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Reassurance

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Edward was used to the abrupt changes of the seasons in Resembool. Summer was not a gradual thing, it chased spring out suddenly, the heat rolling over the small town like a tidal wave. His automail twinged as the humidity spiked, and it was almost tradition for him to lay on the couch in the den in his shorts and little else, bemoaning the heat.

The world around him didn't grind to a halt because of summer, though. Winry ignored him, for the most part, although she had dragged her work station out of the stifling back room and was working on a complex socket joint at the kitchen table, a clean white sheet spread out under the parts. She was wearing her mechanic's overalls as always, but tied at the waist, exposing the strapless sports bra she wore underneath.

Alphonse fortunately did not have the same reaction he had the previous year, where the heat absolutely debilitated him. Having lived without the ability to detect temperature for several years impacted him heavily that first year, and in the extremes of either weather he could barely move. Alphonse had gotten through the winter by virtue of sharing a bed with Winry, which they both thought Edward was blind to, but he knew how those sort of things ended up. Besides, he saw the way they looked at each other.

And then there was Roy.

He was doing better - much better. He still occasionally fell into silence, staring out a window in a melancholy, but those days were few and far between. He didn't seem to have as many nightmares as he used to, either - definitely a good sign. He had physically recovered almost a year ago, but working through the trauma took a lot of time. Edward had made plans to leave in the late winter, but those had to be nixed when Roy had a bit of a relapse and it hadn't been wise to travel.

The country had settled down a lot in the past year. Edward made it a point to ignore most news out of the big cities, but Alphonse kept up to date, to check on the status of the manhunt for Roy Mustang. The military had been by the Rockbell household four times - each time, Edward and Roy had hid in a specially transmuted crawlspace and barely dared to breathe as the military searched the homestead.

Occasionally Jean Havoc or Maria Ross would stop by to 'check in' on Alphonse and Winry, and they made themselves scarce then, too. The story was just too unbelievable, and what proof did they have, really? Edward's wings? Sure, let's just turn themselves over and be assumed that someone had turned Edward into a human/chimera hybrid just like that sociopath Tucker.

As far as the military was concerned, Roy Mustang went insane and tried to take over the country; and that dangerous criminal was still on the loose.

So they hid out in Resembool. Roy never went into town, it was just too risky - even with his hair a shaggy, uncut mess and two whole eyes, someone could notice him. There were 'Wanted' posters up in every train station from Central City to the edge of the country. The village folk all knew Edward had returned but they wouldn't turn him over, Resembool was a small, tight-knit community and nearly everyone there had known Edward and Alphonse since they were babies. They were proud of Edward and Alphonse, and would keep their mouths shut when questioned.

Roy was an outsider though, and there would be no such consideration for him.

They couldn't stay here much longer. It was a realization Edward came to months ago, but he didn't want to leave. This was his home, his family was here. Where was he going to go?

Somewhere with Roy. Somewhere where they could be alone, together.

The thought didn't put a sliver of fear into his belly like it had nearly six months ago. Edward refused - refused to acknowledge what had happened to him, focusing instead on Roy's intense trauma and helping him work through that. Alphonse didn't know. Winry didn't know - the only people who knew were Roy and Edward himself.

But still, he didn't let Roy touch him. Not like that. Casual touches, a hand on a shoulder or even Roy's arms around him in the bed they shared, those he had learned to welcome again. They hadn't had sex, though - Edward compartmentalized it away, told himself that was because they were under Al and Winry's roof, they were right down the hall and the last thing he wanted either of them to hear was that... but still, there was safety in numbers. The longer he stayed here, the more convinced he would be that this was indeed Roy, really and truly Roy and not some imposter, not that imposter.

Den started barking joyfully outside, and Winry looked up from the socket she was working on, several screws still in her teeth. Alphonse opened the door that led from the kitchen to the outside, holding the fish he'd caught up high so the excited, bounding dog couldn't get her teeth into a fin. Roy was right behind him, fishing poles slung over his shoulder. "We got dinner," Alphonse called, staving Den's attentions off with his free hand.

"Fish again," Winry said around the screws. "I thought you were going down to the butcher, Al."

"There are military men in town," Alphonse said. Edward sat up at that, shooting Roy a concerned look, and Alphonse shook his head. "No, it didn't look like they were here for anything, they were just browsing the stalls out front of the grocer."

Edward frowned. "It's unusual for soldiers to 'just be in town', though."

"It's fine," Alphonse said, laying the fish on the counter. "We have enough warning if need be, but I think they were just off the stopped train to stretch their legs."

Winry looked between them silently, the socket still in hand. Edward wasn't missing the look she was giving him, and he knew guiltily that their presence - his and Roy's - was making their lives unduly difficult. He sat up completely, swinging his legs from where he had been stretched out on the couch. "I'll keep watch," he said gruffly, and he missed the look exchanged between Alphonse and Winry as he stretched and trotted up the stairs.

There was a widow's walk balcony built into the side of the house - something Edward found curious as they weren't near any sort of body of water that would require such a thing. Amestris was a land-locked country, and outside of the massive lake system that fed the city of Aquaroya, only had rivers and small bodies of water. Edward found his sleeveless shirt laying on the floor in the room he had been sharing with Roy, dropped there this morning when the humidity was already too much to bear. He pulled it on over his head and went to stand on the balcony.

It wasn't that much cooler outside. The sun was shining directly on him with little respite, and while there was a steady breeze that rolled off of the distant mountains it did little to counteract the sunlight. Edward leaned against the balcony, and shaded his eyes.

One of the many perks of his new status was his enhanced eye-sight. It wasn't that much better than what it had been - he could just see farther, much farther. He could see into town easily, and could see the train idling at the station, the engine ready to go. People were loading the freight cars, it would probably be in station another fifteen or twenty minutes. There was no one coming up the path to the Rockbell Automail clinic, though - and especially no blue uniforms.

Edward sighed and dropped his hand from his eyes, rubbing his automail shoulder with his real hand, as if that would restore the feeling to that missing limb. Sometimes he liked to think that he could feel with his false arm, but the only nerve sensors were located in the actual hand. He unfolded the fist and stared at the metal, glinting bright in the summer daylight.

"Ed?"

Edward closed his fist and dropped his automail hand back to dangling over the railing. He'd left the door open behind him, and even if Roy hadn't announced himself he would have sensed him there. It was weird how he could tell exactly where Roy was, as if he were this bright comforting force in his mind.

Once upon a time Roy could have come up behind Edward and draped his arms over Edward's shoulders. Now he tread on the same eggshells that Edward did, announcing his presence before he even entered the room. He didn't trust himself any more than Edward did - and that wore heavy on Edward's heart.

He turned his head to the side, so he could see Roy lingering in the doorway. His dark hair had grown shaggy and long - the ends were almost to his shoulders. He really could use a hair cut, although the look on him made him look so much younger than the carefully-groomed colonel Edward had grown up knowing. And also, his eyes...

Edward hadn't been there when Roy lost his eye to Frank Archer. He'd heard about it, of course, Lieutenant Hawkeye had been the one to visit him in the hospital when no one else could. Roy had been under military arrest then, suspected of assassinating the Fuhrer King Bradley. Those charges were eventually dropped, as were the court-martial proceedings for both Edward and Roy. Edward had never had the time to find out who orchestrated that in the upper echelon of the military.

Now, however, Roy looked at him with two full, whole eyes. That seemed to be the last lingering effect of the demon's possession of Roy, his physical wounds were all healed. What was curious, and what seemed to bother Edward the most about it was the fact that the healing didn't happen until after the demon was destroyed.

Roy had moved beside Edward, leaning against the railing. He too looked out into town. "It's a supply train," Roy said after a long moment, his hand shadowing his eyes like Edward had minutes ago. "They should be gone soon."

"Supplying for which war?" Edward asked rhetorically. There was unrest at all the borders now, and while no actual war had been declared, troops were moving all the time in an elaborate game of chess.

From beside him, Roy let out a long, weary sigh through his nose. He was a military man, first and foremost, and being taken forcibly from his position and out of the loop for good was bothering him greatly. Edward glanced at Roy and noted how tired his face looked. While generally looking younger overall, the fatigue wore on him. Edward wanted to touch him, but didn't.

"No telling," Roy said finally. He was silent, then he said, "Ed, we can't stay here."

Edward hung his head so his bangs shadowed his face, if Roy were to look at him his eyes would be hidden. "I know." He didn't want to go, that was it. The military was looking for Roy, not him, and Roy could very easily leave on his own now and find his fortune elsewhere.

But. But.

Edward couldn't let him do that. He was responsible for Roy. If he hadn't gotten into that mess the angel wouldn't have been involved. And if that hadn't occurred, the demon would not have found it worthwhile to possess Roy and wreak havoc.

Of course, if he hadn't been rescued by Sariel he would be dead, and Alphonse likely would be, too. Roze would be as good as dead, as Dante would have taken her body. What was the value of lives against happiness?

Besides, he couldn't take losing Roy again.

The angels would be looking for them. He had set up wards, the first thing he had done was make talismans, protective amulets so that the angels couldn't find them instantly. Roy kept one with him whenever he left the house, as did Edward. They couldn't wear the talismans, the esoteric symbols burned their flesh, so they kept them on cords and in pockets. They were safe from prying eyes, for now.

Edward knew that Roy was like him now. He knew it in his deepest heart, but he had to believe that he was wrong, and that Roy could still have a normal life. He'd fucked up so many lives as well, and he just now got Alphonse's back on track after almost seven years. This was a fuck-up he wasn't sure that he'd ever be able to set right.

"We'll go after the solstice," Edward said finally. He still wasn't sure where they'd go, or what they'd do when they got there, but it was a better plan than what he had this morning. "Through the mountains, on foot. We can't take the train, not for a while yet."

Roy glanced off in the distance, at the hills that rose quickly into mountains. "We'll be safe there," Edward said. "Just us."

He almost jumped when Roy's bare hand covered his on the railing. "Ed," Roy said heavily. "I can go, you don't have to-"

"Do you think I could really live without you at this point, you dumbass?" Edward muttered. "Besides, who's gonna protect you out there."

"I like to think I'm pretty capable, Edward."

"You're the only one who does." Edward glanced at him and smirked. "You wouldn't last two days on your own in the wilderness."

Roy gave him an injured look. "I used to camp all the time when I was a child."

"I'm sure you did," Edward said, patting Roy's hand before turning around and hooking his elbows over the railing. He stared up at the house silently a moment, then caught Roy's eye. "We're in this together, Mustang. Just the two of us."

He remembered Roy's eyes when he woke for the first time, in the weeks following that final confrontation with Samael under Central City. So wide, and terrified and confused. Such a difference from the eyes he wore now, he looked like Mustang again. There was strength there, Edward knew, great reserves of strength that Roy wasn't aware of. How could Edward be afraid of such strong, comforting eyes?

They both heard Alphonse calling them from the downstairs, lunch was on. Roy still held Edward's hand, and Edward looked at him. "If you try to slip out in the night and leave me behind, I will hunt you down and make you my bitch," he said seriously.

Roy laughed, and it was such an unexpected and welcome sound that Edward laughed too. He touched Edward's face and Edward didn't flinch, turned his head up just that little bit and murmured to him, "I would welcome that very much, I think."

When Roy kissed him then Edward didn't shy away like he had been, and when he opened his eyes and saw Roy's eyes watching him intently Edward knew without hesitation that it was really Roy there and he smiled.

Maybe things would turn out all right after all.