Under the Snow
Brigadier General Roy Mustang hated to send him on missions like these.
Missions which required investigation on wayward alchemists breaking the “taboo”. But it was a well-documented fact throughout the country that the Fullmetal Alchemist was a living encyclopaedia on the subject and so, he could hardly divert the missions away from the blond alchemist.
That does not mean he didn’t try. He just never succeeded.
Besides, he knew the fact that there wasn’t anyone else who fitted the bill to the level of perfection than Edward…well, perhaps Alphonse. But knowing Edward, he would rather die than let his little brother go on such assignments.
At times like these, Roy wondered whether his desire to be Fuhrer justified the veiled torture he inflicted on Edward.
“If he so wanted, he would have left as soon as his contract got over,” said Riza, placing a mug of coffee on his desk.
Roy gave her a tired smile—the woman could seriously read his mind.
“He doesn’t know what to do…he spent the better part of his childhood travelling the country as a State Alchemist. I don’t think he can bunker down to civilian life so easily. Military has entrenched in so deep, it can’t be taken out,” he said, inhaling the aroma with a sigh. The coffee machine was perhaps the best departmental investment he had made in the recent years.
“Still, the Elrics know what they do. Trust their discretion a little, sir,” Riza said softly. “For better or for worse, those two boys have seen a lot more than the average soldier—they know how to take decisions.”
“I just don’t understand how Fullmetal let his brother join the military,” Roy frowned into his coffee.
“Alphonse wanted to…I dare say Edward tried to dissuade him but you know Al, he can be quiet but once determined, he ploughs on ahead like a bulldozer. So I suppose Ed relented,” Riza answered, going through Roy’s paperwork as if to determine whether he had been slacking off.
“Al’s a tough kid,” Roy agreed.
“To be a suit of armour for four years and still retain his sanity, you’ve got to be tough,” she said, placing the sheaf of papers back with a satisfied look in her eyes. “Which brings me back to my original point…Elrics are tough and trustworthy. Just believe in them.”
Roy stared long and hard into the dark liquid in his cup.
“Guess I will.”
Place: Triscott, 70 miles north of East City
Situation Report: Unexplained disturbances that match the checkpoints of illegal alchemy, missing children, reports of suspected chimera running loose in the town’s outliers
Victims: Tia Nadin (7 years old, lacerations on the back. Suspected chimera attack victim)
Liam Bradshaw (5 years old, serious head injury of unknown origin)
Denver Froyd (11 years old, physical assault)
Prentice Hall (9 years old, missing vital organs)
Janice Bell (12 years old, physical and suspected sexual assault)
Remarks: Residents complain that William Slate, a freelancer alchemist, has been acting strange recently. Strange noises and lights seem to emanate from his house at odd times in the night. His wife, Clarisse Slate nee Xavier and his ten-year-old daughter Nicah Slate are currently in Central living with Clarisse Slate’s parents.
Roy handed over the dossier to the twenty-five-year-old blond standing in front of him, the amber eyes still as fiery as the day he first stepped into his office to get his watch.
He saw him skimming through the report, his eyes zooming in at points, perhaps committing them to memory for the future. Roy could see his hands tremble slightly as he flipped through the photographs.
Grisly remains of children were never a sight that could be digested well even by the most battle-hardened of soldiers.
“Five victims…judging from their injuries, human transmutation could be the reason. Do you have any other information about this William Slate guy?” Edward asked, facing him.
Roy consulted the documents Riza had thoughtfully brought from the Archives Department.
“He tried for the State certification twice—failed both times. Orphan, a sister who died seven years ago. Car accident. He worked with one of the private firms till last year…he apparently asked for voluntary retirement. With that money, he bought a house in Triscott. But two months ago, his wife and daughter came to Central. Mrs. Slate on enquiry stated that her husband “has gone crazy”. And if he’s actually performing the taboo, I’m more than inclined to agree with her.”
“These morons,” Edward fumed. “They seriously believe they can bring the dead back to life? Are they insane?”
“You did too,” Roy pointed out.
“We were children whose only exposure to the outside world was Teacher. This bloke’s a grown-up family man…doesn’t he realise…”
Roy’s eyes softened as he saw the blond struggle to find words. “I understand, Fullmetal. But the world doesn’t work that way. I’ve got Havoc and Breda interview Mrs. Slate today…they’d have a report by today evening. I’ve got you tickets to Triscott on the Saturday train.”
Edward shrugged in reply, shutting the dossier. “Anything else?”
“Nothing official. But on a side note, how’s Al doing?”
Alphonse got his certification just a month back and was currently working under Major General Olivier Mira Armstrong up in Briggs. The newly minted Ziel Alchemist was currently researching the amalgamation of Drachman lore, Alkahestry principles and Amestrian methods and was endeavouring to create a new branch of alchemy. Edward was insufferably proud of his brother’s achievements, though he would have preferred if Al had stayed civilian. But he knew that access to research material was important if one wanted to study seriously.
“He’s fine. That Armstrong general likes him…he has settled in quite well,” Edward answered.
Roy agreed. It was hard to not like the younger Elric.
Three weeks later, Edward returned. The mission was a success.
But when Roy looked into those muted eyes, he knew at once that something was wrong.
“The report,” Edward said listlessly, tossing a thin file half-heartedly on to his desk.
“Fullmetal…” Roy began. He knew things had been ugly. From what he could pick up, he knew that it had been a reiteration of the Shou Tucker case. Along with human transmutation.
Who was he kidding? Of course he wasn’t fine.
“Please…don’t…” Edward whispered, turning back towards the door.
Roy was out of his chair and behind him in a flash. Edward was trembling.
Edward Elric did not tremble.
“Ed…tell me…please…” Roy pleaded, unable to believe his own voice though he ploughed on. “What happened?”
“That freak…he was…he was planning to sacrifice the children to resurrect his sister…he killed them…with his own bare hands…he was a freaking chimera himself…crossed with so many breeds that it’ll take forensic months to figure out…I panicked, Roy…I couldn’t…I just stood there…if it hadn’t been the other trainee State Alchemist you had sent with me, I’d been dead…”
Roy hugged him, pulling his back tight to his chest as he buried his face in the mass of gold.
“Hey, it’s okay…you’re back…you’re safe…I’m so sorry…I should’ve known…” Roy said softly, his voice muffled by Edward’s hair.
He felt Edward’s hand over his, a grip that seemed as if it was an attempt to anchor the blond alchemist to reality.
“Don’t be…you were just doing your job…” Edward whispered.
They stood like that…for how long, neither knew. A strange sense of comfort enveloped the two torn souls, both identical yet vastly dissimilar.
Both headstrong yet desired so much affection and comfort. It felt nice to be swathed with an environment devoid of worry, of thought as to what to do next. At that moment, they were not Lieutenant Colonel Elric or Brigadier General Mustang.
They were just two lost men who found one of their own.
“Sir, Fuhrer Grumman wants to have a word with you.”
“Okay, tell him I’m on my way.”
Riza gave him a slightly dubious look, as if not able to believe how…how quiet the notorious attention-seeker had become. Roy Mustang was never the one who quietly did his work—in fact, it took on average a bullet every two hours to make him sign more and doodle less.
She looked at the retreating back, her russet eyes slightly worried.
Physically, he was fine. As usual. Meticulous.
Mentally, she had her doubts.
Roy rapped his knuckles on the smooth wooden door of the highest office of the country. A genial “Come in” made him open the door and enter the room.
The office during Bradley’s reign had been so grand that it almost bordered on being ostentatious. But Grumman was a person with simple tastes. The rich burgundy rugs, the Xingese antique vases, the brass statuettes from Creta and the giant watercolour from Drachma were bundled away to the museum “where they belonged”.
The room looked more or less like any other office in the building with the only difference being the fact that the desk was rosewood and elegantly carved, unlike Roy’s own standard issue one.
Roy saluted a greeting.
“Good afternoon, Brigadier General. Please, have a seat,” Grumman said, the twinkle still in his eyes.
Roy sat down, his back straight. Grumman might be his old CO and mentor, but that was no excuse to be lax in offering courtesy; the man was also the Fuhrer of the country.
“Roy…relax. We don’t have an audience here. And frankly, I haven’t called you for official business.”
Roy relaxed slightly, though his eyes widened slightly in surprise.
“I wanted to talk about the Ziel Alchemist,” Grumman said, weighing his words.
“Al?” Roy asked. Grumman nodded.
“Why, sir? Has something happened up north?” Roy asked quickly, an unknown fear pooling in his stomach. Edward was too fragile at the moment…if anything happened to the brother he loved so dearly, he would break.
“I received a message from Major General Armstrong this morning. Alphonse and a team of three Briggs men had been investigating a rock formation when an avalanche was reported in that area. The event happened two days ago—and Briggs Command hasn’t received any word yet from the team,” said Grumman, a sad look on his face that made him seem older than usual.
Roy slumped on his seat, his arms feeling the phantom warmth of the blond they had enveloped a few hours ago.
He couldn’t tell him this…it would kill him, the state he is in…
“Al’s tough…he can’t die in a stupid avalanche,” Roy said in a determined voice.
He decided. He would go up north. Melt the entire mountain range if needed. But he would bring Al back.
He couldn’t see that terror again. Edward Elric was supposed to be confident. The beacon of hope.
He, Roy Mustang, would protect that aspect till his dying breath.
“Armstrong’s of the same opinion. But it was more protocol than sentiment that she informed me. She was apprehensive of informing Edward, and she hates your guts. So I guess I kind of fitted the bill in her pecking order,” the Fuhrer replied with a slight smile.
“Can I get a leave of absence for a week, sir?” Roy asked, a bit hesitatingly. Grumman gave him a knowing smile.
“Looks like you haven’t changed a bit, Roy,” he said, handing a signed leave approval to the stunned alchemist.
Ed sat on the windows seat, tracing figures in the condensation on the window pane.
It was raining heavily.
Mustang…he hates rains…
He touched the arm, still feeling the warmth of the man’s sudden embrace. It was strange, but not uninvited.
For that moment, he had felt safe.
Ed clutched the dark brown coat tightly to his torso, as if trying to protect himself from unseen dangers. Memories.
If one had a past like him, a walk down the memory lane would be enough to snuff him off for good. Fat lot of good his “inimitable, forever-victorious” image would be worth of when his enemies caught hold of this apparent weak point.
To say that the sight that greeted him in Triscott was grisly would be underplaying the facts. It was…gross. Disgusting. Horrifying.
That man, William Slate…Ed thought even a cat looked more human than he did at that time.
Thinking of cats…
Maybe if he had a talk with Al, his mind would be at ease.
“North, sir?” Riza asked quietly, handing him the customary mug of afternoon coffee.
“Yes, Major Hawkeye. But see to it that Fullmetal does not catch a wind of it. You know how he is,” Roy said heavily, sipping the warm liquid. The two soldiers were standing in front of the large floor-to-ceiling window of Roy’s office that overlooked the parade grounds. It was raining.
The weather sure reflected his mood at the moment.
“I hope Al is alright,” Riza said softly. Roy patted her back in a comforting manner.
“He would be. He’s an Elric after all.”
After finishing his coffee, Roy set out to organise his affairs for the upcoming week. His staff was intelligent and efficient, but that didn’t mean he would overburden them.
His hand hovered over another case file. A mission for the Fullmetal Alchemist.
Case be damned. He wasn’t going to let Ed out in the field, not in this condition. If anyone wanted answers, they would get them.
He wasn’t the Flame Alchemist for nothing.
He wondered about his feelings for the blond. Were they platonic?
They were supposed to be platonic…he was almost twelve years older than him. And, he was a man.
Sure, no one frowned upon the same-sex relationships these days but still…
Roy shook his head, slightly appalled by the fact that he was entertaining such thoughts in the first place.
He’s my subordinate, that’s all.
Though a sneaky part of his conscience sounded smug when it pointed out that he wouldn’t be doing this for any other person except Edward Elric.
It took him two days to reach the snowy, freezing Fort Briggs.
“Brigadier General Roy Mustang from Central on personal enquiry!” he shouted over the howling wind.
The sentry motioned him in, and spoke only after putting two heavy doors between themselves and the screaming snowstorm.
“The Major General is expecting you, sir,” the man saluted before showing him the way.
It was the first time Roy was visiting the northern most command centre of the country and needless to say, he was awed by the grandness of the structure. He had heard accounts from the Elric brothers, but their narration did no justice to this place. As they approached the office section, he almost ran into Falman.
“Brigadier General Mustang, sir!” his erstwhile subordinate saluted, though he could read surprise in his eyes.
“Is it about Alphonse, sir?” Falman asked.
“I thought you and Ed were supposedly coming together,” Falman said, relaxing his stance.
Roy grew pale.
“Fullmetal?” he croaked.
“Why yes, sir. He called up yesterday—said he wanted to talk to Al. One of the men picked up the phone and told him what happened here. Excuse me, sir. My shift starts in ten minutes.”
Oh no…I’ve got to find Al before Edward comes here…
Ed was furious.
He wasn’t a baby…why did Mustang treat him like that? Besides, Al was his responsibility.
How could Mustang traipse off north without a word to him? Besides, that git had never seen Briggs…he had no idea about the freaky snowstorms there.
Did he have a death wish?
As he clattered up the mountain pass in a horse cart, he couldn’t help but curse the fact that he had forgotten to replace his automail with a north-friendly version. He just hoped he would find Al before he needed to change it. And if he let any other mechanic even touch his leg, Winry would have his guts for dinner.
How did she manage to fall for Al of all people? His sweet, loving brother and a crazed gear-head?
“We’re here,” the man called. Ed paid him, slung his bag across his torso and started up the tiny mountain path.
Snow was the only constant in the treacherous landscape. The winds were calm now, though Ed knew it was fleeting. He hoped he would reach the base before another storm started. At this time of the year, this place was infamous for sudden snowstorms. It could freeze any human before his brain could even register the fact.
Dangerous didn’t even cut it.
Ed wrapped his trusty brown coat closer as trudged ahead.
I am coming...
“Major Elric and his team transmitted from here last. They were supposed to investigate the caves that go down over there,” the guide pointed out the place which was currently a flat white plane glinting in sunlight. Roy squinted his eyes as he looked at the place the guide pointed too.
It was a flat, undisturbed section that looked like a gigantic football field.
If he had been buried under ice, what would have he done?
Light a fire, of course.
But, if lighting fires was not an option, then?
Create a pocket of breathable air.
He suddenly realised how he could find Alphonse Elric.
Ed could feel his knee start to get numb.
Shit, not now!
He rubbed the port, trying to transfer some warmth as he ploughed through the ice.
Roy? But wasn’t he worried about Al?
Al too…Al knows the lay of the land here. Roy…ice is water. Roy is useless in water.
Roy hates the cold…
When did he become "Roy" from "Mustang"?
The two most important people in his life…if anything happened to them, he would bash Truth’s head against the damn Gate.
He again remembered that embrace in his office. Roy’s breath on his head. The warmth of his body. The strength of his hands.
He wanted to cuddle up to him and sleep, sexual orientation be damned. Something about that man made him relax; his obnoxious smirk made him feel that the world was okay, his “short” jokes made the air crackle with energy.
His eyes, eyes that understood his pain, his nightmares, his sins but didn’t judge him or mollycoddle him like the others—those were the ones he craved for. That look that didn’t belittle or elevate him.
Those eyes that considered him to be human, not God or devil or weapon.
He clenched his fists.
He didn’t understand the big hullabaloo about love and having a string of girlfriends and showing them off to others. He considered love to be sacred, something to be cherished and not paraded for all to see.
Did he love Roy Mustang?
He felt the ghost of Roy’s breath against the nape of his neck.
Maybe he did.
It was more difficult to melt the ice than Roy initially thought.
The ice was packed and dense, and froze the moment Roy stopped his flames. Though he melted through a considerable area, he had to do more before the men could begin hacking through.
Al, hold on a bit longer…
It had been four days since Al and his team went missing. The younger Elric was tough, but Roy was having negative thoughts now.
No…he can’t die…Ed wouldn’t be able to survive otherwise…
He took in a deep breath and snapped his fingers.
Suddenly, he heard a dull roar and the snow at his feet broke through, exposing a wide, deep chasm below.
“Sorry, we lost contact with Flame. He was last reported to be in Area 64-DE.”
Ed schooled his face to be neutral though his insides were freezing at the words. The sergeant at the outpost gave him some watery but hot tea which Ed gulped down gratefully. It warmed up his insides, somewhat.
“Do you have a map?” he asked as he handed him the empty mug. The sergeant gave him a rolled sheet of paper.
“The routes are marked here. Would be heading to the site directly?” he said.
“The site,” Ed answered, unrolling the sheet and committing the path to memory. “Inform the Major General of the same.”
“That would be done, sir. I hope you return safely.”
Ed exited the tiny outpost, picking up an almost unrecognizable path towards the place where Mustang disappeared.
Ed controlled his thoughts, unwilling to think the worst.
If you die, Roy, I’ll kill you in your afterlife.
Al was a man well-trained to survive, he had even been to the Gate and back. But Roy spent half his career behind a desk.
That man had forgotten how it felt to be at mercy of the elements.
Ed gripped his coat tightly, as if he could keep Roy and Al anchored to their present states by this action alone. As his heart struggled to find hope, his brain was running situations and possibilities, comparing them and drawing conclusions.
Sometimes, the efficiency and impartiality of his brain even surprised him.
Chasm…chances of air-pockets…shelter or cave a high possibility…Roy must have a backpack…which would include a first-aid kit and food rations…air pocket…fire but not for long since oxygen supply limited…if he creates a search and locate array with searching criteria being oxygen concentration with regular carbon dioxide being added…
He consulted the map again. He was some five miles away from Roy’s last transmission location, and a look into his pocket watch told him that he had been walking for five hours. Funny how thinking often made him lose track of time.
He could use the same array to find Roy and Al.
Taking in a deep breath, he clapped.
“Shut the damn radio, Fuery…” Roy groaned incoherently before slowly opening his eyes.
It was dark, pitch black all around…just like Promised Day.
On an impulse, he snapped his fingers. A tiny flame danced on his fingertips before disappearing. But the relief it brought Roy was huge.
He wasn’t blind. The place was just too damn dark.
With concentration, he snapped again and maintained the flame on the tip of his index finger. He waved it around, taking in his surroundings. He seemed to be in some sort of cavern—the walls were rocky and devoid of snow. He touched the back of his head, grimacing in sudden pain as his fingers brushed lightly above a bump. A nasty potato-sized bump.
But he was thankful it wasn’t bleeding. At least he didn’t have to hunt for a bandage at the moment. His elbows and arms were another story, though. He must have rolled over some outcropping after he had lost consciousness as he didn’t remember getting so many scrapes and cuts. He wiggled his toes, relieved that he could sense their movement in the fur-lined boots. He had been tossed and thrown about, but no injury too grave. He got up slowly, careful to not let blood rush up or down his head. Using the dancing flame as light, he rummaged through his backpack and took out the first-aid kit. There was a notebook, and he ripped out the blank pages and used them as food for fire.
Next, he dabbed some of the antiseptic over the nastier cuts, wincing as they stung. There was a cold compress which he gratefully put it against the lump on his head, enjoying the coolness against the burning.
As his body parameters began to normalise, his senses began picking up some pointers that had missed him before. Like a small, almost negligible draft.
But an opening here could be a double-edged sword—if he disturbed it, the entire cavern might fall on his head. On the other hand, it could also be a way out.
His hands found a granola bar, which he pulled out and began munching on it.
Food in the stomach often induced brainwaves.
The signal was weak, but Ed was positive.
It had to be Roy.
Damn him. Even his aura seems smug and overconfident.
Ed pinpointed the detected location on the map.
Once I return to Central, I’m going to research more in the field of searching and location point arrays. God, they are more useful than those stupid flame circles.
He set off, changing his course slightly in order to reduce the distance.
Once he found Roy, then he would be a whole lot closer in finding Al.
But unknown to him, the sky was beginning to darken and wind was slowly picking up
Roy didn’t believe he was going to die here.
The airway was what he suspected it to be, a small fissure whose slight disturbance would make the entire cavern collapse on his head.
He couldn’t transmute a way out unless and until he was sure of the geological structure of the place. One line out of place and he would become a splat of human anatomy. And unlike the Elric brothers, mineral alchemy had never been his forte. And if he didn’t transmute, he would die anyway.
A typical Catch-22 situation which he hated with vehemence.
He ran his fingers over the cool rock wall, trying to figure out something…anything. He could wager that if Ed or Al had been here, they would have seen a lot of information in here.
He could only see the dumb black wall.
He went back to “camp”, trying to calm his raging thoughts. After sometime, when his watch said it was eight-o-clock in the night, he heard some distant shuffling. And before he could actually comprehend anything, he saw someone…albeit a person with blond hair tied in a ponytail.
“Ed?” Roy said out loud, astonished as he hurried towards him. He was dangling upside down from a hole in the low roof of a hanging cave and before his hands could find any purchase, he fell.
Roy dove forward, catching Ed in his arms.
Then, he looked up.
It was a long distance up, but he could see swirling snow.
Ed felt like a frozen icicle and though his heart screamed to bring the blond close to the fire in order to warm him up, his brain said otherwise.
Too quick heating might trigger a heart attack as the blood, which had become sluggish due to the cold will now rush speedily towards the heart.
He stripped Ed of his coat, shoes and socks, wincing as his arm touched the automail. It was as cold as liquid nitrogen.
He remembered the Rockbell girl telling how automail could kill in north if not substituted for the specially made Northern Automail.
“Roy…you…” Ed whispered, his golden eyes at half-mast as his lips struggled to form words. To Roy’s alarm, they were slowly turning blue.
“…I…found you…” he whispered, trying to lift his arm and touch Roy’s cheek but failed as it dropped listlessly on to his side.
Colour was fading fast from Ed’s cheeks.
Roy hugged him tightly, trying to transfer his body heat into the man he had hopelessly fallen for.
At that moment, he didn’t care.
“…I’m cold….” Ed said softly, shivering violently as Roy proceeded to rub his palms in an attempt to warm them.
“Ssshh…don’t talk…” Roy said in an equally soft voice, removing his black, North-issue snow coat and draping it around the boy. The faint worry crease on Ed’s forehead vanished and he breathed in.
“…Smells like you…smells safe…” he mumbled, drawing closer to Roy’s chest as his head nestled in the crook of the older man’s neck.
His lips were still cold and blue.
Roy looked into those eyes…the eyes that had the ferocity of a man who had fought God himself to bring his brother back. That man who trekked through a snowstorm for him.
Roy bent close to the blond’s face, close enough to feel Ed’s breath.
He hesitated a bit.
But then, he threw all caution to the winds as he enveloped the worryingly blue lips with his warm ones.
Ed felt as if he was dreaming.
A dream in which Roy Mustang was kissing him.
He felt his arms, strong, sure and warm. That coat which smelled of smoke and cinnamon.
And the lips that gently glided above his own. The lips that warmed him up unlike any other fire.
He leaned in to return, earning a squeak of surprise from the General.
His arms felt as heavy as lead but he tried to wrap them around Roy’s neck, pulling him closer.
It wasn’t like the kiss he had seen Al and Winry exchange at times when he unwittingly walked into their room—“tongue-tied”, for a lack of better word.
It was warm, soft, safe. As if in silence, Roy was speaking volumes. Ed poured himself into the kiss, his fear for Al, his relief in finding Roy safe, his loneliness…
He felt Roy tug him closer, as if trying to meld his body into himself. Ed complied, straddling the man as he sat up on his lap, now deliciously warm. He felt a faint buzzing in his head that had nothing to do with the treacherous trek he had undertaken not so long ago. It was a good sort of buzzing, the one that curled up his toes and reddened his ears.
It seemed too soon to break apart, but their bodies needed oxygen even if their minds thought otherwise.
Roy’s pale face was flushed. Ed realised he liked a flushed, blushing Roy…unsteady, unsure. His obsidian eyes, those confident black pools which seemed to hold all answers were now quivering spheres of doubt and slight mortification.
“Ed…I’m…” he began, only to be shut by Ed’s assaulting lips as they swallowed his “sorry”.
“Ssshh…you speak too much,” Ed murmured, relaxing close to his chest. Roy smiled, a genuine human smile and not that smirk Ed was used to.
“You…you know,” he began uncertainly.
“You’re the only one who sees me as human, Roy,” said Ed softly, burrowing into the man’s military blues as he wanted to be as close as possible to him.
“And you saw through those smirks…all the time,” Roy said, spreading out his legs a little in order to help Ed adjust in his lap.
“It was easy…those smirks never reached your eyes,” Ed replied, clenching his fist as a shiver ran down his spine. Though his face was flushed and hot, his body didn’t warm up yet.
“I think you have to remove the automail,” Ed sighed, thrusting his out of his cocoon. “It’ll freeze me to death.”
Roy gave him an obliging nod and proceeded to roll up Ed’s pant leg, internally marvelling at the workmanship.
This was another thing Ed liked about Roy—unlike others, he never looked at automail like it was a freaky thing. Being a soldier must have made him used to such sights but Ed remembered how the other soldiers used to whisper behind his back, concoct conspiracy theories about he got them.
Roy had never paid any attention to his metal limbs, nor he treated him different because of him.
This man…he had changed his life.
His beacon of hope.
That moment, Ed swore that he would protect Roy, even if it meant at the cost of his life.
Roy ran his fingers around the port before finding the tiny embedded panel that served as the disconnection mechanism.
After witnessing what automail could really do, courtesy Ed and Winry, he had developed a respect and admiration for the science behind the invention. Also, he had made it a point to support the organisations that helped automail mechanics any way he could.
Silently. But purposefully.
After disconnecting the appendage, he saw an involuntary sigh of relief pass across Ed’s face.
“Thanks…Roy…it feels a lot more better now,” he said, moving around his stump experimentally. “Though reconnection would be a bitch.”
“That painful?” Roy asked, looking at the now lifeless limb in his hand.
“Like a thousand knives being pierced into your skin,” Ed said darkly, loosening the coat a little. The colour had returned to his cheeks and he looked a lot warmer now.
“How did you find me?” Roy asked curiously. Seriously…in this storm?
“Searching and pointing array…rudimentary, but it worked. So, any leads on Al?”
Alphonse Elric was pissed.
After hacking through four days and surviving on the meagre granola bars and dry biscuits was making him cranky and his brain fuzzy.
Al hated it when his brain was fuzzy.
The other three soldiers looked almost dead on their feet, and Al knew it was pure adrenaline keeping them shuffling forward.
If he didn’t get the lot out, they would all either die of starvation or freeze to death.
Al hammered the rocky wall in front of him with his transmuted pickaxe, yelping as it gave way suddenly.
Al poked his head out. It seemed like a vertical burrow made by a really well-trained rabbit. He could see the sky, lit by golden rays of the dawn. He turned slightly to look down. He could make out a flicker.
Was someone down there?
“Hey guys? You wait here a bit, I’m going down to check something,” Al said. The three men nodded, dropping down gratefully.
Al lowered himself into the cavern like space, his senses on high alert.
This place was perilously close to Drachma…maybe Drachman spies?
But what he saw made him sag with relief, his lips perking up in the first smile since the last five days.
Roy Mustang and Edward Elric were sleeping peacefully, the former’s arm draped possessively over his brother’s waist as a dark, fur-lined Northern military coat served as their blanket, the fire standing sentinel to their slumber.
“They came to find me…but they ended up finding something else. I’m so happy for you, Brother,” Al whispered before walking to the hole and climbing up, only to find his associates snoring softly.
Torn between sleeping and staying awake, he chose the latter and settled down on the space on the cavern directly below the “rabbit hole”, watching over his comrades as they slept peacefully.
A few days later
“I cannot believe it, sir,” Riza said, almost on the verge of snapping. “It was highly irresponsible of you, to say the least. The mountains are dangerous…surely you knew that! And you…Ed…what possessed you to go off after this idiot who calls himself a Brigadier General?”
“Al’s my brother,” Ed interjected defensively.
“Who ended up finding his so-called rescue team,” she scoffed, looking murderous. “Seriously, you could’ve died…if you’d got lost…not found each other…”
Roy smiled gently, hugging his subordinate-cum-childhood friend tightly.
“They say that you need to lose something to find something else…I went out to search for Al…I ended up finding which I didn’t know I had been searching for so desperately in the first place…”
Riza’s eyes widened before softening. She could sense Roy…and his changed aura.
She smiled before exiting the room.
“It’s a rare thing, sir. I’d suggest you do not lose it. And sir…you’ve an appointment with the Fuhrer after lunch. Please do not be late,” she said before closing the door behind her.
“So…Ed…are you free, tonight?” Roy asked, his eyes staring straight into that fiery amber orbs that shone brightly in the gloom of his office.
“Yes,” he replied, slight pink colouring his cheeks.
“Will you…you know…have dinner with me? As a date?”
Edward smiled as he stood up and walked up to the man he had fallen head, heels and whatnot over.
Roy looked back steadily.
Ed brought himself close to Roy’s face, kissing him softly.
“After dinner?” he asked playfully.
“A nightcap at my house, maybe?” Roy answered, his eyes twinkling as he pulled the blond head closer to his face, deepening the kiss which promised a whole new life ahead.
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