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The Shrinking Distance

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After Alphonse had gotten his body back and healed up until he was in healthy shape, he traveled to Xing with Mei. The two of them got along incredibly well and Al couldn’t wait to travel, without having to constantly fight and search for a stone. He could see and try new things, meet new people and relax. Plus, Al was wanting to learn Alkahestry and there was no one better to teach him then his best friend. Alphonse kept in touch with Edward, calling him everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, to ask how he was doing and tell his brother about what had happened during his day, even if the most exciting he had done was look outside or eat. The brothers had visited each other several times as well. Sometimes Al came to Amestris, and sometimes Ed went to Xing. The two had stayed closer than ever to each other, even though they didn’t live together.

After Alphonse left for Xing, only a couple of months after getting his body back, Ed went back to Resembool. He stayed with Winry and granny, helping the local people farm and doing odd jobs in his free time. He had been doing alchemy his whole life, and without it, he felt useless and lost. He wasn’t sure what to do next with his life. Al invited him to Xing, but he declined the offer. When Alphonse got his body back and Ed got his arm back, he had only had his real arm back for a mere few seconds before it was gone again. Ed had been confused as to why he lost his arm again, wondering what he gave up in exchange for it. It wasn’t until a few weeks after Al had left, Edward found out he could still do alchemy. He hadn’t tried for a while, knowing he gave it up to get Al his body back and he knew trying it would be pointless and only make him upset. But when a large branch was falling from a tree and was going to hit a cat one day, Edward had clapped his hands together and pressed them to the ground out of instinct. A hand had emerged from the ground, catching the branch before it could fall on the cat.

Edward had been shocked at first, looking around to see if anyone else could have done it. He transmuted the ground a few more times before he let himself realize that he had his alchemy again. The first thing he did was run inside, screaming to the Rockbells about what happened as he phoned Alphonse. Ed learning he got his alchemy back sparked the light inside him again, and his old personality came back. He was the same Ed, though taller and more mature. He felt like he had a purpose in life again. He had gone back to Central and asked if they had any job openings. Ed was welcomed back quickly, being given the title Major General.

Edward was happy living by himself. He had a small but beautiful house with a nice backyard. His brother and friends had tried to get him to start dating, but he had refused, rambling about how he was fine and didn’t need someone to make him happy. Ed admitted he had crushes on people every once in a while, but he refused to date. He was sick of his friends and co-workers trying to set him up on dates with different women.

Ed sat in his office on a sunny afternoon, going through the paperwork on his desk. He never had a lot of it to go through, he was usually out doing his own missions and helping people. The man wore his hair in a tight braid, with a white dress shirt and black pants. The black jacket he wore earlier was discarded on the chair by the window. When he first started working again, the higher ranking generals had tried to get him to wear the usual blue uniform, but he refused. They gave up on trying after a while and allowed Ed to wear what he pleased. Though Ed did wear the uniform when it was necessary, like when the Fuhrer came or when they had a ceremony.

The building was quiet, everyone tired from the hot weather and still feeling lazy after lunch. Ed himself felt close to passing out at his desk, but he forced his eyes to stay open so he could get through the last pile of paperwork. Edward, who typically had his door closed, had it open in hopes of getting a cool breeze to come through and offer some relief. He rolls his sleeves up, letting out a sigh. He forces himself to go through a few more papers, growing irritated from sitting for so long and from the heat. He pushes his chair back, getting up and stretching.

 

“Fuck.” He groans out, not realizing someone was standing in the doorway.

 

Roy cleared his throat, watching the golden-haired alchemist. Roy’s office was only across the hall, and the two had grown closer over the years. Roy no longer saw Edward as an annoying subordinate, but rather as a friend. He would never be able to say that he saw the man as attractive. At least not while he was sober. He had stated very loudly to Riza, after he had had a few shots of vodka and whiskey, that he would have sex with Ed given the chance. Roy made Riza promise several times the next morning that she wouldn’t say anything to anyone. He tried to convince her that he didn’t mean it, but Riza didn’t buy it.

 

“Oh, hey. What’s up?” He stopped stretching, turning to look at him.

 

“Hawkeye wanted to talk to the two of us about something. She didn’t say what it was yet, just that it’s important.” Roy leans against the doorway.

 

“Alright.” Fullmetal smiled before yawning.

 

“She said she’d meet us in my office.” He couldn’t help but smile back. Trying to keep his eyes from wandering over Ed’s exposed arm.

 

Ed gave a short nod, moving out of his office and to the one next to his. Heading straight to the brown leather sofas. He flopped down on one, laying down and closing his eyes. Roy followed, letting out a chuckle as he watched.

 

“If you fall asleep, Hawkeye’s going to kick your ass. No sleeping on the job.”

 

“Yeah, yeah. Whatever.” He yawned again. “I can’t help it if I doze off waiting for her.”

 

“Good thing I’m never late.” Riza tried to sound stern and angry, but seeing the two men made her smile. They were her best friends and knowing they were close helped her relax, especially on tense days.

 

“Don’t sound so sure, Hawkeye. I have it written down that you were late on March fifth by five minutes.”

 

“You’ll never let me forget that, will you?”

 

“I need to have some dirt on you. It’s only fair with how much you blackmail me.” Ed muttered.

 

“I do not blackmail you! Or, well...No. I don’t think you can call that blackmailing. But putting that aside for now,” she moves to stand next to Roy’s desk, growing serious. “I do have bad news. Someone has been targeting state alchemists again. No one has been killed yet, but several state alchemists have already been injured. We haven’t been able to get a description of the attacker yet, which makes this even harder. Because you two are part of the military's top alchemist, we have no doubts that you will be targeted.” She stopped talking to let the two process the information.

 

“This isn’t anything we haven’t handled before. We’ll just have to be more careful, keep an eye out.” Ed said, crossing his arms behind his head.

 

“We think it’s another alchemist targeting others. One in our own military.”

 

That made both Edward and Roy frown and go quiet for a moment. Ed tried to think of anyone that was acting suspicious. He was popular among basically everyone, his outgoing personality charming and fun. There were a few alchemists in Central that didn’t care for Ed and that didn’t talk to him, and those were the only ones to him that stood out as maybe being a possible suspect. But he kept his mouth shut as he continued to think. He didn't have any real proof of anyone acting against their own military, only hunches that were best kept to himself for the time being. Roy felt lost on trying to think of anyone that could be purposefully turning against his own military and hurting people. No one in his mind stood out to him.

 

“For the time being, I think it would be a good idea for you two to stick together. Stay at one house so you can look out for one another. If they do end up going after you, you have a better chance of fighting them off. Or at least maybe seeing who they are.” Hawkeye says, watching the two alchemists.

 

Edward wasn’t upset about the idea. He liked Roy and he thought spending more time with him could be nice. It’s been a while since they had been able to hang out. Roy on the other hand got a bit anxious. Ed was his friend and it was no big deal if they had to stay in one house together for a while, especially for safety reasons. He kept his cool on the outside, looking relaxed and indifferent, but he couldn’t shake off the nervousness he felt.

 

“Alright, that seems like a good idea. Maybe at my house, since it’s a lot smaller than yours, Roy. Gives less places for someone to hide.” Ed said after a moment of silence. He wanted to clarify that he could in fact take care of anyone that tried to mess with him, though he didn’t Roy or Riza to think he was against the idea. Hawkeye was only worried about them and wanted them to stay safe.

 

Roy nods in agreement with the man. “I’ll go to my house to get my stuff after work and head over there.” He smiles.

 

“Please stay safe, you two. I know you are capable of taking care of yourselves, but you never know what could happen. Now, get back to work.” She smiled before moving out of the room.

 

Edward got off the couch, saying bye to Roy before moving back to his office to get back to work. He wanted to discuss a few things with the other alchemist, but he knew he needed to get some work done. They would have time for it later on. Ed did his best to focus on his work and get through the stacks of paper.

He got finished a few hours later, and although he technically still had hours until he got off work, he saw no more reasons to stick around. He wanted to get home and clean up before Roy came later. He wasn’t a messy person and his house wasn’t that messy, he just wanted his house to look better for his friend. He grabbed his coat and moved out of his office, shutting and locking the door behind him. He walked out of the building and onto the sidewalk. He didn’t live far from his workplace, and he typically walked to and from work. Only opting to use his car when it was raining outside or was a little too cold.

It took him ten minutes to reach his house, which was white and surrounded by a picket fence. His grass was trimmed and neat, colorful flowers underneath his windows. Most people were surprised to see the Fullmetal Alchemist living in such quaint house and sometimes the people he brought over would get a good laugh out of it. Especially when they saw the inside, decorated in lighter and somewhat old-fashioned furniture. Besides his childhood home in Resembool that he and his brother had burned down, he never had a place to call his own. He traveled too much in his past, never able to stay in one place for very long. Now that he was older, had the money, and didn’t travel hours away every day, he was happy he was able to have his own place.

Edward picked up, mostly some clothes and shoes scattered around. He got the dirty clothes in the laundry basket and his shoes in his closet. He set up a kettle on the stove to make tea for when Roy came. He kicked off his shoes by the door before moving to his bedroom. He planned on letting Roy stay in his bed since his room was bigger and more comfortable. He had a guest room, which was mostly for Alphonse when he came to visit. He made up the bed and made sure it was clean.

When Roy heard Edward leave, he called Hawkeye into his office. He had been thinking about going to Ed’s later after work, and was wanting to ask Riza something. He knew it was a unreasonable question and he just wanted to get it off his chest.

 

“Hawkeye, can I ask you something?” Roy looked at the blonde haired woman as she moved into the room.

 

Hawkeye simply gave a short nod, watching her superior.

 

“Is there a reason you suggested me and Fullmetal stick together?”

 

“I know what you are getting at, Mustang. It’s not what you’re thinking. You two are already close, and I figured instead of pairing you with others you might not exactly get along with, you can be paired with someone you already know. This way you won’t argue, as much at least, and you’ll be able to keep a level mind. I was given orders to do it this way.”

 

“Right. Thank you, Hawkeye.” Roy moved to sit back down at his desk to continue on with his work.

 

“Try to relax, Roy. I know it’s an odd situation right now, but it’ll work out just fine.” She gave him a soft smile before moving out of the room, the door closing behind her.

 

Roy let out a breath, telling himself Hawkeye was right. Why am I making such a big deal over nothing? He thought, putting his head in his hands for a moment. This is going to be a long week. As Roy got out of work, at six o’clock that evening, he was feeling much better. He’d gotten a good chunk of work done and he felt exhausted, ready to get something to eat and relax for the night. He wasn’t sure if he should eat at home before heading to Edward’s house, wishing he would have asked the man if he was going to make dinner or not. He got into his black car, driving to his house. He never considered his house big, but with five rooms and three bathrooms, it was larger than most houses single people had. Hawkeye, who lived in an apartment, suggested he could downsize or rent the rooms out for extra money. He decided against moving or sharing his living space with strangers, liking the extra space he had and the feeling of being alone sometimes. After hectic days at work and dealing with people, it was calming to go home to a place that was nice and quiet. He’d go crazy if he couldn’t have alone time.

It took Roy only a few minutes to pack his duffle bag. He wasn’t sure how long he was staying, but he figured a few uniforms, pajamas, and a regular outfit should be good enough. If he needed to stay longer, it wouldn’t be hard to run back to his house and grab more clothes or just wash them at Ed’s house. He moved into the bathroom, grabbing his toiletry things as well. He stopped for a moment as he glanced at himself in the mirror. Over the past few years, Roy hadn’t changed all that much. He was still the same dark haired man with the tense look in his eyes. Roy left his house and locked up, wondering if the attacker would try to break in while he was gone. He didn’t feel too worried about it-he wouldn’t be there when it happened and the things he cared about were in a safe under his bed.

Mustang drove to the road Ed lived on and tried his best to remember the exact address. He’d been to his house multiple times in the past, it had just been a while since he had visited him at home. But Roy recognized the house as soon as he saw it. He pulled into the driveway of the white house. Parking his car and grabbing his bag before he moved up to the door. He knocked and stood back as he waited for the man. It was starting to get cold as the sun went down and clouds were starting to roll in. Roy noted that it would probably be raining by morning and that he would need to make sure he had an umbrella with him. He was positive he always kept one in his car just in case. Edward appeared at the door a minute later, opening it. The man was still in his work clothes with his hair in the tight braid.

 

“Hey, come in.” Ed smiled, moving out of the way to let Roy in. “You don’t have to knock and I have an extra key you can use.” He moved back into the house

Roy moved in, feeling relieved to smell something cooking. The smells combined with the warmth made Roy think back to his childhood, when he would get done playing with his friends and he would go home to his mom cooking dinner after a long day. He would be tired and hungry but excited for school the next day. He would eat dinner and then sit in the living room reading while his mom cleaned. The bright artificial lights adding to recreating the feeling.

Ed snapped Roy out of his daydream by talking. Ed had moved into the kitchen, explaining where the bathroom was and that Roy would be staying in his bedroom. Roy had only heard parts of what the other had said, but he figured he’d be able to figure everything out later. Roy took off his shoes, realizing he was still in his uniform.

 

“I’m making tea and dinner. You can put your stuff in my room. It’s the first door on the right.”

 

“Are you sure? I don’t mind sleeping in the spare room.”

 

“No, it’s fine. I’d rather you sleep in my room. It’s more comfortable.”

 

“Thank you, Ed. I’m going to get changed.” He smiles before moving to Ed’s room.

Roy shut the door behind him, setting his bag down on the floor. He’d been to Ed’s house before and it was always clean, but it still surprised him for some reason. He never imagined Ed would be the kind of person to keep a clean and organized life. He got undressed and pulled on a pair of grey sweatpants and a plain t-shirt. He stuffed his dirty clothes into his bag and moved out of the room. He moved to the kitchen where he watched Ed pour two cups of tea and set them on the table. Roy sat down, taking a cup and sipping at it. Ed sat across from him, his automail clanking as he leaned his elbow against the table.

 

“This was a weird day, huh?” Ed chuckled softly.

 

“That’s an understatement.” Roy smiled, just watching Ed for a second.

 

“Are you okay with beef stew?”

 

“Of course. That’s one of my favorites.”

 

“Don’t get too excited. I’m told my cooking is pretty awful.” He laughs.

 

“As long as I don’t die from it, it’s good enough.” Roy laughs with Ed before taking another drink of his tea.

 

Edward got up to check on the stew cooking on the stove. He turned off the burner and let the food cool for a moment. He wanted to get out of his clothes, which were damp from sweating and working all day. His head was also starting to hurt from his braid that he did too tight earlier and never bothered to fix. He tried to ignore his headache and focus back on the food, hoping it would help him feel better. Ed was already pretty tired, and he was sure that the  warm, hearty meal would make him feel even more tired.

Edward made two bowls of the stew as it finished cooking, setting a bowl in front of Roy and the other at his seat. He takes the black band out of his hair, undoing his braid before sitting down. He hardly wore his hair up or in a braid while he was at home, but he would usually throw it up into a ponytail if someone came over. Even if it was Al or a close friend. He figured it’d be fine to have his hair down while Roy was staying with him.

Roy started to eat, feeling starved after the long day. He was a bit surprised to see Edward take the hair tie out, as Roy had only seen Ed with his hair down maybe once or twice. It wasn’t a big deal or anything shocking, but Ed did look different with it down. Roy thought that Ed looked cuter with his long, golden hair hanging loosely around his face. His eyes matching it perfectly. He noticed Ed relax after taking the braid out and wondered how much it hurt him to keep it in all day.

 

“This is amazing. I can’t imagine anyone saying your cooking is bad.” Roy broke the silence after eating a few more spoonfuls.

 

“Your standards are just too low.” Ed laughs, eating.

 

“I don’t think so. I know good food when I eat it.” He laughs with him, watching him.

 

“Thank you, Roy.” Edward was still laughing, though he calmed himself down enough to take a drink of his tea.

 

“I wouldn’t be upset if you cook everyday while I’m here. But I can cook too, help out where I can.” He smiles.

“You don’t have to. Just relax as much as you can. You’re my guest here.” Edward finished eating, standing up. “I almost forgot we’re targets for an attack.” He chuckles.

 

“I did too. I was so focused on getting here and eating.” Roy chuckled with him, glad both of them were relaxed and easy-going around each other.

Roy moved to help Edward with the few dishes after he finished eating. The kitchen fell into a comfortable silence as the two worked side by side. Ed washing the dishes and Roy drying and putting them away. Ed had wanted to tell Roy to go relax and that he didn’t need to help with anything, but he stopped himself from speaking out as he liked the man’s company next to him. Soon rain started to drum against the window gently, making the inside of the house feel even cozier. Ed had turned off some of the lights that weren’t needed, making the inside dimmer. The air felt lazy and both of the men were yawning every couple of minutes.

 

“Alright. Good enough for the night.” Edward said as he wiped off the counter, struggling to keep his eyes open. “Let’s get some sleep.” He moved to make sure all of the windows and doors were locked. He did a quick scan of the small house to make sure no one had gotten inside. He was positive no one did and he wasn’t worried about it, but at least he could say that he did and make Hawkeye and the others feel better. By the time Edward was done, Roy was already in the other’s bed. Ed moved into the room and over to the dresser.

 

“I’m just going to grab some clothes.” Ed smiled before digging through his dresser.

 

He grabbed out a pair of short and a tank top before moving out of the room and going to the room across the hall. He shut the door to get changed, tossing the dirty clothes on the floor by the bed. He gets in bed, having to keep himself from groaning out in relief. He fell asleep almost instantly, but Roy wasn’t able to sleep so easily. The bed was comfortable and the blankets were unbelievably soft, the only problem was he had too much on his mind. He shifted and stuffed his face into the pillow. Dang it, it smells like Fullmetal, Roy thought as he cursed to himself. He wasn't surprised, as it was Ed's bed after all, but he hadn't been thinking about it and he didn't think he would enjoy the smell that much. Roy took a couple deep breaths, holding onto the pillow.