"You know I got nothing against you and the boss," Havoc started causing Roy to look up. "But I honestly don't get it. You two fight a lot. To the point where you're out here drinking with me again. What was it even about this time?"

Roy sighed heavily before taking another sip of his whiskey. They did fight a lot.

"It's hard to explain," Roy breathed.

He'd left Ed at home tonight and gone out drinking due to another stupid argument. Not as bad their last one when Ed got home from the mission from hell, but still pretty bad.

"I got all night," Havoc told him honestly as he ordered another round.

"I want Ed to leave the military," Roy told him. "It's tearing him down on the inside and out. I try to pick up the pieces after every crap mission they send him on, but it gets harder every time."

Roy paused to take another sip of his whiskey.

"I love him," Roy continued. "It hurts to watch them do this to him."

"You used to do this to him," Havoc reminded him.

"Not like this," Roy insisted. "I avoided the worst of it whenever possible, but now they just send him on everything I had once avoided. The missions I did send him on, I honestly believed they would help him achieve what he was looking for, or I knew only he could do it so the people would come first."

"What did Ed say?" Havoc asked.

"He seems to think if he isn't there to deal with it," Roy frowned. "Then no one would even try to save the people he tends to. At this point I was like what you want me to do? Then he was like what you want me to choose between saving lives and his mental health? You know what he's like. He's just a second thought in his own mind when there is someone he thinks needs him."

"It was at this point things got pretty heated?" Havoc pushed.

"Heated is an understatement," Roy snorted. "I was like well I didn't say that, but you know help me help you."

"And Ed doesn't think he needs help?" Havoc raised an eyebrow. "Even I can see what it's doing to him and I don't even see him every week."

"It's made his temper pretty bad," Roy replied. "He's an emotional wreck. You know what the last thing I said to him before I left tonight? I'm on the balance beam to keep you happy. What I really wanted to say was watching you come back broken every time is more than I can bear or say fuck it, stay mad at me. I honestly can't say which one will come out when we get this bad."

"And walking out to go drinking is better?" Havoc asked sceptically.

"Not really," Roy admitted. "Better than if I had stayed home. We know how that goes, drink, fight, patch things up in the back of a taxi."

"So why do you both stay together when you seem to be tearing each other down?" Havoc seemed confused beyond belief.

"Because he is the most amazing person I have ever met in my life," Roy sighed as he finished his whiskey. "It's his work that's doing this to him. It's not really him. He's the most agile creature I've ever seen, you've seen the way he fights. He can skate thin ice wheels and not once get wet. And the most stubborn. If he put his mind to it he could walk five miles in heels, not one foot out of step."

"But him being all that doesn't mean you two are good together in a relationship," Havoc pointed out. "What the hell would he be doing in heels?"

"True," Roy admitted. "I should probably tell him all that. Might make him feel better. The thing about how amazing I think he is. Not the being together isn't good for us. Maybe I'll take him out to dinner and I swear I'll leave him swept off his feet. It might help, but it's just our guess at this stage."

"Boss would probably like that," Havoc encouraged him.

"He would," Roy agreed. "I'm falling hard on myself here. I tend to put my foot in my mouth, no matter what my intentions are whenever I try to convince him to look at our career options. I'm in over my head. Yeah. Over my head."

"Have you spoken to Al?" Havoc asked. "Maybe he could help? At least then Ed might not feel like it's always an attack or whatever whenever you say it."

"If I try that then I know I'm headed for the deep end," Roy laughed as he signalled for a refill. "I can see how that goes. Thursday we fight and forget it by the weekend. Nah. I'm a fast learner. I figured out quick with him it's not the getting it's the keeping. I start pulling Al into this and keeping will definitely be harder."

"How is keeping him hard?" Havoc frowned. "He doesn't seem the type to be fickle."

"He's not," Roy told him. "It's cause he's a gem, so everyone wants him shinning with them. We go out and I'm always warning them off. Ed says I'm getting my inner bulldog on. One even called me a bro while trying to pull Ed away from me. I had to tell him to mind his step and to keep it on your side of the fence."

"He called you a what?" Havoc laughed.

"Bro," Roy grinned. "Despite him trying to make a move on Ed it was pretty funny."

"Tell me about the good times," Havoc grinned. "You got to have some good times or something awesome about your relationship. Otherwise it's just starting to sound depressing."

"I don't know if it's a positive," Roy smiled at the though. "But there was a lot of trust. And that was positive. As an alchemist, we guard our theories very carefully. To show them to someone else means a lot in a relationship. It's something very important to both of us. I show him my theories one last once. Smile if he likes, laugh if it sucks."

"Cold blooded," Havoc mused.

"He's always the first in my corner though," Roy reminded him. "But now, what's that if it ain't called love."

"Never quiet heard love phrased like that before," Havoc shrugged. "But you alchemists are all a little weird. Whatever floats your boat."

"When it's all said and done," Roy drank the rest of his whiskey before standing up a little unsteadily. "Baby ain't happy till my heads spun."

"I'll tell the Boss you called him that," Havoc grinned.

"And I'll have you on toilet cleaning duty for a month," Roy grinned back as he paid their tab.

"You done for the night then?" Havoc asked.

"Yeah," Roy said as he stumbled towards the door. "I want to get in a good walk home before I try talking to Ed again."

"He'll probably be pissed you left to go drinking again," Havoc said as he followed him out.

"Probably," Roy agreed. "So I might get lucky or I might get none. Either way it will be like I'm back at square one."

XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"Brother," Al sighed loudly over the phone. "Please tell me what's wrong. You've been dodging me all week. Just because I'm not in the country right now doesn't mean you can ignore me."

"I'm not ignoring you," Ed pouted. "I called you didn't I?"

"Did you have another fight with Roy?" Al guessed.

"No," Ed said automatically.

"Edward," Al said sternly.

"Maybe a little one," Ed admitted. "He's being a controlling asshole."

"What about you?" Al asked.

"What do you mean what about me?!" Ed growled back.

"Brother, during our phone calls I have noticed you seem…" Al paused for a moment while he considered his words. "Agitated. Constantly."

"I am not," Ed muttered.

"Edward," Al said getting the stern voice back on.

"Maybe a little," Ed amended. "Work is… hard at the moment. There are a lot of chimeras right now."

"Human?" Al asked carefully.

"Yeah," Ed said quietly.

"Brother," Al said gently. "Have you considered looking for different work?"

"Not you too!" Ed moaned.

"Has this been what you two have been fighting about?" Al hit the nail on head.

"Maybe," Ed sighed. "I'm working on a separation theory, Al. I need to go on the chimera cases to try and test it. No one else is going to bother. No one else cares enough to try."

"Edward," Al said gently again. "It's not up to you to save the world."

"I'm not saving anyone," Ed said quietly. "I have a survival rate of zero."

"Brother," Al started. "I know this means a lot to you, but knowing you? It's probably tearing you apart. Never mind what it's probably doing to your relationship with Roy."

"Nothing new," Ed shrugged. "We fight, he goes out drinking and I work on my theories."

"That's not healthy," Al commented. "That's not fair on you that he leaves. It's not fair that you probably make him feel like he has to. It's only a matter of time of before one of you break."

"I feel like I falling," Ed sighed. "Or just about to. I'm so tired, Al. I'm so tired of all the fighting and feeling like shit. It's like… Yeah. It's like I'm walking on a tightrope and every step could be the one where I fall."

"Brother," Al sighed. "You can't run head long into anything anymore. Roy was really good at helping you hold things together when we were younger, but even he has his limits."

"Al," Ed said quietly. "I don't know what to do anymore. It's like I'm running with a blindfold and I can't help but feel that I'm about to lose control."

"You'll make yourself sick, Brother." Al told him. "If you keep this up."

"I already feel sick," Ed admitted. "It's hard to sleep. Especially when Roy isn't here or I'm away. All I'm doing is rolling around the bed with my eyes closed."

"Brother…" Al said softly, sounding sad.

"I thought I could help people…" Ed told Al. "People like Nina. And I could be wrong, but I don't know. Scar always said it couldn't be done… But we've done the impossible, I just thought I could do it again."

"Brother," Al repeated. "You can come back to this research, but maybe now is not a good time to continue it. It's obvious you're not coping. You're going to have to make a choice; this research or your own health and relationship with Roy. You call after nearly every fight now, especially the big one where you actually packed a suitcase and left. How much more of this can your relationship take?"

"I don't know," Ed swallowed. "I don't want to lose him Al. I love him. I really do."

"Then show him you love him," Al said firmly. "Start by using some of that paid leave you've never used and think about what the hell else you could do apart from letting the military rot you from the inside out."

Ed was silent for a moment.

"Brother?" Came Al's voice down the end of the phone.

"I'm take the leave," Ed sighed heavily. "I'll go in tomorrow and demand the paperwork. I'll demand a copy of it and give it to Roy, so he knows how much I love him and I'm sorry and shit…"

Ed could hear Al sighing heavily down the other end of the line. There may have almost been a very quiet laugh.

"What was that?" Ed frowned.

"Nothing, Brother." Al assured him. "It's just your idea of romance leaves a lot to be desired."

"Fuck off!" Ed growled before pausing for a moment and adding quietly. "And thanks… For listening and shit."

"Love you too, Brother."