay, but he ignored them all and left, slamming that door shut on his way out for good measure. He might be an adult now, but the slam of a door always made him feel a little better. He was going to go for a walk, clear his head, and then go back to the office. He might just go back to punch his lover and wipe that fucking smug look off his face, he might just go back and make sure that Mustang was locked in his office until they got to go home.

It wasn't long until Edward found himself heading towards the roof. Maybe fresh air would make him feel better; it certainly couldn't do any more damage. He pushed open the door – which only screeched a small protest – and stepped out into the wind, turning his face up to look up at the grey skies above the country. It was going to rain, and a part of him wanted it to. The rain always seemed to come when he felt like this, and it would serve Mustang right if it was to rain; but the bastard would be useless if it did rain and Edward didn't want someone to decide to try and finish off the job they'd started.

With his thoughts circling back to Roy, Edward felt the tears sting at his eyes and he pressed his back to the door and slid down to sit on the ground; pulling his knees up close to his chest. Pressing a hand to his eyes, Edward tried to push away the panic away. He couldn't lose Roy, not when he had just got him. But the way that Roy spoke to him hurt, it hurt so fucking much that Edward couldn't breathe around the pain that danced in his chest. The scream that he let out felt like it tore his throat open, and Edward curled into himself tighter and just let himself cry.

He lost track of how long he sat there for, but at some point the sky opened above him, pouring its own anguish down on him as he cried into his knees. He didn't notice the door to the roof open or shut, so when a hand pressed against his shoulder he jumped so much that he was on his feet, hands clapped and alchemy sparking along his fingers before his brain caught up to him. He had his attacked pinned to the wall, automail arm turned into a deadly sharp blade that was pressed against the man's throat.

The raven haired man just slowly raised his hands in surrender.

“Roy?” Edward muttered to himself slowly, but his mind finally decided to catch up and Edward stumbled back as if touching the older man burnt him, quickly clapping and turning his arm back to normal with a mumbled sorry as he looked away at the rain soaked ground. “You shouldn't be out here. You're useless in the rain.”

It was a petty comment, Edward knew that, but his heart was hurting and when he was hurting he had a horrible habit of lashing out at people. Roy didn't take the bait though, instead he just took a step closer to Ed.

“You locked me in my office.” Roy said slowly, and Edward scowled in response. “The guys found it hilarious. I'm sure that Havoc and Breda will not be letting me live that down for a while yet.”

“Sorry.”

Roy stopped in front of Edward, reaching out to cup the blonde's face. “No you're not.” He said softly, making Ed look up at him. “Edward, love, I'm sorry. That got out of hand. I'm just worried about you.”

“And I'm not worried about you?” Edward snapped, smacking Roy's hand away but Roy just caught his wrist in his hand instead and held him in the one spot.

“Edward, I'm sorry. That's not what I'm saying.” Roy said, brushing a stray strand of wet hair away from Edward's face as he tugged him closer for a kiss. It was slow and gentle, and Edward kissed him back with everything he had, pouring all his love and fear into the one action in the hopes that it would clear his mind of the doubts torturing him. “I love you, Edward. I can't imagine a world without you in it, and knowing that you are in danger just being here terrifies me. I have never been so scared, but its wrong of me to try and tie you down.”

“What if I ask real nicely?” Edward murmured as he stole another kiss, swallowing down Roy's laugh as the dark haired man tugged him closer to wrap him up in a wet hug as the rain soaked through their military uniforms. “I love you too.”

“Love me enough to fix my office door?” Roy asked sheepishly, pressing a gentle kiss to Ed's temple, causing the blonde to smile as he tucked himself back under Roy's arm for another embrace. “I'm sorry that I made you cry, Ed, and if you really want to leave my command, I'll sign the papers.”

“I don't want to leave you or the team, Roy. But I want to be with you without all this sneaking around. I want everyone to know that we belong to each other, and that can't happen while I'm still in your command.” Edward said softly, his fingers reaching up to pluck at the gold trim of Roy's uniform. The thought of leaving the team that he'd known for so long scared him, it had been such a huge part of his life, he'd spent so long with these people that the concept of not being with them scared him, but he couldn't keep hiding his feelings from Roy, and he was not going to be the thing that got between Roy and his goals.

Roy pulled back a little, taking Ed's hand into his own and bringing it up to his mouth to kiss along each knuckle. “I understand that, and I don't want to lose you. If this is really what you want, I'll sign the papers to have you transferred.”

“We'll worry about it later, when Hawkeye is back to watch you. Lets get back to the office for now though. You're useless in the rain.” Ed smirked as he spoke, and Roy took an over-exaggerated step back, his hand going to rest over his heart. Edward laughed and moved closer, tugging the man in to his chest to kiss him roughly, teeth nipping at his bottom lip and drawing a moan from the older man. Edward grinned at the noise and pulled away, laughing when Roy pouted and muttered about him being a tease, before he headed back into the building. Roy took his hand, gave it a quick squeeze and then dropped it as they ended the hallways of central command.

The walk back to the office didn't take long and the team were good enough to not laugh or comment on the state of their soaking appearances, but that was more because they knew better. Roy moved into his office, no doubt to light the fire to try and chase away the chill clinging to their damp uniforms and skin while Ed got to work fixing the mess of the door. Roy had indeed burnt it down, which didn't leave Edward much to work with in the way of material to fix it with, but he was able to take his own desk and use the wood from that to make a new door for Roy. They would need to get Ed a new desk, but in the meantime he could use Hawkeye's while she was in the hospital.

It was a few hours later, when Roy and Ed were both in the General's inner office, curled up on the couch together in front of the fire that they were interrupted. Roy had a report in one hand, the other running its fingers through Edward's hair as the blonde lay along his lap reading through a document on alchemy. Havoc knocked before entering, pausing with a frown when he saw them on the couch.

“You know that the brass would have your heads if they saw you both like that.” Havoc said, laughing slightly at the raised eyebrow that Roy shot him.

“I'm aware. I'm also aware that if any of them were to come to see me that I would know about it in enough time to not be caught in such a position.” Roy said, smiling at Edward as the blonde crawled off his lap before he turned his attention back to Havoc. “What is it, lieutenant?”

“I think I've found out how we can get Ethan to talk.” Havoc replied, his eyes sparkling with mischief as he grinned and handed a manilla folder out to them. Roy didn't have time to take it, because Edward darted off his knee in a blur of gold and silver so he waited for his lover to read the document, instead choosing to watch as the emotions displayed themselves across Ed's face. Concentration into confusion; his brow furrowing slightly before he grinned wide enough to show teeth and Roy had known both the Elrics long enough to know that when either of them got that look in their eyes then he was about to have a lot more paperwork than he was happy with needing to deal with. Roy stood, moving over to Edward and Havoc and put his hand out for the folder, meeting Edward's almost manic look with a quirked eyebrow.

“May I?”

Chapter Text

“I don't understand why he's still locked up. If you think that Hakuro is involved in all of this then wouldn't he have just sent an order for Ethan to be released?” Edward asked as Roy led him through the empty halls on their way to the cells that were holding Ethan.

“No. There's too much evidence against him. Hakuro will likely leave him here to take the fall for his failures, and if the past few interviews with Ethan are anything to go by, he is more than happy to be punished for his crimes without taking the Fuhrer down with him.” Riza said from where she was walking a little behind Roy. Ed glanced back at her, and then up to Roy who just shrugged in reply to his look. “Ethan has been questioned, and this whole time has never once implied that the Fuhrer has had anything to do with any of this.”

“What's his story been? What is his reasoning for kidnapping Mustang?” Ed asked her, looking away from Roy again to the woman behind them. She had only just returned to work, on the promise of doing nothing more strenuous than desk work. She hadn't broken that promise, and everyone in the office had been on their best behaviour – no doubt in order to ensure that she didn't do more damage to her wounds when she shot them.

“You.” Roy answered for her, and Edward stumbled to a halt suddenly.

“What?”

Roy stopped and looked back at Edward with a small smile. “He's saying that its all been because of you. That he's in love with you, that you were together and that I came along and stole you from him. Apparently you were both happy together but then I got in the way and he felt himself losing your love. It drove him into a jealous rage and when he heard that I was sent North he just knew that he needed to get me out of the picture. If I disappeared and died on the job then you would have no choice but to go back to him, seeking forgiveness and comfort.”

“You're joking.” Edward said, eyes wide as his gaze darted between Roy and Riza and back again. “That's bullshit! You know that I wasn't with him. We were never together! Tell me that you're joking?”

“I wish I was.” Roy said, shaking his head even as he reached out to cup Edward's face. The thumb that rubbed his cheekbone caused Ed to blush and bat the offending hand away. At least Roy didn't seem to be buying into the story being fed to him. “Come on, let's go.”

The rest of the walk was done in silence, with Edward too busy scowling as his brain processed the most recent conversation. Ethan was painting himself out to be a jealous, betrayed boyfriend. If that was the story that gets out then Ethan will have people sympathising with him, and that was something that Edward couldn't let happen. After everything, the threats on Al and Winry and sexual assaults were bad enough, but after what Ethan did to Roy, Edward couldn't let that monster receive any kind of sympathy from the public.

Edward just prayed that their idea would get the bastard to confess and spill some kind of information about the Fuhrer to get him out of office. Ed didn't know what Hakuro's problem with Roy was – no doubt he was just scared for his job; Roy didn't make any effort to hide the fact that he was after it after all, but he wasn't about to let anyone else hurt the man he loved.

The cells were nicer than Edward ever thought that they would be. It wasn't dingy and dark like he expected, instead each was well lit and while they weren't exactly spacious there was a lot more room to them than Edward thought that there would be. Each one had a bed – instead of a hard cot – with extra blankets to chase anyway the chill of night. There was a desk in each too, which was where Ethan was sat when Roy led him down to the cells to see their prisoner. For a long moment, the other man didn't look up when Roy and Ed stepped into the holding area – Riza standing by at the door outside. It wasn't that he didn't know that they were there, it was clear that Ethan was just ignoring them and that just pissed Ed off more.

He moved to the bars separating them with a low growl. “So I hear that you attacked Roy in a jealous rage because he was stealing me away from you? That's bullshit and you know it, Ethan!”

Ethan finally looked up from where he was flicking through a novel at the desk, smirking at Edward. He slowly marked his place and then closed the book, laying it down on the desk tenderly. Ed took a step back from the bars when Ethan stood up, and the other solider just grinned at the movement. “I was losing you to him, my love.” Ethan spoke softly, his gaze never leaving Ed's. To an outsider it could have been a soft look, but Edward knew better, he saw the cruelty in those eyes. “You're not subtle, Edward. I can see how you look at him, I can see how he looks back at you. You'd come back to me smelling like him, smelling of sex. What was I meant to do?!” He screamed the question, charging at the bars and rattling them as he gripped them; Edward darted back a few more steps, staying out of arm's reach and glaring at the prisoner.

“I never came to you, Ethan!” Edward snapped, fisting his hands at his sides. “I was never yours. You forced everything, you threatened the people I love, you tortured and attacked Hawkeye and Mustang! Why?”

“Because I loved you! It was driving me crazy seeing the pull that he has to you!” Ethan shouted, laughing manically. “The woman was just in the way.”

Edward felt a hand on his shoulder at that and glanced up at Roy who was glaring at the prisoner. Ethan talking about his messed up apparent love for Edward was clearly bothering Roy, but to say that Hawkeye could have been killed purely because she was 'in the way' was taking it too far and Edward knew that Roy wouldn't stand for it. Edward slid his hand into Roy's, knowing fine well that the room would be bugged so that he couldn't comfort him with words. His touch would need to do.

“This is just going around in circles, Edward.” Roy said after a moment, his gaze flicking from Ethan to Edward. “I think it's time that we bring in our guest, if you will?”

Edward paused for a moment, but then nodded. He had to resist the urge to pull the older man close and kiss the frown from his lips. With a sigh, Edward moved back to the door that they came in and opened it to gesture Hawkeye in. He stepped aside as Riza moved into the room, shooting a glare at Ethan when the man laughed.

“What will her presence do to make my story change?”

“She's not our guest.” Roy told him coldly, shooting him a glare to shut him up as Edward took their guest by the arm and led her into the room, closing the door again. She was fourteen, still so innocent and sweet that it amazed Edward that she could have anything to do with the monster they had locked in that cell. She looked a lot like Ethan, her fair hair falling in waves down her back and her brown eyes widened when she saw her brother, tears threatening to spill as Edward let go of her. She ran to the cell the moment that she was released and Edward found himself conflicted at the site.

Ethan stood frozen, fear shining in his eyes as his sister ran to him, grasping his hands into hers and crying quietly. She was mumbling about how she'd been so worried about him, asking if he was okay, begging him to tell her that he hadn't done all those awful things to people that she'd been told of. Ethan's eyes moved to meet Edward's. The alchemist took that as his cue and moved to the girl, grabbing her arm a little too roughly and pulling her back from the bars. It was hard to ignore her crying; she struggled against him, fighting to get back to her brother and working herself into a frenzy.

His clap was loud in the room, the sound bouncing off the walls as the blue glow of his alchemy blinded them for a moment. When it died down, Edward reached the point of the blade on his automail but to the girl's throat and her struggling died there and then as she froze in fear; Edward never took his eyes off of Ethan though.

“You are bluffing, Elric!” Ethan shouted, his hands clenched around the bars as he glared at Edward. “Sofi, listen to me. He isn't going to hurt you. Are you, my love?”

Edward didn't move the blade from the girl's throat, he just watched as Ethan moved back from the bars, laughing. Ethan turned his back to them, pacing around his cell before he looked back at Edward, meeting his gaze with a cocky grin. “You're the hero of the people, Edward. Ever since you were a child being used by the man at your side. You've always fought for the underdog, stood up for those that couldn't stand for themselves. You wouldn't harm an innocent child, you were barely able to harm the guilty, Edward. You aren't about to harm her, are you my little star?”

Edward tensed, glaring at Ethan. Damn, he was so easy to read wasn't he? He wore his morals on his sleeve and forced them down everyone's throat. He'd made it clear that he wouldn't kill if he could help it. Ethan knew this, he knew of his morals and his stance on defending people. Of course he did, Ethan knew his mark well. Edward was pulled from his thoughts when he felt a hand move his automail blade away.

He looked up at Roy with a frown as he clapped and changed his arm back to normal, ignoring the almost silent sob that Sofi gave at his side. “What the hell do we do, Mustang? You told me that this would get him to talk!”

“I underestimated him. I thought that he'd be too panicked to think, that the threat on his sister would get him to confess.” Roy said softly, reaching out to brush a stray strand of blonde back from Ed's face. “I didn't consider that he would even consider how moral you are, but everyone that knows you're name knows that you wouldn't harm someone who didn't really deserve it.”

“Fools. You thought that this would work?” Ethan laughed, getting the attention of the room again and Edward glared at him, never once letting go of the girl at his side. “Edward is too moral, he cared too much. He was never going to hurt a child and that's what Sofi is. She's just an innocent kid.”

“Shut up!” Edward shouted, his grip tightening on Sofi's arm to the point where she whimpered in pain.

“Edward, he's right.” Roy said softly, easing Edward's hand off of Sofi's arm, ignoring the girl as she darted towards her brother the moment that she was released.

“What the hell, Mustang? You are not helping here!” Edward snapped, taking a step back from Roy and smacking his hand away. “How are we meant to get him to talk if you keep pulling shit like that? I need you to be on my side!”

“I am on your side, Edward.”

“Bullshit! Don't fucking agree with him? We could have made him believe that I would hurt her. He's convinced that you have this pull on me, why couldn't we have used that? Acted like I was driven against my morals for you. That I'd do anything for you!”

“He wouldn't fall of it.” Roy said, shrugging as he turned to look at Ethan and Sofi. “He knows you too well. You wouldn't go against you're morals and harm an innocent for anyone, and everyone knows that. Its what makes me love you, Edward.”

Edward started at that, eyes wide as he stared at Roy's profile. The room was surely bugged, but Roy was confessing his feelings so openly? What the hell was he thinking? Ed stepped forward, so that he stood by Roy's side and frowned at him. Roy smiled at him, reaching his hand out to brush a thumb across Ed's cheek lovingly.

“I love you Edward Elric. Please forgive me.”

“Forgive..? What? Roy there's nothing to forgive.” Edward questioned, shaking his head before he froze. Roy was pulling on his gloves and a slow realisation was creeping up on Edward and it settled in his throat like lead. “Roy, what are you doing?”

“You're too moral. You care too much. It should have been clear that you wouldn't hurt a child.” Roy said, offering Edward a small smile even as he gestured towards Riza. The woman moved silently to stand at Edward's side, and when the younger alchemist took a step closer to Roy she placed a hand on his shoulder to stop him.

“Roy...”

“But I would.” Roy said, turning to Ethan. In an instant he'd grabbed Sofi, pulling her roughly from her brother and Edward watched in horror as the girl stumbled silently. “I've done awful things, I've slaughtered hundreds of innocents in Ishval. I burnt children as they slept because some General at the time ordered it. I didn't blink, I didn't question it. I was ordered to, so I did. My commander wanted that school destroyed, so I snapped my fingers and I watched as the heat of my flames shattered the glass, watched as the building blackened and sagged from my attack. I ignored the screams of those children, silenced them in a moment with my attack. I did all of that, because Bradley had ordered Ishval to be exterminated. It was wrong, but that was my order. Think of the damage that I could do if it was to defend the person I loved?”

“No! Roy stop this!” Edward snapped, pulling away from Riza and rushing to Roy's side. He could hear Sofi crying openly now, could hear Ethan shouting about he was bluffing; but none of that mattered. He couldn't let Roy do this. He couldn't watch the man that he loved kill an innocent child. Not for him, not for anyone. “We can find another way, Roy. Please you don't need to do this. She's just a kid! There's nobody ordering you to do this, we'll think of something else.”

“No.” Roy's voice was like a slap to the face and Edward took a step back. “I can't back down. I won't back down. Edward, this man hurt you. He forced you to do things you didn't want to do. He marked you, claimed you as his own while he had me locked up. He tortured me, almost killed my best friend and he threatened your family. He claims that it was all because of his love for you, but he knows nothing about loving you. He has no idea of the extremes I'd go to to keep you safe. He needs to pay for what he's done.”

Edward was shaking his head, and he felt a hand on his arm that he just chose to ignore. “Roy please!”

“Captain, get him out of here.” Roy said, turning away from Edward and shoving Sofi against the opposite wall. “He doesn't need to see this.”

Riza didn't reply, she just grabbed Ed's arm and tugged him towards the door, but he resisted her. If he stayed then Roy wouldn't do this. He couldn't. Riza knew that, her arm circled his waist and she pulled him back. He tried to fight her, knew that he could have broken free if he wanted to but it would have hurt her, and he didn't want to hurt her, not while she was still healing. “Roy! Roy please don't do this!”

Edward shouted, and he struggled against Riza, careful to try and not hurt her more. Roy didn't look at him, he kept his back turned to him and he refused to acknowledge Edward's protests. The white of his glove was bright against the blue of the uniform he wore. The red stitching like blood against the blank canvas. Edward could hear Ethan's panic now, he could hear him shouting and begging but he couldn't focus on the words. All he could focus on was the back of the man that he adored. The shoulders that were squared against the weight that they carried.

The heat was intense, and the brilliant glow of the fire burned white into his vision. He heard the screams; his own, Ethan's and Sofi's. Riza pulled him out the room, slamming the door shut as he shouted for Roy to stop.